Moving day

No, I’m not leaving my cozy Charlotte suburb.

I know I said awhile back that my dream was to relocate “home” to NJ or to a New England state. Although after knowing about how much snow my poor friends and family are getting socked with this winter, I don’t think I could do it. Now, I could “summer” there. But something tells me I won’t be someone who “summers” in this lifetime.

Anyway, the blog is moving, not me. I’ve decided to take This Runner’s Trials to self-hosting and get it a much needed facelift. The finished product looks amazing! I cannot wait to see what you guys think 🙂

The move will take place sometime later today, and it may take 24- 48 hours to fully change over. If you come to runnerstrials.com during the move, you might see angry “page not found” messages or something similar. Fear not, everything will be up and running by weekend’s end.

But for those of you who read This Runner’s Trials through subscriptions and Google readers, my next post won’t automatically update. You’ll have to subscribe to the new feed.

So please stop runnerstrials.com in a couple days and get the new feed info. I’m so worried about losing my beloved readers! You can also follow me on twitter for updates.

My fingers are crossed that the move goes smoothly. I hate moving, but this process has been pain-free since I’m working with a professional 🙂

I’m interested in hearing your worst moving horror story! When we relocated to Charlotte, the movers dented the dining room set that my great-grandfather built and has been in my family for four generations. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I was quite sad 😦

My first senior year of college (yup, it took me 4.5 years to graduate, don’t judge), I made the decision to go to grad school for public health.

I got this idea in my head that if I was going to be a health educator, I better walk the walk. Being the all or nothing person I am, I decided I’d only make healthy decisions from now on.

I was never unhealthy. I was the girl who prided herself on never touching a cigarette and flossing each day. But as a health educator, I was going to be a role model, so I needed to be even healthier.

  • I stopped drinking alcohol.
  • I stopped drinking soda.
  • I drove exactly the speed limit.
  • I limited my TV watching.
  • I slathered myself in spf 50 daily.
  • I became a germophobe. I heart hand sanitizer.
  • I was in bed by 10 pm every night.
  • I warmed up and cooled down before and after every run. I have no clue why I decided a 5 minute walk at the beginning and end of every run was “healthy”.
  • I baked all of my own “sweets”. I was really into fat-free and sugar-free baking for awhile. Don’t try it. Your tastebuds will hate you.

I was basically a huge nerd for a year or so. It was ridiculous. I’d get embarrassed if anyone noticed my tan lines or saw me eating a lollipop. I honestly thought people wouldn’t take me seriously if they saw me doing something “unhealthy”.

Then one day, I bit into the yummiest cake ever and all of my obsessive healthy behaviors went out the window.

Some of my crazy behaviors did stick; I rarely ever drink alcohol, I keep my skin nice and pasty, and I’ve only become more of a germophobe. But for the most part, I’ve embraced moderation.

But there still are some things I do that I’m embarrassed to admit. Especially now that I’m intertwined in the health blogger world, I know that few people engage in (or admit to?) these unhealthy little habits.

1. I drink diet soda. Yup, artificial sweeteners, ingredients I cannot pronounce, and all. I know soft drinks are unhealthy for a ton of reasons, yet I still drink them. I do limit my consumption to weekends only so they seem like a treat.

2. I eat fast food. Specifically, Chick-fil-a. When I was 17, I gave up fast food for Lent and never wanted it again. After grad school, I moved to Atlanta and all of my coworkers loved Chick-fil-a. I never had it before, but I was hooked after one milkshake. I only eat it on car trips now, but I do purposely seek it out on those blue interstate travel signs.

3. I watch a lot of TV. Gossip Girl, 90210, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, Desperate Housewives, Jersey Shore. Practically one TV show for every night of the week. And I really look forward to plopping my butt on the couch each night and watching my shows.


What pains me about my unhealthy secrets is that each behavior is a vital player in the childhood the obesity epidemic. I don’t want to promote these behaviors. The only reason I’m admitting to them is because I also spend a lot of time exercising and eating well. I’ve just learned that I’m cool with being the kind of health educator who advocates for a balanced lifestyle.

