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Marathon Recap (yes, finally)

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marathonSo since I’ve had some time to let it settle, I figured it was time to give the full run-down of my first Marathon experience. It’s long, detailed, and probably boring for most of you.  But I wanted to get it down 🙂  If you have any questions or anything, let me know!  You know I’m a open book ^_^

<< I posted this image before I even started training and it didn’t ring this true until right this second.

I first and foremost want to say that even though it didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to, I’m proud of myself for pushing through and finishing…even after I tore a muscle in my calf right after mile 16. Even if it doesn’t seem like I listened to my body, I definitely did, as I always do.  I may have only been running for about five years now, but I’ve learned what little tweaks and twinges indicate to me and whether it’s a good idea for me to stop or keep going.  You know your body best…so just listen to it and it will steer you in the right direction.  

So, here we go…sorry if there’s a little bit of TMI, but I’m sure many can relate haha 😛

The Training

First Training Run!! >>1strun

I officially started July 24th, after an action-packed few weeks of July (a trip home to NY for a wedding, a trip to New Orleans for a Beachbody conference, and a trip to Columbus to hang out with some family and do a Color Run).  I was going to do 30 weeks of training…even started slow in April in hopes of that happening.  But with the end of school (yay SOLs) and lots of crazy summer plans, I decided to push it and do 16 instead, which seemed okay on most training plans.  I honestly should have been blogging throughout the entire 16 weeks of training, but anyone that follows me on Instagram or Facebook pretty much saw everything I put into this that led up to the main event.  So I’ll just give a recap on what I did each week, especially for those of you that have already contacted me about possibly being ready to run your first marathon, or work toward your first long-distance event! (Super excited for all of you, by the way!!! It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget and will change your life forever – promise!).  If you want more details of each week, feel free to ask or to check out my social media outlets ^_^

Week 1: 16.2 total miles, 6 mile long run.  I used this first week to try and figure out where my run/walk intervals would take me for training.  I knew I would adjust along the way, especially since it was still so HOT out!  Gotta love training for a November race in July!!

Week 2: 19.1 total miles, 8 mile long run.  I started a cross training program this week – Shift Shop!  It’s agility training so it kept my endurance up and really worked the right muscles to help my body strengthen and recover for runs.  It was rough to double up, but my mileage wasn’t too horrible yet.

Week 3: 22 total miles, 10 mile long run.  With increasing mileage, it was getting harder to cross-train, but I kept going with it since I was seeing positive effects.  The nutrition portion was a little tricky since I couldn’t cut calories for weight loss but couldn’t eat everything I wanted without seeing negative effects. Tricky stuff.

Week 4: 22 total miles, 12 mile long run on the schedule but decided to do my first 20k (a little over 12 miles).  My pace was still under the 10 minute mile mark, which I felt was awesome! My half marathon paces were between 9 and 9:30, so only having a 30 second to 1 minute difference for a marathon pace would be ideal!  But I also knew that could change as my mileage increased.

Week 5: 17 total miles (taper back), 5 mile long run.  My training had some mid-schedule taper happening to keep my body recovering and not pushing too hard too fast.  It’s all about progress.  My pace was AMAZING this week, because it was a lot less miles!

Week 6: 24 total miles, 15 mile long run.  I was still feeling pretty good and keeping about 9:30-10 minute mile pace during all training runs this week.  But school was starting and I was getting less sleep so I was starting to feel the effects of that.

Week 7: 21 total miles (mild taper), 10 mile long run.  This mild taper week was pretty nice after doing 15 miles the week before, which was my longest run to date EVER!  I had only done the two half marathons before, so 15 miles felt pretty good!  But again, with school back in session my nutrition was faltering.  I knew I needed to real it in, but running so many miles and exerting extra energy definitely makes you hungry.  And when my body is hungry, it craves CARBS :-/

Week 8: 23 total miles (back to back days to simulate fatigue), 17 mile long run.  This was certainly an interesting week.  I wanted to see how my body would feel running three days in a  row.  There’s a training plan I was going to try (Hansen’s – before I committed to a modified Higdon plan) that tries to simulate the fatigue your body would feel during the long run by using shorter ones back to back.  So I did that and it actually helped so that I could see how I would feel in those higher miles.  Pace was still on track and the cooler temps were helping!!

Week 9: 24 total miles (taper back), 12 mile long run.  I think this was the only picture perfect week of training – 4 miles Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and 12 miles on Saturday.  I had planned to to MTThS the entire training, but you know how things have to get shifted.  Pace was right on track, but had to do a bit more treadmill running due to train.  I HATE THE DREADMILL haha.

Week 10: 25 total miles, 16 mile long run.  This week had my birthday in it, so I felt pretty badass for attempting my first marathon at the age of 36 haha.  But I was supposed to do 19 miles on Saturday and only made it 16.  I was so distraught for not being able to finish (just utterly exhausted and dehydrated) that I sat down without stretching and started crying.  Well, I couldn’t catch my breath and started hyperventilating which turned into a panic attack, which turned into a Charley Horse.  I felt like I was going to die.  Not only was I disappointed in myself but I was disappointed in how I reacted to the whole thing.  

