Sunday, October 29

Running with soul- A feature on me from 2014/15

disclaimer: things are a bit distorted as this was copied from other bloggers page

The RedHeaded Runner

How many years have you been running?

A little over a year.

Little bit about yourself:
I’m a southern belle living in the outskirts of Atlanta with my husband, the Champ, and dog son Eddie Munster the mutt. I love live music and a good beer.

Now onto that whole fitness thing. As a youngster I was always active but as I entered college I began to slow down. However, I was part of my University’s Judo team (I maintain some street cred, k?) But after college I found my self-bound to the confines of a windowless cube. I would sit in my chair for 8 hours and not move. I learned so much about myself during that time. I learned I was an outgoing person, someone who yearned for sunshine, fellowship and movement. To break this cycle I decided to start jogging. Who am I kidding I jogged all of 20 feet and was heaved over my knees gasping for air. But something clicked that day. I learned how much more I wanted from myself and from my life and I decided to make a change and start a new journey through running.

Who or what inspires you to run?
Running in itself inspires me. No one can make you run. No one can make you train or be healthy. It’s all about you baby. At the end of the day knowing I ran 3 miles, 6 miles or 26 miles, I know I did it, on my own. That feeling you get after you accomplish or meet a goal well that is what inspires me.
What is your running mantra?

A year from now; you will wish you started today. It keeps me going. It’s so easy to push things off and I did for a long time. But the feeling of personal accomplishment is something almost indescribable. Stick with it and you will be in awe with yourself. Because of this I went from running a 5k to a marathon in one year (and I had to build to get to that 3.1)

What is your favorite running/fitness blog?
I love the AngryJogger. He is a little rough around the edges but right on about almost everything and makes me laugh till my stomach hurts. I also enjoy HRG, and Once Upon a Lime.

What has been your most memorable race?
Honestly, my most memorable race was my first 5k. My entire family came to see me run it. You would have thought I was running in the Olympics because we treated like it like that. It was a huge milestone. We had no idea at the time that this run would be the start of something much, much more. 

What is your dream race? (Besides Boston)
I would love to run the NYCM. I think there is something dreamy about it. Plus, I love people! I get excited when I see like two people cheering for me. I can’t imagine seeing an entire city out there. I would also like to do an international race. I have my eye on the Swiss Alpine Marathon. I can’t even fathom the beauty there let alone the privilege to run it!

What are you currently training for?
I am currently training for my first Ultra, the Fat Ass 50k, the Atlanta Marathon and the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estates. The 2 marathons are 8 days apart and I am hoping to earn Marathon Maniac status with it. Oh, I’m also an ambassador for the Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore Estates so hit me up if you have any questions about the race. Wink. Wink.

What one piece of running gear can you not live without?
I know you asked for a piece of gear but one thing I can’t live without is my necklace. My husband surprised me with it when I first started jogging. It’s of the tortoise and the hare. I wear it at every race and when things get tough I touch my necklace and it gives me super powers ;)

If you could share any words of advice/encouragement to a new runner, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and you will go far. I had someone literally tell me I was too fat to ever run a marathon but now I’m working on my third. Just remember everyone has to start somewhere and every step counts.

Be sure to follow Melissa on her running journey:

Thank you so much Melissa! You are so right, one step at a time and every step counts. Over a year ago when I decided to finally commit to running, I felt so great each day and each mile I covered. There will always be people who say you don't "look like a runner" or not understand why you love running. I say, prove them all wrong, inspire yourself to achieve the impossible. Good luck on training for your third marathon! Keep us updated!  

Be sure to check back each week, as another runner shares their story of running with soul.

A week in workouts so far

Oh, hey there. Its been awhile and so much has changed since I last wrote. Really, i'm a completely new person since our last chat. But despite the things that changed me one thing for sure is my passion for running is still there.

Several months ago I met a girl named Jess and we started jogging. Although the first few months there was much less jogging and more walking. (we started doing the couch to 5k but it wasn't an exactly good fit for us). So made some tweaks that are helping take us to a new level.

When we started we running I was really focused on discipline. I didn't exactly feel good during the runs because I was so out of shape. Fast forward about 3 months and here we are. We are hitting around 3 miles and I am feeling like a million bucks. I am feeling like my old self, that girl I thought was gone forever...

