Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Review

Mizuno Waver Rider 18-2

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. All opinions are my own.

Mizuno Wave Rider 18

Check out my new kicks!!! I figured marathon week was the perfect time to tell you about the shoes I plan to wear for my 26.2 mile journey through the boroughs of NYC on Sunday. You may remember my love of the Mizuno Wave Rider 17? When I first tried those babies, I had just recently made the switch to neutral shoes after coming back from an injury. I’d tried on a bunch of brands and had a pair of shoes I liked enough, but when my new Mizunos came in the mail, it was love at first step! I had a GREAT first run in them! I felt light, fast, and totally at ease.

It’s always nerve wracking to try out a new shoe, but I have to admit as much as I loved my 17s, I love my Mizuno Wave Rider 18 EVEN MORE!!  They come in at a super light 7.8 ounces (for the women; 9.2 ounces for men) with a 12 mm ramp, and they fit like they were made for my foot! They have just the right amount of flexibility. They are known for their double fan wave which helps absorb the shock of, ya know, your foot pounding the ground for 3 hours at a time.

Mizuno Waver Rider 18-2

Finding the right shoe can be SO overwhelming! Am I the only runner who still doesn’t understand shoe specs? Here’s what I do know for sure, the right pair of shoes makes you excited to lace up. They can be the difference between you wanting  to run and feeling like you have to run. I tend to have a lot of aches and pains, especially in the foot/ankle area following a long run, but I have felt so good in this pair of shoes. The best I’ve ever felt, in fact!

They arrived just as I started to go into taper, and I was having reservations about wearing them for the marathon, but they have felt so awesome that I have no doubt that they will be the perfect shoe to take me to the finish line! Added bonus? LOOK HOW PRETTY THEY ARE!!! I love the design and color combo. You can check out all the color options here.

So if you’re a neutral runner and you’re looking for some new kicks, I would highly, highly recommend the Mizuno Wave Rider 18! I converted quite a few friends when I fell in love with the 17s, and (I know, I know, I’ve said it like 7 times because I feel so strongly!!) the 18s are even more incredible!

PS: If anyone else was like me and had trouble with blisters in the Wave Rider 17 (wasn’t a big deal, and was fixed with body glide), I just wanted to mention that the slightly new fit has completely solved that for me, so if anyone else experienced that in the previous model, don’t let that deter you!

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Mizuno Wave Rider 17 Review

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. All opinions are my own.

You guys, I have the hardest time with shoes. Can we talk about the fact that I own, like, 10 pairs of running shoes, and literally no fancy, dress-up shoes? It’s ridiculous. It seems like practically every other month I convince myself that it’s time for new running shoes, but I can spend hour in DSW and still come out empty handed.

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

Although I buy running shoes all the time, I definitely tend to stick to what I know. I had 7 versions of the same pair of stability shoes until my PT suggested I switch to a neutral shoe, and then…same story. Many versions of the same neutral shoe, but when I received the opportunity to try something new, I jumped at it! My normal shoes definitely don’t have that super-light, speedy feel, so I was excited (and a little nervous) to try something different.

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

The verdict? True love. I took these babies out for a little spin just 3 days after my century. I thought my legs would feel like lead, but the entire run felt GREAT! I’m still struggling with figuring out all my many aches and pains, and getting the perfect combination of tricks together so that my anti-runner body hates running just a little bit less (my mind loves it, my body just is slow to get with the program…). This run truly felt that way–no pain, I felt great, and I ran way faster than I expected–that’s always a plus. ;)

Here’s the stats in technical lingo:

  • U4ic midsole delivers lightweight, resilient cushioning.
  • Dissolving upper fit with new DMF execution and soft, supple mesh materials.
  • SmoothRide Engineering for a brilliant run.
  • Lateral Forefoot Sculpting for smooth touchdown and transition.
  • Blown rubber forefront with deep flex grooves for optimal flexibility and cushioning.

Let me translate:

  • OMG SO LIGHT!!! Wait? Are there shoes on my feet? Oh yeah, but they only weigh 7.8 ounces. That makes up for the 7800 ounces of Thanksgiving food in my stomach, right?
  • Oooohhh I can wiggle my toes! It feels wonderful and soft up there!
  • Yay!! These feel great–no clunkiness.
  • I have no idea what that actually means, but it probably helps make the shoes feel so awesome.
  • Flexible, yet supportive.

So would I buy an other pair? Heck, yes! My only slight discomfort was that due to the flexibility/fit of the shoe on my foot, I got a small blister on my pinky toes the first 2 runs. However, I gave myself a bit of time to get used to them and break them in, and that’s no longer an issue! I feel like it was just a small, personal thing that most likely won’t happen to others, and honestly, I love them so much, it was totally worth breaking them in. Not to mention, almost any new shoe requires a few break in runs.