Week 11: 28 total miles, 19 mile long run. I figured there was no point in tapering this week like planned, since I didn’t achieve 19 miles the first go around…so second time was a charm!  I planned ahead better – better nutrition, hydration, and sleep.  Finished in a bit more than my goal pace, but allowed me to see where I might be at for the full marathon once it arrived. One more long training run on the schedule (after some adjustments)…eep!

Week 12: 29 total miles (taper back), 12 mile long run.  Didn’t feel like a major taper since I did an 8 mile run during the week (that’s seriously fun after a full day of work (NOT).  Shorter run paces were great, longer one was right where I expected (10:30).  I realize now that I should have done more speed work, but you live you learn!!

Week 13: 31 total miles, 21 mile long run.  The culmination of my training and I completed the 21 the first try!!! My pace was almost an 11 minute mile, so that gave me a much better indication of where I would be race day.  I was okay with that because it still meant I could finish in under 5 hours!!!  I was so freaking stoked to finish.  It was a great day haha.

Week 14: taper week 1, 26 total miles, 12 mile long run. Did a little running around work and across town since I was a little bored with the routes around my house (loops will do that to you haha).  I was trying to emulate the downhill finish so I could see how my legs would feel at the end.

Week 15: taper week 2, 22 total miles, 8 mile long run.  Felt like I should be doing more, but that’s pretty typical for a taper week.  I had to remember that I was running the longest distance ever, by over 5 miles, the next week.  Tapering is its own beast for sure.  The mental game needs to be STRONG this week for sure!! I was going NUTS!

lastrun

Last Training Run! >>

Week 16: race week, 33,42 total miles, marathon long run!  The final week arrived.  I took it easy, listened to my body, and stretched every single day.  The foam roller was my friend.  Had some stiffness in my left calf (yeah, the one that I tore the muscle in) all week…even went to the sports doc to see what was up.  He gave me some suggestions and I think I overworked it. Again, you live you learn.  I do think the 1 mile shakeout the day before the race was a saving grace for me.  I always thought people that ran the day before a race, or worse the day OF the race, were crazy.  But I can see how it helps for sure.  I did it!!! About a 12 minute mile pace for the race, but honestly not bad for everything I endured.  See the full details below.

The Gear

flatcat

Underneath: Aquaphor.  EVERYWHERE.

Sports Bra: A worn-in but form-fitting, tried and true Victoria’s Secret Incredible (old school kind with no adjustable straps…the new ones piss me off).

Tank: A custom-made (thanks Kari) Next Level burnout tank that said “Because I Can’ on the front and RVA 11.11.17 on the back to commemorate the occasion.

Jacket: Danskin Now breathable running jacket with thumb holes  (wish I had gotten two when I bought it 1.5 years ago since it’s no longer sold!)

Pants: Nike Dri-Fit Epic Run Cropped Running Tights (I have them in three different colors.  Love them and hate running in anything else!)

Socks: Injinji toe socks (BEST. Creation. Ever.  Especially if you have Morton’s toe and chafe/blister)

Shoes: 361 Sensation (I even bought a second pair toward the end of training)

Headband: Treadbands (the only headband that will actually stay put on my head and takes care of flyaways – check out treadbands.com and use discount code CAT10 to save 10%!)

Watch: Garmin Forerunner 630 and a Fitbit Charge HR (yes, I wear both because I love challenges haha.  I didn’t wear my heart rate monitor with the Forerunner though, since I didn’t want to be overfocusing on more data during the race)

Headphones: Samsung Iconx (hold 4 gigs of music without having to be attached to your phone – wireless as well!  Battery life only goes about 4 hours so I brought the case with me so I could charge them at points when there were large crowds to listen to rather than needing music!)

Hydration Belt: Camden Gear (ordered on Amazon – cheap and effective)

Nutrition: Beachbody Performance Energize (30 minutes before run), Beachbody Performance Hydrate (a swig every mile and when feeling crampy), Jelly Belly Sport Beans (1-2 every mile), Glukos Gummies (1-2 every 2 miles), Honey Stinger gel (every 5 miles), Gu gel (mile 10), Beachbody Performance Recover (30 minutes after race), Shakeology (1 hour post-race).

I had bought a cheap pair of throwaway gloves at Target but since I had my running jacket with me, it was easy enough to stick them in my pockets and they came in handy on both bridges 🙂

The Day Before

I had Friday off for Veteran’s Day and Ricky got out of work earlier than usual due to training, so we decided to get on the road sooner rather than later.  Traffic can be such a pain heading down to Richmond on a Friday afternoon (been there, done that, 7 times now…once there and back in the same night…NEVER again!).  I had my heart set on Famous Dave’s for lunch, since we tried to go to the one in Gainesville around my birthday and found it to be closed down.  We knew there was one in Fredericksburg because we used to stop there on the way home from King’s Dominion.  We pull into the parking lot and realize there is no sign on the front.  They were shut down, too.  Boo.  So, Red Robin (yum) it was.  Thankfully they had a delicious new chicken sandwich on the menu and I already knew I loved their garlic parmesan fries haha.  Got into a chat with the waitress about her husband running his first marathon earlier this year (ironically it was the Shamrock marathon – the one that I did the half and the conditions were RIDONKULOUS.  They even made t-shirts to commemorate the crazy weather conditions haha). She was a riot.  

nightbeforeDecided to head to the Expo to get in before traffic got even worse, and to beat some of the evening rush. Got my bib and shirt, picked up some freebies, and picked up a map.  I got the crazy idea that I wanted to drive the route so I could anticipate elevation changes, turns, etc.  The nervousness was starting to creep in.  There were bus tours you could do, but they took almost 2 hours and Ricky wouldn’t have been able to join me.  So I asked Ricky if he’d drive me around instead.  Well, it turned into a 2 ½ hour adventure anyways!  There was a ton of construction, plus many “no left turn” signs that made it difficult to navigate our way around.  We checked out about 70% of the route before deciding that I’d seen the last portion of the course when I did the half twice, so we rolled out.  