After all, who’s going to respect someone who sticks to fat-free and sugar-free baked goods? Certainly not I.

Do you have any “unhealthy” habits? Come on, fess up 🙂

Sometimes, my beloved furball growls. Yup, even my beautiful, seemingly innocent angel gets angry from time to time.

When he growls, he wags his tail. I used to think he was just weird. But tail-wagging can actually signal aggression in dogs.

This makes no sense to me. I used to believe that wagging tail= happy canine.

I hate when the opposite of something is true. This phenomenon is not just reserved for our pooches’ communication skills, but it happens in many other areas of life too. Including- you guessed it- running.

I’ve already discussed how you have to exert energy to get energy. Other examples, solely in my experiences, include:

To run faster, you may need to walk.

I know, stick with me here. I used to be anti-walk breaks. I thought they were unnecessary moments of weakness that would slow me down. Boy, was I wrong.

Last year, I ran a ton of hill races. In one race, instead of suffering my way up a steep incline, I decided to walk. I PR’d in that race. After that, my philosophy on walking breaks changed. I feel that walk breaks help me recover and reach my speedy pace faster than “toughing it out” through a hard part. Now, I walk in races and in training. And I’ve never been faster. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I’m going to keep walking.

Eat heavy to feel light on your feet.

This strategy will not work for everyone, but it definitely helps me. When I eat a lot leading up to a run, I’m more likely to feel strong and fast. If I eat lighter, I’m more likely to feel sluggish and weighed down. If you’re a calorie skimper, just try eating more in the day and hours leading up to a run. Then when you PR, remember to thank me 🙂

The best runs may happen when you feel the worst.

Once again, not always. Cough, DNF, cough.

Do you know how many runs I’ve started in a negative mindset? I’ve been too tired, sick, cranky, cold, hot, etc. to want to run. So many times, I assume I’ll have a horrendous workout, but I’m usually surprised. My best runs always happen when I least expect them.

For instance, yesterday I returned home from a ski weekend away with friends. I knew I should run but I was tired and had a stomach ache. I figured a short run/walk would have to do. But, out of no where, I ended up running 5.25 miles at a 7:59 pace and the average for four of those miles was 7:45. So unexpected.

Do you have any examples of when common sense doesn’t work? Running or other kinds? Share! I find things like this so interesting.

Run less, Om more

Thanks for all the congrats on my swimming accomplishment 🙂

Now that I’ve met that goal, I need a new one that’s within my control (i.e., not my fertility).

If my ovaries decide to cooperate for the first time in their lives, I start fertility treatment (clomiphene 100mg + hcg) in about 10 days. If my ovaries decide to keep being moody little witches, I have to wait at least another month.

When I start fertility meds, I plan to back off my workouts a bit. My doctor told me there’s no reason for me to do this, but it’s just something I feel like I should do. I’m not sure why I have this desire to slow down, but we’ll call it early mother’s intuition 😉

Enter my new challenge.

There’s a new yoga studio in my town! I heart my regular yoga studio but it’s 30 minutes away without traffic. And, there’s always traffic. So as much as I’d like yoga to become a more regular player in my fitness regimen, it’s just not practical for me.

But now there’s a new studio literally down the road, I want to practice yoga regularly. Brittney and I tried it out last night, and it was great. The fact that there’s a cupcake store literally right below it didn’t hurt either.

I splurged and bought a one month unlimited pass. My challenge for the next 30 days is to run less and yoga more. Specifically, run no more than 3 times a week and take 3 yoga classes per week.

I’m really excited! I love yoga, and love how my body feels when I practice regularly. I hope in a month’s time I feel stronger and more centered. And my fingers are crossed that the feeling spills over into my reproductive organs 🙂

I was attempting to do some down dogs, but the dog literally kept getting in the way.

Let’s hope I can stick with my goal!

