The truth about cross training for Runners

Many athletes throw around the word “cross training” as any form of exercise during marathon training. For instance, ‘weight training’ is not a form of cross training for runners. Don’t get me wrong, weight training is a very important aspect of running. Weights strengthen the muscles and connective tissue to prevent injury. But an important understanding of cross training for runners, is to call the exercise as it is!

Cross training is Running specific. 

Trail running a half marathon in Oregon, I had anticipated perfect conditions. Slight downhill and soft dirt to alleviate the right knee pain I generally get after 10 miles in. The weather was set to be mid 40’s, so I had planned to strip layers along the course. With perfect conditions I made a bad choice to follow a pacer for an under 2 hour half. I hadn’t cross trained at such a pace, so it’s no surprise at mile 10 I was limping along.

A few years later I incorporated Orangetheory fitness into my training plan. Arizona had similar perfect conditions for running my half marathon, downhill and cool weather. I surpassed my personal record (still not under two hour mark, but closer). I thought my success was from ‘cross training by adding weights’ into my routine. After taking the Road Runner’s club of America certification course, I understood. The running specific cross training improved my performance. (Think elliptical, stationary bike, rower, swimming). These exercises mimic the running form to improve the cardiorespiratory system.

Supplemental activities improve strength, flexibility and mobility.  

cross train

Supplemental activities should be incorporated DAILY for about 10-15 minutes to increase an athlete’s overall ability. These are not meant to be fatiguing, so they can be built into daily habits. If you have tight hip flexors from running, practice yoga for stretching. If your pace is declining, use core exercises and weight lifting for strength. Supplemental exercises are a necessary addition to add to marathon training, but call them for what they are! Yoga is yoga, weights are weights, cross training is running specific. With supplemental exercises it’s important to mention, use caution with ‘ball sports’ i.e. baseball, football. These activities come with risk of injury and delay in training.

Now how do we apply cross training and supplemental exercises into our daily routines?

Atomic Habits

An atomic habit is intentionally changing one small thing daily to form a healthy habit or break an unhealthy habit. I’ve always imagined how strong I could be if I would just workout everyday. It sounded simple enough. But I could never quite establish a habit that lasted. Generally after a New Year’s resolution, my ambition would fade and I’d find myself going lengths of time without working out, yet again. James Clear explains how to apply strategies to create daily habits that last.

Habits are the brains way to reduce energy expenditure.

Our willpower is actually limited each day. We only get a certain amount of energy for decisions, therefore habits are the brains way to reduce energy expenditure. Repetition is required to establish habits. Think of the quantity of runs as opposed to the quality.  Even a bad run can improve your athletic ability. Two beginning principles to forming new healthy habits include three layers of forming a new habit and Habit stacking.   Now let’s apply this to running and training for a marathon.

We all start out as novice runners at some point. New to the sport, eager to learn and test your limits. Because I wasn’t particularly fast, I let myself think that I was not a runner for nearly a decade. I believed I was not fast enough to be considered a runner. Even though I ran a half marathon every single year since 2012- and even completed a full marathon in 2013.

There are three layers of developing a new habit to become a runner.

  1. Goals are the results you wish to achieve. I fulfill my goal of completing a half marathon each year. But the timing in which I cross the finish line varies greatly. My half marathon personal best is 2:02 and then other races took over 3 hours to finish. Because initially, each run did not focus on the next layer of developing a habit.
  2. The process is the second way to develop a new habit. Let’s start with that same goal to finish a half marathon each year. Now let’s incorporate a training plan. This gives me an outline of how many runs I should be completing each week, what supplemental exercises to add and gives you structure. However, there were many times I ignored the training plan process because “I just didn’t feel like running today”. This leads to the third, and deepest layer of habit forming.
  3. The key to building a new habit is to change your identity. Focusing on your identity asks the pivotal question, who do you wish to become? I AM A HALF-MARATHON RUNNER, therefore I run. Again, this took me over a decade and running hundreds of miles per year. With the guidance of reading Atomic Habits to realize, I am a Runner.

