My Year In Racing

This is the best way I could think of to sum up my year in racing:

I think this is also my favorite photo!

Lets Review:

Two 5k’s

One 8k

One 10-miler

One duathlon

One relay tri

One sprint tri

Four half-marathons!

I cannot even express the pride I feel when I see that picture.  And when I reflect on all those races, I smile.  It represents the promise I made to myself to get healthy, the road I took to become a better person and the journey that still continues.  It represents more than I could ever put into words.  All the hard work, all the sacrifices…it is all worth it when I see that photo and remember those races.  It means everything ❤

In honor of the end of 2009, I would like to do a quick recap of the year:

  • Favorite races: Broad Street 10-miler, Belmar Triathlon, Philadelphia Distance Run and Baltimore Half-Marathon.
  • Favorite courses: Philadelphia Distance Run and Philadelphia Half-Marathon
  • Favorite medal: Baltimore Half-Marathon
  • Biggest challenges: Delaware Half-Marathon, Philadelphia Woman’s Duathlon and Baltimore Half-Marathon
  • Most proud moments: Finishing my first half-marathon (Delaware) and my sub-30 5k (Run for Tony)

I thought about writing my best and worst experiences, but after some thought, I realized they are all great moments.  Even the worst ones are great ones.  There was not one single race that did not challenge me in some way.

  • During Broad Street, I ran for 3 miles in pouring freezing rain.
  • In Delaware, for my first half-marathon, I ran in freezing hail (in MAY!!) and faced my fears head on when I had to run over a shaky drawbridge.  As an added bonus, mile 12 was all uphill.
  • At the Scott Coffee 8k, I had to overcome missing my goal time by 2 seconds.  It was a tough pill to swallow!
  • I had to face disappointment when, due to weather, the Philadelphia Woman’s Triathlon was turned to a Duathlon.  The swim is my best discipline and I was really uncertain of a duathlon.  But I did it and I liked it.  And, I added duathlete to my resume.
  • At the Belmar Triathlon, I faced my fear of the ocean by swimming in it for 500 meters.  I then had to pull myself together after witnessing a bike accident.  It shook me to my core, as this is also a huge fear of mine, but I was able to focus and finish my own bike portion.
  • I met my goal of a sub-30 PR at the Run for Tony.  This is hands down the highlight of my year in racing.
  • I dealt with ITB set-backs throughout the Philadelphia Distance Run but pushed through and finished with a very respectable time.
  • In Baltimore I took on the crazy hills.  All of them.  And there were a lot of them!  I had fun with the whole race and because of my laid-back approach, it ended up being one of my favorite races even though it was the most difficult.
  • A week after Baltimore, I ran the Delanco 5k…it was pouring, freezing and I did not want to run.  But I got dressed and got my but out there.  It was uncomfortable and not fun at all, but in the end, I was still glad I raced.  Of course, coming out of it with $20 to Dicks and 2 bottles of wine helped 🙂
  • I ran the Philadelphia Half-Marathon despite all my set-backs.  First I had to swallow my pride and drop from the full to the half, then I had to go into the race on very little training due to an extremely difficult semester and then as luck would have it, I got sick the week before the race.  As it turns out, I ran with a double ear infection.  It wasn’t my best race, but I finished.  This race epitomized what it is all about for me.

And lastly, I want to thank each and every person that made this year special for me.  In running, triathlon and in life.  Racing has truly been a blessing in my life.  Some people have embraced this with me and sadly, some haven’t.  I have lost a few friends along the way, but I have gained so many more.  I could not do this without the support of all my friends and family but there are two people who deserve a special shout-out.

