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A Cool Cat in France: Disneyland Paris 5k Recap

Lumiere and many of his inanimate pals helped illuminate the sky and course path for the Disneyland Paris 5k. While I was lucky enough to run last year, I was excited to see the change to an evening race for the 2017 weekend. The race was slated for an 8 o’clock start, just outside the Disney Village. Dressed as the cheshire cat, I headed to my corral about thirty minutes before the scheduled start.21685977_10155119278321902_8817163819654181863_n

Corral A was located at the front steps of Disney’s Sequoia Lodge with corrals B and C curving back around Lac Disney towards the Newport Bay Hotel. I felt the race staff took advantage of the area by having floating barges showcasing DJs and dancers. These boats glided along the edge of the water, filling the crowd and air with contagious energy! It was fun to see the volunteer’s individual personality come out through their dance moves whether it was a Pop & Lock or motioning a worm. As each barge floated by, blasting music and demonstrating some wicked dance moves, it put me in a good mood for the 5k.

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Pre 5K Party Boats!

Due to heavy congestion of people exiting the parks, runners were not released until closer to 8:30. While the delay was frustrating for those with young ones or a 10k start just a few hours later, it was important to remember that it was only a 5k; a chance to have fun!

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Start line

After an anxious start, 5k participants were finally released! The course took runners through the Disney Village, where eager attendees rattled against gate barriers, hoping to catch a glimpse of friends or family members. Runners entered Walt Disney Studios park by the front lot, where colorful lights danced and created luminescent glowing images against the asphalt. Even Cinderella and Prince Charming were stationed for photographs!

The beginning of the course was very slow. Unfortunately, families with young children were placed in corrals A and B. Most of the kids to the front of me acted very much like dogs chasing squirrels, running in each and every direction!  While the parents may have been fit, little legs can only go so far without stopping in front of a pack of runners. My legs were getting whiplash by the constant stops and sprints, attempting to avoid numerous small children. After the first mile I was able to bypass most, making the remainder of the course fun and enjoyable!

Stationed by Crush’s Coaster stood fervent cast members chanting in french, as well as some characters from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A quick loop around the Toy Story themed section of the park and I was almost halfway home. I loved the next section of the course as Disney decided to use the Studio Tram Tour path for a good section of the race. There are many objects to look at from older Disney films such as cars used in 101 Dalmatians and a scene of London in ruins from Reign of Fire. This is a nice wooded loop area that provides nice detail to distract the mind from the miles ahead.

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Proof that cats and rats can be friends!

Just as runners reached the home stretch, a camera sending live feed to a giant screen, documented each runner’s arrival onto the Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular stage. This lovely set showcases french shops and markets that motorcycles and cars perform stunts on during normal park hours. While there were no zooming motorcycles performing wheelies to distract runners, Remy and Emile were there receiving hugs and Bonjours!  After a quick photo with two of my favorite rats, I pounded the pavement, finding myself at the finish, where I received my Lumiere themed medal.

Similarly to the Disney races in the states, this 5k was not timed. The course was lovely in function and entertainment, however I missed running through the main park. If you have never been to Disneyland Paris, there are some wonderful details in the smallest of places and who doesn’t love running through the castle? It would have been nice to run down Main Street with twinkling lights, but by having the 5k concealed to the Studios, this made me even more excited for both the 10k and half-marathon courses!

Knot A Problem: A Guide to Foam Rollers

Foam rollers tend to be seen as a form of torture rather than an assuagement. I’ve suffered painful IT bands, sore calves and plantar fasciitis but was able to relief a lot of my symptoms through incorporating foam rolling into my fitness routine.

As a form of self-myofascial release, the act of rolling out muscles after strength and cardio training helps to free the muscle of adhesions. This form of self massage also helps to increase circulation and blood flow to the area creating better mobility and performance to the athlete. While not as pleasant as a massage, foam rolling certainly does wonderful things for our bodies.