Anyway, this week I ran 3 times. The first run was 3.4 and I'm not sure of the actual pace but I was consistent with the 2:1 intervals, the next run was 3.7 miles again i don't recall the time but I was consistent with the intervals.

Now that second run was tough. Its basically the perfect course for hill repeat training. It was hard and I lost my breath a few times, my legs burned and it was not an easy run by any means but it was damn rewarding because we completed our intervals despite feeling like death. Afterwards I felt like  a million bucks.

Now today's run we focused on speed work. Im not exactly doing speed work to get faster but more for discipline again, to strengthen that drive to push when you don't want to and to build up endurance. Of course getting faster is a plus. On average I was 20 seconds faster then the goal time which felt great. I know I could have pushed it more but I dont want to get injured just because I was excited.

Next we wanted to see what our base time for a mile is. Dude, I killed it. Not running on hills or pushing a stroller made it so much easier. I ended up running a 10:30!!! Now Im not sure I could maintain that distance for a few more miles but its great to know I can do that and start working from there.

The past few weeks have been good for my soul. Each run is exciting again and I cant wait for the next after I just finished running.

Who knows where it will go or end but right now, I'm having a damn good time.

Friday, March 27

On My Mind

I haven't ran in THREE weeks. I feel like shit because of it. The medication I am on to control my autoimmune junk made my heart race (like going up the stairs I had to stop to take a breath). We lowered the one medication to stop this and now that its been lowered I can feel my muscles starting to burn which probably means my body is starting to attack its own muscles, again.

My plan was to run today since my heart is no longer racing but those damn muscles are hurting again. I think I will just push through it. My body NEEDS to run. I have a lot of tension built up that needs to be released.

But there is something about your body hurting when it shouldn't that makes it hard to do things like running. I suppose its a natural instinct- you're in pain don't run.

But here is the thing- this will become my new normal. The pain is not bad- its just there. I'm hoping one day it will be like cramps- you just don't notice them anymore. But right now, that's not the case.

A few months back I was getting arthritis in my hands and it would just come and go. When it happened it was very noticeable. Well, I was jogging and pretty happy then all of a sudden I felt my hand hurt. I swear this strong primal instinct to roar over came my body. I didn't of course but I wanted to roar as loud as I could in pain, and in anger, and from sorrow.

Its so hard to describe the frustration I am experiencing.

I am not sharing this on facebook nor telling people. In fact, I think only our parents and two other people know. I don't want to be a poster child for disease nor do I have any intent to "inspire" people through my "journey." Its just a shitty part of life that I will learn to live with.

I am actually feeling super hesitant to post this. But I find it comforting. One day, I will read back on this post and remember this experience and just like my other old posts I will see my own personal growth and my personal journey. And it will make ME stronger.

Wednesday, March 18

Spartan Race Recap

I was actually nervous about this race. Not the running aspect but to use them arm muscles kinda freaked me out. I may be abe to run but I defintly lack upper body strength.

I am going to begin with things I didn't like. They are by no means major but I felt I was nickel and dimed and I did not like that. When you register for the race you are charged an additional $15 for insurance BUT then you have to sign a waiver stating if you get hurt you are on your own. Um- then why should I pay 15 bucks? Parking is $10 cash. Not bad- Ive paid fo parking at pretty much everyrace so that was nothing new but then I got peeved from it all when I got charged $5 cash to check my bag. I have ran many races and have never been charged for a bag check. So right there between Mike and I we spent $30 insurance, $10 parking and $10 bag check- um that's $50 bucks for essentially nothing and I though that was bs.

Onto the good stuff. Check in was super easy. They gave you a bib (but didn't provide pins) that was fine, I mean you are going to get muddy- like reallllllly muddy. They also gave you a tracking chip, wristlet and a head band with your race number on it. I LOVED the head band. It was comfortable, it could be seen despite being covered in mud-- I thought it was a great idea.

I wish I had personally taken photos to share but this isn't the kinda race you take your phone with you! So you will have to use your imagination for some of the course. Spartan does provide free photos. I don't recall any photographers so they either were camouflaged or automated. Either way the photos I did get I liked.