  • My Mom- my best friend, my biggest supporter, my cheerleader, my sign-maker, my heart.  There are not enough words to thank you for everything you have done for me, but I will try!  For all the days you took off to watch me race, for all the nights you spent sleeping on my couch, for all the early mornings, for all the times I needed someone to yell at and that someone was you, for the endless encouragement, for always listening about swimming and biking and running, for never ever doubting me, for being at the finish lines, for being on the phone when you couldn’t be at the finish lines, for dealing with heat and the rain and cold, and most of all for always believing in the beauty of my dreams ❤
  • BrianZ- you were there for my first 10-miler and my first half-marathon.  You have run with me in five races- the entire Philly Half at my pace!!!  You never let me get myself down.  You are more than a teammate, and more than a friend…you are my inspiration.  Thank you for believing in me when I did not always.  Thank you for the endless support.  I am not kidding Brian…when I finally get around to that first Marathon…you are my pacer!

And to you all, my bloggies…we may all live in different places and we may all have different lives, but here we all come together.  Whether we swim, bike, run or do all three, this is our common ground.  I am lucky to have you all and I thank you for reading, sharing, and commenting throughout the year.  I know I am meeting some of you for sure, but I hope to meet many of you at some point.

What was your favorite race of 2009?  Proudest Moment?

We are only 3 sleeps away from the New Year and all I have to say to 2010 is BRING. IT. ON. 🙂

I will catch you all on the 2010 side…I’ll be starting the year off with a 5k, a giveaway and my 2010 race schedule!  Stay tuned bloggies, the journey continues!!!

2010 Goals- Nutrition

Before I begin there are three things you need to know:

  1. I love food.  All food.  And I refuse to deprive myself.  Even on weight watchers I always managed to enjoy my food and treat myself to the things I love most.
  2. I love to eat.  A lot.  I eat for all occasions…happy, sad, stressed, calm…I just like to eat.
  3. Since starting Weight Watchers a little over two years ago, I have come a long way.  But lately, I have been majorly slacking.  I see myself falling into the same habits that got me to Weight Watchers in the first place.  By no means do I think I am fat (at all- and it disturbs me when girls who aren’t at all fat, call themselves fat), but I have put on some weight over the last two months and I know how fast it can spiral.  It took a lot more hard work to lose the 25 lbs than it did to put them on.  This time, I am looking to stop the problem before it starts.  I don’t ever want to be back at a place where I cannot stand to look at myself.  I never want to be out of control again.  But in all honesty…that is where I see myself headed.  Luckily, because I have been down this road, I know I can do this…I know I have what it takes.

Nutrition Goals for 2010-

  • Be more consistent 1- One of the best things about Weight Watchers is that it taught me to eat small meals throughout the day.  I would eat breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, dinner and a snack.  I was never hungry and I ate a whole heck of a lot better.  In the last few months I have been struggling financially and therefore eating poorly.  Either I don’t eat at all or I eat a big meal to carry me through two meals.  This is perhaps the worst habit I have as far as eating goes and it must change.
  • Be more consistent 2- In addition to being off on the timing of my meals, I have also been off in there value.  Again, this has a lot to do with finances.  I haven’t been able to afford the foods I should be eating and therefore I eat much of my food where I work.  Employees get a school lunch for only $2.  It isn’t the worst food, nutritionally they are okay, and I think is is okay to have them once in a while but they aren’t cutting it for me on the daily.  And all too often I find myself eating pasta for dinner because it is cheap and lasts me more than one meal.  I have to be more aware of what I am eating throughout the day, regardless of my finances.
  • Budget for food- This is hopefully the solution I need for consistency.   I often skip food shopping because I don’t have money and then I just make do with what I have.  This year, I am going to better budget my money so I always have what I need to cook healthy meals in the house.
  • No more soda- In the past I have given up soda for years at a time.  It never bothered me.  Then one day, I started drinking Diet Coke at lunch. Eventually it was lunch and dinner and before I knew it I was buying it and keeping it in the house.  Suddenly I found myself drinking a lot of Diet Coke’s throughout the day/night.  Soda is no good.  As of Jan 1, 2010, soda is out.
  • Skip the scale- I do not keep track of my exact weight.  I stopped using a scale over a year ago and only get weighed at the doctor.  I try to concentrate more on how I feel than the number on the scale but it is difficult.  Starting in 2010, when the doctor weighs me, I do not want to know the number.  I am simply going to stand backwards on the scale and request they not tell me.  All it does it make me focus on the negative.  I can judge on my own simply by the clothes I wear and how I feel.  I do not need a number to define me.
  • Go back to the basics- This is quite simple…less fat, less calories, less sugar…and more of the good stuff.  Specifically more fruits and veggies.  Less whites and more whole grains.  More small meals and less huge meals.  More water.  Less bad and more good!