I remember asking my friend for a foam roller for Christmas one year and she thought she was giving me the strangest gift ever. As I have been to race expos and different gyms and experimented with different types of rollers I have started a little collection. Rollers can be as inexpensive as a tennis or lacrosse ball or can have more technology implemented into the device causing a more expensive product. I am providing you with some of my favorites I have come across so far!

Trigger Point, $39.99

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Trigger Point makes some wonderful rollers in various lengths as well as foam balls for targeted relief. This was my first foam roller and will always hold a special place in my heart, even if I did curse it out a few times in the beginning. I believe Trigger Point makes the perfect roller for those looking to add foam rolling into their routine. With cushioned, grid pattern, this roller is not as harsh as some but still manages to get the job done.

PVC Pipe

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Seriously! After discovering this trick at my local gym, I visited a nearby Home Depot, and was able to purchase a pre-cut piece that is about 30 inches long and 4 inches wide for less than ten dollars! Not only is it a more economical option, I feel that the PVC Pipe has the perfect firmness to help rid muscles of adhesions.

The Stick, $27.95

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Also known as the toothbrush for muscles, I love The Stick’s convenient portability. Standard flexibility keeps the base pliable while spinning, plastic knobs keep the muscles fresh. An excellent tool for a runner’s legs  provides enough pressure to relieve those knots while on the go!

Addaday Echo Oscillator, $90

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If you don’t have a vibrating roller in your collection, you should hop on this band wagon! I love this rechargeable option from Addaday, the Echo Oscillator. Three settings at low, high and alternating intensities allow for versatility. Being the most technical of the bunch, this cordless roller can be used alone in or placed in another hollow foam roller for a lighter intensity. Operating in 10 minute increments, this roller will last for two hours on a charge. Not to worry if the juice drains, as it charges quickly!

R8 Recovery, $119

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The R8 is a deep tissue massager that consists of eight wheels on a spring that self adjust to fit individual needs. The design while not lightweight, the R8 is compact and I love the fact that one can use it standing up or sitting, rather than laying on the ground with most other rollers. The pressure is strong but feels wonderful as it work out kinks and helps increase circulation. The design of wheels on dual sides allows both inner and outer legs to be worked simultaneously.

Do something nice for your muscles and start implementing foam rolling into your routine! Even if you spend ten minutes, your body will thank you. Do you have a foam roller that you love? Let me know about it! 🙂

The Runologist

Disneyland Half-Marathon 2017 Recap: Buying Stock in Gatorade

The weather in Anaheim for race weekend made Hades and the Underworld seem a bit chilly. After a fun course, running primarily through both Disneyland as well as California Adventure on Saturday, I was ready to tackle thirteen miles the following morning adorned with a red cowgirl hat and cow print chaps!

Another early wake up call, prompted a protein bar on the go, and a zombie-esque crawl to my corral. A trumpet sounded the anthem, queuing runners from their corrals onto the first mile of the course.

RACE

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Disneyland Half-Marathon Course 2017

Similar to the 10K, the half-marathon course had us starting in California Adventure.  Runners legged it past the Guardians of the Galaxy ride, through Hollywood Land and towards the Ferris Wheel. The water was dramatic in vivid colors portraying a World of Color performance as I looped around the boardwalk. After seeing Russell, Mr. Fredricksen and Dug greeting runners by the Redwood Creek play area, the course took participants into Disneyland.

The route passed through a backstage area where cast members stood with the horses that pull the trolleys up and down Main Street each morning! As a horse lover, I loved seeing them on course! After entering the park just behind Splash Mountain, runners were greeted by Woody as he waved from the balcony of the Saloon! I loved seeing the newly remodeled area where the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ and petting zoo used to be, now transformed by unfamiliar caves and abandoned train mines beckoning explorers.

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All smiles running through the castle!

After bounding through the castle, around the Matterhorn and through Tomorrowland (Note: Distance sounds far superior than actuality) runners hit the streets of Anaheim. This is the point in the race where runners usually take it to a walk once photographers are out of sight. Due to the heat advisory, I noticed the energy was low and many runners  were taking breaks less than a mile into the race. It was unusal not to have that excitement from atheletes around you, but luckily the cast members and course entertainment made up for it!

