I am hoping this will be the first of many posts after my almost year-long disappearance from the “blogging grid”. I’m still not even sure if anyone out there even reads any of this but my fingers are crossed that maybe one day someone will stumble upon my blog. I have so much to write about and a month left of summer vacation to blog my little heart out.
My first (and quite easily my last) half marathon was in Annapolis, MD and sponsored by Zooma Women Race Series. Before running the race, the farthest I’ve ever run was maybe ten miles or so. And for all of you that don’t know, a half marathon measures out to be 13.1 miles. As you also know (if you have indulged yourself in my prior posts), I have a lot of physical ailments. Note to all: playing a competitive sport in college will deteriorate your body. After three years I have PFPS (patella femoral pain syndrome aka runner’s knee) in both of my knees, CECS (chronic exertional compartment syndrome) in four compartments in my shins AND because of these first two ailments, I have weak and inflexible hips. Lastly, and unrelated to the previous three issues, I also have plantar fasciitis.
Given all of this background information, it is very safe o say that completing this half marathon was far from a walk in the park (literally about twelve miles farther). Luckily I ran the race with my sister who is about a year and a half younger than me. We kept each other company and tried to keep our morale high. Here’s a quick play-by-play on how the race went: The first two miles were the best; everyone was happy, energetic and my body and spirits were in a good place. After the second mile, the 5k runners turned away from the rest of the racers to head back and complete their race. Fast forward to around the 4.5 mile mark (I wore my Garmin Forerunner 15 to track my heart rate, our distance and pace and I watched that damn watch every tenth of a mile – counting down until the finish line), around now I’m jealously watching every 10k runner happily turning around, knowing that their pain is almost over. Lucky for us we aren’t even halfway through our misery. At around mile seven let’s just say we both needed one of three very necessary porta-pot pit stops. Miles six through twelve are all a blur but once we hit the twelfth mile marker (as measured by the official race markers – angrily, my GPS watch read 12.2 miles), we ran (very slow jog) by a police officer, thanked him for stopping traffic and allowing us to pass, and proceded to ask how the last mile looked. To our great disappointment he explained “Way to go! You girls just have to turn the corner, go straight and finish up the final uphill.” In case you didn’t digest that last part, let me repeat to you, HE SAID THERE WAS ANOTHER UPHILL??!? If I hadn’t died yet this far into the race, this was the sole comment that drained any and all morale I had left in me. Long story short though, we finished our half marathon!! Proudest and one of the more painful moments in my life thus far.
Rewind again back to before I grew bitter about the 10k runners. Now I’ll describe to you how my body broke down within the first half of my race. My arches began aching at first; this was a manageable pain and I could easily ignore it as we trekked through the streets of Historic Annapolis. Next up was my knees. Every step was more and more painful. Walking helped but when this pain was brought on at around the seventh mile, I couldn’t make my sister walk with me for the last six miles, so I continued to keep running. Just within the seventh mile, I started to heel strike my strides to reduce the impact on my knees. If you don’t know anything about running form, then I’ll be happy to inform you that heel-striking causes an extremely quick onset of my CECS symptoms. By now you’re probably all rereading the beginning of my post to see what else could possibly go wrong, pain-wise, with my body. Feet, check. Knees, check. Shins, check. So finally, my hips. Simply put, once my shins flare up (literally the small muscles in my shins get extremely swollen), my hips take a beating too.
Pro-tips for any half marathon virgins out there reading this: train before the race, foam roll your legs the night after your race and hydrate during the race. Training is essential to best prepare your body for exerting itself for three hours (give or take) straight. Foam rolling will reduce fatigue in your muscles and will help with recovery. Lastly I’m glad I drank two cups of water and one cup of Gatorade at every rest station. On my race day, it was very hot and I needed to consume liquids to replenish all lost fluids through sweating (and crying; just kidding, no tears were actually shed.) Advil was also essential during the hours after my race, which helped me physically move up from the couch to my bed. You might think I’m kidding but I’m 100% not; ask my sister.
