Balance!

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I am happy to report, I have FINALLY been able to run outside this weekend. It sure felt great and I really did miss it. Wasn’t feeling the best during my run, due to being up late the night before (had a work event, no big party for this girl) BUT it was still better than the treadmill. As the weekend progressed, I started to feel a bit worse….sore throat, coughing, and stuffed up nose.

Well, this morning and I woke up not feeling the best the cold has arrived!!! So this morning I had two options 1) Get up and run my planned Monday routine on the treadmill 2) Take some meds and give myself a day of rest. What did I do??
I took the day of rest! Honestly I have been pushing myself pretty hard lately with my training and I need to listen to my body. It’s ok to have a day of rest, it surely is ok to listen to our bodies. I am feeling a bit better so we will see what tomorrow brings.
During my run on Saturday and throughout the day today I have been thinking about this more and more…..balance. What does it mean?? How does one truly have balance in their life? I have to admit I have a darn hard time with balance! I find myself either really strict about things, or very carefree. This has been evident in my eating, exercising, and really different aspects of my journey. You would think after almost 4 years of this, I would have this balance thing down but I don’t.

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I am going to try my best this year to focus on balance, and to listen to my body. I think I actually did that today by staying in bed and not taking on the 9 miles. Yes, I could have pushed through and done the run BUT I bet I will be better off taking this day of rest, my body will thank me. So throughout the rest of my training, I am going to focus on BALANCE =)

What about you, do you have balance in your life??? Is Balance difficult for you? How do you manage balance?

The treadmill can be your friend, no really…

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Alright Cleveland winter and cold temps PLEASE for the LOVE OF GOD PLEASE leave!  I know we have a little sampling of nice weather going on today, but it looks like the temps are going to drop once again as the week progresses.  I don’t know about you but I want to be running outside!!!!  A few years ago I fell on black ice outside so needless to say I am a bit of a baby when it comes to the weather and heading outdoors.  All my training so far has been on the dreaded treadmill, or as I like to call it dreadmill.  This weekend’s training had me completing 16 miles on that dang thing.

I can honestly say this week’s 16 mile training run was one of the hardest runs I have done in along time.  I would have to put it right up there with my 22mile run last year when I was training for the Akron Marathon (I got stung by a bee during my 22 miler at mile 19 and you would have thought it took my leg off, I was a bit dramatic).  I tried everything to make my mind stop, stop thinking about the fact that yes I am on a treadmill for 16, yep all I am going to view is whatever is on the tv and these basement walls.  I am really hoping to head outdoors soon BUT until then I thought I would give you all some nice tips for passing time and using the dreadmill to your advantage for training.  So here are some quick tips =)

1) If available to you find yourself a show on TV that you have been looking forward to watching, use this to keep you occupied during your run.

2) No TV?  Turn it into a dance party!  Last weekend I was able to pound out 14 miles rocking out to a new playlist…and by rocking out I seriously mean the house was jumping.

3) Use the treadmill to your training advantage.  Set your pace and a 1% grade and keep it there.  The treadmill is helpful as it helps you keep your pace constant, so add the grade and set your body on cruise.

4) Interval training.  This has helped me with MANY treadmill runs and my training.  I usually do my interval training at 1/4mile increments.  I will do 1/4 mile at a faster pace that I am use to and then “rest” for a 1/4 mile at an easier or my regular pace.  I also make sure both are done at a 1% grade, knowing this will help me in the long run (literally ;) ).

5) Hill training.  I have been playing around with the treadmill and some serious hill training on Wednesdays.  This can be done by altering the grade and your pace.  A killer workout I have done on Wednesdays involve finding a decent pace that you are comfortable in, run 2 minutes at this pace with a 2% grade, then 4% for 2 minutes, back to 2% for 2 minutes, up to 5% for 2 minutes, back to 2% for 2 minutes, up to 6% for 2 minutes…. you get the drift, I have challenged myself all the way up to 10%.  When doing this BE CAREFUL and if you find it too tough keep the grade but slow your pace.

6) Get by with a little help from your SUPPORTERS.  Yep, I was struggling on the treadmill last weekend.  My amazing husband and furbabies joined me in the basement for my miles.  They watched TV with me and chatted with me to help the time go by.

7) Hide the time and the miles.  I find that if I take a towel or use a setting on the treadmill so I can’t see the time I have been on it or the number of miles completed, it goes by a bit faster.  This way you aren’t watching second by second tick by.

8) Cut your miles into different sets.  If you think about it 9 miles can seem like a lot BUT if you think of it as 3 sets of 3 miles, it seems a bit more manageable.

9) Picture the outdoors.  Yes, I know you aren’t actually outdoors but envision yourself on your favorite running route.  I like to envision myself crossing the finish line of the Cleveland Marathon, I have heard if you envision something it’s more likely to happen =)

10) Also, this doesn’t really relate to the treadmill BUT make sure you are doing some cross training.  I am finding Spinning class to be an AMAZING cross training workout, I am really hoping this helps me crush 26.2 miles.

I hope these tips are helpful for you all!  I realize my training post have been ummm…… lacking.  So be prepared for some more frequent updates.  I am going to try my best to post 1-2 times a week from here on out.  I have been active on my instagram page and Facebook, so be sure to check it out for more training information both can be found at Jamie Johnston’s Journey.

 

How is your training going????

For the HEART of it!

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It’s hard to believe it but we are already mid February. I don’t know about you BUT I am ready to say goodbye to winter. This winter seems to be extra cold and snowy. However, I do have to say February is one of my favorite months. During February I get to celebrate my Birthday, my Father’s Birthday, my Husband’s Birthday, Valentines Day, My GodMother’s Birthday, as well as my Uncle’s Birthday! LOTS of Birthdays =) February is also American Heart Month =) That’s right time to check in and see how healthy that ticker is!

