Here’s to 2015 – This is the year I Run Confidently

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Oiselle Team Badge

Last fall was a big step for me in my post-collegiate career but last fall was last fall and its now 2015. I can’t rest on previous accomplishments and I cant expect for this season to come easy. I like to feel like each season I am starting from scratch working my way back up from nothing with no expectations just goals. So now after a long holiday season of family and lots and lots of eating..I am now regaining my focus and getting my butt back in the gym. To take it a step further I purchased myself one of Lauren Fleshman’s Believe Training Journals to push myself a bit further. If there is one thing I have learned from my tough year last year its goal setting and planning! So what’s up for this spring? So far its a bit undecided but I do have two goal races beginning with the Gate River Run in Jacksonville on March 14th and then US Outdoor Nationals in June. I plan on doing a 5k in mid February to get myself tuned up going into Gate RIver and then the rest of the spring its back on the track! I am toying with running Raleigh Relays and/or heading out to Stanford. Ultimately I want to do whatever it takes to get myself to Eugene. Whether I qualify in the 10 or the 5 I don’t care I just want to be there! I have heard great things about that track but sadly never got the opportunity while in college. My last season at NC State was my one opportunity to run NCAA nationals in Oregon but the pressure got to me and I ended my collegiate career just short of qualifying for nationals. Nonetheless I am going to really work hard this season to be smart and get the work in. My words of wisdom for this season, “Take the “small” that God has trusted you with and make it a success. Each little success will eventually lead to a big success.”

RACING SCHEDULE

February 14th – Sweetheart 5k in Rocky Mount, NC

March 14th – Gate River Run, Jacksonville FL*

March 28th Raleigh Relays – 10k or 5k

April 3rd – Stanford Invitational (maybe), Palo Alto, CA

May 2nd – Payton Jordan Invitational, Palo Alto, CA OR May 3rd – The Rocket Mile, Rocky Mount, NC

June 26-28th – US Outdoor Nationals*

July 25th – Beat the Heat, Winston Salem, NC

August – Sir Walter Mile

*Goal Races

There may be some other races in there but so far this is the plan! Here’s to 2015!

RIP - 2/2/2014
RIP – 2/2/2014
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Monumental Weekend

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I can’t believe how long it has been since I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon and qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon but I can say I’m still sometimes shocked by it. When I turned the corner coming into the final straight away I could see the time and could not believe what I had done. I was so overjoyed I felt like I could run another! Luckily I remembered how those last 3 miles had started to feel and just stood there in the finish shoot just taking it all in. After my struggle from last year this season has been a huge testament to me as to why I need to always keep moving forward. Hitting what felt like rock bottom last year feeling like maybe this was it for me was exactly what I needed. I am everyday thankful for Oiselle and my coaches for still sticking with me and giving me the chance I needed to give it one more go. Of course now I realize what I have ahead of me, marathon training. A whole new beast and a whole lot of work. God’s work is never done and the same will be for me.

The thing I am most grateful for is not that I qualified but more about the people that this whole experience has introduced me to. Seeing Alana Hadley, a 17 year break the marathon course record and qualify for the Olympic trials. Being in the company of a 92 year old running a half marathon world record and Hailey Danisewicz setting the world record for one leg amputees is so far beyond my accomplishment and is humbling to me. What those people have done is so incredible and such an inspiration. I was blessed with being roomed with an extremely talented Dawn Grunnagle whom helped me figure things out on race morning (I’m still pretty naïve to road racing!) and gave me advice and encouragement going in.

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salming 2

Coming back to NC I was also able to make a connection to Salming, a shoe brand out of Sweden just starting to put down roots in the US including a place here in Raleigh! This opportunity is great and I cannot thank them enough. I will soon be a part of growing this brand and I can’t wait to see what the future will hold here. The team, the managers, everyone involved in this company has been fantastic! Putting together a group of not only great runners but also great people was the key to drawing me in. They put a strong value to supporting local elites in the community to help grow the hometown love and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all runners young and old.

