Tuesday, August 14, 2018

America's Finest City Half Marathon Goals

If you've been around my neck of the InterWebs for an extended period of time, you've likely noticed I run my fair share of races... but I don't race them... I would say 95% of the races I participate in are "for fun". I am running them with friends, to experience a new city, because the race medal is pretty, etc, but racing them for time is never a huge priority for me.

Well, I'm a little nervous to say, but that will change for this Sunday's race... America's Finest City (AFC) Half Marathon!

You see, most of the marathon training plans I have used thus far reference a "half marathon race" sometime during the plan but I've never had a race actually line up with the appropriate weekend so I normally just go out and run a fast 13.1 miles somewhere locally. When I noticed my "half marathon race" for my Ventura Marathon training plan lined up perfectly with AFC I had to look into it! Can you believe this is the 41st year of the race and I've never done it before?!

Seeing as this race will be a benchmark for my marathon, I want to go in with a few goals... but necessarily numeric ones.


Beat Yesterday

Like I mentioned, I don't "race" races very often... and, actually, the last time I raced a half marathon was last June. That particular race didn't end up going according to plan so my current PR (personal record) is still from two years ago at the Fontana Half. That PR is 1:38:38 - which equates to 7:31/mile. Since my goal for the Ventura Marathon come October is to run 26.2 miles with an average pace of 7:37/mile, I am hoping that this weekend's race will bring with it a shiny new PR.

Be Brave

Because I know that numbers, times, paces, etc aren't everything, I will be okay if I don't run away with a PR. With that said, I do want to do my best to "be brave" for the entire race. That means giving it my all even when it gets hard or when I'm scared it will blow up in my face. Running fast isn't comfortable, and I want to be comfortable getting uncomfortable. Despite what the clock says when I cross the finish line, I want to know that I gave it my all and left it all on the course.


I feel like whenever I share my goals I normally end with 'crossing the finish line healthy and with a smile', but it's not just a default or automatic answer. I really do love running. It brings me a ton of happiness and makes my heart smile. And if there is ever a time that I start to lose that love and enjoyment, then I know something is amiss. Don't get me wrong, I realize it isn't always easy and every run isn't rainbows and butterflies, but once I lose the joy I know I'm definitely off kilter.

I know there are only a few days left before the race, but if you are local or will be in the San Diego area on Sunday, August 19th, and still want to run AFC, use code "CARLEESFINEST" to save $10 on your half marathon registration!

What goals are you currently chasing down?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Workout Recap - Week 32

Sunday, August 5th – 16 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, August 6th – 3 mile run with the hubby

Tuesday, August 7th – 8 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, August 8th – 4 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, August 9th – 2 mile warm-up, 40 minute tempo run {5.25 miles}, 2.5 mile cool-down, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, August 10th  Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, August 11th – 8.88 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Just under 50 miles for the week... and in this heatwave we've been having, I'll take it! Man alive, I can't wait for slightly cooler temps (or at least a lower humidity - that is the thing that I hate the most). Here's to hoping that come mid-October when I am planning to run the Ventura Marathon the fall weather will make me feel like I am FLYING! {Fall PRs are made in the summer... or at least that's what I'm telling myself... that and "if you finish this you can cool down with ice cream".}

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday Favorites

Can you believe it's Friday and we aren't planning on going to our Mexican spot for dinner?! I know, crazy, right?! But the hubby and I had been wanting to try out a new-to-us pizza place (our tattoo artist's brother owns it) and we went there last night so we're forgoing Mexican tonight (we try to limit ourselves to eating out once a week). Anywho, just because I'm not eating my favorite food today doesn't mean I'll skip sharing some of my recent favorites with some of my favorite people!

Imagine Cover by Pentatonix

Okay, so if you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you probably know that I LOVE Pentatonix. I fell in love with them when they were on The Sing Off and have thoroughly enjoyed just about everything they've done since then (I even got their vinyl record this past year for Christmas!). Well, I saw one of their older videos was popping up on my Facebook feed and I HAD to check it out. It's a cover of John Lennon's Imagine. THEY ROCK MY SOCKS!

SDVoyager Interview

A few months ago SDVoyager reached out to me to do an interview. A friend of mine had recommended me and I was honored. They have an 'inspiring stories series' they asked me to be a part of. The interview went live earlier this week. Since they normally deal with brands or organizations, the questions are a little wonky (seeing as I am neither) especially since it's like they simply pasted the questions and answers with zero editing, but I still figured I'd share it with you.