The waves were released smoothly no long waits of anticipation. I was actually feeling really weak (thanks autoimmune disease!) and had a hard time jogging and completing the first few obstacles. My ego was hurting. I knew I could do the race but it was going to be a struggle. We did not go for time. I almost always say that but we walked 90% of the time for me whereas typically even if its a slow pace I jog.  Honestly, at first I felt pretty sad about it but I wanted to have fun so I had to let it go and I do what I could do.

As I mentioned I opted out of the second and third obstacles that involved climbing tall walls. You were allowed help from other participants and there was definitely a camaraderie going on so if you had the drive you could do it. But my fear of heights coiled with my weakness I opted for burpees. (you can opt out of an obstacle and do burpees :)) Mike took on the walls- alone-with no help.

I was proud of him.

He doesn't work out and typically bitches and moans when he does but he loved this stuff! I totally saw a different side of him and it was hot. :)

There were a lot of obstacles so really there wasn't much jogging. Where there was jogging it was on semi technical trails. Although I took it slow or walked I defiantly enjoyed it.

My favorite obstacles involved:

  • This thing- I don't even know what to call it but I got a little thrill from it

  • carrying a huge bucked of rocks up and down a hill
  • lugging a sand bag up and down a hill
FYI Mike thinks i'm crazy for enjoying carrying the sand bag and rocks but I think the burn of carrying that heavy junk up a hill reminded me of my marathon training days- you felt the burn and exhaustion and just pushed through it! And I did and it felt damn good.

  • climbing a spider web like rope up a HUGE ass mountain (your jaw drops when you look up at it, and when you get to the top and look down your jaw drops again, please note there was no mention of looking down while climbing)

  • weighted sled pull
  • spear throw
and the two below...

There were two obstacles that (besides the height thing) freaked me out. I was pumped to try the Tarzan swing but once I was standing up on the rail about to do it my heart raced. I stood there for a moment and I just said fuck it, and without thinking let myself go. Of course I face planted into the muddy water but that was OK. I didn't think about my deployment I just jumped. It was awesome.

Another one that freaked me out- You just crawled under a ton of barb wire- I mean ass down, piles of uneven sludge and then you somehow drag your body up this incline then swoosh you slide down into a trench of muddy water where you stand there in a daze for a second.


I don't even know the name of the next obstacle but you are in muddy water up to your chest and there is a wall and the water touches it. At first I'm standing there like what the hell am I suppose to do. Then I realized you are suppose to go under water and go underneath it. Um, scary. I went up to the wall and shoved my hand under it to see how far the wall went. It wasn't bad. Again, I didn't think I just dove under and jumped up as fast as I could! Omg, I couldn't open my eyes I was blinded by mud. Haha. Despite not being able to see for the next few obstacles I was pumped. I guess you could say I kinda conquered some fears :)

There had to be 20 obstacles and it was over 4 miles. For some reson I though it was a 5k but its anywhere from 3 to 5 miles...

It was an awesome race.

Post Race- The medal was heavy and good quality. I reallllly liked it. (it was better quality then my medal from my first marathon)

They had good hardy fuel at the end of the race. They also had a hosing station too which was a big plus- freezing cold but a plus. They made up for the cold with a fire pit where we and other Spartans warmed ourselves while holding our well earned beers.

I would not categorize it as one of those drunk, fun runs. A beer at the end, yes but defiantly not the night before, before the run or whatever people that involves drinking and racing. I think you need to be in shape to do it. It was tough and as you can tell from the pic below not for the faint of heart but it was a ton of fun anddd I didn't feel the bruises till a few days later ;)


Monday, February 9

Spartan Sprint

One of my first 5ks ever was an obstacle course. It was also the first time Michael and I raced together. I am pretty stoked to say there will be some family competition yet again when we take part in the Spartan Sprint next month.

Because this race doesn't just involve running he thinks he has a shot at beating me and he couldn't resist...

Aww love

This isn't a drunken mud run. This race is different. Ya know which ones I'm talking about. Yeah those races are fun but this one, this race is going to test your limits.