The new year is a good time for resolutions, but this is more than that…this is getting my life back on track.  I did so well for so long and in the recent months I really fell off the food wagon.  And it is time to get back on!!!

What are some of your 2010 nutrition goals?

Bye, Bye Christmas

I hate when Christmas is all over!  It is like this whole build up…you plan and wait and get all excited and then, it is just over.  The good news is, for my family, it is not entirely over.  We do my mom’s side holiday party on New Years Day…we like to stretch things out.  Plus, it makes for a lot less hectic Christmas Day.

But…back to the real world.  Well, sort of for me.  I still have 8 more days off of work 🙂 🙂 🙂  However, I have a lot on the agenda this week and I am sure it is going to fly by.  Next Sunday I am going to be wondering where my vacation went!

My holiday really was wonderful.  Different, but wonderful.  We unfortunately saw some traditions come to an end, but we also started new traditions that will hopefully continue a long time.

I don’t so much have a week in review, so I am going to skip that and share some photos of my favorite gifts from Christmas:

This is my special Christmas Eve gift- a handcrafted, hand-painted, box to hold all my medals.

Close-up: the swimmer, biker and runner are all based on photos my mom gave the lady so they are actually me 🙂  And you all recognize the quote right!

Whoa closeup!  The ornament says “All I want for Christmas is a new PR”

In support of one of my favorite charities, the hat is from Back on my Feet.  The headband is SO me and this also came with a (not pictured) gift certificate to my favorite sports store and a new subscription to Runners World magazine.

A Tassimo coffee machine.  Seriously….awesome!!!!


And my favorite photo from the holiday…this is from Christmas Eve dinner at my parents house:

Me with my Gram and my younger cousins Megan, Allison and Jessica.  I have many cousins but my bond with them is more like that of sisters.  And we all adore our Grandmother.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and I hope Santa treated you all very well 🙂

Snowy Run and One More Sleep!

Merry Christmas Eve 🙂

This morning I woke up at my parents house (yes, I am still here) and had the urge to go for a run.  Luckily, when I packed my bags to stay here I packed most of my running stuff so I was prepared.  It was 9am and a blustery 24degrees but it was wonderful!  I just went out and had fun with it…stopped along the way to really enjoy it and I took lots of photos!

Before my run…

My gloves- gotta have the fingers free for picture-taking (and yes my nails are real!).


Had to be careful…very icy!!!!

Luckily, most of the street had a clear pathway.

The ducks were out for a morning swim.

More duck friends.

About halfway through…my face says it all- I must be crazy!!!

My gorgeous view.  I am not a fan of snow, but it was so unbelievably beautiful out there this morning.

 All done!  Felt great, however…I did not anticipate the frozen eyelashes!  My eyes were watering and it would freeze!

After my run I finished up some last minute errands and then came back here to help out around the house.  Tonight is our annual Christmas Eve dinner and then tomorrow Santa comes- one more sleep ❤ 

I will, of course, be taking lots of photos!

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday…I’ll be back after Christmas with my last two goals posts and my 2010 race calendar.  Oh, and a really sweet give-a-way!!!  Stay tuned 🙂

Three Things Tuesday- Holidays & Photos

Holiday Shirt: This is the shirt I wore for work today 🙂  We were allowed to dress down because our work holiday party is tonight.  Dress down days are always awesome, but due to the mass amounts of snow still out, it was even better!