All in all the one person that really spoke to me this weekend was an incredibly strong Oiselle woman whom joined me in the City of Oaks Marathon Relay the Sunday following my half-marathon race. She apologized before the race stating that she hadn’t been able to train much and that she would be slow. I told her not worry and that we as Oiselle birds fly together and to just have fun! She anchored the last leg of the race and I watched cheering proudly as she came through to the finish. She ran the entire 6.2 miles! I found out later that she had been struggling with MS and had been unable to run. Her attitude and perseverance is just so inspiring to me. Ever since hearing this news I have been in awe over her. If she reads this I want her to know how strong and how absolutely amazing I think she is. I am proud to call her my teammate!

city of oaks

Moving Forward

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My last race of my collegiate career was one I try not to think about too hard. That devastating last race came 2 days after a 13th place finish (top 12 qualify for nationals) in the 10k at regionals, an event I had qualified for nationals for in the previous 2 seasons. I carried the feeling of defeat I felt after my 10k into my 5k and as I stood on the start line I felt the world falling in on my shoulders. I had already lost that race before it started. In the hours and days after that race I felt like my feet had been pulled out from under me and I was lost. I couldn’t believe my collegiate career was over just like that. It took me a couple days to come to terms with what had happened but after the fact I realized this wasn’t going to be the end for me.

ACOZZ13 - ACC's
2013 ACC Championships

When I started at NC State I was a good runner but not a great runner. I wasn’t nationally ranked and my times were middle of the road for collegiate running. Most people wouldn’t have had me on the radar for becoming an All-American and after my freshman year, no one, including myself, would have thought I had shot at even an All-ACC finish. However, in the years that followed things began to change. My sophomore year I was placed on a gluten-free diet for medical concerns. Then in my junior year I finally saw the light. In the months prior to my 2011 spring track season I got back involved with my church, regularly attending and finally actually understanding the message. I was regaining a relationship with God and it started to play out on the track. I put my trust in God and began pursuing each race with him in mind and it was almost unreal what happened. I placed 2nd at ACC’s that year, dropped over 2 minutes off of my previous 10k time, and finished it off with a 2nd Team All-American finish at nationals. I could barely believe I was even in contention for nationals going into that last lap at the 2011 NCAA regional championships. When I stepped across that finish line I realized, God has more in store for me.
Now today I feel even more called to pursue a professional running career. While the hit I faced at the end of my collegiate career was hard I realized it was a message to me that I need to change my mind set. I had become too obsessed in doing everything right and lost some of my trust in God. To me it also served as a wake-up that I had a lot more work to do. I had become better but I needed to be brought back down to earth. The professional distance running aspiration would mean a whole lot more improvement on my part and as hard as that regional finish was, it was just what I needed. I want to get to a point where I can inspire others and show them what God can do. I feel like I have a story and now I am just trying to make it worth sharing
Coming off of a 3 min PR in the half and taking that step toward qualifying for the US Olympic Trials I am so excited to keep getting out there. I have found since joining Oiselle that the community of strong women has really made all the difference. I feel driven and excited by all of the inspiring Oiselle athletes and I hope I can do the same.

Good News: Im turning 42!

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Oiselle Team Badge 20140711_203155036_iOS So over the course of the last month or so God has granted me 4 exciting, scary, amazing & life altering things that I am finally ready and have the time to share. First, I purchased my first car, and got a loan for it completely on my own. Second, I accepted a new job at Stewart Engineering working with Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation. Third, I officially became part of the Oiselle Running Team out of Seattle Washington, a goal I have been pursuing over the course of the last year. Then fourth… I bought a house… yes a house and hence why instead of turning 24 in two weeks I am turning 42. It’s crazy to see all of these things happening at once but I believe God has his ways.

Amongst all of this craziness I have found the time to bake here and there but not the time to post any of my recipes that I have been promising so sorry to everyone but I promise sometime in the future I will. Yes that was vague but I have no idea when that will happen. Tonight I am racing for my first time in my Oiselle uniform and I hope to wear it proudly. I’m nervous as I have only had a few workouts prior to this and mainly been working on building my mileage but I’m just having faith for this one.