I am honored to join forces with the American Recall Center in honor of American Heart Month for this blog post as my family is no stranger to heart disease. My very best friend, sidekick, and BEST Grandpa in the entire world (yep truth Bomb) died from complications of this terrible disease. First off for those who don’t know let me tell you a bit about my grandpa (I could go on for seriously hours….days….best guy ever, so I will keep it short and sweet).

My grandpa and I were best friends, we did everything together. My grandpa supported me in everything I did, and also was always there to lend a helping hand. He NEVER missed an important event in my life.

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Grandpa surprising me at my College’s Homecoming Parade. I was on court =) As you can tell me was pretty excited to surprise me, maybe even a bit teary!

Grandpa at my College Graduation.  I don't think that smile left his face the whole day =)

Grandpa at my College Graduation. I don’t think that smile left his face the whole day =)

Grandpa and I picking out two puppies for HIM.  These puppies helped bring a smile to my grandpa's face after my grandma passed.

Grandpa and I picking out two puppies for HIM. These puppies helped bring a smile to my grandpa’s face after my grandma passed.

My grandpa (also with the help of grandma) gave me one of the best gifts ANYONE could ever give someone, my education. My grandparents were so very generous helping me through college AND graduate school. Some of my favorite memories with my grandpa include walking to the park to feed the birds. Spending Saturday’s together where he would drive out to my parents house and spend the day, usually it involved some gardening and grilling out. My freshman year of college, when grandpa helped me move into the residence hall. My mom and I went to check in and get my room assignment. We received my room number and the keys to the room, Mom and I went to the bathroom. When we came back from the bathroom ALL my stuff had already been moved into my room (it was on the 4th floor), let’s just say grandpa gave the football team a few $$ and got the job done.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my grandpa I wonder what he would think of my transformation. I also envision him at the finish line of all my running events, being there with the BEST sign and the BIGGEST smile. Funny thing is, I always think of my grandparents and birds…not sure why I put these two things together BUT always have. During my longest most difficult runs, usually when I find myself doubting my abilities I ALWAYS see two birds (grandma and grandpa), these birds usually help me get over my mind hurtle, making me smile and push on.

I LOVE my grandpa with all my heart, and have to say I have been so very blessed to have such an amazing man in my life. Due to grandpa having heart disease, it’s obvious that this is something in my family history. So obviously it’s something I need to be mindful of. As I have progressed throughout my journey this has always been in the back of my mind. I know there are many tips, these tips are courtesy of the American Recall Center.

 

The two I really like to focus on are staying active and eating healthy. First staying active, it’s recommend that you do at lease 20 minutes of activity a day, I say do 30!!! Now I am not saying you have to go out and run 3 miles, but if that’s your thing by all means do it =) You need to find an activity you LIKE. It shouldn’t feel like a walk in the park BUT it shouldn’t feel like torture. There are many great activities you can participate in here are a few: walking, running, spinning class, zumba, weight lifting, yoga, kickboxing, swimming, biking… there are tons of things you can do.

The key is to find something physical you enjoy. It might take trying a few different activities before you find something you like. It also may take a few tries or classes before you get the hand of the activity and enjoy it. For example spinning class. The first time I tried spinning class I HATED…HATED it. Honestly thought that hour long class felt like 5 hours, thought to myself how could someone enjoy this!!! However, I stuck to it and tried it again and slowly started to appreciate it and the workout. NOW I LOVE spinning class and find it to be great cross training for my marathon training routine.

The other tip I think is easy and manageable involves eating healthy. I am not saying give up everything you love, NEVER eat pizza or cake again. I am saying add the color to your plate. Make sure EVERY single meal has some type of fruit or veggie incorporated into it. Breakfast, add an orange maybe a few strawberries to your usual cereal. Lunch should also have some of the good stuff, usually have yogurt? Why not add some fruit or heck pack some carrots or another veggie you wouldn’t mind. NO dinner should be consumed without some type of veggie, seriously just add some broccoli, cauliflower, or maybe some brussle sprouts. Now if you find yourself turning your nose up on these items I just listed maybe find some different ways to prepare them. Steaming them, sautéing them with some seasonings, or maybe just eating them raw. Find a way to enjoy them =)

I hope this post helps you make a few small changes in your life. Just think, these small changes are HUGE. Cardiovascular Disease claims more lives in the U.S. THAN any other illness, so please for your heart make a few changes and enjoy life. I know I enjoyed the life I got to experience with my grandpa and hope this terrible disease claims less and less lives so MORE memories can me made with our BEST FRIENDS.

Fence Sitting can be DANG Uncomfortable!!!!!

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Sitting on the fence is uncomfortable, seriously it is! You just sit there trying to get comfortable when you know you should just get off on one side of the fence. You know you’d feel relief, but sometimes you just sit there trying to decide which side knowing you should just make a dang decision. Well that’s how I feel, I am on this stupid fence contemplating…. waiting……hoping…. as I sit here well maybe I will see a sign, perhaps a double rainbow (almost triple rainbow). Time is ticking by and I am uncomfortable on this fence. So now I need to get off, make a plan and crush some serious goals.

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So I am getting off the fence, one foot after another slowly feeling comfortable and love not being in limbo. Ahhhhhhh yes the feeling of making a decision. I have went back and forth on this issue. 1)Run the Cleveland half marathon and kill my time from last year (1:44) 2) Run the Cleveland full marathon and crush my full time from Akron. Seriously let’s take a step back just for a little tiny second……. What an amazing decision to have to make, no seriously…. Here I am sitting on a fence deciding between a half and full marathon, talk about being blessed! My body is capable of both of these distances, WOW this is just hard to believe at times. About 4 years ago I weight 350lbs, now I am sitting on a dang fence deciding the distance goal of a running event………..Thank you God for this opportunity!

