I can get through just one more

That is the phrase I repeated to myself today during my first attempt at Yasso 800s.  I had to do my Yasso 800s on the treadmill because I’m not stupid crazy brave enough to attempt them with the stroller and I won’t have a chance to go to the track alone.  Before taking my Yassos to the treadmill, I googled around to see if that was “allowed.”  Some people say no, it’s not.  It’s cheating, blah blah blah.  However, the man himself, Bart Yasso, says it’s okay.  I’ll take his word for it.

I’m hoping, praying, wishing, and training for a 4 hour marathon.  I know that’s a long shot and I will honestly be happy with simply a new PR given my knee issues.  Since I want to run a 4 hour marathon, I need to complete my 800 meter repeats in 4 minutes.  Eight hundred meters is roughly half a mile (actually it’s .497 miles) so that means I need to run my repeats at an 8 minute pace.

This girl’s happy pace is a 9:30-10 minute mile so running at an 8 minute pace for half a mile is no easy task.

I planned to warm up on the treadmill for a mile then dive right into my 800m repeats.  I was feeling extra crappy today because I’m dealing with a lingering cold so I warmed up for 1.25 miles instead.  I did my first 800m repeat at 7.5mph.  During that first one, I had no idea how I was going to get through it, let alone do 5 more.  I walked for a quarter of a mile to recover (you can also jog to recover, but I needed to walk).  The second one felt better.  I think my legs loosened up after that first one.

I made myself a little cheat sheet so I’d make sure I did all 6 repeats.  Yes, I was at risk of losing track of how many I did.  I’ll blame it on mommy brain which is fueled by my lack of sleep.

Cheat sheet

After I got through with the fifth one, I had to keep telling myself I could get through one more repeat.  I had done 5, one more was definitely doable.  Once I finished that last one, I jogged – instead of walking – the last half mile to finish up with 6 miles total on the treadmill.  I was pretty proud of myself for getting through what was definitely one of my toughest runs to date.  Telling myself I can get through just one more is something I have to remind myself on my long runs too – I can get through one more mile.

My fun isn’t over yet for the day though.  I need to run 9 miles total for the day and I didn’t have time to run all 9 on the ‘mill so when hubby gets home, we’ll head out for another 3-4 miles.  It’s a beautiful day (65 degrees in January, I’ll take it) so it’ll be a great family run – if my legs will be able to move later :) .

Have you ever done Yasso 800s?



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My baby is 2!

I think time speeds up when you have a baby.  I don’t know how 2 years have already gone by since I met my perfect little man.

Meeting my sweet little man for the first time

Don’t mind my puffy face – 17 hours of labor + c-section + all the meds they gave me made me so swollen

We celebrated his birthday all weekend.  We had a big dinner with hubby’s family on Saturday night.

Me and my birthday boy

Zain wants a piece of that cake!

Yesterday (his actual birthday), we went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  We went last year for his birthday and he loved it so much that we decided to make it his birthday tradition.  He had so much fun seeing all the fishies.  He pointed to all of them and said “fishy!” which sounds more like “shishy!” He was too cute.

Off to see the shishies!

That’s a big shishy

That’s a funny looking fish

In the rainforest

He especially liked the dolphin show.

We stayed out of the splash zone

Dolphins are so cool

Zain and I liked the dolphins so much that we tried to convince hubby that we need one as a pet.  He didn’t agree so instead we watched Dolphin Tale later in the day.  It’s great movie, by the way! It kind of made me want my own dolphin even more :) .

Zain’s birthday celebrations will continue this weekend with another family party.  We have big families so 2 parties are a necessity!

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Goodbye hills…hello speedwork!

For the past week, I feel like I’ve been chained to my treadmill.  I’m trying my best to embrace the treadmill instead of detesting it.  It’s giving my knee a little bit of a break from the hard surfaces outside and it allows me to focus on my form which is hard to do when I run pushing the stroller.

Last week, I had my last hill run of my marathon training schedule outside.  The first 8 weeks included a mid-week hill run that ranged from 4 to 8 miles.  I never made it to the max of 8 miles like I was supposed to last week because my knee would not tolerate it.  I felt pretty bummed about that.  Through those first 8 weeks, I did the majority of my hill runs with the stroller and the rest on the treadmill or solo.  I’m glad those hill runs are behind me because they were not my favorite!

