Firecracker 5K PR

If you’re keeping track, it’s been 3 weeks since my last post. I know consistency isn’t my strongest asset, however, this gap was mostly due to an internet outage at our apartment. Thankfully, after many long, internet-less days, we are back to being connected to the rest of the world.

So, now it’s time to catch up.

I’m a few weeks into half-marathon training now and still going strong. I’ve been very relaxed about this training cycle and just enjoying the ability to run, along with my GPP training. I’m also still teaching spinning once a week, which makes every week a pretty active week.

The second big thing I’ve not blogged about yet is a race. On July 4, I ran my first race in 1.5 years. It was a completely spur of the moment decision and just sounded fun.


It was Ann Arbor’s annual Firecracker 5K race and my first 5K in three years.

firecracker start

My goal was to run a sub-26:00, which would knock my previous PR way out off the water by over 3 minutes. Race day made me very nervous (I am not much of a racer), despite knowing that I was almost guaranteed a PR unless something went really wrong. My previous 5K PR was 29:04 and I knew that it wouldn’t take much to beat that since I have been running 8:30 miles easily for many months now.


The race course was extremely boring—two loops passing through the starting line and then a loop back to finish. Unfortunately both of the loops around the starting line came with a hill, which I wasn’t well prepared for. I gave everything I had, though, and did my best to not let the people around me get in my head and cause me to panic.


I ended up pulling off a 25:24 (official) PR and feeling damn proud.

firecracker time

3 things I learned from this experience:

1. I am stronger than I think. I was doubtful I would be able to beat my previous (non-official) PR of 26:27. But I did. By over a minute.

2. I still hate racing. I love having something to train for—a specific date I need to be prepared for—but the actual event… hate it. Stressful. Lots of (self-induced) pressure. Too many people!

3. I can’t wait to see what I can do on a flat course. Can’t wait. Bet I could hit 24:XX.


GPP looks good on runners

Today I had planned to share with you my eats for the day, but I got busy and forgot to take pictures. I’ll try again next week.

Instead, let’s talk about running. Or maybe I should say let’s talk about how little I’ve been running.

My Account  My Training   dailymile (1)

As you can see from my Daily Mile account, I abandoned running during the fall and winter and started picking it back up in March. My left foot started bothering me in early April, so I stopped running entirely again, to be careful. I’ve since started running again, however I rarely just run. Most of the running I’ve been doing is incorporated into my GPP workouts.

Last Saturday I decided to go for a run. My legs were feeling really good, and I thought, “Why not see where my mile time currently stands?” So I gave it my all to see how fast I could run a mile.

fastest mile ever

7 minutes. 43 seconds. My fastest timed mile ever. A new PR. With minimal focus on running. How is that possible?

Clearly, GPP is doing amazing things for my body—far greater than looking better, light years beyond being at my goal weight, and even more important than building bigger muscles. I’m stronger (mentally and physically) than ever before and getting speedier just happens to correspond with that.

My Account  My Training   dailymile (1)

My mile times have dramatically decreased over the last 10 months—some of that has come from becoming a better runner in general. But most of it has come from sticking with a FANTASTIC strength training program and being consistent. I’ve been doing GPP consistently (at least 4 times a week, usually 5-6 days a week) since the beginning of March.

I’m so proud of how far I’ve come as a runner. And now that I’m feeling stronger, I’m ready to turn myself loose even more as a runner and see what I am capable of.

half marathon training plan

That’s why I’ve started training for a half marathon. I’m not registering yet (I tend to register and then get injured during training…so I’m going to hold out and see how it goes first), but the plan is to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon international half. I’d like to break 2 hours, so I’m going to put my heart and sole into this training. I’ll be hitting GPP 5 days a week and running 3 days a week—taking Sunday entirely off for rest and family.

I’m excited to share my half marathon training adventures with you.

Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

Forgive me for the Kanye West lyrics (and the month break from blogging), but they really do describe this exact moment in my life. I’m training harder than I ever have, feeling better than I ever have, running faster than I ever have (even with less effort!), and my body is stronger than it has ever been in my whole life.

GPP training, running, and eating well 80% of the time has become a natural extension of me and it’s not something I put much active thought into anymore. I just get up each day having already made the decision that I will workout before I start work and I will eat clean, with 2-3 treats each week. It is working for me. I have never been happier with my fitness or running program.

I’m currently doing 5 GPP workouts a week, scaled by 1/3, and running 3X a week. My goal is to run a sub-2:00 half marathon this fall. I’m not currently registered for anything, but I am starting to train. I’ll find a race when I get further into my training. I tend to register for races and then something comes up and I can’t run them, wasting my registration money… not doing that this time.


This afternoon I ran 4 easy miles at Gallup Park—2 were on a running path and 2 were on the trails. Everything about this run reminded me of why I first fell in love with running: the weather was awesome, I felt like I was flying, the environment around me was breathtaking, and my body felt strong.