Just about 4 short years ago, this was me!

Just about 4 short years ago, this was me!

I thought long and hard. I love the Cleveland half, have done it 2 years now and have loved every second of it. The crowd support, my amazing family coming to support me, being able to crush it both years, seriously I could write a love letter and dedicate it to the Cleveland half. I think in the pictures you can tell I loved every second of my 2 half marathon experiences.

Cleveland Half 2014 waiting to start.

Cleveland Half 2014 waiting to start.


Dancing at the start, Cleveland 1/2 2014 (working out those nerves)

Dancing at the start, Cleveland 1/2 2014 (working out those nerves)


Cleveland 2014 Half Finisher!

Cleveland 2014 Half Finisher!


Traditional Rite Aid Cleveland post-race photo. Cleveland Marathon 2014 with a finish time of 1:44

Traditional Rite Aid Cleveland post-race photo. Cleveland Marathon 2014 with a finish time of 1:44


Cleveland Half 2013, waiting for the race to start

Cleveland Half 2013, waiting for the race to start


Cleveland Half 2013, finishing my first half STRONG! Point to my husband and parents

Cleveland Half 2013, finishing my first half STRONG! Point to my husband and parents


Cleveland Half 2014 Finisher!

Cleveland Half 2014 Finisher!


Then there is the Cleveland full…uncharted waters in my book. I have only done one other full, and it seriously took everything I had in me AND support from my amazing friends and family. There are a lot of what if’s like what if it’s a 70+ degree day! I mean it’s Cleveland in May, I could also be running through snow (kidding but kind of not). The Akron full is one accomplishment I am so very proud of completing, seriously look at the smile as well as the look of death in some of these pictures.
Waiting for the Akron Full, bundle of nerves!

Waiting for the Akron Full, bundle of nerves!


Finishing my first EVER full, had to own that finish!

Finishing my first EVER full, had to own that finish!


Just after finishing the Akron Full

Just after finishing the Akron Full


Feeling like death after the Akron full, thanks Mom for this outstanding picture!

Feeling like death after the Akron full, thanks Mom for this outstanding picture!


After running through both of these events in my head I have made a choice.

Yep, I am going to do the Cleveland FULL Eeeekkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk………….

I just said it out loud, plus I am going to post it on my blog which also means facebook (does it get any more official????). The decision was long and hard, but I am feeling pretty good about it. I also feel like I needed to make sure I had a few things in place before being 100% (here is my check list of necessities before deciding on the full):

1) Training partner for the long runs…..no seriously these can be damn intimidating (it’s mostly a mind game). So I need someone to be there, even if it’s just that they are physically there and we don’t talk. I enlisted the best training partner I know………….MY HUSBAND AND HIS TREK BIKE. Seriously there is no way in Heck I would have completed 26.2 without this man following me for every long run, he even almost had to pick me up when I was taken out by a bee sting on my first 20 mile run (yes I was a bit dramatic, my mind was taking over).

Best supporter, there for EVERY long run!

Best supporter, there for EVERY long run!


2) A nice strong base. I have been keeping up my running distances and doing some serious spinning (my current obsession and cross training of choice).

3) An understand partner. Yep, your partner needs to be on board because let’s face it taking on a marathon is ALMOST like a part-time job. I am so proud to say my partner is not only supporting my decision, like I posted in #1 he’s my training partner for those long runs.

My loving supportive husband, I believe he was buying me running shoes in this picture =)

My loving supportive husband, I believe he was buying me running shoes in this picture =)


4) Friends/family that support and get it. Yep, all your peeps need to be encouraging and supporters. I have some amazing friends/family and I know they will support this decision and do whatever they can to help me reach my goal. Thanks in advance to my two morning workout pals Kcey and Jess…..yep already counting on you and KNOW I CAN.
Kcey and Jess with me for my very first half in 2013

Kcey and Jess with me for my very first half in 2013


My good friend Stephanie (she ran the 10K).

My good friend Stephanie (she ran the 10K).


My amazing family making me cupcakes before my first full =)

My amazing family making me cupcakes before my first full =)


5) Gear and accessories. Seriously whoever said running was cheap is a dirty dang LIAR! Yes you know that person….all you need is a water bottle and shoes LIAAARRRRRRRRR. Ok so you all know I love some running accessories. I feel I am on point with the gear and really happy about my purchase of a Nathan running vest for hydration (thanks husband), my garmin (sprinkles) is ready to rock (just hope her dang battery holds out). Also I am in a seriously amazing place as I have IVY (yep I have nicknamed my treadmill), she’s a beast and she told me she’s ready for a full.
Nathan Hydration Vest

Nathan Hydration Vest


Amazing Running Shoes from Vertical Runner (they are the best).

Amazing Running Shoes from Vertical Runner (they are the best).


All my running gear for my first full, don't forget the gel AND body glide.

All my running gear for my first full, don’t forget the gel AND body glide.


6) A positive mind, attitude and spirit………….yep think I got it =)

So friends, family, and amazing folks that read my blog there you have it. I am running the Cleveland FULL. Now will start the official training =) feel free to read along, lace up and join me in Cleveland, come support me throughout the course ORRRRRRRRRRRRRRR be at the finish line with a cupcake or heck a dozen cupcakes, let’s face it I’ll be rungry when I finish and we all know how I love a cupcake at the end of a race =)

Akron Marathon (first full) celebration cupcake!

Akron Marathon (first full) celebration cupcake!


Cleveland Half 2014 (2nd half) celebration cupcake!

Cleveland Half 2014 (2nd half) celebration cupcake!