All in all, I’m very proud of myself for completing the race (even if my GPS watch measured it to be 13.6 miles and not 13.1 miles) and maybe for the future I’ll possibly consider another half but definitely 5k and 10k length races.
This weekend I was blessed with having the opportunity to come home for two days while my classes and field hockey have a “Fall Break”. I happily reunited witb two of my sisters, my parents and my pets Friday night after driving home straight after my game on Friday night. Since then I’ve caught up on all of my recorded Modern Family episodes (struggles of not having cable or a tv at school), went to the Annual Fall Festival at Kinder Farm Park, sold pumpkins at my church, hung out with my family and made homemade pizza and roasted marshmallows in our firepit and watched my sister’s rec field hockey game. It’s just a short trip home but it’s always a nice mental reset to sleep in my own bed (and hang out with my beloved cat, Beau Beau).
To pass the time selling pumpkins, my sister and I did some fun exercises; the videos are included below. The first video is a core exercise, the second is alternating lunges with a twist, the third is another core exercise with Russian twists, the fourth is squats with a shoulder press, the fifth is squats with bicep curls and the last two videos are of my sister and I using the pumpkins as an obstacle course for field hockey dribbling.
Because I have an indescribable love for making lists and multiple easily explained reasons on why I love my job as a Sale Associate working for Under Armour, I’m going to let you guys in on a sneak peak with just my top 5 reasons.
1. Teammates. For my entire life, I’ve always remembered being on a team, whether it was soccer, field hockey, tennis, golf, lacrosse, or track. Regardless of what position you hold within the company, you are an Under Armour Teammate. It makes me feel important and, in my opinion, helps everyone, speaking from my personal experience, work together as a team. Aside from being labeled a ‘teammate’, I love all of the people I work with, as well as other Sales Associates, interns, managers, and employees who hold corporate positions. For the most part, everyone is extremely passionate about the brand and the product. This is one of Under Armour’s biggest strengths.
2. Product and Logo. To continue speaking about employees loving the product, as an employee and athlete, I also love Under Armour’s product. Honestly, I could go on for days explaining what I love about each individual product that UA offers, including sizes, colors, making outfits and so on. To save you the time, I hope you get the picture. I also own so much of UA’s product that I’m usually found dressed head to toe (literally – headbands, shirts, sweatshirts or jackets, sports bras, underwear, spandex, shorts, leggings or pants, socks and sneakers) solely because it is the only brand of workout clothes that I own. Of course I do still own and wear some clothes produced by Nike, C9 by Target and a few others, as well as the clothes issued to me as a member of the W&M FH team, however the likelihood of wearing something from UA is incredibly high. I have also found that it is extremely easily to market and sell UA gear to customers when you are in love with it! Under Armour’s logo is also arguably one of the coolest logos; it’s easily distinguished and literally contains (very sneakily) the initials ‘UA’.
3. Baltimore Based. It means a lot to me that Under Armour is based out of Baltimore, Maryland. Every now and again we’ll get some cool shirts with something locally themed printed on it, like Mr. Boh, the Maryland flag pattern, a crab, Old Spice, or the Chesapeake Bay. These are all relatively rare and incredibly cool and sell out within the first few days after being placed out on the floor. Because I grew up so close to Baltimore, UNder Armour was almost always around and the stores and vendors are fortunately very plentiful. If you don’t already know about the story of Under Armour’s formation and Kevin Plank, who at the time was a football team captain at UMD, I highly recommend you read all about it!!
4. Beautiful Teammate Discount. Just one of the countless benefits I receive as an UA teammate is the discount. Under Armour take very good care of all of its employees by giving us a very generous discount. There isn’t much else to write about this; hopefully you all get the point.
