The Day I Became a Marathoner

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Oh man…you guys, I don’t even know where to start. This was no where near the race I had been dreaming of, but in it’s own way, it was still the perfect race. FYI: This post is longer than long. Grab a mug o’ coffee, and settle in. :) pfchangs2013-282

Let’s back up a bit. Over a month ago, I woke up to a super tight feeling in my hip. It’s something I’ve felt before, and never from running (I think it has to do with sleeping position?), but I’ve never run with that feeling. I woke up to this feeling the day I had an 18 miler scheduled. It hurt for the first several miles, but eventually loosened itself up, and it was fine.

Then a week later, I woke up the morning after a 14 mile run with a horrible pain in my knee that was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I called Coach Susan, freaked out a bit, took a week off running, then came back to run a killer 21 miler that felt absolutely perfect. After that perfect run, I got sick, and didn’t run for an other week until I ran an 11 miler that left my knee back in pain. I took more time off, and tried to run my final “long” 8 mile run, but stopped after 5 because my knee hurt.

I thought that I was okay, that I was not in too much pain, and I was just being cautious. I took a week and a half off running before the marathon. I iced, rolled, stretched, went to PT, and I swore to myself those 10 days off running would cure everything. Then on Saturday morning I ran for 15 minutes with Nicole, and my knee hurt. It hurt while I ran, and it hurt all day afterwards. Regardless, I showed up at the starting line hopeful, and ready to achieve my 4:29:59 goal that I never announced publicly, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t reach it.

Nicole and I got to the start ridiculously early, and after over an hour of hanging out, we were on our way to the starting line where I saw Nacho. I screamed when I ran into him, cried a little, cried more during the national anthem, and then we were off. I kept telling Nicole I couldn’t believe we were running a marathon! Almost as soon as we’d taken off, I hear a man call out my name. I turned around and he said “I read your blog!” I about died. I was sosoSO excited! His name is Scott, and he ran Whiskey Row also. He saw my name on my shirt, said hello, and made my day! HI SCOTT!! I hope you had a great race!

Let me tell you, we had such AMAZING support! At mile 1, we saw Nacho, and he told us he’d be waiting for us at mile 9 (I think?), then around mile 3-4 we saw Emily and Lance, and Steve with my mom and Hank. I screamed when I saw my mom because I knew she was coming, but I didn’t know where she was going to be. They were screaming their faces off and taking pictures. I was still so happy here!

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"IT'S MY MOM!!!!!"

“IT’S MY MOM!!!!!”

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All of our long runs, we have been great at starting slow (usually 10:40ish), and gradually working our way down to around 9:30s, averaging around 10 min/miles. For 9 we were perfectly on track, regardless of the fact that my knee started hurting before the mile 1 marker, and that I had woken up with that same tightness in my hip. Our first mile clocked in at 10:30, and we were slowly getting faster, walking through all the water stations, and staying on target.

Mile 9 came in at 10:01, and then we stopped to use the porta potties, and I don’t know if it was the stop or what, but the pain in my knee got bad. Really bad. Like, every step was so painful, and I was starting to limp run. Luckily, we soon ran into Nacho. I was starting to take walking breaks really often, and I told him I was struggling. I tried to convince Nicole to go up ahead, but she insisted we were staying together. As much as I wanted her to go on and get the time I knew she was capable of, I was so relieved that she didn’t leave.

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This is the face of someone you want next to you during a marathon. How can you hate life when your with this freakish cheeriness????

"My name is Nicole, and I am the HAPPIEST RUNNER EVER!"

“My name is Nicole, and I am the HAPPIEST RUNNER EVER!”

I have never been in so much pain while running, and I was legitimately scared, and even started to wonder if this race was worth making an injury worse. I decided it was. There is no question that this was not the “smart” decision, but for me, it was the right choice. When Nacho saw how badly I was doing, he started to run with us. In his jeans. He ran with us for miles. Between miles 10-14, I was just in a bad mental place. I was in so much pain, and I was upset about being in so much pain, and I felt an intense amount of guilt for ruining Nicole’s race. She was staying positive, and trying to snap me out of it. At mile 14, I saw my dad, Hermano and Cindy, and I started crying, but shortly after I finally accepted the fact that I was injured, and I needed to stop waiting for the pain to go away, and focus on running the best I could on that day. pfchangs2013-169

Nacho stopped around mile 15, and told us he would see us on our way back (this was the only part of the course that had an out and back section). At the turn around at mile 16, we saw one of Nicole’s cheering sections, and before we knew it, we were on our way back down Indian School. Then, my stomach started bugging me, and around mile 17, we stopped for the bathroom again. We continued with run/walk/stretch over and over and over.

Just before mile 18, we saw Tim, and when he walked with us for a little while. He is such an inspiration, and he put a lot into perspective for me during this process. It was so nice that he walked with us for a while and encouraged me! He said this was the toughest part of the marathon, and that we were doing great. Soon after, we caught back up to Nacho, and he ran with us even MORE. He refused to let me get down, and kept saying “The Ari I know doesn’t give up”. At mile 19, I saw my dad, Hermano and Cindy again, and I knew that my big cheering section was coming up soon. Nacho continued to run with us up until mile 20.5 where he said goodbye, and said he would see us at the Mill Avenue bridge. I was so amazed, and overwhelmed by his support, and how he was there when I needed him.

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I have no idea when in the race this photo was taken, but I was ready for an other picture.

Just before mile 21, from almost 1/4 mile away, I heard my mother-in-law (I wish there was a cuter term than mother-in-law PS) shout my name. I started pushing with all of my might, and it was almost like a mirage. A HUGE group of friends and family with signs for days shouting “GO ARI AND NICOLE!” I hugged my adorable niece, cried more, and Jason came up beside me, and told me that I was doing great. Steve had told them that I was having a rough time, but they were all great about not asking if I was okay, and just staying positive. Lisa (who is pregnant as can be) and Bethany started running with us and chanting with their signs. It was unbelievable. I felt so incredibly loved, and I was so grateful that I had decided to keep running. I knew quitting wasn’t an option, and mostly because I knew I couldn’t disappoint everyone who had given so much for me to get here.

At this point, exhaustion crept in. I didn’t expect to feel so tired because I had been walking so often, but the pain in my knee had traveled up to my hip and basically my entire left leg had been feeling a mess regardless of stopping at a medic station for ibuprofen, and being handed a mysterious prescription pain pill at mile 19 (don’t try this at home, kids). Every time I tried to pick up my leg, it felt impossible, and all of the sudden it wasn’t just hard because my knee hurt, it was just hard. From this point on, Steve stayed right by us on his bike. He had been on and off throughout the course. Originally I told him I only wanted to see him a few times so I could focus on the race, but when I started struggling, he showed up more and more often, and I was so grateful.

At this point he stayed by our side offering encouraging words. He happened to be wearing a shirt that made him look like he was a medic and someone thanked him for his service! Cracked me up. We saw Nicole’s cheering squad at Mile 23, then Lisa and some other BTB members at mile 25, and Jaime right after. Nacho was waiting at the bridge, just like he promised, and he ran the rest of the way with us, even through the finish line. If you ask me, he deserved it. After 26 miles of pain, we had finally made it. Nicole and I grabbed hands, and ran through the finish line holding hands, just as we had set out to do.

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At first, it didn’t seem real. It wasn’t until I found Coach Susan that it started to sink in, and I started sobbing. I told her that my knee had hurt since the beginning and she hugged me, told me that I was a marathoner, and said “You ran your first marathon in 5 hours with an injury? That makes you a fucking badass. Excuse my language.” Then she told me she loved me, and that she really felt like it was her daughter who was out there. At some point in New York, we decided that I could be her daughter, so now she’s my running mom ;)

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There is so much about this experience that I still can’t even explain. Nicole stuck with me as we watched all of our time goals slip out of sight. Even at the end when the 5 hour pacer got out of our sight (that one hurt), and we watched our last time goal go by the wayside, she never left my side. After five hours and four minutes of running through pain, we became marathoners together, and I couldn’t have done it without her. It may not have been the race I dreamed of, but I experienced love and generosity that blew me away. I discovered a determination and dedication I didn’t know I possessed, and I finished.

I will say this: No matter how much pain I was in or how short my spurts of running were, I never gave up and stopped trying. Even when I could only run for a minute at a time before the pain got bad, I would run for a minute. I am still ridiculously happy, and proud to be a marathoner. I am proud that I pushed through something that would make so many people stop, and I’m proud that after 7 months, it finally became possible. Regardless of the physical pain, I managed to have one of the happiest days of my life, and I feel so undeserving of all of the kindness I have received. People told me that I am an inspiration, but it is the love and kindness I received from the people I love that I really find inspiring. Damn, I am lucky.

Thank you for all the support, and for all the love and comments along this journey. It has been incredible, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

Team Chances Brunch

26.2 jack-o-lantern. Genius.

Saturday morning the team met bright and early at Coach Susan’s house for our last “long” run and a big team brunch/meeting/information overload. When we arrived, I was totally blown away at how decked out her house was!

26.2 jack-o-lantern. Genius.

Shortly after we arrived, we headed out for a quick 40 minute run, then returned to sit down for the big informational meeting while many of the Believe Train Become runners slaved away cooking our breakfast. They’re the best. :) It was still chilly out, so a lot of us huddled in close and gathered around the fire.

Michelle and I love bright shoes. LOOK HOW BRIGHT WE ARE! Okay, she is so much brighter, but mine have so many colors! I love running shoes ;)

Susan started off explaining many of the normal feelings of taper–sluggish, irritable, feeling fat. As she mentioned each one, it was like everyone around me just kept turning to look at me because not 5 minutes before we started, I had been complaining about pretty much every single one. Then Jason just had to be a really awesome friend and make sure to call attention to me and my…issues. Anyway, it was nice to hear it was all normal, and despite the fact that I feel like I’ve gained 9 MILLION lbs the last two weeks, people keep telling me I look smaller, so clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about. Shocking, right? Anyway, one big moment came when Susan surprised us all with these bracelets:

A couple of weeks ago, one of my teammates suffered a major heart attack on one of his long runs. I’ve actually wanted to write about it for a while, but I didn’t want to put him out there on display. Anyway, he is doing FANTASTIC, but clearly cannot run NYC, so Susan got each of us TIMstrong bracelets. She also told us that the reason he IS okay is because he is a runner–because he has taken such great care of his body and is so strong. That is where I really got emotional. I started to think about where my life was heading a few years ago, and how I probably would have ended up dying at a young age from obesity complications if I hadn’t made a change. Sounds dramatic, but I was on a steady weight gain spree with no end in sight, and I am just so glad to be in a place where I am taking care of my body, and more importantly, I am so glad that Tim’s lifestyle saved his life.

As Susan made her way through the overwhelming amount of information, she got to talking about something that really spoke to me: The Voice. We all have it, and it’s always our biggest enemy. Runner or not, we’ve all experienced that negative self talk that tells us we’re not good enough, tells us to give up, and pushes us down. She told us the story of when she was running the olympic trials and she was on the 2nd loop of the 4 loop course. Her voice started, and she was certain she couldn’t do it. She knew up ahead there was a trash can, and legit made a deal with herself that she would run until she got there, then hide behind it. Totally logical. As she got closer, she realized that if she hid behind it now, eventually she would have to come out, and then what? So she didn’t stop. She ran past the trash can, and finished 30th out of the entire country. Then she said

“Most of us quit just before we reach our potential.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve always eventually broken down and listened to the voice, and that I have yet to see what I’m fully capable of. This quote really spoke to me, and I hope I can use it to carry me through the last 10k of the marathon, and any time in life when the going gets tough. I feel so lucky to have such a motivating and inspirational coach!! I know I’ve said it a million times, but every day I feel MORE grateful!

After the information session, we broke for breakfast and then took some team photos.

Then I insisted we all play the camera game…

Well, maybe only like 3 people participated, but I’m pretty sure Susan and Tracie nailed it. Check out their faces!

Your welcome Susan, Tracie and everyone else who played along ;)

I chatted a bit more with some of my teammates, and grabbed my marathon packet (it’s filled with SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!).

Jaime, Jason & Me. No double chin. Good photography, Bill.

It was a perfect morning, and a great way to end the training cycle. BIG thank you to Susan and BTB for hosting us! 5 days and counting!

NYC Marathon Training Week 18

Week 1 of taper, check. You know, I read about how everyone hates taper, but this week was kinda nice. I enjoyed a slightly shorter Monday run, still pushed myself at the track, and loved being done with my long run at 7:15 Saturday morning! It was also really great to end a long run and not be totally exhausted. 10 miles felt short, and nice. I could get used to this taper thing! ;) Here’s how it went down:

Monday: 6 mile run. The schedule said “3 miles easy, 3 miles at marathon pace”. WHAT IS MARATHON PACE?!?!?! HOW DO I CHOOSE???? LIFE IS SO HARD!!!! Soooo, I ran 3 miles slow, and 3 miles less slow, ending up with a 10:11 average pace. I was not feeling this run. I had canceled on Nicole so that I could sleep in later, then I had to keep making deals with myself like “Maybe I’ll just run 3 miles….” to get myself out and going, but finally I turned on some relaxing music (because I’m a freak and sometimes I want mellow music while I’m running), and just gave my mind some time to do it’s thing. The run ended up being really good, and a nice reminder that even when I realllllly don’t want to, it’s almost always better to just get out there.

Tuesday: 11 mile bike. Easy ride to coffee with Steve.

Wednesday: Track. Ao about this marathon goal pace. I guess I’ve figured it out? Coach Loken sent me my projected finish time, and it scared the crap out of me. My head immediate filled with “I can’ts” and doubt. I’ve since talked it through with anyone who will listen including my super smart coach (you know the person I actually should talk to about it), and figured out what a realistic goal is mentally for me, and I’m keeping her projected finish time as a dream goal, but trying to run my marathon goal pace miles at that pace. I’m not going to talk about what any of these goals are because when I write my recap about how I ran my first marathon, I want to write it with joy and pride no matter what my finish time is, and if I tell you what I want it to be, and that doesn’t happen, I will feel like a disappointment. Anyway, back to the track. We warmed up, had a mile at marathon goal pace, then 4 x 400s, then an other mile at goal pace, then a cool down. I hit my goal pace miles and they felt easy! It was AWESOME! I also pushed really hard on my 400s running them @ 7:05, 6:57, 6:58, 6:42. The whole workout felt awesome! I completed 5.17 miles in 50 minutes. After track, a couple of people from my team came up to me and told me how much faster I’d gotten!! This is the second time this has happened recently, and it made me feel so awesome!!

Thursday: 3 mile run. Nice and easy recovery run with my speedy friend Ashley. She was practically walking. ;)

Friday: 17.3 mile bike. The usual Friday am bike ride/breakfast/coffee with Nicole.

Saturday: 10 mile run. I came, I ran, I got chased by wild dogs, I ran the second half fast to keep up with my friends, I was done by 7:15 and averaged a 9:57 pace. Ask me about the wild dogs sometime. It’s a really funny story that includes some pretty big embarrassment, but I don’t mind embarrassing myself.

Sunday: Rest. Necessary.

Fundraising update: As you know, I’ve been running with Team Chances to raise money for Chances for Children. I committed to raising $5000, and I’M GETTING SO CLOSE!!! I’ve now raised $4,110 and have just $890 to go thanks to so much support from everyone in my life! Please consider helping me to reach my goal by making a donation or placing an order! Remember that all donations/orders are tax deductible and in the state of Arizona, you can receive a full tax credit ($200 individual, or $400 family) for donations. Thanks to all of you for all the support!! I truly believe I can meet this goal by November 4th!

NYC Marathon Training Week 17

17 weeks of hard work down. 3 weeks of taper to go. I had a lot of thoughts about the training cycle as a whole this week. I was feeling tired physically and mentally. Last week was a step back week, but even though our long run was only 10 miles, running it at race pace made it challenging, and I did not go into this week feeling rested, but I started to realize that maybe that’s the point? If I can run peak week on tired legs, then I can certainly run the marathon on fresh legs, right? I’m guessing that’s why the plans work, but really, what do I know? Basically nothing.

I went to bed last Sunday night thinking about how I had to kill it this week, and make every run perfect because THIS IS IT!! Then I woke up Monday morning totally lacking in motivation. In fact, the only thing that got me to get out of bed for my work outs was knowing that this is the most important week, and after this it will all get easier. Here’s a look at how this week’s training went down.

Monday: 8 mile run. It was a good thing I had plans to run with Nicole, because otherwise it just would not have happened. Something has to be really wrong in order for me to cancel on a friend, but it is so easy to hit the snooze button and roll over when it’s just me. I was NOT feeling it this morning. My legs felt tired from Saturday’s time trial and I was quiet, grumpy, and not a whole lot of fun, but Nicole stayed really positive and pushed me through until the end. I was happy when it was over, but it took me until the moment I was finished to be happy I did it. Ran the first 4 easy, then the next 4 @ 9:46, 9:36, 9:22, 8:30.

Tuesday: Spin. I finally went back to spin! It was a great class, but I just mentally wasn’t 100% in it. I gave it a solid effort and had a good time, but I was just more at like a 90%.

Wednesday: Track–6 x 800. Partner 800s!! YAY!! Stacey and I finally got to complete them together. The way it works is partner #1 (me) runs a lap solo, then partner #2 joins for lap 2. While partner #2 runs their 2nd lap, partner #1 gets a short break. I did a mile-ish warm up over to the track, then completed my 800s @ 8:01, 8:00, 7:42, 7:38, 7:34, 7:22. I was dyyyyying on the last one, but it felt awesome! I did a short cool down jog back and ended up completing 4.4 miles in 37:31 for an average pace of 8:31 including the warm up and cool down! I was stoked!! As soon as I got home, I checked out my paces from the time we did this same work out just one month before: 8:07, 8:08, 8:02, 8:00, 7:58, 7:57. I was so ecstatic to be able to see my improvement!! MAYBE I WON’T BE A SLOW RUNNER FOREVER!!!!

Thursday: Rest. Lots of carbs and compression socks all day long.

Friday: 20.5 mile run. Check it.

Saturday: 15ish mile bike. I literally felt like I had been run over by a truck, but Susan had asked me to bring muffins for the team, so I figured while I was there, I should cheer my friends on. I got my tired legs onto my bike and rode around the canal for almost an hour and a half. It was great to be able to to be there for my friends while they finished the toughest part of the journey as well!

Sunday: Rest. You couldn’t pay me enough to work out today. Rest days are awesome.

Sooooo…..now we taper. Everyone says taper makes you crazy, but I’m sososo excited. My legs are beat. My brain is duuuunnnn. My social life is pathetic. Well, that one probably won’t change. ;) I’m sure after a week or so I will start feeling a little nutty about not running, but for now I can’t wait to tone it way down and give myself a break. My goal is to spend the extra time I would have been running, and focus that energy/time on taking care of myself. Lots of stretching and foam rolling. No skipping PT sessions. Good nutritious food and….no more alcohol (wahhhhh) until after the race. I mean, I’m not a big drinker anyway, and I haven’t been drinking during training except to celebrate long runs, and they’re all over, so there’s really nothing to celebrate until Nov 4. I mean, there’s real life things, but I will celebrate those just fine without. I want to go into the race feeling my very best. Oh and I need to make SLEEP a priority. This 5-6 hours a night business is not cutting it for me.

What do you do differently during taper? How do you prepare for a big race to make sure you go in feeling your best? GIVE ME YOUR AWESOME MARATHON ADVICE!!!!!

Nourish

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Sunday evening I went out with some of my awesome teammates to celebrate all of our training, and making it all the way to peak week! Well, we didn’t say exactly what it was that we were celebrating other than actually getting to hang out with each other, but those sound like awesome reasons to celebrate to me ;)

Jason, Wanda, Jaime, Tara, Lisa, Stacey, Moi. And after this lovely evening, I will be throwing out that shirt and NEVER wearing it again.

When we were trying to decide what to do/where to go, we all agreed that some awesome healthy food…and of course some wine. ;) Jaime and Tara eat gluten free, so I suggested Nourish. I first tried Nourish a couple of months ago with Nicole and Emily, and LOVED it! They have a menu filled with healthy options to fit every diet–gluten free, vegan, raw, paleo, you name it!

As soon as I mentioned their air fried sweet potatoes, my friends were all on board!

Heaven.

They have a special air frier that bakes the sweet potatoes at a very high temperature without the potatoes ever touching oil or butter! They do place some oil in the oven, and have a fan that they say infuses the “fries” with the flavor of the oil. They are perfectly crisp on the outside, while soft on the inside–so much better than the kind I make at home! It is kind of magical. The table split a bottle of pinot grigio and an order of the sweet potato fries to start.

I ordered the southwestern rice bowl which was ridiculously good! I don’t know how they get their brown rice to be so soft!!

We ended up spending over 2 hours chatting and talking about, well, running! :)

Jaime & Tara

Stacey & Jason

Lisa & my shiny red face

“Ari take a cute picture of me for my blog! And then out me for asking on the internet!” I believe I was successful on both accounts.

Training buddddddies!

What a fantastic night!! I’m so glad we all had the chance to hang out and do something fun with real clothes on, and eat food that isn’t gu!! Also, I haven’t stopped craving the delicious food from Nourish since we left, so I think an other trip very soon is in order!

 

NYC Marathon Training Week 16

LOOK COACH SUSAN!! I ran your marathon pace for 6 seconds. I think I'm ready for the olympic trials now too. 6 seconds is basically the same as a whole marathon, right?

Good morning! It is an absolutely perfect fall morning in Phoenix. It is a beautiful 68 degrees with the most perfect breeze. We’ve got the front door and all of our windows open. It’s fall break so I have a much lighter schedule this week. My run is done. I’m just hanging out, enjoying the breeze and a pumpkiny breakfast. It.Is.Awesome. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to have a little bit of a break right now, especially since it’s peak training week. I’ve got a big scary 20 miler staring me in the face this Friday, and I’m super pumped that I have an easier week work-wise to prepare for it.

Anyway, that’s this week, but I’m here to talk about last  week. Here’s a look at how my training went down:

Monday: 8 mile run. Ran with Nicole. 4 easy miles, then 4 moderate @ 9:38, 9:40, 9:25, 8:37. My legs weren’t quite ready to get back to work yet, but they made it through and we averaged a 9:58 pace. Those stupid easy warm up miles totally kill the average. I should track them separately. Just kidding. Kind of…. ;)

Tuesday: 10.4 mile bike. I didn’t feel like working out at all, so I just took an easy bike ride to coffee with Steve. I broke all sorts of records with my amazing cycling speed and averaged 13.6 miles an hour. It’s okay Lance, I’ll take your spot since they won’t let you race anymore. Clearly, I’m at your same level.

Wednesday: Track. Warm up, then 2 x 1200s with 90 second rest @ 8:33, 7:54, then 800 @ 7:45, then 4 x 400s at 7:00ish. Ummm yeah, apparently the work out was so hard I forgot how to work my garmin. I kept forgetting to hit the lap button, then accidentally stopping it–it was just a hot mess. When I went in and tried to figure out my paces, it looked like they were all between 7:00-7:05. My type A brain was a little annoyed to not know every single pace EXACTLY (shocking, right?), but I got a pretty good idea. This workout was HARD. I thought my 400s would be closer to my ridiculously fast 400 at track a couple of weeks ago, but I did my first intervals really fast (for me), and didn’t account for the fact that 4 400s would be hard than, oh, one. It was awesome, though, and I ended up covering 4.77 miles in 42:28 for an average pace of 8:54. Not too shabby.

Thursday: 12.8 mile bike. Had a recovery run scheduled, but I found out when I woke up that I’d be going alone which sounded not at all fun, so I swapped it for an other ride with Steve. Stepped it up to a 13.9 average pace. Watch out cars. I will pass all of you.

Friday: 21.4 mile bike. I guess I rode my bike a lot last week! Nicole and I took a new route and rode to breakfast at Essence Bakery. It.Was.Amazing. My breakfast was, um, a little heavier than I expected, and by heavier I mean covered with cheese from top to bottom, but it was soooo delicious. We also both got some mini macarons for the road. The pumpkin spice and hazelnut were my favorites, but they were all amazing! Oh wait, I’m supposed to be talking about exercise, not cheese and macarons. The ride was great. We chatted the whole time (obviously), and it was nice to ride somewhere new! Oh, and I averaged a speed demon pace of 12.9 miles an hour.

Saturday: 10 mile time trial. EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10 weeks ago, we were asked to run a 10 mile time trial. I ran it up in Portland with Tali and Camille. I called it the best run of my life. It was perfection–perfect weather, perfect company, perfect mind set. I finished that run in 1:34:45. Well, it’s 10 weeks later, and I’m 3 minutes faster! Pretty good, right? I was NERVOUS about this run to say the least. The last time I went after a specific time goal was at AFC in San Diego. I posted my big goal of a sub two half all over the internet for the world to see, then I crashed and burned. Hard. I didn’t really tell anyone my goals for this run, except for Steve and Nicole. I didn’t want to set myself up to tell everyone I failed again. Of course, I had a few goals–the main one was just to be faster than last time, which I actually was not sure I could do. Everything last time seemed so perfect–what if I couldn’t do it again?? I really wanted to be around 1:32. 1:32:30 is a 9:15 pace which seemed like a big jump from my previous 9:28, and I knew that would be something I could be proud of. My dream goal was to magically be able to pull a sub 1:30. That one obviously didn’t happen, but I am totally okay with that!

Towards the beginning of the run, I found myself running right behind to other ladies, so I asked what their goal was and they told me 1:32. Perfect! I ran with them until about mile 6, and we chatted most of the way. It was an awesome distraction. A little over haf way through we all started to split off a bit, it was getting harder, and I was starting to doubt myself. I put on my music, and told my brain to STFU. I really started to understand the mental battle part of running. I was sure that I was too tired, and that I couldn’t do it, but I really fought back this time instead of giving up, and I ended up really surprising myself!

Mile 1: 9:32
Mile 2: 9:15
Mile 3: 9:20
Mile 4: 9:08
Mile 5: 8:56
Mile 6: 9:11
Mile 7: 9:09
Mile 8: 8:53
Mile 9: 9:31 <—SOOO TIRED!!!! WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER?!?!?!
Mile 10: 8:43

You know something I love? When you’ve sprinted at the end, and you go and look at your final lap pace on your garmin.

LOOK COACH SUSAN!! I ran your marathon pace for 6 seconds. I think I’m ready for the olympic trials now too. 97 feet is basically the same as a whole marathon, right? Also, I really need a manicure.

Anyway, the time trial was awesome. Really awesome. So awesome that McMillan seems to think I can now run a 4:17 marathon. Silly McMillan. I’ll be happy with half an hour longer than that! Also, I just wanted to say that 9:09 for 13.1 miles = 1:59:59ish half marathon, if I ran the tangents perfectly…. Lost Dutchman, I’m looking at YOU!

Sunday: Rest. Much needed. I’m getting better at this whole rest day thing. I might even go so far as to say I LIKE them! :)

TOTALS:

Running: 22.85
Biking:  44.55
Eating: Everything in site. 

Tell me about your training!! Any big goals coming up? Record breaking bike speeds? Long run PRs??

 

One Month

CFC

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but today is October 4th. I mean, sure, you probably have a calendar, and could have figured that out without reading this post, but October 4th marks exactly one month to go until I run my very first marathon. That means I have 1.5 weeks left until I taper. When did that happen??? Wasn’t I just whining about how I’m so burnt out and training is hard, and woe is me? Watch, in 2 weeks I will be all “I miss running! Taper is hard! Let’s do an other 20 miler!” Runners are strange, strange people.

Wait. Hold on a sec. I think that’s the first time I ever actually referred to myself as a runner. I had the urge to go back and delete it, because I still don’t 100% feel like part of the club yet, but that’s silly. I run multiple times a week, and I’m training for a marathon. I’d say I’ve earned my title, and I’m gonna try to go with it, because it’s a title I’ve longed to hold for a long time. Ari: Runner. Not Ari: Girl Who Tries to Run, But is Really Slow. Just Ari: Runner. A lot has changed in the past year, and even more has changed in the past 4 months since I began this journey. I’ve literally spent almost half of this year training for this race that is now just 1 month away.

I am the following:

  1. Excited
  2. Giddy
  3. Nervous
  4. Proud
  5. In disbelief
  6. Anxious
  7. Honored
  8. Fortunate
  9. Hopeful
  10. Ready

Or at least, I will be ready after next weekend’s 20 miler brings my peak training to a close. I’m starting to believe I can do this. Every day, I have my doubts, but every day I surprise myself, and remind myself of why I can.

With one month to go, my fundraising could use some help now more than ever. Please consider making a donation to Chances for Children AZ to help kids find fitness, health and happiness in their lives. It is so important, and they deserve it! Every penny helps (I know it sounds cheesy, but I believe it!).

NYC Marathon Training Week 12

This week was a cut back week. After 15 miles at South Mountain, and looking ahead at the training that’s coming up, an easier week sounded awesome. However, I think for the first time I started to feel a little bit of the craziness I always hear other runners talk about during cut back and taper weeks. I have to admit, even though I really do love running, I’ve never been one to look at less miles on the training plan and feel disappointed, but I started feeling weird not-so-healthy thoughts of not doing or being good enough this week. I followed the plan almost to a tee, with the exception of a missed recovery run to which Nicole replied “It’s just 3 miles. That means you’re supposed to skip it. In fact, I think she probably meant ‘skip this run'”. This is why I love her.

Anyway, my 3 main runs (long, medium distance, and track) usually leave me feeling like a rockstar. Each one leaves me with a different sense of pride, and accomplishment. This week though, especially after my long run, I just felt a little…inadequate. Let me premise by saying I am well aware of how silly that is. I literally used words like “I only ran 10 miles.” Ummm, how many people out there would be over the moon to be able to run 10 miles??? And since when is double digits only 10.

I feel like part of that comes from the constant use of food (and beer) as a reward for long running. How many times have we all hear “Don’t use food as a reward”. Well, there’s good reason. It’s a tough habit to break, and I find myself continuously falling into it this training cycle. I can’t even tell you how many long runs I’ve gotten through by thinking about what I was going to eat for dinner! I know that’s not the worst  thing, especially if it motivates me enough to keep going (what can I say? I love food), but it becomes bad when I do a 10 mile long run, and feel like I haven’t run enough to “earn” a fun dinner out. Ridiculous. I know. I’m actually kind of a smart lady. And I think that if I wasn’t aware of my silliness, then there would actually be a problem. I’ve learned enough about myself at this point in my life to be able to navigate the craziness, but I wanted to talk about it, because I feel like it’s something a lot of people deal with, and it’s okay. Beating ourselves up for struggling mentally is equivalent to beating ourselves up for  one bad work out. You wouldn’t do it to your friend, so why should you do it to yourself? That’s just how I was feeling last week.

Okay, enough of that. Here’s how last week’s training went down!

Monday—4.2 mile easy run. After Saturday’s challenging long run at South Mountain, I was super relieved to have an easier day. I ran with Nicole and Stacey, and averaged a 10:27 pace. It was good, but shorter and easier and came with no awesome runner’s high. Sad day.

Tuesday—Linda’s Spin. This class kicked my butt this week! Linda called some of us out on our flat road being too easy, so I picked mine back up to 11, and I hung in, but I was definitely working hard!

Wednesday—Track: 3×1 mile. Balloons. Rainbows. Glitter. Confetti. This run was so freaking awesome!! I had the biggest case of runner’s high all.day.long. We warmed up, did all the silly looking running drills and about a million lunges, then set out on the track for our mile repeats (with 400 recovery jogs in between). The first one was supposed to be at 10k pace, then between 5-10k pace, then 5k pace. My goal was 8:40, 8:30, 8:20. My first mile clocked in at 8:38, then my second in 8:27. I was getting nervous at this point. I mean, I’ve done 800s faster than that, but I was worried about my ability to run any faster for an entire mile (so much longer than it seems!) when I was already feeling so tired. The first 3 laps of my last mile, I was doing okay. Not great, but staying on pace. The last lap, I just wanted to give up and lay down on the track. I asked some of my speedier friends that were finished to finish my last lap with me, and they ran the last 300ish with me, pushing me and helping me bring my lap pace from a steady 8:15 to 8:06!!!!! Ummm, that is FAST for me! I felt amazing, like I had really given the workout everything I had. I rushed up to Coach Susan to tell her my splits, and she said that I got a P for Perfect for the day! This was one of the best runs of this entire training process!!

Thursday—14.7 mile bike ride. Since Nicole and I decided to long run on Friday, we took a nice little bike ride on Thursday. 

Friday—10 mile run. 10:21 average pace. Pretty uneventful with the exception of all the wildlife we encountered! In our 10 miles, Nicole and I saw a toad, coyote, jack rabbit, and a giant fish! This was the run that I ended and had my ridiculous, bratty “so what” attitude. I’m over it. 10 miles is 10 miles. It has 2 numbers, therefore it is long. Welcome to the long run logic of Ari’s Brain. Actually, anything over 10 seconds usually feels kind of long….

Saturday—9.7 mile bike. Rode to rehearsal, and for the first time in months, I actually focused on riding, rather than pedaling along having casual conversation. There was a super intense headwind, and I still only averaged 14mi an hour, but it felt good to push a little more on the bike again.

Sunday—8.4 mile bike. Rode to coffee with Steve, and took it mostly easy/moderate with a couple of sprints thrown in for fun. He does this weird strava thing for nerdy boys who ride bikes (or maybe it’s for all people, but since he does it, I just assumed…) and he wanted to race his “segment”. Of course that meant I was going for it too. I was doing really awesome and averaging a 20.8 pace, but then I hit two stop lights, cursed at them (only in my head), and ended up at around 18.5 for both sprint segments. It was fun to change it up a little!

Wow, it’s a good thing I have this little blog. Apparently, I have things to say, or something. Poor Steve would be so annoyed if I just regurgitated the same recaps of my paces and feeling to him 50 times a day. Oh wait, that is his life. Now it’s yours too–HAH! ;)

TIME FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES!!! I want to hear about your training–your accomplishments, frustrations, celebration beers, thoughts that celebration beers should never ever happen. TELL ME EVERYTHING!

For Me

From the time I was 10 years old, I lived my life with one goal in mind. I wanted to “make it” in musical theatre. Of course when I was 10 this meant being on The B-way, and over time the meaning of “making it” has changed, and evolved into a much more realistic career path, but I have. I graduated college with my BFA in Musical Theatre (the ultimate goal for many many years), moved back home, and made a career in a field most people don’t even consider possible. I love my jobs. I also married the perfect man, bought a house I love near my family, and became a fur mom to the two greatest puppies that bring me a ridiculous amount of joy. I slowly checked almost every life goal off my list as I inched my way closer to my dream life. Not to say my life is perfect, because no one’s is, but it is, technically speaking, the life I always dreamed of.

I always assumed that as I checked more and more goals off my list, eventually this would lead me to a state of steady, unwavering happiness. Near perfection. Well, that’s silly. Regardless of how much I love my life (so much), what I’ve realized in the last year is that the thing that brings me the most happiness is a sense of personal accomplishment. There are hundreds of ways we all achieve that on a daily basis, and by far the most important is the accomplishment I get from having amazing relationships with family and friends. I am so lucky to be surrounded by the most amazing people, and to have so many lasting close friendships. However, I found as I settled into my “grown up life” post college, that I really missed the sense of accomplishment that came from those moments in voice lessons when Chris would shout at me “That was so good! Why would you not choose that all the time?!”, a phrase my students now hear all the time. ;) Or a moment in acting class where I was able to let go, and connect in a new way without getting stuck inside my own head.

I LOVE learning, and I feel at my best when I am constantly growing and excelling at my passions. Adjusting to “real life” where I didn’t have teachers to impress, or classes to prepare for was quite a challenge for me. I am, of course, always working to improve my craft, and I believe that continuing to grow as an artist is imperative to being a good theatre artist, producing quality work, and helping my students grow to the best of their abilities, but I missed doing the work for me.

That was a really long way to say: This is why I love running.

Remember this? It was MY FAVORITE DAY OF RUNNING. Also my favorite running picture. From my favorite race taken by my favorite husband. What? You don’t have a favorite husband? Weird.

I feel like I have finally found this one thing that I can do that is just for me. I can look back on my training history and see the improvements in black and white. I can’t argue about opinions, or good days and bad days (although there are plenty of each), because the proof is in the consistent progress. I can compare my best today with my best last month, and I can see, without a shadow of a doubt, that my hard work is paying off.

I had an AWESOME workout at the track with my team today. I left all kinds of giddy, and I still haven’t gotten over how I exceeded every single expectation I made for this workout. The past 2 weeks of my training have been super solid, and they leave me feeling like a million bucks…and a little stiff and sore ;) I don’t mind though. Bring it sore legs. I don’t mind a reminder of how hard I’ve worked.

Today I was still the last one on the track. I don’t really know why, but I was. You know what? I didn’t mind at all. I was too happy and excited, and I think I finally understood the concept of not comparing myself to others. My speedy friends that ran most of my last lap with me? They were on their cool down. They had finished a while ago, and their cool down pace is about my working pace, but who really cares? They made me faster, and I am so grateful for their support and encouragement! I am getting better, stronger, faster and more positive every day. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to run with Chances for Children and to have the constant knowledge, wisdom, and support of Coach Susan.

Today is a great day to be training for a marathon, friends.

Your turn! Tell me something you’ve accomplished for yourself lately that you didn’t think you could do? Or about a personal breakthrough you’ve had? I WANT TO HEAR YOUR HAPPY STORIES TOO!!! Let’s spread this giddiness all over the place!

NYC Marathon Training Week 11

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Friday night I had big plans. I was, for real–no sarcasm, super excited about said plans. I sat on the couch (between sessions of stretching and foam rolling), ate a big salad with whole wheat gnocchi on top (because I still don’t like eating a whole plate of just pasta–yuck), and watched Fast Women. Fast Women is a documentary about some local Phoenix runners including my super amazing inspiring coach. It definitely inspired me, and made me excited to get out there and run the next morning! Perhaps my big Friday night plans seem super lame to you? That’s okay. I’m perfectly content with my life as it is right now. I’m feeling good about my training, and I’m starting to take it more seriously, and commit myself in all areas of life, not just the training runs.

I had a really great week of training. I was in the right place mentally. I felt focused, and positive all week long. I really pushed myself this week, and ever since last Saturday’s 14 miler, I have been in almost a constant state of runner’s high. After almost every work out, I felt that sense of pride, accomplishment, and “I can do anything”! It was awesome. I made a lot of personal discoveries this week, and though most of them came through in my training, many of them aren’t running related. That is why I love challenging myself. It’s only when we push ourselves beyond our limits that we truly learn about ourselves and grow as human beings. Too much? Sorry, I’m a REALLY sappy person. I mean ask my friends who is the most emotional person they know. I guarantee you, they will all say me. And you know what? I like it. So here’s how the 11th week of training went down in the land of I Feel Deep Personal Crap 24/7:

Monday–7 mi run. Okay, so about these medium distance runs…Until now, I’ve totally sucked at them. The training plan always reads something like “X miles easy to warm up, then X miles at moderate pace. Moderate pace is slightly harder. You can hear your breathing, but you’re not gasping for air.” Problem #1: I can always hear my breathing. Perhaps that’s not normal? I just usually wear headphones to block it out ;) Problem #2: It’s 90* out, and no pace feels easy. Problem #3: PLEASE JUST TELL ME A PACE TO HIT OTHERWISE I NEVER KNOW IF I’M DOING IT RIGHT!!!! Please Coach Susan? Can’t you just tell me exactly what to do at every moment of every run? I thought that was how this worked? And while we’re at it, maybe you could just run the miles 4 me. You’d do it in about half the time. Okay, or maybe that’s not the point. Anyway, after the scheduled 3 mile warm up, I told Nicole that I actually wanted to try to push the next 4 miles. I’ve spent a lot of time being scared I can’t run faster when it’s hot out, and that if I actually picked it up, I wouldn’t be able to get through it. Well it turns out, although running in the heat is still tough, running at a moderate pace is actually not that much harder. I ended up running the last 4 in 9:40, 9:34, 9:25, 8:31. Note to self: Stop sucking it up like a baby, and actually push yourself. You  can do a lot more than you think.

Tuesday–Linda’s Spin. Love.

Wednesday–Track: 6x800s. We were told to find a partner at about our speed, then one partner did a lap alone, then the second lap with their partner, then the second partner did their second lap alone. Sounds more confusing than it is. I partnered up with Bob and was the first to go, so basically I would run the second half of my 800 with him, then rest while he ran his final lap (around 2 min). After Monday, I was all pumped up and ready to really push myself, and I ran my 800s in 8:07, 8:08, 8:02, 8:00, 7:58, 7:57. I wanted to die on the last one, but it was awesome to really push myself, and work harder than I have been. I was still basically the last one on the track, but such is life.

Thursday–Recovery run. 3 miles of shuffling at a snail’s pace. The first run I’ve done by myself in a while. No music (what??? I’ve actually run a lot without music lately, and it really isn’t so bad!) It was nice to just go at my own pace, shake my body out, and let the recovery run do it’s thing.

Friday–18 mi bike ride. Friday mornings are my happy place. I get to hang out with one of my favorite people, move my body, and not worry about pace/time/mileage/anything. Nicole and I just spend the time chatting, and there is always breakfast and coffee. This time it didn’t rain (YAY!!), and Nicole learned to change a flat tire.

while I sat there and looked totally confused.

For some reason we wore our helmets the entire time. We wondered how many food bloggers it takes to change a tire….Steve ended up coming to save the day, but Nicole was doing pretty awesome I have to say! We also saw this awesome sunrise.

My favorite thing about morning workouts.

Saturday–15 mi run. If you live in Phoenix, perhaps you’ve had the pleasure of running on San Juan Rd. No? Lucky. In all seriousness though, this run was I would say 90% great. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t 100% hard. It was one of the most challenging training runs I have ever done, and it was the first where I had to take walk breaks, but you know what? I didn’t care. I didn’t care about my super slow pace, and I didn’t really mind the fact that when I arrived at 5am my phone said it was 92*, and I didn’t hate working hard on the hills. I’ve said it 100 times, but I signed up to do this because I wanted to challenge myself. For some sick and twisted reason, I actually enjoy this crap. Not so much while I’m doing it, but nothing compares to the pride I get when I finish a tough work out. In the end, I ran 15 miles with 986 ft of elevation gain at a 10:48 average pace. I had so much support from my coach and so many members of my team it was incredible! At the turn around point, Susan was up at the top of the hill with a bull horn yelling for us! We also had people on bikes (ummm David you are AWESOME) with water and lots of positive energy to keep us going. When my ipod stopped working, David actually sang to me. Nicest guy ever. Having so many supportive people around during the hardest parts of this run made it so.much.better. The end was the hardest. The road is only 6.3 miles long, so I had to run back past my car, run the opposite direction for a little over a mile, and it turns out the way out was all downhill, so at the very end when I wanted to die, I had to run back alone and uphill. I may have had an F this moment, but I finished it, and within an hour I was riding some serious runner’s high.

I spent my Saturday night like this.

I lead a thrilling life. Don’t be jealous.

Sunday–Super easy recovery ride. I wanted coffee. My legs were stiff and a little angry, and begging to move around, so Steve and I rode to Dutch Bros and back.

 

Next week is a cut back week (hallelujah!), and then the week after that, shit gets real. I’m going to run further than I ever have, and I cannot freaking wait. All this time I’ve been telling everyone “I can’t wait until we do 16 miles! I’ve never done that before!’ Well as some sort of cruel joke, we skip 16 and go straight to 17. Whatever. I’m freaking stoked.

AFC Weekend in San Diego

Me, Coach Susan & Stacey.

Last weekend, I set out for San Diego with Steve and Stacey for the AFC half marathon. It was a super short trip. We left Friday afternoon after work and were there for a total of maybe 40 hours. We still managed to have a pretty awesome and relaxing Saturday, though. We had a delicious breakfast in Hillcrest at Snooze.

We were able to sit outside and enjoy a little bit of nice weather (the rest of the trip was hot–lame), and pet some super cute puppies. San Diego is super dog friendly. I wish Phoenix was more like that. Anyway, the food at Snooze was amaaaaaazing. I pretty much wanted to order the entire menu, but I settled on an egg white omelete with tons of veggies and goat cheese.

It’s funny because I really tried to be healthy, but then I dug into that omelete and it was pretty much exploding with goat cheese. I tried to pretend for a little while that I was going to scrape most of the cheese to the side, but who am I kidding??? Goat cheese is pretty much my favorite food on earth and this omelete was ridiculously good. I also snagged a bite of Stacey’s oatmeal which was also delicious.

And Steve ended up with this monster

Because clearly food is best when it’s the size of your head.

After breakfast, we walked around Hillcrest for a bit before heading to the race expo.

LOOK!!! WE’RE RUNNING!!!

The expo looked huge on first glance, but ended up being not super exciting. I did buy a new bic band, and for the first time I found one that stays on my head! It’s a thicker one, so I think having more felt is good for my awkward shaped head ;) We ended up browsing the expo for about an hour, then heading out to Coronado Beach.

Check out my awesome tan line. Super cute. It’s in the shape of sports bras/running tanks. Shocking, right?

After the beach, we went back to the hotel for a bit before meeting Coach Susan and some of our teammates for dinner. You know what I don’t understand? The whole pre-race pasta party concept. You go to an Italian restaurant where you are served lame white carbs that do you no good by race time the next day. I’d rather do a pre-race loaf of seedy multi grain bread party. Everyone gets their own loaf, and you don’t have to slice it. You just get a huge side of fancy vinegars and herbs to dip it into. That is something I can get on board with. Anyway, apparently the rest of the world doesn’t share my sentiment, so we ate Italian food. It was alright. I don’t love Italian food these days.

The company was great though! I got to know a few of my teammates a little better (there were a few of us that went), and it was cool to be part of a group. I’ve never done a race while having a coach before. Susan gave us all presents that totally made me all emotional!

Best.Coach.Ever. It’s the small things :)

Me, Coach Susan & Stacey.

The rest of the weekend was spent running, and driving and eating cupcakes. That was my favorite part, obviously. The cupcakes, not the running or driving. Those things were not super fun. Back with more details on the running part soon.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cups

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Sometimes I think that once my fundraising is over, I will never want to make an other cup for the rest of my life.

Then I take one of these out of the freezer, eat it, and head directly to the store to buy more ingredients, so that I can eat 7 more, then make more.

These were probably the most popular. Everyone loves sweet and salty.There’s also a lot of great textures between the pretzel, the chocolate, and the peanut butter. In fact, they’re almost like those chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels from Trader Joe’s. I never buy those, because I know once I opened them, they would last approximately 6 minutes. I know my weakness, ok.

Hungry yet? If you live in the Phoenix area (chocolate doesn’t ship well when it’s 117 out, and yes, that was the temperature an hour ago), you can order them @ $10 a dozen. As always, 100% of that goes directly to Chances for Children, and your purchases are tax deductable.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cups

yield 24 cups

  • 20 oz all natural dark chocolate chips
  • approx 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 1 scant tbs unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 24 mini pretzels (gluten-free pretzels work great!), whole or lightly chopped*

Directions:

*Option 1 (for whole pretzels)

  1. Line 24 mini muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted.
  3. Spoon enough chocolate to cover the bottom of each baking cup. Add 1-2 tsp peanut butter. Top with chocolate until peanut butter is completely covered and top is smooth.
  4. Gently, press the bottom of one pretzel about half way into each cup.
  5. Freeze to set. Keep in freezer or fridge.

*Option 2 (for chopped pretzels)

  1. Line 24 mini muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted.
  3. Spoon enough chocolate to cover the bottom of each baking cup. Add 1-2 tsp peanut butter. Add one lightly chopped pretzel. Top with chocolate until peanut butter and pretzel are completely covered and top is smooth.
  4. Freeze to set. Keep in freezer or fridge.

*I made the cups both ways, but only photographed them with the pretzel sticking out. I love them both, and continue to make them both ways. I think the pretzel on top looks cool, but with a chopped pretzel, you get more pretzel in each bite. I like to savor my desserts and take many bites :)