Now, it’s time to start my speedwork for the next 8 weeks.  Yesterday, I did my first ever tempo run.  I had to run 8 miles total with 3 of those miles at an 8:30 pace.  I knew that would be a challenge with the stroller so I opted for the treadmill once again.  I warmed up for a mile and a half then increased the speed so I was running at an 8:30 pace.  Holding that for 3 miles was so hard for me.  My legs were way out of their comfort zone at that pace! After I finished the 3 tempo miles, I slowed back down and finished up with a total of 5 miles on the treadmill.  I didn’t think I could mentally handle another 3 miles on the ‘mill so I decided to try to finish up my miles with Zain after his nap.

I ended up waiting for my hubby to get home from work so he could run with us.  It was a gorgeous afternoon with temps in the 50s.  It was awesome to run in shorts and short sleeves in January.  The first mile was tough.  My legs were stiff and since the first mile is very hilly, it took me a while to warm up.  Once I got through that mile though, I felt great.  Hubby kept having to tell me to slow down :) .  We ended up running 4 miles to make a total of 9 for the day.

For the past week, my treadmill runs have all gone really well, but they don’t give me the same satisfaction that running outside does.  Running outside clears my mind.  I can get off the treadmill and think that I had a good run and feel happy with what I accomplished, but it’s just not the same.  I think my afternoon run outside was also so great because I had hubby and Zain with me.  There is nothing I love more than a family run.  Our afternoon run put me in the best mood.

I felt like I made it over a big hurdle yesterday.  Getting in a mid-week long run is a big challenge for me.  It’s hard to find the time for my run and Zain doesn’t have the patience lately for long stroller runs.  I think a big part of that is the weather – he doesn’t like being all bundled up in the stroller because it’s not as comfy.  I’m hoping he’ll do better in the spring.

This is how I’ve had to bundle the little man up for some of our coldest runs – in his snowsuit!

After yesterday’s runs went so well, I think I’ll continue to split some of my long weekday runs between the stroller and treadmill.  I have to thank Kara for inspiring me to do that since she does that almost daily.  I probably wouldn’t have even thought to do that if it weren’t for her! I also think mixing in more treadmill miles will be a good way to give my knee a break.

Have you ever split a long run into multiple runs during the day?

Happy running!

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Embracing the treadmill

I once posted about the ridiculous lengths I went to for a run to avoid being stuck on the treadmill.  Lately, I’ve found myself willing getting on the treadmill for a variety of reasons – weather that isn’t conducive to stroller running, weather that doesn’t sound appealing to run in because I’m a wimp, or busy days that only allow me to fit in a run during naptime.

I was really excited this morning because I was supposed to have a group run with Team in Training.  Our Rock ‘n Roll team is part of their flex program so we don’t generally have scheduled runs together.  They are offering group runs throughout the area at a different location each weekend.  It was supposed to be nearby this morning, but they canceled it due to the snow and ice we got last night and this morning.

Hubby had plans today so that meant I either had to try to do my run on the treadmill during naptime or wait until tomorrow.  Since I only needed to run 14 miles this week (I’m in a lower mileage recovery week), I thought maybe I could handle doing it on the ‘mill.

First, I needed this:

Sweet sleeping boy

Then I grabbed all of this that I set out for myself earlier:

All the essentials: tissues because I have a cold, assortment of fuel (only had 2 gels during the run), Nuun, water, baby monitor, phone, and knee band

I slurped down some chia gel (yummy!) and I hopped on the treadmill prepared for a mental battle.  Thankfully, my DVR was stocked with my favorite shows to keep me distracted and entertained.  The miles felt like they ticked by really quickly.  I kept my pace slow and steady (varied between 5.5 to 6.0mph) and tried to focus on my form so as to not aggravate my knee.  I had one gel at mile 5 and another at mile 10.  Had I known I only had a mile left when I took the second one, I wouldn’t have bothered with it.

