TO FUEL OR NOT TO FUEL

Fuel

Do you eat before you run?

Okay. I mean. Most say that you should fuel up before a run – ESPECIALLY before a race – but why? We all know that it helps to sustain your energy, keeps you going, helps to ensure sure you don’t crash mid-run… but I’m a morning runner – and I don’t always LIKE – or have TIME – to fuel up before I head out.

But what’s actually best?


Here are a few things to consider when figuring out what is best for YOU:

TIME:

How long do you need to digest your fuel?

And, according to Mayo Clinic – digestion time varies between individuals and between men and women. What does this mean for you? It means that IT DEPENDS. You may need to experiment and explore with different foods, times, and combinations before you find what’s best for you personally. What else does this mean? It means that when someone is telling you exactly what you should do – BE CAUTIOUS. Nobody knows what’s best for you except for…well… you.

Whatcha been eating all week?

Fueling up isn’t only about the pre-run snack or meal – it can also include everything you’ve been eating for days prior – and EVERYONE’S NEEDS ARE DIFFERENT. For me personally, if I eat too big of a meal the night before my race – I’M GOING DOWN. Seriously. I’ve had to move my “pre-run” meal to the entire week before the race. If I eat too late – say, carb-loading the night before the race – personally, my body definitely does not have time to process what I’ve eaten. When this happens, I get sick, have more cramps, and sometimes have a “heavy” feeling that keeps me from running as fast as I can. Finding what works best for you takes time though, and lots of trial-and-error. It’s taken me 6 years to figure out what’s best for me personally, and I’m still learning (and my body is always changing). So make sure you consider the fact that your body is using fuel that it has stored over time – not just from the morning of the run or race.


TYPE:

What type of run are you doing?

Long runs?

Lizzie Kasparek, R.D., sports dietitian for the Sanford Sports Science Institute – suggests “eating two to four hours before a long run.” Long runs require much more energy – which means you may not have adequate fuel in your system to keep you going without a little pre-run snack or meal. However – with this fuel – comes a digestion time. It’s important to consider how much you’ve eaten and how much time you’ll need to digest it before you head out for that longer run!

What about shorter runs?

According to Vishal Patel, chief sports nutritionist at Nuun, if you’re going out for a short run (say 3-4 miles) – you can likely “skip the pre-run meal or snack.” Why is this? Because your body may actually have enough energy stored up in the form of carbs and nutrients to get you through the run. HOWEVER – AGAIN – it is all about your personal preference and needs. If you find that fueling up before a short run best enhances your performance – GO FOR IT. Everyone has different nutritional needs, and you know those needs best.


FOOD:

What are you fueling up with & how much?

It’s also important to fuel up on the RIGHT KIND of foods if you’re going to be eating that pre-run snack or meal. And not just the right kind – but the RIGHT AMOUNT as well. We all know what high-fiber foods do… so maybe lay off the broccoli & beans before you go for your run. But fueling up on some carbs & protein – Kasparek suggests – can be quickly turned into energy to use on those runs. A little oatmeal, some toast and peanut butter, a power bar – just a few options to keep that energy high. But make sure you’re consuming an amount that optimizes your performance. Personally, I eat a power-bar a few hours before a race. It’s light enough that it doesn’t feel like a huge meal – but it gives me enough energy to get me through.


BOTTOM LINE:

It’s all about finding what’s best for you. And it will take a little bit of exploration and experimentation. Everyone has different needs, bodies, and schedules – and therefor, we all have different pre-run preparation. Finding what works best for you is an ever-evolving process, and that’s okay! Just keep exploring and enjoying the process! Share your pre-run fuel plan below!




SOURCES:

Heather Mayer Irvine Freelance Writer Heather is the former food and nutrition editor for Runner’s World and the author of The Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook. “Unsure What to Eat Before a Run? These Ideas Fuel Every Distance and Sit Well.” Runner’s World, 3 Apr. 2020, www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20853304/what-do-i-eat-before-my-race/.

Laurel Leicht Updated August 14, and Laurel Leicht. “What to Eat Before, During, and After Running.” Health.com, www.health.com/fitness/what-to-eat-before-running.

Luff, Christine. “Why Should You Eat Before a Run?” Verywell Fit, 2 Apr. 2020, http://www.verywellfit.com/should-i-eat-before-a-run-2911547.

SUMMER ROAD TRIP

Running

States #31, #32, #33, and #34

I AM SO EXCITED! Well… it pretty much goes without saying at this point – but – 2020 has been QUITE A WILD RIDE. I had so many running plans for this year – plans to travel to several states, plans to compete in ACTUAL RACES in Missouri, New Jersey, Colorado, South Dakota, Massachusetts… and more, plans to have at LEAST 36 states checked off my list by the end of the year. But hey – life is ANYTHING but predictable, and I had to change course.

