Training: Running with Friends and Quality Workouts

Last week makes two weekends in a row that I did not race.  It’s surprising if you know me, but there was nothing that peaked my interest.  I have been enjoying catching up with friends and getting quality workouts in as well.

Last week I did just that: I ran with friends and got quality workouts in.

Monday: Easy 6 miles
Tuesday: 10 Miles with Angela (8:29 pace)
Wednesday: 4X2 mile repeats
Thursday: Easy 8 miles
Friday: Easy 5 miles
Saturday: Easy 9 miles with friends
Sunday: Tempo+Workout
Total: 64 miles

Easy Runs:
It’s been great to catch up with friends and run with them.  Unfortunately, one of my closest friends (and blogger) Angela is moving to Colorado this week.  Last week, we were able to run and go out to eat a diner which was a lot of fun.

On Saturday, my good friend Julie, who is training for the New Jersey marathon, did a long run and I joined her for part of it.

4X2 miles (12:50, 12:48, 12:48, 12:40)

To be honest, this is the best workout I’ve had in a very long time.  The goal pace was 6:21, and while I only made one, it was the last.  I ran these on the road, and I could not be more pleased with how it went. 

Sunday: 6-mile tempo (Goal 6:44) Average: 7:18

2X10 minutes (Goal 6:21) Average 7:01

It was extremely windy on Sunday.  The night before, I didn’t sleep well, and body was just tired from training.  Am I disappointed that I missed my paces by a lot?  Of course, but bad workouts happen, and it was a combination of factors.  Upward and onward!

Next Week:
Next week I’m running one of my favorite races, the Grilled Cheese, and Tomato Soup 4 miler. I’m looking forward to seeing how my training has paid off.

Posts from the week:
Living Minimally
Life in Alabama
Guest Post: Mr. LOLZ marathon (2:59.45)

Questions for you:
What is your next race?
How was your week of workouts?

Kettle and Grille (Marlton)

Kettle and Grille (Marlton, NJ)

Recently, I went to the Kettle and Grille in Marlton, NJ. While there is no “Diner” in the name, it does serve breakfast all day, and it looks and feels like a diner.  It’s more “dinerlike” than many Casual American restaurants with diner in the name (Like the Route 248 Diner).

I arrived at the Kettle and Grille at 7:30 on a weekday and it was shockingly packed.  I expected a quiet meal but we almost got the last table.

Kettle and Grille Atmosphere: B
The Kettle and Grille is in a shopping center.  It’s not a stand-alone metal building, and it’s hard to find the actual restaurant.  Once you’re inside, it does feel like a diner with plenty of booths and a pretty open kitchen area.

Kettle and Grille Coffee: C
The coffee at the Kettle and Grille wasn’t hot at all.  It was surprising because the Kettle and Grille were crowded and you would think other people wanted their coffee. However, it was lukewarm, and I ended up not drinking my second cup.

Kettle and Grille Marlton

Kettle and Grille Service: B
The waitress at the Kettle and Grille was friendly.  With how busy it was, she was running around the restaurant.  She was shocked when she saw I was married and said: “I thought you were 16”.  It’s better then food comments but getting mistaken as a 16-year-old is never fun.

Food: B
There are the typical “diner options” at the Kettle and Grille and the Kettle and Grille menu has all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are several different steak and seafood entrees.  There is nothing unique but they do have everything a diner “should” have.  I ordered their Greek salad with chicken.  It came with a lot of pita bread, and I have no complaints.

Kettle and Grille Marlton

For a Greek Dressing, it was unusual.  To me, it tasted (and looked) like Italian dressing.  It was unique.  The salad itself was good and I appreciated they use spinach leaves versus romaine.

Kettle and Grille Marlton

Cost: $
For my salad and coffee, the cost was $16, which is one of the cheaper diners I’ve been too.

Overall/Would I come back to the Kettle and Grille (Marlton)?
I’ve been to Kettle and Grille twice now, and both experiences have been decent. It’s not my favorite or least favorite restaurant, but there is good food.  I would recommend it if you’re ever in the area.

You can see all of the diner reviews here.

Atmosphere: B
Coffee: C
Service: B
Food: B
Cost: $10-16

Questions for you:
What time do you typically eat dinner?
What is your favorite salad base? Do you like spinach, romaine, arugula? 

living minimally
Living Minimally

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in New Jersey for 10 days.  It’s been an adjustment to life, weather and just getting back into my regular routine.

I didn’t have to stay 6 weeks in Montgomery.  I did have to go down, but I could have driven back solo while my husband finished his course.  I could have driven down, did what I needed and drove back to New Jersey (driving close to 4000 miles in 6 weeks). Instead, I chose to drive down once, stay there during the quiet weeks and drive home together.  That way, we could drive one car, stay together and it would be more enjoyable that way.

When we moved to Alabama, I packed everything I would need in two suitcases.  We weren’t sure the exact time frame, but you can live out of a suitcase for 2 months.

To be completely honest, I was nervous to go down there.  As I mentioned, I left my job for 6 weeks.  I didn’t know anyone in Alabama.  While I had things to do, it definitely was not as much as living back in New Jersey.

