Brooks, Daniel, Faith, NYC, Running, Treadmill

It’s a Runner’s World, We’re Just Living in it

Y’all. Oh my goodness … I have so much to tell you about.

First, let’s (quickly) catch up on NYC training and then I want to give you a play-by-play of my actual trip to NYC as part of the Runner’s World cover search photo and video shoot. Before I do that though, I want to say Happy Anniversary to my best friend, running partner, soul mate and my most loyal reader, Daniel! We have been married 5 years today. If you are new to the blog, you can check out the story of how we met here. I am so thankful to have him by my side and that he was able to go to New York with me. It made the whole experience even more special.

When we left off last, I was looking forward to some cooler temperatures for my long run Sunday. The weather definitely came through for me, and I got in a solid 18 miles with the middle 9 “up-tempo.” My goal range for the tempo miles was 6:45 to 7:00 pace and I did 6:47, 6:56, 6:56, 6:46, 7:00, 6:54, 6:52, 6:54, 6:48 with an average of 7:40 for the entire run. Luckily one of Daniel’s training buddies was there (Daniel was working) to help me keep the pace. Nothing like fall weather to make you feel good about your training!

Monday was a really busy day at work, and I knew I would probably be there a little late because I still had a few September 15th deadline tax returns to wrap up before leaving for NYC. I got an easy six mile recovery run in before work and thankfully I was able to get the returns done by Monday evening. Then it was time to pack and get prepared for the trip!

Tuesday morning I decided to go ahead and tackle one of my workouts for the week, since I didn’t think I would really be able to get a workout in while we were gone. I hit the treadmill for a 12 mile steady state run. I did a 2 mile warm-up and then kept the pace between 6:55 and 7:10 for the remainder of the run. That is the second steady state workout I have had this training cycle and these are definitely a mental challenge for me. I got it done though. Hopefully I am strengthening my mental “muscle” as well as my physical strength and I will be able to channel that on race day. Fingers crossed!

We dropped Brooks off at Dog Ranch (aka doggie spa) for a few days of play and then we headed to the airport. Our flights went very smoothly and we landed in NYC around 11 p.m. Tuesday evening. We got some good rest on the plane, so we were ready to tackle survive the city once we got there.


Yes, two can play at this game and I knew it was a risky move to post this one. You’ll have to keep reading to see the payback … This was our first time to NYC, so neither one of us really knew what in the world was going on, but we were together, and I am so thankful for that. I don’t think I could’ve managed without Daniel!

We got a taxi to Manhattan and found our hotel pretty easily. We stayed on 8th Avenue at The New Yorker, which seemed like a great location. Everything we did was within walking distance. Once we settled into our room, we decided to venture out in search of something to eat. It was getting fairly late at this point, and we were kind of amazed at how many people were out and about. The city definitely has an exciting vibe. We got to bed around 12:30 a.m., which was the latest I have been up in a while!

After a few hours of sleep, we were up and at ‘em, excited to explore the city and run a few miles before we officially met up with the rest of the group. We hit snooze a time or two, so we didn’t have a lot of extra time, but we managed to make it over to Central Park and ran a mile or so in the Park before heading back to the hotel to meet everyone. The first “scheduled” event Wednesday morning was a group run with Bart Yasso (how cool is that?) by the Hudson River along the West Side Highway at 6:30. We all met in the lobby at 6:15 to get to know each other for a few minutes before hitting the streets for a few miles of bonding.


Those of you who know me in real life know that I am not really a social butterfly. Don’t get me wrong, I love people and I usually get along well with everyone that I meet, I just tend to be more quiet and reserved in big groups. Needless to say, I was a tad anxious about meeting everyone and anxious about the whole experience in general, really (you can read by post on anxiety here). Fortunately, I felt very calm the entire trip and I was instantly at ease as soon as I met everyone. The group was incredible!

Seriously, I could go on and on about all of these runners and how friendly, inspirational and downright amazing they were. We had an incredible amount of diversity in the group, but the group chemistry was very strong right from the start and it felt like we had known each other for years. This is partly because we all knew a little bit about each other (and by a little bit, I mean a lot of really personal things, as we had all read the other finalists’ stories) and partly because we are runners and runners just get each other. Some of the best friendships that I have were created through running and I definitely added some new friends to that list this week!

After our group run it was time to get ready for our photo shoot at Jack Studio. We arrived at the studio for our photo and video shoot around 9 that morning. This part was so much fun! I don’t know about you, but I had never been to a photo shoot before, much less been in one (until now), so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It was everything you would hope for and more! The studio was beautiful. Everything was white and crisp and there were running clothes and photographers and videographers with cameras all over the place.

