Holiday, Race Recap

Race Recap: McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K

I’ve got a race recap to share with you today!


We ran the McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day Prediction 5K in Pensacola on Saturday. This was my second time running this race. There were over twelve thousand participants in the 5K, which is huge! I’m fairly certain that is the biggest 5K that I’ve ever run in. The winners crossed the finish line before the last runners even started. Madness!

The race is technically a prediction run, which means that each person guesses their finish time and person who finishes closest to the predicted time wins. You aren’t allowed to wear a watch and there aren’t any mile markers or clocks along the course. However, there is also a “speed” division and you can wear your watch if you are not competing for a prediction award. This little tidbit was lost on me the first time I ran this race and I ran watch-less when I didn’t really need to. Oh well.

There is also a team competition, which makes it really fun! We had a Warehouse Grinders co-ed team. The top five runners for each team count towards the results and the team with the lowest total time wins (very similar to cross-country scoring, but using your time instead of your place).

The race starts at 9 a.m. (which is a little bit later than most races, but is kind of nice when you have to drive about an hour to get there anyway). We left around 7 a.m. and our team carpooled over to Pensacola. We got a two-mile warm up in before the race. I would’ve liked to do three, but it was fairly warm and another mile likely wouldn’t have helped one bit. We almost missed the start as it was. We had to ease our way into the front of the corral a few minutes before the start.

It was crazy crowded in the corral (makes sense given that there were twelve thousand folks crammed in there). If you are competing in the speed division, you really need to be as close to the front as possible. If you aren’t, you waste a lot of time stuck behind and weaving around other people. I got a couple of rows back and started just behind some of my teammates.

Everyone takes off so fast! Way. too. fast. I immediately felt like I was going to be trampled. Of course, after the first quarter-mile, you’ve passed a lot of the folks that sprinted off of the starting line. Speaking of getting trampled though, there was a tiny little dog that somehow got caught up in between the barricades at the start of the race. He was bobbing and weaving around all of the runners. It’s amazing that no one tripped (that I know of at least).

After the first quarter-mile, I tried to settle into my goal pace range. I predicted 19:00 (not that I was competing in the prediction division, but you still have to predict a time regardless). I wanted to keep my pace between 6:05 and 6:15. As per usual, the first mile was a tad fast. I was really trying to hold back a little, but somehow I came through the first mile in 5:59. I thought I was in about fifth place or so for the females (it’s actually quite hard to tell exactly what place you are in a race that size though :)).

I steadily reigned in a few of the other girls during the second mile. It was nice to have some folks to chase! I still felt pretty decent at this point and was happy to be out there pushing myself. I came through the second mile in 6:09. Whew. I knew if I could hold on to that, I would have a very respectable finish.

Of course, it’s easier said than done to hang on during the last mile of a 5K, and sure enough, my pace started to fade. I had solidified my place as second female and while I could see the first place girl ahead of me, she was out of reach. The course also starts to feel *really* long during that last mile. You can see all of the runners strung out ahead of you and you see just how far you still have left to go. It is a challenge not to get complacent. My last mile was 6:26. I picked it up a tad for the last 0.1 and “sprinted” it in at 5:44 pace. My overall time was 19:11. Not too far off from what I expected! I’ll take it. It’s not my best and not my worst. That seems to be a theme these days.

Daniel had a great race and finished in 18:10! Our team did well too and we finished second in the co-ed division. Obviously we would’ve preferred to be first, but we had a great time and ran with our friends. There’s nothing better than that! We got in a 1 mile cool down after the race and stayed around at the post-race party for a little while. The race is more well-known for the after party than the actual race itself, I do believe. The people watching is quite spectacular!

Holiday, Miscellaneous

Happy New Year!


It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. As we close out 2017 and move into 2018, it seems appropriate to do a little bit of reflecting. Regardless of whether or not you like to set New Year’s resolutions (I typically don’t), we likely come into the new year with some sort of “starting fresh” mentality. Looking back and reflecting on the previous year is great way to gauge your goals and plans for the upcoming year.

Looking back …

One of the perks of blogging is that it is fairly easy to look back and see exactly what went on during the year (assuming that you are fairly consistent with your posting). I managed to get at least one post per week most weeks this year. Two things that I consistently post are race recaps and monthly recaps. What can I say … I just enjoy a good recap.

As I’m sure you have gathered, running is a stable topic that I always have something to share about, so the majority of the time my posts are about running. While I do wish I had more time to write about other topics, that just wasn’t as doable last year. I am hopeful that I will have some time in the not-so-distant future to write more.

I became a Salty Running contributor in 2017 and so I am also posting over there occasionally as well these days. My favorite piece that I got to be a part of this year was #MeToo – Women Runners’ Experiences of Sexual Violence, Assault and Harassment. Check out their site and that piece if you haven’t.

Somewhat along those same lines (as far as the #MeToo piece), I also became an ambassador for run angel. Run angel is a personal safety wearable that emits a loud (120 decibel), high-pitched audible alarm when activated. It pairs with smart phone devices over Bluetooth to send out alerts in the event of an emergency. I first heard about run angel on Lindsey’s podcast and I knew immediately that it was a product and company that I would love to be part of.

If you listened to my episode of the podcast, I mentioned the deer that appeared in the woods the day of the attack and how the deer was in essence, an angel … my sign that everything was going to be okay and that God was with me (He always is). I love that this product is called run angel and when I wear it I remember the words of one of my favorite verses.