Do you yoga? I was scared to try it for the longest time. I will be forever grateful to Emily for taking me to my first class last summer. And it’s nice to have yoga idols to learn from. 🙂 Om on friends.

My proudest mile

Remember my January goal?

It was to swim one mile (1600 m).

Guess what I did on Monday?

I swam one full mile without stopping 🙂 This was the proudest mile of my life.

I honestly cannot recall what it feels like to be unable to run one mile, or even ten miles for that matter. So accomplishing running distances hasn’t made me feel that hardcore lately. Reaching new running speeds and setting PRs is another story 😉

But it wasn’t too long ago when I couldn’t swim at all. Sure I could stay afloat, but I had no clue how to swim with proper form. Last May I hopped in the pool with my hubby and he taught me how to swim. It was hard. I thought I was wasting my time. I constantly felt sea sick, dizzy, and slow. I thought there was no way I’d be able to swim the 800m distance for my first triathlon.

But here we are 8 months later, and I can swim double my target distance 🙂 Meeting this goal makes me really proud. I know it sounds cliché, but you can do anything you put your mind to (I will get pregnant, I will get pregnant, I will get pregnant 😉 ).

For the longest time, I thought I was “just” a runner. Triathlons seemed like something for other people. But now I know better. Now I’m a runner who swims, bikes, and yogas. Maybe one day I’ll call myself a swimmer, cyclist, or yogi. But we’ll save that for another challenge 😉

What’s your most recent fitness accomplishment? As you know, my current goal for my body is not exercise-related. But I have another, short-term fitness challenge in mind 😉

Cheers for others

Happy 3 day weekend guys! Three day weekends when Monday is the day off are my favorite, because the following work week whizzes by!

Not training for any races has me kind of bummed out. (I’m hopefully starting fertility treatments soon so I’m not focusing on racing.) I’m a competitive girl and love running fast. So just doing what I want- and not following a training plan- isn’t always fun.

Yesterday, I set out for an easy 5 miles on the treadmill. But the girl next to me was running at a 7.0 speed, so I decided to take it a bit faster to kick her booty. (I am not the only person who does this 😉 ). After a warm up, I kept the pace between 7.3- 7.5. I was feeling strong so I ran the last mile and a half at a 7:30 pace (8.0). My “easy” run ended up being 5 miles at 7:54. Oops! And it honestly didn’t feel hard. I started thinking what speed I was really capable of…

I went home and started searching for a race in the next couple of weeks… and then I realized I was being stupid. You don’t have to race to be a runner. Cutting back right now is what I need to do to achieve my real goal. I’ll race fast again one day, and my reward won’t be making it to the finish line; it will be kissing a little baby after I make it through the finish chute.

Then like magic I got a text message. My friend Brittney completed her first marathon! She did well and had a positive race experience 🙂

This completely lifted my spirits. I get such a thrill knowing others achieve their running goals. I was literally giddy with excitement knowing she did well. (I am so meant to be a coach… one day 😉 )

In fact, despite not being in training mode and missing a few runs this week, it’s been a great week for running in my world. Four of my friends ran their first marathon this week!

Heather got into distance running after watching me run the Disney marathon two years ago. Well, now she can call herself a Disney marathoner!

Kelly also ran Disney, and is already making more 26.2 plans! I ran one of her first long runs for Disney training back with her in August.

Karen earned her Mickey medal last weekend, too. And rumor has it she’s thinking of tackling 26.2 again next month!

And Brittney ran Charleston yesterday! When I met her last year, she had not even ran a half marathon. She has come so far!

I am so proud of my friends. Go congratulate them! Completing your first marathon is such an accomplishment 🙂

Do you live vicariously through others when you’re not racing?

Wishing it away

The ice skating rink is leaving the Carolinas. Hooray!

My gym finally opened yesterday. And I’ve hung out with my dear friend the treadmill twice since then 🙂 I am not brave enough to run outside yet. There are plenty of shady spots along my running route which means icy patches.

I hope this is our last bout of winter weather for the season. But something tells me it won’t be…

I am happy with how quickly my least favorite time of the year is moving. We’re nearly halfway through January, which means we’re about 25% done with my “bad months”.