But I wanted a risk, new adventure, and challenge.  I told myself: if I had lived in the middle of nowhere, Texas, I could make it Alabama.  Thinking out loud and truth be told, despite the constant tornados, I liked Alabama.

Living in Alabama taught me a lot how to live minimally.  I learned I have far too much clutter here in New Jersey.

Essentially, I lived out of a suitcase in a two room hotel for 6 weeks.  In the hotel, we had a kitchenette but no oven.  It wasn’t bad, and we were able to eat healthy and make do without it.

So how did we go from too much stuff to a suitcase full? 

Lucky for my husband, he has two work uniforms.  Then he needed about 2 regular clothing outfits. Since he was running and training for his marathon, he brought more shoes than I did. Realistically, he could have probably lived out of a backpack…As an over packer myself, I could not.


Do you really need 5 pairs of black leggings? Sure, the material might be slightly different or the pattern but is it necessary?  I brought exactly 10 outfits that could be paired differently.  Different tops and different pants.  I brought three pairs of leggings and did laundry every few days.  I grew to love that clothing enough that I won’t be wearing any of it for a few weeks now that I’m home.

When I got home, I had even forgotten I owned certain leggings.  At that point, I realized I had too much stuff.

We Learned New Simple and Basic Recipes:

We didn’t have an oven.  So we were forced to cook the majority of foods from a pan or the microwave.  For example, one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is by roasting them.  Roasted beets are delicious!  Instead of forgoing beets at all, we decided to try something new and boil them.  It worked out just as well and honestly it’s something I’ll do back in NJ too.

So while living in a 2 room hotel for a while wasn’t ideal, it did teach me a lot.

When I got home, it took me about a week, but I downsized and donated a lot.  What were some questions I asked myself:

  • Race Tshirts: Does the shirt have meaning to me?  Did I PR? Do I like the shirt, if it wasn’t my favorite, it was donated.
  • When was the last time I wore an item?  If it wasn’t in the last full calendar year, it was donated.
  • Do I have multiple of the same thing?  Base layers are great, but do you need 4 pairs of nearly identical black leggings?  I couldn’t even remember all of the similar styles I had.
  • Running Shoes: As someone who works in running retail, I had over 20 pairs of shoes.  I’m actively running in 3 pairs right now! I kept one model of each brand, and donated 13 pairs.  It feels like a fresh hair cut.

I’m happy to be back and I don’t regret staying down in Alabama for the full six weeks.  I learned a lot about myself and what was truly important to me.

Questions for you:
How do you figure out what to keep or donate?
What are some tips you have to live with less clutter?


Life in Alabama

As most people know, I lived in Montgomery for just over 5 weeks.  It wasn’t long, and it went by quickly.  While I missed friends back in New Jersey, I had an enjoyable time in Alabama.

alabama sunset

Alabama Sunset

I kept busy, so I wasn’t doing “tourist” stuff every single day.  Both my husband and I were able to get out, and we visited a few different cities, including Birmingham, Atlanta, and Pensacola.

John's City Diner Birmingham Fancy

Even though we were busy, we managed to travel on the weekends and went to quite a few places.  We wanted to make the best of the month and who knows when (or if) we will be back.

Here are a few highlights of what we did do.

We visited the Wright Brothers replica.  There is a full-scale replica of the first plane the Wright Brothers flew right off the highway.

It was great to see that as well as all of the planes on display at the Maxwell Air Force Base.  planes montgomery

When we went to Atlanta a few weeks ago, we relaxed and hung out with personal friend Laura.  Laura has been a friend of mine for years, and it was so great to see her again.


In Pensacola, we chose to visit the Naval Aviation Museum.  Can you tell we can never get away from planes?  My husband was more fascinated with the engines of planes.

naval aviation museum pensacola

One of my favorite parts we saw were visiting the Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, Alabama. It’s a large cave with a lot of different rock formations.  Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

The opening of the cave measures of 25 feet high and 126 feet wide!

Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

There are some of the most beautiful formations ever created including one of the biggest stalagmites in the world.

Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

Finally, we also made a quick stop to the wildlife preserve: Tigers for Tomorrow in Dekalb, Alabama.  It’s a nonprofit wildlife preserve which cares for over 160 rare and exotic animals.  Many people don’t know, but back through high school, I had an interest in wildlife conservation and looked at colleges focusing on zoology.  My interests changed, but it’s still important to me. Tigers for Tomorrow Dekalb Alabama

The trip was no vacation but it was a breath of fresh air from New Jersey.  We saw new places and tried new things. Of course, we ran races too:

Races Run While South:
MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40) (Birmingham)
Polar Bear 5k (18:42) (Atlanta)
Pensacola Double Bridge Run (58:41) (Florida)
Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01) and my husband’s marathon recap (Birmingham)

In summary, it was a great few weeks, and it was fun to see a different part of the country.

Questions for you:
Have you ever lived somewhere temporarily? 
Have you been to Alabama before?