In just 3.1 miles you will encounter 15+ obstacles none of which you know what they are before hand. I love not knowing what to expect. It kinda motivates you more to get out there and kick some ass.

Even though they don't tell you what lies ahead their site actually gives you works outs of the day, as well as recipes of the day. They provide you with the tools to kill it if you are serious. I kinda love that. You can check them out here.

So we are doing the 3 miler but they have a total of 3 races,

The Sprints- 3.1 miles with 15+ obstacles
Spartan Super- 8 miles + with 20+ obstacles
Spartan Beast- 12 miles+ with 25+ obstacles.

Note all the pluses people. The mystery is real.

They have a lot of other cool shit going on too. From kid races to a cruise, season passes and the new location for the World Championship race. They offer a variety for every type of challenger.

I love this and this is exactly what I need right now.

Lucky for you guys, if you want to run one of their races use this code and get 10% off SPARTANBLOGGER

I cant wait to write about my experience next month. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 18

4 Bridges Half Marathon

I know, I know I am a little late in the game to be telling you about the 4 Bridges Half Marathon but it was so good I couldn't keep it to myself.

I woke up early like I always do. I did have the jitters since I hadn't ran "the distance" in several months. But I blared some Avicci and danced my ass off while getting ready. Its totally normal to do this at 4am before a race, right? Yeah, I get pretty weird with it and I have accepted it..

After some dancing I downed my red bull and scarfed down my sun butter and Ezekiel bread sandwich (my breakfast of choice before any race) and I felt pretty damn good. Am I a genius or what? We didn't  have a fridge in our room and I HAD to have cold reb bull in the morning...

The race started at the same exact place where you picked up your bib-no early morning mystery. There were maybe a couple thousand people. I had room to easily stretch and move around. It wasn't one of those races where you had to stand there for 15+ minutes for your corral to march up.

It was really perfect out- temperature, everything. The race started promptly and the corrals moved fast. Within minutes I was on the road running.

I planned on doing the Galloway Method as that was what I was doing while helping out with the track club (the majority of my distance runs) but once I got out there I felt so, so good and I decided to just go with the flow and jog until I wanted needed to stop.

Dude, this course.


It was absolutely gorgeous. It was still dusk and the Chattanooga River was in sight, and you could see the city dimly lit up.

I only had my phone with me and these photos just don't do it justice but seriously... breathtaking.

The Chainsmoker's "Kanye" came on right as I was looking over to take this picture. It totally fit the moment for some reason and just added a little something to my run.

"Didn't need a telescope to see where I was going..."

The course support was awesome. I want to say they had aide stations every mile and at almost every station they had gu. As far as cheering people no, there weren't many but I've never really ran a race with the infamous cheering crowds and really for this race you so didn't need a crowd to get you through it. The race, the surroundings, the natural vibe was enough.

I jogged for a long while. Since it was a small race I knew they wouldn't be recording our times for the 5k,10k, etc. Because of this and my curiosity, I set my phone's timer at the start and every time I reached a mile marker (which was for every mile). I took a screen shot of the timer on my phone. At one point I made it down to the 10 (something seconds) miles. It was a very flat rather, cool area and I just felt great.

I had only one gu and early on (around mile 6) as I wanted to make sure I got the nutrition in my system before I ended the run. Why did I take it so late in the game for all these years?

Everything was great again, I was totally in my zone. I actually remember thinking how much I LOVED running halfs.


I mean come on...

Not long after this pretty view you had a nice climb. Nothing bad but I was feeling a little fatigued and I do remember walking up it, I recall it being sharp too. Around this time I realized something wasn't right. My body can pretty much tell when I ran a mile and I hadn't seen a mile marker in a while and they had been out at every single mile. I knew something wasn't right either I DRASTICALLY slowed down and didn't know it or something was jacked up.

And I was right.

The mile markers were off. I don't remember which mile it was but lets say mile 10 lasted 2 miles and mile 11 like nothing. Although it wasn't a huge deal it was enough to make me lose my concentration. This would have seriously pissed me off if I was running the marathon... luckily I wasn't ;)

The next mile or so was tough. At that point I felt the bottom of my feet hurt.

Damn fasciitis.

I found myself pretty much walking.  I remember this bridge clearly and not just because its beauty.