The Night Before

Ricky realized he hadn’t grabbed any hat or gloves to wear while he was waiting for me in the cold, so we headed to Target.  I also wanted to grab some Immodium, because my nervousness was making me, well, nervous haha.  Even though they say don’t do anything new on race day that you didn’t in training, I figured this was one thing I could do that wouldn’t affect things way too much.  I mean, it’s supposed to make you NOT poop, and the chance of it actually MAKING you poop is slim.  I can honestly say I’ve never taken it before, so I didn’t know what to expect.  More about that later 😛

When we go to the hotel, we realized they were having a pasta buffet for dinner and we didn’t really feel like going back out so that worked for us.  It was spaghetti with both red and alfredo sauce, garlic bread, salad, steamed veggies, chicken, and meatballs.  Wasn’t anything gourmet or special, but it was cheap, easy, and quick, and I was okay with that.  I laid out my Flat Cat and made sure everything was ready for the morning.  I figured it would take us 15 minutes to get to the parking garage, so I could sleep a little later and not be way too worried.  I didn’t want tons of extra time to psych myself out and have the nervous poos (since getting in a porta-potty ONCE takes enough time as it is with over 17,000 runners starting around the same time!!). So I set my alarm for 5:30 so I could eat at least 2 hours before race start and get some fluids in before heading to the start line.  I fell asleep pretty quickly, but woke up about every hour on the hour to pee (another nervous reaction).  Yay for proper hydration, though!

The Morning of the Race

morningI woke up before the alarm and ate my caffeinated granola bar (all food and beverage had been thoroughly tested multiple times during the previous 16 weeks just to be sure!).  I started drinking water and blue Powerade (being provided on the course) and reciting my positive affirmations in my head. Anyone who has trained for a long-distance race understands how important positive-thinking can be.  It’s completely a MENTAL event.  Yes, the physical training is extremely important, but if you can find any way to get out of your head, I highly recommend it!  I do a lot of pacing and active stretching before a race, since I often forget (or don’t have time) to do any static stretches before beginning (which proved to be the case later…).  I ate a bagel with peanut butter to get some protein and carbs in.  

Another part of the process that I started doing during training that was extremely important is to use Aquaphor EVERYWHERE.  I did this in March when I ran the Shamrock Half (which was raining/sleeting the entire time) and I didn’t chafe one bit.  I had started using it on my toes for shorter runs since learning about Morton’s toe (second toe longer than my big one, so it rubs against my socks and shoes differently), and that helped me to not get the blisters I always got.  I think it also helped me to never get black toenails or the risk of any of them falling off!  Chafing can occur in any condition and Aquaphor was my savior for sure. I highly recommend!  And it’s much cheaper than BodyGlide or any of the expensive alternatives that do the same thing.

I got all my gear on and realized we were running close on time, so we ran out the door (brr, it was freaking cold). We get downtown and traffic is a bear, of course.  I realize I had left the cash for the parking garage in a different bag, so Ricky just had to drop me near the finish line and be on his way.  We had planned for him to meet me around mile 22 (when I figured I’d be struggling since I had only gone up to 21 miles in training), so he wanted to get situated for when I got to that point.  

I jumped out of the car, kissed Ricky goodbye, and headed up to the porta-potties where there were lines like crazy of course.  Start time was about 15 minutes away, so I figured I’d be okay.  I chatted up a few other first-time marathoners in line, sharing our struggles and successes and wishing each other good luck.  Didn’t get the nervous poos for once (thank you Immodium), emptied my bladder, and had just enough time to straighten my gear, get my GPS signal, and start!!

During the Race

Everything started out great.  They really move you through the line.  All of my devices were working, the weather was cold but not frigid (the sun was coming out to warm us all up), and I wasn’t having any stomach cramps.  I didn’t have time to get really nervous since I had cut everything so close, but I actually preferred it that way!  