A couple of miles along the Anaheim roads brought runners to wonderful and much-needed entertainment. I enjoyed the marvelous Mariachi band and dancers around mile 7, shortly followed by hula dancers, rolling their hips and hands to He Mele No Lilo (Main Title) from Lilo and Stitch.

I always look forward to seeing the Classic Car Row during the run! This year did not disappoint. Many eager car aficionados were waving runners on and even honking their horns in acclamation.

I could see the giant symbol for Angel’s Stadium growing closer with every stride. After a few minutes, I had finally reached the stadium. This was the stage of the race I was most excited for, waiting almost two years until I would run past the dugouts, along the field! An announcer read names from bibs, as young kids and family members waved outreached arms, hoping to snag a high-five. The energy was contagious and it really helped with the last few miles of the half-marathon.

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Home run!

After exiting the stadium, shortly after, volunteers were passing out mini bags of Jelly Belly’s Sport Beans. Each small packet contained an assortment of flavors, containing electrolytes and both Vitamin B & C. While easy to consume, I appreciated the sodium and potassium but found myself missing the usual Clif gels found on Disney’s half courses.

I carried onwards, seeing a freeway overpass coming into view. I had to laugh as Endorphin Dude behind me was commenting to a volunteer stating how he thought the course was supposedly flat. As I trotted up the “mountain” I could not take advantage or gather any momentum heading down towards the finish.

Just within the last two miles it started to rain. When I thought it could not get hot enough, the combination of water and hot asphalt made the air more muggy. Finally hitting Katella and seeing the tops of attractions, I finally found the push I was looking for many miles back.

I sprinted past the Disneyland Hotel, along enthusiastic cheerleaders with amusing signs, and clanging cowbells. I could not wait and get to the finish to enjoy a tall, cold , refreshing WATER! Did I mention it was hot?

FINISH LINE AND BEYOND

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As I crossed the finish beside runners who looked as if they had just gotten out of a swimming pool, I could only eagerly anticipate the next twelve months until Disneyland half-marathon weekend would roll around again.  While the temperature was much warmer than anticipated, I thought the race staff, volunteers and cast members went above and beyond to make an enjoyably fun weekend.

After a hot weekend of running, I now have a new appreciation for water and Powerade! I made sure to hydrate just after collecting my medals.  For completing the half, I received a Toy Story themed medal as well as the Double Dare medal for running the 10k Saturday and the half on Sunday. This medal displays Luxo Jr. and Pixar’s famous brick architecture!

This will continue to be my favorite weekend of all the Disney races due to course entertainment and pure bliss of running down car row and through Angel’s Stadium. It is always a pleasure to reunite with friends and make some new ones with each race I run. I am enjoying this run journey thus far and cannot wait to see what the remainder of the year will bring!

Hope to see you out on a course soon!

The Runologist

Disneyland 10k Review: Earning My Ellie Badge

Post race sadness is real, especially when you had as fun as a racecation as I just did. I spent most of the weekend in Anaheim running Disney’s Double Dare challenge. The weekend events dedicated themselves to famous Pixar films such as Up, The Incredibles, Monsters University and the beloved classic, Toy Story.

Expo

I started my weekend by picking up my bib and browsing around the expo on Thursday morning. I was happy to find minimal crowds and was able to walk straight up to the volunteer and show her my ID. I received my bag tag, a small pamphlet on the weekend’s events, and an adorable luggage tag that resembled the Double Dare medal, commemorating the five-year anniversary. After taking a couple of pictures with fun backdrops, I headed upstairs to retrieve my race shirts and check out a couple of the vendors.

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Expo Selfie!

All the runDisney expos are similar for the most part, give or take a booth or two. I enjoy the familiarity because I know where I can purchase items when needed. The Anaheim expos always have many vendors handing out fun freebies. Booths such as Goodsense and Raceguards were giving out handy medical items such as band aids, ice packs, samples of Biofreeze, first aid pouches and water bottles. ABC had items to be enjoyed by younger ones such as inflatable beach balls and a mini notebook and colored pencil set.