As far as the actual running goes, I ran 3,520 miles this year. I did 24 races (the exact same as 2016 … I didn’t realize that until just now). The races ranged from 1 mile to 50K (31 miles!). The 1 mile and 50K distances are the only two distances that I managed to PR (and to be fair, it was my first 50K, so that one was going to be a PR regardless). I ran one full marathon, five half marathons, one 10 mile race, one 12K, three 10Ks, nine 5Ks, one 2 mile race and two 1 mile races (if you count the milk mile, which apparently I did last year, so just keeping it consistent here).

The 2017 Gardner bling. Freshly organized and hot off the Christmas tree!

This time last year I mentioned that my goals for 2017 were to get a 5K and half marathon PR (basically I wanted all.the.PRs) and I also said that I had my eye on the one mile and two mile state records for my age. I came 2 seconds shy of a half marathon PR at First Light and I actually did come away with those age group records, so all in all, not too shabby I guess.

Aside from the actual racing, I also really enjoyed pacing a few races this year. I (informally) paced my friend, Jill, to a shiny half marathon PR in April, I paced two of my precious Girls on the Run gals to 5K PRs in October and I paced some random strangers during an (almost) marathon in December. I enjoyed every step of the way (up until the steps that were missing from the marathon).

Getting involved with Girls on the Run was definitely one of the highlights of the year. I still intend to do a proper post about the things that I learned from this experience.

If you missed out on any part of the year and are really bored, here are my monthly recaps!

January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap
June Recap
July Recap
August Recap
September Recap
October Recap
November Recap
December Recap

There are also a few non-running related highlights from 2017. Arguably, the most notable would be that we bought a house! We found a house that we love in an area that we loved even more.


We took a trip to Colorado, which was ahh-mazing. In fact, I tried several time to convince Daniel that we should sell the above-referenced house (and all of our belongings) and move to Colorado. He supports me in just about every way possible, but he did NOT support me in that decision. Sad.

Daniel completed his first half ironman!

Brooks turned six! He enjoyed lots of fetching, swimming, trotting and even did some “surfing” in 2017. There were also plenty of treats and belly rubs to go around and he most definitely rocked his Halloween costume (in my somewhat biased opinion).

We celebrated our 7th anniversary by getting each other the same card (I would say what are the odds, but puppies were involved, so I think the odds were extremely high).


A few other favorites from the year …

Looking ahead …

As far as 2018 is concerned, the year will definitely start off with a couple of big events. One being the marathon that I have tirelessly trained for over the last 10?, 20?, 30? weeks. It seriously seems like I’ve been training for this race for about a year, but I know that isn’t really the case. Marathon training definitely requires A LOT of physical, mental and emotional energy. Thankfully, I have shared the training experience with some wonderful friends and training buddies and that has made the entire process much more enjoyable.

As far as running goals, obviously the marathon is on my brain right now. After recovering from the marathon, I think I will likely bring my focus back to some shorter stuff (like halfs) in the Spring and then maybe do a summer of speed again (with a one mile, two mile and 5K focus).

The other big event is the beginning of the Spring semester and my first official classes as a college professor. I am a tad anxious about that, just because it is a total career change and I basically have zero experience teaching. I am hopeful that it will be a good experience and that I can tap into my pre-existing knowledge of the subject matter and talk for 3 hours consecutively about taxes each week.

A few general goals come to mind. One is that I would like to read more this year, both for fun and for learning purposes. I’m not going to attach a quantifiable goals to this per say (such as one book per month). I just want challenge myself a bit mentally and I want to continue learning.

I would also like to write more this year. Again, no quantifiable goal here (such as 5 posts per month). I actually wrote over 75 posts here in 2017 and I also wrote a few on Salty Running as well. I would’ve thought that it was closer to 50, so that’s kind of surprising. I guess my goal would be to venture outside of my “safe” zone of training recaps and race reports. I will obviously continue to write them, just because I enjoy writing them and having them to look back on. I want to challenge myself to throw in a few posts about non-running related topics.

So far I’ve got reading and writing goals, so I guess I need an arithmetic goal now. Ha. I guess I will have to figure out this grading rubric sooner rather than later, so perhaps that is my current arithmetic goal. There we go, 2018 will be the year of reading, writing and arithmetic (with hopefully some running thrown in here and there :)).

That’s it for today. I hope you all have a safe, happy, wonderful new year! Talk to you soon!

Holiday, Monthly Recap

How do you measure a year in the life?

Hey-o! Happy Friday! We made it!

Yesterday was the end of another fiscal year for me (i.e., my birthday), so I figured that it might be fun to look back and remember what all went on during the last year. I’m using Seasons of Love as my inspiration.

How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
525,600 minutes. How do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of love.

B-t-dubs … I used to be straight OBSESSED with this song. I’m pretty sure I listened to it on repeat until my brain exploded and I couldn’t handle it anymore. If I was going to measure a year in the life, I would definitely choose everything in the chorus above except for maybe midnights and strife, because let’s face it, I don’t see very many midnights per year and I don’t particularly care for controversy and conflict. Daylights (which I’m assuming to sunrises), sunsets, cups of coffee, miles, laughter and love seem like perfect measurements to me though. Let’s see how it stacked up!

Here are a few of my favorite daylights from the year …


I wish that I had more sunrise pictures to share. I love soaking in the stillness and peacefulness each morning in the moments before the sunrise and watching the sun come up as we run. Unfortunately, I don’t always have my phone at that time.

Here are a few of my favorite sunsets from the year ….