I kept setting small goals for myself so that the mileage seemed less daunting.  I told myself to make it to 3 miles, then 5 miles, then 8 miles.  I hoped to make it to 10 miles at the minimum.  As I was watching the clock, I knew my time was running out before Zain would wake up.  Sure enough, at 10.9 miles, I saw on the video monitor that he was awake.  I bumped up the pace to 8.5mph and quickly wrapped it up at 11 miles in 1:56.  Of course, I had to snap a picture of the treadmill as proof to myself that I actually just stayed on that thing for so long:

Double digits on the treadmill – something I’ve never done before

I was slightly bummed because I knew I could have made it to 14, but I didn’t beat myself up about it.  With my knee acting up this past week, it’s probably for the best that I had a shorter run today.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to rock my 18 miler coming up next weekend – that one will not be on the treadmill.  Although, I may warm up on the treadmill for the first few miles again because I liked doing that last weekend.

The most I’d ever run on the treadmill before was 6 miles.  I usually can only handle staying on it for 3 miles so today’s run took some serious perseverance.  I normally keep the incline at 1% for treadmill runs, but today I only kept it at 0.5% to give myself a little break.

I’m really happy that my run went so well.  I’m relieved to know that I can make it through a long run on the treadmill if I need to.  Maybe it was the chia that helped me have such a good run :) .

What’s the longest distance you’ve run on a treadmill? What do you do to stay motivated while running on it?

Happy running!

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Runner’s Knee

While I was training for the Baltimore Marathon, I started to occasionally have some slight pain and stiffness in my left knee when I was running.  It would come and go and was never the type of pain that made me have to cut a run short.  I always thought it could have something to do with running with the stroller because I tend to push mostly with my left hand.  Maybe I exert more effort on that side of my body and therefore put more pressure on that knee.  I do try to vary which hand I use to push it, but I use the left more frequently out of habit.

Lately, my knee has been feeling a bit worse.  The pain is a dull aching that starts to creep up during about the second mile of a stroller run and sometimes around the same time on a solo run, but other times not until about mile 6 of a long solo run.  Since it’s been bothering me more lately, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and call the doctor this week.  The office I called was able to fit me yesterday.

Zain hung out with grandma while I headed to the doctor.  I was so nervous.  I didn’t think anything was seriously wrong with my knee because it’s more of a stiffness and dull pain than it is sharp pain.  I just always get nervous when I go to the doctor.  I’m a wimp :) .

As I sat in the exam room waiting for the doctor to come in, this was staring at me from across the room:

Knee injuries, huh? Maybe I’ll take a closer look…

Nope, no no no…sit back down. Don’t read that.

When I was reading about the scary knee problems and looking at the pictures, I thoroughly freaked myself out.

The doctor came in and asked me 5 million questions about what was going on, my running, etc.  Then I laid on the table and he bent my leg every which way and asked me if I had pain when he poked around in different spots.  I sat back up and he said the diagnosis is Runner’s Knee.  Phew.  That was what I was hoping for out of the range of knee injuries that it could have been.  I asked him if it was okay for me to keep running and he kind of rolled his eyes and asked me if I’d really stop if he told me to.  If he did say I needed to stop, I promise I would, but I wouldn’t be happy about it :) .  He compared Runner’s Knee to tennis elbow and gave me some ideas to treat it.

  • Make sure my shoes aren’t worn out.  I had actually hoped this was the problem back in December, but I got new shoes for Christmas and they didn’t make a difference in my knee pain.  He also suggested adding extra cushioning to my shoes in the form of heel cups.  I’m not sure yet if I’m going to try that.
  • Run on softer surfaces.  He told me he knew that running 20 miles around the track would suck but it would be better for my knee.  Um, I’m not running 20 miles around the track.  I would literally lose my mind! I don’t mind attempting some shorter runs around the track though.  He also said running on the treadmill would be better for my knee as well.  I’m not a huge fan of the treadmill because I have trouble staying motivated to run on it and I also don’t feel like I get the same quality run that I do outside.  I’ll have to suck it up and treadmill it once or twice a week.
  • Take a break.  He said skipping just a few days of running isn’t going to make it better.  It might give me some relief for a few days, but I need complete rest for 4-6 weeks for it to heal.  He said I can continue to run now and I can run the marathon, but after the marathon, I should take some time off.
  • Cross-train.  He said not to bother using an elliptical machine because it wouldn’t give me enough of a workout.  He said I’d get a better workout biking or using a stair machine.  I also need to strengthen and stretch my quads really well.
  • Wear a Patellar Tendon Strap on my knee.  I had tried this before and it didn’t help.  Maybe I didn’t wear it correctly or the band I had wasn’t the best fit for me.  He showed me the band they recommend and a tech fit me for one.  I think this one might actually work much better for me because the part that goes under the knee cap is softer and fits really well.  Sidenote: apparently, I have huge knees because I needed a size XL!

