26.2 With Donna Health & Fitness Expo

Saturday morning started off somewhat lazy, but I was awake and ready to go by 7:30a. It’s amazing what excitement + anxiety will do for you = super productive (now, too bad I wasn’t at home and I could’ve cleaned my entire apartment in 2 hours flat I’m guessing). Later in the day, my mom, sister, and myself drove into Jacksonville to visit the 26.2 with Donna Health and Fitness Expo downtown at the Prime Osborn. Based on the location, I knew this would be the largest expo that I’d ever been to and boy, was I right! It was huge!!


We wandered around and saw tons of booths and sampled chocolates from Peterbrooke Chocolatier <- so good that they escaped any photos. As always there was lots of swag to pick up and I left most of mine in Jacksonville as my bag seemed to be shrinking each time I looked at it.

DSCN0147 Packet pick-up was a smooth process and there were very few lines at the tables. It was very well organized as long as you knew your bib number, but there were plenty of volunteers to help you out, as well.

DSCN0142 My mom checked the speaker schedule briefly and we realized that Joan Benoit Samuelson was due to speak in about 10 minutes,so we quickly grabbed a few chairs and camped out. It was really cool to hear her running evolution and even the goals after winning some of the major races. Since I was the only first time marathoner, she gave some specific advice to me (and yes, I will probably run another one). Too many what if’s continue to go through my head!


After a quick photo op by the entrance with my bib (and an opportunity to see Donna Deegan, the race’s founder at the expo), we were off to carb-load and relax before race day!



Race Recap: ZOOMA Florida

In January, I participated in the 2nd annual ZOOMA Florida event held on one of my favorite places in the state, Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island just outside of Jacksonville. I spent quite a few hours out there growing up and it was always a favorite spot to find sharks teeth and beautiful shells, but you always had to get out there early since everyone else was looking for the teeth too!


This was my third half marathon, and my 2nd ZOOMA race [what can I say, I loved the first one and needed to attempt to beat my time]! So, off to Florida went Nick, Sizzle and myself. On our way, we were sidelined by traffic and then Sizz wanted to experience the beach, so after we left the expo [it was small, but I knew to expect that after last year’s], we headed out to the beach to let Sizz smell the ocean air. Who am I kidding – she wanted to chase the seagulls! My little huntress…she likes things that fly.  

Photo: Good Morning. 73 degrees today!{Source}

Saturday morning we were up bright dark and early to head out to Fernandina Beach. The winds were blowing, but I knew shorts were the way to go with long miles ahead out in the sun as our route runs down A1A towards the Ritz-Carlton. Then, before I knew it, we were off and running down the main drag of Fernandina Beach.

2014-01-18 08.04.00The first miles went by smoothly and I started to pick up my pace a bit; I wasn’t running as fast as my Thunder Road times, but I kept at it. We went up and over a bridge before heading into the park and I was able to catch a gorgeous picture once again.

2014-01-18 08.29.40 The miles ticked away until I felt the last few really dragging me down; I teamed up with a fellow runner (who was doing a run-walk sequence) and we pushed through until we hit the dreadful sand. Last year, we ran onto the beach which as firm packed for us; this year it wasn’t so easy, we had to run through the soft sand that runs close to the dunes. This is not what you want to see when the finish line is in sight! But I pushed through and was able to complete my third half marathon.

2014-01-18 12.14.24 After I cooled down and stocked up on Hint waters, we hit up Moon River Pizza to indulge in pizza and a local beer post race. It tasted just as fantastic as I remembered. No pictures as I promptly inhaled it all!

Once again, this was a great race coordinated by ZOOMA – my only wish was for firm packed sand at the finish, not the super soft, sinkable stuff that glued your feet down!

Recipe: Easy Taco Soup

This recipe is one of my easy go-to favorites when I’m craving something warm, with a Mexican flare, and straight up easy. I start this earlier in the afternoon and the flavors taste oh so lovely about 3 hours in.

This makes a ton, so get out your largest pot and be prepared for leftovers <- which taste even better IMHO.

the lineup

all mixed together

2013-11-27 15.37.41 2014-02-18 16.48.10


Taco Soup


  • 1 lb ground turkey (or beef or chicken)
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 16-oz jar of your favorite salsa

Suggested Toppings:

  • Tortilla chips for dipping and some added crunch
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream


  1. In a large pot, brown your choice of meat, cooking all the way through. (I add a small amount of olive oil when I cook lower fat content meat like turkey, to prevent burning.)
  2. Once the meat is fully cooked, drain any remaining fat from the pot. 
  3. Add the remaining ingredients from the top Ingredient list to the cooked meat. Do not drain the corn or beans as you want their juices to make the soup. 
  4. Heat the soup thoroughly (I generally cook this on low). It is ready once heated, but I love to let it cook for about 2-3 hours to let the flavors really meld together. 
  5. Serve with the suggested toppings above, or the soup is great by itself.

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I may not be a loyal leftover lover, but this one I can eat day after day.

Marathon Training Recap: Last 4 Weeks

After my half in Florida in January, I quickly realized that my marathon was just around the corner <- *cue mental freak-out* and my longest run was my only 13.1 miles. I know, I’m terrible and should never increase mileage so quickly, but I took my time and didn’t overly kill myself. I knew I wanted to feel strong, not exhausted at the end of it all. So, off I went for 17 miles.

2014-01-26 15.06.00

Mission accomplished! I was happy, but not dying at the end. I took my pace much slower than I probably could have, but again I wanted to be able to move afterwards. Laundry won’t do itself and my pup still needs potty breaks during the day.