I finished the run in just under 37 minutes.


Truly, the trails were a stunning sight this afternoon and a welcome break from the daily grind.

A few hours went by between breakfast and my run, so I decided to try out some Pro Bar Bolt energy chews before taking off. These were a (free) sample I received while at Blend last weekend.

probar bolt chews

My opinion on the energy chews? I would (and will) buy them with my own dough. They taste great—like candy—but even better, they have fantastic ingredients that I can read and pronounce. They were easy on my tummy and gave me just enough *oomph* to knock out my run. All around winner!


Back home, I demolished some Annie’s mac ‘n cheese leftovers along with half a package of Alexia red potatoes, carrots, and green beans. The Alexia frozen veggie mix has become a fast favorite in my house.

It was such a nice, spring day. A few hours later we hopped back in the car for another trip to the trails.


This time with Link by our side.

Where I am now

… Like I said, blogging continues to appeal to me as long as I don’t set a specific schedule in my mind of what it should look like—as evidenced by the fact that I disappeared for a week! (Work was crazy.)

Recently, I shared my New Year Challenge progress, which I was really satisfied with. Now I want to show you where I stand today and what my current program looks like.2013 fitness progress

Left: February 2013  Middle: March 2013   Right: April 2013

Three months of progress and feeling like I’m in the best shape of my life, hands down!


When the challenge first ended, my main focus was getting back into running shape. I haven’t done much running at all this winter, but, with warm weather ever-so-slowly teasing its way back around, I was eager to start logging miles again.

It felt great to run my little heart out for the first time in months—maybe too great! My body wasn’t happy with the number of miles I was logging and I started feeling a nagging, stress reaction pain in my left foot about a week ago. Trying to heal a full-blown stress fracture is a pain in the ass. I opted to stop all high-impact activity for a few weeks to see if I can ease back into running (building mileage gradually) without angering my body.

But, unlike usual, I haven’t let this “injury” stop me. I stormed GPP workouts four times this week and taught spinning one day. Sometimes I had to modify workouts (rowing instead of running), but I still got my business done. The best thing about GPP is the fact that I don’t have to do the same thing every day or every week. That is what had always turned me off from sticking with strength training in the past. Doing the same thing over and over… boring! GPP is never boring and even though I do the workouts on my own and off-site, I feel connected and challenged by the GPP Community.

I did GPP workouts throughout the New Year Challenge 2-3x/week. When I am able to return to running I will drop back down to 3 GPP a week. Until that time I plan to storm GPP workouts 5 days a week and practice yoga once a week.

I love GPP and running. Finding the right balance of the two is not easy for me because, if I could, I would do both everyday. GPP makes me feel strong, capable, and badass. Running keeps me sane and adds life to my life. So yes, I will return to running. But I will continue to GPP as well.


I began tracking my food/calories for the first time in a while during the challenge. Since the challenge ended three weeks ago I have continued to track my food. I use the My Fitness Pal app (add me: Mariatrains) to track. It is easy for me because I eat a lot of the same foods each day/week, making tracking a breeze.

I believe I will continue to track to keep myself on plan. It doesn’t really add more work to my day or hinder me in any way, so I don’t see the need to stop when I am doing so well because of it. I haven’t found myself slipping into any restrictive eating habits and typically consume anywhere from 1700-2200 calories (depending on the day’s activity).

I’ve been experimenting with having a weekly “cheat” meal each week, which I like. I typically eat 85% clean during the week just because the foods I enjoy most are already “clean.” However, for my cheat meal I allow myself to have whatever I want, track it, and move on. This week I had a big burger, fries, and milkshake from Steak ‘N’ Shake. It was delicious.

Basically, I just want to continue to see more progress—safely return to running, storm GPP workouts and build muscle, and lower my body fat percent… all while enjoying life.

Sunday Funday + Week Recap

I think I could actually get back into consistent (3-4 times/week) blogging if I’m able to let go of what blogging should look like for me. For the three years my husband and I lived in Japan I had an abundance of spare time and blogged almost daily. That’s not the case anymore. But I DO miss writing and sharing my life with strangers on the internet (not at all creepy, right?).

I digress.

So here is how my Sunday went down:

morning kisses from link

Woke up to a rotten mutt stepping all over my face and licking me. Once he goes out to pee in the morning he thinks everyone needs to be awake. He does this to me every. single. morning. that he is awake before me. Rotten to the core.

oats and coffee

Had some delicious coffee and hot oats, cooked on the stovetop, before heading to church for the Palm Sunday service. I haven’t had oats cooked on the stovetop in months because I’m too lazy to dirty an extra dish and would rather microwave them. But they taste so much better and have more volume. Volume=staying full. Held me over for four hours.

blurry yoga toes

After church, I dropped into my gym’s Sunday morning vinyasa yoga class. Yesterday’s speedy 5-miler didn’t kill my legs as much as I had expected, but I knew I needed to stretch out to prevent injury. It’s been too long since I last practiced yoga and today’s downward dogs were rough—recommitting to once a week yoga practices!

shopping cart

Made a quick swing by the grocery store after yoga because we missed a few things when we went grocery shopping yesterday. Never thought I’d buy Grape Nuts… feel like an 80-year-old grandmother.