I had run the Richmond Half Marathon twice before, so I knew for the marathon we ran alongside of them for close to the first mile.  It’s really cool seeing so many people aiming to achieve a huge goal at the same time.  It’s all about PACING for long distance running.  You don’t want to go out too fast and peter out too early…and you don’t want to start too slow so that you have to make up time later on.  That’s why so much practice is necessary, and my training runs were all helpful in this regard.  I try not to look at my watch way too much, because all that constant turning of the wrist can actually make your arm cramp up when you get into the later miles (happened during weeks 11 and 12 for me!).  So I covered my watch, put my thumbs through the holes in my running jacket and figured I’d just let my heartrate guide me.  My watch was set up for 3 minute run/1 minute walking intervals, which is what I had trained in the entire time (running between 8:30 and 9, walking between 13 and 14, average 10:30).  So I was good to go…

Until I reached the Mile 1 marker and realized my intervals never kicked in.  Usually my watch will vibrate on my wrist when walking should begin and then running again.  It worked for all 16 weeks of training, even when I was in Race (rather than Running) mode.  Well, best laid plans right?  Without working intervals, I just had to trust the process and go with the flow.  Though I had trained in intervals the entire time, I knew I could handle long bouts of running as long as my total pace was what I was used to doing.  I got into a nice 10:30 pace with a decent sized group of runners and just kept with them.

start

We skimmed through the water stations (every two miles) and I didn’t really fully stop for any bout of walking until well after mile 10!  I felt amazing and it was looking like I would finish around 4:45 if I kept it up!  WOOT!  The scenery was GORGEOUS, it was warming up, and the crowd support was AMAZING (like I should expect anything less in Richmond…it’s my favorite place to run!). The half marathon mark came and went, and I didn’t have the “Oh my god, I have to run that same distance AGAIN” dreaded thought running through my head. 

I knew the hardest part of the course was coming…between miles 15 and 18 it was a pretty steady incline and went over a very long bridge that other RVA runners had dubbed HELL.  We had driven the route, so I knew what to expect, and I ran hills (big, small, and gradual) throughout training, so I figured I was ready.  I started the incline trek over the bridge and I was expecting a major struggle, but it was going great!  I went through the Mile 16 water station, right after the bridge, then turned the corner about a half mile later.

And then I got SHOT in the back of my left leg.  At least that’s what it felt like.  I had experienced severe muscle cramping during my first attempt at 19 miles a few weeks prior, so I figured that’s what it was.  My calf muscle was spasming so freaking bad that I had to stop completely and try to stretch it out. I couldn’t straighten my leg completely and anytime I tried to pull on my toes to stretch more, it would spasm again. There were course coaches throughout the race and one happened to be nearby when I slowed and came over to see what was up.  I explained everything that was happening and he said he thought I had torn my calf muscle.  He offered me Medic assistance, which I refused.  I wanted to try at least walking it out.  I hadn’t trained 16 weeks to give up now.  He offered me some Ibuprofen, which I accepted, but I had run out of water/Hydrate and needed to make it to the next water station to take it (which was 1.5 miles away).  He had run out of water as well, and said he would try to make it back to me after checking on some other people.  I think the course coaches know how freaking stubborn runners can be, so he didn’t push me and I was extremely thankful for that.

(FYI – I’m getting super emotional reliving this experience right now…crying as I type this haha).  

I was PISSED.  At EVERYTHING.  But more-so at the fact that it wasn’t going the way I had planned.  I expected there to be some SNAFUs throughout the race, but not this.  I definitely never expected a torn muscle at mile 16.5 of a freaking 26.2 mile race. I anticipated pain, exhaustion, mental fatigue making me think I couldn’t do it…but not the fact that there would be an actual PHYSICAL limitation to keep me from completing this goal I had worked so hard for.  The next mile and a half were the worst I had ever experienced.  I had to make it to the Mile 18 water station to take the Ibuprofen and hopefully feel a bit better.  Another course coach stopped me around mile 17.25 to check on me and offered me a salt tab since I was still cramping, which indicates dehydration.  I gladly accepted, but again needed water, so my trek to mile 18 was still on.  

during1Once I reached the Mile 18 water station, I drank probably four little cups of water, took the Ibuprofen and salt tabs, refilled my Hydration belt bottles with some Hydrate (extra packet in my pack for the win!), and ate some more fuel.  I was going to finish this race, come Hell or high water, dammit.  The cramping was easing up and I could put more weight on it.  I started running my regular pace and my body quickly let me know that THAT just wasn’t going to happen. So I slowed my pace, ran more on my toes than mid-shoe, and that seemed to help. But it was still extremely frustrating not being able to run the way I planned, and seeing my 5 hour goal time come closer and closer.  This picture was at mile 19, during one of the Party Zones and you can see how pissed off I was!

I don’t bring my phone with my when I run, so I had no way to tell Ricky that I was running behind.  I knew he and other people were tracking my progress through the website, so it should have alerted them when I crossed the 10k, half marathon, and 20 mile marks.  He was scheduled to meet me in a little residential area around mile 22, so I just set my sights on getting there and spotting his bright green hoodie.  I took extra walk breaks and just kept chugging along.  When he came in sight, I was actually feeling much better and knew I only had a little over 4 miles to go to complete this beautiful mess 🙂 Apparently the tracking system at the half marathon (13.1 mile) mark wasn’t working, so everyone was freaking out that something had happened, until they got my 20 mile indicator.  All was well, not perfect, but okay.  Ricky took a picture with me to make sure everyone knew I was okay and still on the path to finishing.

during2The last 4 miles were the most emotional of my life thus far, I think.  Running has been such an individual event for me for the last 3 years and it can honestly get very lonely sometimes.  Maybe lonely isn’t the right word for it, because I honestly love my “me-time.”  It relieves stress and allows me to let everything go and take in beautiful scenery. But it’s also too easy to get caught up in your thoughts.  Like I told you before…it’s a MENTAL GAME for sure.  You have to talk yourself OUT of things just as much as you talk yourself INTO them.  I put on a happy face, and tried to forget everything that had happened up until now and just finish as strong as possible. Thankful to the photographer that caught this photo of me trying to stay strong!! 