Cleveland Half 2013 (first ever half) celebration cupcake!

Cleveland Half 2013 (first ever half) celebration cupcake!

XX,
Jamie

Cleveland Marathon Ambassador and a decision to make!

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Happy 2015 Friends!! It’s hard to believe we are sitting at the middle of January already. I have been terrible lately about keeping this darn blog up BUT that’s about to change =) I was once again selected by the Cleveland Marathon to be an Ambassador. I am seriously so honored and excited for this opportunity.
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So now comes the fun part…..training posts =) that’s right the training posts will be coming your way at least twice a month (hey it’s a lot more than I have been posting lately). I might even post more than that.

If you are on the fence about signing up for the Cleveland Marathon, do it! Seriously, it’s one of the most amazing races in the area. I kind of feel like this is MY race, as it was the first ever half I completed and this will be my 3rd year participating…..

OHHHH YEAAA cupcake time!!!!!  Cleveland Half Marathon 2014

OHHHH YEAAA cupcake time!!!!! Cleveland Half Marathon 2014


Traditional Rite Aid Cleveland post-race photo. Cleveland Marathon 2014 with a finish time of 1:44

Traditional Rite Aid Cleveland post-race photo. Cleveland Marathon 2014 with a finish time of 1:44


Cleveland Half Marathon 2013, finishing time of 1:53

Cleveland Half Marathon 2013, finishing time of 1:53

At the finish of the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon enjoying a cupcake my husband made!

At the finish of the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon enjoying a cupcake my husband made!

Not wanting to run 26.2? Don’t worry they officer a ½ marathon and even a 10K, so set a goal and sign up =) Here’s the link to do so:http://www.clevelandmarathon.com/

Now here is my dilemma….do I sign up for the full or the half?!??!?! Many of you know from my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JamieJohnstonsJourney) that I completed my first full marathon last year.

Finishing my first ever FULL Marathon =)

Finishing my first ever FULL Marathon =)

It was one of the hardest yet most rewarding things I have done! However, for the past two Cleveland Marathons I have done the half, each year trying to crush the previous years’ time. So what do you all think…………Half or Full?????

Looking forward to training with you all AND seeing you at the finish line (don’t worry my husband will bring the cupcakes).

XX,
Jamie

A Serious Refresh…

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TGIF!!! Is anyone else really happy it’s Friday? I sure am =)

This was my first full week back to work after our two week vacation, felt like it just took forever. As many of you know I did something completely unlike me and kind of out of my comfort zone this week. I tried a 3 day refresh/cleanse. It’s something I have always been interested in. Well a friend of mine that is a beachbody coach did it and had amazing results that packed with shakeology (which I have also wanted to try) seemed like the perfect combination for me post vacation. So while on vacation I made the purchase, so it would be at my doorstep upon our arrival home.

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So this week I did it. Was it hard…..yep! Did I see results……yes! Would I do it again…….ummmmm maybe??? It was strange as during the refresh process I thought a lot about my food choices that I make and the lifestyle that I lead. I have to be honest, I make amazing food choices. I barely cheat and I run like a mad women…..seriously BUT it’s because I love running (well and food). So I thought to myself Jamie, if you already make these great choices what are you doing struggling through this cleanse??….great question.

I decided after this cleanse I need to be nicer to me, give myself a break once and awhile. I need to focus on how far I have come, as really losing 190lbs is no small feat and I should really be proud of this. While on vacation I knew I was going to gain weight, I mean come on WI is loaded with beer, cheese curds, and we all know how I love a s’more!

Yep....proof, I LOVE a s'more =)

Yep….proof, I LOVE a s’more =)

Wisconsin Cheese Curds, NOTHING like them =)

Wisconsin Cheese Curds, NOTHING like them =)

Before vacation and even during I couldn’t help but think of the weight, how much I would gain and how I would get it off……..seriously why?!?! I think it had to do with the gain I experienced after last year’s vacation. Last year (brace yourself) I gained 14lbs on vacation NOW let me say this……I went completely overboard. Did just have one s’more at night and call it good….more like 4! Found myself living vacation with some type of sugary food item in my hands at all times.

Just a sample of last years crazy sugar rush.

Just a sample of last years crazy sugar rush.

Well after vacation I came back and found it really hard to lose the weight I gained. Then other things came up, then the holidays…..before I know it I was gaining more ekkkkkkkkkk!! However once spring/summer started I lost all this weight and then some. It finally came off and I found myself one pound away from GOAL, ironically right before vacation this year, so I had a fear of a repeat of last year’s gains!

During this vacation I was better, kept my food somewhat under control. I also made it a goal to run at least 6-8miles a day, which I completed. I feel like my body was also in a different place this year, stronger and better. Also the usual foods I would enjoy on vacation (ice cream, brats, beer, fish fry) well they didn’t agree with my stomach, I felt miserable when I ate them. So at the end of the day yes I did gain this vacation, but I got this I have it under control.

One of my vacation runs for my buddy RY!

One of my vacation runs for my buddy RY!

I did sample some beer on vacation, and ENJOYED it!

I did sample some beer on vacation, and ENJOYED it!

So now that I have been all over the place you might be thinking Jamie where are you going with this?!?! Well, the truth is I probably didn’t need to have a knee jerk reaction and go on a cleanse as I really eat well and exercise my butt off (literally), and at the end of the day I need to realize something…..loses and gains ARE LIFE, it HAPPENS TO EVERYONE! I feel at times like a car on the highway that is going 90, swerving through traffic like a crazy lady to reach a destination (GOAL)! However I need to ask myself then what?????? Ok you reached your goal Jamie great (cue fireworks, confetti, bands)……now you get to maintain. Well you know what?? I bet you maintenance involves a lot of gains and losses, as LIFE HAPPENS.