This post is a bit all over the place but I also wanted to mention the incredibly exciting event happening next week: The Sir Walter Miler. This event is showcasing elite professional athletes in the mile and while I’m not a miler I feel more than honored to be considered an elite for this race. I will be racing among some extremely talented women and while I don’t know what to expect, I at least hope if anything I can come away from it having impacted a few young athletes out to watch the race! If you happen to be in Raleigh I would seriously suggest coming out. Even if your not a track person there will be local breweries, food trucks & basically a party going on throughout the night. See sirwaltermiler.com for more details!

This is How WE Roll

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Looking at the above picture you are probably thinking of the classic gooey cinnamon roll that is filled with a sweet brown sugar, buttery, cinnamon filling and topped with a vanilla glaze that melts into the soft yet crisp biscuit like dough. However what you don’t know is that this is not your normal cinnamon roll… it’s an Apple Pie Cinnamon Roll!

Cinnamon rolls and sticky buns have been gracing bakery shelves for years. Almost every local coffee shop has their own version and gluten-free options have even become available. The only thing is that these cinnamon rolls are all basically the same in their flavor profile, sweet and cinnamony (and yes I know that is not word but there was no other way to put it). Anyway where I am going with this…while over at Joanna Thompson’s (fellow 10k teammate and foodie) we someone how got to talking about my cookie dough cinnamon rolls and her salted caramel version and the conversation took a turn. We went into our own little world and began listing off all of the different “cinnamon” rolls we could make. Including this version:

Caramelized Onion Rolls

Caramelized Onion “Cinnamon” Rolls with Honeyed Goat Cheese “Frosting.” Savory and delicious and completely unexpected. When I bit into this thing I almost died. I could barely stop eating long enough to take this picture. Joanna and I crafted these nuggets as a side to our kale & quinoa stuffed mushrooms and then accompanied this meal with another “cinnamon” roll for dessert. Are you ready for this…

PB&J Rolls

PB&J Rolls. These were filled with Joanna’s Almond Raspberry Jam and topped with a frosting made of powdered peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla & almond milk. I was too full to eat one these little guys after dinner so I saved it for breakfast. This roll in combination with my cup of cocoa coffee from Trader Joes was definitely the perfect breakfast! Think these rolls sound/look good well just wait there are plenty more to come!

 

My Past, Present & Future

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My last race of my collegiate career was one I try not to think about too hard. That devastating last race came 2 days after a 13th place finish (top 12 qualify for nationals) in the 10k at regionals, an event I had qualified for nationals for in the previous 2 seasons. I carried the feeling of defeat I felt after my 10k into my 5k and as I stood on the start line I felt the world falling in on my shoulders. I had already lost that race before it started. In the hours and days after that race I felt like my feet had been pulled out from under me and I was lost. I couldn’t believe my collegiate career was over just like that. It took me a couple days to come to terms with what had happened but after the fact I realized this wasn’t going to be the end for me.

When I started at NC State I was a good runner but not a great runner. I wasn’t nationally ranked and my times were middle of the road for collegiate running. Most people wouldn’t have had me on the radar for becoming an All-American and after my freshman year, no one, including myself, would have thought I had shot at even an All-ACC finish. However, in the years that followed things began to change. My sophmore year I was placed on a gluten-free diet for medical concerns. Then in my junior year I finally saw the light. In the months prior to my 2011 spring track season I got back involved with my church, regularly attending and finally actually understanding the message. I was regaining a relationship with God and it started to play out on the track. I put my trust in God and began pursuing each race with him in mind and it was almost unreal what happened. I placed 2nd at ACC’s that year, dropped over 2 minutes off of my previous 10k time, and finished it off with a 2nd Team All-American finish at nationals. I could barely believe I was even in contention for nationals going into that last lap at the 2011 NCAA regional championships. When I stepped across that finish line I realized, God has more in store for me.

