Category Archives: travel

Chickamauga Half Marathon ‘13

Me: 2 – Chickamauga: 1

Finally I’m in the lead! Chickamauga and I had a rough start. In 2011 I had my worst run to date in Ft Oglethorpe, Georgia at Chickamauga Battlefield. You know, the one where I got lost in the rain storm and ended up on the highway after getting chased by a pit bull, and then ran 12+ mile on a hotel treadmill. Yes, I’m still a little bit bitter.

Last year I ran a PR race at Chickamauga and got my revenge.

On Friday morning Tim, Lincoln and I headed up to Chattanooga/Ft Oglethorpe. The race itself is in Georgia, but its just over the border from Tennessee. On the way up, we stopped in Birmingham for lunch at Whole Foods. I love their hot bar, but it can become very expensive very quickly. This time we decided to try out the restaurant.

I ordered the Salmon with Warm Farro Salad.


And Lincoln was happy because they had pizza.


I didn’t realize it at the time, but Whole Foods discourages tipping in their restaurants since they already pay their employees fair wages. Nice to know!

We arrived in Georgia around 5pm Eastern and headed to the packet pick-up. Chickamauga doesn’t have much an an expo per se, so it was a quick in and out stop before we headed over to our hotel in Chattanooga.

After unpacking and settling in, we met up with Drew and headed out to dinner. We ended up at Big River Grille, the food was “meh” but a good time was had.


On race morning I woke up exceptionally early. I remembered that last year the traffic going into the battlefield was backed up and I was nervous about getting to the start on time. This year I made sure that I could leisurely get ready and drive to the start to find parking with no extra anxiety. As a matter of fact we ended up arriving more than an hour and a half before the start of the race. Thankfully McQueens can sleep anywhere.


The morning was cold and dark. The thermometer in the car read 32 degrees and there was ice in the grass as I trekked over to use the porto-potty with only the light of my cellphone as my guide.

During the quiet time in the car before the race started, I spent a few minutes pondering my “goal” for the day. I knew that a PR race wasn’t within my reach this year. The only training I’ve done in the last 9 months or so was for a marathon distance. Longer, slower running. Even the speedwork for a marathon is not the pace that is necessary to excel at a Half Marathon distance.

I decided that I would take this opportunity to concentrate on my pacing and to work on consistency, and finishing the last few miles strong. I aimed specifically to finish in 1:45 because when I looked at the 21 previous Half Marathons that I have run, my average pace is approximately that.

Eventually the sun came up and everyone started making their way to the starting line. I waited until the very last minute to hop out of my warm car, rushed over and picked my spot in the crowd just before the race got underway.

Chickamauga start

The first 2 miles or so I didn’t even bother looking at my Garmin to check my pace. My feet were numb from the cold and the crowd was pretty tight, so I knew I just needed to go with the flow for a little while before I locked in on my target of an 8 minute pace. I was surprised when I looked at my splits later and realized that even these first couple of miles were right on… 8:04 and 7:51.

I remembered from the previous year how incredibly beautiful this course was, the wildlife, the monuments, the gorgeous fall colors … what I didn’t remember and was quickly reminded of around the 4th mile were the very rolling hills and the camber of the road in places. Still I managed to stay pretty consistent through the next several miles … 7:55, 8:04, 7:45, 8:01, 8:01.

Miles 8-10 went by in a blur. I tried to make myself look around and enjoy the scenery, look for deer in the distance of the open fields, enjoy the cold air on my face but all I really wanted to do was focus on the music blaring in my ears and watch the ground 3 feet infront of my body. So I let myself do that. 7:54, 7:52, 8:03.

At mile 10 I was really ready to be done. My feet, legs and hands were freezing cold but my chest and my head were on fire. It was a weird sensation that I didn’t like. I wanted to take my outer long sleeve shirt off, but I had attached my bib to it, so I just rolled up my sleeves and tried to make-do. I lifted my cap off my head a little to let some cold air in and that helped some. I still just wanted to be done.

I tried to run faster, but was only able to pick it up slightly. I felt some satisfaction in catching up to and passing a couple of runners who had blown past me miles back. The last few miles felt like forever, but finally I hit the corner of Barnhardt circle, the very last stretch around the loop where the race first started. 7:48, 7:47, 7:45

And just like that it was over! My official time was 1:44:24. Overall it was a really solid run for me that I was proud of.

We stuck around and ate some Chickamauga special Banana Pudding and Chicken Noodle Soup, let Lincoln play in the grass with the other kids, and then watched the reenactors fire the cannon as the first marathoner finished before heading out to Blue Plate for lunch.


I would definitely recommend Chickamauga to anyone looking for great Fall Marathon or Half Marathon in the Southeast with lots of beautiful scenery and historical significance. Because of the small size of the race, it sells out quickly so jump on it in March when registration becomes available.