 

tofinishThis last trek of the race was the same last few miles of the half marathon I had done twice before, so there were no surprises.  But I was getting worried about the very end of the race, since it’s a crazy downhill finish.  I trained for this, so I was confident…but with the muscle tear, I wasn’t sure how that would be affected.  I really wanted to have an amazing finish…where I picked up speed as I went down the hill and flew across the finish line!  But that couldn’t be the case with my leg in the condition that it was.  I took a little time to walk more on the flat levels above the downhill finish to ready myself and get everything situated.  I didn’t fly down the hill, but definitely picked up the pace.  I love that this picture caught both feet off the ground!!

finishThankfully my calf cooperated (mainly because it’s a lot of toe running), and I crossed the finish line in 5:15:50, far from the 4:45 I was on track to have, and even the 5:00 which was my main goal.  They say to have a Plan A (ideal conditions – mine was to finish in under 5 hours) and a Plan B (what you would still be satisfied with – mine was to finish without injury or death ha). Thankfully I had set this for myself and it was part of my positive affirmations…so I didn’t beat myself up too much about it.  Even though I didn’t really achieve either Plan A or Plan B, Plan C of FINISHING A FREAKING MARATHON was honestly still an amazing experience.  It was definitely an emotional moment.


After the Race

medalI got my medal, blanket, and cup (yay for free stuff – that’s why we run, right?!), and found Ricky.  Got my official finisher’s photo taken. Went through the line for my post-race food, hit up the porta-potty to empty my bladder (can you believe I didn’t pee the whole race?! Talk about dehydration!!), and then to get my free post-race beer.  My calf was not feeling too hot, but I was in a post-race high so it was easy to ignore haha.  I tried to meet up with some people that I knew had finished long before me (both half and marathon finishers), but many of them had already left (I don’t blame them!).  One of them was still around so we walked up a few blocks (uphill, yay) to meet her and chat a bit about the experience.  It was nice to decompress talking to another marathon runner who understands what I did and why haha.  We called the hotel to get a bit of a later check-out (I had explained at check-in I had no idea when we’d be back because it was my first), and then headed back to the car so we could head out.  The post-race shower felt freaking AMAZING (no chafing, YAY!).

famous davesThe only thing that could culminate the entire experience into a more positive one was to find a Famous Daves for me to indulge after burning thousands of calories.  Thankfully there was one in Woodbridge, VA and Ricky agreed to drive me there, a bit out of the way of our route home, but totally worth it.  It doesn’t take much to make me, or my belly, happy 😛 YUMMMMY!


The Shout-outs

*I want to give a huge shout-out to Rebecca Webster for giving me tips on my first marathon and answering SO MANY QUESTIONS throughout the process.  I really couldn’t have done it without you and your support!

*The Run the Year 2017 group was also a huge support and soundboard for everything I did throughout the 16 weeks of training.  These are other walkers, runners, and crawlers that had a goal to finish 2017 miles throughout the year. (I did achieve this on December 26th! WOO!).  

*Thanks to all my family and friends who probably thought I was crazy multiple times for putting myself through this ON PURPOSE haha.  Only other runners can really understand WHY and believe me, your support was exactly what I needed at various points throughout training.

*The biggest thanks is to my husband, Ricky.  Not only was he my soundboard throughout this entire process, but he saw it all.  The good, the bad, the ugly, and the freaking unbelievable. His unwavering support meant everything throughout the process.  From postponing meals and sacrificing sleep due to my training schedule, not being able to attend specific events because I had goals to achieve, making sure I had proper nutrition and hydration during long runs, helping me through the second panic attack of my life when I thought I was going to die, easing the ridiculous cramping that occured in my thigh after the previously mentioned panic attack (another event I thought I would die from), and everything else he does daily just to help me through life in general. You’re my rock, baby.  I know most of the time you didn’t understand what the hell I was doing to myself, or why…but thank you so much for dealing with my crazy running ass and doing everything you could to make it easier.  This was your marathon as much as it was mine. You deserve a medal!!!

Reflection

finisherNow that it’s been 7 weeks and I’ve had the time to reflect on the whole experience…I’m actually okay with it.  It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life to date, and the training it took to achieve that goal was the toughest thing ever.  It was also the most fulfilling.  I am now one of the 0.5% of the US population that has ever run a marathon.  I may not have run the entire thing, or finished in my goal time, but I finished nonetheless.  I put in the time, I crossed the finish line, and I lived to tell about it.  It may not have been pretty, but it was definitely worth it (torn calf muscle or not!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Would I do it again?

I get this question a TON.  I said throughout the entire experience that it was going to be a ONE AND DONE type of thing.  I continue to say this, but part of me wants redemption.  But training fro a marathon is like a second job.  It takes a lot of dedication, time, and commitment.  It’s not for the weak or the weary.  It will change you from top to bottom, inside and out.  It’s definitely not something to be taken lightly.  But again, it’s all worth it when you cross the finish line.

What advice would I give to a first-time marathoner?