So at the end of the day, I guess I would say YES I would do the refresh again. NOT because I lost 3.5 lbs, although that was a nice side effect BUT because it really put some things into perspective for me. I AM DOING FINE; I am honestly right where I am supposed to be in my weight loss journey. I need to slow the car on the highway down and enjoy the dang ride, think of how far I’ve come and the great things I have experience throughout. I just can’t continue to focus on the destination, as once I get there a whole new journey starts.

So I am making a pledge to all of you and encourage you to do the same….I Jamie Johnston will be nicer to ME, will celebrate my journey and how far I have come and enjoy the moment, I will not live for the destination……

Thanks for reading my ramblings, as I realize this post is somewhat all over the place!!!

XX,
Jamie

Wink Frozen Dessert Giveaway!!

Hello all!!

The folks at Wink Frozen Dessert have been nice enough to partner with me for a giveaway!! This stuff is seriously amazing. They were nice enough to send me some samples =) My husband and I really enjoyed ALL of them but our favorites were the cinnamon bun and cocoa dough.

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So now is your turn to give it a try! Go ahead and enter the giveaway! They will be giving away a box of pints as well as a Wink Shirt. Check them out on facebook https://www.facebook.com/winkfrozendesserts.

Here is the link for the giveaway:
Jamie Johnston Giveaway!!

Best of luck!!
XX,
Jamie

Cleveland Half 2014, AMAZING!!!!!!!

My Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon experience for 2014, WOW Where to begin??? No seriously?!?! I have been wanting to put together this blog post for a few days now BUT needed to decide how to sum things up as THERE WAS SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!

So I guess I will go with a play by play on how the day progressed. FIRST my parents arrived from Wisconsin the Friday before. They were pretty pumped to watch my 2nd ever Half Marathon, and were ready to spend some fun time together. Saturday my family and I went to the expo center to get my Bib and race packet. There is just something about an expo, especially a RUNNING expo that I LOVE!! It’s always nice to see the latest and greatest in gear and accessories. The expo was filled with tons of great things, Rite Aid Cleveland…GREAT JOB HERE!

Saturday night involved the annual cupcake baking. Yep that’s right (it’s annual now as this was the 2nd year it was done). My husband promised me a pink funfetti cupcake at the end of the race. He knows how hard I have been training, and also that I SERIOUSLY LOVE cupcakes. He has made it a fun tradition to make pink cupcakes the night before and to have one waiting for me when I finish. This year he even got fancy, using my pink mixer and apron (what a great guy).

Dana baking away =)

Dana baking away =)

He even used my pink mixer!

Pink cupcake wrappers too =) !

He even used my pink mixer!!

He even used my pink mixer!!

THEY LOOKED SOOO GOOD =)

THEY LOOKED SOOO GOOD =)

Now to the big event…..RACE DAY! Well it was recommended that all runners be in their starting Corral by 6am, that’s seriously early BUT understandable with a 7am start time. So just because we like to be early, and also you never really know with construction and traffic (yes even this early) we woke up at 3:45am to get ready for the big day! My family and husband also didn’t seem to mind this, talk about great supporters!! That morning everyone gather their belongings in a tired haze, the adrenaline was building =)

I did my usual pre-race routine. Had all of my “stuff” for the day lined up and ready to go in our kitchen. I usually run with a locket that has my grandparent’s ashes, however my running pants didn’t have a pocket that I felt comfortable leaving it in. So I made sure to get some positive energy and say a little prayer with their locket the morning before we left. I ate a bit, my usual race day fuel….greek yogurt, a rice cake with some PB2.

With Grandma and Grandpa's locket.

With Grandma and Grandpa’s locket.

Saying a prayer with my Grandparents.

Saying a prayer with my Grandparents.

At around 4:45am we were all loaded in the vehicle and ready to go! We were quickly able to find our parking spot, and made the walk to the starting area. Once at the start the wait SEEMED forever. It was a bit chilly and my adrenaline was in overdrive, I seriously was SO DARN EXCITED.

Good morning Cleveland!

Good morning Cleveland!

BURRRRRR!

BURRRRRR!

Once in my corral things seemed to pick up a bit, more runners arrived adding to the excitement. I took this time to try and unwind my nerves.
My husband took a few funny photos of me…

My pre-race nervous face!

My pre-race nervous face!

Ready to ROCK this thing (pretty sure the girl behind me is terrified).

Ready to ROCK this thing (pretty sure the girl behind me is terrified).

I said a few prayers…

Asking the Lord for a great injury free race!

Asking the Lord for a great injury free race!

I even saw Johnny football…

Don't worry Jonny Football, I am just rocking out to some Katy Perry =)

Don’t worry Johnny Football, I am just rocking out to some Katy Perry =)

Before I knew it was go time!!!!

The first part of the race was awesome, loved all the crowd support. It’s hard to believe you are running with THOUSANDS of people. Everyone smiling for ear to ear and enjoying the run, makes me smile just thinking about it!!!

I loved every part of the race! This year there seemed to be a bit more crowd support, not sure if I was just more alert or of the new course provided us with a few more cheerleaders. Either way, I loved the folks of Cleveland lining the streets and yelling!! I always enjoy reading the creative signs and for some reason am always tempted by the group handing out beer, now I would never take it as it would probably kill my system BUT that little devil on my shoulder always says OHHHH come on.