Next up: Louisiana Half Marathon on January 19th.


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Filed under Half Marathon, pictures, Races, travel, Uncategorized

Old Year – New Year

2012 was a really great year! I’m so excited to see what 2013 will have in store!

I rang in the New Year in Nashville, Tennessee with some great friends. New Years Eve started off with 7 mile run down the Natchez Trace Parkway with Drew.

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 e10 Natchez Trace Parkway 2 PHOTO_6237355_16878_7282673_ap
                                (Image sources here and here).

Then last night we went out on the town in Downtown Nashville, ate some good food, had a few drinks and watched the ball drop.

In 2012 I completed 9 Half Marathons and 1 Full Marathon. I got new PRs in both distances and accomplished my goal of running a sub-4 hr marathon. I gave up my vegetarianism for a Paleo lifestyle and joined a CrossFit box. I celebrated a year of practicing yoga. I quit my job as a Labor and Delivery nurse to be able to spend more time at home with my family and pursue other interests. I began teaching nursing school clinicals at a local college on a part time basis. I made some great new friendships, did quite a bit of traveling including a family trip to Disney World and celebrated 11 years of marriage.

I ran over 1800 miles in 2012. That’s more than 500 miles more than I ran in 2011!

It really was a great year!

Now its time to set my intentions for 2013 to make sure that it is even better. I’m honestly not a big fan of really specific resolutions such as, “I will run 2000 miles” or “I will run a 1:39 half marathon”. While those types of goals serve a certain purpose and are definitely measurable, I feel that there is only so much that is within human control. What if I break my leg this year and am unable to meet those goals? I prefer more generalized resolutions that give me something to strive towards daily and in the end make me a better, happier person.

My 2013 resolutions are:

To let go of the things in the past that have hurt me and to not carry that pain into the new year.

To accept myself unconditionally right now.  Every. single. day.

And to live with as much passion, dedication, commitment and peace as I possibly can.

I’m starting off the year with another Whole30 program. Day 1 will be tomorrow!

Other exciting things that I already have on the calendar for 2013 include:

  • The Louisiana Half Marathon on January 20th
  • Wetumpka Indians Half Marathon on January 26th
  • Mississippi River Marathon on February 9th
  • Mercedes Half Marathon on February 17th
  • Centerpoint Half Marathon on March 16th
  • Publix Georgia Half Marathon on March 17th
    (Doing back to backs to get a new Half Fanatic level)

aaaand one that I’m really excited about …

  • Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington, DC on April 7th.

My friend Hilary and I both registered for the lottery for the Cherry Blossom race and we were both chosen! I’ve actually never been to D.C. so I’m really excited to experience it. We will be turning it in to a mini family vacation!

The new year is already looking promising with lots of new challenges and adventures on the horizon.

The hubby and I are also joining CrossFit Intrigue’s Health and Performance Challenge beginning on January 5th.

Happy New Year! Make it great!


Filed under Challenges, Goals, New Years Plans, pictures, travel, Whole30

There’s No Place Like Home and Starting the Whole30

My little fam has just returned from our week long vacation at Disney World. It was magical!


I think no matter where you go though, there is still nothing like coming back home.

I’m ready to get back down to business and back into my normal eating/exercising routine. I was definitely off all week on the Paleo (or even “healthy” eating) front. I did manage to stick to my training plan for the marathon while I was there though, since thankfully it was a “step-down” week for me. I actually had a couple pretty spectacular runs.

There is a paved Nature Trail from the Wilderness Lodge, where we stayed, to the Fort Wilderness campground. There were deer EVERYWHERE along the trail, and they weren’t scared at all. I was able to get within an arms distance of them without frightening them. They never even startled when I ran by. Here are some of the pictures I snapped…

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I felt like a real-life Snow White.

I can’t believe what a thrill seeker my son is, especially since he still begs to sleep in bed with Tim and I because he’s “scared of the dark”. I think that’s just an excuse, because he had absolutely no problem riding Space Mountain multiple times which is a roller coaster in the dark. He also rode Expedition Everest four times in one day and Splash Mountain.

2012-11-02 14.30.28

He looks so fierce!

On the 8 hour drive down I finished reading the book that I’ve been working on for a while by Rich Roll called Finding Ultra and on the way home I read the majority of It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.


Both really great books!

It Starts With Food outlines a Paleo-based 30 day “reset” program, that the hubby and I are officially starting tomorrow. The basic idea of the book is that all food either makes you more healthy, or less healthy … nothing is neutral. Foods must meet all of the “Good Food Standards” in order to pass as healthy foods. The standards are:

  1. Promote a healthy psychological response.
  2. Promote a healthy hormonal response.
  3. Support a healthy gut.
  4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

Any foods that have been found to not strictly meet ALL of these standards are out for the 30 days. After the 30 day time period you may stay on the program as written or add back in food items one at a time to find what your body specifically tolerates and runs best on.