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

The Wave Rider 17 will be released on December 5th in lots of pretty colors to choose from. If you’re anything like me, that is a total selling point! ;) They would make a great gift for any neutral shoe runner in your life, or a nice Christmas present to yourself! I honestly didn’t think I would notice the difference with this new design and light weight (I mean, I’m not breaking any records over here), but I really did. My feet felt…lighter, and ya know what? I freaking loved it.

Hood to Coast Race Recap

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I <3 my team!

I <3 my team!

Hi? Are you there real life? It’s me, Ari. Just coming off of this little thing I’d like to call “adventure hangover”. So tired that I’m actually not even quite sure where to start with all of this. Let’s start with the running, then we’ll talk about the adventuring.

Jealous of my cute hair and how great I look on 15 minutes of sleep? I don’t blame you.

So I signed up for this whole shindig in the midst of marathon training and thought I wanted the leg with the most mileage. Silly, silly Ari. Many of my team had just started running specifically for this race, and I wanted to step up and be a leader. Not to mention, I love lots of mileage. Anyway, then I got injured and was out for 4 months, and basically had to rebuild from scratch, so for the first time in my almost 2 years of running, I found myself totally under trained for this race. I followed my plan to a T, but I knew going in that things weren’t ideal. My longest post-injury run had been 6 miles, and as runner 9, I was scheduled to run 7.7, 5, 7.7 for a total of over 20 miles. In hindsight, I should have switched legs before the race began.

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Leg 1: 7.7 miles

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Okay, I started writing this way too in depth and it would have taken a millions years to read. Here are the important facts.

  • First two miles were awesome!
  • Don’t drink too much water before you run or you will be grunting, keeling over, and walking no matter how great your legs feel.
  • Runners are so nice. Thanks to the lady who told me the breathing exercise to do that made the knife jabbing in my side lessen just a teeny bit.
  • Just when I was coming unglued, my team saved the day by being at the half way point to fill my water and cheer me on. I needed it then more than ever!
  • Even though I was in pain from mile 2 to the very end (and hours after…ugghhh), I stepped up my mental game and ran as strong as I could.
  • Around mile 6 I started to feel a twinge of weirdness in my knee that I decided was a fluke (spoiler alert: it wasn’t).
  • I finished strong and despite two horrible miles, ran a new post-injury PDR of 7.7 miles in 1:16.
  • I sprinted to the finish to find just two teammates and neither was the next runner. I had estimated I would be running 1o min miles to begin with, then told them it would be longer because of the side ache. Then I ran my estimated pace. Whoops.
  • In the last mile, garmin says my best pace was 5:56. That was a fun two seconds.

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Leg 2: 5 miles

  • Pitch black. Like, with my headlamp I could probably see 1 square foot in front of me.
  • 3am ish. No sleep. Perfect weather–something like 60 degrees! It felt like heaven!
  • Gravel road. Not like a few pebbles, like a legit gravel road with big rocks. Just ask the blister on my left foot.
  • Did I mention it was pitch black? I fell off the road once, and I was totally disoriented. I didn’t know which way was front or if I’d ever make it back to the van. I started to figure getting eaten by a wild animal in the woods while running a relay wouldn’t be the worst way to die.
  • I felt surprisingly good energy-wise, but my knee hurt. The entire time. It hurt like it did at the beginning of the marathon, and I figured I should probably stop running, but then I figured if it hurt now, I probably wouldn’t be able to run my 3rd leg, and my first leg wasn’t great, so I wanted to have one strong run this weekend.
  • I did run strong. Despite not being able to see anything, and the challenging terrain, I ran my 5 miles at a 9:30 pace which is pretty good for me right now.
  • When I finished, it hurt (just a little) to walk, and I knew I was out.

So I never ran my third leg. Rockstar Mark picked it up and Prescott took Mark’s 3 miler. My team was awesome and totally understanding. I shed some tears, and had a moment about it all, but to be honest I know I made the right choice. I actually learned my lesson and I stopped before the pain got debilitating. I think I’m looking at 1-2 weeks off from running instead of 3-4 months which is enough to keep me positive. Plus, this experience is about so much more than just running. I had the time of my life with some of my best friends and some new best friends. There were tons of inside jokes, so much silliness, and I laughed so hard I almost peed.

Silliest way to get to the Oregon coast ever, but totally worth every single minute.

More importantly, as I said earlier, most of my team started training for this race. Many of them had never run. My friend Liane invited me to be a part of this team she was putting together with her family. Her dad has been a runner all his life, but no one else in her family had ever showed any interest in it. So Liane put together this team with her dad, and got both her siblings on board. I don’t know if they knew it would change their lives, but her brother lost 70 lbs, and her sister used running to find herself again after some huge life changes. And now they’re all hooked.