Sunset 1 Sunset 2

I have a slightly embarrassing number of pictures of coffee as well, but I’ll spare you the actual details there. I’m estimating 730 cups of coffee for the year. Most days I have two cups of coffee, some days it’s three and some days it’s only one, so I think an average of two is fairly accurate.

I ran 218,845,444 inches while I was 31. Ha. In case you don’t feel like doing the math on that, it’s 3,454 miles [feel free to insert the whole “I don’t put that many miles on my car in a year” joke here]. I also ran 21 races while I was 31. Hmm … I am sensing a new goal. Run your age in races per year. Who’s with me?!

Here’s what the race breakdown looked like (in case you are curious) …

1 mile: 1, 2 mile: 1, 5K: 8, 10K: 2, 12K: 1, 10 mile: 1, Half Marathon: 6 and 50K: 1

I won 16 of the 21 races, placed 2nd in one, 3rd in 3 and didn’t place in one. The majority of the races were very small, local races, so just take that with a grain of salt. I likely wouldn’t be winning any races if I lived … well probably anywhere else. Haha.

I don’t know how to objectively measure the rest of these things, but I do know that 31 was a year filled with lots of joy, laughter and love!

Misc 2Misc 1
Misc 3

I won’t say that the year was without struggles by any means. We’ve had several people close to us go through some rough stuff this year, which has been hard (especially when you don’t live in the same town). I would pretty much classify my career as a hot mess at this point as well, but ehh … it is what it is. It’s just a job and it’s not my life. One thing that I’ve been thinking about recently is that our struggles don’t define us, they refine us. If you are going through something hard, just keep your head up and know that you will be a stronger, wiser and more compassionate human once you get to other side.

To wrap up this “year in the life” post, let’s talk about how I celebrated turning 32 …

If you’ve been following along for a little while, you probably know about my birthday tradition. In the last few years, I started running my age in miles to celebrate my birthday. It’s become something that I really look forward to each year (strange, I know). For 30 and 31 I did the miles on the weekend (either right before or right after my birthday), but this year I decided to make things a little more interesting (i.e., challenging) and do the miles on my actual birthday, which fell on a Thursday.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. (well … I think I snoozed once) and was running by 4! I did the first 8.5 miles on the treadmill. Brookser kept me company. Just after 5 a.m., I hopped off of the treadmill and ran 9.5 miles outside with the Daniels. They actually did 8 of the 9.5 with me and I decided to go ahead and squeeze in another mile and half just because I had a few extra minutes and I knew that any miles I could get done in the morning would only help to make the evening run a little easier. I ended the morning with 18 miles and I’m not going to lie, running 18 miles before work was oddly satisfying (like really satisfying … I kind of loved it).

I rehydrated and fueled like a champ during the day at work. I also wore compression shorts and socks under my regular clothes [I feel like that makes for a good “you might be a runner if” moments]. No one at work knew what I was doing (or that it was my birthday for that matter), so I felt like I was carrying out a covert mission and they were none the wiser. Side note: the spy shows might have gone to my head a little bit. I also pretty regularly check for tails in my rear-view mirror as I drive around town these days.

Rebecca met me after work Thursday afternoon and did the remaining 14 miles with me. I am so thankful that she was willing to do that because I really don’t know that I would’ve done it otherwise. We didn’t get started until close to 6:30 p.m. because the weather was terrible. We’re talking storms and torrential downpours. We tried to wait it out a little bit, but it became pretty evident that we were just going to have to suck it up and run in the rain, which is exactly what we did. 14 glorious, soggy, puddle-jumping miles later and it was done. 32 miles for 32 years! Phew.


Thanks for following along! My blogging has been sporadic (at best), but it’s still a fun, creative outlet for me.

Talk to you soon!

Daniel, Holiday, Trails

Full Steam(boat) Ahead!

Howdy folks! Long time no see!

We just got back from a wonderful trip to Colorado! I am going to share the painstaking details of our trip in this post for any of you who are interested (so … Mom, Dad, Nana … this one’s for you :)). I wrote the shell of this post while we were gone so that I could remember everything we did and filled in the details once we got back. We stayed pretty busy!

I will have a race recap up in a separate post (soon hopefully … in between laundry, unpacking and more laundry), so for any of you who don’t care about the details of my life and just want to read about running … hold tight for a little bit longer.

Edited to add: I’m not sure why, but my recap is showing up as an earlier post, even though I posted it after this one.

As a general overview: We took a 6 day trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I think it was one of my favorite vacations to date! It was just long enough that I feel like we settled in and got a good lay of the land, but not too long that we ran out of things to do or got bored. We LOVED Steamboat and I could totally see myself living there (well … at least for a few months of the year). The temperature pretty much stayed in the sixties and seventies for the majority of our trip, which was perfect and there was even still some snow on the ground.

It was an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise and I definitely got my fill of the time in nature that I had been craving. I am typically a major homebody, but this trip definitely piqued some wanderlust that was stirring somewhere deep in my soul. Hopefully we will get the opportunity to wander around and explore more of the world (or at least the country) soon!

Day 1 (Travel Day): Our flight departed from New Orleans at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening. We left around 1 p.m. to ensure that we had plenty of time to get to the airport, find parking, etc. and in typical Daniel Gardner fashion we arrived at the airport about 3 hours before our  plane. We drove through some nasty weather and apparently flew out just in time to miss the next squall line that blew through the NOLA area. We had to adjust our flight path to avoid the storms as well, so the flight ended up being about 3.5 hours (instead of 3). Our pilot told us that if we had been delayed 10 more minutes, we wouldn’t have been able to make it out because the weather got so bad.