Practice, practice, practice.  Everything.  Not just running – hydration, nutrition, sleep, cross-training, rest.  It’s all important.  Don’t underestimate the commitment that goes into it. You can’t half-ass your way into it or you could end up injured.  I mean, shit…I did everything right and it still happened to me!  Figure out what works well and keep doing that.  Figure out what doesn’t work and stop doing it…make changes and tweaks constantly.  And above all, don’t expect everything to be perfect…but ENJOY EVERY MINUTE.  Because when it’s all said and done, you’ll get to say “I RAN A FUCKING MARATHON!”

done

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The Last Hoorah!

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I’m looking for TEN people who want to start the new year feeling AMAZING rather than the other 98% of the world feeling miserable. Wake up on New Year’s Day ready to dominate 2016 instead of making the same old resolution every year that doesn’t happen. The holidays are quickly approaching and while all of the parties and events are amazing, food (and lots of it) typically comes with each of them. Unfortunately many of us will put on extra weight. Like me…last year I definitely put on some pounds (damn pumpkin pie). Thankfully I had the tools and support already to help me jump right back in it and I lost the weight…but it wasn’t easy!

I have decided that THIS year I am going to be prepared. WHO’S WITH ME?! Establishing a healthy nutrition plan before the holidays will help us to be more aware of what and how much we are eating. Plus, losing a few pounds before they arrive will give you a little wiggle room to indulge here and there! tongue emoticon Hey – we are only human after all!

You still have three more months left in this year to rewrite your story. You CAN stick to your goals…TOGETHER we’ll find the best solution to help you work toward starting 2016 feeling the best you ever have. Can’t wait to start!! Email me at losingfatwithcat@gmail.com, find me on my Facebook page and shoot me a message, or you can drop some info here: http://goo.gl/forms/DK2lzSt36C.

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Can you Relate?! :-P

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So today I tackled my dressers and closets for the FOURTH purge since I started this journey. Now everything I own either fits or will soon and nothing is too big. For the last three purges I kept things because I was worried I’d gain it back or not be comfortable wearing things that actually fit correctly haha. Well, not anymore. GOOD RIDDANCE. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and am so thankful for all of your support as I’ve gone through the ups and downs of weight loss. I truly am blessed to have amazing friends, family, fellow Fixers, and followers! Thank you Carl Daikeler and the Beachbody Challenge for motivating me to be my best, get healthy, and help to ‪#‎endthetrend‬ of obesity 😀

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Transformation Tuesday

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Eeep!  Scary post!  It’s been awhile since I’ve had a Transformation Tuesday of my own to share, mainly because the scale hasn’t been going down and I didn’t want to just post past progress.  I recently went to Cancun, as many of you know, and finally put on the first bikini I’ve ever worn in public (picture on the right).  Though my confidence has grown since the picture on the left, it was still nerve-wracking and I felt embarrassed and self conscious after we left our room at the resort to head to the beach.  I even thought about hopping back on the tram to go back to the room and put my tankini on to cover up my tummy.  But as I stood there at the entrance to our section at the beach, I looked around at all of the other women there.  Not because I wanted to compare myself to them, but because I know everyone’s story is different.  Like an article I posted the other day, every tummy has a story.  There were some tummies around me that held babies in the past or even in the present; there were tummies that were a little “puffy” because there was so much delicious food at our resort; big tummies, little tummies, tummies in between.  I thought about my tummy and how I’ve lost 50 pounds, as well as 8 inches in my waist and 8 inches in my hips.  I have loved my body enough to get healthy, be active, and eat cleaner.  So why wasn’t I embracing the changes my body has made and be PROUD of my tummy and baring it to the world.  So I went out onto that beach, took off my coverup, and waded into the Caribbean Sea with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step.  I need to remember that feeling every time I’m down and out or not progressing further toward my goal as quickly as I’d like. I may not be at my goal weight, but I’ve sure come a long way and I need to love my body as much as I have loved this process. 😀

Feel free to connect with me at www.facebook.com/bbcatmcmaster – I would love to follow your journey, too!

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Summer Body Bootcamp!!

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Now accepting applications for my brand new Summer Body Bootcamp! It’s only 21 days, and it’s got everything laid out for you. You’ll know EXACTLY what to eat and what workouts to do to get amazing results. If you want details, comment below with your email address or message me. I’m only accepting TEN people who want to be one step closer to their summer-ready body in only 21 days. You can also apply here:http://goo.gl/forms/5CwHxS4i5m.

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Giveaway!!

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WIN a Beachbody Starter Kit!  You’ll get your choice of one of EIGHT different programs, a shaker cup and Shakeology sample.  To enter, make sure you LIKE my fitness page (www.facebook.com/bbcatmcmaster) AND COMMENT on the Giveaway post pinned to the top of the page.  Once my page hits 1000 likes I’ll pick one lucky winner!  Share this with your health & fitness loving friends, too!  This giveaway is not sponsored or endorsed by Facebook in any way.  Good luck 🙂

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She believed she could…

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50 pounds diamond

I’m still reeling in all that has happened this week, but I had to get some things down in writing before I moved on for the day.  So this isn’t cohesive, planned out, or edited…just me. 🙂

A little over a year ago, I hit my breaking point.  I had steadily gained weight since moving to Virginia, especially after getting into a comfortable relationship, quitting smoking, and following an easy, but unhealthy, daily routine.  I don’t know what my highest weight was before then, because I had literally stopped weighing myself.  I tried to keep the pictures people took of me from the neck up, because I was ashamed of what was below…but I didn’t really do anything about it.  My diet consisted of convenience food – microwavable meals, snack bars, packaged products, fast food, and the like.  My husband and I tried to cook healthy dinners more often, but sometimes time got the best of us and the excuses were stronger than we were.