Well, part way through the weekend, Liane told me that I was the reason she started running. She said she was reading this little ol’ blog, and it inspired her to start. I immediately started crying, and it was only after everything was said and done that I realized how much this all means to me. My friend Laurel started running for this race as well. She had done C25K, but she started seriously training to be a part of this team. I pretended to actually know what I was doing as I gave her training plans, and tried to regurgitate all the brilliance that Coach Susan gives to me. In the end, she ran almost 17 miles and pushed beyond anything she ever felt like she was capable of. I looked at my team and realized that whether or not I was able to finish, I had made a real impact on the people on it. Then as I was sitting at the airport, I looked at my husband’s facebook page to see that he had completed the last run of his C25K program, and I started to cry,

I never dreamed that my life and my journey would be big enough to inspire anyone, but I look at the tornado effect we all have by simply making the choice to go out and run, and all the people who see it and make that choice themselves, and it amazes me. I am beyond grateful to be at this place in my life, and that my journey has meant something to the people around me. I hope you guys (my team, and everyone who takes the time to read what I have to say) know how much you inspire me too. You guys inspire me to keep going, and because of you, I look back on this weekend, and I can’t even be a little bit sad about how the running portion ended. There is just way too much happiness.

Happy Things

NuttZo

Hi friends! I missed you! I know I was only away for less than a week, but I’ve been way less present to blogging the last 6 weeks as I’ve been way more present to my summer job and soaking up the amazing people I only get to see a few weeks out of the year, but now I’m back home (wahhh, it’s hot) and ready to reunite with my kitchen and you lovely people! So to jump back in, I wanted to share with you some happy things I came home to.

1. A jar of this deliciousness. While I was away, NuttZo sent me a jar of their crunchy chocolate flavor to try, and it is absolutely amazing. One of the first things I did when I got home was open it up, and it is drippy, crunchy, just the right amount of sweet, and totally addictive. I already have to monitor myself to make sure I don’t go through the entire jar in two days. It includes peanuts, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and hazelnuts. It is better than any chocolate nut spread that I have ever tasted, and I am obsessed with the crunchiness. I must find a way to recreate in my kitchen!

NuttZo

2. A super sweet card from Heather about my upcoming speaking engagement at the Healthy Living Summit! I am beyond excited to be speaking, and really looking forward to meeting some of my favorite people from around the internet. Because that’s a totally normal thing to look forward to, right?

3. These faces. ‘Nuff said.

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Also finally having the sound of puppy nails on the tile again! I missed that!

4. A RUNNER HUSBAND!!! Without a doubt the happiest thing that happened while I was away is that Steve started the couch to 5k program! He’s on week 5, and hasn’t missed a beat since he started. I am unbelievably proud, and it means I need to get my butt in gear with some swim lessons so I can actually announce some exciting future plans. ;)

5. MEAN GREEN!!

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Isn’t she beaaaauuutiful? She needs a new seat because this one is, um, not working for me, but she is everything I dreamed she would be. Also,  road bikes are super sensitive to your movements. No more off in la la land while I ride my bike for me. I actually have to pay attention now. Crap.

6. I was in the Arizona Republic today along with one of my besties! Check it out!

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7. The months of February, March and April, I ran zero miles. In May I ran 24, in June I ran 38, and in July I ran 56. I was feeling a little down on myself that I still haven’t run longer than 5 miles and I am supposed to run a marathon in November, but I know Coach Susan is, like, a billion times smarter than me, and I know she has a plan, but seeing the numbers build up and actually being able to see my progress really lifted my spirits. Slowly, but surely I will get back to where I was last November and December, and really I have my whole life to get faster, so what’s the rush?

8. I really love my bed and my couch. I’m glad to be back to “real life”. Still totally missing Portland and my girls up there, but happy to be in my home with my kitchen and my Kitchenaid and my Vitamix. ;)

Disclosure: The NuttZo was sent to me to review for blog purposes. All opinions are my own.

What’s Beautiful: Perseverance

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Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored by Under Armour through FitFluential. My overwhelming love for this movement and everything it stands for is 100% my own.

Five and a half years ago, I began a journey to find myself. If you know me, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, or if you’ve ever read my weight loss story, you know that I didn’t grow up athletic, healthy, or confident, and I certainly didn’t feel beautiful. My body felt like my enemy, a prison, and I treated it as such. I allowed it to hold me back, and I fed into an identity that wasn’t me.

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I looked at other women and dreamed that one I day I would wake up and look the way they looked. My idea of beauty was skin-deep and conveniently “unachievable”. It’s so easy to tell yourself you can’t do it. It is so much more difficult to try and risk failing.

As I changed my eating and exercise habits, I was surprised by my success. Shocked, even. Everything I’d ever wanted seemed to be happening, and I thought my dreams were coming true. I was left feeling completely lost when, after losing 75 lbs, I never did reach my goal weight, and in my mind, never achieved the “beauty” I was after.

