Cliff Notes: Phoenix Recap (3:14.59)

Cliff notes version: I PR’ed and was first in my age group.

A photo of me post race
A photo of me post race

The longer but not too long version:

The first half of the race felt great.  I ran the first 13.1 in 1:34.

For the last two weeks, I have been dealing with a hamstring soreness/tightness that manifested itself in this race around mile 18.  From mile 21-26.2 I felt my hamstring and hip during each and every stride.  It was the hardest section of running I’ve done in a while.  I fought through (and believe me if I felt anything rip, tear, pop or do something to change my gait I would have stopped).  My hamstring caused my stride to shorten and for it to be a miserable last 7 miles.

I’m in a decent amount of pain (not soreness but pain) post race.  It’s not sharp but it does feel strained.

I also dealt with 14 hours of traveling and being up for 22 hours on Thursday to Friday.  I could feel exhaustion kick in.

I had already planned to rest several days before returning to running but I’m resting until I can figure out what is going on.  I’ll be back at you for a much longer blog post sometime soon.

It was a great PR and a good race for me.  I know I still have not conquered the marathon distance by any means.  I did learn that my fueling was perfect though for this race and I believe that was a huge lesson.  The other important thing about typing up this race recap is that I’ve finally learned how to spell “Phoenix”…instead of Pheonix…

For the LOLZ: 

Trying to get up to collect my age group a bumbling idiot.
Trying to get up to collect my age group award…like a bumbling idiot.

age group winner

Thank you for all the love and support from family and friends.  It truly means the world to me.  




A Confession of a Grocery Shopper

I have a confession to make…  

I do the majority of my grocery shopping at Walmart, Target, Wegmans or our local super market Shoprite.   I don’t enjoy grocery shopping that much and I go in on a mission, get my food and leave.  I don’t spend hours scouring each individual aisle.

grocery cart

I’m not a foodie.

I’m not great at cooking.

I don’t spend a small fortune on food.

I use coupons when I remember them.

I shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes 3 times a year (if that).

I don’t buy the latest and greatest organic protein powders and nut butters.

I do, however, eat well and take in the proper nutrients (most of the time).  I actually have a public health college degree and have taken multiple college nutrition courses.  In personal experience, those who studied nutrition are the least stressed about it.   They don’t worry about the newest foodie fads or the most expensive gourmet foods.

The majority of our household meals take a maximum of 30 minutes to make. I have no problems eating the standard meat, potatoes and veggies multiple times each week.  It doesn’t bother us and we know it works and is healthy.  We will add variety with different meats, starches and vegetables but we don’t cut out food groups.  We have no need to substitute carbohydrates for more vegetables (such as cauliflower crust pizza).   Our food is simple and identifiable.

It is not that I can’t afford to shop at specialty grocery stores.  If my interest was to try multiple specialty foods, I would.  I don’t have a need to complicate my nutrition.  I don’t have a need to spend 50 dollars on a tub of protein powder that would last me a week.  When did we transition to be “trendy grocery shoppers”?  What makes the Whole Foods brand of cereal O’s better?

As a society, we obsess too much over food.  Whether we are obsessing over the latest fad diet or we are obsessing over the brand of our cereal.  We are obsessed with food.   We complicate food and nutrition.

The bottom line is a common myth and misconception is that it is necessary to shop at a specialty grocery store to eat well.  That is not true and any grocery store is going to provide quality food and nutrients to keep your body healthy (from Walmart or Trader Joes).

Questions for you:

Where do you do most of your grocery shopping?

How long does the average dinner in your house take to cook?

I’m Coming for you Phoenix.

There is less than a week until my second marathon.

To be honest, this race has snuck right up on me.  It feels like yesterday when I began debating if I wanted to make this my goal race (in reality that was 4 months ago). Now it’s less than a week away!  It’s hard to believe that six months ago I was dealing with a stress fracture.

As I limped into work August 22, I knew my fall racing and marathon schedule were out the door.  

Was I done running forever?

No, of course not…but I was done running for at least 2 months.  I rested and recovered the entire two months.  It was an injury and time that I felt no need to strenuously cross train through.  I didn’t want too and I didn’t crave workouts…Looking back I was extremely burnt out and needed the rest.  I didn’t feel pressure to cross train because I wasn’t training for anything.

