Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running
Running, Running Reads, Training

2017 Running Recap

At the end of the year, I like to do a running recap.  I think it’s a blogger thing.  Either way, it’s always fun to look back at the year,

So let’s dive back and look at 2017.   

Number of Miles Run:  I have no idea.  My guess is around 2000.

PRs set: ZERO!  In fact, I haven’t PRed since early 2016. :O


Thinking out loud, it’s hard to believe I moved down for 6 weeks early in the year and lived in Alabama while my husband went to an Air Force school.  To be honest, all of my best races were in January and February this year.  Plus it was nice to escape the winter.  I enjoyed living down there.  Birmingham mlk 5k


February continued my Alabama life.  We traveled to nearby states and were able to enjoy both Atlanta and Florida for a weekend.

Yay seeing Laura again

My best race of 2017 was the Double Bridge 15k in Pensacola.  I nearly won, however, got outkicked in the last .1.  It was rough, but I felt like I was finally coming back to running strong.

Double Bridge 15k me running

We came back to New Jersey in mid-February, but not without running the Mercedes Half Marathon.  My husband debuted his first full marathon in 70+ degrees and ran a 2:59.  I could not be more proud of him.  His goal was to break 3 hours in his first marathon and the weather did not make for an “easy day’.  I ran a 1:27  half marathon which with the conditions, I was happy.  Although looking back, it began my slow decline both mentally and physically from the sport.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me


In March, I ran a few races but most noticeably the Shamrock half marathon in VA.  It was my 6th year running and another year of bad weather.  I got to see my good friend Heather, Mollie, and my previous coach (James Mckirdy).  It poured rain, was cold, and miserable but dressed appropriately, I wasn’t as miserable as 2016.

Oh April…April began my decline in running.  I was burnt out.  I spent months training hard, but it never yielded the results I wanted.  I ran a couple of races in April.  The Phillies 5k which I won.  It wasn’t a PR but it was one of my faster races.

phillies 5k win

A few weeks later, I ran the April Fools Half Marathon.  The race has a lot of meaning to me.  I’ve won the race before, I’ve PRed and I’ve always had an enjoyable time.  This year, however, I never felt good physically or mentally.  When I crossed the finish line in 3rd, I was miserable.  I had gotten progressively slower since October of 2016.  The previous October, I ran a 1:24 at the Runners World Festival on a difficult course.  Several months and hard training later, I ran Atlantic City, I ran a 1:26 on a flat course and ideal day and I was working hard.  On my drive home, I realized: Hollie you need a break.  It’s only running and it’s just stressing you out.

april fools half marathon atlantic city me running
At least I got to run with my good friend Erin

So I took a break.  I DNSed the Broad Street 10 miler in May (when I had my first elite bib), as well as other races too.  I rested for April as well all of May and most of June.  I attempted to get back into running in June and ran a couple of races but couldn’t find the motivation or get into a routine.  I was extremely busy, and running in the dark, alone did nothing mentally for me.  So I rested and just lived life.  It was the best thing I did for myself!

Park Wayne Diner
A photo of me living life at a diner…

It wasn’t until August, that I began consistently running again.

During that time, I was also selected to run for the running apparel clothing: Rabbit.  I strongly believe in the people who make the company great, as well as the clothing Rabbit.  I have a 10% off coupon you can use here.

me running rabbit


In August, I eased back into the running scene by running on runways.  Incase you didn’t know, there are actual hills on baby private runways.  My husband has his private pilots license, so I learned that fun fact during one flight we did together.

In August, we did the Philadephia Airport 5k was one of my favorite races of the year.  It was the first race I rebroke 20 minutes and the only race my husband and I have both won.  I continued to ease back into running.  My only workouts were races and I ran lower mileage. philadelphia international 5k


September brought my first distance race, the Air Force Half Marathon.  I finished in 1:27 (only a minute slower than leaving running in April).  I felt good and it was such a fun race.  My husband competed in the full marathon for his MAJCOM which was cool. The conditions weren’t good there either, as it was hot.  He was unhappy with his time of 3:17 and has since been training for shorter stuff again.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running


October brought one of my favorite race weekends: The Runners World Festival.  This year, I met two of my idols: The Halls.  Not only that, but I placed second in both the 5k and the half marathon.  They weren’t my fastest races on the course, but certainly my most memorable.  It ignited my love of running back.

Afterwards, my husband and I took a vacation to Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.  It was so much fun and relaxing to spend the time together.  We ran, hiked, and did everything in between.  It was one of the best experiences of my life and I’m so glad we got to do that.


We got back from vacation in early November.  I promptly got food poisoning on the way home which I’m still dealing with.  Although, according to my doctor I only have a couple of weeks left!  Even though I trained consistently, November running didn’t go particularly well.  I ran and I trained but none of my races were great.  My biggest accomplishment was finishing the Philadelphia half marathon, where I had to stop and vomit!