A bunch of times this week, I caught myself saying “I wish I could fast forward to March”. In March, my husband and I take a cruise, we’ll have started infertility treatments (instead of just waiting to start), I’m running a half marathon with lots of blog friends, and it’s my birthday. Everything will be so much better in March.

Or will it?

I have this horrible habit of wishing time away. Sure, right now March looks like a bed of roses. But as time draws nearer, I’ll see the thorns. I’ll long for summer so I can lay on the beach or I’ll just wish to skip ahead to a time when fertility treatments are just a distant memory.

I’ve always done this. Through grad school, all I longed for was a job. When we lived in Atlanta, I believed everything would be rainbows and unicorns when we moved to Charlotte. I even do this during training for a race. On some level I believe everything in the world will make sense once I cross that finish line.

I was ecstatic when I scored a great job. Our new city feels like home. And not much beats the feeling of completing a race. But all of these highs were temporary. I’m always looking forward to the next milestone, and I kind of forget about all the awesomeness currently all around me.

I’m really trying not to do this anymore and cherish the moment. My memories aren’t just filled of vacations, weddings, and races. It’s the time spent in between, waiting for those big events, when the truly cool stuff happens:

  • How many times have you had a good conversation with someone at a restaurant while waiting for your meal?
  • What did you learn about yourself as an athlete during your training cycle?


I’m glad the universe didn’t listen to me when I wished away January and February. Because that snowstorm on Monday granted someone a lot of joy.

My furball got hurt back in early December and isn’t allowed to run anymore. But the fluffiness of the snow lessened the impact on his leg. It was awesome to see him run and be happy again 🙂

Do you live in the moment? Or are you always looking ahead?

Cabin fever

This past weekend, I was feeling down. I completely blame my mood on my hatred for January and February. Hubby was still recovering from his illness, so we were extra lazy.

  • Friday: I skipped my workout.
  • Saturday: I cut my planned long run short by 3 miles.
  • Sunday: I slashed my swim workout in half.

By Sunday night, my blues lifted and I was eager to start a new week. My legs longed to get in a good tempo run on Monday.

But then this happened:

Doggie snow angels 😉

A few inches of snow Sunday night, topped with some ice on Monday.

I couldn’t run outside and my gym- along with the rest of the Southeast- was closed.

I yearned for a good workout, but my only piece of indoor exercise equipment is my husband’s bike trainer.

I know some people like it, but I loathe the trainer. I’m not the biggest fan of biking, but move it indoors, and I detest it even more. (Which is so odd because I used to heart spinning.) I haven’t been on the trainer since training for my first half marathon back in the spring in 2006.

But the past couple of days, if I wanted to sweat, this was my only option 😦

Monday, I rode the trainer for 45 minutes. It sucked. I used all of my treadmill tricks: varying my speed, distance, and position on the bike. It was still brutal.

Tuesday, I hopped on the torture device again. Because of saddle sores, I only lasted 35 minutes. 

I am crossing my fingers that the gym is open tomorrow. There’s no way I can hop on the bike for the third day in a row. I am running tomorrow no matter what. Even if that means running up and down my own stairs…

How do you workout when you’re stuck at home? One day I hope to have a home treadmill.

It’s no secret that regular physical activity is the key to good health. Being fit protects us from a slew of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers (source).

That’s pretty darn awesome. I’m all about adding healthy years to my life. But, at the ripe old age of 28, my own mortality is not normally at the forefront of my mind.

So when I think of health threats (besides my fertility issues), I think more along the lines of running injuries or infectious illnesses, like a cold or the flu.

Which leads me to my thought of the day: does endurance exercise help our immune system or hurt it?

I’m not a doctor, nor am I going to do a thorough literature search, so please understand these are just my thoughts based on a very limited amount of research. (Bad, bad health educator)

Now, I know moderate exercise boosts your immune system. People who exercise regularly, for 30 to 75 minutes at a time, get far fewer colds than those who don’t (source).