Holiday Tree: This is our school’s giving tree- I work in a fairly poor community and we have many families in need.  Take note, the tree is empty!!!!!  All of the tags were taken and many gifts have been provided 🙂

Holiday Gifts: There was much madness this morning (snow day yesterday, holidays coming up…) but all of these goodies made dealing with the craziness just a bit easier.  It really is nice to be appreciated 🙂

Let’s Just Forget That!

Ok, so here’s the thing…my landlord STILL has not plowed my lot (I have a huge apt update coming soon!) therefore I am going to continue crashing at my parents house for at least another day or two.  I don’t have my laptop here so I am using my parents computer.  I have decided that since last week was pretty much a bust due to holiday craziness and the weather, that there will be no week in review.  I will give you a quick update though:

  • I  hate the snow.
  • The only upside is that my school was closed so I got an extra day off to catch up on everything I would have done over the weekend.
  • Last week I only got in two out of three runs.  Was not running in a blizzard and the gym was closed. 
  • I am ridiculously behind on my google reader. 
  • Oh, and I hate snow.

Ok bloggies…back to the grind!  I still have a few more stores to hit and all my gifts to wrap.  It is going to be a crazy few days!! 

Are you in a snowy area??  Did you get hit hard??  Do you like the snow?


I have been snowed in at my parents house since Saturday morning- I left my house super early to escape before I didn’t have a choice.

Week in Review is rescheduled until tomorrow…until then, enjoy these 🙂

Early Saturday morning before I left for my parents.

Outside the car later Saturday afternoon

View of the river at my parents house Sunday morning.

My parents backyard Sunday morning.


2010 Goals-Tri’s, Running and Working Out

With only a few weeks left in the year I guess it is time to lay out the yearly goals.  🙂

This is going to be a three-part post (all together would be far too long) divided up between these goals, nutrition goals and goals for my blog in 2010.

When it comes to tri’s, running and working out:


  • Finish an Olympic Tri- I am already signed up for the NJ State Olympic Triathlon and I am really looking forward to the race.  I have only so far completed sprint distance races and I am excited about the challenge.
  • Better biking- This is obvious.  I need to not suck at biking.  I did get a trainer so I am hoping that, combined with all my spinning, it gets me more comfortable on the bike.
  • Attend more OWS– Last summer I only attended three open water swims (OWS) and it was reflected in my racing.  I am a really good swimmer, but mostly all my practice is in a pool.  My team is working on securing a lake for OWS and I really hope this goes through because I would benefit greatly.  The pool is great for drills and general swimming, but it is difficult to work on sighting and deep and dark waters.


  • Get the 2:10:00- My half-marathon goal time for 2010.  I have 5 definite 1/2’s planned and two maybe races…a possibility of seven total chances to meet this goal.  It will require me to pace at @ 9:55 for the entire 13.1 miles.  To date, my best time is 2:27 so this would be a substantial difference!
  • See a 28:??- I don’t care if it is 28:59, I just want to get under 29:00 for a 5k.
  • Brave the cold- I have a 1/2 planned for February and one planned for March.  I really hate the treadmill but usually choose it in the winter because I also really hate the cold.  I need to suck it up and run outside.  I am limited because of the dark nights but the goal is to do all my weekend runs outside and if I have a chance (like a day off) use that as another opportunity as well.
  • Up the mileage- My goal for 2010 is to run 650 miles.  By the end of this year I will have run close to 400 miles.  This is since March, when I started keeping track, so it is not an exact number given that I had actually started running again in February.  400 seems like nothing in comparison to some runners, but for me, that number is huge!  Up until two years ago, I never thought about running at all…then to run almost 400 miles in 11 months…huge!  I think 650 is a completely attainable goal, yet something I will still need to be diligent about in order to meet.