While first aid items are handy, there were edible freebies too! GoGo SqueeZ apple sauce was handing out pouches of their product. For those desiring a natural option, Zespri was handing out their gold variety kiwi to eager expo attendees. Jelly Belly also handed out mini sample packages of their Sport Beans.

After paying a quick visit to Fit2Run to buy some last-minute Gu, I took a picture with the Pixar Ball wall before heading back to my hotel.

Monsters University 10k

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10k Course

While I was hoping to add the 5k to my itinerary, it had sold out, leaving my weekend to start on Saturday with the 10k race. Every Disney run starts out with an early alarm, so I was off and running, well walking to the start at 4 a.m. With my badge adorned sash draped over my shoulder and my Wilderness Explorer flag hanging from my hydration pack, I headed to my corral. It is not every Saturday morning that I dress like a boy scout, so I wanted to make Russell and all of Troop 54 proud!

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Pre-Race entertainment from Carissa and Kevin made the time spent in my corral fly by. While I was hot in my polo shirt, I just tried to focus on the energy around me. Before I knew it the anthem led us to the start and it was time to run 6.2 glorious miles in celebration of Monsters University within the boundaries of Disneyland and California Adventure Park!

Once I broke away from the pack, I was happy to find slightly cooler temperatures. Maybe it was the breeze as I flew towards California Adventure or the fact that I was no longer being sandwiched between runners, but I was determined to have fun and beat the rising temperature.

Just as I entered the park behind the California Screamin’ coaster, I heard a clink and could see my grape soda pin plunge to the road. (Note: While not an avid pin collector, this one struck a chord with me when I bought it a few years back, so it was a tough one to hear clash against the asphalt.) Instead of stopping and squatting to pick it up and risk injuring myself and other runners behind me, I sighed and let the metal badge start it’s new life, lost to the graveled roadway.

I charged on, entering the park by Radiator Springs, the sound of revving engines made my feet want to move faster. Numerous Pixar characters adorned the boundaries of the course. I saw Flik and Atta from A Bug’s Life, Russell from Up, Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars, Mike and Sully from Monsters University as well as many dancers from various parades. The course did not dismiss classic characters such as Mickey and his friends which were found in Disneyland a few miles in.

My favorite aspects of any Disney race are running through the parks and seeing the energy of the cast members, throwing high fives (complete with a Mickey glove!) at runners, and all the lively rides and lights operating before the sun.  The race crew did a wonderful job having music and various cheer squads in the backstage areas, making every mile of the course spirited and vivacious. Special shout out to the course designer who opted not to use any of Anaheim’s streets for the 10k and kept all the magic and mileage within the two theme parks!

After running past the Rivers of America, I bounded across the drawbridge of the Castle, onto Main Street! A couple of minutes after I had passed the mile 5 marker, I found myself behind the roller coaster once again, looping back towards the finish. I did a quick glance at the ground and saw my pin! A few runners were a couple strides behind me so I was able to grab my pin and sprint towards the finish. While the backing was bent and the image scratched, it was a favorable return. I guess I needed to run five miles before I could truly earn my Ellie badge! 🙂

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Graduating to a Senior Wilderness Explorer!

The weather was not ideal but I always love catching up with friends on course and seeing the creative costumes. Running through Disneyland at 5 in the morning never ceases to put a smile on my face!  I had a monstrous good time at the 10k but after collecting my medal, water and a snack box, I was off to rest my feet and seek some air conditioning before running the half-marathon on Sunday.

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All smiles after the 10k!

Escape from Fisherman’s Wharf: The San Francisco Half-Marathon Recap

On non race mornings, hearing my alarm at 3:30 in the morning would usually prompt my hand to clash with my snooze button. On the morning of the S.F. Half however, I was up just before, eager to see what the city would bring.

Expo

Two days prior, I found myself in Fort Mason waiting in a growing, twisting line to attend the expo. The San Francisco Marathon conveniently allotted hours both Friday and Saturday to pick up bibs, buy last-minute nutrition, and talk to reps about the newest and latest products. I was lucky enough to find parking just steps from the expo but I loved how the S.F. Marathon teamed up with nearby lots to help reserve spots as well as provide ferry transportation for those who desired other options.