For lunch, Jeremy and I redeemed a Groupon we bought for a local Japanese restaurant. We started by sharing some shrimp and veggie tempura.

japanese curry

After eating all 4 of the gyoza that came with Jeremy’s ramen (he doesn’t like them), I was only able to eat about 1/4 of my curry rice. Will make a fun lunch this week, though.

link and mommy ready to run

After lunch and doing some chores I felt quite worn out… so I crashed for an hour. When I woke up I decided to head out for 2 easy recovery miles. Link has been getting so frustrated that I’m not taking him to run, so I decided to bring him along today. He was not at all cooperative and I had to cut the run short at 1.14 miles. He’s usually great running with me, so I’m not sure what his deal was today.

link crashed

He totally crashed when we got home.

link crashed 2

salmon and broccoli

For dinner I had baked a big salmon fillet and roasted some broccoli. My eyes ended up being bigger than my stomach and I couldn’t finish all of the salmon… more leftovers for lunch.

A Quick Weekly Update


Ran 12ish miles this week—3 easy runs and 1 speed run.


Still getting the hang of maintenance. Lots to think about and try.

Time to relax for a little bit before bed and catch up on some TV shows with my husband.

Fast running and good eating

March is almost over and I’ve really been amping up my running lately. But seriously, good riddance to March because it’s been cold, snowy, and busy!

This morning was my longest run since last October, when I was in the middle of marathon training. I’ve been adding a little bit more mileage each weekend and had worked my way up to being ready to run 5 miles this morning.

I could never have imagined what those 5 miles would look like.


My first mile was around 9:16, which I thought was going to be a huge mistake. I definitely thought I’d gone out too fast and was going to have wrecked the rest of the run. Wrong.

The second mile was around 9:08 and it seems that my miles just got faster from there. I have no idea where this fast 5 miles came from—heck, I didn’t even know I was capable of running a sub-9 minute/mile run. But apparently I am. Just makes me wonder what else I am capable of that I don’t know about…

The coolest thing about this run though was how fantastic my legs felt during and even afterwards. It was the best feeling to feel strong enough to run fast and not be injured afterward. Thank you, GPP and all the HIIT workouts I’ve been doing.


Had some banana Chobani with cinnamon and ground flaxseed immediately after the run to get some protein in my body. (Also had a sandwich later when my stomach was ready for it.)


The only other notable meal today was the salad I chose at Panera Bread when my husband and I swung in mid-grocery shopping trip. He hadn’t ate lunch yet and I was ready for round 2 of lunch after my morning run. Above is the Spinach Power salad—minus the mushrooms. It was very satisfying, which is something I rarely say about a salad.

The day is almost over, but I’m still riding the high from my speedy run. I’m currently training for a 10K in May and according to the McMillian Running Calculator I could do it in a little over 55 minutes based on today’s pace… my goal has always just been to beat 60 minutes in the 10K, so to shatter it by 5 minutes would be magical!


Time to unwind with some Zevia (love it!) and my current read, Ryan Hall’s Running With Joy (can’t put it down).

Husband of the year!

Well, he did it. My husband has officially knocked all others out of the running for husband of the year.


You see, I am slightly obsessed with Jillian Michaels. It’s part innocent girl crush and a whole lot of admiration for helping to kick start my ass into getting fit. FACT: 30 Day Shred was the first workout DVD I ever owned (coincidentally, Jeremy bought that for me, too) and one of my first touches with exercise.

The idea of ever seeing Jillian Michaels in person isn’t one I’ve ever allowed myself to entertain—it was too far fetched.

But… it’s happening on May 9!


Tonight, after battling through what appears to be the beginnings of a demonic snow storm, Jeremy surprised me yet again by not only buying me a ticket to see my fitness hero in the flesh, but going with me. Who is this man?!?

I am so excited and even more motivated to kick ass and take names with my workouts in the meantime. Got to look amazing for my girl!

Speaking of workouts, the weather has really been terrible lately—snow almost every week it seems.

giant snowman pug

There was enough snow last week for our neighbors to make this bewilderingly large snowman… Link is terrified of it. All the snow has really been cramping my running-style, so I’ve been hitting the treadmill twice a week for some 20-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) runs and forcing myself outdoors on the weekend.


I got in a particularly good HIIT session on Monday at lunchtime that made me feel proud. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned this go around with regaining fitness and losing weight is that you have to take each choice as it comes and make the best one you can. I didn’t wake up on time to get my HIIT session in before work on Monday, so I made it fit in my lunch hour.


Obviously, this is easier to do when you work at a gym. ;)