National Trails System Act Anniversary

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act. To celebrate, 5% of the sales of commemorative products from REI Co-op and Brooks will be donated to support our National Scenic Trails. There are three collections - the Continental Divide Trail Collection, the Pacific Crest Trail Collection and the Appalachian Trail Collection. I'm pretty sure I need it ALL (I mean, the more I shop, the more gets donated, right?!), but if I had to pick a favorite it would be the PCT color way! And in honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, REI is investing in all 11 National Scenic Trails. AMAZEBALLS, right?! You can read all about their investment HERE if you're interested!


Free Solo

My hubby is a rock climber, so I've been hearing about this documentary ever since they started releasing info about it, but yesterday the official trailer was released by National Geographic. Let's just say it's gonna be LEGIT! And I don't even think you need to be a climber to appreciate the amazingness behind Alex Honnold's feat. Now to wait till it's released.

What are you loving lately?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Balboa Park 8-Miler Race Recap

Saturday was the 64th Annual Balboa Park 8-Miler. I ran this race in 2016 and when I saw I had an 8 mile pace run scheduled for race day I emailed my friends at San Diego Running Co. who manage the event, to see if there was a discount code the hubby and I could use when registering. They went above and beyond and comped us both entries!

The McDots are FINISHERS!

Two Friday’s ago (the day before I left for the San Francisco Marathon) I ran my first “pace” workout of this training cycle. {In case you don’t know what pace miles are or haven’t read my "Marathon Training Plan Unpacked" post, they are miles at your goal marathon pace - which, for me, is 7:37/mile.} I've had pace workouts on my calendar, but since I was running TSFM in Week 6 of my training cycle I opted for longer runs as opposed to speed work up to that point. With that said, I was nervous how that first run would go but surprised myself and kept an average pace of 7:20/mile for the 7 miles.

I'll be honest... I definitely surprised myself with this run!

My goal for the Balboa Park 8-Miler was to go out and try to race it. If you know me, you probably know that although I run a lot of races, I normally don't 'race' them. I love the running community and races are just an opportunity for me to connect with my tribe (not to mention, if I am "running them for fun" it takes a lot of the pressure off). Since this was supposed to be a pace run anyway, I figured why not drop the hammer and see what I could do. I knew it was a hilly course (some of it is actually on trails), but was hoping that the race environment may give me a little extra adrenaline.

My #FlatCarlee included: White and Red PRO socks (which they no longer carry), red Handful sports bra, red Sparkle Athletic skirt,
New Balance muscle tank from TJ Maxx, elite Road ID, #teamsparkle trucker (from a previous #Ragnar4Rett), black and red QALO
silicone wedding bands, black and red Momentum Jewelry wraps, Garmin Forerunner 935, and Brooks Ghost 11.

Balboa Park is about 45 minutes south of our place, so the plan was to leave our house by 5:30am so we'd have time to find a spot to park, pick up our bibs (I absolutely LOVE when races allow for race day pick-up), grab our participant tees and take them back to the car, use the port-o-potties and head to the corrals before the 7am start.

As always, I was awake before my first alarm went off...

The weather was less than ideal... but I guess we can thank Mother Nature and climate change... because although we pay a HIGH sunshine tax to live in SoCal and have perfect weather all year round, we have been dealing with quite a bit of insane humidity. (Not sure if you are like me, but I would much prefer to have 90* of dry heat than 70* of humid heat.) Even still, the game plan was to give it my all despite the conditions and see what my legs would be able to do.

This may not seem terrible, but it is definitely not ideal!

Once it was time for the runners to head to the start line the hubby and I snapped a quick picture and went to our respective estimated pace areas. (FYI - This was one of the only races that the hubby and I have both participated in but have run separately. Normally, if the hubby is willing to run, I am willing to run his pace with him, but since I had a workout for the race, I decided to run it faster and then cheer the hubby in as he made his way to the finish line.) Thankfully it seemed like most people self-seeded and lined up properly so there wasn't too much bobbing and weaving.


Ready to get this party started!

My legs may not be rested, but they are ready!

Soon enough we were counting down from 10 and pounding the pavement. (WARNING: Since I wasn't taking this race at a comfortable pace, there are zero pictures from during the actual run, but hopefully you'll stick with the recap to the end.)