They had a nice breakfast spread for us when we arrived and I got started with the wardrobe staff pretty much as soon as we got there. We were asked to bring some of our own options and then they also had things there for us to try on and wear if we wanted to. I basically packed every black, white, gray and navy item of running clothing that I owned (those were the colors we were asked to bring). But, I got it all in one bag and didn’t even need a carry-on. Daniel has taught me the art of packing over the years. He spent several weeks in Europe after college and was only able to take one bag with him, so he’s basically an expert. I guess I should probably note that I used the same bag to pack for two days in NYC that he used on his entire trip to Europe, so maybe I still have a little bit to learn …

I tried on a few different options at the studio, but we ended up settling on one of the outfits that I brought from home (Brooks top and Oiselle shorts purchased at Running Wild, of course). After we got that settled, I headed over to get my hair and makeup done. I really enjoyed this part. I don’t typically like to get all “dolled-up,” but every now and then it is fun. The majority of the day was spent hanging out in the studio, getting pictures made. We also had some short interviews that were filmed and there was a videographer that filmed a lot of the activities over the course of the few days that we were there. There was a lot of “down time” at the studio while other people were doing their photos, etc. so we had lots of time to get to know each other better and we got to hang out and talk with several of the judges as well.


You know, just hanging out with Bart Yasso and Natalie Morales … no big deal. For those of you who are curious, Natalie is one of the nicest, most down to earth people that you’ll ever meet. She is also an awesome runner! It was really neat to get a chance to talk, run and just hang out a little bit with all of the judges over the course of the few days that we were there.

Daniel had some time to explore the city and he was able to stop by the studio for a while. I texted him at one point to see what he was up to and he responded that he was doing some shopping at Macy’s. For some reason, this just cracked me up. Probably because he is not a shopper. In typical Sam fashion, he “forgot” to pack a nice shirt to wear for dinner so he had to go to Macy’s to pick one out. He actually did forget to bring his shirt and he about croaked when realized how much he had to pay for a Polo at Macy’s. I used to pull this stunt growing up when we would travel to tennis tournaments on the weekends. I would “forget” to bring enough outfits and then I just had to buy something new. My parents quickly caught on to my little trick though. Major bummer. Anyway, I am getting off track here … Daniel stopped by the studio and I was so glad to see him. Having him there was so comforting in the midst of all of the lovely chaos.

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Here are all of the girls …

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We wrapped up the shoot a little early, which is apparently unheard of. Hopefully that means we did really well! Here are a few shots of all of us with the judges.



We had a little extra time on our hands at this point before we had to be ready for dinner, so obviously we all decided to go for another run. This was not planned, but everyone was all in. I love it! We ran over to Central Park and got to run through the park. I am so glad that we got to do this. Daniel and I had been there earlier that morning, but it was completely dark then and seeing it in the daylight was definitely worth a second trip. The final miles of the NYC marathon run through the park, so I was really hoping to get a feel for what this was going to be like prior to race day. A full loop through Central Park is just over 6 miles and runs along the Park Drives on the West and East sides using the various paths to cut across the park and there are some shorter variations as well. A few of us did the entire loop.


We cut it a little close getting back to the hotel, so we had to do a quick change for dinner (think less than 20 minutes … eek). I even texted to tell them that we would just have to meet them at the restaurant, but somehow we managed to get cleaned up and ready before the group left. We met everyone in the lobby of the hotel and were going to try to catch taxis to the restaurant. Don’t y’all like Daniel’s fancy new shirt? He looks good in blue.

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I’m so glad we made it down in time because, long story short, we ended up catching a limo instead of a taxi. That wasn’t planned, it just kind of happened, but it was so cool and just really added to the whole rockstar feel that we had going on that day anyway.


We ate dinner at a wonderful restaurant called The Park. We sat outside on the patio and were able to soak in the fall weather and catch the sunset over the skyline. We were all starving by this point and the food was excellent.


I had hibiscus-dusted grilled salmon with corn, sugar snap peas and farro and Daniel got one of their wood oven pizzas. He was pretty excited about getting an authentic pizza in NYC and it didn’t disappoint. I had two pieces of his pizza, so I can attest to that statement. A couple of the guys in the group were wearing activity tracking devices and with our two runs and all of the walking to and from the studio and around the city, we ended up with over twenty miles for the day. That pizza was much deserved (and much enjoyed)!

We were all worn out after such an emotional, fun-filled, event-packed day and I slept like a rock. We woke up a little bit later Thursday morning and headed out for another group run. This time we went South along the Hudson River and got to see the Statue of Liberty off in the distance. We attempted a Lady Liberty pose.


Here I am with some of the Runner’s World staff and judges: David Willey, the editor; Tish Hamilton, the executive editor; and Bart Yasso, the chief running officer.


We ran a few miles and were headed back to the hotel, but made a slightly impromptu decision to stop by the Today Show to see Natalie again. I mean, she did tell us the day before that we should stop by … so of course we did! We were able to walk right up and we caught part of the show and part of the Duran Duran concert.


We cut it a little close getting back to the hotel again and had to do another quick change (this time we had closer to 25 minutes). The husbands that were with us told us decided that we couldn’t tell them we needed more time to get ready ever again because they saw first-hand how quickly we can work under pressure. Ha. I am just really thankful that “messy” hair is in these days and I can just wash it and let it do its thing without a hairdryer, straightener, etc. If it isn’t, don’t tell me. I choose to remain blissfully unaware.