I remember telling myself your time is awesome just jog the bridge and run down the street and you're home free.

Nope. Couldn't do it.

I have made my mistakes in running and there was no way in hell I was going to run if it made my feet hurt. So I pretty much powerwalked it and I didn't feel pained.

I finished at 2:28.

Not bad for my first race in around 6 months but that little voice in my head taunted me for a second with the what if you hadn't stopped to walk...

Meh, that voice is a bitch...

I finshed the race and grabbed my medal.

It was really nice.

Thick too. I always appreciate a good medal!

They also handed me a warm bottle of water but... it said 7 Bridges Marathon, ok call me a persnickety but I DID NOT run a marathon therefore, I should not have a bottle that says it.


They did not offer anything to you once the race ended no nanners, no bagels. What did they offer was a spaghetti breakfast. It was $10 bucks and I saw lots of people eating but it did not appeal to me. I prefer a nice carb (bagel), maybe some sugar (piece of chocolate) then after I cool down a good protein packed meal. But that's just me, that's what my body craves.

Since there wasn't any post race nutrition except the spaghetti we mosied right on out.

So heres what I think...

It was an AMAZING race. Yes, there were a couple of bumps but the t-shirt, the packet pick up, the scenery, the course support were subperb. I would totally run this race again. This IS now my favorite half marathon course and I totally recommend it to both noobs and and non noobs :)

Tuesday, December 2

4 Bridges Half Marathon- Pre Race Festivities

I ran my first half  around two months ago, at the time my longest distance since April. I wont lie, I was nervous. I questioned my training and my ability to run this distance. I described it as such to Mike, my marathon mind thought 13 miles was nothing but the fact I was not trained for a marathon and only trained for a half, I questioned my ability. I just didn't feel like I trained enough when in reality I trained plenty for a half.

Enough about that. We arrived the night before and stayed at the Chattanoogan.

As I mentioned in an earlier post here, we got a sweet deal from hotwire and really liked the digs. As always, the plan is to go to bed early so we tried to take advantage of the beautiful fall day as soon as we got there.

The first thing we did was go get my bib. I don't know if it was because it was a Saturday or what but we drove in circles for some time before getting a spot.We had some trouble finding this location as the tent was set up near a "rhino statue" not a physical address.

Not being from the area we walked searching for it. I guess it wasn't a big deal but it was annoying- control freak here I like to know what/when/where I am going. It took all of a minute to get my bib. There weren't a lot of people when I arrived. There was a small expo with headbands, belts etc they did have someone there taping up people which I thought was nice.

After the expo we walked around taking advantage of the beautiful fall day. Coolidge Park (where the rhino is housed) is really pretty.

Mike and I really like Chattanooga, like we could live there. It was so down to earth yet hip. We checked out a few local shops, went to a coffee shop and sipped hot cocoa. It was perfect.

Later, we went to the city's Oktoberfest which was free and right down the road.

They had the bands playing, kids dancing, a local market set up and of course beer. We hung out there for awhile sipping on our beer listening to the band. It was just nice.

Not long after we went back to the hotel and swam. I wanted to loosen up the muscles- I was pretty tense and nervous about the race so floating around in a pool sound really nice. The pool was sweet. it was indoors and no one was there. It was enclosed by windows and you could see the mountains. The pool had a nice glow from the lights in it that made it so inviting and it kinda reminded me of the water in Caribbean. After some floating around I hit up the steam room. I LOVE steam rooms, saunas etc. and they had both.

It was interesting though (sorry no photo) there was only room for one person! Literally the steam room had a one person seat. This was fine by me but it was just kinda funny to be sitting there in a (small) room. Literally the walls were built around your seat. Anyway, it was nice, I felt lose and its exactly what I needed.

For dinner we opted to stay in. We ate at one the restaurants in the hotel (I'm a big fan of protein the night before a race). Burgers and sweet potato fries for the win, followed by a cheesecake boxed for desert and movies in the room.

The day went smoothly, I felt like we took advantage of our time in Chatt without going overboard and actually experienced the city. We were able to go to sleep satisfied from our day, relaxed and tired. I easily fell into a deep slumber ready for the next day's race.