We definitely put our Garmin Virb camera to good use this trip. You will see lots of “selfie stick” pics included in this post and just a ton of pictures in general. I made most of them into collages so that they wouldn’t completely overtake the post.


Not gonna lie, I was a tad skeptical of these $80 round trip flights that Daniel booked. I asked him a few times if he was sure that we had flights or if he had just paid for our baggage fee (side note: my bag didn’t exceed the 50 pound threshold for possibly the first time ever … major packing victory). We flew Frontier and as it turns out, yes, we actually had flights. On the front row! Seats 1A and 1B. We had a little turbulence and a couple of loud, chatty neighbors, overall the but flight was great! We got delayed on the tarmac once we arrived in Denver and all in all, we were about 2 hours later picking up our rental vehicle than we expected.

We drove off the lot in a Ford Expedition (we were supposed to have a “small” SUV) and first on the agenda was to get some food! Our options were very limited and we ended up getting dinner from a gas station right outside of Denver (side note: I DO NOT recommend eating an entire bag of dried fruit and a candy bar at 1 a.m. … learned that lesson the hard way). We then began the 3 hour drive to Steamboat Springs. We drove from midnight to 3 a.m. Even though it was dark, we were able to see some snow and get a little peek at a few of the mountain ranges. I even stayed awake for 90% of the drive. I took my contacts out at some point and *almost* lost a contact into the deep, dark crevices of the rental car. I didn’t bring a backup pair (note to future self: this would be smart) and so that would’ve been really bad. As Daniel was looking for a place to pull off the road so that we could search for it, I found it! In my eye! I think the delirium had started setting in.

We arrived at our hotel at 3:20 a.m. and immediately passed out.

Day 2: We lazed around the hotel for a little while Thursday morning, as we were both pretty exhausted from the long day of travel and also not feeling *stellar* (see above warning re: gas station dinner at 1 a.m.). We scoped out a few things that we wanted to do (we don’t really tend to make lots of plans beforehand when traveling … we like to just wing it). We made our way over to Stagecoach State Park (about 15 minutes outside of Steamboat) mid-morning and went for a run around Stagecoach Lake. It was absolutely beautiful!

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This was our first run at altitude and we were anxious to see how that affected us. Given that we live at 100 ft. and we traveled to close to 8,000 ft., we really weren’t sure how our bodies were going to react. Neither of us had any headaches, nausea, shortness of breath or unusual fatigue the entire trip, so we were incredibly fortunate. I felt a whole lot better going into the 50K having gotten this first run under my belt.

After our running exploration around Stagecoach State Park, we decided to get groceries so that we could do a few meals in instead of eating out for every meal. We stayed at The Steamboat Grand and our room was the “apartment” option with a full kitchen, living space, etc. so that seemed like a smart decision. In hindsight, we didn’t eat many meals “in,” but we definitely ate most of the snacks that we bought.

Thursday evening we went into town and walked around. We didn’t realize it, but apparently we were there during their “mud season,” which is the time in between their busy winter season and the summer season. The name comes from dirt paths such as roads and hiking trails that become muddy from melting snow and rain. A lot of the shops and restaurants were closed, but that was totally fine with us. We were digging the “sleepy little town” vibe. We were also digging that we got almost an entire week’s stay for the price of what one night typically would cost!

Day 3: We started the day out with a breakfast adventure run! We scoped out a few good breakfast options when we were in town Thursday evening. We also scoped out a trail that ran right through downtown Steamboat along the Yampa river that we wanted to run. We decided to combine those activities and run to breakfast, eat and then walk back.

I love being anywhere by the water and was very content to be running next to the river. We stopped to check out a botanical garden on our way back. The flowers were beautiful!

159 162 161 160

Friday afternoon we made our way to Lone Tree Colorado. It was about a three hour drive, but the trip flew by because there was so much scenery to take in. We stopped in Breckinridge along the way for lunch. I wish I could say that we stopped at some really cool local place, but we went with Which Wich instead. We don’t have Which Wich in Alabama though, so it felt like we were getting something unique.

We were also super entertained by the changes in the fullness of my bag of chips as the elevation changed throughout our drive. The air pressure is greater at lower altitude than at higher altitude. When the bag is sealed at a certain altitude, the air is pushing out at the same rate it is being pushed on. When the bag is moved to a higher altitude, the air in the bag is pushing harder on the bag than the air around the bag (middle right picture below). Fascinating stuff …


We made it to Lone Tree just in time to pick up our bibs for the race, check into our hotel for and grab some dinner before crashing for the evening.

Day 4: Race Day! I’m going to do a separate post for the race (it was a LONG race and I have lots of thoughts to share (as per usual)).

We made our way back to Steamboat Saturday afternoon and found the perfect post-race activity. We went to Strawberry Hot Springs, a natural hot spring located just outside of Steamboat Springs. It is supposedly one of the most spectacular mineral springs in the world. We got to soak in 100+ degree mineral water, which felt absolutely ahh-mazing after running 31 miles.

We also made our way over to the Fish Creek Falls. It was a quarter mile walk down and not gonna lie, we almost didn’t walk down there (that seemed SO FAR!), but I’m so glad that we did. The falls were roaring from all of the melting snow.

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Day 5: We lazed around our room for a while Sunday morning as we were both pretty spent from the race. We eventually ventured out to do some hiking. Daniel had been really wanting to hike up one of the ski slopes, so that’s exactly what we did. If our legs could talk, they probably would’ve said, “C’mon guys … can’t we ever just catch a break?!” In actuality, we both felt much better than we expected to, which was nice because we had stuff that we wanted to do!