After running state #29 in Little Rock, Arkansas on March 1st (in an ACTUAL RACE) – I was on my own personal little running CLOUD 9. I was the first place female finisher in a HUGE race – the biggest race that I’ve ever even placed in, and I actually WON. I beat my personal record by shaving 4 MINUTES off my previous record of 1:29 – this time running 13.1 miles in 1:25 (a freaking 6:30 minute average). I was SO FREAKING PUMPED about this year – so excited to keep going and building on my progress… but… again, life changed! So I had two choices: I could either get frustrated, discouraged, and wait until things opened back up (which would take WHO KNOWS how long) – OR….

I could take control of my journey.

I could readjust, replan, and rearrange my year. And that is JUST WHAT I DID – starting with STATE #30. I ran state #30 in South Carolina (Myrtle Beach) on June 5th. Sure, there wasn’t an “actual race” going on – but that was just fine with me. I packed my bags and road-tripped all the way down South to run my OWN 13.1 miles on the beach – my own, personal, homemade race (and guess what? I WON!). So now, I’m going to keep the adventure going by taking another summer road-trip to conquer states #31, #32, #33, and #34 this AUGUST. While I can’t compete in real races – it’s so important to me that I embrace the challenges and unexpected changes in life. Why?

Because my running is NOT about competing – it is NOT about setting records, winning first place, or always have to be the best – and I feel like I almost started to forget that when I won in Arkansas. My running is about ENJOYING it, it is about having FUN, it is about TRAVELING and EXPLORING and ADVENTURING, it is about the love of running itself. And nothing, not even COVID, can stop me from driving, exploring, or running (safely and socially distanced of course)!

So, here’s the game-plan…


IOWA
(Des Moines)

Des Moines, Iowa

DATE: AUGUST 4th, 2020


NEBRASKA
(Omaha)

Omaha, Nebraska

DATE: AUGUST 5th, 2020


COLORADO
(Colorado Springs)

Colorado Springs, Colorado

DATE: AUGUST 7th, 2020


KANSAS
(Topeka)

Topeka, Kansas

DATE: AUGUST 10th, 2020


I am SO excited to take this trip and challenge myself to try something different. I have NEVER traveled by myself, so this adventure will really be something completely new for me, and for my running journey. As you all know, I am ALWAYS looking for places to explore, things to see, and what to eat whenever I take a trip – so if you know someone who lives/has been to any of these cities – PLEASE leave some suggestions below!! And feel free to subscribe to get updates on the story of each state once I get home!

Runner’s Train of Thoughts

Running

A Runner’s Train of Thoughts

Diary of a Half Marathon

​As we walked back to the car after half marathon #28, the sun slowing beginning to warm the air around us, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I recalled the outrageous number of thoughts that had cycled through my mind during the hour and a half I was running. When you’re running, for any amount of time, you inevitably find your mind wandering to people, places, basically ANYTHING to keep your mind off the moment, off the negative thought train. You know, the one telling you that you’re tired, out of breath, maybe hot, probably too cold, your legs definitely hurt, your head hurts, wait, everything hurts. 

Now, that train might not be so bad when you’re running a mile, two miles, even three miles, but… when you’re running 13!? Boy. Does your mind go some funny places to avoid that taking that train. Like… really funny places….


The Starting Line


Oh God. Where do I stand? Right here, okay, cool. This is my spot. Perfect. This person is way too freaking close to me. And how does he already smell? We haven’t even started running yet. Oh wait. Is that me who smells? No. Ok. It’s not me… yet. I am definitely going to smell by the time this race is over. Ew. But. Maybe it will be worth it. Maybe I’ll win. Or not. Maybe I’ll be last. No. Ok. You won’t be last. That won’t happen. Stop thinking that. When the hell is this thing going to start anyways? And WHY IS THIS PERSON SO DAMN CLOSE TO ME AGAIN? Should I move up? Maybe I’m faster than that girl. Or maybe not. Maybe she’ll pass me and I’ll look like an idiot. Ok. I’ll just stay here. OH SHIT. HERE WE GO. 


