Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Birthday Run

Jordan and I at a 5k the
 day before our wedding-
July 2011.
This past weekend I turned 25 years old. Unbelievable!

The years have really flown by since I first enrolled in Virginia Tech as a college freshman SEVEN years ago. To this day I still have people mistaking me for a high school student, so it's hard to grasp that I am now in my mid-twenties. I look back on my life and only realize how BLESSED I am. At 25 I am married to the most wonderful, amazing best-friend of a husband a girl could have. I've graduated from Virginia Tech three times (not much beats being a 3x Tech grad!), I'm surrounded by loving family and friends, have the most ADORABLE dog ever (Kenya) and each day I am surrounded by God and His beautiful creation. I have a lot to celebrate!

My birthday this year was a lot different than year's past. For one, I was out of town for the weekend working a double triathlon race weekend at Lake Anna State Park. Working on my birthday away from my husband and family was a little sad, but I was determined to make the best of it. Coming up on my birthday, I knew I wanted to do a few things to celebrate the health and well-being I've achieved over the past few years. After much reflection, I decided those things would be to:

1) Run 25 miles to celebrate my age

2) Join my husband in becoming a vegetarian

3) Finally start the sports nutrition blog I've been thinking about for the past year

Me before the start
of my run.
As indicated from the the title, this post is meant to be about my birthday run. This was meant as a celebration of my fitness gains over the past few years-- I feel like I've come a long way! However, this endeavor also doubled as a great training run for the upcoming Eastern Divide 50k, which I'll be running at the end of June. Seeing that I would be working a half ironman-distance triathlon on my birthday (Saturday), I had to do a little planning to fit it in. I decided running the miles a day early would be best, so I ventured up to Lake Anna State Park on Thursday evening to hang out and prep for an early start.

Friday morning I was up by 5am to fuel-up for a 6:15am start. I had a pretty routine breakfast, oatmeal with eggs whites and fruit, but added a sprinkle of chia seeds to the oatmeal and a side of beet juice (more on that in another post). Of course, there was also the obligatory (for me) cup of coffee with soy milk. That's a lot to digest within an hours time, so I knew I would need to start off easy. The starting temperature was 47 degrees and clear skies -- perfect weather in my book.

The actual run was pretty uneventful! I stayed within the park's limits by completing two 10-mile loops and one 5-mile loop. I tend to break my long runs down because it's helpful from a nutrition standpoint (can restock-up easily and not have to carry everything), safer (especially when running alone) and it breaks the run up mentally. By the end of the first loop I had caught a pretty good groove an was forcing myself to take it easy. On the second loop I continued feeling good until about mile 18, when I began to cramp up and some nagging hip pain began to flair up. I took some electrolytes and kept moving, keeping my eye on the finish line. At this point, I switched my music over to the more uptempo songs for a little extra motivation. Mile 22 was my toughest mile because I had to tackle a mile long uphill before making the turn to head back to my cabin.

I finished the run in an overall time of 3:36 and was delighted considering my average pace. My body however felt horrible as I was still cramping and now sick to the stomach! I usually use Nuun, an electrolyte tablet, in my hand bottle but had forgotten that at home. It took a few minutes of laying on the couch before I mustered the energy to get up, stretch and drink my post-run shake. After a nice long shower and ice bath, I felt much better and was ready to get to work!

This run really meant a lot to me for a couple of reasons. For one, I am simply blown away by my motivation to run this far on my own and by my own will.  My husband will most likely agree that three years ago I would have avoided anything longer than 10 miles like the plague! These days I am continually hearing from him: "You are achieving far more than I ever thought you would." Not because he didn't believe in me before,  but because in the past I didn't believe in myself nor push myself. This run was a celebration of the fitness-gains God has blessed me with. I've learned to love and respect my body through a healthy diet and exercise and I treat each day of well-being as a gift to be cherished and appreciated. Finally, I did this run to prove to myself that I am capable. As a high school student, someone once told me "I wasn't built to be a runner and I would never be successful." Those words used to be a mental plague for me, but they now serve as motivation day in and out to prove them wrong. I may not have the ideal tall, sleek long-distance runner physique, but I am still strong, powerful and willing to work hard. I've discovered the beauty of accepting myself as I am NOW and this has helped me to approach my goals with a new level confidence and vigor. This run served as a commitment to myself to: to continue to push my body to new levels of fitness and discover what it is truly capable of, to continue to treat my body with love and respect and to continue encourage others to do the same. I look forward to seeing what the next 5 years has in store!


  1. wow what a great run and some fun goals for the year. i think it's always interesting when we start to find new ways of digging in deep to meet new goals we really never considered possible before

  2. I'm so glad you started a blog! You have had a really exciting year, it just goes to show that life can get even better post-college. I think kids worry that after college their best days are behind them, not true! Life is what you make of it, about inviting challenge and going for it! You are certainly doing that and more. I'm really excited for you!!

  3. Cortney- you're totally right. I think I've actually matured in my approach towards my training post-college. Of course, being married to Jordan totally helps :-D


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