Everything changed the day I started running. For the first time in my entire life, I saw my body for what it was able to do for me. I saw strength, determination, and beauty in who I am, and in that I found the identity that had been buried all along–I found my identity in my ability to take on challenges, to fight, push, crawl, and not give up until I’ve achieved my goal. I realized that this is a gift that is inside of me, and that not everyone has that same determination, that same perseverance.

Hot Chocolate

Around this time last year, I decided I needed something–something big, and in a moment of excitement and slight impulsiveness, I committed to raising $5,000 for Chances for Children AZ and running THE New York City Marathon. The 18 weeks of training were some of the hardest and most rewarding of my entire life, and when news of the marathon cancelation hit, I took it very hard.

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Despite completing my first marathon a couple of months later, this journey has continued to feel unfinished for me. Maybe it’s because I dreamed of running that specific race, maybe it’s because I ran my first marathon injured, and didn’t feel like I really got the opportunity to go out there and give everything I had, or maybe it’s that stubborn part of me that NEEDS to finish what I start. So that is exactly what I WILL do.

When I was asked to set a goal for this movement, I found myself, for the first time ever, at a bit of a loss. Running is what is in my heart, but I’d only been back for a week, and the most I’m allowed to run at one time is currently 30 minutes. However, I have almost 6 months, and I know in my heart that THIS is the goal I need to achieve. The goal I WILL achieve. On November 3rd 2013, I will finish the journey I began a year ago (or five and a half years ago).

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I challenge you to join me–set a goal that’s big, scary, and a goal you know you NEED to accomplish. Don’t use the word “try”. Find a goal and say I WILL.

If you would like to join me and set your own goal, you can sign up here. You can join teams, follow other women along in their journeys, and most importantly you can prove to yourself that you are capable of amazing things, that you can be strong, persevere, and discover a beauty inside you that you may not have acknowledged before.

ITBS Recovery Weeks 1-5

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I never intended to write posts recapping my injury recovered, but then again, I never thought I’d be out for 5 weeks going on what feels like forever. These posts will mostly be for me–to see my progress on paper, so that I don’t feel like “OMG the world is over! I’m making ZERO improvements. Woe is meeee.”, but hopefully they will also help someone who might be dealing with the same thing. But remember, I’m not a doctor, so if I say _____ works for me, you should not take that as me giving you medical advice. I mean, I love to give advice and tell people what to do, but I’m not even close to being qualified to do so, unless you count being bossy as a qualification.

The backstory (abbrev version): I developed ITBS (probably) in mid December, and it got like a billion times worse after my durring/after my marathon.

ITBS.jpg

 

What is ITBS? It looks like IBS, but it’s not. I’m not sure which one is less fun, but I’m glad I don’t have both, because that would be confusing. Essentially, my IT band is inflamed, and when I bend/straighten my leg, it rubs up against my knee cap causing a a feeling I would compare to someone stabbing me in the knee, but that’s only a speculation. Here is an article with more info if you’re interested.

 

What’s been happening: I got an xray and an MRI, and everything came back clean. I’ve been taking prescription anti-inflammatories, doing pt, seeing a chiropractor who also does acupuncture and ART (active release therapy), sports massage, yoga, lots of stretching/foam rolling/strengthening.

Progress so far: After the marathon, my pain level was off the charts. Walking, and bending/straightening my leg at all seemed impossible. The limp is now 95% gone, although on bad days, walking is still painful. Things like squats feel fine now,  but lunges don’t. Elliptical and bike still hurt–especially later in the day. If I walk too much, or do too much of anything, after I sit down for a bit, everything kind of tightens up, and bending/straightening becomes really painful again.

This past week:

Monday: Physical therapy. Exercises/stretching/astym/electrical stim.

Tuesday: Dr D. (the chiro/acupuncture/art guy) & yoga. Dr. D did all of those things he does. He also found a really tight spot in my calf that he thinks might be contributing to the problem. He dug fingers and needles into my body, and I grunted. It was cute. Yoga and most strength training are pretty much the only work outs that don’t effect my injury. I’m trying to learn to love yoga. It’s a process. I enjoy the poses, and the part where my muscles get tired and I sweat, but I am not a huge fan of the mental part. Shocking, right? I’m also not a fan of savasanah. All I can do is think of the million other more productive things I could be doing opposed to lying on the floor trying to “relax”. It’s not my style.

Wednesday: Massage. Not the fun relaxing kind. She did some heat/icey thing on my calf where Dr. D had pointed out that things were messed up. I may have yelled out some 4 letter words in the process.

Thursday: PT &  yoga. New harder exercises/stretching/astym at PT. Yoga was yoga.