5. UA Athletes. One of the final reasons why I love working for Under Armour is because the company has so many incredible and motivating sponsored athletes. The newest, and my favorite, are the ‘Women of Will’, including Misty Copeland, Lindsey Vonn, Sloane Stephens, Brianna Cope, Gisele Bundchen, and Kelley O’Hara. A few of my other favorite women athletes are Shauna Harrison, Alex Aust, Lindsey Torgerson and Natalie Uhling. I also suggest you check out these ladies; THEY ARE AWESOME.
I really hope all of you can love Under Armour as much as I do, and don’t forget to do your homework: check out the history of Under Armour and look up more about my favorite Women of Will!
I’m going to share with you some of my highlight meals from my vacation last week in Atlantic Beach, NC. For most of our meals, we ate at our condo, so they weren’t too complicated and we used most of the food in multiple different meals.
These are two of our meals; and our others consisted of other combinations of the same meats and vegetables but in different variations. The first meal pictured is salad-based; with “Power Greens” (kale, spinach and red and green chards; my new all-time favorite salad mix) topped with feta cheese crumbles, and avocado lime salad dressing from Chick-fil-a and paired with broccoli, asparagus, and fresh tuna and shrimp. On some of the other days we ate other salad-based meals with different sources of protein and vegetables. The second meal pictured is more asparagus, cucumber, more broccoli, sourdough bread (my absolute favorite) with butter, sauteed mushroom, brown rice (cooked with butter), and two pieces of chicken, one prepared with teriyaki sauce and the piece in the center of the plate was prepared with Old Spice (a Maryland delicacy.) Later in the week, we finished off the other vegetables, chicken and vegetables; and I happily finished off our loaf of sourdough bread through grilled cheese lunches, toast for breakfast and turkey and cheese sandwiches which I packed to bring to the beach and pool.
On one of the nights, the four of us went to a local restaurant that got great reviews online. Amos Mosquito’s Restaurant had both great service and delicious food. We ordered conch puppies and calamari as appetizers; both are displayed in the only picture with two plates. I ordered the “Mixed Seafood Grill” entree which included (according to their website) grilled shrimp, scallops, yellowfin tuna and red bell pepper drizzled with cilantro-lime vinaigrette and served with black beans and jasmine rice. My younger sister ordered fried local flounder, aka fish sticks. This also came with fries as a side, so this naturally made her very happy. Both of my parents ordered the “Fresh Catch of the Day,” I’m don’t exactly remember what type of fish either of them ordered, however both plates came with vegetables and rice.
Because the workout room at our condo village is currently under construction, my mom and I took advantage of the free water aerobics class this morning. I absolutely love all water activities, including swimming, aquajogging and resistance exercises.
Since I’m in relatively good cardio shape right now, I didn’t think the class this morning was too challenging in the cardio sector. However, I really enjoyed al of the resistance exercises, mostly because they differ from the usual resistance exercises completed on land.
Here’s a few reasons why I love water aerobics in particular:
1. Exercising in the water cools you off on a hot day.
2. The exercises incorporated into water aerobics routines work to strengthen and tone all of the major muscle groups. Today we worked legs, chest, back, arms and core.
3. The difficulty of all of the exercises can be easily modified depending on how fast or slow you complete the individual movements and how deep in the pool you place yourself (the shallower water you stand in, the easier it is to complete the exercises.)
4. It’s also cardio! Just like biking, running, rowing and elliptical-ing.
5. My all-time favorite reason is that exercising in the water has no impact on your body. Ever heard of non-impact cardio? Much like swimming, because they’re both completed under the water’s surface, water aerobics won’t put your body under unwelcoming stress found during running on the ground.
6. Cross training workouts helps prevent overuse injuries. Similar to reason number four, water aerobics is great for athletes and people who normally compete and exercise on land.
Unfortunately, because I was in the water during the entirety of the class, I couldn’t take any pictures. If you’re interested in water aerobics, I definitely recommend looking into finding a class near you to try it yourself!
