ICYMI: Here is the article I wrote for RunHaven.com on “When Running FoundMe”. To read the entire article click here: When Running Found Me.
A love for miles and pizza.
On Sunday, March 15, I ran my seventh half marathon! Way to go me! As happy as I should have been to complete another half, I was initially disappointed. The day before the race I did everything I would normally do to prepare. I was overly careful about not eating spicy foods (my weakness) and made sure to hydrate during the day. For dinner I cooked the same meal I make every night before a race: ground turkey meat, whole wheat spaghetti, marinara sauce, and garlic bread. For dessert I ate a juicy fuji apple and a piece of Cadbury’s dark chocolate. I left my husband the rest of the chocolate bar in hopes he would save me some. Wishful thinking…
Race morning: I woke up before my alarm and had this uncontrollable hunger feeling. I wasn’t sure if maybe I was nervous about the race or if I was just really hungry. Then it happened. I rushed to the bathroom and threw up. “What the hell is going on? NOT ON RACE DAY!” I tried to get myself together and eat some breakfast. I was literally laying on the floor, forcing myself eat a whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter. I was feeling nauseated and overwhelmingly stressed about having to run 13.1 miles. By the time we got to the race I was feeling better. I even ate a banana.
Then…it happened. Shit happened. I figured I might as well try to go to the bathroom again like I do five million times before we start, but this time, it was different. It felt like my stomach had taken on its own personality and started going zombie apocalypse inside. Of course I was standing in what appeared to be the women’s restroom line but was really the men’s. That meant there were six stalls, one without a door and about 15 women ahead of me. I started sweating and didn’t know if I was going to make it. Luckily I did and rushed to the start line.
During the race: I felt much better and felt like I had started the race strong. I was at a 9:00 minute pace and was starting to think it was going to be a PR day. My best half marathon time is 1:55 and I was secretly trying to finish at 1:50. The first few miles felt great and I was happy with my pace. Then I hit my wall. Around mile six, I started slowing down significantly. I told myself around mile nine that if I felt good I would speed up and power through those last few miles. Well, that didn’t happen. During my training runs, I ran at a nine minute per mile pace and trained to speed up on the last few miles during a long distance run. For some reason this morning was different. I felt really hungry by mile eight and had no energy to push myself. By mile 12 I realized a personal record wasn’t going to happen and I made a conscious effort to “just” enjoy the rest of the race. I waived to people and I smiled as I finished along the course.
13.1 miles later: Cheering me on at the finish line were my parents and husband. They later told me they were worried about me because of course I told them to be there way too early. It didn’t help that we started in waves either-so although the “race” officially started at 7:45, my wave wasn’t due to start until 8:00. After the race I felt sick and really wanted to go home. We didn’t stick around afterwards with the other runners. I even passed on my complimentary beer treat! I sulked in the car. My husband parked miles away and during our walk I was complaining about how “bad” I had done. I had ran six half marathons before and every time I achieved a PR.
This was a hard pill to swallow. After really thinking about it and eating a large burger, fries and a milk shake, I decided it was ridiculous to be so upset.
I’ve had to learn with racing that I am not racing against anyone but myself. As a runner, sometimes I feel I’ve become far too competitive with myself and set my expectations too high. It’s nice to have goals but sometimes goals cannot be met right away. I appreciate this race now and use it as my guide to train harder and stay more consistent with cross training. Like a lot of things in life, running has its good days and its bad days. Learning to appreciate and grow from the bad only makes you a stronger more skilled runner. So, I thank you 2015 Shamrock’n half for motivating me to push myself more!
Check out my cool new watch the Garmin Forerunner 15. Too bad I had no idea how to use it during the race. I kept confusing myself if I was looking at my pace or the time. Lesson learned I need to play with my watch before using it!
Here’s a photo with my friends before the race! These ladies are amazing! We typically do our long runs together on the weekends and it’s always a great time to catch up.
Running with friends makes you accountable and faster.
Every month I will post about one of my running friends. My first post is a very special post about my best friend and sister Amanda. Amanda has been running since 2011 and participated in many 10ks and half marathons. She is one of my favorite people to run with because she pushes me to be faster.