Friday: Dr. D + 15 min on the elliptical. Dr D did his thing, and I was actually feeling pretty good. I’d had a couple really good days in a row where WALKING DIDN’T HURT. I was so excited. I tested out the elliptical. I had done it as a warm up in PT on Thurs for 10 minutes, and for the first 2 it hadn’t hurt, then it only hurt a little. I was hopeful. This day it hurt the entire time, but in a dull way, not a stabbing way. I was happy.

Saturday: 25 min elliptical + 30 min strength training. My knee didn’t hurt for the first 10 minutes of the elliptical, then was again just a dull pain. I went straight into some strength training, felt great, got super sweaty for the first time in a long time, and was on top of the moon. Then, that afternoon the pain was back, and hurt like it did 2 weeks ago. Total bummer.

Sunday: Rest. I wanted to test out spin class, but my knee still hurt when I woke up, so I took a rest day, and moped about how my progress earlier in the week had only led me to taking 1o steps back.

This week I plan to do less. Dr. D suggested that I may be over treating, and that I keep pushing the irritated area, but never give it time to actually heal. I am also going to try out a more running-specific physical therapist. It’s tough because I’ve been going to the same place for a long time, and had a lot of luck treating my achilles tendons, but I feel like I need a second opinion from someone who actually runs.  I’ll let ya know how it goes!

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.

It’s Marathon Day

After 7 months, 2 training cycles, $5,000 in fundraising, and countless freak outs, today I will become a marathoner. Today I will achieve what I told so many people I could never do. I can’t wait to soak up every second of this once in a lifetime experience, and while I am out kicking those 26.2 miles in the ass, I wanted to say thank you. I truly believe that if I had never started this blog, I wouldn’t be running this marathon.

Starting Ari’s Menu gave me the courage, and the motivation to run my first half marathon, which sparked the want need to run my first marathon. Throughout my journey, you guys have given me words of wisdom, celebrated my accomplishments, supported me when I doubted myself, and been there through the hard times. I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for making me better, for reading about my journey, and for all of the comments, love, and support.

The next time I post, I will be a marathoner!

PS: Make sure to head over to Nicole’s blog and send her some love–it’s her first marathon too, and she is my rock!

Marathon Inspiration

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Happy 3 Days til Marathon Day of Marathon Week. Yes, every day this week is it’s own holiday. So let’s get with the festivities, and get ourselves all amped up, and inspired to run further than most people like to drive, shall we?

What inspires you?

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I took this picture in DC last weekend. It has no relevance, but I thought it was a pretty backdrop to put quotes on, and that sunshine is symbolic, or something…

When times get tough, as they always do, there are two three things I always tell myself.

1. If it was easy everyone would do it. I am a competitive person. The fact that I have the ability, the drive, and the motivation to push myself in a way that such a small percentage of the population will achieve gives me pride, and fuels the my fire and drive to push through the pain.

2. I can do anything. This is something Ari 2 years ago would have never believed that statement, but it is probably the biggest thing running has taught me. I may not be able to do everything today (BUT WHYYYYY NOT?????), but if I put my mind to it, there is nothing I can’t do. I can do anything.

3. Everything is easier with ruffles on your ass. It’s the truth, and it makes me laugh when I want to cry because my legs hurt.

I am usually able to be my own inspiration in the moment, but I find so much inspiration in reading other people’s stories and journeys. In fact, it was reading the first marathon recap of one specific blogger that inspired me to run a marathon in the first place. I’ve spent the week reading lots of race recaps, especially first marathon recaps, RnR AZ recaps, and pretty much anything written by runners who share my…um, emotionalness. I wanted to share with you guys a few of my favorites in hope that you will find them as motivating and inspiring as I have.

First time marathons:

Ali’s Hamptons Marathon Recap. No matter how many times I read this (and there have been a kind of embarrassing amount), I still cry every single time, and I think “That is what I want my marathon to be.”

Jaime’s Goofy Challenge Recap. The first Team Chances get together, I walked in incredibly nervous and not knowing a soul. I sat down at Jaime’s table, and the rest is history. We clicked right away, and she quickly became one of my closest teammates in this process. Four days ago she not only ran her first marathon, but she ran it the day after running a half marathon in 80* temperatures with Florida humidity. She powered through the toughest first marathon circumstances I can imagine, and powered through! It doesn’t get much more inspirational than this.

Tina’s RnR AZ Marathon Recap. Carrots N Cake was the first blog I started reading. It was the blog that made me want to blog, and RnR AZ was her first marathon. I had read the recap once before, but I went back and read it this week, and it’s definitely a good one.

Theodora’s Chicago Marathon Recap. There’s something about going from being significantly overweight to running a marathon that I feel like you can’t quite understand unless you’ve been there. I can’t quite describe the feeling (yet), but Theodora does a pretty amazing job, and of all of the recaps I’ve read, this one probably resonates the most.