We went to the Howelsen Hill Ski Area and made our way up Quarry Mountain. There were lots of hikers, runners and mountain bikers out enjoying the beautiful weather. We made friends with a couple of guys who were hiking up as well. They asked us where we were from and when we told them we were from Alabama, one of the guys told us that he used to live in AL as well. He went on to tell us that he was “ahead of the dispensary curve” (his words) and as a result of a run-in with the law, he had to do some time at the minimum security federal prison camp in Montgomery, AL. He took up walking while in the pen and told us that he walked over 15 miles a day! Now he lives in Steamboat and owns a “bagel shop,” which I find to be highly suspect (but again, his words).

He gave us some great pointers on where to hike and told us that we were crazy (after hearing about my 31 mile running adventure the day before) and that we fit in perfectly in Steamboat. We definitely felt like locals at that point. We ended up hiking 5 miles with close to 1,600 ft. of elevation gain. This was probably one of our favorite things that we did the entire trip! The views from the top of the mountain were phenomenal!

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Day 6: We RESTED! We actually didn’t set an alarm the entire trip except for the morning of the race and the morning that we left. Even though we had a very active vacation (we wouldn’t have it any other way), we also got some good rest in as well. By Monday neither one of us had any desire to do anything but lay around and rest. We discovered that our hotel had a steam room, which was quite relaxing. The steam room was the only place that I actually broke a sweat the entire trip I think! The air is just so dry (and glorious) that you don’t sweat. I mean … technically you still sweat, but it just evaporates and so you don’t *feel* sweaty.

This seems like a good place to show you some of the delicious food that we ate. I didn’t get pictures of all of it … sometimes we were too ravenous to stop for a picture. There were mud season specials at a lot of the restaurants. Buy 2 entrees and get the lesser one for free? Pretty sweet!


Day 7 (Travel Day): Our flight left Denver at 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. We had to leave Steamboat around 8 a.m. to make sure that we had plenty of time to get to the airport, return our rental car and get checked in for our flight. We stopped on the way out for one last snow pic!


We came up with a new game to play in the car. There aren’t too many billboards out there and so playing the sign game is tough. We listed to ONEderland on Sirius XM, which is a medley of pop artists (with one big hit and that was it!). The game was who would be the first to name another hit by one of the artists. It is a tough game for the musically challenged. Over the course of our trip, we probably listened to over 5 hours of ONEderland and we only knew a second some for one artist … and it was Afroman. LOL! Definitely showing our true roots with that one.

We made it back to New Orleans around 6 p.m. and were back home by 9! Thankfully Mrs. Donna picked up our little booger from the Dog Ranch for us and so we were able to get lots of Brooksy cuddles and kisses when we got home. We had a wonderful vacation, but it is always SO GOOD to be home!

Tell me: where is somewhere that you have traveled that you LOVED? We need to start planning our next adventure!

Bay Life, Hills, Holiday, Treadmill, Weekly Recap

50K Training: Week 10

HI! Happy Marathon Monday! Good luck to all of the runners in Boston today. I can’t wait to stalk track you guys!

Also … we are ONE DAY from tax day! Whoa. I have been waiting for this moment all of my life (or the last 3.5 months … you know … same thing).

Tax day ahead warning sign

I figured that I would try to get back into the swing of things around here with some weekly recaps. I’m linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC for her weekly training recap.

My 50K is only 3 weeks away, which is pure craziness. I don’t really even feel like I’ve trained for it (probably just because I haven’t documented my training on the blog like usual). If you didn’t blog it, did it even really happen? Weekly recaps of weeks 1 through 9 are nonexistent, but my brain is toast and I couldn’t come up with anything more clever to call this novel of a post.

I plan to go back and write a general overview of my training, but don’t hold me to that.

Monday: The week started off with a 5 mile recovery run (recovering from the Gulf Coast Half Marathon). I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t too sore and my legs felt really good! I was able to wait a little later than normal and run once the sun started to come up, which was really nice.

Tuesday AM: Tuesday morning Daniel and I turned our covered porch into a makeshift gym and I ran on the treadmill while he rode his bike on the trainer. He is officially registered for his first half Ironman and training starts now! He will be doing Augusta 70.3 in September.


I didn’t know it at the time, but this was my last run on our old treadmill. When we moved we couldn’t get the treadmill into the room we wanted it in without either destroying the house or dismantling the entire treadmill. Neither of these seemed like good options. We decided that it was likely time for an upgrade anyway and decided that we would try to sell the old one first. I didn’t realize it until Daniel told me someone wanted to buy it, but man, I was oddly attached to that thing. I put some serious miles on it over the years!

P.S. If you are in the market for a treadmill, Daniel found this article with a comparison of the best treadmills for runners. We are getting the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 and we had the Sole F80. I would highly recommend the Sole F80 (it lasted us 6 years and still worked well). We wanted to try something new this time around. If you are going to log lots of miles, I would definitely just recommend going with the commercial grade of whichever one you choose.

Tuesday PM: Tuesday evening we did our usual group run at Running Wild thing. I ran 6 miles with Jill & Ashley and felt good! As much as I enjoy morning runs, I also really enjoy evening runs as well. It’s a good chance to clear your head after a long day at work. I rarely do a workout in the evening, but give me an easy evening run and I’m happy as a clam.