Her running story is truly inspiring. She began running with our family and continued running before and after the birth of her daughter Rosie (my god daughter). Throughout her pregnancy she was consistently walking and even walked the day before she gave birth. She may be small but she is one tough cookie.
I wasn’t able to run this particular race because I had just had surgery but Rosie and I walked the 5k and cheered her mom from the sidelines. Rosie was proudly sporting her medal and was pretty nervous waiting for her mom to finish.
Running with a friend helps push me to be a faster runner. There is something about running with someone who has the same goals as you and will actually wake up early on a weekend just to run. Amanda has a pretty busy schedule and anytime she can fit me into it for a run is a nice treat. I love running with her because she pushes me to be the best runner I can be. When I feel I can’t do something she always encourages me and holds me accountable to the goals I set.
This is the race Rosie earned her first half marathon medal! Amanda and my cousin Aaron took turns pushing her throughout the course. The pic below is Rosie after the race. It’s tough being pushed throughout San Francisco and she was refueling her carbs. Just like her auntie, she clearly loves bread. Even Rosie runs for carbs.
Watching my sister pass the finish line for this half marathon was emotional. I was really happy for her because she made it a goal to complete this half with her daughter and she did it!
Another race we both did together was the Davis Moonlight half marathon. This was one of the most difficult races because it was over ninety degrees throughout the entire race. Amanda and I decided for our post race meal we wanted In-n-Out burger which we deserved after sweating our booties off. We even opted to go inside to pick up our order so everyone could see our new medals because-hello we needed to show off! “Yes we did just run 13.1 miles, thank you!” We didn’t stop there. We then decided to get hats and take pictures with the nicest employee! Oh the things you do on a post-run high…
Embrace running friends and appreciate that others are as crazy as you. I used to be a solo runner but sharing my time with friends who run, my life has drastically changed for the better. I can only hope that I give all of my running friends the same encouragement as they give me. It’s not every day that you meet people with the same hobby and goals. So, go give your running friends a big high five and a piece of chocolate, they will love you for it.
Today is National Running Day! I’ve been looking forward to this day since I marked “going” to a running event on my Facebook calendar. I decided to come up with my top 15 reasons why I run.
1. It keeps me healthy and strong. I use to hate having skinny chicken legs but after I began running I learned to embrace my legs which have turned into strong legs. 2. I can eat loads of pizza and ice cream and not feel as guilty.
3. It relieves my stress and keeps me sane. It helps me gather my thoughts and leave my cares and worries behind.
4. I love my running friends. They make me laugh and are the only people who don’t mind talking about running for hours.
5. Earning super cool medals is always a good idea. Not to mention the variety of work out tops. 6. It makes me really happy. My husband will ask me two things when I’m grumpy: have you had coffee? have you gone on a run?
7. When everything else is going wrong running makes it right.
8. It’s free. Doesn’t cost me a penny to lace up my shoes and go outside for a run.
9. Running reminds me to count my blessings.
10. It’s taught me to love myself and build my confidence. 11. It gives me an excuse to buy really cute work out clothes.
12. It helps me stay focused on a personal goal.
13. It makes getting older that much easier.
14. I run to be the best version of myself.
15. Because I can! I am blessed with legs that take me to my happy place.
My husband Dan and I love going on hikes. It’s an affordable way for us to spend quality time together and work out at the same time. We hadn’t been on a hike for a while since both of our schedules lately have been really busy. I saw a post on the Sacramento Bee’s Facebook page about a hike which is only about 40 minutes away from where we live. We decided we would give it a try. We are always up for trying out new routes. Personally, I will hike anywhere. Dan on the other hand prefers hikes closer to the ocean with cooler temperatures.