The foods that are out are: sugar (natural or artificial in every form including honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.), grains of any kind, legumes and/or beans (including peanuts and peanut butter GAH!), alcohol and dairy. All of these foods violate one or more of the Good Food Standards.

What’s left? Meats, Vegetables, Fruit and Nuts. The former vegetarian in me really likes the fact that this book/program promotes eating sustainable meats … wild caught fish, grass-fed beef, pasture raised animals who eat their normal diets.

Anyway, I won’t outline the entire book … but those are the very basics. The book goes into specific detail of each food and how it meets or does not meet the Good Food Standards and the science-y stuff behind it all.

I spent a little time this afternoon cleaning out my refrigerator and pantry and eliminating all the foods that don’t fit into the Whole30 program. I was left with only 2 things in the fridge: butter and guacamole. Shopping was in order.

I’m so used to cooking vegetarian that I’m having a really hard time transitioning to figure out how to put together Paleo meals. It’s completely different. A couple of weeks ago I discovered that Emeals, which is a program I used to use when I was doing Weight Watchers now has a Paleo plan. Basically it creates 5-7 (whichever  plan you choose) dinner meals for you, gives you the recipes, the ingredient list for each meal, and a shopping list. There is also a 5 day lunch plan that is available to add to the dinner program. I signed up for the Paleo plan to get me started with some basics.

This weeks menu will include:

Lemony Sage Chicken w/ Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts
Chicken Curry Soup w/ Cucumber Salad
Sausage Stuffed Peppers w/ Sautéed Asparagus
Walnut Crusted Tilapia w/ Squash Ribbons
Chicken Fajitas w/ Spicy Mango Salsa
Fall Mushroom Strata w/ Roasted Beets

Now this is a beautiful fridge:

2012-11-04 16.41.51

If you are interested in learning more about the Whole30 program go here. I’d love to have a couple people to do it with me!

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Filed under Books, Clean Eating, Food, Paleo, pictures, travel, vacation

Franklin Classic 10K

I love that it feels like its Monday, but its really Tuesday. Long weekends rock!

This holiday weekend was a busy one. We were out of town spending some time in Franklin, TN outside of Nashville.  While we were there we ate at a couple amazing restaurants: Saffire for dinner the first night, and Puckett’s for breakfast the next morning.

We visited the Adventure Science Center. I got to go to a Hot Yoga class at Epic Yoga that my friend, Kate taught. We even fed the homeless while we were there, more on that later maybe.

Saturday night we all went out to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. The Bluebird is a bar/restaurant/listening room where singer/songwriters come to perform their songs for the audience. There were 10 songwriters who performed 3 songs each and a featured writer. We ended up staying at the Bluebird from 8pm until close to midnight.

This writer was my personal fave, although several of them were excellent:

My friend Drew and I registered to run in the Franklin Classic 10K while we were in town on Labor Day morning. After a couple of days of heavy food and too many drinks, plus a late night at the Bluebird Cafe the night before, I wasn’t thinking too highly of how the race would go.

I was very surprised at the size of the race when we arrived. It looked like a set-up you would see at a half marathon instead of what I have typically seen at 10K or 5K races. There were almost 3000 people in the 10K and 5K races! Definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

2012-09-03 08.25.56

Drew has been running in this area for a while now and he gave me the low-down that the first 4 miles of the course were really hilly and then the last 2 miles would be more flat with a steady decline at the very end of the race.



We started the race off together and he pulled away from me within the first mile. The second mile and third mile were definitely very hilly, as soon as I came off one hill it seemed there was immediately another one waiting. I felt pretty decent though and was able to handle them with ease. I could still see Drew up ahead. Around the 4 mile mark the course finally flattened out some and I started pushing myself harder to try to get as close to Drew as possible. I yelled out to him that he better go because I was coming. Within the last half mile I caught him and passed him, but I knew he wouldn’t be able to stand that … he quickly caught back up to me and we actually ended up crossing the finish line at the exact same second.

Chip time of 46:38! A new PR for me by almost 2 minutes.


My splits were: 7:18, 7:25, 7:53, 7:40, 7:17 and 7:06.

The absolute best part of the race though was seeing my little man run in his very first race. We signed him up for the Kid’s 1K race and he ran it like a champ without stopping at all. Proud mommy!

