Charlotte [1/2] Marathon Recap

I finished the Charlotte [1/2] Marathon on November 14!

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It was my 6th half-marathon, but it may have been the most challenging run for me. The first 6 miles came pretty easily to me, but the last 7 miles were difficult. I was incredibly thankful for our cheerleaders on the course at mile 6.5 with cowbells, signs and cheers, they kept my spirits up. Running uphill towards Levine Children’s Hospital was hard at mile 8, I seemed to hit the mental wall. I couldn’t get out of my head space, but I texted with a friend briefly and she encouraged me to kick butt. I started to trot again. I used an app where friends could record 30 second cheers for me, and by mile 9 I was doubting if the app worked, feeling sorry for myself. Then, at mile 10, I heard 6 cheers, back-to-back. I teared up as I heard fellow teammates and friends encouragement. Erin Santos, Isabella’s mommy, had recorded Ibby singing a song for me to hear. It gave me a push and mental shift that I needed.

As I was approaching the finish line, I saw so many of my teammates, yelling my name, and even the race director cheered me on (helps that I know him…) and as I crossed the finish, I was so excited and proud to do it for Isabella.

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Afterward, I celebrated with a big brunch with friends.

Thank you! Thank you for every encouraging card, text, prayer and conversation. Thank you for every financial donation to The Isabella Santos Foundation. Thank you for the celebratory meals and cheerleaders along the course. I could not have finished the Charlotte Half Marathon without it. #isabellasdreamteam

While I don’t have another race on my calendar, I make no promises. We’ll see what 2017 has in store for me!

 

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Don’t Wear Black When Running and 6 More Tips

This morning as I set out to run, I realize it was laundry day because all I had left was a black shirt to run in. Ugh. It is already sweltering hot and this black shirt will not help my case. Oh well. I put it on and head outside.

As I continue to train for the Novant Health Charlotte [1/2] Marathon, I wanted to share some of my running advice. Please note: I am not a trained professional, so follow at your own risk. 

  1. Don’t wear black when running outside. Especially in the summer because it’s hot and especially at night since then no one can see you (be safe people).
  2. Schedule your runs. Write in your calendar, commit a time to do it the night before or else you may not get it done or make excuses.
  3. With that said, give yourself grace. Life happens and sometimes the run doesn’t make it. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Do get back on schedule as soon as possible though. Don’t let 1 day mess-up become 3 days of not doing what you need to.
  4. Strength Train/cross train. It is so important to work out your muscles differently than simply running over and over again.
  5. Stretch/do yoga. As a former dancer and gymnast, flexibility comes easily to me, but I have noticed how my hips are really tight as I run, so I try to do yoga once a week and always stretch after any work out.
  6. Rest. Give your body a break. You are working hard and you need to allow your body to recover.
  7. Watch what you eat. If you are new to training for a race, or new to running, I highly recommend keeping a food journal to help you figure out what bests fuels your body. I figured out that me and tomato pasta sauce don’t mix when running is part of the equation.

 

Your Pace Doesn’t Matter

This week is the first week of official training for my half-marathon in November. In seasons past, I’ve been good about starting my base training a few months early, getting into the routine of running a couple times a week and building my strength. This year, however, was not the case. I ran once a week, sometimes twice in a week, but have generally been slacking. I have been struggling with loving my body. I am sure it hasn’t helped that I’ve been watching gymnastics Olympic Trials and seeing these incredible athletes with incredible muscles and dedication….I admire these athletes for their passion and dedication and drive to be the very best. I can only hope to have an ounce of that in my training.

I watched Shawn Johnson’s I Am Second testimony and it’s incredible.She shares about fear and failure with hope and honesty.

This morning as our team in purple started our first long run from Isabella’s memorial site – I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. We are a team of all races, genders, ages, body types, athletic backgrounds and none of that matters. How fast or slow you run doesn’t matter. Our purpose for running is so much more than just to get in shape, or an excuse to eat a lot.

It’s about the 43 children that will be diagnosed with cancer TODAY.

As we took off and our sea of purple streamed down the road, it was a powerful reminder to me that we are running for something bigger than myself. I am running as part of a community that is working to end childhood cancer.

Step up. Take part. Crush cancer with me at  https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/juliaesmith15/2016-isabellas-dream-team

 

Summertime in Charleston

This weekend my brothers and I took our first “siblings vacation.” I was so excited to go to Charleston, I consulted several friends and blogs about where to go, what to see and where to eat and I compiled a rather large list. I felt like there was way too much to accomplish in one weekend without running ourselves ragged or eating 17 meals a day, but we set out and checked many of the item off my list.