Right around mile 7-8 I started to hit a darn WALL. Seriously, my legs felt like sandbags and my mind was telling me ughhhhhh can you really do this? I was trying to be positive, wondering if I should venture into my pocket and take my Gel I brought along. Also knowing this training period I didn’t really use many Gel’s so would it affect my stomach, it didn’t last year BUT you never know. My mind kept racing and my legs started to get heavier……….UGHHHH! Then out of the blue I see a fan on the sidelines that look familiar, my good friend KCEY!! Is that really her or am I delirious??? NOPE IT’S HER!!! Kcey jumps in and joins me!!! Giving me some encouragement, telling me that I look strong OMG this is awesome AND PERFECT TIMING! Kcey joins be for about ¾ of a mile, OH MY GOSH JUST WHAT I NEEDED!!!!!! Seriously can’t thank her enough!! We even managed to take a pic together (wow we are talented).

Kcey and I (THANK YOU KCEY)!!!

Kcey and I (THANK YOU KCEY)!!!

After Kcey left, I got teary and maybe okkk I did cry a bit…..what an amazing friend. I can’t thank her enough!!

The rest of the race went rather well, it wasn’t until the last 2 miles that I started to slow a bit but at this point I could see the city and knew the finish wasn’t too far away. I finished strong!!!! Also was able to make eye contact with my family, pointing at them as I crossed the finish line!!!

Finishing and pointing to my family =)

Finishing and pointing to my family =)


The thought of seeing their amazing faces really carried me through the last 2 miles.

At the finish I was greeted by more FRIENDS!! AMAZING!! I wasn’t sure how I looked but I managed a few pictures with them =)

Some amazing co-workers waiting for me at the finish.

Some amazing co-workers waiting for me at the finish.

My good friend Stephanie (she ran the 10K).

My good friend Stephanie (she ran the 10K).

After a few photos and a much deserved post-race banana, I found my family. It was at this point that I realized I CRUSHED my goal!! My family showed me the results on their phones, I had completed the race in 1:44 min….my goal was 1:45, an 8:00/mile average pace (holy cow!!!!!) !! I seriously couldn’t believe it!!

This was the best part of the race, hugging my husband and parents after the race! Everyone was so excited, these hugs were what I was looking forward to for 13.1 miles (well and the cupcake, but shhhh).

My husband took some great photos that I will cherish FOREVER! Just a girl that crushed 13.1 miles smiling HUGE with her SUPPORTERS =)

Smiling from ear to ear with Mom and Dad.

Smiling from ear to ear with Mom and Dad.

With my #1 Supporter, my husband Dana!

With my #1 Supporter, my husband Dana!

Kisses for my husband =)

Kisses for my husband =)

I ROCKED THIS!!!

I ROCKED THIS!!!

Traditional Rite Aid Cleveland post-race photo.

Traditional Rite Aid Cleveland post-race photo.

After some great photos we made our way back to the car for some water (had to get my NUUN) and CUPCAKES! OMGGGGG that cupcake was so darn good =)

OHHHH YEAAA cupcake time!!!!!

OHHHH YEAAA cupcake time!!!!!

Thanks Dana!!!

Thanks Dana!!!

Dad couldn't wait, he had to have a cupcake too ;)

Dad couldn’t wait, he had to have a cupcake too ;)

The morning concluded with a much needed shower and some serious brunch, ohhhhh YUM! Pretty sure I ate my weight in food =)

After bunch, I sat on the couch completely relaxed and enjoying life. I needed to post some pictures to Facebook OF COURSE (that makes it official right?). To my surprise I see my buddy Rylan has been following my race and posting some AWESOME PICTURES!!!! I teared up as I saw all these amazing photos and posts, what an amazing buddy!!! (I dedicate all my miles to Rylan through the IRUN FOR organization, I was paired with RY about 3 months ago AND IT HAS BEEN AMAZING).

Rylan, wishing me luck for the race!

Rylan, wishing me luck for the race!

RY must have known I would need a little push at mile 10!!!

RY must have known I would need a little push at mile 10!!!

I sent RY some cupcakes to decorate so he too could celebrate at the finish of the race =)

I sent RY some cupcakes to decorate so he too could celebrate at the finish of the race =)

I finished!!! CUPCAKE TIME, that's my BUDDY!!!!

I finished!!! CUPCAKE TIME, that’s my BUDDY!!!!

HECK YES I DID!! =)

HECK YES I DID!! =)

What an adorable sign, I am truly honored to run for you RY!

What an adorable sign, I am truly honored to run for you RY!

A video I took before the race for Rylan:

Also pretty sure I was dead tired come 7:30pm, my dad even managed to capture this in a picture =)

Just about to fall asleep after an amazing day.

Just about to fall asleep after an amazing day.

Thank you all for your encouragement. Thank you to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon for this amazing opportunity, I loved blogging and interacting with the other bloggers during our training. Most of all thank you to my husband, my rock and foundation…..seriously don’t know how I could ever repay this man for everything he has done to keep me running strong, best SUPPORTER EVER. Also, thank you to my parents traveling over 10 hours just to wait 1 hour 44 min to watch me cross the finish line.

I am already excited about next year =) Going to have to rock this thing again!!!

XX,
Jamie

Guest Blog Post, KATIE’S FIRST HALF!!!

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The whole Official Blogger experience has been nothing short of AMAZING!!!!!! I have had the opportunity to interact with many folks through my blog as well as my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JamieJohnstonsJourney). I also love the fact that the wonderful folks at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon provided me with an entry to give away for any race during race weekend. Through my giveaway I have met an incredible lady, Katie! Katie WON my giveaway and used her free entry for the Half Marathon. THIS WILL BE HER FIRST! I thought it would be great for Katie to let us know a little about her and her training. So please read the following guest blog post by Katie =) Also PLEASE, please leave her a comment below SHE’S BEEN WORKING DARN HARD!
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Katie’s Journey to her FIRST Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon

I am not an athlete. Never have been, never will be. Friends use to ask me to join leagues with them (volleyball, softball, etc.) but my response was always “I don’t DO sports.” In the tenth grade I decided to join the track team…I quit after two practices. True story. So what am I, the chick who doesn’t DO sports and who quits track, doing running a half marathon? Proving to myself that, while sports may not be my thing, running can be.