Wednesday AM: I ran 6 miles easy with Jessica and Young Daniel Wednesday morning. My Daniel decided that sleep sounded better than running. Sometimes I think he is smarter than I am …

Wednesday PM: Daniel spent some time on the bike trainer Wednesday evening and texted me to see if I wanted to do a loop when I got home from work. He said he wanted to do a “brick run” (you bike then run and your legs feel like bricks). I told him, “Yes! Let’s tri it!” ← I couldn’t resist. The triathlon puns are out of control around here right now.

Thursday: HILLS! Holy hills.

When I saw the hill repeat workout pop up on my training plan, I knew that it would be a mental and physical struggle. I debated on whether or not to do the workout on the treadmill (remember my post about that → here), but when I came home from work Wednesday evening the treadmill was gone (sold!). That made my decision a little bit easier. Ha.

As it turns out, our new house is on a hill. I’ve gotten used to running up that thing each day as we start our run (and by gotten used to it, I mean that I have accepted the fact that it is there (insert serenity prayer here)). The thing is, I don’t really like running on hills and that’s probably because I am not a strong hill runner … which is precisely why I NEED to run on hills.

The street that we live on is exactly half a mile if you start at the bay and run up to the top. As a side note, Ron (Daniel’s running doctor friend (the one who fixed my face)), has run up and down this entire hill 15 times before when training for hilly trail ultra-marathon. Seriously! That took some extreme mental fortitude! I only needed a quarter-mile segment for my workout, so thankfully I didn’t have to run the entire hill 12 times. I only had to run up the really steep part 12 times … joy.

I actually ran up and down the entire hill twice in order to get my two mile warm up in before starting my repeats. I figured that I might as well embrace the hilliness (not a word) and get over it. I didn’t have any super specific pace goals for the repeats. They were supposed to be at a tempo effort. You run “fast” (relative) up the hill and then you “jog” back down. By the way, this is the only time is it acceptable to refer to running as jogging … “I believe it’s jogging … or yogging. It might be a soft J. I’m not sure.” Gotta love a good Anchorman quote!

So yeah, there isn’t too much to say about this except for that I ran up and down the hill 12 times at what I thought was a tempo (ish) pace. I lost count somewhere along the way as well. I had to do math in my head while running to determine what number I was on (it was 7).

At one point I thought to myself that this workout wasn’t very glamorous. I don’t know why that popped into my head (I don’t know what a glamorous workout would even look like), but it did. Then of course I started singing Fergie (in my head … at least I think it was in my head). G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S. Flossy. Flossy. Oh the random thoughts that pop into your head during a workout …


The picture definitely doesn’t do it justice, but I promise the hill is steep. It’s actually a 7.5% grade in some places, which was a tad too steep for purposes of the hill repeats (5% is ideal).

My splits were 1:37, 1:35, 1:35, 1:34, 1:37, 1:37, 1:39, 1:39, 1:37, 1:36, 1:37, 1:38. I felt like I was pushing myself a good bit. Once the workout was done and I looked at the data on Strava I realized that my pace for the uphill parts averaged somewhere around 7:40 because the quarter mile segment I was running was closer to 0.20 instead of 0.25, which was kind of a bummer. I really felt like I was running closer to 6:40 effort! My coach reminded me that the focus was getting the work done, not the specific paces … I definitely did some work.

Friday: Daniel and I ran an easy 8 miles Friday before work. It had been a while since we have run our 8 mile route, so that was a nice change of pace. We’ve had to relearn all of our mile markers since we moved. Luckily all of our routes are pretty much the same (not gonna lie … that was definitely one of the requirements when we were house-hunting), but now we just have a different starting and stopping point.

Saturday: Saturday’s run was a logistical work of art. I ran with Daniel and his buddies and everyone had different distances in mind. I started at 5:30 with Cody. We did a 3.5 mile loop and then came back to pick up Daniel, Bowie and Ali at 6. We all did another 3.5 mile loop and then came back to pick up Kenny at 6:30. We all ran 6 after that. It was a nice, cool morning and the miles flew by (figuratively). As usual, the run was followed with coffee and breakfast. After breakfast Daniel headed out to ride his bike and Brooks and I met my mom for a walk.

Sunday: Sunday was the last long-long run of the training cycle. I still have an 18 mile run next week, but that’s only seeming like a medium-long run at this point. I wanted to make this a “dress rehearsal” for race day. I wore the socks, shoes and shorts that I am planning to wear, carried a water bottle, gel and my phone with me and practiced my fueling.


Rebecca suggested that we could do part of the special occasion route and that sounded like a great plan to me. After all it was 1) Easter, 2) almost Marathon Monday and 3) almost the end of tax season. We had plenty of special occasions to celebrate! Being the super-supportive spouse that he is, Daniel drove us across the bay to the Battleship at 4:45 Sunday morning. He dropped us off and we started our journey back across the bay.

Our journey turned into a bit of an adventure around mile 5 when we approached Meaher State Park. We have run this route several times and this is always our go to bathroom stop. As we approached the entrance of the park, we noticed that there was a (new) very tall gated fence around the entire park. It’s almost as if they don’t want random runners off the street to come in and use their bathrooms. Crazy.

Rebecca was in “emergency mode” at this point (if you’re a runner … you get it) and so we were going to try our darndest to get inside that park. As we were about to abandon hope and almost on cue, a truck pulled up to the gate to exit the park right and the door magically swung open. We made a run for it. We briefly pondered how we would get out of the park, but figured we would cross that bridge when we got there.