The First Mile


Alright. This isn’t so bad. This is great! I’m not even cold anymore. I am on top of the fucking world. I might even win this whole thing. Wouldn’t that be fucking sweet? Oh shit. She passed me. Ok. Just one girl. No big deal. WTF ANOTHER ONE?! Ok. These people are NOT messing around. I need to go faster. NO. I can’t. Remember that time you completely overexerted yourself and then died at the end? Yeah. You hated that. Especially when they tried to force you into that ambulance after you made a joke about the defibrillator looking like a boombox. I mean, it did look like a boombox. Don’t do that again. You’re fine. Just run your race. It’s literally the first mile. You have 12 more to make it up. These people are so dang fast though. What the heck did they eat for breakfast? OHHHH I’m gonna pass you, HAHA! Sucker. I’m cruising now. What?! Mile 2? God I feel like I’ve been running forever. 


Miles 2-8

Alright. Mile 2. We got this. We are feeling good. Let’s just keep this going. Wait. What is that pain in my side? Is that going to get worse? Oh great. At least I have that to look forward to. No. You need to stay positive. Do not start thinking about the end yet. We literally just started. At least you’re not dying yet. Remember that race in Arizona? Yeah. Nothing is worse than that. At least I didn’t get high last night. At least I’m not high right now. Yeah. I’m feeling good! This is great. Okay. Let’s focus on our pace. Should I look at my watch and check how fast I’m going? No. Let’s just run our race and see what happens. But. Also. Maybe I should look at my watch and just check. No. No Amy. Oh a dog!! That store looks nice. I wish I had enough money to shop there. An ice cream store! Yes. I can totally afford that. What was the name? Shit. It’s gone now. Oh well. Alright. Let’s re-focus. FOCUS AMY. Just one foot in front of the other. We got this. I CAN DO IT. 


Miles 8-11

THIS IS TAKING FOREVER. My legs hurt. Everything freaking hurts. I feel like I am going so slow what the hell is happening here. I don’t care about that dog. Ok. Maybe I do a little bit. Aw. Look at that. A little girl holding a sign. I should give her a high five. But that would mean having to take several extra steps. I’m not doing it. But she’s so stinking cute. Ok fine fine fine, DO IT AMY. YES. So glad I did that. You are such a good person. Okay gotta get my head back in the game here. What’s my pace? Oh. Wait. That pace is actually pretty good. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m dying right now, I’d be super pumped about that. TWO MORE MILES OH MY GOSH. Ok. Let’s just slow down and then go faster for the last two miles. 


THE END IS NEAR!

I’m ALMOST THERE. I can do it. I am on fire. SHIT he passed me. I need to pick up the pace here. How much further is it? Shit I really have to pee. Okay just one more mile. I CAN DO IT. Maybe I should go faster. SHIT what is that pain in my side?! Ok. Don’t go faster. Just relax for now until you get a little closer. But everyone else around you is picking up speed, you HAVE to go faster. OH MY GOSH THERE’S THE FINISH LINE. I wonder where my mom is. I should smile. I can’t smile, I’m too tired. Okay let’s just sprint this final stretch. One. Two. Three. GO. HI MOM!!!!!!! Finally. I’m done. That was amazing. 

The BEST & WORST Half Marathons

Running

The BEST & The WORST
Half Marathons

The same question somehow seems to slide into my DM’s every single week: “so, which race has been your favorite?” There have been some INTERESTING (to put it lightly) races and places throughout my journey… but here are the absolute BEST and WORST race travel destinations that I’ve seen so far.

The BEST:

Ogden Half Marathon
Ogden, Utah

The Ogden Marathon/Half Marathon is held every May in Ogden, Utah & it was by far the BEST travel destination that I’ve been to thus far. While I have visited many big cities (Las Vegas, New York City, etc.) along my journey, Ogden offered more than any of them. Ogden is unique, gorgeous, and offers endless adventure. 

The city of Ogden itself is located North of Salt Lake City with an endless mountain backdrop lining the sky. The downtown area is a pedestrian hot-spot filled with quaint little shops, unique eats, bars, and art galleries. Right outside of town there are countless options for exploration. Here are just a few of them:

– Antelope Island State Park
– Ogden Trails
– Waterfall Canyon
– Ogden River Parkway
– Ogden Canyon Trail
– Snowbasin Resort
– North Fork Park
– Powder Mountain
– Nordic Valley

If you’re one who loves outdoor adventure – Ogden is truly the PERFECT destination for your next trip. And what about the race itself? Well, Ogden made sure that it was a perfect representation of its town. Starting at the top of the mountain in the crisp early sun, you ran downhill, between massive slabs of rocks on both sides of the street. Waterfalls slipped down into creeks as you soaked in the scenery of the beautiful mountainous landscape. After 13 miles you finished in the downtown valley, greeted by the perfect picture opportunity. 