I arrived early on Thursday to take in some sights on my own — mainly shopping along King Street. After a quick lunch at Jestine’s Kitchen, I found an amazing shop on the second floor called Be the Change Boutique where every piece has a story. I even recognized some items from my Sevenly Causebox. I spoke with the owner Ashley, who moved from Hawaii to start the store. I loved everything inside from bags to candles to jewelry and clothes.

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Thursday started at the Rooftop at Vendue for drinks – I had the strawberry basil lemonade, and it was quite tasty. Then we walked to dinner at Poogan’s Porch. Even though it was early, there was already quite a wait, so we chose to sit at the bar to eat. I had the special which was a snapper featuring bbq and pimento cheese and it was delicious.

Then we decided to walk around, so we walked to the Pink House — one of the oldest buildings in the city and it was on a quaint cobblestone street. The only thing that ruined the old city charm was the cars parked along the road. The house is actually for sale for  a pretty penny — nearly $1Million! We continued our stroll to Waterfront Park and Rainbow Row.

Friday was our walking downtown day. I chalked up over 22,000 steps! We started off at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit for a yummy breakfast including peach jam on my biscuits. We set out and walked all the way down King Street to the Battery and relaxed at White Point Gardens. Then we walked up Meeting Street to the City Market. I saw some great art including sand dollar ornaments, historic bricks painted with iconic Charleston scenes, lots of sweet grass baskets that were gorgeous and paintings/photography.

We continued our tour, walking through College of Charleston’s campus and down to the aquarium. That was pricey, but well worth it. For an additional fee, you can see the sea turtle hospital, but sadly we missed the last tour of the day. But, I did see a couple sea turtles in the big tanks.

Next, was our Sunset Tour of Fort Sumter. The ferry ride over included some history of Fort, then we walked along the Fort — which is where the Civil War started. Since we were the last tour of the day, the park rangers asked us to help take down the flags and told us about the history of the 4 flags that were showcased there — the 33 star flag, the stars and bars, another confederate flag, and the 50 star United States flag. It was a unique experience to have people from our boat, from all across the US to help and share as we are “United.”

 

Our ferry ride back included some great photo ops of the Ravenel Bridge.

For dinner we stopped at Queology, a bbq place we had seen during our walk at the City Market. For drinks and dessert we walked to the Gin Joint. I ordered from the bar tender’s choice and picked 2 words “sweet unusual.” I have no idea what was in it, but it was good — tasted some cinnamon…. but the dessert was the best. We ordered 2 chocolate peanut butter bars and carrot cake for the three of us and contemplated ordering it again.

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Saturday we crossed the Ravenel Bridge and started at Charleston Cafe with a  delicious deep fried cinnamon roll. We continued our journey to Boone Hall Plantation. We took in a carriage tour, home tour of the 1935 plantation home and explored the slave cabins. The Notebook and North and South were both filmed there. It was stunning.

 

The we traveled across the city to see the ancient Angel Oak Tree.

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We came back home to relax for  bit before meeting up with friends Brad and Kendall at Hominy Grill, where I ate a “Wreckfish” with mashed sweet potatoes, yum! Then we went to a local dive bar, Tattooed Moose for the chocolate and bacon pie. Really it was rich chocolate pie with bacon crumbles on top, and it was awesome.

Sunday morning we woke up early for breakfast at Eli’s Table and then the boys headed home. I went back downtown and met up with my friend Kelly at Kudu Coffee Bar and then headed back to reality. It was a wonderful vacation! Can’t wait to come back with some girlfriends to include more shopping and eating….

 

Pizza Taco

I am always looking for quick and simple recipes that I can whip up for an easy dinner. I’ve mastered scrambled eggs, cheese quesadillas, baked potato and pasta dishes and now’ve added another recipe to repertoire. I call it the Pizza Taco. It’s perfect for those who are too impatient to actually bake a pizza crust (like me).

Ingredients:
tortillas
pizza sauce
cheese
toppings of choice

Directions:
Butter the pan on the stove, set on medium-low
Place tortilla shell in pan
Cover with sauce
Add layer of cheese
Add toppings of choice
Wait for the cheese melt then fold taco in half, flip when edges are golden brown
Enjoy!