It was early morning on Sunday and we headed out to grab our usual pre-hike meal: Starbucks lol. I always order the oatmeal with fresh blueberries and Dan gets the turkey bacon breakfast sandwich (both really delicious). I usually pack a variety of snacks for our hikes. This time we didn’t make a stop at the grocery store before because we had a good variety already. I packed us crisp green grapes, water, almonds, and pretzels. Our first stop was the Western States hike trail. I’m used to hiking in places with marked signs and typically a good number of other hikers. This trail was really secluded and made us follow colored gates, rocks, and unmarked dirt paths instead. To add to my hesitation, three dogs approached us at the start and one was barking at us because we were in its territory. It also peed on my car. Not cool. We made our way through the unmarked route where we found ourselves looking at each other like “do you feel comfortable doing this?”
It was a completely deserted trail and seemed as though if we didn’t return our disappearance would go unnoticed. The older I get the more weary I am of certain situations-clearly I’ve been watching too much Dateline. It doesn’t help that Dan is terrified of snakes and thinks they will go out of their way to attack him and eat him. I give him a pass at how ridiculous this sounds because he’s from England. We decided to head back to our car and find a hike with more people and at a location where our bodies could be found. Because old running shoes are always cool but also kinda creepy. Like, did they walk barefoot all the way home?Midday we made our way to a safer trail. This is one of my favorite places to hike in Auburn. You can choose from several different trails. There are easier ones for beginners and families, while we enjoy challenging ourselves more with an uphill hike mixed with squats. Most of the time we combine about 2-3 different trails in one day to total approximately 8-10 miles. I love coming down to this rock taking a few minutes to reflect. It is truly a beautiful area to count your blessings and oh of course take muscle photos. Here is the uphill trail we followed. It was really tough but felt great. Not to mention it was really, really hot and we had to take our tops off. After making our way uphill we decided to head back down and hang out by the water while snacking. Here are my cheap Asics from the Kohl’s clearance department that cost me about $30. I hate ruining my nice running shoes and always opt for a pair of old shoes. I need better support but I’m also pretty cheap when it comes to some stuff. We always pack a pair of flip-flops in the car. Nothing feels better than taking off sweaty socks and letting your feet breathe. Hiking is always a great way to spend time with friends and family-not to mention, it’s FREE. Even if you can’t get through as many miles as us it’s always great to see other people out there trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Check out these trails in Auburn and enjoy the summer!
#RunningforCarbs #ByeGirl #NoToeZone
In honor of Mother’s Day, today’s post is about moms. Running moms. I’m in the age group where my friends are either getting married, having babies, or already have babies. It’s just become part of our running schedules to coordinate times based on babysitting availability.
What do you do when all of your running friends are moms? Most of my closest running friends have children. Some weekends I’ve tried to schedule a run and no one can meet me because they have plans with their families. As selfish as I may want to be, I get it. I really do. Here are a few tips for keeping up with training when all of your friends have kids. I’ve included pictures throughout this post with all of the running moms in my life.
1. Be flexible.
Okay so you don’t have kids. Wonderful! But all of your friends do. As busy as we (people without kids) get, their lives are that much busier with the coordinating of all things children. Be flexible. It’s easier for you to work around their schedules.
2. Understand that sometimes plans change.
For runners without kids let’s just call us RWK (since everything’s more fun in abbreviations), we plan these long runs with high expectations. Maintaining a certain pace, GUs at mile five, meet at 8am sharp, have the same meal before every run. As simple as life can be for RWK, our friends have a lot more going on. Moms are more concerned with feeding their kids and getting out the door unnoticed. Be understanding and don’t expect things to always go as planned.
Runs are our homes away from home. Nothing is better than having a stressful week and meeting your running friends to chat about the stressors in life. Moms are managing several schedules and juggling day to day activities. Sometimes they just need a listening ear. Be that friend and be aware when it’s time to talk about yourself and when it’s time to just listen. I used to always run with my earphones. I now make a conscious effort to not wear them with certain running friends so we can catch up.
It’s happened to me more than once that everyone is planning on meeting Saturday morning at 8am and at the last minute everyone cancels because they want to hang out with their kids. I have to remember that one day I’ll be on the same boat and it will all make sense. Until then support your friends and don’t be sensitive. Their kids are cute and why wouldn’t they want an extra cuddle on their day off instead of running 10 miles?