The WORST:

Veterun Half Marathon
Summit Point, West Virginia

Well… sorry, West Virginia, but you take the cake for the worst race travel story so far. Now, nothing against West Virginia itself – the state actually has some interesting sites to see in certain cities – but not in Summit Point… At least not from what I saw. 

While the trip itself was fairly short, just a quick little road-trip weekend, I didn’t necessarily need to see anymore. The race took place at a motocross park – a never-ending road that twisted and turned into countless opportunities for half marathon chaos and confusion. And that’s exactly what happened. 

Hundreds of runners took off, twisting and turning in unison for the first couple hundred feet. Until some started leading the pack, and some started dropping back. That’s when it happened. The confusion. The chaos. The absolute disaster. The course was not marked well, to say the least, and runners had absolutely no idea which way to turn, or where the road was leading, or should be leading, us. We were all running in random directions, nobody quite sure where we had come from or where we were supposed to be going. When I finally found the finish line, I realized I was still only at 11 miles…. which is obviously a problem when you’re going for 13.1. I literally had to TURN AROUND 100 feet away from the finish line, and run back into the course just to grab another 2 miles. It was an absolute mess. Straight up madness. 

Outside of the race being a natural disaster in itself – the town itself didn’t necessarily offer too much more to see (sorry, Summit Point). We actually had to drive out of the city limits to find somewhere to eat/to fill the car with gas. So. Not that I’m saying you SHOULDN’T visit this West Virginia town – but, I’m just saying, it’s not quite gonna make the list of places I’d go again. BUT WHO KNOWS. They could build a Dairy Queen and change my mind. 

South Carolina

States

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

State #30

​Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Half: BEACH RUN
Date: June 4, 2020
Finish Time: 1:43
Pace/Mile:
7:40/mile
Who’d I travel with? Nick
Pre-run meal? Pasta, pizza, some red wine, and a shit ton of Moscow Mules

Guess I’ll Just Make My Own Damn Race…

Just a few months ago I had my shit together, man. I had races planned for nearly every single month of 2020 – new places to travel, exciting races to participate in, bigger goals to achieve… and then… Corona Virus. Covid had such an unforeseeable impact on so many – and I refuse to complain about something like my races being cancelled when I compare those races to the life changing damage done to so many others. So, instead, I decided to continue my journey anyways.

Running wasn’t cancelled. Road tripping wasn’t cancelled. Exploring wasn’t cancelled. So, I decided that instead of participating in those now-cancelled races I had registered for, I would simply make my own. I would still travel each month to different states and run my own 13.1 miles in each one. I decided that I will still explore new places and spend precious time with people I love... Starting with…

SOUTH CAROLINA

And guess what?! After 9 hours of being trapped in a car together… he STILL LOVED ME. I know, pretty amazing. After a long car-ride and a bit of a mishap with the lock at our Air B&B, we were finally settling into what would be our home for the week. When it comes to Nick & I, I have to admit that we’re a bit of a competitive couple.. Okay, we’re an extremely competitive couple. So, when we saw that our place was right next door to several putt-putt courses – well, it was pretty obvious where we’d be spending most of our vacation.

In case anyone was wondering… I won (well, I won at least one game out of four). The remainder of our vacation was split between relaxing on the beach (where I forced Nick into listening to the remainder of our true crime podcast), eating LOTS of food (where Nick gently encouraged/forced me to try oysters), and playing soccer with a volleyball in the sand (where we both completely embarrassed ourselves by pretending we still had the same touch on the ball that we had when we played in college).

Let’s pause for a moment here to talk about South Carolina’s race preparation – or rather, the lack thereof. Due to the fact that this vacation was FREAKING AMAZING – I wasn’t overly concerned with strictly preparing myself to run. Life isn’t just running. Life is spending all day long at the beach, drinking Moscow Mules and playing corn-hole and mini-golf in the afternoon sun, ordering Hawaiian pizza at 9 p.m. because Nick and I got lost in a crime podcast once again while drinking a bottle of wine on our patio. Life is so much more than trying to be “good” at running, or trying to always do your absolute “best.” Sometimes, other things are simply more important. And, you know, that whole lack of preparation thing likely would have been fine… had it not been for Nick’s suggestion (or challenge, rather) to run my 13.1 South Carolina miles on the beach. But hey, at least my emotional tank was full, right?

Morning came, and…well…Nick and I slept in a little later than we had planned (classic). Sometime around 9 a.m. we finally stumbled down to the beach for my “race” to start. Nick dragged a stick across the sand to create my starting line as I continued to panic about the race (who knows why, but I was still my normal pre-race nervous-Nelly self even without an actual race). See evidence below.