After completely recovering, I took two months to build up some mileage (smartly).  It was then (3 months ago), I decided maybe I could run another marathon (Why I chose the Phoenix Full).  So here I am now less than a week before the race.  I’m still in denial it is coming up so soon.  With my previous marathon, it felt like months of preparation and weeks of build up.  With Phoenix it feels like…surprise…time to go to this race (although I’ve talked about it a lot).

In less than a week, I toe the line (and bum the line in runderwear) at my first goal race of 2015.

I’m nervous.
I’m excited.
I’m ready.

With any race, people ask goals and racing strategy.  The answer is I honestly don’t know.  

I do know for the Phoenix marathon I want to finish healthy and strong.  I have only raced one full marathon and it was 18 months ago.  I don’t remember what racing that distance is like.  Sure in the last 18 months, I’ve run close to 10 different 20 milers but 20 miles and 26.2 miles aren’t the same.  I would know as I rode the pain train at New York. I might dry heave and collapse after mile 20.

The internet never forgets. 

Mile 13ish

Might as well be happy right?
Might as well be happy right?

Mile 22: Get me out of this place. 

Marathons are so fun!
Marathons are so fun!
Thanks to the famous jewelry designer Erica Sarah for this shot.  #Neverforget the dry heaving at mile 24.
Thanks to the famous jewelry designer Erica Sara for this shot. #Neverforget the dry heaving at mile 24.

My primary goal for any race, especially a marathon is to finish healthy. It always has been my first goal and it always will be.  If I can start and finish a race healthy than I consider it a success.

My B goal is to finish under 3:20. A 3:20 puts me around my PR of 3:17. I’m going into Phoenix much less trained. While the course, the race and logistics are different, it doesn’t make up for less training. I wouldn’t have trained any harder or any more and I am running this racing coming from an injury. A big positive is, I won’t have to be up 7 hours before the race. I also won’t have to travel into a large overwhelming city.  I will be at peace in the morning and be able to relax.

With any goal race, a PR is always the reach and major goal. I do think it’s a huge reach goal for this time but I’ve remained pretty healthy post stress fracture so I don’t think it’s out of reason.  I’ve been smart with my training and rested when I needed too.

In summary, I would like to continue to get comfortable with the full marathon distance.  My main goal is to enjoy myself and finish injury free.  Any time you can finish a race healthy whether it’s a 55 sprint to a marathon is a good day.  I want running to be life long and once race (good or bad) will never define my running.

On any note, I’m coming for you Phoenix with runderwear and racing flats.

The Town Diner (East Windsor)

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet Christine at the Town Diner (East Windsor, NJ).

This diner is not to be confused with the Town and Country diner ten miles south or the Hightstown diner right down the road. We made plans spur of the moment, and I found myself with a date the morning of! Christine has been a world traveler this month, so it was nice to catch up with her while she was back in the Garden State.

The Town Diner Atmosphere: A
The outside decor of the Town Diner is shiny and metallic. It screams diner. Being right down the road with the Americana diner, it has stiff competition to draw in customers.  It is a classic diner and draws you right in.

town diner


Image found here

The inside of The Town Diner has multiple booths and tables. It is kept well to the upscale diner theme. Even though it was lunchtime, it was empty. I was surprised! The staff is very friendly and certainly inviting.

The Town Diner Coffee: A
The coffee at the Town Diner was good. Something I could appreciate was that it wasn’t in a boring white mug. I know white coffee mugs are cheaper for diners for restaurants, but I enjoy diners that choose a different color. As with life, it’s the inside that matters, but I could appreciate the change of coffee mug scenery. The actual coffee with whipped cream was great, though, and I have no complaints.

Town Diner Coffee

The Town Diner Food: A
The Town Diner menu has a seafood flare. There is just about anything you can imagine a diner to have but in an upscale way. It was evident while its a diner, it’s a very upscale diner. I ordered the Mediterranean salad.  All of the salads come with soup, and it was my lucky day because they had lentil!  My two favorite soups are lentil and split pea, and I always feel like I hit the lottery when a restaurant has them.

Town Diner lentils

The salad was heavily dressed, chopped, and had chicken, onions, olives, artichokes, and mixed greens.

It was one of the best salads I’ve had so far. I have complaints. It was delicious.   I like when the salad dressing is thicker and not water-based.  They didn’t skimp out at all, which was nice.

