The one guy you don’t want to live with…or do you?

Fun fact about me: If you were to look at my search history (you creep!) you’d see I’ve googled some random, very telling things.

Toughest endurance events on earth.

Athletic events no woman has ever completed.

Bucket list athletic achievements.

Climbing Mt. Everest.

Biggest mountains to hike in California.

Most challenging marathons.

Navy SEAL workouts.

I’ll stop you before you start thinking I’m super cool and motivated. Like, “OMG, Kara’s gonna climb Mt. Everest! I can’t wait to read her blog from the top!” (How kind of you!) Sadly, I’m a victim of delusion. I mean, I certainly believe in the power of setting crazy huge goals. But I tend to take it to the extreme. And I REALLY THINK I CAN DO IT! I get so excited that I can barely tell the difference between “can” and “should” and “sleeping in a warm bed” vs. “waking up on an ice cold mountain in Nepal for 3 months straight while dealing with altitude sickness”. (Who doesn’t want to do THAT?)

Which is why I feel like Jesse Itzler is a kindred spirit in his desire for the extreme…and immediately read his new book, Living with a SEAL. (And finished it in two days.) I feel like Jesse should be my best friend now so, Jesse, call me when you get this and we can go do some pull ups together. (Maybe you can also teach me to do a pull up.)

Living with a SEAL by Jesse Itzler

In this book, he talks about his history with endurance events, his career, and oh, how he decided to ask a U.S. Navy SEAL to live with him and put him through the toughest workouts possible for a full month.

Come on. That’s awesome.

I already asked Brendan if the Navy SEAL guys he knows would come live with us but he said no. I don’t think he really even ASKED. I’m not giving up.


I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

This book was hilarious and eye-opening and jaw-dropping. I laughed out loud and cringed all at the same time. I like to think I can do the toughest workout and not complain and keep my “F YOUs” in my head, but when I read about the sleep deprivation and other stuff this guy made Jesse do, I was all:

I prefer a solid 9+hours.

It gave me some great perspective. I’ve only been through a small handful of workouts that even begin to be as tough as some of them described in the book; tough workouts under even tougher conditions. (Confession: I also kept thinking about how good it would feel to sit in yoga pants on the couch AFTER doing these crazy workouts. “Guilt-free” laziness is the bessssst motivator.)

But, there were some challenges I wanted to try…just to see how I compared. The SEAL made Jesse do a timed 100-burpee test, so I did a timed 100-burpee test. (With pushups! No messing around.)

(I finished it in 9:15. I’m still sore.)

Not only did I love this book because Jesse’s writing was relatable and entertaining (and I was super impressed with his dedication), I loved it because of it’s sheer power to inspire (it got me to do 100 burpees for crying out loud). The lesson is simply that, at the end of the day, we should all just want to be better than yesterday. Most importantly, we can do more than we think we’re capable of if we get out of our comfort zone, stay consistent in challenging ourselves, and don’t quit. I feel like I’ve been given a gift in this book…one I will no doubt re-read. (Here’s an article with more gems of wisdom from a Navy SEAL who led the raid on bin Laden.)

There’s also another hidden lesson, personal to me. When I finished reading, I was immediately thinking, “F IT, I’M GONNA GO RUN AND RUN AND RUN AND WHEN MY LEG FALLS OFF I’LL MAKE SOME SORT OF CONTRAPTION AND ATTACH IT TO MY BODY SO I CAN KEEP RUNNING.”

Definitely not the point of the book.

I couldn’t help but wonder (like Carrie Bradshaw), why does my mind refuse to accept “defeat” and ignore all common sense? I keep volleying back and forth. Maybe it’s because I think injury=defeat and I need to re-frame my thoughts so injury=a chance for coming back stronger. But then I consider that this Navy SEAL guy can work out all day long and log hundreds of miles a week and finish an ultramarathon on a broken foot and still essentially be fine.

So why not me? Why can’t I be that badass? Are these people different, physically, than me? I mean YEAH. Duh. Look at me.

This is the exact scene I picture when I'm talking to other people about working on. Like, I'm pretty sure they're thinking this when someone tells someone else I'm an Ironman.

This is the exact Sandlot phrase I picture when I’m talking to other people about working out. Like, I’m pretty sure they’re thinking this when a friend tells someone else I’m an Ironman. “I thought you said the great Bambi!”

But we’re all human, amiright?! We all have the capacity for success if we dedicate ourselves. In short, what does he have that I don’t have?! (Don’t answer that.)

I’m neglecting a couple glaring facts. Sure, pushing past your body’s insistence on quitting seems cool when you’re healthy and looking for a good workout. Never quit, right? BUT SHOULD I always try to push past it? Lately, for injured me, the answer is “no”. It’s common sense. Every once in awhile a voice creeps into my head that says “YOU’RE NOT A FREAKING NAVY SEAL, KARA” but then this other voice is like, “SHUT UP, YOU TOTALLY COULD BE, INJURIES MEAN NOTHING.” Nonetheless, somewhere in my brain is a deep respect for the fact that I’m not invincible. I’m aware of my mortality and that I want to be an athlete (or at least healthy) for life, and I have to treat my body with respect, especially when it’s telling me it needs some R&R. AKA don’t become an old lady who only talks about what part of her body hurts the most.

So where does that leave me? Besides the fact that I was inspired reading about Jesse’s experience, I don’t know. I’m trying to tie this post up in a neat little bow with the “answer” and some incredible words of wisdom, but I have nothing. I’m still struggling to understand why I worry so much about the fact that I’m not, in fact, invincible. I think it partly has to due with the fact that I sort of define myself by my fitness level and it seems like everyone around me is SO AWESOME. I know I shouldn’t…but I catch myself thinking, “the tougher I am, the better I am”…even though I know there’s plenty of other ways to define myself. HELP.

Do you define yourself in any specific way? Would you live with a Navy SEAL?!



Overtraining or Laziness?

Something I’m doing isn’t working.

I normally exercise 5-6 days a week. Because everyone tells us exercise is good for the body. Because it makes me feel happy and strong. Because it gives me a way to get out of the house, get fresh air and explore; something else to look forward to every day. Because I have FUN doing it and it’s a great way to meet people and to hang out with friends. Because it boosts my confidence which in turn oozes into all other aspects of my life. I love it because it makes life better. It’s a mini accomplishment that sweeps away the bad stuff and leaves me with the better stuff. I like being able to count on my body to do what my mind wants and to reach my goals.

The best feeling ever.

The best feeling ever.

When it comes to fitness, we’re often told to work harder. Be stronger. Run faster. If you want to improve, if you want to PR, you have to be smart and do more. Little attention is paid to the nurturing choices like sleeping in when you’re exhausted. You know what quote I hate? “No one ever regrets a workout”. (That damn quote. I’ve definitely regretted workouts – like a few weeks ago when I was too tired to focus on proper form and twisted my ankle in a class. It passed in a day or so, but I definitely should have stayed home and soaked up some rest.)

Over the years, I started doing more…but I might have missed the boat on the “be smart” part.

I felt really strong for awhile. My running paces improved and I no longer felt like I was the weakest one in a group class. I lost some weight (although not as much as I would have thought).

Rest and recovery? An afterthought. A fleeting 4.5 minutes of foam rolling, a time or two a week (<—on a good week).  Mobility and flexibility were incorporated a bit, but weren’t a big focus.  But I felt like it was fine because I balance it all out with couch-relaxing and netflix-chilling and 8+ hours of sleep every night.



But things aren’t going my way anymore. I no longer feel like I’m improving. In fact, I’ve been feeling worse. I exercise often, but I’m no longer seeing the results I want, and more often than not I’m aggravated. Why am I still doing it?

I feel like running and fitness is a huge part of my identity. Not my WHOLE identity, but a big, fun part of it. I don’t want to miss out.

...because it gives me experiences like this!

…because it gives me experiences like this!

So, in trying to fix my issues once and for all, I met with a rehabilitation guy (that’s totally his official title) a couple times who specializes in using manual therapy to fix muscular issues (osteopathy?). He basically told me I’m too intense and that my body needs a break. I’ve been taking so many classes that are high intensity – especially bad for someone like me who secretly competes with everyone in class. I notice myself tuning out what my body is telling me, ignoring perfect form and going for # of reps, for example. He also explained how the lack of rest can cause your body to have a harder time losing weight. I already forgot the science behind it but it sounded smart. I felt enlightened…but sad.

I kept asking…how do I know if I’m just being lazy?

It’s hard for me to tell the difference between “I’m taking a break because my body needs rest” and “I’m resting because it’s easier to sit on the couch and binge watch Revenge (just started season 1, obsessed) and Manzo’d with Children. (<–I LOVE THAT FAMILY.) How do I distinguish between actually resting for self-care and resting because it’s easier? How do I know which choice is the “nurturing” choice? I literally don’t know.