Eventually, I finally came to terms with the fact that I was about to run 13.1 miles in the sand – so, I waved goodbye to Nick and took off down the beach! Let me be clear here: RUNNING IN THE SAND IS THE HARDEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE. I am not kidding. I have experienced many terrains during my 29 states – the hills, the heat, the humidity – and yet NOTHING compares to the challenge of running in the sand. Nothing. It feels like you’re putting all of your effort into each and every step, yet you’re somehow just still moving so dang slow. For the first 6-7 miles, I simply tuned the world out and enjoyed the scenery as I bobbed and weaved between beach-walkers and sand-castle-makers – simultaneously trying to avoid the approaching tide. And although it was hard as hell – it was also incredible. It was a once in a lifetime type of run – the type of challenge I wouldn’t have thought to try, or even have had a chance to, had it not been for the change of plans this year.

The last few miles were by far the most challenging. My calves felt like they were going to explode (I don’t recommend trying to run 13.1 miles the FIRST time you ever try beach-running). My body simply wasn’t prepared. I’ll spare you some of the details, but, essentially, I added a bit of additional mileage to my race due to the fact that I had to keep running up and down the beach to the garbage cans (that whole pizza and wine combination ultimately didn’t go so well). I was freaking EXHAUSTED as I approached the final stretch. But. The moment I saw Nick standing there, my spirits rose. I was so excited to hug him, to celebrate with him, to share the entire experience with him. I crossed the home-made finish line he had prepared while I was running and collapsed into the sand. Armed with water in one hand and alcohol in the other – he congratulated and hugged me (despite the extreme amount of sweat being inevitably transferred to him).

After a quick splash in the ocean, it was time to celebrate! We spent the remainder of the day drinking, laughing, exploring, and social distancing, of course. State #30 was so unique – sure, my time wasn’t great, my preparation was… welll, there was no preparation, and my body wasn’t necessarily equipped to run that far in the sand – but you know what? It was absolutely perfect. I had challenged myself to do something I had never done before, and I did it. I ENJOYED myself without stressing the whole time about my performance or my time. I took a road-trip and vacation with someone I love. And even though there wasn’t an actual race…

I had still run 13.1 miles in my 30th state!

.

The BEST & WORST Pre-Race Fuel

Fuel

So, it’s the day before the big day; you know, pre-race day. Usually, for me, that either means I’m…

1.) stuck in a car for four thousand hours driving somewhere
2.) traveling by plane & getting settled into some unfamiliar city
3.) exploring a city that I’ve already arrived at the previous day

Sometimes I’m like super-woman: packing healthy snacks, drinking my 150000 ounces of water, and indulging in foods which are said to predict the perfect performance. Anddddd then sometimes I’m like Amy – drinking 3 glasses of wine, an order of cheese fries, and a pre-bedtime milkshake with a cupcake on the side. So, let’s take a look at the best and the worst foods I’ve fueled my body with before the big day – and whether they truly did or didn’t impact my performance. 


The BEST:

Idaho. Hands down. Hardest I’ve EVER tried to be the perfect athlete. Alright. Picture this (and keep in mind, I didn’t lose my shit through any of it). It’s Friday. I’m at school teaching preschool children who are out of their mind because, well, it’s Friday. I manage to hydrate, ALL DAY LONG, despite the fact that this means I have to call an administrator every 40 minutes to go to the bathroom. I PRE-MAKE pasta the night before to bring to school; because all of the articles say that a pre-race lunch should actually be the one in which you consume your carbs for the race. So. Like I said. I FREAKING PREPARE PASTA and have it at the correct time of day.

Fast-forward a bit, keeping in mind that I am still hydrating all day long. I leave school at 3 PM and get on a plane to Idaho. I avoid ALL of the Starbucks, Cinnabon, airport snack traps; and manage to fill my water bottle again before hopping on my plane. I arrive at my connection airport (where I am meeting my mom) – it is now approximately 6 PM; we have one more flight before arriving in Idaho at approximately 9 PM (I know, sleep wasn’t going to be a priority for this race- so I had to make sure my nutrition was on point). AGAIN, I avoid all of the snacks that the airport offers. I get a QUINOA CHICKEN SALAD at the airport – who does that???? Me. Because I was being a rock-star. I managed to:

  • Eat my carbs at the appropriate 2 PM time slot
  • Hydrate all day long – and have nothing but water after 9 PM. 
  • Quinoa chicken salad with lots of veggies – a light dinner
  • Have NO ALCOHOL

Performance Impact?