Please make my knee feel better!

  • I’m also going to try using KT Tape at the recommendation of some my running tweeps.

I’ve thought a lot about what the best thing is to do to get through this injury.  I really don’t want to drop out of the marathon.  I’ve worked really hard in my training and my fundraising for Team in Training.  The doctor said I’m not in danger of the tendon rupturing because I’m young and it’s pretty uncommon for that to happen to runners.  So I’m going to keep running.  I’m going to have to accept that I might have to scale back my miles a little bit.  I’m also going to accept that I might not be able to achieve my ambitious time goal this time around.  That’s okay with me.  I’m not trying to qualify for Boston or win any awards – I really do just want to finish.  Hopefully, I can still set a new PR, even if it’s only by a few minutes.

If I feel like my knee is getting worse, I’ll re-evaluate and make some decisions.  For now, I’m just going to keep on trucking!

Have you ever had an injury? What was your treatment plan?

Happy running!

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Chia Running

No, not Chi Running.

Chia…as in ch-ch-ch-chia!

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Chia pet!

But not quite the same as that.

I had read little tidbits here and there about fitness and running folks eating chia seeds, but hadn’t thought to give them a try until a) I heard they are talked about as a superfood in the book Born to Run (I just recently started reading it so I haven’t gotten to that yet) and b) I read fellow Fitfluential ambassador MizFit’s profession of love for the little seeds.

Even though I just had a big fat fail when I tried something that worked great before a run for someone else just last weekend, I was still willing to give chia a try.  I mean chia is an all natural thing so I didn’t think it would have a negative effect on me like the energy shot I tried last week.

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Chia seeds

First I mixed up some chia gel: 1/3 cup of chia seeds plus 2 cups of water.  I made the mixture the night before so that I wouldn’t have to wait for the seed to get gel-like before my run Saturday morning.  I kept it in the fridge overnight.

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Chia gel

I wasn’t sure how much to consume before my run so I did some googling and followed this suggestion.  I spooned out 2 tablespoons and added about ½ a tablespoon of honey to make it taste better.  The gel doesn’t taste bad on it’s own, but if I could describe the flavor, I’d say it’s “earthy” tasting.  Sounds tasty, right? It has a slimy texture that is definitely not for everyone.  I just tried to slurp it down and not think about the texture.  I also had a banana and my usual shot of espresso.

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Ready to slurp it down

It was chilly Saturday morning – about 30 degrees with a windchill of 20.  I decided to hit the treadmill for a few miles to warm up before braving the cold.  Sidenote: I find it to be crazy that I ran in short sleeves and a running skirt last weekend! This weather is ridic.  Anyhow, I thought warming up on the treadmill would serve 2 purposes – it would get my body warm to face the cold and it would knock out a few miles so my 16 mile run outside would feel less daunting.

After 3 miles, I strapped on my hydration belt and hit the pavement.  Physically, I think I did actually feel better than usual.  My body didn’t feel as tired it generally does.  Maybe it was all in my head.  Who knows? I do like the health benefits of chia though and I think I’ll continue to have it before my long runs to see if it really is making a difference in how I feel.

For my long run run, I ended up doing 3 miles on the tready in about 32 minutes followed by 13.1 miles outside in 2:05:02.  I couldn’t just stop at 13 miles because half marathons are my favorite and I like for my watch to say 13.1 at the end :) .  I really liked getting those miles out of the way in the beginning on the treadmill.  I think that’s something I’ll try again.

It’s hard for me to say if I think the chia really helped me to have a better than usual run or if I just happened to be having a good run.  I think the only way to find out is: more chia!  I’m looking forward to seeing if it really will make a difference in my training when I eat it again before running.  I’ll keep you posted!

If you’re interested in giving chia a try, don’t steal the seeds from your kids’ chia pets :) .  Chia seeds meant to be eaten can be purchased from health food stores and even many grocery stores.  If you can’t find it in your local stores, it’s widely available on the internet.

Happy running!

Have you tried chia yet?