A great place to practice yoga is at the beach; the crashing waves are very calming and the breeze off of the water is great for cooling off sweat. These four poses, in my opinion, can be combined to form a simple and very basic flow pattern.
The first and final pose to this flow is Downward Dog. To complete this pose, your feet and hands should be on the ground and shoulder width apart, with your back flat and butt in the air. Ideally my heels would be flat on the ground, however my hamstrings are tight from doing too much gymnastics (and front walkovers) these past few days. It is more important for your back to be flat and your hands reaching out in front of your body than for your legs to be straight and your heels to be flat in the ground. If you want to complete this flow in sync with your breath, exhale as you complete your downward dog pose and relax your diaphragm, as you focus on pushing air out of your lungs.
The second pose is Plank; which, as it sounds, is exactly a hand plank. Your body should make a flat line, with your hands on the ground beneath your shoulders. To transition into a plank from downward dog, slide your weight forward, placing more weight into your front, above your hands. To avoid straining your neck, keep it in line with the rest of your body. During the plank pose in your flow, inhale air into your lungs before moving onto the next pose in our flow.
From plank, the next pose in our flow is to complete a chaturanga, a move similar to a push up. During your chaturanga, exhale the air out of your lungs. Keeping your body in a flat line from the plank, slowly lower yourself closer to the ground while holding your arms and elbows in, close to your body. Looks at the picture below, for a visual description!
After holding your chaturanga for an exhale breath, inhale into Upward Dog. To complete this pose, first flip into the tops of your feet from your toes and arch your back, bringing your head and chest up towards the sky. It is easiest to imagine a string attached to the center of your chest and it is gently pulled upward. It is difficult to tell in my picture below, but my thighs are raised up off from the ground; only the palms of your hands and the tops of your feet should be touching the ground.
Finally, exhale back into our first pose of this flow, downward dog. Congratulations! You just completed a yoga flow! You cam now combine this flow with other flows or poses or if you want, just stick to these four poses and hold them for different lengths of breaths. I hope you enjoyed this and I’ll post more yoga poses in the future!
Because my six membered family only owns three cars, more often than not. half of the family is left car-less at any given time. Both of my parents work, and require a car to transport themselves to work every weekday, and one of my sisters teaches at a youth science camp all day everyday, leaving the remaining three sisters, myself included without a car. This week though, one of my sisters is in Scotland with our Church on a pilgrimage and the youngest of the four of us (introduced in yesterday’s post, Lila) is too young to drive, I’m the only one truly suffering from this dilemma. However, it’s not all entirely bad because we all thankfully have a bicycle.
Lila and I rode a few miles to the country club our family belongs to to enjoy a healthful dose of vitamin D today. It was her first “big” ride; aka the first time she rode on the side of the road and was not constantly protected by the safety of the sidewalk. The ride isn’t too bad and it was even a nice cardio workout vigorously pedaling up and down the hills of the neighborhood which houses the county club. Once we arrived at the pool, we ordered lunch to refuel all of the calories and energy expelled on our journey to the pool. I ordered a crab quesadilla (a delicious Maryland delicacy) because in less than a month I’ll be returning to school in Virginia for preseason and the crab meat offered in Virginia just isn’t the same as fresh Maryland crab meat and Lila ordered a turkey and avocado wrap.
The pool is unfortunately relatively crowded because the weather was prime pool weather, so the only feasible time for me to swim laps was during “Adult Swim”, occurring for fifteen minutes every hour. During Adult Swim, everyone under eighteen years old must get out of the pool, leaving the water’s surface (mostly) flat and all of the swimming lanes vacant. The pool water was extremely refreshing after laying out in the sun for forty-five minutes, and I didn’t even need to worry about avoiding small children playing around in the pool, getting hit by passing tennis balls or by underwater torpedo toys from young kids playing pass.
Overall it was a great day to relax in the sun and catch up on reading Unbroken and fitting in both a solid bike workout and shorter swim workouts!