I arrived about thirty minutes in anticipation of the opening doors, to be greeted by local companies and vendors. Among them were Nitro Coffee, Clover Dairy and Jamba Juice. Clover was handing out free cartons of chocolate milk as well as offering samples of their new greek yogurt. Jamba Juice was also handing out smoothie shots for those waiting in line which proved to be a nice treat in the warm weather.

Just a minute or two after my watch read noon, the doors opened, and the runners started to file inside. We were greeted by a DJ who was playing music to help set a fun tone for attendees. The expo was narrow and long and provided three main rows of vendors. Bib and T-shirt pickup were located in the back of the building so I proceeded there first. After reading my bib number to a volunteer, I showed him my ID and was off to collect my shirt. I was excited to see vendors such as Pro Compression, Nike, A Runner’s Mind and many others selling all the clothing, nutrition, and gear that a runner could dream of. I wish I could have seen a map of the vendors in advance so I knew where to spend the small window of time I allotted myself. Luckily it was easy to navigate after a fairly quick walk through, as long as I tried to avoid the eager sellers.  After a speedy product demo for a muscle stimulator, I snatched a couple of tiny sample Power Crunch bars to satisfy my need for all things mini and headed back up the peninsula until I returned for race day.

RACE DAY MORNING

With a little prep, Race Day mornings go smoothly when one’s outfit is laid out and bag is packed the night before. After turning off my alarm I glanced at the floor, smiling at my red crab hat and Fisherman’s Wharf shirt. Perhaps I have done too many Disney races but either way I try not to take any run too seriously. I look to have fun, and if I am feeling good, maybe push for a PR.

While I consider myself a morning person rather than a night owl, instead of driving myself into the city, I decided to purchase a bus ticket available to me when I registered for the half. I arrived at Millbrae Bart station at 4 a.m. just to give myself a nice fifteen minute window. I asked a fellow runner if she knew where the buses left from and told me she wasn’t exactly sure but pointed to a line of yellow school buses, indicating the answer. I had to laugh at the commentary coming from long-lost jocks and mathlete nerds voicing their disatisfaction at the dismal transportation. As I boarded the bus, a few more took seats behind me and we were off five minutes before our designated departure.

With the freeways empty, our bus took us to the fog and start line. No race day morning is complete without a small hiccup which was caused by our driver who kept asking where the start line was causing panic for some and laughs for others. After departing from our bus, half a block of dimly lit street kept us from the corrals and glimmering Bay Bridge. After some quick photos, I entered my corral watching the other runners do so until my ears were greeted by the Cable Car Chorus. Their voices in harmony sounded lovely and gave warmth to the chilly morning. Soon the first corral was released to the sound of a cable car bell and I was off and running.

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Race

I waved goodbye to the Ferry Building as I was off towards Fisherman’s Wharf. The first few miles were nice and flat, allowing me to find my stride. I was most excited to see the famous S.F. sights from foot but did not take into account how quickly the Ghirardelli sign would come into view only to be subdued by Chrissy Field, followed by the charm of the Marina architecture.

A short but steep climb took me by surprise at Fort Mason and again just leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge. The first few miles had me anticipating the grandness of the bridge but once I climbed up to it, the towers were covered by thick fog. My body wrestled with comfort as my temperature rose from exercise and adrenaline only to be brought down by fog and mist the bridge spitted at the passersby. I started to see the main cables descend and I was excited. I was almost across! A few minutes passed and the cables started to climb upwards and I realized I had forgotten about the second tower, marking my reality. Not only was I only half way across, but my mind was already building a wall. The slight incline to the Vista Point turn around gave me something to look forward. While I was slowly moving uphill, I would be able to run down it soon. I took a package of Gu chews from a volunteer and continued moving forward.