5. Support them.
Life can get so busy that we forget to support each other. A lot of my running friends are at different fitness levels. Some have just had babies, some push their kids in jogging strollers, while others bring their kids to the gym with them. Always find ways to compliment their workouts and support their progress.
I may not be ready for kids at the moment but I love that all of my friends are at this stage of their lives. Everyone’s reasons for running are different and I appreciate my running friends with kids very much. I learn a lot from these women and it amazes me how they can juggle life so effortlessly. For all of you running moms keep up the hard work. Like everything in life I hope by using these tips it helps others treat their friends and family the way you would want to be treated when you decide to venture into motherhood. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms in the world.
On Sunday, April 19th, I ran the Zoo Zoom 10k which helps fund the Sacramento Zoo. I decided to sign up at the last minute and since my cousin Aaron was in town from San Francisco, he joined me. I was a little nervous about this run because I over indulged the Friday and Saturday before the race. When I say over indulged I mean, I went kinda crazy.
I’m not much of a drinker (because I drank ridiculous amounts in college) and for some reason decided to drink Friday night when I went out with our family. Poor decision #1. Around midnight that night, I also thought it would be a good idea to head to a local restaurant called Petra’s for a chicken pita, fries, and a soda. Poor decision #2. Petra is delicious but drinking and late night eating are never a good combination. Saturday morning instead of going on a run as planned, I walked over to Hot Italian for their breakfast pizza. Poor decision #3. Now, I’m not saying that any of these things are poor decisions on any regular weekend. Enjoying a few drinks here and there along with delicious late-night eats is always fun. However, the weekend of a race-not so fun. My poor decisions one, two, and three, left me wondering if I should rename my blog “Running for Junk” instead.
On Sunday morning, I made sure we got to the race super early since Aaron hadn’t registered yet. I hate being late and not having enough time to visit the porta potties multiple times. The weather was perfect and we made it early enough to watch the animal costume contest as well as the start of the 5k race.
The picture above cracks me up because Aaron suggested I tilt my head back since I was wearing a hat-clearly, I didn’t get it. And what’s with my odd little grin?
On our way to the car to drop off some of our personal items, we saw my running buddy Abby! She was running the 5k with her daughter Stella (who is in the stroller and was not feelin’ our photo op). Abby and I run together almost every weekend and it’s always a treat to see her, unexpectedly, at races.I have a pretty good idea of how fast my cousin runs since we’ve completed several races together (two half marathons in San Francisco and a Thanksgiving Day 10k). I really had no specific expectations for this race-I hadn’t set a goal. I just thought it would be a beautiful day, to spend time with my cousin, doing something we both love. We started the race together and I soon noticed we were running at a 7:50 min/mile pace. I was really just trying to keep up with him. I think he was going at a “slower” pace to take it easy on me. Meanwhile, my little legs were working hard. I told Aaron with excitement (and shock) that if I stayed with him I may set a personal record. At that point, Aaron wanted to help keep me on track and continued to lead the way. He stayed about two steps ahead of me which kept me motivated. It was pretty funny that I decided not to wear my earphones because Aaron didn’t have a pair but we quickly realized that we were not really in the “talking and running” mood. We were FOCUSED!
I typically run with music but this day I focused on my breathing and soaking in every minute of the beauty that surrounded me. Running for me is a great time to reflect on my blessings. Many times while running I name all of the things/people I am thankful for and feel inspired to keep moving.
Overall the race was terrific! I got a PR for both my 5k and 10k. Aaron and I couldn’t stop smiling and I literally could not thank him enough for motivating me. It’s a very rewarding feeling to finish a race strong. It made me realize that I run better and faster when I go into a run with zero expectations. After my last half marathon, I felt disappointed because I had not finished “fast enough”-which is silly I know, since I STILL completed 13.1 miles. I’m convinced that not setting any expectations for the ZooZoom and feeling relaxed and grateful, is why I was able to set personal records in both distances.
To my surprise I ended up placing 4th in my age group. I was shocked when I saw this! I started singing and dancing to Dan while we were driving. I’m in a tough age group: 25-29. It has really fast women and for once I was a part of that group. It felt good knowing that my hard work day in and day out is paying off. I wasn’t the fastest and know about a dozen people who can beat my time but I was still proud that I was able to achieve top 5 at a race.