Well. It didn’t. This race was absolutely nothing special – performance wise. I finished at 1:36 and ultimately took place as second female. Don’t get me wrong – a lot of things could have impacted this, the route, the altitude, the temperature, the other individuals in the race/the competition, etc. What I’m saying, though, is that it didn’t make me some super-human runner that managed to accomplish something crazy because of what I consumed. For the most part, you should try to still eat something pretty health, just so it doesn’t hinder your race-day performance – but, what I’ve found below, is that it ain’t the end of the world if you go a little outside the recommended diet. 


The WORST:

Let’s be perfectly honest here. There was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to abstain from nutritional defeat in Las Vegas. No freaking way. The race could have been 2 hours after I arrived and it wouldn’t have mattered. But to make matters even worse, the race was at 7 PM THE NEXT DAY. This meant I had a whole day to trot around the city trying all the food and alcohol I could find (or afford). Before race #2 I managed to consume the following around 8 PM. 

  • Nachos – complete with every fixing you can imagine
  • 3 beers and a Moscow Mule
  • DEL TACO – YOU GUYS. DEL FREAKING TACO. I had a Las Vegas fast food dinner. Unreal. 
  • A late night buffalo chicken sandwich with fries
  • 7/8th of a piece of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream 
  • Sunchips. Because. Why not at this point?

Performance Impact?

Well. It didn’t. This race was at 7 PM and somehow I still managed to finish with a time of 1:38 AND place second in my division. Again, so many things go into how one races – the day, the week (for my female readers), your fuel, your training, the time of the race, my travel situation, temperature, altitude, the atmosphere of the race. But I was in Las Vegas – I wasn’t going to sacrifice my enjoyment of the trip for my performance – but ultimately I didn’t have to. My fuel, no matter how shitty, didn’t impact my performance in the negative way that I had assumed it absolutely would. Which leads me to the point of this post… 


BOTTOM LINE:

​Don’t sacrifice your experience for your performance
Performance can only be elevated by your genuine enjoyment of the race. Don’t panic about what you fuel your body with – try your best, and if you can’t, then say fuck it and run your best race anyways. Only you can determine how your race will go- and sometimes it doesn’t even matter if you have Del Taco the night before – you’ll still kick ass anyways. 

RUNNING SUPER FOODS

Fuel

Running Super Foods 

Which foods are the nutritional superheroes when it comes to boosting our energy, preventing sickness, and optimizing our performance? 

Broccoli

Broccoli is one of our MVP’s when it comes to nutrition. Offering a source of Vitamin K & C, Fiber, Folate, and Potassium; broccoli can reduce inflammation, boost our immunity, and improve our digestion (among many more things). Basically, broccoli can prevent you from getting sick before race day, help flush out toxins, and keep your body regulated.  

Oatmeal

Whether you’re a runner, or simply someone with a busy schedule, you know the importance of keeping your energy level up – and oatmeal will do just that! Oatmeal provides a healthy source of carbs to help us power through the day while also improving our blood circulation, reducing inflammation, and even lowering cholesterol. 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse when it comes to Vitamins – providing up to 4x the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A we need within just one potato! Sweet potatoes are also high in fiber, Vitamins D, C, B, and antioxidants. While keeping your energy up and your belly full, sweet potatoes can also help with vision (allowing you to keep your eyes on the trail, or road, ahead) and keep your immune system functioning at peak performance!

Cinnamon

Herbs and spices can offer a shocking number of health benefits – and cinnamon is no exception. This superhero spice can help to lower blood sugar,  keep our brains functioning longer, and can even help fight off infections and bacteria. ​While it’s medicinal properties are still being studied, many of the studies that have been conducted show evidence that cinnamon may be more powerful than we ever thought. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that cinnamon comes in different versions. What you need to know is Ceylon cinnamon > Cassia cinnamon. 

Grapefruit

Grapefruit, compared to some of the carb-dense superheroes we’ve already talked about, is extremely low in calories – yet it’s still PACKED with health benefits. Coming in at just over 50 calories per grapefruit – this citrus all-star is high in both Vitamin C and fiber. Grapefruits are a great food source for hydration, they keep our immune system functioning properly, and they can even keep your body’s insulin level at bay. What does that mean? Basically, they can regulate the sugar levels in your body while also fighting off bacteria and infection. Oh, one last thing, they can boost your metabolism! 

Berries

Berries – so many types, and so many superpowers! Berries have long been regarded as a major source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Berries have the powers to reduce inflammation (inflammation that can ultimately lead to some of our major diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer).  Outside of being such a defender against disease, berries help our artery efficiency, reduce oxidative stress, and guard against injury. 