If not, does this picture of the slimy gel make you want to? ;)

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[If you want to learn more about the benefits of chia, this website has a great chia cheat sheet!]

{Chia pet image source}

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The problems of a running mom

The absolute biggest obstacle I face when it comes to my training: sleep.

I never get a full night of sleep.  Zain will be 2 in just a couple weeks and he still does not regularly sleep through the night.  I accepted this fact for a long time because we chose not to do sleep training or let him cry it out – not that I’m opposed to it for anyone else, it’s just not for us.  We started to get some of the sleep issues under control in the Fall and Zain started to sleep through the night about 50% of the time.  Of course, when he slept through the night, I didn’t.  I was so used to waking up with him that I’d still wake up a few times throughout the night.

There’s a certain time of the night, or early morning rather, that he wakes up and if he doesn’t go back to sleep within a few minutes, he won’t go back to sleep at all.  That time – about 3:30-4am- is rough.  I couldn’t get him back to sleep at that time 2 days in a row so on Sunday and Monday, that’s when we got up for the day.  There must be some sort of scientific reason for that in his sleep cycle that he has trouble going back to sleep at that time.  All I know is that is makes for a tired and cranky toddler and mama.

Yesterday, I should have run 6 miles, but I just couldn’t get moving to do it.  I was exhausted.  I feel like I have a newborn again with the way Z has been sleeping.  Scratch that, I think he slept better as a newborn!

The lack of sleep was an obstacle for me when I trained for the Baltimore Marathon.  Actually, it started to be a problem when I trained for the MD Half Marathon.  It’s so funny to think back on that time.  I remember thinking – maybe Zain will be sleeping through the night by the day of the race.  That was May of last year and here we are today – still no sleep!

I remember reading once in a baby sleep book that only 50% of kids sleep through the night on their own before the age of 2.  Maybe the night of his birthday will be the night it begins! Wishful thinking, I know :) .  I’m hoping at his 2 year check-up the doctor will have some pointers for me so we can all get some rest around here.  I am lucky that he is a good napper (crossing my fingers he stays that way for a while!).

He’s lucky he’s so cute

How do you deal with lack of sleep and training? Does anyone else have a child that seems to hate sleep as much as mine?

Someone tell me I’m not alone! I feel like my exhaustion becomes an excuse far more frequently than I’d like it to.  I haven’t slept through the night since before I got pregnant with Zain.  I don’t even remember what it feels like to get a full night of sleep! I often wonder if I got more sleep if I’d feel better when I run.

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What works for someone else…

does not work for everyone.

Instead of my usual cup of coffee (more accurately my shot of espresso since that is my usual pre-long run source of energy) before my run this morning, I tried an energy shot (Street King from GNC) that a fellow running blogger recommended.  It says it has the caffeine equivalent of a premium cup of coffee so I figured I’d feel the same as usual on my run with maybe a little extra energy from the added vitamins.  Wrong.  I was jittery and my heart was racing.  It was awful.  At one point, I was having trouble breathing.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the energy shot (or the blogger that recommended it for that matter!), I just don’t think I should take it before running.  That was a good reminder for me that what works for someone else does not necessarily work for me.  I’m glad I tested it out though so I know it’s not for me.  It’s certainly better to learn these kinds of things on a training run rather than race day!

If you read a lot of running or fitness blogs, you’ll probably see bloggers – myself included – recommend their favorite gear, supplements, etc.  If something peaks your interest, absolutely give it a shot.  Just always remember that what works fabulously for one person may not always work the same for you.

During my run this morning, I asked hubby to join me with Zain at about mile 11 because I was feeling so crappy that I didn’t want to keep going alone.  I didn’t have it in me to push the stroller so my husband did.  You know what’s funny? Zain got really mad when he pushed it so I had to take over and then he was fine.  Apparently, I am a superior stroller pusher :) .  I was still not feeling great so I called it quits at mile 12.  I walked with hubby and Z for a half a mile back to our house.

I hated the thought of leaving my 15 mile run unfinished so I decided to try to squeeze out another 3 miles on my own.  It wasn’t pretty, but I got it done. Fifteen miles in 2:28 for an average pace of 9:52.

From now on, I’ll stick to my usual pre-long run routine.  You know what they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Happy running!