I’m struggling to understand why I didn’t feel like this when training for Ironman (or did I? I’ve blocked it out), and the only thing I can come up with is that that training was mainly just endurance. Lots of long, slow workouts with much less pounding and a good balance of activities. But come on…if professional athletes can do what they do almost every single day, WHY CAN’T I? (I know I’m not a professional athlete, ugh, stop reminding me.)

It’s important to exercise. Taking care of yourself over the years is also important. I guess I haven’t been doing it well enough. I just get so immersed in setting and reaching goals but don’t look at the big picture. I guess I need to reframe my goal: Take care of my body in a sustainable way.

After a brutal 5 days of rest (besides a relaxing walk and so-much-fun dancing at a wedding), I thought I’d be back to normal on the 6th day.

Apparently not.

So I kept resting, no matter how much I hate the thought of doing essentially NOTHING for an extended period of time. (Even something as basic as yoga would bother my shoulders and wrists and started to tear me down mentally.)

I am only now, over a month later, starting to feel a little better mentally and physically. My legs and stomach feel flabbier and I still question myself often, but I’m hoping a little overtraining syndrome was all it was.

So, dear friends, I ask:

How do you know if you’re in serious need of rest? How do you know when you’re just being lazy? Do you find it easy to ignore the “nurturing” choices?

Turning 30: Lessons Learned

Not training for a fall marathon has given me a wealth of previously non-existent free time.

Random things I do in my free time #534

Random things I do in my free time #534

But I’m totally taking advantage of it. (And not in the good way.) I feel like I’m basically wasting the gift of time.

I’ve gotten antsy. When I’m not working (which is mainly computer work) or exercising, I’ve found myself doing a lot of personal email checking, Instagram-stalking and TV-watching. I get wrapped up in videos from Marie Forleo and Ramit Sethi, which are such awesome learning experiences, but at the end of the day I’m consuming all this content and taking no action.


Hence why I feel less productive when I have too much time.

This is how I entertain myself.

This is how I entertain myself.

I feel no sense of urgency because “I’ll get to it later.” Needless to say, I’ve been feeling stuck in a rut lately. Stuck in my daily routine. With the NYC Marathon on the back burner until next year (I hope I hope I hope next year) I don’t feel like I’ve legitimately been working toward any personal goals.

Why the sudden freak out? I recently had one of those “What am I DOING with my life?!” moments. I remember the exact moment. I went hiking a few weeks ago and as I was standing on the top of the tiny mountain, I felt so invigorated and inspired. In that moment, I wanted to do EVERYTHING. I felt impulsive. I wanted to jump out of a plane (which is notable because I’m terrified of roller coasters. And plummeting to the ground in general.) I wanted to explore the world. I felt so empowered. I went home and immediately wrote a bucket list, which ambitiously included climbing Mt. Everest, until I read “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer and saw the movie Everest and decided I’d definitely not make it down alive. No freaking way. I mean, I get car sick. Let’s not even talk about what altitude sickness (and ice and avalanches and giant holes in the ground that suck you up forever) could do to me.

vasquez rocks los angeles

This is definitely not Everest.

What’s a girl to do?

It probably has to do with my 30th birthday coming and going. I’m prone to life crises. (<–I just googled “what’s the plural of crisis” and smarty pants Brendan over here was like DUH, CRISES.) I for sureeee had a quarter-life crisis. I’m confident I’ll have a huge mid-life crisis. Milestones that shine a light on the passage of time always provoke anxiety in me. (But also get my butt into gear!) A reminder that our precious lives speed right along and we need to LIVE THEM and that, as John Mayer sang, “in half the time I’ll be twice my age”. (YEAH I love John Mayer WHAT OF IT.)

Two months into my 30th year, I’ve found myself reflecting on the person I’ve become and what I’ve learned over the past 5 years.

I’ve learned to be selfish in a positive way. (Making time to take care of myself, recognizing true friends, doing what makes me happy.)

I know what “confidence” means. I have moments of confidence and humbling moments that bury me in humility, but I’ve found the moments of confidence occur much more often than they used to. At least when I compare my life now to being an insecure 25-year-old who was totally unsure about where she wanted her life to go. At 30, I’ve found it easy to believe in myself…for most things. I think I have a much better idea of who I am and care much less about what other people say or think of me. I’m confident in my decisions. Deep in my heart I do feel like I can accomplish anything if I’m determined. A quote I read recently that resonated with me:

confidence isn't they'll like me, it's i'll be fine if they don't

I’ve also learned to recognize excuses. I can remember career-based conversations with my dad in which he’d say “what about XYZ” and I’d say “no, I’d need to go to grad school or it’s too much work or I don’t have the experience, blah blah blah”. And he’d gently encourage me and I’d brush it off. SORRY DAD. I’m apologizing now for not being a better listener and for thinking I knew better. I’m finally learning my lesson: it takes hard work, but it can be done. We must acknowledge that everyone starts somewhere; everyone is a beginner at some point. No one starts off knowing everything.

This sounds like a great time for a wedding photo! (First look with Dad, awww)

This feels like a great time for a wedding photo! (First look with Dad, awww)

All things are difficult before they are easy.

A friend was recently telling me a story about a really tough decision she had to make in a short amount of time. Essentially, should she stay and make a choice that was comfortable and easy, or take a risk and do something that was scary but had the potential to be life-changing?

She dramatically and awesomely told herself “they don’t make movies about the people who stay!” and went for it. She had an incredible, life-affirming experience she’ll talk about forever.

My version of “staying” right now is continuing to feel like I’m wasting time. Continuing to feel like I’m not working toward anything that fulfills me. Honestly, I feel pretty great with life in general. I’m just ready for my next challenge.

So, now our wedding is over and I’ve settled into marriage, 30, and my job (as Creative Director for a pair of yoga studios). I’m wondering what’s next. I’m ready to stop tolerating mediocrity. I’m ready to stop wasting my life away while scrolling through Instagram. I feel like I have the energy and motivation inside me to do something great, whether it be for myself or for one person or lots of people. I just don’t know what it is. I’m anxious to find out. But 30-year-old me knows that when the lightbulb flickers on, I’ll be ready.

What lessons have you learned in the past 5 years?


My Fall 2015 Goal

An old colleague of mine recently passed away from cancer.

I was so taken aback when I learned he passed away. I was certain he’d be fine after treatment. I never realized how bad it was.

I’ve been so overwhelmed with emotion. Rage, mostly. I’m so angry that cancer still steals lives. After finding out, I cried for days. I haven’t seen him since I worked for the Jets, but always kept in touch through his weekly “Go Jets!” emails during football season and his fun Facebook posts…and of course, I could always expect an e-card on my birthday. But still, I felt like I couldn’t stop crying. I feel so much sadness for his family and wonderful wife, because even though I didn’t see them much over the past few years, they seemed to be more in love than just about anyone I’ve ever known. And their smiles were always wide, their positivity always abundant. It hurts my heart.

I can’t take it.

For the previous few weeks, I had been researching charities to run the NYC Marathon with. I’ve raised money for LLS 3x in the past and debated supporting someone different this time around. There are so many options. I wanted to support a friend who works for a charity. I also thought about supporting a charity that gives kids access to running and fitness opportunities, because these types of opportunities changed my life and I believe it’s so important to keep kids active. I wanted to support an animal-based charity because animals need a voice too. But this was a huge push to once again raise money for cancer research, so I began researching all the cancer-related non-profits. Where the money goes is so important to me, so I studied their websites like crazy, looking up margins and ratings and info on all the different programs.

And then, I was watching Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies on PBS. Crying my eyes out for the majority of the program, once again. When Dr. Brian Druker, an LLS-supported researcher/oncologist appeared on the screen, I gasped. I’m not sure why it surprised me, because his contributions are definitely well known in the cancer research realm. He might not be your typical household name, but working at LLS it was. He’s a big deal. I was reminded how knowledgeable LLS is at funding the right research projects and how much good has come from funded research. Case in point: An oral chemotherapy called “Gleevec” was driven by Dr. Druker and took the survival rate of a certain type of leukemia from 50% to 90%.  If you’re interested in his work, here’s a video:

And I know these cures that start with blood cancers are helping patients with other cancers, too. Research fascinates me. And if you need a little hope, it helps knowing there’s promise.

This one with Dr. June (another incredible oncologist) is the most ground-breaking of all. If you don’t watch the other video, watch this one at least.

(And here Emily is today.)

emily whitehead

Age 9

SO, there I was again, wondering what the F I’m doing sitting around doing nothing but complaining about it. I know people hate getting asked for money. Some people love to hate on charity runners. Others think it’s not worth it. Once, a guy told me that if a treatment saved one life, it wasn’t worth the investment. He only wanted to donate if I could tell him it would save X number of lives and compared it to malaria nets, a tangible item that you can count and know how many people are benefitting. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if we can even attempt to save ONE LIFE, I say let’s do it. You never know whose life that might be. And I want my family, even if it’s 50 years from now, to have a better shot at living cancer-free.