Habit Stacking

We’ve now established, after layering our motives, that to develop a new habit we acknowledge it is part of our identity. We are runners. So how do you now incorporate running into your daily routine with ease? Clear describes a strategy called habit stacking. Rather than creating a new habit at a set time, stack it with a current habit to limit the brain’s energy expenditure.

Start by writing down your day: wake up, drink a glass of warm lemon water, shower, brush teeth, get dressed, go to work. Now habit stack the healthy habit goal you’d like to include daily. For me this last year, I really wanted to increase my mindfulness and balance.

So I took my current habitual day and stacked a new habit. Now my routine includes: waking up, drinking a glass of warm lemon water, shower, brush teeth, meditate for 10 minutes, get dressed, and go to work. I hardly take any willpower because meditating has become a habit I stacked onto my already set pattern. I rarely miss a day of meditation, and have reaped the benefits.

Meditation actually changes the structures of your brain. 

It increases cortical thickness in the hippocampus, (memory part of brain) improving your self-awareness and focus. It physically decreases brain cell volume in the amygdala, (fight or flight part of brain) that subsequently decreases anxiety, depression, chronic pain and offers a coping mechanism for traumatic events. Meditation can lower your blood pressure and help decrease cravings of addiction. With daily meditation- even if just for a few minutes- you’ll become more patient with your spouse, children and those around you. You’ll sleep better. You’ll get rid of facial wrinkles and enhance your sex life. Meditation helps you learn to be present and more comfortable with just sitting still. There’s just one catch, you have to actually meditate for it to work, and by habit stacking you can easily add meditation to become a mindful runner.

we run the states

I hope you enjoy adding running specific cross training to become the most badass version of yourself! If you’re interested in more strategies for forming healthy habits and breaking bad habits, I highly recommend Atomic Habits, by James Clear.

Embracing the clean eating lifestyle

We Run the States logo incorporates five words to immediately inform you of what we stand for. Travel, Clean eating and Half Marathons

My best friend cleverly stated she could never represent we run the states mantra of clean eating in good conscience. She lives off of refined-grain macaroni with powdered cheese and hot pockets. We laughed, and I considered removing the ‘clean eating lifestyle’ aspect of the logo. This led me to take a closer look at my own eating habits and realized, “hmmm, maybe I can’t stand for clean eating either”. (As I crunched on a bag of cheddar and sour cream chips). After much analysis, I did include clean eating in what We Run the states represents. Although I also struggle to make entirely clean eating choices, I understand how important nutrition is for running recovery and performance, and so it’s worth it to encourage a healthy life. So lets get to the main question,

What is a Clean Eating lifestyle?

we run the states

I sit here writing about a clean eating lifestyle in the airport of South Carolina awaiting to board our plane. I have just finished my fourth half marathon this year, and 10th state towards my goal of running all 50 states. We arrived two hours before our flight, which is generally a safe rule of thumb for airports. However, this airport is quite small with only three departing flights for the day. We scour the airport for the only source of food and drink available, which happens to be a vending machine charging $5 for water. Our options include a variety of potato chips and candy.

The kids settle on Swedish fish, honey BBQ Chex mix and a fruit punch drink (with no actual juice in it- only sugar). Traditional American fare. We could have anticipated these options and packed wholesome snacks to the airport, (because a clean eating lifestyle is an understandably more logical choice for our health). But let me explain how some are actually genetically predisposed to preferring these traditional American fare choices- sugars! Thus making it that much harder to pick clean eating snacks instead of those delicious Swedish fish or hot pockets.

How our current diet differs from clean eating

The typical American diet consists of high intakes of processed meats, conveniently packaged snacks, refined grains, sweet treats and salty chips. To say the typical American diet tastes delicious is an understatement, and that is exactly what the food industry has aimed to achieve. They have created candy and soda to be at least one and a half times sweeter than natural fruit. Fruit contains a natural sugar called fructose, whereas many processed foods contain high fructose corn syrup. Candy and soda have a sugar that is so much sweeter, it spikes a synthetic surge of dopamine in the brain.