Tina’s Cleveland Marathon Recap. You never really know what can happen on race day, and sometimes things are harder than you ever expected due to circumstances that are beyond your control, but Tina pushed through all of it, and her recap really shows how a race that seems frustrating in the moment is so rewarding in the end. I also love what she says at the very end.

Jamie’s Wineglass Marathon Recap. I know it didn’t end the way she wanted it to, but this is an other good one that reminds me to not give up no matter what, and even in the toughest circumstances, the most important thing is just to finish.

Other inspiring marathon recaps:

Emily’s Eugene Marathon Recap. One day, I would just like to run a 5k at her marathon pace.

Ali’s Manchester City Marathon Recap. How is even her second marathon so freaking inspirational?!

Theodora’s NYCM Recap. I like this one even better than her first one. An other recap that makes me cry every single time.

Sarah’s Eugene Marathon Recap. Let’s just say between this and Emily’s, Eugene is on my race bucket list.

Laura’s Houston Marathon Recap. I love this girl, and she killed it last weekend with some crazy weather conditions!

Other good racing reads:

When my running bestie broke 2 hours in her half marathon.

Caitlin’s first post pardum triathlon.

My girl Stacey’s 19 minute half marathon PR.

Clarinda’s Really Big Half Marathon recap.

 

Have a first marathon recap, or an inspiring race recap you want to share? Link it up! Keep it coming! I’ve been reading these and crying for 2 days, and I’m no where near ready to stop!

 

RnR AZ One Week To Go

FYI: This post has nothing to do with any work outs of training runs I’ve done over the last week. It’s time for me to focus on the mental aspects of the marathon, so here’s a peak into my brain. It’s a hot mess in there, but you get used to it ;)

Can anyone ever confidently say “Oh, I’m TOTALLY ready to run my first marathon!” I’m pretty sure that feeling doesn’t exist, and I’m 100% certain that with how neurotic I am, I would never utter words anywhere close to that. I will say, however, that I’m not worried about whether I “trained well enough” or “did enough”. I am as ready as I could possibly get at this point in my life, and regardless of what happens on January 20th, I have so much to be proud of.

On the flight to NYC, I began a post about things I learned while training for a marathon. I planned to finish it when I got in, and have it go up the day of the race. Well, let’s just say that emotional Post Race Cancelation Ari stepped in, and it’s not even in the data base anymore. If I had one regret over my training cycle, it’s that after the New York Marathon was canceled, a little bit of my spark faded. I didn’t really lose motivation or drive, but the awe and appreciation for my body that came with conquering these new distances faded as I became more focused on the idea that this extended training cycle needed to make me faster, and less focused on the heart of the matter—why I signed up for a marathon in the first place.

I haven’t gone into too much detail on here, although I have gently alluded to the fact that when I first started running, I was in a very bad place with food and body image. I was trapped in a negative cycle, and I honestly didn’t see a light at the end, and I could not bring myself to believe I would be able to lead a different kind of life. Then I discovered running, and I rekindled my passion to be better—the reason I began my healthy living journey in the first place. I began to focus my success on my physical accomplishments, and I found what I had been searching for: freedom.

I am not running this marathon to break any records, and despite the fact that I am document every last second of my training on pretty much every facet of social media, I’m not doing this so you will think I’ve done something special. I am running this marathon to celebrate a point in my journey. A journey that began when I was 9 years old and realized my body was “different”. I originally thought that deciding to tackle a marathon would be the celebration of my weight loss journey, but what I’ve realized is that it is the celebration of something so much bigger.

So no…I’m not “totally ready to run my first marathon”, but I am ready to have a once in a lifetime experience with one of my best friends. And I’m even starting to believe that it might actually happen this time. I haven’t asked Steve if they’re going to cancel it in a solid 72 hours which I would definitely consider progress. ;)

And because this post obviously isn’t long and wordy enough, here are some things I’ve learned while training for my first marathon:

  • I’m stronger than I think.
  • Dinosaurs are hilarious.
  • It’s not easy to find people that you actually enjoy being alone with for 4 hours every week, so if you find someone who clicks perfectly, enjoy it and appreciate the hell out of them (I DO!).
    "Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???""Don't worry Ari, I'll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!"
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  • I am an individual, and my training plan will probably never fit 100% perfectly into my life, and the challenges that each cycle will bring. All I can do is my best, and it won’t kill me to choose drinking wine with friends once in my life over “feeling great” on my stupid recovery run. I was definitely better about this the second time, but the first time around, I had absolutely no social life, and I don’t think my husband/family/friends appreciated me kicking them to the curb. It’s not the nicest way to treat the people I love. I swear there is a way to find balance, but it’s different for everyone, and that’s okay.
  • Comparing myself to others never ends well. And it’s stupid, and kind of rude. It’s best to avoid it at all costs.
  • Coach Susan knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Also, I think my people-pleasing personality is hooked on this whole having a coach business. I had no idea what I was missing, but now I don’t want to go back (and let’s be honest….I probably won’t. Coach Susan > Lululemon running skirts).