  • Get Strong- I usually strength train 2-3 times a week depending on what my training schedule looks like, but I want to make it a point to focus on my strength training this year at least three times a week.  This way, I can dedicate each day to a specific work-out for my arms, legs and core.
  • Stretch it out- I am so bad at remembering to stretch before work-outs.  I am really good with it before and after runs, but for some reason always forget before any other work-out.
  • Push-Up Challenge-I am going to begin this challenge right after the new year.  As of right now I can do about 8-10 comfortably in one rep…yeah, I have a long way to go!!!  I work my arms out pretty good as it is, but I am looking for more definition and think this is a good avenue to explore- time to get my arms jacked!!!
  • Sit-Up Challenge- I am not tracking this one in the same way as the push-up challenge…this one is all my own.  My goal is to complete 500 crunches a week.  A while ago I tried to do 200 a night, but that is just unrealistic for me.  And it was overkill.  500 is a good number for the week because I can commit to five days/nights a week without a problem.  Hello six pack…here I come!
  • Pilates- My gym has a pilates class once a week at night and I am going to make it a point to incorporate this into my weekly routine.  I was going to start going last week but with finals and now Christmas, it is just too much.  Therefore, I will be starting the week after Christmas.  Hopefully it goes better than yoga did!
  • No Overloading- Sometimes I get so backed up that I end up sqeezing too much into one work-out.  My goal for 2010 is to work-out/train four to five days a week as consistently as possible so that I don’t get into the habit of overloading myself again.
  • More two-a-days- I love two-a-days but I definitely slacked off on morning work-outs once it started getting cold.  I would much rather kill two work-outs in one day and free up another day for myself, so this is something I am going to re-focus on after the new year.

That is all for now…I am sure I will add to this and I assure you I will be re-visiting it at different points throughout the year, but for now I think this is a really good start.

Stay tuned for the nutrition and blog goal coming up within the week.

What are some of your 2010 goals when it comes to training and working out?


Three Things Tuesday- Holiday Edition

Happy Christmahanakwanza!!!! Does that cover it all?? In short, I want to wish you all a happy holiday season regardless of what you observe. And I want to see lots of pictures!!!!

In the spirit of the holiday, this Three Things Tuesday is dedicated to my favorite things, Christmas style.

Christmas Eve- I have always enjoyed Christmas Eve more than Christmas itself. Each year growing up, my grandparents would come over for a big dinner. We would listen to music, eat lots of yummy food and we would exchange our gifts. I am the oldest of the cousins on my mom’s side and youngest on my dad’s side and this has always been a special time for me to spend with my grandparents. After the grandparents leave, we (and sometimes friends come over) watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. And every year we laugh our asses off. Unfortunately, this year has not been good to my grandfather. He had a stroke last winter, has been in and of the hospital and he is confined to a bed in his living room. My grandmother is by his side day and night. Needless to say, this Christmas Eve will be a little different from years past. Regardless, Christmas Eve is still my favorite and now the ones of the past hold an even more special place in my heart.

Best Surprise Ever- My parents always give me one gift on Christmas Eve. They try to choose something that is extra special. When I was twelve I opened a box with a note that said I had to call a number to find out what my gift was because it had not been ready in time. I have always been grateful for everything I recieved, so while I was a bit confused, I called. The phone rang and rang and rang. My mom insisted I call again and I was like “ugh” (I was twelve!!!) but I did. This time I got the answering machine. The message said something along the lines of “This is Jill’s own line…she does not know she has her own line…” and I just kind of stood there with my jaw dropped. Then it hit me. My very own phone line!! (Note to the young kids: this was before the days of cell phones and having your own line was pretty much the coolest thing ever!) I immediately called my friends and of course they all though I was spoiled (jealous much?) but everyone thought it was so cool. I have received many amazing gifts over the years, but that was by far the best surprise ever.

Giving- This is for real. I get serious joy out of thinking up gifts for people. I love finding just the right thing. Some of the biggest things I have ever done were for my parents. They are my most favorite people to buy for. They do so much for me and Christmas is the one time a year I really get to pay them back. One year, I booked them a trip (flight, rental car and hotel) to Key West for a long weekend! I am a good kid! And even though I have spent a lot of money of gifts in the past…some of the best gifts I have given are homeade. My favorite was the “memory jars” that I gave my group of closest friends a few years back. I typed up pages and pages of inside jokes and memories and added in a bunch of friendship quotes as well. I purchased mason jars, decorated them and then cut and folded all the papers to fit inside the jar. It was fun to make and cost next to nothing. And my friends loved it.