December actually brings my least amount of races run, while still actively training.  The weather in New Jersey has been extremely unpredictable this December.  I’ve already run in 15 degrees and this week it’s been 60.  Of course, we have gotten snow or black ice on weekends when races are.  I will (usually) run easy outdoors but it’s not worth it to me to race on ice outdoors.  While I have only done one race (where I felt like garbage), I have had some awesome workouts that will hopefully set me up for a solid 2018.

So what will 2018 bring?

Can it bring a PR?  Wouldn’t that be nice…right now I’m training for 5ks but do have some half marathons on the radar as well.  I am hoping to break 18 in a 5k next year (which would be a PR).  Past that, I don’t have a lot of plans…just run, live life, and hopefully stay injury free.

Questions for you:

How was your 2017?

What was your best race?

Johns City Diner Birmingham

John’s City Diner (Birmingham, Al)

First, did you know it’s International Waffle Day?  It’s the perfect day to celebrate at a diner…

When I relocated to Alabama, I knew I had to go to John’s City Diner (Birmingham). It has been consistently named one of Alabamas best diners. Making the time to get to the diner is tough.

For a diner, it has odd hours including not being open on Sundays and only open for dinner on Saturdays.  So yes, John’s City Diner is not open for breakfast on weekends.  Due to my schedule, I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to make it to Johns City Diner at all.

Johns City Diner is located right in downtown Birmingham.  Since it’s in the downtown, it’s located in a row of buildings and not the usual stand-alone diner you see.

Johns City Diner Birmingham

Atmosphere: B
The outside has a big sign that says, Johns. There isn’t a lot from the outside that screams diner. In fact, it’s easy to miss Johns City Diner unless you’re looking for it.  I ran by it twice during the Drum Run and had no idea.

The inside is painted to match a diner atmosphere. There are several booths and tables. There is an awkward bar in the corner, but it doesn’t appear to be used much. There is a large diner room with plenty of booths and tables.

Coffee: A
The coffee at Johns City Diner was brewed fresh, and the whipped cream was homemade. It was one of the better diner coffee I’ve had recently.Johns City Diner Birmingham

Service: C
The waitress seemed preoccupied or as if she was having a bad day. Even though we got there at opening (5 pm), it took a while for our table to receive food and drinks.

Food: B
The menu at Johns City Diner is limited. Johns City Diner is known for their comfort food and they have everything from garlicky spinach to meatload with all-natural gravy.

There is a single page of food, and they are well known for their mac and cheese as well as chicken and waffles. I had been very excited to try their chicken and waffles, but when we went, they were out of chicken. To be honest, I was disappointed but what can you do.

For an appetizer, we ordered the fancy bacon which was bacon with grits. It was a small portion, but the bacon and grits were delicious.  It was rich and while small, quite filling.  It was some of the best grits I’ve had!

Johns City Diner Birmingham

Because they were out of chicken and waffles, I ordered the pork chops. I was pleasantly surprised because it was a huge portion of pork chops. I was expecting a smaller size. The pork chops at Johns City Diner were delicious and cooked perfectly. It also came with a large portion of sweet potatoes and garlicky spinach. I enjoyed both. Johns City Diner Birmingham

I was disappointed Johns City Diner was out of their signature menu item, but the food was still good.  I was able to go again right before we left and ordered the chicken and waffles.  Johns City Diner is farm to table and they use Natural Creekstone farms beef, Maple Leaf Farms Duck, and Springer Mountain Farms Chicken. It was by far the best chicken and waffles I’ve had to date.  The chicken portion was actually bigger than the waffle! Johns City Diner Birmingham

Dessert: A
We ordered the white chocolate bread pudding which was perfect. I have no complaints.  I prefer bread pudding that is actually a piece of bread so this fit the bill. Johns City Diner Birmingham

Cost: $$
For my coffee, the appetizer, entree, and dessert the cost was $40. It was pricey for a diner, but I’m not sure I would classify Johns City Diner as a diner.

Overall thoughts/ Summary:
I liked Johns City Diner, but I was extremely disappointed they were out of the chicken and waffles.  If I’m in Birmingham, I would like to come back, but with their limited weekend hours, I don’t know if that’s possible.

Atmosphere: B
Coffee: A
Service: C
Food: B
Dessert: A
Cost: $20+
Overall: B

You Can See All Diner Reviews Here.

Questions for you:
Where is the best place you’ve had chicken and waffles? 
Has a restaurant ever been out of something you were excited to order?


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?


Running, Running Reads, Training

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? 

Running, Running Reads, Training

Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01)

Mercedes Half Marathon Race Recap:

If you want the short recap I can tell you the following:

I was getting over a cold, the Mercedes Half Marathon was the most humid half marathon I’ve done, and it wasn’t a goal half marathon.

But why have 20 words when you can have 1000? 

As I mentioned in my training log, initially the Mercedes half marathon was meant to be a goal race.  After looking at other options, my coach and I decided to target the Double Bridge 15k.  What was not exactly public knowledge, was my husband was training for the full marathon.  Since we were driving back to New Jersey afterward, one of us had to be in somewhat good driving condition.  Too bad, of the two of us, he still felt 10 times better post, Mercedes Marathon.