Town Diner Salad

The Town Diner Cost:$
For my salad, coffee, and side of pita bread, it was only 15 dollars.

Overall thoughts: A
Would I come back to the Town Diner?
I have absolutely no complaints about this diner. It was perfect.  The Town Diner is a nice upscale diner and a great restaurant in general.

Cliff notes:
Atmosphere: A
Food: A
Coffee: A
Price: $10-20

The Town Diner is one of the best diners I’ve been to in New Jersey. It’s very close to exit eight on the turnpike and one I would recommend.

You can see all the diner reviews here.

Questions for you:
What is your favorite coffee mug?
What is your favorite type of soup? 

Time Away

This is a bit more of a personal post. I began thinking more when someone emailed about Tim and I’s relationship and how we dealt with deployments so far.  It’s not a secret he leaves often and once we get into a semi routine that routine is normally broken.  Without fail this has happened every single time but that is the nature of the military community. 

We are not relationship experts by any means.  We do what works for us and makes us happy.

Flight School Graduation
Flight School Graduation

Am I upset, hurt or defeated that routine and plans are often changed at the last moment?

No, of course not.

Am I constantly learning about myself and my relationship?

Of course, who isn’t?

When we graduated college, Tim also commissioned into the military. I knew this would happen.  This had been his plan all along (way before he met me).  I didn’t have the experience to deal with the deployments, long distance relationships or the stress that came with it.  We talked a lot and I was prepared as I could be for the scenarios. I have always found in running and life that I learn the best by experiencing something.

For example:

In running, experiencing the bonk of my first marathon.  I had read many articles about the last 10k, but the experience taught me the most.

In life, experiencing the transition from college to real life and my first job.  College prepared me for a lot but my first job prepared me even more.

In our relationship, experiencing the first deployment.  We had prepared the best we could but the first deployment taught us the most.

Experiencing the first big plans changing (when I moved 1700 miles from VA to TX only to be told we were moving 2000 miles, 6 weeks later.

It wasn’t a secret we deal with multiple deployments and quick changes to routines and schedules. We both knew if our relationship would work out, we (especially me) would need to learn to be flexible.  I’m not looking for sympathy because I honestly I love my life and am happy with it.  I could not imagine life any other way.

Throughout college I was more routine and organized than anyone.  I had planners to plan my planners.  I was a very strict scheduled person.  When I went to my first job (T and did long distance for a year), I stayed very organized, planned and routine.  Fast forward a year and it made sense for me to move to Texas.  Tim was essentially told that he would be living in Texas for 4 years.  He didn’t have the option to move, I did.  So I moved 1700 miles to Texas.

About a week later, I got my first dose of reality.  After driving 1700 miles down to Texas, we got word we were moving to New Jersey (2000 miles the same direction…or 300 miles from where I started).

This was not in my plan.  My plan was to move to Texas and find a job.  

My plan was not to move to Texas for 6 weeks and move to New Jersey.  

That was my first dose of reality that our relationship couldn’t be planned.  We could not plan every moment of life.  We had to take things as they came.  We had to “go with the flow”…a phrase VERY foreign to me.

Here are some things that have worked for us:

  • Making sure we take time for each other.  We aren’t always together and there is no guarantee that a date night that was planned will stay planned…we do make the time to share the moments we do have together.
  • Communication.  It’s important to us (even if we aren’t together) to make an attempt to communicate.  Does this mean texting each other every minute of the day?  Absolutely not…but attempting to talk when possible is important.
  • Trust each other.  This comes a lot with being apart…we trust each other.  Even if we don’t talk daily, we know our relationship is strong.  We know when we are back together, nothing will have changed.  It is an absolute great feeling to know that.  It’s a feeling I haven’t had with anyone else.
  • I have touched on this before but having separate hobbies and activities.  When plans and schedules change such as a sudden deployment. I have other things to fall back on.  I have a job I love, friends and family that care for me and hobbies that I get enjoyment from.  Tim also has the same and I think having a few separate hobbies keeps our relationship strong.  That being said also having hobbies we can do together keeps us very strong.

These are just personal thoughts about what works well for us.  I could not imagine life any other way anymore (and gosh I cannot imagine being a very strict and routine person anymore).

Questions for you:

Are you a very routine and scheduled person?

How do you and your significant other make time for each other? 


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