I guess you understand what I’m getting it. My goal is to run the NYC Marathon this year (and go SUB-4 AHHHH) and I’m officially signed up. I also want to make another tiny little dent in the fight against cancer, so I’ll be fundraising yet again with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If (WHEN!) I reach my first goal of $3,500, I will have personally raised over $20,000 in total (since 2008) for LLS, thanks to extremely generous family, friends, and strangers. THANK YOU. I hope you know how humbled and grateful I am for your past support of this very important mission.

Post-Ironman (struggling!) with a list of all my donors.

Post-Ironman (struggling!) with a list of all my amazing donors.

I still struggle with the “asking people for money” part of fundraising at times, but I remind myself that the money isn’t for me and it’s going to help someone who needs it. And if I’m running this much and this far, I need to use it for something positive. And hey, I don’t expect anyone’s support. Anyone can just say “no, leave me alone”. I won’t be mad. I totally get it.

Regardless, I’ll be on Staten Island on November 1st ready to race my heart out. (OH AND PS I’LL BE AN OLD MARRIED LADY BY THEN! CA-RAZY.) I hope that by the end of that day, at least one person is inspired or hopeful or just smiles because they know there’s a whole bunch of people out there trying to help.

nyc marathon finish line

As Phil Dunphy said…”and that’s why I run.”

…and if you want to join me in the race, I won’t be mad. Just saying.

Shut Up and Try

After watching the “This Girl Can” commercial for the first time, I immediately wanted to go run a million miles. My mindset changed instantly and the message has stuck with me for weeks. As of now it has had almost 7 million views, so I’d say the message is pretty damn relevant.

But I wish I had never read the comments because they make me hate pretty much everyone.  (DON’T DO IT.) The comments that bothered me most were the ones saying “sweating” isn’t an obstacle and it’s not an accomplishment. I respect that others see things differently, but I felt the need to share my opinion.

You should listen to me because obviously I’m very important and do very important things.

Let me start by saying I’m no fan of mediocrity. I’m in the camp that believes it can be good for kids to get cut from sports teams (as long as there are other options available for them in the community). And I think it’s vital to cultivate that sense of self-worth, satisfaction, and pride that comes from hard work. (I learned that from my Dad. HI DAD!)  Sure, I typically get my sweat on and then move along with my day without a ton of thought. (Even though I do write an entire blog about fitness…minor details.) It has just become part of my routine. Still, when it comes to the particular topic being addressed in the video, I think the message is deeper than just “sweating”. I think it’s speaking to anyone who has put off trying new things for fear of judgement and/or failing. Anyone who has fallen into a comparison trap.


In high school cross country I once bench pressed my body weight. I SWEAR TO YOU. And I should have been more excited to see how strong I’d gotten. But all I thought about was how slow I was compared to the varsity girls.

She’s way better at XYZ that me. I’m going to look stupid. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not good at it so why even try.

It’s totally mental.

I know how easy it is to never even start something for fear of failing. But strength comes from doing it anyway. From saying F YOU to all the excuses.

To me, this commercial represents something that’s not necessarily as basic as being proud of oneself for working out. In my eyes, it’s about being proud of yourself for overcoming fears, for taking a risk, for pushing aside the nerves and anxiety and judgement that comes with trying new things. For doing it anyway. Sure, sometimes working out is super basic and easy to understand. For some people it doesn’t require a second thought…it’s just another item to check off the day’s to-do list. And that’s okay. But sometimes, for some people, it means more. Sometimes it’s about chasing after a goal, whether that goal is trying a new fitness class, swimming that first lap, lacing up your shoes and stepping out the door or chasing a PR in a race.

It’s unfair and short-sighted to belittle people who see “sweating” as an obstacle. It’s not always about the “sweating”. It’s about alllllll that other stuff.


It’s about trying something crazy even though you’re not totally sure you’ll be able to do it.

But, let’s focus on that stuff instead of the haters, shall we?

There comes a time when avoidance and the simultaneous regret that comes along with it is harder than working toward the actual goal. At least, that’s how it works for me. And that’s when the magic happens, my friends.

This video got me thinking about that scary feeling that makes you not even want to try things. The feeling that paralyzes you from taking a leap of faith. (I still feel that way about job interviews. TERRIFYING.) It took me a long, long, long time to build confidence, especially when it comes to running…and I STILL feel insecure at times. But this is what I tell myself:

shut up and try

No one starts something knowing everything, and you have to respect that people work tirelessly to get where they are. It reminds me of the phrase “respect the distance” when it comes to endurance events. You can’t expect to run for a few months and suddenly be a master at it. I used to complain how about slow I was on the bike, when in reality I had only been actually training for a couple months. Ummm why did I expect to keep up with people who had been cycling for years? Respect that it takes time and lots of effort. Would running a marathon feel as amazing as it does (well, once you’re done) if it was easy? I’m guessing no.

After training for months, THIS FEELING is so good. And 1,000% worth the struggles.

After training for months, THIS FEELING is so good. And 1,000% worth the struggles.

I think most of us have witnessed the incredible amount of positivity that comes from participating in sports/fitness. So, I’d like to propose that the first step to helping others gain confidence is to begin offering encouragement and support for our friends (or strangers, or virtual friends, or whoever). To share stories and how we’ve overcome obstacles and what happened when we finally decided to TRY. And most of all, to not tear each other down. (Lora from Crazy Running Girl wrote a great post about this.) To leave positive comments.

Annnnd that’s all I’ve got. For now. (Don’t think you’ve gotten rid of me because I’LL STILL BE HERE.)

(IS THIS WHAT ADULTHOOD IS LIKE? How many more enlightening things will I learn when I turn 30?!)

Tell me what you’re thinking. Have you felt this way? Am I overreacting? (Probably.) What’s one thing you’re SO GLAD you tried?

January Highlights

I’ve been feeling really great about my workouts lately! I started setting little mileage goals for myself because I realized I’d been doing a lot of strength training and shorter bursts of faster running, but not putting enough miles on at one time. I decided I really need to lay the foundation for marathon training, so here we are.

ballona wetlands running

Not a bad place to lay down a foundation AMIRIGHT?! (Please don’t hate me if it’s cold where you are.)

My goal for January is 50 miles, which would be about 13 miles per week. I know it seems measly for some people but I wanted to set a small, attainable goal and go up from there safely. I haven’t been running longer than 6 miles at a time over the past month so I really need to boost my long runs. That’s the plan for this weekend. But again, I’m trying to do it safely instead of just going out for a 10 miler and hurting myself, which I’ve definitely been known to do. Anywayyyyy I’m at 41 miles for the month and have 8 on the schedule for tomorrow, so I’ll definitely crush the 50. Yay me.

Some of my January highlights:

  • My first run of 2015 = 6.01 (had to include the .01)  miles in 56:00 for a 9:19/mi pace. I love starting the new year with a run and I felt great!
  • I always sprinkle in slower, easy runs throughout each week but this past week I’ve been focusing on running faster in my longer runs. I also found a place near me called Burn 60 that’s similar to Barry’s Bootcamp in that it’s longer, faster running intervals combined with strength. I LOVE IT. Plus the neighborhood it’s in looks like all the cute little New Jersey towns I miss so much. And there’s FREE PARKING YAYYYY.
  • I was super happy about this run this week, too. 9:07/mi average! Good to know I am kinda sorta still on track for another sub-2.
6.1 mile splits

I thought I’d lost the 8s forever. THEY’RE BACK. Sorta.

marina del rey running

I end my runs further from my house so I can walk past the marina and take a million pictures. So prettyyyyy.

  • I’m loving my workouts at The Studio MDR, a pilates reformer class. THEY ARE SO HARD. This is one of those classes that actually I’m actually fearful for while I’m waiting for it to start. It’s very challenging but each class gets better and better. Last week I was feeling a little defeated but went on a 3 mile run immediately after class and felt so strong. When I started the run I was sure I’d struggle the whole way, but it ended up lifting my spirits and boosting my confidence.
the studio MDR

Just creepily snapping photos.

  • This is an anti-highlight but had to share. I tried an aerial yoga class and got SO SICK. I should have known that flying around in the air on a piece of fabric would make me nauseas, seeing as I can’t even ride in the back of a car without getting sick or fly on an airplane without taking Dramamine that costs like $15 at the airport. The instructor actually gave me ginger to help but I still drove home in a daze. Needless to say, I hated it and won’t be going back. This is your warning (if you’re like me and are sensitive to movement like this)!

Soooo there’s my random and scattered recap of January.

Do you love or hate reading about other people’s workouts? (I love it – it’s motivating for me!)


Reviewing 2014 Goals

I love reading my previous year’s goals at the beginning of each new year because they’re either A) awesome because I accomplished them or B) hilarious because I was so far from ever accomplishing even an ounce of them.

So let’s look back, shall we? My main goals from 2014:

Run a sub-2 hour half marathon. CHECKITY CHECK CHECK.

Focus more on freelancing and blogging. Umm I started to but now, not so much. Kind of let go of that goal. And I’m okay with it.