And since I requested them from you, I will share some photos of Christmas past…

I am pretty sure this was my 2nd Christmas. What I do know is that I don’t ever remember our tree being in that spot.


With my Godparents; year of the gag gifts.  And don’t knock my hat- that there is a genuine Debbie Gibson hat.  As for the stonewash jeans…well, what can I say, it was the 80’s!

Christmas 2008 with my brand new red peacoat.

What was your all time best holiday surprise?  Who is your favorite person to buy gifts for?

It’s Good To Be Back!

Bet you are all wondering how I did in that 5k, huh?

Yeah…so about that 5k.  I did not participate.

Why?  Three reasons:  $25 is a lot of money to pay considering I was just going to plod along, I haven’t ran in three weeks and wanted to ease my way back into the game and the course was a loop that (when I am in training) I run one to two times a week.  It just didn’t make much financial sense this close to Christmas and I didn’t want to risk injury by pushing it either.

Am I rationalizing?  Honestly, I don’t think so.

What do you think?  What do you consider when it comes to small races?  How much do you think is too much for a race?


So happy to have an active Week In Review to report!

I still went out on Saturday for a run, despite not doing the 5k.  I went for an easy 2 mile (11:33 pace)  jog Saturday afternoon and I have to say, it felt great!  After my jog, I did a killer abs workout and some push-ups.  And boy did I feel it this morning!  In fact, I am still feeling it!  Holy cow- this is like starting over!

Today I went for a swim as planned.  I know I have mentioned this before, but  I really love being in the water.  A lot!  I had a lot to get done today so I only swam for about 30 minutes, but it was a good workout.  I did some drills and a bunch of laps.  The only downer was that I forgot my cap, so my hair was all in my face the entire time.  Not recommended!

The best part about training this time of year is that I don’t have to take the swimming and biking to seriously.  I can get into the pool and just swim laps.  I can spin a few times a week or hop on the trainer and just have fun with it.  And I can really concentrate on my running for the time being.

My 1/2 marathon training begins this week.  I am really going to concentrate on building my endurance and gaining speed.  And I want to train right.  And by right, I mean, on a schedule.  I have been down this road- it always starts out with the best intentions and then along the way I lose sight of the schedule and end up just doing what I want, when I want.  This time, I hope it is different.  If the schedule says speed-work, then speed-work it is.  Hills are hills and an easy run means easy!  I am hoping that this will help me stick better to my summer tri training schedule.  With bigger tri races on the agenda, I cannot afford to putz around with the training.

The schedule starts out light…and picks up about a mile or so a week (the good ol’ 10% rule) leading up to the Donna 1/2 Marathon on Feb 21.  Because I am basically starting over with my training, I feel like that is the smartest plan.  The longest run is 11 miles; for the most part the “long runs” range from 5-8 miles with two shorter runs in the week.  I am looking forward to progressing and hopefully getting a PR in Orlando in about 10 weeks from now!

Sometimes when I read how many miles my fellow bloggers are running each week, I feel lame, like I should be doing more…but I have to remember that I am running for myself.   All of this started as a journey to better me.  A better swimmer, biker and runner.  It is tough to read about what everyone else is doing and not compare myself.  It is tough to remember that each person is on a different journey.  This past week Felice wrote an awesome post that reflected this same insecurity.   So many people commented having the same feelings; more proof that the blog world is a wonderful community.  I know, that for me, reading those comments made me feel so much better.  I love having this blog and I appreciate every reader and all your support.  I love reading about your successes and sharing mine 🙂  The self-judgments are my own- and they must be stopped!

Do you ever find yourself comparing your efforts to other people’s?  How do you deal with that inner negative voice?