Sources: 
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-oats-oatmeal#section3
https://www.health.com/nutrition/sweet-potato-health-benefits
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section11
https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/benefits-of-grapefruit/
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-reasons-to-eat-berries

Wisconsin

States

Green Bay, Wisconsin

State #2

​Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Half: Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon
Date: September 21st, 2014
Finish Time:
Pace/Mile:

Who’d I travel with? Melissa, Cliff, Rob, Mom, Marsha  
Pre-run meal? Pretty sure it was fast food of some sort…

Alright… Maybe Just One More…

​So, half marathon #2… not as glamorous. It was basically out of convenience. There happened to be a half marathon that my cousin Melissa’s husband was running in Green Bay, and this happens to be where 99.9% of my family members live. We travel back and forth from Ohio to Wisconsin at least 4-5 times a year to visit my siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, you get the point. But anyways, we were back to go on our annual apple-picking trip with the entire family. And it just so happened that there was also a half marathon this weekend, so, I ran.

My training wasn’t as exciting this time; I barely even remember if I did train. I’m sure I did because my time improved. I can’t recall what I had to eat the night before, or nearly anything except for one thing: I slept on the floor of my sister’s house, with 2 cats (I’m allergic to cats), and was just unpleasantly surprised by mother nature’s gift for the month. I was less than thrilled, but I was ready to run.

It was actually a beautiful course. It’s funny how you’re running for 13 miles yet you can usually only recall bits and pieces of the run. Like what the hell was I doing that I didn’t take in the surroundings for 8/13 of the miles? But I do remember running through a few parks, running by some water, and the fact that I hadn’t yet faced my first “there and back” (I actually didn’t even know there was the potential for such dreadful things in a race of this length). It was a beautiful run, and it left me ready to keep running. 

West Virginia

States

Somewhere in, West Virginia

State #15

Location: Somewhere in, West Virginia
Half: Veteran’s Half Marathon
Date: March 3, 2018
Finish Time: 1:34
Pace/Mile: 7:10
Who’d I travel with? Mom, Kristen, and Mike
Pre-run meal? Uh. Dairy Queen I think? Oh and Pies & Pints! 

Uh…What Just Happened? 

I mean… at least I only have to do West Virginia once, right? So maybe #15 wasn’t necessarily the MOST exciting of steps in this journey; but hey, 15 is one one step closer to 50 right? Plus, it wasn’t all bad. 

Or wait. Maybe it was.

But. At least West Virginia is just a stone-throw from Ohio, right? Well. Of course, ya girl picked the absolute southeastern most part of West Virginia to run my race… strike 1. But the weather must have been mild in West Virginia right? Well, evidently West Virginia isn’t necessarily any warmer than Ohio in March… strike 2. And strike 3? Well. Strike 3 requires a little bit of an explanation. 

It was finally the moment that I had waited for the entire race – the final mile. As I rounded the last corner of the course and the finish line finally came into view, I could see my mom and my sister among the spectators lining the last stretch. I was so close, I could hear them screaming to sprint the last leg – and that’s when it happened. That’s when I turned around and started running… in the opposite direction – away from the finish line. The look of dismay on my mom’s face at that moment – she looked as though she might jump the barrier, stomp out there, and carry me across that line herself. But I was determined, determined to finish this race. 

I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Well. This race was held on a Motorsports Track, and couldn’t have been marked any worse. Essentially, once you started running, you were now a rat, running around in a maze, praying you made it to the finish line at some point. I couldn’t even keep track of the amount of times that I got lost. I was running in circles out there, just trying to find my way to 13 miles. So, when I finally did find that finish line, I checked my phone and saw that I had only run 12 miles… So I did what any dedicated runner would do – I turned my ass around and kept running (making sure not to stray too far from that finish line – or it would be another 13 before I found it again). Anyways – long story short – strike 3 was my inability to navigate anything larger than a preschool playground. 

But hey.. it’s definitely a finish I’ll never forget. 

Washington

States

Seattle, Washington

State #23

Location: Seattle, Washington
Half: Mud and Chocolate Half Marathon
Date: April 15, 2019
Finish Time: 1:36
Who’d I travel with? Brett
Pre-run meal? Chocolate. Just kiddingggggg. But honestly… I don’t know, probably because I had too much chocolate. 

MUD AND CHOCOLATE (LOTS OF CHOCOLATE):

From Louisiana, to St. Louis, to Seattle. Three months, three races, three states, three adventures. Seriously. At this point, I was banging out 13 miles left and right and hopping on and off planes as if I knew what I was doing, or knew how to actually navigate an airport. Seattle, Washington – state #23. I was traveling with Brett, and, since he’s quite the planner (thankfully, because I am not), we had a ton on our agenda already – he had already looked up the best places to eat, to drink, to play games – we (he) had everything planned out. Until approximately 10 minutes before landing; at which point, we realized, Seattle, Washington has legalized some things recreationally that, well, aren’t necessarily legal elsewhere. 