As you know, my journey started on February 24th, when I did my first 21 Day Fix workout and followed the nutrition plan for the first time.  Looking through the book was super eye-opening because a lot of what I’d been eating that I thought was healthy and better for me was actually hindering me.  Granted, a lot of it was better than the alternative, but there was still so much more I could do.  53 weeks ago I didn’t even set any goals, because I didn’t believe I could.  Mentally I had already failed, would never succeed, and was brutally beat down by previous attempts.  In those first three weeks I lost 6 pounds and 9.5 inches.  I was severely disappointed.  Like most everyone else, I wanted something quick…I expected RESULTS!  But then I realized that amount in only 21 days really is results, and thankfully the results kept coming.

In all honesty, I decided to become a coach because I wanted the discount.  I wanted to be able to get more programs, keep getting Shakeology, and save money while doing that.  I never intended to really share everything out in the open.  But I was so excited with the results I had gotten, knowing I had found something that worked and that was easier to follow because it was all written out, plus I only had to dedicate 30 minutes a day to working out.  I could handle this…but I knew others could, too.   When I lost more weight, I shared it.  When I dropped a pant size, I was so excited and had to post about that.  When people asked me about it, I told them.  And that all motivated me to keep going and keep sharing, and little by little as I was shrinking, something else was growing.  My confidence, my strength, my business.

Today was a great day for two reasons – I became a Diamond coach and I finally reached FIFTY pounds in weight loss.  Some of you may have read my one-year wrap-up, and noticed I had only gotten to 49.1 at that point.  Even though I didn’t initially place any goals for myself, because of fear of failure, I did modify that decision along the way.  I wanted to be under 200, then I wanted 175.  Once I hit 175 I decided that 150 wasn’t that far away.  That’s still my ultimate goal, but obviously the sky’s the limit, and as long as I keep at a steady pace and do it in a healthy way, I don’t have any doubt that I will reach that goal and EXCEED it as well.  When I stepped on the scale this morning, I felt really silly for doing so since it had only been three days since I started 21 Day Fix Extreme.  Not only do your muscles tend to retaliate and retain water when you start a new workout program, but I’m a woman and, well, you know… Lo and behold, I was down EXACTLY the 0.9 pounds I needed to hit 50 pounds of weight loss.  And I’m so happy that I get to have that memory along with making Diamond Coach.

A Diamond Coach rank is something that less than 3% of Team Beachbody coaches achieve.  Not only am I a part of a rockstar team of coaches, The Elite Edge, that ranks in the top 70 teams of almost 400,000 coaches, but my own team, The Fierce Elite, is now 13 strong and they’re pushing me to be a better coach every day.  I will have my name announced on our National Wake-Up Call Monday morning and be published on our website.  This month I also earned Success Club All Stars, which means I was consistent every month for the last year and will be forever branded as an All Star.  ^_^ I get to attend our Summit conference in Nashville, TN in July, as well as a cruise to Jamaica and Haiti in a little over a year, BOTH FOR FREE.  I have been able to pay off one vehicle, two credit cards, and pay down a huge chunk on other debts that have accrued over the years, as well as have extra spending money for races, ski trips, and all the new clothes I need haha.  And the best part?  All I had to do was help others reach their goals, get healthy, lose weight, tone up, and/or feel better about themselves.  And while helping them, they were motivating and inspiring ME, and keeping me accountable.

I’m glad that I dropped all of my excuses and decided to believe in myself.  I would never have made it this far without having more confidence in myself, and knowing that I could do whatever I put my mind to doing.  I couldn’t be more proud of my team and those that I coach, and I couldn’t be happier than where I am right now.  I am so thankful for all of the support I’ve gotten in every endeavor I’ve ever had, but especially in this last year.  Your pushing kept me pushing.  I know that being a product of this company has changed my life in so many ways, and I can’t wait for the next step!!

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One year wrap-up in 905 words ^_^

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So today marks one year since I started this weight loss journey and decided to change my lifestyle to a healthier one FOR GOOD.  Though I did my first 21 Day Fix workout on February 24, 2014, I have to backtrack a little bit to when my challenge pack first arrived.  There was one bigger book with a whole lot of colors and lists, and like three little pamphets, plus three dvds, a bunch of containers that seemed so tiny, a shaker cup and this giant bag of Shakeology.  I was very nervous and trepidatious at first, because everything else I had been trying hadn’t worked.  I’d lose some weight then gain it right back the second I looked at chocolate cake or pizza.  It was logical to be skeptical right?  But then I sat down and started calculating.  TWO THOUSAND CALORIES.  The program had me eating five times a day and 2000 calories.  Sheyeah right.  I had literally been shooting for 1200 ever since I could remember…but I decided that I had to give it the three weeks and put my trust in something unknown to see what it could do.