I'll be honest, an 8 mile race is not a standard distance (at least not in my neck of the woods). With that said I wasn't 100% sure how to tackle my pacing {which I'm usually terrible at anyway}. I didn't want to sprint out the gate and die by mile 3, but on the other hand I knew we didn't have as much distance as a half marathon to make up time. Not to mention, I'm not sure if I'm weird, but it seems as though once I settle into a pace I have a hard time deviating too far from it, so I thought if I could set my cruising speed around 7:15/mile hopefully I'd be able to get comfortable there and stick with it.

Well, let's just say that when my watch beeped for the first mile and it was UNDER 7 MINUTES I knew it was downhill from there... I should not be running a 6:XX anything during a race (at least not during a race longer than a 5K). I tried to not let it freak me out too much while attempting to dial it back so I'd have enough gas in the tank to get to the finish line.

Thankfully I was able to get a grip and the next few miles were in a more acceptable range (7:17, 7:14, 7:17). By Mile 4, though, I was starting to feel spent. My legs were quickly reminding me that I had just run a full marathon on the hills of San Francisco six days prior and were not well rested or currently capable of throwing down super fast miles.


I had to dig into my bag-o-tricks and pull out mantra after mantra to keep my legs moving. "One step at a time!" "You freakin' got this!" "No regrets!" "You can do hard things!" "Leave it all out here!" "This is supposed to be hard!" "QUEEN!"

Mile 5 was where the wheels started to come off. My legs were tired, I was drenched in sweat (but this was the case as early as Mile 2), and the fatigue was setting in. I knew the dreaded "zig zag hill" was coming and wanted to push as hard as I could till then, but it was getting harder with each step. Eventually my watch beeped with a 7:24 mile.


Then Mile 6 happened... I told myself I wanted to run the "zig zag hill", but as soon as I got to it I gave up. I wish I could say it was 100% physical - that my legs weren't having it - but I've gotta #KeepItReal and confess it was definitely a mental issue. Don't get me wrong, it's possible I was able to walk it faster than I could've run it, but I got super frustrated with myself because I sort of just threw up my hands without even trying and gave myself permission to walk it. Now, please hear me out, I am NOT saying that walking is a bad thing, but quitting on yourself is. I really wanted to give this race my all and I felt like this is where I bailed because it got tough... and that's where the disappointment came in.

After walking the hill, I hoped that the quick reprieve would give my legs a little extra juice, but I was sadly mistaken. The final two miles felt like an eternity (even if I was able to get my pace back in the "correct" range). Within the last half mile or so an older woman sped by me and said "We better kick it in if we want to be under an hour". I wish I had a little extra gas in the tank, but unfortunately I crossed the finish line just over that mark (my official time had me three seconds over).

Oh my goodness... Look at how well I ran the tangents on this one! 8.01 miles - almost perfect!

When I finished I felt equal parts disappointed and proud. I was disappointed because it was so easy for me to give up on myself when the going got tough, but I was proud because in the previous six days I had run a marathon, done a hard hill workout and got in 48 total miles and was still able to drop some pretty impressive times. Hopefully that means when my legs are well rested after tapering at the end of my training cycle they'll be able to do even more!

When I mentioned my disappointed on social media, some folks mentioned "but you hit your goal" which I took to mean "but you ran the race faster than your pace mile speed of 7:37/mile". Even though that's true (7 out of 8 miles were faster than 7:37), the 9:00 mile irks me... as well as the fact that I know I didn't give it my all. Also, in the back of my mind, since I had run my previous pace mile workout at 7:20/mile, I was hoping I could run this race close to that (assuming the hillier course would be counterbalanced by the faster pace associated with the race environment). But, like I said, and like I need to remind myself, I had run a marathon a week prior and need to give myself some grace (easier said than done...).

I'd be lying if I said the outcome of this race didn't scare me. I mean, if I'm hoping to hit my goal at Ventura in October, I'll need to keep this pace (my average pace during this race was 7:31/mile and I'm shooting for 7:37/mile at the Ventura Marathon) for 26.2 MILES - OVER 18 MILES LONGER THAN THIS RACE! Thankfully I still have 11 more weeks of work to put in before I toe that starting line, so hopefully not only will my legs be better trained, they will be properly rested.

I may have lost 3 pounds in sweat, but I finished!

But enough about me and the craziness going on in my head, let's get back to the race... I was able to grab my goodies once I finished (medal, banana, water, KIND bar, Mamma Chia pack, etc) and head back to the finish line to cheer on the other runners. The hubby ended up crossing the finish line in 1:16:40 (which averaged 9:35/mile). He is a ROCKSTAR!