Get stronger. Wow, what a vague goal. But I can actually say yes! I’m only measuring this by how I feel lifting, doing HIIT, running, etc, but that’s a good enough measurement for me. I feel stronger than ever. Before I ate all the cookies in the land over the holidays. But that’s neither here nor there. Whatever that means. 

I also had a list of the things I wanted to happen in 2014:

  • Visit Kansas City/Lawrence again. Go for a run on campus. Go to a KU basketball game. NO. Wah.
university of Kansas campus

Don’t you want to spend all your days here? I do.

  • Travel for a race. If moving to Los Angeles counts as traveling for a race then YES.
  • Finally try Refine Method with my friends who are obsessed with it. Find out what that’s all about. No. I didn’t even try to try Refine Method once I determined it to be too far away from the PATH train. And now I regret it. 
  • Actually wake up early for a workout at least onceYes! 
  • Move into a new apartment with Brendan. HAHAHA. Yes, although it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I wrote that. I just wanted a new NJ apartment but I guess I had to go to LA for that.
  • Plan our wedding. Set a date. Find a venue/menu that isn’t a million freaking dollars. DONE DONE DONE!
  • Run another marathon. PR. Fail.
  • Buy an actual set of pots and pans. REAL ONES. We just did this a month or so ago. And by “we” I mean Brendan.
  • Do not fall off a treadmill. (I haven’t done this YET but I’m hoping this year isn’t the year either.) SUCCESS. Here’s hoping for another successful year of not-falling-off-treadmill. 
  • Make more friends in New Jersey. Yes! A huge success. And then I had to leave them and it was super sad. The end.
jennie ashley kara

My littlest friend isn’t even going to know who I am anymore. The worst.


My favorite Jennie Fizz picture ever.

  • Convince my NYC friends to visit me in NJ. And for that matter, my midwestern friends too. This was not as big of a success as I would have liked but I’m thankful I had a few visitors!
  • Complete another triathlon. Preferably one that requires minimal swim training. I am crushing my 2014 goals so far. I DID complete another triathlon and it required zero swim training because I just did the bike and run legs in a relay. Soooo maybe that actually doesn’t count. I’ll get back to you on the final verdict.
  • Go on an ACTUAL vacation. Preferably somewhere with a beach. THIS IS TOO IRONIC.
marina del rey sunset

I like to pretend I’m on vacation.

  • Go to the dentist. (The hardest part is calling them to make the appointment. Any volunteers to help?) OMG I DIDN’T GO. So terrible and gross. Add it to the 2015 list. At least I floss every day…IS THAT NOT ENOUGH?
  • Write a strongly worded letter to American Airlines concerning my disgust with them. I did not do this and I’m glad I didn’t waste my time because now I found Virgin America and JetBlue and they are fantastic. 
  • Convince American Airlines to give me a year of free flights on another airline because I’m never flying with them again. For a second I forgot why I was so angry with AA last year but now I remember they stole three days of my Christmas vacation to Iowa. The worst.
  • Convince Brendan to try yoga with me. I now work at a yoga studio and STILL no. But I did secretly register him in our system to remove all barriers to entry. He doesn’t know that. Until now.
  • Find a yoga studio in my town that isn’t hot yoga. I never found one in New Jersey but I did in LA, obviously. What’s the deal with all these goals coming true but not in the way I planned?
  • Convince Brendan to train for a half marathon with me. Huge huge fail. But I think he’s warming up to the idea. (Maybe?)
  • Perfect my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I didn’t perfect a from-scratch recipe but I did find the best just-add-water cookie mix ever. Draw?
  • Finally send my tshirts away to get one of those fancy tshirt quilts made. No because I have zero dollars and I learned they cost lots of dollars.
  • Stop living paycheck to paycheck. WILL THIS EVER HAPPEN?! NOT THIS YEAR. Next year doesn’t look good either. Wah.

How’d your 2014 goals turn out? What do you want to happen in 2015?

My Marathon Goal

Since I posted about my “secret marathon goal“, I’ve been feeling a little ridiculous. I’m not important enough to have “secret” goals and the point of blogging is to share these things, right? I guess I thought if I didn’t tell everyone, I wouldn’t have anyone telling me I can’t do it. I don’t wanna hear that. (Although when people tell me I can’t do something, it certainly adds a little fuel to the fire.) I decided to mention it in this interview with Everyday Hero so I guess the cat’s out of the bag. (What does that phrase even mean? Did someone put a cat in a bag once? BE NICE TO ANIMALS.) So, my goal:

Run a marathon under 4 hours.

My PR is 4:38 in the 2013 NYC Marathon.

nyc marathon finish line

I was so elated after this race!

Let me back up. I “consume” a lot of information. It’s a problem. I spend so much time reading and absorbing content and less time actually DOING things. I love learning. Especially now that I have more free time. (I didn’t even realize this was my problem until watching this video. I’m obsessed with Marie Forleo, by the way. All her videos are helpful and hilarious.)

In my “consumption”, I’ve read lots of stories about people who take hours and hours off their first marathon, but then talk about how they didn’t train for that one and were injured and dragging their leg along and walked the last 15 miles and forgot their GU or whatever and I’m all, “That’s my all-out-running PR on a perfect day and I hate you right now”. While still completely inspiring, these stories never particularly move me because even though I know the runners worked hard, I just couldn’t relate.

So as I was scrolling through Instagram on NYC Marathon day this year, I saw a post from a girl who went from almost my exact PR to a 3:59 in one year. I screen-shotted the text of her post because my mindset IMMEDIATELY changed. I could feel the shift and began thinking if she can do it, I can do it. I asked for some tips and she gave me the exact advice I give when people ask ME for tips: believe, get strong, do quality speed workouts and visualize. That’s literally exactly what I do when I have a goal and I’ve already begun doing this for my next (TBD) marathon. This girl inspired me to believe. I’ve been focusing on getting strong for months now and feel stronger than I ever have. I’ve been running faster. And when I’m having trouble falling asleep, I start visualizing myself perfectly executing a race. That’s usually the last thing in my head at night.

ragnar adirondacks

I ran Ragnar fueled on candy corn and one hour of sleep. I can do anything.

That’s how the seed for Ironman Lake Placid was planted. I saw someone who “looks like me” complete an Ironman. Someone who was a complete beginner. This quiet little voice in my head said “maybe you can do it too” and that was all I needed.

I’ve written about this this a lot; how when someone else accomplishes something, it opens the door for you to believe you can do it as well. And as I remember Ashley yelling to me out the car window while I was running my last Ragnar leg, “The body achieves what the mind believes”.


I’ll need help and time, but I can do this. I can run a sub-4 marathon. I’m surrounded by positive, encouraging people and with my support network, I CAN DO THIS. I know I can.

What’s your big goal? What inspires you?

Secret Marathon Goals + Life Updates

After watching the NYC Marathon on Sunday, I became SUPER motivated to run. I actually planned my run for the weekend around the fact that I’d be waking up early to watch the NYCM and knowing I’m always itching to lay down some miles after seeing other people racing. (I also now want to sign up for every race available. Spectating, even on TV, is dangerous.)

My plan worked: As I was running I was still getting updates from the tracking app with the splits of my friends who were crushing it on the streets of New York. And with my smiles came an increase in speed.

marina del rey trail

There are so many secret little trails near me! Love it.


Avg pace: 9:20/mile. I accidentally pushed the “lap” button, hence that random .08 split. It’s driving me crazy.

I guess you could call it a progression run, although I didn’t plan it that way.

As I was running, I was thinking about how incredible it is that by chasing your own dream, you give other people “permission” to chase theirs. I love watching marathons because they’re SO motivational for those on the sidelines. I mean, I teared up watching the NYC Marathon, and I’m really not sure why. It was one of those “why am I even crying?!” moments. I’m so inspired by the guts and determination that marathoners exhibit; I usually don’t witness anything like that in my day-to-day life. A marathon is such a huge platform to encourage change and influence others. I don’t know if I feel that way because I’m a runner and I know what it takes, or if non-runners feel the same way…but it’s seriously incredible.

Venice Beach Bike Path

View on my run. It rained and the mountains were so clear! Normally they’re blocked by smog or whatever gross stuff is in the air.

It renewed my excitement for marathon training and reminded me of a crazy-scary time goal I have. A goal that would require A LOT of dedication and focus and is wayyyy faster than my PR. But I want to believe I can do it. I DO believe I can do it. With time, of course. But I’m still too nervous to write it down and share it with the world. P.S. If you know someone who has taken a lot of time off their slowest marathon time, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share. I mean, I’ve taken almost an hour and a half off my very first marathon…but can I continue dropping minutes? I hope so…but I’d love some real-world stories as encouragement. As Kacy Catanzaro explained when I interviewed her at the espnW Summit, once you see someone else do what you thought was impossible, it opens so many doors and so many more people will believe they can do it…and then will actually do it.

Now I just need to figure out how much time I need and what marathon I want to make my goal race.

In other news, I started a new job at a yoga studio! It’s only part-time, but I absolutely love it. My breath was taken away the first time I walked in; it’s such a gorgeous studio. We light deliciously refreshing-smelling candles (if “refreshing” has a smell, that is) and there’s an outdoor space with a little fountain that’s so peaceful. The people I’ve met have been so welcoming and kind and I’m really looking forward to spending more time there.

Manhattan Beach California

Even my drive to work is calming.

manhattan beach california

Walking from my parking spot. I think I take a new picture every time I go in.

It’s definitely not enough to pay the bills so I’m looking for something else as well. It’s so weird to not be in a corporate/cubicle-type job. It’s not that I hate working in the corporate world, but I hate that my lifestyle is a lot less healthy when I sit at a desk all day. When I was working in NYC I didn’t move as much and I didn’t cook as much. Now I have so much time to do everything I love, but it does come with added financial stress which is super tough.

I’d love to become a health coach or something similar, but for now I just need to get back on my feet so I can pay bills, wedding expenses, etc. I’m inspired by my wonderful friend Erin who left her corporate job a couple years ago to pursue her passion for fitness and now has an amazing new job that she loves. And it’s absolutely perfect for her. I hope I can make that happen for myself.

Hmmm…what else is new with me?

On Halloween I started the morning with a November Project workout on the beach in Santa Monica. It involved pumpkin tossing and attempting to sprint on the sand which is freaking hard.

november project santa monica

There was also a watermelon involved.

This was my second time attending a November Project workout and I’ve made a couple friends already. I’m excited to continue going! On Fridays they rotate through different locations in LA and I’m bummed because the Santa Monica one was close to the only (I think) Dunkin Donuts here. (Yes, that IS a valid reason to be upset.) They’ve been there for a month and now they’re moving on to a new spot. Ohhhhh well.

Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel

THE FERRIS WHEEL LIGHTS LOOK LIKE A PUMPKIN. Someone had to point that out to me, I didn’t even notice.

Doesn’t the sky look ominous? It rained on Halloween night and I was overly thrilled. I’ve only seen rain once in the 2 months I’ve been here.

Tony P's Marina del Rey

This is what Brendan and I did on Halloween night. I also ate a bag of Kit Kats.

Andddd that’s all the excitement in my life right now.

What’s new with you? Does race spectating motivate you, too? Have you dropped a million minutes to get to your current PR? Do share!

Goals for October

welcome to fall

Do you like my fancy graphic? I took the pumpkin picture last year and just stumbled on it again. Naturally I decided to create a “welcome to fall” picture because what else do you do with a picture of pumpkins? Enjoy.

Umm anyway. Back to what I planned to write about.

My favorite season used to be summer. I’d get a break from school and more time to relax, rejuvenate, lay in the sun, and bask in the knowledge that winter was far, far away. And that my birthday was very, very close. But over the past few years, I’ve switched my favorite to fall. (Can I do that?) I know, stereotypical. Make fun of me all you want, but I love the crisp air and football and having the windows open and apple-picking and autumn-y smelling candles. It makes me feel cozy and comfortable and happy. And it’s not too cold outside.

And then we moved to freaking California and because the calendar says October, I go outside in sweatshirts every morning, thinking that maybe just maybe it’s not 80 degrees outside. (Spoiler alert: It’s always 80 degrees.)

manhattan beach

Although this ain’t so bad in October either.

Still, this time of year always feels like a natural turning point for reevaluating what I want to accomplish before the end of the year. But right now I’m having a hard time staying focused. Since I’m still job searching in my new city, (HELLO SOMEONE HIRE ME PLEASE AND THANK YOU) I’ve been doing all those things I always wanted to spend time doing but never really did when I was working (and commuting) in NYC. On top of job searching, networking, and really trying to figure out where I want my career to go (no big thang, right), I’m doing fun-for-me things like studying for the ACSM personal training exam, focusing on this lil’ blog, catching up on other blogs, a little bit of freelance writing, actually cooking meals (gasp!) and just reading in general. And getting in much much better workouts. Oh and that whole wedding planning thing. I have so many people to Skype with. (It’s ridiculously hard to plan a wedding from 3,000 miles away, just FYI.) But since I feel like I have SO MUCH free time (I know some of you hate me right now) I keep pushing important things off “for later”.  In attempts to make myself stop that, I bring you:

goals(AKA I’m typing this out so you all hold me accountable)

  • My never-before-mentioned goal for September was “24 days of real exercise“, and I’m going to go with that again. “Real” meaning anything that challenges me in some way and gets me sweating. I made it 23 days in Sept. which I’m happy with. I’m proud of myself for having a good mix of exercises: strength, high intensity training, yoga, running, and cycling all made weekly appearances on my calendar. Let’s do that again.

Still found time for margaritas.

happy hour

Maybe someday we’ll actually ask someone to take a picture of us together.

  • Follow an actual running schedule. I have a plan from Runner’s World SmartCoach which, I might add, is what I was following when I PRd in the half! I put in some info and it spit out a plan that optimistically has me running a 1:56 half in about 12 weeks. Here’s hoping.
  • Find a local half marathon to run in December. See above.
  • Come up with a list of questions to ask speakers/athletes at the espnW Summit I’m attending next week. And then write an amazing article about it. (!!!!!!!!) I’ll be covering the event for FitFluential and I could not be more thrilled. This is something I’ve only dreamed of attending. Not only do I love fitness and writing, I also have a B.S. in Sports Management, a serious penchant for sports business, and am a huge advocate for women in sports. I’m very much looking forward to combining all my passions for this project. Just getting this opportunity has, in a way, catapulted me back into the motivated, hard-working person I know I am. (Unemployment likes to play tricks on your mind, let me tell you.) I feel like I did when I was a junior in college and was, with the encouragement of my Dad, sending my resume to every single person I knew. And every person they knew. And researching and writing and doing everything possible to ensure I reached my goal of getting an internship in professional sports. (I did!)  It’s so obvious to me that my calling in life has something to do with sports, business, fitness, and empowering others to find their passion. How to combine that? I don’t know. But just this one opportunity has restored my energy and excitement. I’m about as excited as Emily was to go to Paris in The Devil Wears Prada. (Not that I’ve watched that movie 4 times in the past week or anything.)
the devil wears prada emily charlton gif

I can’t stop laughing at this.

  • Catch up on our wedding timeline. We’re 8 months out and according to our fancy The Knot Wedding Planner, we need to book our vendors, like, now. This month I want to finally Skype with and hopefully book our DJ, photographer, and florist. (Do we need a florist or can I do this myself? Someone help me.) Finding time to video chat (with a three hour time difference, mind you) has proven to be a challenge. We also have a few tent quotes to finalize. On that note, why are tents so expensive? 
  • Get the rest of the addresses we need and send out all our save the dates. I have most of them ready, but I still need some addresses. (Cough cough Brendan get your friends’ addresses cough cough.)
wedding stamps

Got the stamps. We’re really making moves here.

I think that’s enough. That was a lot of (probably boring) info, so I’ll leave you with a gorgeous, #nofilter California sunset.

marina del rey sunset

Our view Saturday night.

What’s your favorite season? Do you have any October goals? Spill ’em! (I mean…if you want.)

Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap


Spoiler alert! I did it!

Spoiler alert!

The short version:

I finally ran a sub-two half marathon in my 10th half. (About 5 years ago I ran my first half in 2:38.) I’m beyond proud of myself. It was the best day ever. The end.

The long version (I feel a little silly assuming you guys want to read all this, but I’m going to write it anyway):

I woke up at 4:15 AM and with coffee in hand, was out the door by 4:30.

Hello, Verrazano! (My car was stopped when I took this, promise.)

Hello, Verrazano! (My car was stopped when I took this, promise.)

I easily got to the finish line on Coney Island, where I parked at the New York Aquarium and met Kim to hop on the Q train to take us to the start line. (Get off at the Prospect Park stop, if you’re wondering for next year!) The ride was way quicker than I thought it would be (maybe 20 minutes?) and we were to the start with plenty of time to get through security and walk to the corrals. (They had port-a-potties IN the corrals, which I’ve never had before. Saves so much time and energy!) It was the most gorgeous morning – beautiful sunshine, not much humidity, and temps in the 50s. Such perfect running weather.

We were in the corrals for awhile – I think we got in around 6:40-ish but didn’t cross the start line until about 7:25. After a slow shuffle, we were off!

Kim and I both were on a mission to run a 1:59:59 or faster; a 9:09 pace. It was so motivating to have a partner-in-crime and be working toward the same goal! We planned to start off conservatively at around 9:15 – 9:20 for the first couple miles, then down to 9:10-9:05, and then just go as hard as we could.

After the first mile we clocked in at 9:14, which was a little faster than planned but not by much. We kept saying out loud “too fast!” at random points and then adjusting, but the second mile was an even faster 9:05. When we saw mile 3 flash an 8:52, we both looked at each other and I’m pretty sure we both laughed out loud. Whoops! I was feeling good, but a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. I was happy to have those seconds “in the bank”, even though I know that’s not the best strategy!

By mile 5 we were in Prospect Park and as Kim crushed the big hill, I, well, did not. She dominated it as I wheezed up, just trying to keep her in my sights. I ate 3 ShotBloks at this point to give me a boost. I’m so glad I didn’t see my mile 5 and 6 splits flash on my Garmin (9:21, 9:20) because even though they included a decent hill, I’m pretty sure I would have freaked out that I had two miles in a row that were much slower than my goal pace. Although I did look down and notice I PRd the 10K…in my half. Hmm…wasn’t sure if that was good or so, so bad!

And then came a glorious downhill around mile 7, as you can see by the 8:32/mile! I was so surpised to see that number…and again, laughed at myself. I know it was a downhill, but how come I can easily run this pace in a half marathon, but not in a 6 mile tempo run?

Around mile 8, as we were running down Ocean Parkway, was when it started feeling tougher. After I saw my friend Anna (thank you for being out there cheering, friend!) I reminded myself to just “hang on”. That mile clocked in at 8:54. (No downhill, so I was super excited to see I was still in the 8s!) I took a salt pill here because it was really warming up at this point. Thankfully there was shade under the trees on the left side of the road if it was needed.

My friends Tommy and Sam had sent me this inspirational video the night before, and I listened to it around this time. (They’re the same ones who sent me the basically life-saving video that I constantly thought about throughout the Ironman!) It made such a HUGE difference in this race, too. (Thank you guys!) Miles 8-13.1 were so hard, and listening to the inspirational clips in the video made me so emotional. You would have thought I was saving the entire world by running this race, with the amount of emotion I was feeling. At this point I thought I could realistically go sub-2, and I just kept telling myself to be my own hero. I don’t even know what that means. I was delirious, I think. I also took a Roctane Gu (with caffeine!) around this time which helped. (I fueled more than normal in this race – typically I would only have taken one Gu. Maybe that was the key?!)

Miles 9 and 10 passed and I was STILL running 8-something minute miles, much to my bewilderment: 8:56 for mile 9 and 8:54 for mile 10. (Hey, I was consistent for once!) I was even thinking, hey, maybe I can run a 1:57 or 1:58! #Overzealous. My left shoulder randomly starting getting this sharp pain out of nowhere, so I tried to relax, take deep breaths, and stretch it out by pulling my elbow over my head. It was hard to run with the pain so I started wondering if my stupid shoulder would deter me from reaching my goal. It randomly stopped after a few minutes, so I’m not sure what that was about.

Around this time, I was trying to do a lot of math. It didn’t work out well for me, per usual. But, I did know that I was going to over-run the course. My Garmin was beeping about .15 before the mile markers, so I stopped trying to calculate based on my watch. I waited until I reached the actual mile marker before trying to figure out if I could run the remainder in X amount of time. (Normal people probably do this already but evidently I JUST learned this.) I started getting nervous because I knew my overall pace would need to average lower than 9:09 since it was looking like I would be running about 13.3 miles instead of 13.1.

What helped the most: I kept telling myself that I didn’t want to go through this pain again, so I better go sub-2 today. I would be so angry if I was suffering this much for “nothing”.

Around mile 11 I calculated that I needed to run 9:30s to cross the finish line before the clock read 2:00:00, and was so scared that I couldn’t keep up the paces I was running. What if I crashed?! I was hovering around 9:05 at that point.

At this point, it was ALL mental. 100%. I started wondering if sub-2 mattered…I knew I would PR at the very least. But thankfully I didn’t give in to this crazy talk and stayed the course. (Literally and figuratively!) I pushed any thoughts of crashing out of my head and thought about how it would feel to cross the finish line and tell everyone I reached my goal. I thought about the people who were tracking my splits. I thought about the ice cream Brendan always takes me out for if I PR. (Yep.) I thought about Kim who I could still see about 100 yards ahead, and how motivating it was that she was absolutely dominating this race.

NYRR had a sign for the 20K mark, which I KNOW is 12.4 miles, but at the time I thought that I just had a half-mile left. When I realized I had a little more, I got SO nervous and tried to kick it into my highest gear possible. I was NOT going to cross the line at 2:00:01. That would have devastated me. I literally pushed as hard as I possibly could to get there. As I went up that stupid, final little hill and turned onto the boardwalk, the finish line looked so far away. I couldn’t smile or high-five all the spectators or do anything but will my legs to move as fast as possible. And to not throw up. I was terrified as I watched my Garmin tick to 1:59:30. But…

I think this shows it all.

I think this shows it all.

I think this shows it all.

This is my ninja outfit. (I need more colorful  clothes.)


I'm like, camoflagued in this picture. Can you even see me?

I’m like, camouflagued in this picture. Can you even see me?

The final numbers:

Brooklyn Half Marathon Sub 2 Splits

A little close for comfort, but it doesn’t matter because I FINALLY reached my goal and achieved a 3 minute, 24 second PR.

It's official!

It’s official!

I saw Kim as soon as I crossed the finish line and I think we both had the same look of sheer exhaustion. After a few minutes (and some water) we perked up and went into the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium to sit on the turf and chat. After wandering around for awhile (they make it really hard to get back to the boardwalk…all the entrances  but a couple were closed!) and some cheering, we finally made it to Nathan’s where we enjoyed big cups of Coney Island Lager and soft pretezels that were most certainly dipped in lots of butter. And it felt like the best “meal” I’ve ever had.

So thankful I had a friend to enjoy it all with! Also, sorry for stealing your photo, Kim!

Sorry for stealing your photo, Kim!

Even though we finished around 9:20 AM, we didn’t leave Coney Island until 1-ish, I think. Sitting outside, soaking up the sun, and reveling in our success was SO much fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. My body was tired but amazingly I had no blisters, no chafing, and I felt fantastic. (Unlike after my last half in which I felt like death the entire day.) It was basically a miracle.

The new "happiest place on earth?"

The new “happiest place on earth?”

Also, I offically think that a terrible “last week” before a big race is a great sign.

That night, Brendan took me out for Mexican food (with sangria!) to end the most perfect day. I couldn’t be happier.

Kim – I couldn’t have done this without you. I definitely pushed harder to keep up with you, and I’m sure I would have been a little more conservative if I was on my own. Thank you for being so badass and for motivating me not only on raceday, but all throughout this training cycle!

Also, thank you to everyone who sent me congratulations and supported me in the weeks leading up to this as I continuously freaked out. It’s so, so much appreciated. It made me so happy to see texts coming through immediately after finishing! You made it that much more wonderful.

Now…you guys know me…1:55? :)

What was your most favorite race experience EVER?! Tell me all the details!


Planting Seeds

On Sunday I read a book. I read an ENTIRE book. An entire 325-page book. In one sitting.

Reading! Yay!

Reading! Yay!

I sat in my new reading nook (we’ve been “renovating” the house, which basically just means decorating and getting new furniture…and a reading nook was one of my must-haves) from about 12PM until 7PM. I stopped at 4 PM to RUN for 3.2 miles (YAYYYY! Finally!) and then got back to reading. That’s the problem when I find a book a like…I never stop. I read “The Help” last week (I know, I’m like a decade late) and couldn’t put it down either.

As a side note, Brendan and I also assembled a dresser from Ikea this weekend. I feel as though this was a pretty huge accomplishment.

By “Brendan and I”, I mean that he read the instructions (the hardest part) and I put some screws in when he told me to.

Back on track. My trip to Florida reminded me how much I love reading. Because I actually made the time to do it.

Just an excuse to post another beach picture.

Just wanted to post another beach picture. And stare at it all day.

For me, reading really helps put things into focus. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m temporarily immersed in someone else’s life, or that it takes me back to childhood when I would read under the covers with a flashlight, or that every book teaches me about being a better writer. If you asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say one of these things: a writer, a vet, or an astronaut. Writing was number one. As I got older, I came up with excuses for why I could never do that. But as Ironman taught me…I can do whatever the heck I wanna do.

I guess the point here is:

A) Sometimes we forget what makes us happy. We don’t find the time and it falls off our radar. Find the time.

B) Yes, I’m a proud bookworm. WHAT OF IT!

C) I did put my book down to run! OUTSIDE! And I enjoyed it. A seed has been planted. (How fitting and convenient, seeing how spring is – hopefully – coming!

And then another seed…

My friend Lauren and I were recently debating a 100-mile bike ride in New Jersey this Fall. We got stuck on the fact that the elevation gain is over 8,000 feet. That just sounds ridiculously painful. She asked me what it was in Lake Placid, so I looked it up (I’ve forgetten anything having to do with triathlons) and noted it was around 4,000. As I was reading about LP again…it hit me. That nagging urge to be enveloped in that world again. A teensy bit of leftover excitement from last year. The feeling that you can’t get enough of something…you want to read about it, think about it, talk about it all day long. 

I miss triathlon.

As I’m prone to do when I get excited about something, I’ve begun frivolously searching for something, anything I can commit to. As much as I like to think I’m internally motivated, I do need a goal to work toward. If I’ve learned anything in my months off, it’s that.

Especially if I want to convince myself to get in the pool.

It's much more fun with friends. Who's in?

It’s much more fun with friends. Who’s in?

AND THEN yesterday I met GB for a class at Barry’s Bootcamp (my first!). I absolutely loved it. We got to chatting about upcoming races. His enthusiasm is contagious. Another seed was planted. So many seeds.

This class (arms & abs) consisted of strength training coupled with stints on the treadmill. I started on the floor for some work with bands and dumbbells. Then we moved over to work with my frenemy, the ‘mill. Fast running, hill running, intervals…12 minute bursts of speedwork. Then back to the floor for another 12-ish minutes of arms and abs.

Fast running felt marvelous. Well, hard at the time, but marvelous when I was done. I was really glad when, in the locker room, some girls were complaining about how 7.0 was the “base speed” (the speed you go back to in between the faster intervals). I thought it was tough too (I have short legs, people!) but felt like it shouldn’t have been that difficult. Although when I looked around, some of the guys around me were at 6.0 (Not GB of course, he’s #ironGB) so that made me feel better about myself.

So now that’s like, 3 seeds. I basically have a flower, right? (Does that even make sense?) What I’m indirectly trying to say is…I think “Kara Runs” is coming back. I think my motivation just went a couple ticks higher.

I’m ready to set a goal.

Stay tuned for what that goal will be.

Don’t make me talk to myself – fill me in! What’s your non-fitness-related hobby? How do you make time for it? 

23 Rules To Live By


I’ve been thinking about my “best life” lately. I keep hearing that term, and I love it because, to me, it insinuates a well-balanced life of healthiness and happiness. It’s a life that’s imperfectly perfect.

Pure happiness!

Pure happiness.

When it comes to my best life:

I like to feel healthy. I like to sweat. I also like to have a beer and nachos and spend a day on the couch every once in awhile. I’m happiest when I’m working toward a goal. When I feel fulfilled, challenged, and am able to enjoy the little things in life. When I’m true to myself. When I’m surrounded by loved ones.

Sometimes this all feels overwhelming. To help myself stay focused, I’ve written out 23 of my favorite tips/guidelines for living a healthy, happy, fit life.

Disclaimer: I don’t follow all of these every single day. Balance is key. The end.

healthy eating

Sundays are for cooking. (And football.) An ounce of preparation (cooking) is worth a pound of prevention (avoiding crap at the deli next door to my office). Or whatever that saying is. Some of my favorite Sunday-preparations:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Trail mix (well, that’s a generous term. I just mix almonds and dried fruit and create four different portions for post-workout commuting)
  • Hummus and carrots in individual portions
  • Lunch for at least 2 days + double check I have ingredients for lunch for the rest of the week

         which brings me to…

Always keep glass storage containers on hand. Because I work away from home, I portion out my lunch in advance. (Leftovers from dinner immediately get put into separate containers!) Plus you can avoid all those toxic chemicals found in plastic.

Eat leafy greens with every meal. Marissa taught me this. Now, I feel like a meal isn’t complete if i don’t include something leafy and green. (I know, I know. Who am I?! She sucked me into her wild ideas!) The boys brought home pizza the other night so I threw some kale on top, making my meal feel a teensy bit more balanced.

Avoid the center of the grocery store. I will typically* only venture in there for spices, frozen veggies, and/or tortilla chips. But that’s about it.


Keep big salad bowls on hand. I got this idea from Corrie Anne. I realized I subconsciously avoided salads at home because my bowls were small and I could fit, like, 2 tomato slices in there with the greens. When I tried to mix it, everything would fall out and make a mess. Now that I have my fancy new stainless steel bowl (with a lid!) I can throw a million veggies in there, shake it up with some olive oil, and viola. Gourmet salad, folks.

Drink hot water with lemon every morning. I always keep fresh lemons on hand so I can wake up with a nice little toasty drink during part one of my commuting triathlon (the drive – the train – the walk). It just FEELS cleansing and lovely and is a nice way to ease into the day.

Sit down for dinner. I try to enjoy my meals at an ACTUAL kitchen table. What a novel idea, I know!

happy life

Carry a water bottle. I bring it everywhere.

Consistently clean out closets. Or drawers. Any space that is clutter-filled. Once a month, I take inventory and ask myself: do I really need this? I’ll donate or toss, as they say in yoga, “what no longer serves me”.

Unsubscribe. When I get an email that I want to auto-delete, I take seven seconds to opt-out.

Find one tiny thing to do every morning that you look forward to. I’m a ritualistic coffee drinker. I don’t drink coffee on my commute…no, no, no. I like to relish it. Once I get to the office and am seated comfortably at my desk, coffee it is. I look forward to that moment.

Always have reading material. “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” 
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

Set a “get ready for bed” time. I don’t have to get immediately into bed, but I try to start the process at a specific time every night.

Hug a loved one. Self-explanatory.

Set aside 20 minutes each day for personal/professional development. Or simply “me time”. I’ll do some research on a topic I’m interested in. Read blogs. Reflect on a weakness and focus on improving it. Think about my career and strategic goals.

Spend at least 20 minutes outside. It’s hard in the winter, but I count my time walking to and from the train. Fresh air, people. It works wonders.

Keep all my ducks in a row. I’m obsessed with organization. I rely heavily on my smart phone to aid in productivity.


A few of my million lists.

  • I keep track of noteworthy articles on Pocket.
  • I’ll listen to Coffitivity if I’m having trouble concentrating.

fit lifestyle

Take the stairs. I refuse to ever wait in line for the escalator like people do in NYC (when there are stairs right next to them).

Plan workouts in advance. Schedule them. Follow through. Great for accountability.

Take my pulse every morning before getting out of bed. I keep tabs on the average. If it’s elevated more than 7 beats per second, I’ll take my workout easy (or rest!) that day.

Have an arsenal of at-home workouts…just in case. I love the Sworkit app for those days I can’t get to the gym, or when I need a super-quick sweat sesh.

Keep a goal in mind. Train for something. A new sport. A PR. Challenge a friend to a burpee contest. Find something, anything to work toward and be excited about.

Connect with a workout buddy I can count on. I try to surround myself with people who have similar goals. We motivate each other, especially on those inevitable down days.

We gotta take control our our health. If we take control, no one can stop us.

Everyone is different. What does your best life look like? What are some of your “rules”?

A 2013 Follow Up

In February 2013, I wrote a post about what I was looking forward to throughout the year. I randomly came across it today and found it slightly amusing. It’s similar to my post about what I want to happen in 2014, so I thought it would be fun to look back and see how I did last year. (I was actually searching for this post when I was writing this year’s goals, but couldn’t find it!) My list:

  • Learning about new sports. Running? I have it covered. (For the most part.) Biking? A little. Swimming? Not so much. I know that I like all three sports. I know that I enjoy training for and participating in triathlons. That’s what matters for now. But I’m excited to expand my knowledge on each individually and triathlons as a whole. I definitely know more…I know enough to talk about triathlons and give a little bit of advice. I know what it’s like to crash on a bike. I learned the meanings of the crazy acronyms they use in the swimming world. But I still have a lot to learn. 
  • Figuring out what the difference is between a cassette that you listen to music on (remember those?!) and a cassette on a bike. Apparently a cassette isn’t just something you put in a tape player. Who knew there were so many fancy bike terms? I think it’s the thing with the pointy edges that the bike chain feeds through. But who really knows. (Add “bike maintenance class” to my updated to-do list.)
  • Finding what my threshold for pain is. Can I really push myself as much as I need to? I’m already working on forgetting how I’ve felt after each of my marathons and trying not think about how sore I’ll be in the days (weeks? months?!) post-Ironman. This is something you just do. Quitting isn’t an option, so you just do it. Case in point: there’s nothing like the last 10 miles of the Ironman marathon. I had never felt that pain before. But amazingly enough, I wasn’t very sore the week following the race. Although, it does take a decent amount of time to fully recover (which I embraced, of course). All in all, I’d like to think my mental threshold for that slow, throbbing pain has increased. (Not so much for the heart-pounding, lungs-burning type of pain though! I’m counting on speedwork to help me with that.)
  • Making use of the extra calorie burn. (Read: eating.) Definitely ate a lot. Success! It’s been hard to stop though, now that you mention it. I’ve only recently learned to adjust. 
  • Raising $10,000+ for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to find a cure for cancer. I actually did this, much to my amazement. (Well, raised the money. I haven’t found a cancer cure yet.) All my donors helped make a serious difference for LLS and I couldn’t be more thankful!
  • Not being scared of the transition area. Buying a new bag to put all my stuff in. (Yay shopping!) I’m no transition pro, but I did learn that less is more. You don’t need a lot of extra stuff…just the necessities. I did NOT get a new transition bag though. Dang it. I missed out on a chance for shopping.
  • Figuring out my specific heart rate zones. Zone 1? Zone 5? What does it all mean for ME? I finally made use of the heart rate monitor function on my Garmin. It was pretty fun to track the data, but very hard to stay in the right zones (it’s like a game). Add that to my “to learn” list for 2014.
  • Learning how to balance my schedule and plan in advance. I’m not planing to give up happy hours or celebrations or wine or concerts or quality time relaxing on the couch. Fun and rest are not options, they are necessities to keep myself from burning out.  Brag alert: I somehow did this. I think. I attended weddings, traveled, went to happy hours, and still found time to hang out with friends. I also spent a lot of time on my couch, and still got 8-ish hours of sleep most nights. 
  • Learning how to run without music. Scary.  Nope. A couple weeks ago I forgot headphones and ran 3 miles on the treadmill and it was brutal. Definitely failed at this one.
  • Learning how to fix a flat tire on my bike. Purchasing said bike. I bought a new bike AND fixed multiple flat tires! The day I learned to change a tire I was so impressed with myself. But thank goodness I didn’t need to do that on raceday. I’m sllooooowww.
  • Being a part of a team again. Connecting with my teammates and making new friends. Having people to work out with. Yes! Love my new friends. They all live in NYC though. Where my Jersey peeps at?!
  • Maybe (a big MAYBE) figuring out how to trick myself into waking up early. My two favorite ideas so far are 1) to tell someone who will hold you accountable. I plan to broadcast my early wakeup call plans to the Twitter universive and I expect you all to harrass tweet the crap out of me if I say I’ll be up and I’m not. And 2) start waking up early for a week and NOT working out. This sounds lovely. Slowly work my way into it (and maybe even be productive and not have to sprint to the train) for a week or two while I acclimate. (Thanks to MizFit for these unique ideas!) HAHAHAHAHA. No.
  • Buying new workout gear! (If I become responsible enough to learn how to save money.) So exciting. I only bought some mismatching tri outfits and the cheapest versions of all the bike gear I needed. Fail?
  • Learning how to buy a bike on a budget. (I’m sensing a trend that involves the spending of money.) Success! I did my research and bought a bike on sale with my tax refund. I slowly purchased all the extra gear throughout the season. 
  • Being STRONG(er). Still working on this one, but seeing as I overcame an injury and so far so good (knock on wood!), I’d say this is a slight success.
  • Crossing the finish line hearing Mike Reilly saying, “KARA, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” (If you’re not familiar, Mike Reilley is “The Voice” of Ironman. For every person that crosses the finish line of every Ironman, he’s there shouting that phrase.) YESSS. Best moment ever.

(I know, I’ve posted that video like 15 times. It just makes me so happy.)

So, what have we learned from this long, pretty boring recap? I guess my goal for writing this is to say:

yes you can

I had no idea what I was doing for my first triathlon. It all turned out just fine. A little bit of perseverance and a lot of patience will take you far. So if you’re stressing out, hang in there. And read this post. Be the person “who will”.

Whatever it is, start taking small steps to reach your goals. It’s worth it, trust me.

Defining 2014

Not to sound cliche, but along with the rest of society, the new year has me thinking about goals. I’ve been scouring all my posts from this time last year but I can’t find anything about my goals for 2013. It’s kind of sad to not have anything to look back at. I know I wrote some ideas down in my old planner but they were pretty basic. I did reach my biggest goal; to complete an Ironman and raise $10K for LLS! I’m extremely happy with 2013 (not only did I reach some personal goals, but I got engaged!) and am suddenly feeling a lot of pressure for 2014. 2013 was SO GOOD. Can 2014 live up to it?! The last time I had a year this good was 2008. Hopefully this isn’t just an every 5 years thing! Anyway, I met with Marissa again last week and had a very enlightening and extremely helpful conversation about my personal goals for the upcoming year. What will 2014 look like for me?


As you know, Marissa and I chat about nutrition and recipes and generally just how to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I think it’s important to remember that a “healthy lifestyle” isn’t just about exercise and eating well. For me, it’s about eating a diet that’s not only balanced but is good for our world (including animal welfare!), staying fit, strong, and keeping my heart healthy, educating myself, working toward positive goals, managing stress levels, maintaining a work-life balance, and generally just knowing what makes me happy and actually doing those things. Or to shorten that up, taking care of myself. 

Even if taking care of yourself sometimes means drinking a beer on your porch in the summer.

Even if taking care of yourself sometimes means drinking a beer on your porch in the summer!

Thinking about things that make me happy has helped me determine where I want my life to go and what I want to accomplish. To move forward, Marissa helped me think of actual action items I can complete to work toward my goals and make them feel less overwhelming. Writing out a list of simple things to do (with checkboxes – I love crossing them off!) truly helps keep me organized and on track. Two (totally opposite) things from that list that I want to focus on this year:

Goal: Run a sub-2 hour half marathon. I’ve had this goal for like, 3 years. My closest attempt is my PR at the Brooklyn Half in 2012. I’m REALLY going for it this spring, dang it.

Action Items: 

  • Choose a goal race.
  • Register for said race.
  • Hire a running coach or decide on a training plan.
  • Calculate training paces need for sub 2. Write them into training plan.
  • Decide on the following: How many days per week do I want to run? What other workouts do I want to complete weekly?
  • Schedule weekly workouts every Sunday – actually write out the time frame for each workout for the week. 

Goal: Focus more on freelancing and blogging. Ever since I learned to read I’ve wanted to be a writer. As a kid, when someone asked me “Kara, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I’d say as such. (For awhile I’d proclaim that I wanted to be a veterinarian, but with more thought I realized it might make me too miserable to see animals in pain everyday.) Anyway, it looks like it’s about that time. I’m just about all grown up. (Reality smacked me in the face this weekend when someone asked me what TRL was. WTF.)

Action Items:

  • Research blog conferences and sign up for one. 
  • Apply for 1-2 freelancing jobs every day. (I typically use elance, but I’m also going to make a list of additional places to search.)
  • Make a wish-list of websites/magazines I would like to write for. 
  • Make a wish-list of companies I would like to work with. 
  • Begin reaching out to these websites/magazines/companies.
  • Update my media kit. Be proactive in sending it out to potential clients instead of waiting for them to find me.
  • Create a document in Excel to track my finances. Come up with a finance plan in regard to freelancing. Put all earnings into a separate account. (Open one!) Determine how much I need/want to save.
  • Schedule time to write into each week.

Another goal I have is to “get stronger”. Sounds vague, but I’ve already taken some steps in that direction.

kettlebells in target

Sadly I don’t think my Target kettlebell workout is enough.

I purchased a Classtivity Class Pass, which allows you to sign up for classes at boutique fitness studios in NYC at a significant discount. (I promise they didn’t ask me to write about them!) I get 10 classes each month and if I don’t use them, well, that’s a waste of money. Motivation at it’s finest! I’ve already signed up for 5 strength training classes – most of which I’ve never been to. I’m so pumped to visit some new places and test out different strength workouts.

One of which is Uplift, where they tend to have wine too. Score.

One of which is Uplift, where they tend to have wine too. Score.


So, those are just a couple examples. By figuring out WHAT exactly to do to get closer to my goals, I feel like I’m actually doing something productive. As Marissa said, “everything works out for the best as long as you’re clear on your focus”. I think when you put something “out into the universe”, you start to notice positive things happening more and more.

To copy Dori, here are some things I want to see happen in 2014. I’ll let you decide which ones are most likely to happen:

  • Visit Kansas City/Lawrence again. Go for a run on campus. Go to a KU basketball game.
  • Travel for a race.
  • Finally try Refine Method with my friends who are obsessed with it. Find out what that’s all about.
  • Actually wake up early for a workout at least once.
  • Move into a new apartment with Brendan.
  • Plan our wedding. Set a date. Find a venue/menu that isn’t a million freaking dollars.
  • Run another marathon. PR.
  • Buy an actual set of pots and pans. REAL ONES.
  • Do not fall off a treadmill. (I haven’t done this YET but I’m hoping this year isn’t the year either.)
  • Make more friends in New Jersey.
  • Convince my NYC friends to visit me in NJ. And for that matter, my midwestern friends too.
  • Complete another triathlon. Preferably one that requires minimal swim training.
  • Go on an ACTUAL vacation. Preferably somewhere with a beach.
  • Go to the dentist. (The hardest part is calling them to make the appointment. Any volunteers to help?)
  • Write a strongly worded letter to American Airlines concerning my disgust with them.
  • Convince American Airlines to give me a year of free flights on another airline because I’m never flying with them again.
  • Convince Brendan to try yoga with me.
  • Find a yoga studio in my town that isn’t hot yoga.
  • Convince Brendan to train for a half marathon with me.
  • Perfect my chocolate chip cookie recipe. Actually, it’s not the recipe. It’s the baker. (AKA me. Need to figure that out.)
  • Finally send my tshirts away to get one of those fancy tshirt quilts made.
  • Stop living paycheck to paycheck. WILL THIS EVER HAPPEN?!

Okay I think that’s enough.

What’s one easy thing you can do this week to reach your goals? (And what are your goals – the big ones and the probably-not-going-to-happen ones?)