But apparently you can have too much of a good thing. Experts say that when you exercise for 90 minutes or longer without taking a break, the immune system starts to wear down and you become more susceptible to infections. This vulnerability can last anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days (source and source).

That’s insane to me. When I was triathlon training, I’d have 3 workouts per week (long run, long bike ride, brick) that would crack the 1.5 hour mark. Most marathoners have one or two training runs a week that last longer than 90 minutes. And if you’re training for an Ironman? Forget about it! You may have two training sessions a day that each last more than an hour and a half.

Have any of you noticed if you get sick more often during training? I personally haven’t experienced this much. I don’t get sick often. I’m more fatigued for a couple of days after a long run, so I take it easy. This likely helps my immunity; along with fueling properly, taking rest days, being a germ-o-phobe, and getting regular chiropractic care.

Hand sanitizer is my BFF.

Post-race is another story though. How many of you have gotten sick in the week after a big race? I always feel really worn down after racing. And I often catch a cold a few days later. I think it has something to do with the time spent on my feet and the intensity at which I push myself.

I have a theory that ultra-endurance exercise events, like an Ironman, wear down your immune system for much longer than 3 hours to 3 days.

At least in my case study experience. There’s this guy who doesn’t get sick. I’ve known him for 10.5 years and I’ve never seen him with more than a case of the sniffles. Then he did an Ironman in November. He caught a cold the week after and had a horrible bout of the flu on New Year’s. Mmmhmmm.

Of course this could be a complete coincidence. But I don’t think so. I’m just going to accept that Ironman racing is bad for your immune system, so I have an excuse never to do one 😉

What are your thoughts on exercise and sickness?

The waiting game

Wow guys 🙂 Thank you so, so, so much for all of the emails, comments, and tweets regarding my fertility issues. I’m truly overwhelmed by your kindness. You guys rock!

A lot of you shared your stories, and I thank you. It always breaks my heart when I hear about other people going through the same thing. It’s crazy how many people struggle with baby-making.

That being said, keep in mind that fertility problems are not the norm. I know when you’re not yet ready for a baby, it’s hard not to worry about your future fertility. But chances are, you’ll go on to deliver a healthy baby without needing fertility treatment. Most couples get pregnant within 6 months of trying to conceive, and 85% are pregnant within one year (source).

But if you’ve been having unprotected, regular sex (2-3 times a week) for a year and aren’t pregnant, consider seeing a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). See one after 6 months if you’re over 35. Or if you have a noticeable problem- absent, irregular, or painful periods, endometriosis, or recurrent miscarriages- see an RE sooner (source). Working with a specialist can really help!

Health education PSA over. Back to discussing my broken ovaries. 🙂

My blood tests confirmed my doctor’s suspicions: I do not ovulate even though I now get a regular period. Boo PCOS 😦

I have to take birth control pills for one to two months to calm down my hyperactive ovaries. (I know this sounds backwards. But the hormones in the pill essentially “shut off” my ovaries so they’ll respond better when they’re turned back on with fertility drugs). Then I’ll start Clomid and an hCG shot and pray it makes me ovulate, and that sperm meets that egg.

Since I’ll be on the pill for 1-2 months, I don’t see a reason to cut back on exercise just yet. I could probably even train for the National Marathon… but I don’t think I’m going to. Right now, I’ll plan on running the half. My doctor told me it’s fine to maintain my fitness level, and I agree. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable increasing it.

So, I’m playing the waiting game as the pills work their way through my system. I’m counting on my old distractions to get me through this time without going crazy: running and hanging with my friends.

I tried to do 5 miles of speedwork today but my legs were not in the mood. Still, I was pleased with my a little speedier than usual pace.

The I met up with Caitlin, Nicole, Kayla at the oh-so-delicious Cowfish for dinner. The food was excellent. The company was still far better 🙂

How do you distract yourself to keep from obsessing over certain things? Or is this just me? Maybe normal people’s brains aren’t always preoccupied with something!