Hubby flying to the finish!

Both of us really enjoyed this race (like I mentioned, I had run it before but this is the hubby's first time). The distance is unique, the course is challenging, the volunteers are amazing, and Balboa Park is pretty spectacular.

A little more red and sweaty at the end than at the beginning ;) 

I definitely want to run this race again in the future (and maybe even break an hour). This year I ended up taking 4th in my age group and 15th female overall and would LOVE to podium in my age group. (Brian actually challenged me to finish in the top 5 female overall, but these San Diego women are speedy so I don't know I'll ever be able to make that a reality.)

I couldn't decide which of these two pictures I liked better... so you get them both ;) 

The runner we asked to take our photo was AMAZING and took a ton of great ones!

And I couldn't wrap up this recap without a HUGE thanks again to San Diego Running Co. (specifically Pete and Eric) for the entries and always being so supportive of not only me but the San Diego running community in general. They ROCK MY SOCKS! (And hopefully you guys know I #KeepItReal, so I'm not just saying that... they really are THAT amazing!)

The race starts and finishes at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, so that's what was featured on the medal this year.

Have you ever been disappointed and proud of the same run/ race?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


This year I am turning the BIG 3-4. Okay, okay, so I know 34 isn't a milestone, but any day on the "right side" of the dirt is one to be celebrated, right?! And, shoot, even if you don't think it's okay, well, it's my birthday and I do what I want ;)


Anywho, I did a project a couple years back (#Carlees31) and wanted to do it again this year. You see, for the 34 days leading up to my 34th birthday, I will do at least one intentional act of kindness a day (the phrase "random acts of kindness" makes me feel like they aren't planned out or thought through... hence why I call them "intentional acts of kindness"). I plan to document them on social media using the hashtag #Carlees34 so folks can follow along.


Now, since I received comments about it the last go around, let me just address something up front - I am in NO WAY sharing these acts because I want a pat on the back or someone to say "Go Carlee". This is NOT about me! I'm sharing about the ideas because I hope they potentially spur you on to spreading kindness to those around you. Some acts will cost money, some of them won't. Some acts will cost you an hour of your day, some of them won't. I am hoping to do a variety of different things, that way if one thing necessarily up your alley, maybe another one will inspire you.


Officially #Carlees34 will kick off tomorrow and I would love for you to join in! If you only plan to do one act of kindness, shoot for my actual birthday - September 10th! Let's make this world a better place to live! #DoGood #SpreadKindndess

PS I created a #Carlees34 Amazon Wish List for folks want to participate but don't have time or know where to start. The list contains items that can be used in "kindness bags" that will be given to the homeless, items to be donated to local animal shelters, books to be delivered to hospital waiting rooms, etc. Figured it'd be another way to get people involved. 

What's your favorite way to spread kindness to those around you?

Monday, August 6, 2018

REVIEW: Quest Bars {Maple Waffle}

Every few weeks it seems as though I get a surprise package from Quest Nutrition. I'm not sure what I did to get on this coveted list, but whatever it was, I hope I keep doing it because I am loving the opportunity to try their new products!


This most recent magical delivery contained one of their newest protein bar flavors - Maple Waffle! The Maple Waffle Quest Bar is made with sweet maple inclusions and buttery flavor to feed your breakfast cravings, all day, every day.

I may not lift weights (or at least that's what I'm assuming the tank is referencing ;)), but I can lift waffles to my mouth!

Now, before I dive into my review, let me be candid and say that when I eat pancakes or waffles (which I rarely do), I usually put some sort of nut butter or jam on them - not syrup - but, even still, I was interested to give these a whirl.

I've got some baby biceps, right?! 

When I opened up the bar I noticed something right away - THE SYRUP! Yup, I know this may sound silly, but I guess I was just assuming that they would be maple syrup 'flavored' but not real syrup. This made the bar a little sticky to handle (so I kept the wrapper on it), but it also made it feel a little more like "real" food as opposed to modified health food.

Now, for the most important part, the taste test! I was originally worried it'd be too sweet or maple-y, but I was pleasantly surprised. It still had the normal "Quest Bar" taste to it (I don't think it tastes bad, but it is definitely a distinct flavor - maybe it's due to the way they sweeten their products or the protein formula {complete dairy-based protein to provide all nine essential amino acids a body needs}), but it was tasty. The hubby and I both said we'd definitely eat them again (which is good since we have a full box ;)). I don't think it's one of my favorite two or three flavors, but that might also be because I'm not a huge maple syrup person to begin with. (FYI: S'mores and Cookies & Cream are my two top picks, but I think I might also love the Mint Chocolate ChunkCoconut Cashew and Strawberry Cheesecake but haven't tried them yet.)