My coach had added me to a private online accountability group and we had to check in, and show pictures of our food, and take sweaty selfies, and share our experiences with each other.  Not only had weight loss and fitness been a pretty individual thing for me up until that point, but a lot of the other challengers didn’t have much to lose and I felt like the token fat chick.  But I quickly learned a lot of things about myself and others in just those three weeks.  The first thing I learned was, just because someone is a size 2 doesn’t mean they are happy with their body.  I was confused why someone so small would want to be doing a diet and exercise program.  I had assumed that everyone did Beachbody programs because they wanted to lose weight.  Little did I know that the nutrition plans that were provided with the programs not only could help someone lose weight, but could assist in maintaining and even GAINING weight!  And the workout programs all have a modifier to make things lower impact, while there’s always some over-zealous person on screen to amp things up a bit, too.  And I was also participating in this group with some ladies that were very comfortable with their size 18 bodies, but just wanted to be healthier wives, moms, lovers, etc.  I quickly learned that everyone is on their own journey, and you should never compare your journey to anyone else’s.  We all have different steps to follow, and even missteps we will take along the way.  We have different reasons and motivation that push us in the directions we go, and temptations that will drive us backward if we let them.

Those little containers weren’t so little after I realized how much food you really could eat when it was fueling your body for optimal nutrition and health.  Long gone were the days of starving myself on purpose, eating 1200 calories without taking into account the workout I did for the day, or chain-smoking to keep myself from overeating.  This was a much more advanced way of thinking but strangely simplistic and easy to follow once I got the hang of it.  The workouts kicked my ass, but in all honesty I hadn’t really put forth the effort I needed to start burning fat and raising my metabolism to help me from the inside out.   And 21 days later I was 6 pounds and 9.5 inches smaller and on my way to being healthier, happier, and more confident.  It was then that I made the decision to become a coach because I had found a solution that works and it was like the Fountain of Youth…I just needed to share it with everyone so they could see results, too.

Fast foward to today and here’s a quick recap of my accomplishments over the past 365 days, of which I’m pretty darn proud…

–I completed three dedicated rounds of the 21 Day Fix
–I nailed the 14-week Focus T25 program (Alpha, Beta, and Gamma)
–I dabbled in a TurboFire/PiYo hybrid while training for the half
–Oh yeah…I trained 12 weeks for and completed a half marathon (with no walking)
–I am three days from completing the 60 day Les Mills Combat program
–I am about to start 21 Day Fix Extreme on Monday, March 2nd
–I now coach 133 people and lead a team of 11 coaches
-I have lost 49.1 pounds and 36 inches.
-I went from a size 18 to a size 10; XL to medium.
-I have more confidence, I’m healthier,  I have plenty of energy to complete my tasks, my body is able to handle more than it ever could, and I’m happier.

And my journey is not over yet. No, I didn’t quite make it to fifty pounds before my one year, like I had imagined, but with everything else that I’ve gained (and lost) this year, I could hardly be disappointed in myself.  I’ve worked really hard, but played really hard, too.  I’m not perfect.  I make mistakes.  And I’ll be the first to admit that some of the choices I make still aren’t the healthiest.  But I make it work and I know how to reel it back in and get back on track.  This isn’t just a diet or a 21 day program…it’s a lifestyle.  And I’m never going back.

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Better Body Bootcamp!

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Now accepting applications for my brand new Better Body Bootcamp program! It’s only 21 days, and it’s got everything laid out for you. You’ll know EXACTLY what to eat and what workouts to do to get amazing results. If you want details, like this post or comment below with your email address and I’ll send you info. I’m only accepting TEN people who want to be one step closer to their dream body in only 21 days. You can also apply here:http://goo.gl/forms/5CwHxS4i5m

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march-dec brand

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Help Wanted!

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**ATTENTION** HELP WANTED!

I’m looking for some partners…comment below with your email address if you want more info! I have been extremely blessed to be able to bring in extra income to pay off debt, support my hobbies, and live more comfortably than ever (plus get healthy and in the best shape of my life while doing it!). I want to help you do the same! I will lead you through your first 3-6 months to help you be consistent, maximize your earning potential, and earn incentives.

This is for those who:
-are open to creating extra income for their family while working from home!
-are looking to finally get in the best shape of their lives!
-wouldn’t mind being supported and working with a team of amazing people!
-want to help friends and family get healthy!
-desire to work on personal growth to become happier and have better relationships!

If any (or all) of these apply to you, then please COMMENT BELOW with your email address and I will send you details soon! Spots are LIMITED, so ACT FAST! The people I’m looking for are ready for a change and a new beginning to something exciting and fun.

A health and fitness background is fine, but it’s absolutely NOT necessary. You don’t have to be a fitness expert or in the best physical shape (I started coaching almost 50 pounds heavier!). You DO however must be willing to lead fitness first, meaning that you focus on your own health and fitness so you can lead by example. I found this to be great motivation for me to reach my own goals.

Got a friend you think would ROCK this? Refer them here! Better yet, ask them to join you on this journey! Can’t wait to connect with you!

If you know YOU’RE READY NOW, then fill out the form at this link and I’ll be in touch as soon as possible!!

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