Later that evening, Dan and I went to a food trucks event for dinner-as a treat for my run. I ended up back at William Land Park where Sacto MoFo was hosting a food truck night. There was live music, bounce houses, picnic areas, and of course FOOD. I couldn’t decide what to eat-everything looked and sounded delicious! We walked around in circles until I finally let my belly do all the talking and we decided on sea food. I ended up ordering a lobster roll. Back in my flight attendant days, everyone would rant and rave about lobster rolls (specifically the ones from Boston) and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Sadly, I was disappointed. Our meal cost about $35 and we were both still really hungry afterwards. Dan ordered cajun shrimp tacos. Poor guy was sadly disappointed as well. Even though our food truck experience wasn’t great we still had a good time chatting on the grass and enjoying the beautiful weather. I hope the lobster rolls in Boston are much better than the one I had.
I do a lot of self-reflecting on days when I run. Before the race, Aaron and I sat in the car and talked about what it felt like completing a marathon. We both agreed that it was the hardest thing we’ve ever done and our legs hurt in places we never knew could feel pain. Our conversation ended something like this:
Aaron: “I just feel like if I can do this…”
Me: “You can do anything?”
Me: “Me too.”
I’m fortunate to have family and close friends who share my love for running. This feeling, both Aaron and I shared of accomplishment, will forever be embedded in my heart. I can apply it to any aspect of life and that’s one of the magical things about running. And ultimately, if I can do it, you can do it too.
Becoming a runner can sometimes seem intimidating, but following these few steps will help you ease into it. I always remind myself and my friends that if you run, you’re a runner. Whether you run 1 mile, 5 miles, 26.2 miles-if you run, you’re a runner! It’s simple. So how do we as runners get started? The steps I’ve outlined below are what helped me. I hope you find them useful.
1. Sign up for a race!
I’ve always noticed I am more consistent with running when I have something to work towards-a goal. Signing up for a race is easy and a great experience. The camaraderie between runners, the adrenaline in the air, the motivation all around you-it’s like nothing else. Start small and sign up for a 5K (3.10 miles), then eventually a 10K (6.2 miles), and next thing you know, you’ll be training for your first half marathon (13.1 miles). Below are links to find races in California for 2015. If you are interested in running a race in Sacramento through Sacramento Running Association as a host, you can use promo code “SRA46” for a discount.
2. Use a free app to track your runs.
When I first started running, I didn’t track my runs which meant I had no idea how far or fast/slow I was actually going. Using an app like Nike Plus Running (my app of choice) or RunKeeper, will help you stay consistent and keep track of your progress. These apps are free and keep a log of your daily miles, pace and calories burned. They even allow you to upload photos which show the distance you ran. Celebrate your achievements and let the world know you ran!
3. Make a running playlist.
I love, love, LOVE making running playlists. I use Spotify because it has a great variety of music I can pull from. I’m very meticulous about my playlist. It starts off slower to keep my first few miles at a more comfortable pace and then builds up to faster music. If I keep up with the faster beats, I know I’m running at my desired pace. A lot of my songs bring happy memories and the positive thoughts keep me motivated. My playlist is available under my name, Tiffany James, and is called “Run Gurl” if you are interested in a combination of electro music, throwbacks, and some Latin spice.
4. Set one attainable goal a week…..build mileage.
Set goals for yourself weekly-something feasible you can work towards. For example, on your first week of running you can set a goal of completing one mile. Start at home, go out 0.5 miles…and then you really have no choice but to turn around and go home! I mean, unless you call someone to go get you…but don’t do that. Do that every other day until you can run that mile without stopping or walking. Next you can try to run from home, out 3/4 of a mile, and back-BAM! You’ve then completed 1.25 miles. Try not to create limitations or excuses. It will get easier if you just give yourself time.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others and have fun!
Try not to compare yourself to anyone else. This is definitely easier said than done-for me anyway. I force myself to remember that everyone is different and what may be easy for some will not be easy for others. Most runners will tell you they stick to running because they are passionate about it and truly love it. Take time during your run to reflect and appreciate your life, your experience, and where you’re at with your running.