I started running three years ago to lose weight, but instead, found myself. (Wow, that sounds totally cliché, doesn’t it??) But it’s the truth. At the time running came into my life, I needed to escape reality, and that’s what it offered me. It didn’t solve my problems, but it did give me perspective. It helped me to realize that there is nothing more important than the need for forward movement. And oxygen…lots of oxygen. I wasn’t fast, but I was defying my odds. I was already doing better than I did at that first track practice! That year I told my husband that I wanted to run a 5K….I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy, but he seemed to understand that I needed it. So, on May 14, 2011, two days before my 30th birthday, I ran my first 5K.

5k, The Dart Frog Dash 5/14/11

5k, The Dart Frog Dash 5/14/11

The weather was miserable, but the race was jam packed. There were hills (W…T…F…I need to train for hills?!?!?). There were walkers who passed me…talk about a humbling experience. But I ran, or jogged rather, to the finish line and nearly burst into tears when I crossed it. I finished with a time of 37:32. Not great, but my very first PR! I went on to run four more 5Ks that year and learned the harsh reality of an automatic PR – I had to really work for my next one.

I continued running off and on for the next year, only running in one 5K, but pulling out a PR on that one and renewing my love of the race. Early in 2013, a friend asked if I was interested in training to run a half marathon with them; I respectably declined (13.1 miles?!?!? Are you crazy?!?!?). Instead I focused on improving my 5K time and becoming a more consistent runner. Then another friend decided to train for a half marathon for the fall of 2013. There it was again…that ridiculous number. But this time I was more intrigued than freaked out, and decided it was time for me to build my endurance. No, I didn’t sign up for a half marathon, but the next best thing, a 10K. It was a nice stepping stone for me and, more importantly, it was obtainable. So that was my goal for the summer of 2013, to train for my first 10K. I went into that training only knowing what my friend had been sharing with me about her training and what I had read in Runner’s World. I built my base, and then started adding distance a little at time. I can’t even express into words the joy I felt the first time the little voice on my phone announced 4 miles, then 5, then 6, and then finally 7 miles! I was more than ready, and had discovered something new about myself – I enjoyed the longer distances! My first 10K was, in one word, Awesome. The weather was miserable yet again, but perfect for running. It wasn’t a pretty race for me, there was a lot of walking due to high winds, but I finished in 1:08:18, which was under my goal of 1:10, and I loved every minute of it!

After my first 10k, Findlay Red, White, and Blue Half and 10k, 10/6/13

After my first 10k, Findlay Red, White, and Blue Half and 10k, 10/6/13

After that, I was mentally ready to consider a half marathon. As my friend prepared to run her second half of the season, I told my husband about some of her experiences at the race. His response was a typical non-runner response – why would anyone do these things to themselves willingly??? I knew the answer, but how do you make one understand?

With the holidays approaching, I put the idea of a half on the back burner, especially since my runs had become a little lackluster. I knew I wanted to do one, but was I truly ready? I started talking to another of my running friends who had also just finished her first 10K. We both talked about wanting to run a half, but did we have the time and would our spouses understand??? At first we looked at a fall 2014 half, but then I spotted the Cleveland Marathon and felt in my gut that was the race for me. It was in my hometown (born in Solon and raised throughout NE Ohio, Cleveland was home base), my family is in the area, and it is two days AFTER my birthday (four days after my race “runiverssary”). Could it be anymore fitting???? I broke the news to the hubby. He actually took it rather well. I think he knew that I was gearing up for it. (One of the many reasons he is so great!) So there it was…the decision was made. What now?

My supportive husband Shaun!

My supportive husband Shaun!

Thankfully the internet has given us so much access to, well, everything. I knew I couldn’t go into this without a training plan of some sort and I knew I would need time to build my endurance back up. My “half” running friend and her hubby had always used the Smart Coach training plan through Runner’s World and it worked for them (they both finished under 2 hours so it had to be good, right?!?!?). I printed out two schedules to see which felt more do-able – the only difference between the two was the number of days I could dedicate to training, I chose the one with less and sacrificed some distance because of the limited time I had available to actually run (I am a “dark ‘O thirty” runner due to my husband’s work schedule). There I had it – the next 20 weeks of my running life planned out for me. Tempo runs, speed runs, easy runs, and long runs with my first run on December 30th.

I started my training, but still had not actually committed to the race yet. One week into training my ovaries decided to hate me and sprouted some cysts. And while my doctor told me it was okay to continue training, I was terrified to register. (I had to have emergency surgery before due to a cyst, so I was a tad gun shy, to say the least.) During my panic over registering I found that the official marathon bloggers were running contests to win race registrations, so I feverishly started entering. I figured if something came up, they could easily transfer my registration to someone else and there would be no money loss for me. Seemed like a win-win. Well, winning one of these contests is easier said than done. I kid you not, I did at least 5 other contests and no matter how many or how few entries I had, I always lost. With the prospect of surgery still out in the air, I entered Jamie’s contest. It was a long shot, but I figured one last try, then I would just pay for the registration and risk losing it if surgery happened. Two days before Jamie closed the contest, my doctor cleared me. My ovaries didn’t hate me anymore!! Woo hoo! Okay, it was time to commit. We booked our hotel and waited, knowing that I wouldn’t beat the price increase, but “what’s another $10??” Then I got a text – “OMG, you won!” Seriously?? I don’t win things. But there was my name on Jamie’s blog. The winner! Woo hoo! Again!