NOW. I AM NOT SAYING THAT WE ENGAGED IN THIS TYPE OF RECREATION. GOSH. WHO DO YOU THINK I AM. Also, not sure if you read my post on my Arizona adventure already (if not, check it out for a better understanding) but, again, I will say that I really, really, enjoyed Seattle’s fine chocolate and gummy bear selection. And again, I consumed WAY TOO MANY FREAKING GUMMIES AND CHOCOLATES. I’m just trying to live my best life here, okay guys? Anyways, as I was saying, we had everything all planned out. Until we found chocolate. And gummies. 

We were Air B&B-ing it again this trip. So we found our place, settled in, and ate chocolate till we passed out. When we woke up, it was finally time to explore Seattle. But first, a 5 mile run through the Seattle forests. This trip was unique because, for this particular race, there were two races: a 5 mile race on Saturday, and the half marathon on Sunday. Brett really wanted to do the 5 mile race. So, like the supportive girlfriend I am, I ran it with him on Saturday before my own race on Sunday (did I mention there was MORE free chocolate at the end of the race? I mean, it wasn’t quiteeeee like the chocolate we already had back in our room, but it was still some damn good chocolate). It was pouring out, but underneath the tall trees you couldn’t feel a single raindrop. We were completely sheltered by the forest canopy, and I couldn’t get enough of it, any of it. It was absolutely unbelievable– the trees, the paths, the leaves and pine needles all over the ground. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to be able to explore 7 more miles of it the following day. I got first female in the race – scoring myself a nice coffee mug and some more free chocolate (chocolate seemed to be the theme of my Seattle trip). After our race, we finally showered and got ready to explore the city of Seattle (but first – another piece of OUR chocolate —– bad idea in hindsight). 

Guys. Don’t get me wrong. Seattle is absolutely unbelievable. But. I’m not going to lie here. This day will go down in the history of my life as one of the funniest days I have ever experienced. I mean. Here we are. In this city that neither of us have ever been to. On the furthest reach of the US. Completely confused and lost. And laughing at literally everything. Except the guy who we thought was a security guard at the Space Needle – he wasn’t funny until after we realized that he wasn’t going to arrest us for anything, but rather, was just going to point our dumbasses in the correct direction to go up it. We explored everywhere (I’m not sure how we navigated our way around the city, but the picture evidence says that we made our way around pretty well). We went to the Gum Wall (who knew that was there???), the Space Needle, and the Pike Place Market. At the end of our day-long adventure, we got some food and finally made our way back and crashed to recharge for my race in the morning. 

It was the morning of the race and we were in the middle of the forests of Seattle…completely soaked. It was raining from the moment we got to the registration table until the moment they blew the whistle for us to begin racing through the mud to the finish line. Luckily for me, once I start running, everything becomes background noise. From previous experience, I decided it might be a good idea for me to start near the front of the pack to avoid bobbing and weaving around people as I passed – this ended up being a very good idea. As I started running, I realized that I was quickly ahead of the pack – the whole pack. Literally. I couldn’t see anyone in front of me, and nobody had passed me yet.

This race was a 4.5 loop, which means I had to run the same route three times before finally detouring to the finish line. As I started my second loop, the man at the water counter shouted, “KEEP IT UP YOU’RE IN FIRST!” And in that moment, I decided, I was going to win the damn thing. I was flying through the woods, cutting corners, weaving between trees, conquering hills and speeding down the slopes. With just a mile left, I knew I was still in first place, and I wasn’t going to stop now. I kept going, maintaining my pace and my focus, until the finish line was in sight. And when I saw it, I sprinted through, shocking everyone because a female had won the race (WOOHOOOOOO!). It was my first overall win, and I couldn’t have been more proud, or more excited; because, like I said, there was free chocolate at the end of the race, and I got first dibs. 7:30 minute miles, 1:36 finish time, first female, first overall finisher, YES. 

I shoved chocolate of all kinds in my face as my body finally started to calm down from the rush of excitement. After a few more cupcakes, it was definitely time to celebrate. After a long shower to get the mud off, we drove back into the city to explore, and continue, our adventure. We went to Rachel’s Ginger Beer (SO. FREAKING. GOOD), got a sundae at Shug’s Soda Fountain (because I really needed more chocolate)and played connect 4 as we watched the sunset at a little wine bar in Pike Place. It was absolutely perfect. State #23 will always be remembered for it’s first place finish, mud, and-of course- the chocolate.