What do you do when you’re having a particularly challenging run? Do you push through or call it a day?

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How to lose weight during the Holidays

(Note: this post is not meant to be taken seriously.)

I apologize for not getting this posted at the beginning of the Holiday season so you could take advantage of this Holiday weight loss plan.  Make sure you bookmark it so you can use it for the 2012 Holidays!

First of all, you need one of these:

A busy toddler

Don’t have one? Ask a friend if you can borrow theirs.  You may be surprised by how willing they are to lend one to you!

Second, you need to ensure that all of your holiday plans involve celebrating at other family members’ or friends’ homes that are NOT babyproofed.  The ideal host has lots of fancy, expensive, breakable items at toddler height around their house.  Christmas is the perfect time of year for this weight loss plan because your relative or friend’s Christmas tree is sure to have lots of breakable ornaments that your child would love to rip off.

Our tree was toddler-proof: all our ornaments were soft; the few breakable ones we had went at the top, out of the reach of the busy little man

Chasing a toddler who must investigate every inch of the home you are in for your holiday celebration is guaranteed to burn calories.  Chances are they will be too busy scoping out the things they can damage to even want to sit down and eat.  Or, maybe you’ll try to get them to eat and they’ll deem every piece of food you give them inedible.  This should ensure that you will not get a chance to eat.  No excess holiday meal calories consumed!

The toddler diet method is also fantastic when you’re on vacation.  Staying in a hotel is easy because you can hide all toddler breakable items.  I recommend staying at a relative or friend’s home to once again ensure the maximum obstacles for the parent.

While at these holiday celebrations or on vacation, your toddler may have moments of shyness or separation anxiety that can help you burn some extra calories while getting in some extra weight training.  They will want up and down and then up and then down.  They may just want to be held for a while which is great exercise for your arms!

Ahh, enjoying the snuggling that is far less frequent these days while getting a good arm workout :)

This method is very effective.  I managed to lose 2lbs the week of Thanksgiving and 2lbs the week of Christmas and New Year’s.  Of course, the 2lbs I lost during Thanksgiving came right back on once I was back in the safety of my babyproofed home.  I managed to lose that weight again last week.  Maybe this time I’ll keep it off!

This method was also great at ensuring I didn’t get to sample any of the yummy treats I made for the Holidays like these:

Cookies for Christmas Eve

Snowmen cake pops!

Christmas Eve Cake Pop display: Christmas Trees, Santa Hats, Reindeer, and Snowmen

Christmas Day Present Cake Pop Display – this is my favorite!

Chocolate covered cherries for New Year’s Eve; these were a big hit!

Following this simple holiday weight loss plan, you too can avoid those extra holiday pounds!

Happy running!

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Starting 2012 off on the right foot…

I have a lot of plans for 2012.  I’m going to run my 3rd marathon, my 4th, 5th and 6th half marathons and a mud run.  That’s all by the end of May.  I haven’t decided what to do with the rest of my year yet.  I have high hopes for my 3rd marathon and I’m doing the best I can to stick to my training schedule so that I can achieve my goal.

The long runs in my training schedule suggest running at a comfortable slow pace of 9:58 to 10:04/mile.  Since my long runs are frequently my only solo runs of the week I generally pick up the pace a little more than that.  On Christmas Eve, I ran 10 miles in an hour and a half with an average pace of 9:04.  I didn’t need to run that “fast,” but I did because I felt comfortable at that pace and I wanted to see if I could maintain that pace over a longer distance.

I did my long run for last week today because I wasn’t able to squeeze it in over the weekend.  I needed to run 13 miles, but decided I might as well do 13.1 so my first run of 2012 would be a half marathon.  I ran 13.1 miles in 2:06 – an average pace of 9:35.  A big goal I have this year is to run a sub-2 hour half marathon and this run gave me the confidence that I can do it.  I was anticipating a tough run because I’m coming down with a cold, but I somehow managed to maintain a nice pace and I felt like I was in a good rhythm while I was running.

I feel so great knowing I kicked off 2012 with a fantastic run.  I’ve been exhausted from the holidays.  Exhausted the point of feeling hungover even when I haven’t had a drink! I call it the Holiday Hangover.  My run today kicked that Holiday Hangover to the curb.  Here’s to being healthy and fit in 2012!

Happy New Year!

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