The return trip on the bridge seemed much quicker despite a few testing elements. My shoes were soaking wet from water that collected on the roads, causing a blister to form. I decided to treat it rather than suffer the final two miles through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. Rolling hills awaited me but I pushed through, seeing signs for the park and finish line. The last half mile had nice energy with the 2nd Half Runners just commencing and the Full runners carrying on. I felt a surge of energy once I was greeted by the Mile 13 marker and could see runners sporting mylar blankets and new medals around their necks that would soon find a home resting against walls, hanging from racks.

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The finish line reception for the first half marathon finishers offered food, drinks and a large grassy area to celebrate and rest tired legs. The first of many stations to greet my post race needs was an Irish coffee bar. While there was an option for a regular cup of Joe, I welcomed a splash of Bailey’s into my cup and continued towards more tables of provided snacks. Muscle Milk was handing out bottles of their signature protein shake. Power Crunch offered full bars to finishers in an assortment of flavors. For the runners who just want a more natural option, bananas were available as well as fruit cups.

A short walk reunited me with a row of buses which would drive finishers back to the start line which was transformed into a celebratory festival.  After a short ride, I exited the bus and walked over to a collection of tents. There was a beer garden which offered Lagunitas and Golden State Cider. A rep from 4505 Chicharrones was giving out samples of their pork rinds which are locally made in delicious flavors such as Jalapeño Cheddar and Smokehouse BBQ. I loved the touches of local products that were found both at the Expo and Finish Line Festival.

While running in the city had a different vibe than expected, the SF Marathon team put on a fun race, complete with a unique and challenging course. Albeit quick, I loved running by sights such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli, on either side of the water and architecture of the Marina and of course across the Golden Gate Bridge. I cursed the hills then but thank them now for providing themselves as one of the many stepping-stones along my journey.

Hope to see you out on the roads or trails soon!

The Runologist

 

(Getting the Show) On the Road

Welcome to my blog! I have struggled to pick a topic for my first post mostly because there is so much on my mind when it comes to the running world. Conversations about the sport, sustenance, and the newest foam roller to be added into my collection causes many eye rolls by most of my friends and family. While most of the people in my life will not care to hear about Clif’s Nut Butter Filled bars or that seasonal Gu flavors have been released, I look to my fellow runners, both the seasoned elite and the Couch to 5K newcomers to continue the exchange. I cannot wait to share with you my adventures through both the easy miles as well as the grueling ones, gear, and nutrition. Before I give away too many spoiler alerts, I’ll give you a quick introduction to myself and my journey thus far.

As a graduate from the University of Southern California, studying creative writing and film, I have always been taught, “write what you know”. So here it goes, this is what I know. When I was younger, I used to hate running. I remember the mile in elementary school might as well have been a marathon. I considered it long and arduous and it felt as if construction workers were building houses on my lungs. Running was so terrible that I used common illnesses to excuse myself from the task. I even started to create fake diseases to keep my streak alive. In fact, it was not until college where I incorporated a treadmill into my workouts and completed a couple of Nearly Naked Miles, that running started to work its way into my life.

During my sophomore year I decided on a whim to sign up for The Color Run. I was not looking to cross a 5k off my bucket list, but an excuse to encourage myself to explore the city of Los Angeles and it’s surroundings, meeting new faces in the process. While it introduced me to the city of Glendale for bib pick-up, then later a visit to Dodger Stadium for the actual event, The Color Run acquainted me to the running community and the ability to complete a 5k without prior training. While I am not trying to suggest running without training or toot my own horn, it was a moment of pride and accomplishment and helped to pave my career thus far.

This slow three mile jog soon turned into me running a 10k, wishing I was turning off for the 5k finish instead of starting a second three mile loop. As easy as it is to take the shorter route, especially on those days where your legs weigh a ton each, nothing beats a new PR, that mile thirteen marker, or lacing up your shoes and getting after your goal the next day.

I cannot wait to share with you my journey, mile by mile, from 5k to half-marathon, everything in between and perhaps beyond. It is amazing how far one can get with some air in their lungs. Lace up and I hope to see you out on the roads or trails soon!

The Runologist