    Hot Chocolate2

    Although running skirts are pretty awesome…

  • I enjoy running without music. This was the surprise of the century, but I didn’t use my ipod for a single long run the second time around. I do plan on having it on backup for the marathon if I need some extra motivation though.
  • Running should be fun. Last time I checked, this was not my career, and I wasn’t planning to win PF Chang’s. I know, I know, you’re shocked by this revelation. Fun doesn’t mean easy. In my sick and twisted world, “fun” means giving everything I have inside me, laughing with Nicole, enjoying the cheers, and celebrating the success of running a marathon no matter what happens. I plan to have so much freaking fun.
"I'VE GOT THIS!!!!!"

This is what fun running looks like.

Alright friends, now is the time—give me pre-race words of wisdom! Tell me your motivational mantras, what you’ve learned (not necessarily from running, but it could be what you learned in math class), and any other gems of positivity you want to share! 

 

**PS: I am putting together a post this week linking up first time marathon recaps, RnR AZ recaps, and any really inspirational running recaps I come across, because I plan on doing a lot of reading to get motivated. If you have a post, email me the link to ari@arismenu.com if you’d like to be included!**

RnR AZ 2 Weeks to Go

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Hey, remember how I used to actually talk about my marathon training? Those were the good ol’ days. Then I just stopped for 3 weeks. Well, I haven’t been writing because there hasn’t been too much to report, other than working really hard to fight off injury and sickness. I could feel really down in the dumps about it, and decide that my training has been ruined forever (that’s pretty typical over in these parts), but actually, I’ll take it now rather than at the starting line. And I haven’t missed a single long run, so I’m honestly not that  worried. I mean, I’m a nervous wreck, but I’m no more nervous than if I had done every run exactly as planned. I’ve been training for 7 months. I can run this marathon. Umm, I just accidentally typed “marathong” which I’m guessing is something completely different. Moving on…

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve probably run 6 times. Right when I decided I wanted to push to make it to 1,000 miles for 2012, I woke up the day after a 14 mile run with a scary knee pain I had never felt before. There was definitely some freaking out, and crazy texts and calls to Coach Susan, my nurse friend Laurel, and anyone else who would listen. Susan told me to take at least 3 days off, and said most injuries can be prevented if you just listen to your body and take time off immediately. I’m not usually very good at that, but as I told EVERYONE about a million times, I can’t not run another marathon. So I listened. I took an entire week off running (WHO AM I??), went to the gym and lifted weights one of the days (more shocking news), and did a 55 mile bike ride on Christmas which was awesome except for the fact that I am pretty sure I need a different seat, like, yesterday. It was pretty painful in all the wrong ways, but I was happy to be doing something “endurancy” and “athletic”.

After my week hiatus, I came back and ran the best freaking 21 miles of my life.

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READY TO RUN!!!

Actually, I’d never run 21 miles before, so I have nothing to compare it to, except for the fact that I did it in less time than it took me to run 20.5 the last time, so that’s a good sign. I actually still can’t get over how much better I felt this time. The last time, after mile 18, it seriously felt like there was glass inside my joints, and every step felt like I was just going to break. It was so incredibly difficult, but this time, I just felt…right. I mean, it was ridiculously tough, but more in an “I’m exhausted, where is the ‘finish line’???” type of way than a “Are you sure there are not shards of glass in my ankles?” type of way. I finally got to run the route I had planned out the first time with Nicole, and she kept me so positive in the middle miles (around 15-17) where I was struggling. By the end we were so pumped that we ran the final mile in something ridiculous like 8:30. I really doubt that will be happening at mile 26, but even after we were finished, I felt energized and I couldn’t believe how great it went.

The next day, I got sick. So then I took more time off, then I ran again and my knee kinda hurt, blah blah blah. Sooooo, I’m just trying to embrace the taper. I felt an injury come on during taper last time, and Susan told me that it really wouldn’t hurt me to take it easier during that time, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been training for 7 months, and never missed a long run. My body knows what to do. Sorry, I have to keep reminding myself as well.

So, there you have it friends. Two weeks to go, and I’m feeling the taper craziness in full force, but I know that by this time on January 20th, it will all be worth it. I will finally  be able to call myself a marathoner, and more importantly, I will be able to rewrite my thank you notes (I wrote them after NY, but I hated how pessimistic they sounded, so I decided to wait until after the journey was complete and I could thank everyone who donated for helping me to become a marathoner), and I will be able to feel the reward of crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles. I can’t freakin’ wait.