Our brain releases Dopamine, a chemical that helps us learn where to find cravings. These cravings are learned in the brain and repeated to teach us where to find pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. Therefore, after consuming a highly processed, dopamine-spiking sugar, it can be difficult to go back to a less-sweet fruit.

How some are genetically predisposed to sugar

Those who are genetically predisposed to craving sweets, breads, pasta etc. are sugar sensitive. You may (or may not) be surprised to know that sugar is as potent a drug as alcohol, heroin or oxycontin. sugar sensitive people tend to be the one’s who just can’t seem to stick to their diet or healthy choices, and typically continue to gain weight. But encouragingly, this biochemical change in the brain is NOT a lack of willpower or weakness. sugar sensitivity, a working hypothesis tokened by the author of, Potatoes not prozac, empowers people to follow an easy step-by-step guide to overcome this sensitivity to sweets and make clean eating choices easier.

Clean eating lifestyle is simply, eating real food.

Food that is unprocessed and naturally occurring. Think of one ingredient items from the grocery store or garden:

Clean Eating Lifestyle

  • Fruit: apples, strawberries, bananas, tomatoes, avocados
  • Vegetables: asparagus, corn, onions, carrots
  • Meats: steak, chicken, pork
  • Seafood: Salmon, mackerel, shrimp, crab
  • Nuts: cashews, macadamia, pistachio, almonds, walnuts
  • Whole Grains: oats, 100% whole wheat
  • Dairy: fermented cheese, milk

The parameter of all grocery stores is a good place to find whole food. Avoid those center aisles of preservation- canned items, cereals, chips, sodas, etc, as a general rule of thumb. Here is one of my favorite Clean eating recipe sites and meal plan to incorporate all this delicious food.

How does food affect running performance?

So you may be thinking, “why is it even important to incorporate a clean eating lifestyle?” As my best friend clearly pointed out, she can still run faster than me. (Even though she’s powered on processed meals.) However, processed and refined carbs can lead to significant variances in blood sugar. In other words, there’s no telling when you may “bonk” or “hit a wall” in a run. Although my friend is running faster than I am, she’s still not at her full potential. Eating healthy provides nutrient dense carbohydrates to sustain you for the long run. There’s a whole lot more to this concept addressed in Macronutrients: Food to fuel your run. I encourage you to experiment with clean eating. Explore nutrient dense meals to power your run, and see the improvements in your performance!

we run the states

Running with bibrave by the warm beach of South Carolina

I’ve never written about a run within a week of completing it out of fear of not giving the race enough justice. I ponder and ponder about how I can describe the event and the state in words. That’s why I’ve also begun making videos of each race, to bring you along with me. Ideally, you can run each state for yourself to experience the magic. Until then, I will try to recollect my words to give the warm beach of South Carolina due justice.

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Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to review this run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This was my first in person half marathon as a bibrave pro. I have been anxiously awaiting live races and meeting fellow bibrave ambassadors, (as all of us have). My goal was to try for an under 2 hour half marathon. However, I did not plan or train as I should have. During the months leading up to the race I actually completed my RRCA coaching certificate and now have so much more knowledge to apply to training.

The Run

The race started at 8 am at Jarvis park, which was a pleasant time of day. Many races start so darn early. There are not many uber drivers on the island, so be sure to schedule your ride for the morning the night before. Our Uber driver was filled with knowledge about the island, including Hilton Head has been named best destination island by Conde Nest for 5 years running! I met up with fellow bibrave runner’s from across the country and we toed the start line with 1500 other people. There was not a wave start so the beginning was shuffling and slow like cattle. I was aiming for negative splits so we started at a comfortable 9:45 pace. The first time I looked at my watch we were already past mile 2 and felt strong.

We corralled through Jarvis park and hit the highway, literally. Running along the highway that was partially closed for the event and over a bridge. (Which was the only elevation gain along the whole race). About 6 miles in, we switched back to park trail running with beautiful canopy trees above us. The race had felt so smooth, and Jenn and I were surprised with how easy it felt. Mile 8 came and my right knee started bugging me as always. