Thursday, April 28, 2016

#FeelAmazingEverday: Prodcut Review & Recipe

Thanks to the folks at Fit Approach, I was given the opportunity to check out some new plant based protein powder from Amazing Grass.  Amazing Grass was created in 2002 to help people connect health, nutrition and the environment to lead more active lives through organic, plant-based nutrition.  All Amazing Grass products are plant-based, Non-GMO, and made with real, whole-food ingredients. Amazing Grass is designed for people who want to get the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables conveniently, cleanse and detoxify, have digestive issues, and/or are vegan or consuming a vegetarian diet.*

Amazing Grass Protein SuperFood contains a unique blend of USDA Organic pea, hemp, chia and quinoa, delivering 20g of complete plant-based protein per serving plus 7 alkalizing organic greens and two-full servings of wholesome fruits and vegetables.  Not only is Amazing Grass Protein organic, Non-GMO and vegetarian/vegan friendly, it is also Paleo friendly!**  So needless to say, I was pretty excited to get to test out this great product, especially when it arrived in this awesome box with several other cool items...

Not only did I get a whole canister of protein powder, but I also recieved a pretty sweet mason jar to enjoy my smoothies in, a bag and coupons (who doesn't love discounts, see below), and eeeek, a Prana yoga mat towel!!!  This one box totally made this vegetarian yogi's day!

Ok, so now that I have all my goodies, it's time to test out this protein powder that is supposed to be so amazing!  I got the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor, well because I am OBSESSED with all things peanut butter and I figured it should take pretty good in just about anything I make with it.  So the first, and easiest thing was to throw it in a shaker with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  Let me tell you, it was delicious!  Not only was it super simple to make and yummy, but it was nice and smooth, not clumpy, chalky or grainy like other plant based protein powders.

Next, I decided to get a little creative and make some of my "famous" (well famous to me and my family) protein pancakes.  I mean, I figured you cannot go wrong with protein pancakes, especially when they is chocolate and peanut butter involved.  So I used my typical recipe and whipped up some super scrumptious pancakes:

2 very ripe bananas
2 egg whites
1 scoop Amazing Grass Protein powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Maple syrup

As suspected, they were absolutely delicious!  I will certainly be making this again with my Amazing Grass powder.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to check out this awesome product and will definitely be using it as one of my go to protein sources!

If you're interested in checking out Amazing Grass SuperFood Protein, which I would highly recommend, here is one time code to receive 30% OFF your first order!  Be sure to register and use

SWEATPINKChristina16 when checking out.  Don't delay, offer expires 5/31/16!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Shaking Off a Bad Race After a Good Season

When you run enough races, you're bound to have some bad ones.  It's definitely fun to PR and to have those runs that feel wonderful and effortless.  But if we rocked every training run and every race we did, it would kind of take the fun out of it.  I mean, am I wrong?  So every now and then we need to have one of those downright ugly races, the ones that chew you up and spit you out and have you even regretting racing that day.  We need them because they humble us, they give us perspective and they teach us lessons not just about running but about life.

This past weekend, I experienced one of those type of runs at the Lake Minneola Half Marathon.  I already had 3 races scheduled for April, so I originally did not want to run this race.  But with convincing from a friend to run with her in hopes to PR, I agreed.  I really wanted a sub 1:40 half, I was so close and felt like I could finally do it on this flat, fast course, especially with the help of a stronger runner by my side.  But sometimes, despite all our efforts things just don't go our way.

So let me back up a bit.  April started out great.  I hadn't raced in almost six weeks, so I came into the month with fresh legs and just itching to race!  My first race of four for the month was the Riverside Dash 15k.  It had been over two years since I ran an official 15k, so I was a little nervous but mostly excited.  I struggle to pace myself on distances I am not used to.  I set what I felt to be a realistic goal of 1:10 for a PR.  I came in with a 1:08:40 finish and second in my division.  I was pretty amped about my pace and was feeling pretty confident to finally get my sub 1:40 later in the month.

Six days after my 15k, I raced an 8k earning another shiny new PR.  I was ecstatic to get my 8k under 35 minutes (finish time 34:58) and third overall female!  Oh and my oldest son, Nolan who is 4, won his kids run!  The next morning, with a 2am wake up call, my friend Kim and I headed out for the two hour drive to Clearwater to run the Iron Girl Half Marathon.  This was Kim's first half marathon and I agreed to be her pacer and help her get a sub 2.  This was one of the most difficult courses I have ever ran with FOUR HUGE bridges.  Kim rocked it though and we got her that sub 2 she wanted with a finish time of 1:57:07!!!

After 3 races in 7 days with a total of almost 40 miles (including training miles), which is way more weekly mileage than I'm used to doing this time of year, to say I was exhausted was a total understatement!  Oh and did I mention it is allergy season!?!  So needless to say, by mid month, I was feeling pretty burnt out as well as developing some symptoms of illness.  I still had high hopes for my half marathon towards the end of the month so though I would take an extra rest day here and there, I would still push pretty hard on the days I did workout.

It all eventually caught up with me.  My allergies got out of control and I ended up with an upper respiratory infection as well as a sinus and ear infection (similar to what happened last allergy season when I ran too many races without enough rest).  Just a few days before I was to race the Lake Minneola Half Marathon for the PR I had been hoping to get, I started a round of antibiotics along with some meds for my allergies.  The good news, I was finally able to breath better and was no longer experiencing the intense sinus pressure and headaches.  The bad news, the medicine reeked havoc on my already sensitive GI tract (thank you IBS) and zapped my energy!  So now I was left with a decision.  Though I was feeling better in some aspects and felt I should go ahead race, I was concerned I would fall short in my goals and be left pretty disappointed.

The afternoon and evening before the race, I had felt the best I had in weeks so I went to bed feeling pretty good about the next morning.  But the morning of the race was a different story.  My allergies and sinus issues were pretty much nonexistent that morning, but my tummy was another story.  I won't go into to much detail but let's just say, I was definitely NOT 100%!  I tried to convince myself that maybe it was just race day jitters and decided to head out to the race in hopes it would settle down once I got going.  I learned pretty quickly in the race, however, that would not be the case.  In fact, after about 3 miles I realized I maybe should have sat this one out.  Of course, it was a little late for that, so I just had to press on.  I told my friend, Stacey who was helping me pace to go ahead without me.  I took my first of many walk breaks around mile 4, caught a bit of a second wind between mile 5 and 6, but by mile 7 I realized this was going to be one of those days I will be happy just to finish!   It was slow, there was a good amount of walking and even a few times I thought of taking a DNF.  But eventually I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:49:24.

I missed my goal that day by over 10 whole minutes and had my worst half finish in almost 4 years!  Yes, I was definitely a little disappointed.  This was not how I wanted to end my Spring season, especially since this was my last longer distance race before heading into marathon training this summer.  But I reminded myself that one bad race does not define me as a runner.  And like I said above, we NEED these bad ones to really appreciate the goods ones.  I had a great not just month, but a whole season of racing as well as pacing.  Since the beginning of the year, I have PR'd in my marathon, half marathon, 15k and 8k, I placed in all but two races I raced in, I got to pace two half marathons, and more importantly I learned a lot about myself as a runner and as a person.  I made more new friends and had the most fun this season than I have had in my entire running career!

So moral of the story, you cannot let the rough days get to you, you have to look at the bigger picture.  You got to take it all in stride, taking the good with the bad.  Learn from the bad stuff that you can control so you do not continue to make the same mistakes.  Let those bad runs be fuel for you to push harder.  But also learn to let go of the things that are out of your control and not let them eat away at you.  Seek the good in any situation, trust me there are always positives in anything (this of course is a little easier for me since I am an eternal optimist, hehe).  Don't let those hard runs overshadow all that you have accomplished.  And know that your best runs are the ones still to come...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tips for Breaking Out of a Running Rut

It happens to the best of us.  Despite how much we love running, every now and then, for whatever reason, we lose our mojo and running becomes more of a daunting task than an enjoyable hobby.  Whether you are a new runner who's been PR'ing left and right, an elite runner at the top of your game, or someone who just enjoys running for fitness, every now and then we get burnt out.  There are several reasons why runners get into a rut.  Some are very obvious like an injury or illness, while other less obvious reasons like emotional stress or over training.  Whatever the case may be, you are not alone and it will soon pass.  Here are a few tips to help you cope with your rut and be back at it in no time!

1. Take a Break
Us runners are a different breed.  We will run with shin splints, bruised toenails, hip pain, and more.  If we can tape it, roll it, and/or ice it, then we're good to go!  But every now and then, even with all our efforts, our bodies will tell us enough is enough.  There is only so much we can take.  Even if it's not a glaringly obvious injury, when we are over trained enough, our bodies will not allow us to push as hard as we want to go.  This can become very frustrating and discouraging, especially if you are working hard towards a specific goal.  But taking a day or two off from running may your best bet to break out of your running rut.  Don't worry, a day or two here and there will not cause any major set backs, in fact it will most likely do you more good than harm.  If you're feeling good just having a hard time with running, replace your runs with some cross training like swimming or even some yoga.  If you're feeling very run down and any activity seems tiring, go ahead and take a full rest day or two.  And of course if there is an obvious injury or illness, be sure to see a medical professional before fully returning to running or exercise.  Always listen to your body! 

2. Check Your Diet
Food is fuel, you wouldn't fill your high performance, fancy sports car with unleaded, you want to put premium in that baby.  Your body is no different.  As a runner, you too are a performance machine and you need proper nutrition to keep you running efficiently.  Many runners make the mistake of overindulging after a nice long run.  Just because you're burning a significant amount of calories during your workouts, doesn't mean you can eat anything and everything in sight.  On the flip side, some are hoping to lose weight and end up not eating enough to fuel their workouts.  Having an unhealthy or inadequate diet will soon affect your physical and emotional health which will of course affect your performance.  Be sure you are not only eating the appropriate amount of calories, but also you are getting a variety of food and getting enough of your macro-nutrients (protein, carbs and fat).

If you're completely clueless when it comes to diet, don't hesitate to seek professional help.  Talk to your doctor about getting a physical to make sure you are in good health and ask to speak to a registered dietician or nutritionist to devise a nutritional plan that is right for you and your active lifestyle.  Keep in mind no one "diet" or program is right for everyone so be sure to do your research and seek professional help.

I am a big fan of the MyFitnessPal app I have on my phone. It helps keep my calories and more specifically my macros in check that that I am properly fueling for my runs, cross training and even off days.

3. Cross Train
I cannot stress enough the importance of cross training for runners.  It is a vital component to any runner's programming.  Do not wait until you're already in a rut to engage in cross training, rather use it to help prevent you from getting too deep in one in the first place.  Swimming and biking are great, but strength training and stretching are tremendously important.  Building a solid foundation through strength training and building long, lean muscles with stretching/yoga, will help with performance, improve recovery time and prevent injury.  It will also add variety to your fitness, helping you from getting mentally burnt out too!

For more information on the importance of cross training for runners, be sure to check out my past blog posts "Strength Training for Runners" and "Yoga for Athletic Performance."  Also, be sure to continue to check back as I will continue to post on cross training.

4. Set New or Different Goals
Whether you are someone who just runs for the fun of it or are someone who runs several races a year, eventually running can lose it's luster.  For those of you who are not training for any particular event and are finding it difficult to lace up and pound the pavement, consider signing up and training for a specific event.  Having a specific goal with a definitive date, will keep you accountable and give you that push you've been needing to bring you out of your rut.  And of course you will feel so excited and accomplished once you've reached your goal, you'll be ready for new ones!

Of course another reason people get into running slumps is that they are just running way too much.  Feeling the need to run in every single event your town has to offer may be fun at first, but soon you may find yourself less excited to race and not to mentioned exhausted!  This is common in new runners who are enjoying the thrill of the race, the cool bling and of course all the PR's.  This has actually happened to me several times, including when I first started running, returning to run after having children and when I've started running new distances.  I felt like I HAD to do every event.  The "runners high," however will only last for so long and eventually your body and mind will get burnt out.  Consider focusing on a couple of core events each year.  Try to run a variety of distances and maybe even consider trying something new like a longer or shorter distance race or even a biking event or triathlon.  Spreading out and varying your events will keep things fresh and exciting.  You will be less likely to get overwhelmed with all the training and/or even bored with repetitiveness that is running race after race after race.

5. Hire a Coach
Websites, books, blogs, social media, articles and podcasts are all great resources to improve anything from running form to strength, but your best defense against running ruts and staying a healthy happy runner is hiring a professional.  A coach can help devise a plan specifically to you, your goals and your capabilities.  Just like nutrition, there is no one-size-fits-all program for any runner.  A coach will help you make the appropriate modifications, including regressions and progressions, needed to help you reach your goals.  With a coach you will have not only have effective progressive programming to follow, but you will also have the accountability, motivation and support needed for success.  Be sure to do your research when hiring a professional and make sure they have the appropriate credentials and experience to help you with your specific running goals.

To learn more Coach Christina and her training services at CWSC Performance, visit her website and Facebook page.  Also, be sure to follow Coach Christina's fitness journey on Instagram.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Race Recap: Riverside Dash 15k

There are not many 15k races in the area, so it's not a distance I get to race often.  In fact, it had been over two years since I last raced a 15k and it was actually at this very event.  I remember it being a smaller, local event that was well organized and a lot of fun, so I was super excited to run it again this year.  There were a few changes since the last time I ran it, but it was equally awesome, so here is a recap of the event and my experience running it this past Sunday.

Signing Up with Ease
Let's start with registration because it is always a plus when it is an easy and inexpensive process.  I signed up several months ago using a coupon code I had received through my Moms Run This Town chapter.  I had also noticed periodically discount codes on their Facebook page as well as in various other race packets.  I believe I paid around $40 for the event, which in my opinion is very reasonable for a mid distance race with a tech tee and finisher's medal.  Registration was through, and if you already have an account through that site, signing up for the even is incredibly simple.  I also signed up my kiddos for the FREE kid's run and they recieved their very own race bag and t-shirt.

Packet Pick Up
They offered packet pick up at Academy Sports in Lake Mary on Friday and Saturday before the race, as well as race morning.  I was able to attend the Saturday one and thanks to the store coupon in my packet, I was also able to do a little shopping ;-)  The shirt, in my opinion, is pretty ugly.  I'm not usually a fan of the white shirts, and the design is a little plain and strange.  Also, it's a women's fitted so of course on my Amazon self, it is way too short.  Probably won't get to wear, nor do I really want to.  But oh well, I have an abundance of race shirts, so I'm bound to have some bad ones here and there.

Driving and Parking
Sanford is about 30 minutes from me, and mostly interstate driving, so getting to the location was fairly simple.  They had sent out several emails leading up to the event indicating road closures as well as where we can park.  Not being too familiar with the area and nervous about enough parking, I got there a little over an hour early.  I had no problem finding a parking spot at the lot the website and emails had suggested, in fact I could have parked even a little closer in some of the side street spots.

The sun wasn't up when I got there, so it was cold and dark.  They were still getting set up in the expo area but they did have the registration and packet pick up table set up as well as a tent with coffee and donuts, whoohoo.  Since the race expo was being held at Fort Mellon Park, we did have access to the public restrooms there, and I tell you what, it was so nice to get to use an actually bathroom!  It is the little things that make us runners giddy.  There were also several port-a-potties available on the other side of the expo, but most preferred the well-light and clean restrooms.  Though they were still preparing for all the post race festivities, they DJ was in full effect blasting out upbeat dance music over the loud speaking and making race announcements.

I was able to meet up with several of my MRTT mamas before the race for pictures.  Because we were right on the waterfront, it was windy and cold for us Floridians, so we were all bundled up together!
Freezing MRTT mamas!
The Race
The race started right on time just as the sun was coming up.  It hadn't really warmed up much and the first couple of miles we dealt with a solid headwind.  We ran along the water then through downtown Sanford, on brick streets (which I'm not a huge fan of but it was for such a short period of time).  There were two sharp turns shortly after the first mile and we were on a straight away for the next several miles.  These miles were all along the waterfront, which was absolutely beautiful.  The sun was coming up and there wasn't much shade, but on the way out it was perfect since it helped warm us up and make the headwind feel less bad.  The road was on a slant (to the right on the way out, left on the way back) which was a little uncomfortable, but luckily it was straight and there were no hills.  I felt like I was able to keep a good 7:25 pace on the way out.

They had us turn around at the zoo around mile 4.5.  Knowing it was an out and back course, I now knew exactly what to expect on the way back.  The sun had really come up by this point and it was nice and bright in my face.  It was was warm though, so I appreciated that!  After the turn around, I was able to see a lot of my friends out there running too!  I was handing out cheers and high fives left and right, it was a blast!

From miles 6ish-8ish, I had passed most of the runners coming up on my opposite side and there really wasn't much runners in front or behind at this point, so I got a little lonely.  But I had his a good stride from the excitement of seeing all my friends out there and had managed to keep it up.  By this point, I was holding on to a steady 7:21 pace.

Around mile 8, we did our turn to get back into downtown and on the brick.  There was a hydration station there and the folks volunteering were hooting and hollering for us since we were almost there!  After leaving the brick and closing in on the 9th mile, I tried to kick it into high gear.  But as we rounded the corner to return to the water front and finish that last .3 miles, BAM came the headwind again!  I was like The Little Engine That Could at this point.  "I think I can, I think I can" With all my might I thought I could sprint through to the finish line, but that dadgum wind had other plans for me. I gave it my all and still came in pretty strong with a finish time of 1:08:38, average pace 7:21 and second place in my division.  My goal was to get a sub 1:10, which would have required sub 7:30 minute per mile average, so I was ore than pleased with my performance.
Exciting to run into old friends at these events!

The After Party
As far as smaller, local races go, this one had a pretty impressive little after party.  It's very well organized in a large loop in the open park.  They had beer in real plastic cups, not solo cups (pretty classy), pancakes for the runners to enjoy, music bumping and plenty of vendors with freebies.  They stuck to pretty close to their projected schedule of having the kid's run on time and handing out the awards.  The fact that the sun was shining bright, the temps were cool and we were right on the beautiful waterfront certainly helped the ambiance as well.

Results for the race were posted at the event shortly after the race and posted online later that day.  Pictures for the event were made available for purchase through within two days of the race and we were even offered a discount code for purchases made within the week!
Yey for new runner friends made along the course!

Final Thoughts
Just to recap, here are a few pros and cons...

Well organized
Easy to get to and park at
Same day registration and packet pick up
Cute medal (for both 15k and 5k)
Good after party
Stuck to the schedule
Flat, fast course that was very scenic

Ugly shirt
Slight lateral slant to the course
Not much crowd support for those who enjoy that
No finish line photos

All in all I would say it was a great event that I highly recommend. Definitely think this will become a yearly event for me and hopefully I can shoot for a sub 1:08 next year!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Broken Pool, New Treadmill and 15k Training

This was quite a fun and busy week.  My husband and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary on Monday.  I had some great runs and I also continued to stay dedicated with my participation in the Runners Love Yoga Challenge.  I took a much needed extra rest day in preparation for my 15k on Sunday (I will recap that in another blog), and finally got my knee and foot/shin feeling better with some foam rolling.  I will do a brief recap of the week and in my next post, focus on my race.

Monday: Taught spinning as usual and worked legs.  I have a slightly embarrassing admission to make here...I have been trying so hard to grow a booty.  Genetics as well as distance running make it a constant struggle, but I have been hitting leg day harder now that I am not marathon training and I am starting to see a little progress.  A Kardashian I am not, but I'm hoping not to embarrass myself in my bikini here in a couple of weeks when we go on our beach vacation.  With all that being said, the harder leg days make for interesting runs during the week...
RLY Challenge Warrior III
Tuesday: Yey for a new to me treadmill!  A client of mine was moving and downsizing so we took her huge, commercial treadmill off her hands.  I actually like running on a treadmill.  It became a necessary evil after I had the kiddos, they would come with me to the gym so I could knock out training miles.  It is also comes in handy during those insanely hot summer months.  So on Tuesday, I shot downstairs while the kids were still asleep and banged out 5 speed work miles.  Woozers my legs were sore from leg day, but once I got going on my intervals, they loosened up some.  I didn't want to go too crazy with speed work since it was race week, so it was 8x400 @ 6:15 avg. pace, with a warm up and cool down.
RYL Challenge Bound Side Angle
Wednesday: I got a quick lift in at my gym, but wanted to conserve my legs and some energy for the pub run later that night.  I don't get to the Fleet Feet runs as much as I'd like to, but I try to make an effort to get the their pub run every other month or so.  We usually have a good turn out of Moms Run This Town ladies and it's so fun to catch up with them.  My friend who I have been running with to help her get ready for her first half was going, so I wanted to run with her and catch up over some beers.  We did a little under 4 miles and had a great time at World of Beer afterwards!
Always fun times running with my girl Kim, can't wait to pace her through her first half next weekend!
Thursday: So Thursday, yeah, Thursday.  Well, I had already decided I wasn't going to run that day.  I ran Tuesday and Wednesday and not only was I still feeling leg day, but my knee and shin where acting up.  So I figured Thursday would be the perfect day for a swim.  LA Fitness had other plans for me however, since they had yet to fix their pool that had broken several days prior.  In fact it will be another week before I can swim there, ugh!  I thought about heading down to the springs for an open water swim practice, but we were expecting storms, so much for that.  With my knee and shin pain, the stepmill didn't seem like a good idea and there were no yoga classes going on during my free time.  So I took this as the perfect opportunity to do some foam rolling and work on mobility and core.  Best decision ever!  I managed to work out whatever was going on with my foot and shin.  My knee was doing better and the time off from running made me legs (and probably mind) feel refreshed and ready to go!
RYL Challenge Bird of Paradise
Friday: Just a quick upper body lift to hopefully have my arms looking nice for my race photos that weekend, hehe!  Yes, I know it sounds obnoxious but who doesn't like to have nice looking race photos?  I swear all of mine are always scary.  Of all the races I do, I maybe get one in every 50 shots where I look human and not like some Ursula from The Little Mermaid.  Plus, with our beach trip about 5 weeks away, I am really focusing on leaning out and cutting up.  I want to look my best at the beach and pool!

Saturday: My original plan for Saturday since I would not be running to rest up for my race, was to swim.  But since the pool was still closed, I planned to go in to foam roll and work core.  I spent probably close to 30 minutes or so doing foam rolling and some active stretching.  I was so glad I did, I sure needed it!  The rest of Saturday was spent heading out to packet pick up and hanging out with the family.  It was raining that day so went to Chuck-e-Cheese to let the boys burn off their crazy, then it was family cuddles on the couch watching the Final Four.  Went to be around 11ish for my 5am race wake up call.

Next up on the blog, Riverside Dash 15k race recap!