 

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 5

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I have so much to tell you. First of all, I’ve just discovered that my running mileage for 2012 is currently sitting at 925 miles. I’d secretly kind of had the goal of getting to 1,000, but I didn’t really put much thought into it, because honestly, I just didn’t think I would. I don’t do very well with a ton of mileage, so I just tried to follow my plan, and keep this little goal in the back of my mind….Until it got so close that I can taste it! Now I have to do it, right??? I mean, I don’t plan on being stupid and killing myself this close to the marathon if something hurts, but it definitely gives me a little added motivational push when I’ve been struggling a bit mentally.

Also, I *think* I’m getting closer to figuring out my fueling/stomach issues. It’s kind of a constant battle for me. Almost any food before a run can cause a lot of unpleasantness with no gallbladder, but I’m not a person who can do a long run on gu alone. I’ve always eaten Ezekiel bread with nut butter and sometimes a banana before a run since, like, forever. I never thought that was the culprit because back in the day it worked great, but I started to think about the fiber of the bread and the fat of the nut butter. My body can’t process fats as well now, and let’s just say I don’t think my body needs any added fiber in my life ever. So for my long run this week, I bought a white flour bagel and put pumpkin butter on top. My stomach felt the best it has felt in a loooooong time. I was so happy!!! I had to make one stop in the first mile, and then had no issues for 18 whole miles!! This is a big deal in my world, friends.

However, I still get hungry–like stomach growling hungry–and feel somewhat depleted around 15 miles even with fueling often. I’m not sure how to fix that other than maybe playing with my meal the night before and trying to bulk it up? I always make sure to eat a decent amount of carbs at dinner, but maybe I need more? If anyone has any brilliant advice on the subject, I’d love to hear it! Anyway, here’s how last week went down:

Monday: 5 mile run. I was having a realllll hard time getting motivated for this run, but I got out there, and of course as soon as I did, it felt great! I set my garmin to a screen where I couldn’t see my pace, and just cruised at what felt comfortable, which ended up averaging in at 9:40. That is not my usual “easy” pace. I was pretty stoked about it.

Tuesday: Off.

Wednesday: “Track” and strength training. At PT I ended up doing all sorts of crap–one legged dead lifts on the bosu ball, abs, triceps, this thing where I threw a ball at the wall…I was sore for like 3 days, and I felt like a total wimp, but at least I strength trained a little! That afternoon I met up with Stacey to do our scheduled track work out. We met up in the early afternoon, and it was about 72* which is perfect for a picnic, but it felt warm (at least to me) to run in. It wasn’t an easy run, but we still rocked it. We did a short warm up then 1 mile @ 9:03, 1200 @ 8:28, 800 @ 7:55, then 3×400 @ 7:16, 6:56, 6:43, then a short cool down. I kind of wanted to die, but in a good way?

Thursday: Off.

Friday: 18 mile run. You know, I kind of thought the long runs would be easier this time around. Turns out….they’re not. BUT I’m faster this time around. A lot faster. My last 18 mile run took me 3 hours and 8 minutes, and I shaved 7 minutes and 26 seconds per mile off of that this time around! This run was amazing, and hard, and fun all at the same time! Nicole and I both started out feeling a little rough. Her ankle was bugging her, and I woke up with a stabbing pain in my hip (I’ve had it before, and it’s not from running, and it always goes away so I wasn’t worried, just annoyed). We had to stop and stretch a few times in the first few miles, and we kinda decided to let it be what it was going to be, not stress, and enjoy the scenery.

Look at this house!!! We thought their decorations were so cool that we stopped to take pictures. Is it Halloween?? Is it Christmas??? Who knows, but it's awesome!

Look at this house!!! We thought their decorations were so cool that we stopped to take pictures. Is it Halloween?? Is it Christmas??? Who knows, but it’s awesome!

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"Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???"

“Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???”

"Don't worry Ari, I'll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!"

“Don’t worry Ari, I’ll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!”

We took a totally new route which took us through Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix and it was gorgeous, and a great way to change things up! Also, fall running is my nice.

IMG_20121214_165027 By the end, we had both totally surprised ourselves, and I ran my fastest long run of marathon training ever with an average pace of 10:02. Granted, we definitely took our share of breaks, so I don’t know how accurately that represents where I am pace wise, but it sure felt great to see such an awesome time! And then there was well earned chocolate milk/coffee with chocolate milk per usual.

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I was dreaming of you too, Dutch Bros…

Saturday: Off.

Sunday: 3 mile run. That 925 lit a fire, plus I figured 3 work outs this week wasn’t really great, so I ran to my mom’s house for dinner. 3 nice and easy miles averaging a 9:37 pace, and then there was food, so that was good.

Tell me something awesome. I don’t care what it is, or what subject it’s about. I would just like to hear awesome things. :)