For a bar with less than 200 calories and 20 grams of protein, it's a great way to "cheat clean". Quest Nutrition is on a mission to make the foods you crave work FOR YOU, not against you, and if you are craving some maple syrup slathered waffles, then this bar is for you! PS Their store locator allows you to see where sells their product and WHAT specific product that store carries! If there isn't one near you that sells this flavor, you can always grab them online!

What do you put on your waffles and pancakes?

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Workout Recap - Week 31

Sunday, July 29th – The San Francisco Marathon, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, July 30th – 3 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, July 31st – 8.3 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, August 1st – 6 mile run with the hubby, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, August 2nd – 1 mile warm-up, 5 x hills {2.5 miles}, 1 mile cool-down, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, August 3rd  Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, August 4th – Balboa Park 8-Miler {8 mile pace run}, Stretched & Foam Rolled

A week with two races and 56 miles total?! I'll take it. Although I was slightly disappointed with my race on Saturday (would have loved to run it with an average pace closer to 7:20/mile instead of the 7:30/mile I got), I still have to be VERY PROUD of what I've accomplished. The miles are starting to ramp up for my Ventura Marathon training, so I guess I'll get some rest after October ;) {that's one "problem" with running multiple marathons in a year}.

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Friday Favorites

WHOOO HOOO! It's FRIDAY! This week flew by (probably because I had a ton of stuff to do so I didn't really have a chance to sit down and consider what day it was). I had a race on this past Sunday and another one tomorrow morning, which means we will be foregoing our normal Friday night Mexican food tonight (let's just say salsa isn't a great way for me to fuel the night before a race), but it's all good. Guess that just means we'll have to go another day ;) Anywho, enough about what I am or am not eating tonight, let's get onto the main event so I can share what I'm loving lately!

New Sarah Marie Design Studio Designs

I got an email earlier this week from Sarah Marie Design Studio about all the new gear she was releasing. Man there is some AWESOME stuff that just hit the shelves... And lucky for me, my birthday is just around the corner ;) I think my two favorites are the "Stressed but Blessed Tee" (it reminds me of the "Thank You" print on plastic bags) or the "Well Rounded Muscle Tee" (in honor of my track workouts). PS I'm stoked she's making trucker hats but prefer the screen printed type.

Walt Walk Streak

The hubby and I started a "Walt Walk Streak" on Monday. I thought it would be a great way to get in some extra steps with the hubby and pup, so now, in the evenings, we are trying to make sure to get out for at least a mile walk. (Don't get me wrong, we live in a condo, so when Walt has to go to the bathroom we have to take him for a walk, but we've been getting a little "lazy" and just going around the complex. I thought this would get us out of our routine and, at the same time, give us some quality time together.) I don't know how long it'll last, but hopefully it's here to stay!

PS This is NOT the kind of streaking we are planning ;) 

Race Giveaways

In case you missed my blog post on Monday (or don't follow me on social media), I currently have a giveaway going for TWO free race entries for the Orange County Lexus LaceUp Series Event. You can pick from the half marathon, marathon relay, 5K or kids' race. The giveaway ends TONIGHT though, so you better hop over and enter before it's done. (But just in case you are reading this after Friday or weren't the lucky winner, you can still use code "CARLEE10" to save 10% on your registration for any of the races in the Lexus LaceUp Series. FYI: The hubby and I will be at all of them!)

Dog Days of Summer Sale

I've mentioned it a few times before (ok, maybe more than a few times), but I'm an ambassador for Momentum Jewelry. I love what the brand stands for - empowerment, support and encouragement. Well, they just announced their Dog Days of Summer SALE. Now until August 15th, score some fabulous deals on select style Motivate Wraps, Fabric Wrap color bundles, Foot Notes, SPARKlets, and Inspire-ring keychains! To make this extra special, they're also offering a discount on their customized Motivate Wraps (but the custom special offer ends August 8th)! It's the perfect time to stock up on goodies for yourself or others! Maybe I'm the only one who has a stockpile of gifts in my closet, but when I see something PERFECT for a friend I grab it so I have it ready for the next celebration. {FYI: Today marks 144 days till Christmas!}

What are you loving lately?