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Filed under Personal Record, Races, travel

Fall Vacation 2011 – Day 1

I woke up in Fort Oglethorp, Georgia this morning. Our vacation wasn’t technically suppose to start until today, but because I had a 14 mile long run on the training schedule for this weekend we left a day early. The plan was to run at Chickamauga Battlefield and then to head to Gatlinburg for the real vacation. I was actually super stoked about running in the battlefield, everyone raves about it!

Things didn’t turn out as planned. As I reported on DailyMile …

Started off at the beginning of the Chickamauga Half Marathon course, but I could never get my Garmin to follow the route so I realized very quickly that I didn’t even know which direction to go. Called Tim to bring me the map, thought I figured it out and started again. It started raining on me hard almost immediately. There was lots of traffic on the windy road and I was afraid I was going to get hit by a car so I ended up running in the grass and getting my feet soaking wet. Then I was afraid I was going to trip and fall into traffic … a few minutes later after getting chased by a dog and caught in a rainstorm I also ended up on the interstate somehow. Finally decided to give up and call it quits. Called Tim to come pick me up, in the meantime a creepy looking guy stopped on the interstate and told me that the “lord instructed him to bring me an umbrella”. I tried to explain to him that I was already soaking wet and the rain was the least of my worries, but he insisted. All of this happened within 1.75 miles. It ended in lots of tears.

Got back to the hotel and something in me just wouldn’t let me quit. I ended up running the last 12.25 miles on the treadmill in the hotel gym. It was an absolute struggle. I had to think every positive and reassuring thought about myself that I could muster. At one point I even repeated “hardwork – dedication – hardwork – dedication” outloud for atleast 10 minutes. This was probably my toughest day so far as a runner, but it showed me what I’m made of and I’m grateful for that.

I tried my best to put the run behind me and enjoy the start of the real vacation. Before heading out of town we stopped at a great little Greek/Italian restaurant for lunch. They had an awesome salad and pizza bar.

I also discovered pickled okra. O … M .. G

I spent most of my day staring out the window of the car. Dreary, rainy and miserable … all day.

Once we finally made it to Gatlinburg we decided to pick up some things to make dinner at our cabin since we had already eaten lunch out. The cabin has a big nice gas grill on the porch by the hot tub. I envisioned an evening of grilling, hot tubbin’ and beer drinking. So far I’m 2 for 3. Still gotta make it to the hot tub.

We made grilled portobello burgers, grilled asparagus and homemade guacamole. Soooo good!


Atleast as good as any real burger I’ve ever eaten and probably better.

Before we made it to the cabin I had something happen that hasn’t happened to me in several years. I had a STRAIGHT UP panic attack. I had a flashback of driving here 2 years ago and sliding all over the road when it was raining and we were trying to go up the mountain. Of course it was raining again today. I started crying as soon as I thought about it. I honestly felt like I was going to vomit I was so scared. I considered getting out of the car and walking up the moutain carrying my 3.5 year old son, in the rain. Tim can figure out his way up himself. Ha!

Anyway … obviously I lived. And I didn’t have to walk. I just closed my eyes and held on for dear life. Good job husband for not getting me kilt today.

Now I think I hear that hot tub calling my name. Here’s hoping day 2 goes more smoothly.


Filed under Food, Long Runs, Marathon Training, pictures, travel, vacation

So Much To Do!

Aaaah! We are going to Disney World in less than one week. I’m finally starting to get excited. I’ve been too busy lately to even really put any thought into it until now.


But first an update on the knee …

Its been 4 days now since I’ve run which is pretty  much unheard of for me. I don’t think I’ve gone 4 days without running in about a year and a half now.

I have been doing the elliptical in place of running. I have virtually no pain while I’m doing the elliptical. I have still been experiencing some dull pain and aching in general though. It isn’t the same sharp, “I can barely walk because my knee keeps locking up” pain that I felt before, so I guess that’s good. I was really hoping by now the pain would have gone away completely though.

I want to run again. Nothing is the same. But I will give it atleast a full week (which will be Tuesday) and more time if needed. It might be time to see a doctor soon.

Back to the fun stuff …

In preparation for our Disney trip I bought this:

41M5hC mYZL._SS400_
I’ve been wanting one anyway, so this seemed like the perfect time. I can make healthy snacks to have on our long car trip. It should be delivered today.

I’m hoping to make:

  • banana chips
  • dried strawberries
  • sweet potato chips
  • apple chips

I have so much to do before this trip. I really need to start a list so I don’t forget something important.


What is your take on these type of devices …


Tim and I have both always agreed that we would never use a “leash” on our child. Tim is adamantly opposed to it, but I am now considering it for Disney World. I want my child to be able to walk around without me being scared that I’m going to lose him in a crowd.



Filed under Food, Parenting/Mommy Blogging, pictures, products, travel, vacation

Mini Vacay


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