We headed over to the Asics showroom for breakfast and for a few more pictures and short video interviews Wednesday morning. Asics is one of the major sponsors of the contest. Walls and walls of shoes and some really cool Asics “swag” greeted us at the showroom. I semi-recently discovered Asics running shorts and I have a good collection going already, so it was really fun to get some more Asics gear! Check out what I got (shoes, sports bra, tank top (that matches the shorts I already have), several pairs of socks, and tights)!


Thank you Asics! Once we wrapped up there, it was time to check out of the hotel and head to the airport. It was sad to have to say good-bye, but we are planning a “Runner’s World Cover Search Class of 2015 Reunion” at a race sometime in the hopefully near future. Several of the finalists are running Chicago in a few weeks and I am having major marathon envy, but I get to go back to NYC soon enough and run a little marathon there myself so I guess I can wait a few weeks longer to take on my next 26.2. It was so neat to get to see the city (and to get to see it with some big wigs of the running community) before the marathon. We ran right by the expo location, were able to see the starting point off in the distance and got to run part of the actual course in Central Park. It just got real folks!

We took an Uber (I don’t know if that is the correct way to phrase that) to the airport, so that was another first for us. We got into the car and the driver, who was from Liberia in West Africa, had on a Christian radio station and we had a really awesome conversation with him about Jesus on the way back to the airport. He told us a little bit about his story and his journey of faith and asked us to pray for him. We talked briefly about how God uses obstacles in your life to grow you and to lead you right along the path that He has set out for you. What are the chances? It was a wonderful confirmation for me that God is using this situation and guiding my path.

Our flights back home went very smoothly as well. I worked on this post some at the airport, as I was full of #runlove and inspiration and I wanted to type it up before any moment of it escaped me. Our flight didn’t get back to Mobile until almost 11 p.m., and I took advantage of having nothing to do but rest on that last late flight. This is where Daniel got me back. I woke up when we hit the ground, turned my phone on and I had a text message waiting for me with this lovely little gem. My first question, was “Oh my word, have you already posted this?” He was nice enough not to do that, but it is just so darn funny that I have to share it anyway. Who wouldn’t want to see that face on the cover of Runner’s World? Am I right?


This morning I slept a little bit later than normal and now it is back to reality (which if we’re being honest, is pretty amazing itself). I had a mile repeat workout on the schedule that needed to be addressed and I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to get done if I didn’t go ahead and bite the bullet this morning. Luckily, I was still on Clould 9 and I powered through the workout and felt great. I tested out my new Asics kicks and I loved them. They are super cushiony and I felt like they were giving my feet a big hug. Here is how the workout went down:

2 mile warmup: starting at 6.0 mph for 2 minutes and increase the speed by .2 every 2 minutes

1st & 2nd miles: averaged 6:15 (9.6 mph) with .25 mile recovery at 7.0 mph after each mile

3rd & 4th miles: averaged 6:11 (9.7 mph) with .25 mile recovery at 7.0 mph after each mile

5th & 6th miles: averaged 6:07 (9.8 mph) with .25 mile recovery at 7.0 mph after each mile

1.5 mile cool down: at 7.5 mph


After my workout, I headed to pick up our little buddy. We got in too late to pick him up last night and we missed him so much. He absolutely loves Dog Ranch and I know he was in good hands, but I was ready to have him home with me and for some Brooks loving.


11 miles on the treadmill this morning gave me plenty of time to think and I am just so thankful and feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to share my story (through running nonetheless) on such a large-scale, just a few short months after I set out on this blogging adventure. Ultimately, that was the whole point of this blog, to share my story and my passion with well … anyone that would listen really. Revelation 12:11 says, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” I want to encourage all of you out there to share your story and your struggles, whatever they may be with someone. There is power and healing that comes from speaking the words and having someone to talk to, whether that be a pastor, a therapist, a friend or family member. Don’t struggle silently. Speak up and I think you will be amazed at what can happen.

The Lord has continued to use running in my life. From the day of the attack, to the day that I first met my husband, to the day that Daniel and I ran a 5K the morning of our wedding, to the day that I broke the tape in New Orleans, to the day that I learned that I was a finalist in this contest … each day has brought different lessons, different meaning and different perspective to my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today or who He was calling me to be had it not been for each of those days, and all of the days and miles in between.

Thanks for reading!

11 thoughts on “It’s a Runner’s World, We’re Just Living in it”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story and super cool trip to NY! So inspiring and I ove hearing how awesome our God is! That never gets old😊


  2. So glad you had a great trip and that Daniel could share it with you. You are an inspiration to me, Sam, even though I am a couch potato! Keep up the good work!


  3. Wow- that all sounds so fantastic! I love the photos– you are gorgeous! And congrats on the anniversary- my husband and I were married in August 2010, so we have that in common!


  4. What an amazing and awesome experience! I am so glad you had a great time in NY. I’ve met Bart Yasso a few times and David Wiley once in Chicago. They’re both really nice. So when will the winner be announced?

    Oh and I laughed at how Daniel got back at you.


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