A big part of becoming a stronger runner for me was learning how to breathe-sounds pretty simple right? WRONG! You can’t disregard your breathing because if you do, before you know it, by half a mile, you’ll be panting like you’re dying. Figuring out how to breathe well during your run will help you get less side stitches and improve your posture. I’ve included a link from Runner’s World that will help your breathing technique. The sooner you can control your breathing, the sooner you can increase your speed and/or distance.
7. Get fitted for running shoes.
If you enjoy running and it feels like something you may want to stick with, I suggest getting fitted for proper running shoes. This may cost anywhere from $100-200 depending on the shoe type, but the investment is well worth it. Your feet and body will thank you later. Proper running shoes will help your body stay injury free and provide the adequate support for running. If you live in the Sacramento area Fleet Feet of Sacramento is a great place to buy your first pair of running shoes. The staff is terrific and attentive. They will take their time to watch you run and recommend the best shoes for YOU.
These are just a few tips that helped me when I first started running. Please remember to go at your own pace. Enjoy every minute of it and just keep running! You’ve got this!
When you marry someone who is just as competitive as you are.
My husband Daniel has always been an athletic person. He’s been a soccer player since he could walk and continues to have a love for futbol that I will never understand. He’s also been a personal trainer and is a certified soccer coach. To anyone else, it would sound like I have the perfect, free personal trainer/running coach. However, that is definitely not the case. Although I admire his athletic ability, I still can’t help but want to beat him every time we run. When we first started running together, Dan was faster than me. It was extremely frustrating. I remember during one training run, I let this frustration get the best of me and I became so upset that I stopped running and cursed out loud. I basically threw a “bitch fit”. Meanwhile, Dan just laughed at me which made matters worse. Anytime we would run I felt myself getting upset with him and tried to find any reason to give up.
Dan has that type of athletic ability that allows him to get away with doing things that most of us can’t do. For example, running the Clarksburg 20 mile race without training and drinking alcohol with his buddies the night before. True story (insert eye roll here). He woke up the morning of that race and simply decided he’d run with me! I was furious and immediately told him that running was my thing. “How would you like it if I just showed up at the soccer field and coached your team?” I felt like he was taking away something I was very passionate about. Anyone who is in a relationship or married may be able to understand where I am coming from.
As a runner, I know what I need to do to become a faster and better. I found myself making excuses as to why I “couldn’t” train: I was too tired, I didn’t have time, training schedules are too difficult to stick to, it was too hot, the next day it was too cold, it was too windy, my toe hurt. ANY possible excuse. Until one day Dan came right out and said to me, “I don’t think you could ever run a full marathon.” I love this man dearly but boy did this piss me off. Anyone, especially HIM, telling me I can’t do something makes me want to do that particular something even more! That was the fuel that I needed to start training for my first full marathon-The California International Marathon. I let go of the excuses, I found a training schedule that I was able to follow, and was determined to cross that finish line-even if it meant crawling across it-just to prove to him that yes, I could run a full marathon!
Race day came and of course, I was nervous. I had trained up to 22 miles and physically felt great but was definitely doubting my ability to finish the race. When he dropped me off at the start of the course, I didn’t expect to see or hear from him again until HOURS later when I crossed the finish line…”IF” I crossed the finish line. Throughout the race however, I came to the realization that Dan was not my biggest competitor, but my biggest fan. He text me to see how I was doing and showed up unexpectedly at different points during the race to cheer me on. A few times he even ran with me! By mile 21 I text him that I felt like giving up. I had hit my wall and there was no recovering. He immediately found me and lifted my spirits. He knew I had worked hard to complete this marathon and wasn’t going to let me give up. He ran the last few miles with me and made me laugh even though I really wanted to cry. Without him I don’t know if I would have finished.
Throughout life, I hope to remember to be as much of a cheerleader for him as he was for me on that day. Our competitive spirit is something I have learned to cherish-it can be a good thing! To motivate each other to become better versions of ourselves. And once again, this also makes me remember that I’m my own biggest competitor.