Targeting the Double Bridge 15k the week before ended up being the right move for me.  I was feeling better that day, and despite being windy, the weather was much better.  I came down with a minor cold a few days before the Mercedes Half Marathon.  It felt as though I was breathing through a straw.

With that all of that said, we got to the Mercedes Half Marathon start around 6:30 am for the 7:03 start.  We chatted with my friend Miles.  My husband located bathrooms at the Bell Center and we were able to go and drop off our bags.  The race director began with a countdown followed by a frantic “go go go.”  It felt as though we were starting a local 5k, not a major (and incredibly competitive) race.  The full and Mercedes Half Marathon ran the same course.  Both miles and my husband were running the full, so we all started together.

Since we had run part of the preview run for the Mercedes Half Marathon, I knew the Mercedes Half Marathon race course well.  The first mile of the Mercedes Half Marathon race course was flat and I found myself trying to get into a rhythm.  People were running by me already, and I felt discouraged.  I hit the first mile of the Mercedes Half Marathon in 6:34 and didn’t feel good about it. I thought: “this is going to be a long race.”Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

The second and third mile of the Mercedes Half Marathon race course were more hilly.  Runners were going by me left and right.  Negative thoughts immediately crept in my head.

Had I taken the Mercedes Half Marathon out too fast?

Was I just bad running hills?

Do I not handle heat well anymore?

I hit both miles of the Mercedes Half Marathon in 6:27 and felt a little better about it.  I changed my mindset to running my own race.  All I thought was, LOLZ you can make it to the end.  Nothing can surpass the regression miles of Shamrock 2016 (or so I thought).

The next few miles of the Mercedes Half Marathon were a bit of a blur.  Both mile 4 and 5 of the Mercedes Half Marathon went by without any major excitement.  I grabbed the course Powerade at every stop.  I ran both miles by myself in 6:42.  In a half marathon, I usually take whichever electrolyte fluids they have, and I was thankful for Powerade at every stop.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

By the halfway point of the Mercedes Half Marathon, I was overheated.  I wasn’t in danger, but I also knew, it wasn’t my day.  It was hot, my body wasn’t feeling great, and my coach had it marked as a workout, to begin with.  Why was I freaking out for a race, I knew wouldn’t be a PR?   

With that, I just focused on each mile I was in.  The middle miles of the Mercedes Half Marathon ran through Highland Park.  It was hilly, and it felt like we just kept climbing.  I ran my slowest mile (7:01) followed by my fastest mile (6:22) down the hill.  By the time I knew it, we were at mile 10 of the Mercedes Half Marathon.  I caught my friend Dani, who was running the full marathon.  We ended up running the last 3 miles together which made the time go by faster.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

Mile 11 and 12 of the Mercedes Half Marathon entered back into the city of Birmingham.  We ran right by my hotel, and I visualized napping and eating hotel stale hotel pastries.  I ran both miles in 6:44.

There was some headwind of the Mercedes Half Marathon, but it was circulating hot and humid air.  The Mercedes Half Marathon and full marathon divided and runners were sent to opposite sides of the road based on their distance.  Dani and I were still running “together,” just separated by a median.  During this time, a group was holding cups, and I thought they were holding more Powerade.  I had seen someone up ahead grab it and so when they offered me the cup I didn’t turn it down.

Only to realize I had grabbed beer.  I wasn’t terribly upset, but I didn’t drink the entire cup and proceeded to the final mile.  It was more shocking because it was not what I was expecting.

Just after the 12th mile of the Mercedes Half Marathon, I noticed someone on the ground surrounded by medics.  It was scary to run by, but the medical staff had everything under control.  During that time, I looked up and noticed a woman within .1 of me.  For the last mile, I focused on a woman in front of me.  I was outkicked in the final .1 at the Double Bridges race the week before (for the win) and I didn’t want it to happen again at the Mercedes Half Marathon.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me
This face says: I might be having a $hit race, but I will not be out kicked in the final .1

Despite being exhausted, I powered to the end of the Mercedes Half Marathon.  I crossed the last mile in 6:37 and the finish in 1:27.01.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me
and then apparently I immediately chuckled and checked my Garmin

Mercedes Half Marathon Thoughts:

It’s hard to feel satisfied with this time when I know I’m in better fitness.  I’ve been stuck in a plateau since October (Runners World Half).  While I ran Dallas in 1:23.44, I was fully tapered for that and training indicated I should have PRed.

Unfortatently, I have also dealt with weather or my body doesn’t feel good on race day.  These are the periods that make training difficult.  I’m not devastated or even upset about the Mercedes Half Marathon. I gave it everything I had for the day.  I am, however, longingly hoping for PRs that I’ve been working hard for.

As I mentioned, my husband ran his first marathon at Mercedes in a time of 2:59.45.  He met his goal to break 3 hours in nonideal weather conditions.  He’ll have a full recap next week. 


Questions for you:
Have you ever been to Alabama? Have you run the Mercedes Half Marathon? 
Have you drank beer during a race? 

I actually did at Shamrock last year (on purpose).