After we went to the bathroom and filled up our bottles, it was time to cross the bridge of figuring out how make our exit. We quickly realized that we had the options of going up and over the 12 foot barbed wire fence (didn’t seem like a viable option), calling for help (even then, we weren’t sure that our rescuer would be able to open the gate … the sensor seemed to be on the inside to get out and not on the outside and I REALLY didn’t want to call Daniel 30 minutes after he dropped us off and tell him that we were “stuck” inside of a state park) or shimmy-ing under the 10 inch gap under the fence. Shimmy it was!

We laid on the ground and debated whether we would fit under the fence. Our heads were definitely the main problem. It was touch and go for a minute, but ultimately we escaped. Whew. We made it safely back across the bay and added on some additional miles to get to close to 17. We stopped one additional time for water and to take a gel, but that pit stop was very uneventful in comparison. After 17 miles we came back to the house and Rebecca handed off to Daniel, who ran the remainder of the run with me. I was supposed to do 24 to 25 miles and by the time Daniel and I started running together, I was contemplating stopping at 22. We did our 5 mile loop and I felt better than I expected. I knew that I was capable of 24 and I needed (mentally more than physically) to make that happen.

My two longest runs of the training cycle were somewhat broken up (one with a gap of about 4 hours and one with a gap of less than 30 minutes, but still … I took a break) and I needed to prove to myself that I could run a consecutive long run without cutting it short. We finished up with two miles on the track and mile 24 was the fastest of the day at 7:03 pace. I felt great!

After church we took a little boat ride with my dad. Brooks has been swimming a couple of times already, but this was our first boat ride of the season. Brooks says, “This is my happy place!”


I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! I’ll see you soon!

FLM, Holiday

FLM: Week 4

Hello friends! Happy New Year!


The First Light Relay & Half Marathon is ONE WEEK from today! Woo hoo! I’m going to be running the first leg of the relay for Daniel’s team and then I’ll continue on to run the half. The first relay leg is 5 miles, so I’ll run that, pass the baton (or whatever they have us holding) to Daniel and just keep running. I’ll only have 8.1 more miles to go!

I think it’s going to be a nice way to break up the race and as long as I don’t blow up my pacing strategy by starting too fast, it should be fun. I’m getting really excited about the race. This one has a special place in my heart!

Sunday: 4 mile easy run (8:20 pace)

Christmas Day I hung around in my PJs drinking coffee, playing with Brooks and sitting by the fire (yes, it was 75+ degrees and no, that doesn’t deter fire making).


Daniel had to work Christmas morning (all weekend actually), which was a major bummer and on top of that, he was sick (all weekend), which was even more of a bummer. The point of all of that was just to say that I had to run by myself and by the time I went it was HOT. It was not really a very enjoyable run, but that’s okay. Not every run is fun and obviously there are way more important things on Christmas Day (like spending time with family).


Monday: 2 mile warm up, 5 X 600 repeats + 5 X 400 repeats, 1.5 mile cool down

This week started off with a little track session! My schedule called for 10 X 600 meter repeats (1 and a half laps around the track) at 5:40 to 5:50 pace (2:08 – 2:12 per 600).

Thankfully I had company at the track. Solo track workouts are really TOUGH. Everyone else was doing 400 meter repeats (hence the change mid-workout for me :)). After a two mile warm up, we were as ready as we were gonna get and we all lined up and got ready to G-O. I hit my first 5 600s in 2:09, 2:10, 2:09, 2:12 and 2:12. All of these were right within my range. Granted they were tough, but still … physically, I was doing just fine.

Mentally though, it was really tough for me to do 600s while everyone else did 400s. I don’t know if this counts as FOMO or not … likely not … but the point is, I switched to their workout half way through. Whenever I run at the track (actually I think the following statement is true of any workout that I do regardless of location), at some point during the run I start bargaining with myself (my brain vs. my legs). I won. Ha.

The 400s seemed so much easier and so much more fun! Even though I compromised my way out of my actual workout, I still finished strong. My 400s were 84, 87, 87, 88 and 88. Everyone else ran great too (and we even had an inaugural track workout #yakattack … welcome to 5K training Sasser :))!

Since Monday was a holiday for most people, we got in some quality post-run Coffee Loft hangs. Monday afternoon I asked my mom to come to my office with me and help me get all situated for tax season. I know I will be spending a lot more time at the office, so I wanted to do a little pre-busy season spruce so that my office feels nice and homey.

The feet propped up on the desk adds a nice touch. Don’t you think?


I wanted a little piece of Mobile Bay Runner as well, so I have my Mobile Bay map and “believe you can & you’re halfway there” quote with a medal hanger below it. I actually have some medals hanging there now, but forgot to get an updated pic. Blogger fail.


Tuesday AM: 3 mile run, 45 minute strength training, 3 mile run

Same song, different verse this Tuesday. 3 miles to the gym, followed by 45 minutes of strength training and 3 miles back home with Rebecca and Jessica. I am loving this routine!

Wednesday: 8 miles w/ Jessica & Rebecca (8:50 pace)

We are really making the most of the Christmas break and ran together just about every day this week!

I started coming down with a bit of a cold Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. I felt okay during the run Wednesday morning (or at least I thought I did), but afterwards I felt like I had been run over by a truck. Daniel has been really sick, so I was worried that I had gotten his bug. Thankfully I was able to rest it away (well … rest + antibiotics). I am a firm believer that sleep cures just about anything, but Daniel gives me major side-eye when I say that and he’s the one in the medical field. Maybe it was the rest. Maybe it was the antibiotics. I am just REALLY thankful I was able to kick the bug before it got me too badly! Daniel is also doing MUCH better now (finally!) as well.

Thursday: 5 mile run + 45 minute strength training

I was able to get a few miles in after work Thursday before our strength work. Greg told us to not plan to run after our workout (like we do in the mornings) because our legs might not be able to take it. Ha! He worked us pretty hard and luckily we were all able to walk across the street to our cars and drive home post-workout.

Friday: 2 mile warm up, 5 mi. wave tempo (6:27, 6:25, 6:27, 6:25, 6:27), 2 mile cool down

Given the little mini-sickness episode this week, I got off schedule with my workouts. I was supposed to do the wave tempo workout Thursday morning (so that it would be BEFORE our strength work), but I decided to give myself an extra day to recover and to try for Friday instead. I still wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to feel and I knew that if I didn’t feel good once I started the run, I was just going to just skip the workout altogether.

Once I got going, I felt really good! Thank goodness. I really enjoy wave tempo workouts because it seems like they absolutely fly by. I alternated the pace every half mile between 6:40 and 6:10-6:15 pace. You have to stay in the workout physically and mentally and it’s nice to be able to divide the workout up into somewhat manageable, half-mile segments.


Brooks got a bath Friday. He loves bath day! In case you haven’t noticed puppies + running are two of my favorite things.


Saturday: 12 miles w/ Running Wild (8:01 pace)

Saturday is typically my “moderate pace” long run day (I was supposed to do 16 at 7:20 to 7:40 pace), but since I got off schedule during the week, I had a bit of a mini-dilemma as to what to do about the LR. Saturday was likely by best chance weather and schedule wise, but my legs just weren’t having it. After weights Thursday night and a workout Friday morning, my legs were toast and I knew that pushing it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. We actually ended up running the 12 faster than I thought we would. The miles flew by (having good company will definitely do that!) and then, of course, it was time for coffee.


Sunday: 9 miles on the TM (8:33 pace)

It rained all night and we woke up to a monsoon! Actually I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. Boo … but Happy New Year! I decided to go ahead and get my run knocked out because we’ve got a busy day today. 9 easy miles on the treadmill before 6 a.m. Bring it 2017!

Did you do anything fun for NYE? I was alseep by 7:30 (maybe that has something to do with why I was wide awake by 3:30) …




Now seems like as good a time as any for an updated “current things” post!

Current book: At the moment, I am reading The Runaway Jury. It’s taking me a while to get through this one (i.e., I fall asleep every time I start reading). Daniel is two books ahead of me now. We have really gotten into the lawyer-y books and TV shows. We are also currently watching Suits on Netflix (I guess technically it’s via Amazon, but whatevs) and we are both really enjoying it. There is some non-PG language, but that’s my only complaint. It’s a complaint in the sense that I don’t find it necessary to use certain language just to make a point … just use all that fancy lawyer vocabulary to build your argument.

Current music: It’s time for the Christmas tunes! I’ve got a few homemade CDs w/ Christmas music (I know that is like so 2002-2003) that I enjoy listening to this time of year. I’m not a Christmas music for months person, but during the actual week of Christmas, it is fun.

Current guilty pleasure: Eating Talenti gelato and then sitting in front of the space heater and cuddling under 5 blankets.

Current drink: Water. So boring and yet, so vital to our existence.

Current food: Salted caramel Noosa yogurt. I am a fan of salted caramel anything really, but that is hands down my favorite yogurt flavor. It’s almost too good.

Current obsession: My 2017 planner! I LOVE getting a new planner each year (*nerd alert*).

Current craving: A sunny day (it’s been rainy and dreary for several days now). Come on Mr. Sunshine, it’s time to play!

Current need: I NEED to watch ELF & Christmas Vacation! Hopefully both of these needs will be met this week. Watching Christmas Vacation is a yearly tradition at my grandmother’s on Christmas Day. We’ve done it every year since I can remember and every year (even now) my dad tries to yell over the “boss rant” scene so that the kids (i.e., me) don’t hear the profanity and it drives my aunt crazy because it’s her favorite scene. LOL. Gotta love those crazy family traditions (or just your crazy family members :)).

Speaking of traditions, I think that we might’ve found a new one this year. Santa visited our neighborhood last Saturday and we had an impromptu photo session.


Current indulgence: Going in to work late. I’m “part-time” right now and I don’t really have a set schedule, so I’ve been taking some liberty with my arrival time. It’s been really nice and I am not ready to give it up come 01/01.

Current bane of my existence: Wrapping presents. Let’s face it, I will likely end up getting gift bags and tissue paper for most of them anyway.

I got a few little presents for my mom, dad and Daniel at RW this weekend (and they wrap for you)! Major score!


Current procrastination: Showering.

Current confession: I keep Q-tips nearby at all times. I dislike being anywhere without them. I could care less if I have showered or not (see above), but by golly I want to have clean ears! I also clean Brooks’ ears out every night before bed. Golden retrievers are very prone to ear infections, so we have to stay on top of that (or perhaps I’m just weird … who knows).

Current quotes: Anything and everything from the movie ELF!

Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?

Don’t be a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.

You sit on a throne of lies!

I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite.

Son of a nutcracker!

He’s an *angry* elf!

We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.

Good news! I saw a dog today!


OH! It’s very sucky!

P.S. There are TOO many good quotes from Christmas Vacation to list (also see above rant about non-PG language). The language in Christmas Vacation does not, however, bother me. I know that makes zero sesnse.

Current excitement: Daniel’s birthday (30!) is TODAY and Christmas is THIS WEEK

Current mood: Festive

What is your favorite Christmas movie?!