Long story short: the first 5 were decent and fun. I had my girl with me, so my mood and spirit is always high with her. The next 12 were rough. I tried the Margarita Clif Shot Bloks and hated them – give me my Chocolate Outrage GUs all day long! The absolute worst part was reaching the top of a hill, seeing Uptown, and knowing that I had to turn around and run back the way I came [I did an out-and-back course for the 12]. But I knocked them all out and I’ve never felt as accomplished as I did when I returned home to a quite energetic girl, I might add.

2014-02-07 07.53.23

The next weekend I set my mind to complete 19 miles. Now, that’s an increase that makes sense! Once again, Sizz and I took off for our 5 mile loop that takes us through uptown before I dropped her off before heading back out for another 14 miles. I mapped out a course that was more of a loop with a smaller loop in the Southpark area. I love running down there and staring at all the crazy, obsessively large houses, but wish there was a better trail system in the city. I tried the Salted Caramel GU at mile 10 and all seemed to be going smoothly [I also took my favorite Chocolate Outrage GUs at miles 5 and 15]. And then it happened, I hit the wrong button when I went to restart my Garmin after stopping at a light and saved the run around 16 miles. I was so mad at myself that I wouldn’t see a new PDR happen again that weekend. I took my fury out in my last 3 miles and made up some time! Hey, whatever works, right!? At the very end, I was trying my darnedest to get to 19 miles so I was running laps around my building and freaking Sizz out since she could see me from the window. Run complete!

PicMonkey Collage

So, 19 wasn’t too shabby; it was time to conquer a 21 mile run the following weekend. I mapped out a course that was about 16.5 miles knowing that I may cut some corners and didn’t want to come up short after dropping my girl off after her 5 mile jaunt around town. It was incredibly overcast [yet, somehow my Garmin connected almost instantly], so I erred on the side of caution and started Runmeter on my phone. It may not always be the most accurate, but I sure wanted to see a new PDR [and not 2 separate screenshots]! The first 5 went smoothly, as always, and then I dropped Sizz off before continuing on my 16.5 mile out and back course. My Garmin lost signal around mile 7.5 and I could NOT figure out why I wasn’t keeping my pace up – I kept running and running and running. Well, it turns out I was – thankfully Runmeter was still tracking my time. I gave up on my Garmin and let it keep running, but continued to check my pace on my phone. I took another Salted Caramel GU and struggled to get my energy up again for the next 5 miles. I then took a Chocolate Outrage GU and was like a brand new woman again. Lesson Learned: stick with what works! I arrived back home and was slightly shocked when I checked out Runmeter; it was a shiny new PDR for me! Knowing I only had 4.5 miles more to go for race day was a sweet surprise and gave me the confidence that I can complete a marathon in 2 weeks time!

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This last weekend was a bit of doozy for me…I needed new shoes as mine were completely shot. Who knew that when they bend in half vertically that they are done…lessons learned everyday. After a trial run of 5 miles in the Mizuno Wave Rider 17, they just did NOT work for me. I went back to my favorite Run For Your Life and they hooked me up with some sweet Brooks PureFlow 3 that I loved the minute I put them on.  Now, time to break these babies in before completing a challenge that a year ago I never said I’d do: complete a marathon!

2013-11-16 08.27.06_Thunder Road

M.I.A. + Snapshots from Life

I have been absolutely M.I.A. for a while now, due to work, training, and travel (oh my the travel), plus the holidays – how in the world can I forget those? Lots of travel coupled with busy, busy weekends meant no time for me…and to be honest I was kinda questioning whether blogging was “for me” or not. But here I am, back again with a renewed mission after realizing that I do miss blogging and building relationships in the blogosphere when I’m not active.

So let’s recap in a brief view then details shall follow later:

October: the Fresh Expo; ABD event; Nick visiting his mom in Cary {weirdly quiet looking at this, but I knew November would be INSANE}2013-10-13 09.53.19

November: Ski Patrol refreshers; Liz + Wade’s Wedding; the Eagles concert; Thunder Road Half Marathon <- New PR; Brenden, Mere + Anna spent the weekend in the QC; Panthers-Patriots game; John Oliver show; and a quiet Thanksgiving filled with shopping! 2013-11-18 20.58.13

December: New York City; busy bee at work; then Christmas in Florida filled with lots of baking!2013-12-24 18.47.48

January: Minneapolis, MN [in the middle of the #polarvortex]; Florida for ZOOMA Half; Seal Beach, Santa Monica, and LA [much more my speed!]; started the Advocare 24 Day Challenge; and marathon training.2014-01-22 11.37.26

February: long, long training runs; delayed MSP trip <- of course, the weather would have actually been decent this time;)

Well, that about brings you up to speed on my last few months. I hope to complete some serious recaps on Thunder Road, NYC, and ZOOMA. Who knows – you might see some more if I have nothing else to talk about 🙂

Now, let’s talk marathon training. As I never told you, it’s time to bring you up to speed: I bailed on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh full marathon since some place to sleep was going to be of concern <- hotel rooms + dogs aren’t always the best, plus the course map didn’t look so fun to me [I train on hills – I don’t want to race on them, but I do anyways]. In a twist of events, I signed up the 26.2 with Donna in Jacksonville, FL on February 23 as an alternative race.

I started this post a few weeks ago, but never published. Now, I’m sitting here looking at a marathon in 6 short days: I’m excited, nervous, and just ready to get it over with. I’ll detail some of my long runs and my goals for this race tomorrow! Check back in to see just how far I’ve run since I left you guys hanging months ago.