Guest Post: Mr. LOLZ Mercedes Marathon (2:59.45)

As most people know, my husband ran his first marathon last weekend.  For his first blog post, he decided to share his recap of the Mercedes Marathon.  Enjoy!


As people know, Hollie and I lived in Alabama for about 6 weeks due to my work.  Going into the Mercedes Marathon, I was finishing a six-week course for the Air Force. While I had time to train for the Mercedes Marathon, running wasn’t my main focus.  In fact, I hadn’t committed to the Mercedes Marathon until we finished the preview run just two weeks prior.    I finished 20 miles on the Mercedes Marathon race course that day.  I knew I could finish the Mercedes marathon, but I wanted to finish it under 3 hours.  I heard the Mercedes Marathon was a good full and it fell on the end of my course so I thought it would be a good idea to do.

The night before the Mercedes Marathon, we had Mellow Mushroom pizza which is Hollie and I’s favorite restaurant. I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t get the cheese but garlic and oil based. I like to feel full but not overwhelmed. We went to bed at 8 pm and were up at 4:15 am. Before the Mercedes Marathon, I had coffee and a bagel for breakfast.  We walked to the start after Hollie needed to go to the car twice in the morning for random things including running shoes. I guess she is not into barefoot running.

I don’t like big races and would rather do a small 100 person one.  The bathroom situation in the Bell Center and start line are always crazy. Once we got to the start of the Mercedes Marathon, I was faced with a 30 min bathroom line, but I discovered bathrooms on the third floor of the Bell center which had zero line. We got to the Mercedes Marathon start about 10 mins before and chatted with Miles, and exchanged race strategies. My goal was to go out in a 7 min pace and pick it up to break 3 hours. I was told this was a bad strategy given the heat conditions and it was my first marathon.

Since the Mercedes half and Mercedes Marathon started together, I started next to my wife. As they did the countdown for the Mercedes Marathon start, my wife was dancing to rap music. I don’t understand why they play rap music at starts but it’s another reason I don’t like big races.  Unlike Hollie who talks to everyone she knows and dances at the start line, I like to stay focused.

The Mercedes Marathon went off with a literal “go go go”. I started off the Mercedes Marathon as expected. It was rush of people as expected. I told myself to chill and relax. I came through the first mile in 6:40.

I was already getting hot and anticipated I might need to delayer to my top.  Between mile 1-2 of the Mercedes Marathon, I moved my race bib from my shirt to my shorts because it impeded air flow. I don’t know how I didn’t fall.

The next few miles of the Mercedes Marathon clicked along, and between miles 2-8, I kept an even pace between 6:50-7. I run with a stopwatch with no GPS, so I went based on mile markers. My goal to the Mercedes Marathon halfway was to remain relaxed and not to pick it up. The heat wasn’t affecting me as much as I anticipated but I also ran a half marathon while deployed in 90 degrees (literally 90 degrees).

At mile 10, many of the Mercedes half marathoners passed me doing their finishing kick. They pulled me along for the Mercedes Marathon, and I caught up with one kid whose goal was to break 90 minutes in the Mercedes Half Marathon. I hit the halfway point of the Mercedes Marathon in 1:30.40 which was exactly what I planned. Even though that was “the plan,” I was worried because it was slower than 3-hour pace and my hamstring was tight.

The Mercedes Marathon course is a double loop of the half, and we started back around for round 2. Excitingly enough, we ran the exact same course twice. I looked up at the first hill of the Mercedes Marathon and saw two runners about 2 mins ahead and thought they were probably at the 3-hour pace. I caught them about 3 miles later. I ran between 6:20-6:40 for the next few miles of the Mercedes Marathon based on hills.

Around miles 16-18 of the Mercedes Marathon, I slowed down for the next few miles because I was nervous to hit the infamous wall marathoners talk about. I kept an easier pace going up hills and passed a few more people.  I had begun to pass a lot of people.  That’s motivating in any race.

Personally, I never felt as though I hit the wall. Around mile 20 of the Mercedes Marathon, we hit the downhill with a minor headwind.

Once I got to mile 23, I did the math and realized to break 3 I would have to run 7-minute pace exactly. The next three miles I ran in 7:03, and when I got to mile 26, I knew it was extremely close, and I had to go. I would regret running above 3 hours inthe Mercedes Marathon.  My half marathon PR is 1:20.02 so I didn’t want to do that again.

When I rounded the last turn of the Mercedes Marathon, I could see the finish line reading 2:59. I picked it up and ran as hard as possible and finished in 2:59.45.  I guess I ran by my wife screaming but I didn’t notice because I was staring at the finish.

After I crossed the line, I felt my legs cramping and kept walking. I chugged a Powerade and ate half of the Orange supply.


I know I’ll do another marathon at some point when my schedule allows me to train.  I had a good experience with the Mercedes Marathon and while I prefer it over the half marathon, I still like 5-10ks better.

Hollie told me to ask some questions at the bottom so:

What do you remember about your first marathon? Have you run the Mercedes Marathon?

Do you like to stay focused at the start line or are you relaxed and talkative? 

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