Now today I feel even more called to pursue a professional running career. While the hit I faced at the end of my collegiate career was hard I realized it was a message to me that I need to change my mind set. I had become too obsessed in doing everything right and lost some of my trust in God. To me it also served as a wake-up that I had a lot more work to do. I had become better but I needed to be brought back down to earth. The professional distance running aspiration would mean a whole lot more improvement on my part and as hard as that regional finish was, it was just what I needed. I want to get to a point where I can inspire others and show them what God can do. I feel like I have a story and now I am just trying to make it worth sharing.

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Post-Workout Recovery

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Being that I am trying to step up to a new level of competition I have been trying to maximize my potential by getting my diet right. I always ate relatively healthy before but I never fully considered pre and post run nutrition. For endurance athletes, going on a 9 or 10 mile run everyday with long runs and tough workouts thrown in there, recovery is extremely important. Because prolonged activity tends to wear down the muscle as our bodies draw from anything it can, our muscle NEEDS an adequate amount of protein to stimulate muscle synthesis and repair any damage. You are probably thinking “Damage?? Running is damaging my muscles??” Well depending on how hard and how long you have been running or participating in an endurance sport cortisol begins to break down the muscle and causes muscle soreness. However, protein after a workout will block the production of this hormone and add the essential amino acids needed to help build muscle. Sports nutritionists suggest getting this with 15-30min of exercising as this is the optimal window for muscle synthesis. In addition, getting protein in that close to a hard workout will actually help your metabolism stay steady and lengthen you satiety, I’d say that is a double bonus!

All of that being said, I have put together some of my favorite products. I have an intolerance to soy so finding a goof protein shake or bar that had at least 10g of protein (it is suggested that 10-20g of protein be ingested after endurance events) was not the easiest thing. I am also lactose intolerant just to throw another variable into the mix. My search had me reading nutrition and ingredients labels looking for the words: gluten-free, lactose-free & soy-free. I found many products while surveying my local whole foods but my problem was that either the product didn’t have enough protein or it was too high in calories to eat an hour out from dinner. Finally after a bit of searching and taste-testing these are my favorite thus far:

Protein Powders:

Garden Creations – This protein powder is lactose, gluten & soy free and is made from pea, rice & hemp protein. At less than 150 calories and 25g of protein per serving this a great choice. I suggest it with almond milk as it doesn’t mix well with water. I drink it with 8 oz of almond milk vanilla light which adds only 60 calories and tastes great with the powder. Some of the powder sometimes settles at the bottom so shake well.

Nectar Kiwi Strawberry – This is a whey protein powder which is derived from milk however this blend does not contain any gluten, lactose or soy. I just bought this for the first time and am still formulating an opinion but so far I can say that it mixes well and can be completely dissolved in water without  any gritty or weird taste. The flavor actually reminds me of strawberry jello! Coming in at 100 calories per scoop and 24g of protein this is a good option that won’t ruin your lunch or dinner. This brand has several flavors which I plan to try if I find that this protein powder is working well. This powder is low carb in case anyone was wondering..

Shakes:

Core Power – I loved the core power shake I tried and love that they have far less ingredients than most protein shakes. These are lactose free but use real milk and the protein from real milk. Also of course gluten and soy free, I loved the taste of the Chocolate Light version and can’t wait to try more of the flavors. The light versions have 20g of protein and 150 calories and the regular versions have 26g of protein with 240 calories.

Bars:

Quest Bars – These bars may take some getting used to but I personally love them. Most boast around 20g of protein with 160-210 calories depending on the flavor. With flavors like cookie dough, cinnamon roll, cookies and cream & several more its awesome to see that they are still gluten-free! I have found that bars are the hardest thing to find gluten and soy free and within a reasonable range calories wise.

ALT Bars by Larabar – These new bars by Larabar taste great and are made from only a few ingredients including pea protein. At 10g of protein these are an excellent snack and can be used for recovery after moderate exercise. These bars are gluten and soy free. In addition to tasting great these bars are also easy to find. Buy them at your local target, whole foods, Kroger or Harris teeter! Check the website for flavors.