Training kicked into overdrive and that’s when I really learned what training for a half was all about. Never before did I have to think so much about what I was putting into my body for fuel, how and when to refuel, water stops, bathroom stops, planning around work schedules, all while running in one of the worst Ohio winters ever. I’ll admit, I’m a fair-weather runner. I was treadmill bound for the worst of it, but it had its benefits. Speed training and tempo runs are easier on a treadmill because it controls your speed for you. However, running on a treadmill for one hour is the most boring hour ever (Jamie, I don’t know HOW you do it!!!). Once the arctic decided to recede back to where it came from, I headed back into the world. Yay for running in the streets again!

running

In the last 6 weeks I have seen parts of Findlay I never knew existed, almost got hit by two cars (in the same crosswalk within seconds of each other), and learned where every bathroom is in a 5 mile radius. I’ve tested gels, chews, sports beans, water additives, sports bras, socks, hats, head bands, and broke in a new pair of Mizunos. I’ve discovered I prefer to run with no music, but still take it with me so I don’t get lonely on my long runs (and so I can call the hubby if something happens). I ran my fastest, unofficial, 5K time yet – 30:20! (That was a serious high point for me!) Most importantly I learned the power of a positive attitude. I’m not saying I’m a negatively minded person, but let’s just say, my glass is generally half empty. I have a lot of distrust in the world and often doubt myself, but when you’re training for something that is 90% mental, you can’t think that way.

photo (3)

Every time I gave into the idea that I was burnt out from running, my runs would fall short. And the worse my runs were, the worse my attitude became. It was after a less-than-stellar long run that I realized what I was doing to myself and decided to become my own personal cheerleader. (I also took it upon myself to be a cheerleader for a friend who needed it – and she just finished her first half marathon in 2:31!)

So here I am, two weeks out from my first half marathon. It feels crazy, and looking back on the last 18 weeks, I’m not sure how I got here. So much sacrifice went into this training on my part and my family’s part. My husband and son have been very understanding about planning around my long runs and they have had to endure the tired, cranky bee-yah who rears her ugly head after early morning runs and long, painful runs. I am so thankful for their support during all of this and can only hope they understand why I needed to do this – to prove to my non-athletic self that it can be done and that while some of the goals in my life may never be realized, this one can not only be achieved, but improved upon. Who knew so much clarity could come from running 13.1 miles???

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And for those who are interested, my goal time if the sun, moon, and planets align is under 2:20, my realistic goal is under 2:30, but ultimately I just want to finish, even if I’m crawling across that finish line. And as my husband said before my 10K – the only way I won’t finish is if I quit, and I’m not a quitter.

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Good luck to all the other runners – may you have swift feet and a strong heart to carry you to your goal!

Relentlessly moving forward,
Katie =)

Chomps, and Gels, and Jelly Beans, oh MY!

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It’s hard to believe it but only 3 weeks from today is the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. As many of you know I will be participating in the ½ marathon! I am beyond excited!!!! I have been busting my butt all winter, trying to better myself for this race. I have some goals in mind (some rather big goals) that I am really hoping to crush! I am keeping my goals to myself for now, but might share them as we get a bit closer =)

If you have been engaging with the Ride Aid Marathon on social media you will see they announced a partnership with Carb Boom Energy Gel. These Gels will be the ones provided at the race. Now many of you have asked me about gels, chomps, jelly beans, gu, and other forms of fuel that I might use for my runs. I have to tell you, no two people are the same and it’s all about trial and error.

Last year around this time (maybe a bit earlier) I found myself completely overwhelmed. My training was going well but I did need a little extra push around mile 9-10 to help me finish strong. Well, all my running friends had advice (running friends always do). They said things like well try these jelly beans, peanut butter works, I eat a fig newton cookie around mile 7, try these honey stinger chomps, I like all natural forms of fuel carry some grapes with you, raisins are good at mile 10………..whoooooaaaaaa so much information!!!!!

I knew I needed to find something that worked, and everyone seemed to have a different answer. So I set out to try different things and find a combination that worked for me. I tried fig newton cookies, I LOVE THESE darn cookies but didn’t find they provided me with any help during my runs. Then I ventured into various chomps, gels and jelly beans. Let me just say these will all have a variety of effects on your stomach!!! Some might work, some might cause cramps, and others well others will find you wanting to break into a strangers home just to use their restroom (even if there home looks questionable….it’s THAT SERIOUS).

gel

I found that my stomach and body really enjoyed hammer gels, specifically the huckleberry flavor. One of these gels around mile 6-7 helped me get over the 10 mile wall and finish strong. I found that when taking this gel I needed water at hand, as it’s a bit thick going down.

So I encourage you if you are considering the gels, chomps, fruit or other form of fuel during your run TRY IT OUT! You must test drive these fuels and see how it interacts with your stomach and makes you feel. I would also encourage you to try the Carb Boom Energy Gels (if you are taking on the Rite Aid Marathon) as they will be available to you at various spots throughout the race).

Also when trying these different fuels, make sure you are mindful of when you are taking them as taking something at mile 3 is a lot different than taking it at mile 7. You are trying to get ready for when you think you need an extra push, usually taking something 1 or 2 miles before needed is ideal.

While training this time around I have yet to use my hammer gels, I will probably take them for a test spin during my long run next weekend. As for me, I only use gels when trying to get a good pace/speed otherwise I personally would rather eat my calories (keep in mind these little gels really can add up in the calorie department, each packet can range from 90-130 calories).

So after reading this you are probably thinking I really didn’t provide you with an answer as to what you should be using. That is true, as there is no right answer. We have 3 weeks until the big event!!! Use the next few long runs to figure out what works for you =)

With that being said please comment below with the best way you like to fuel (if you already know), you could be helping other readers too (I really appreciate it).

Happy training friends!!!

XX,
Jamie

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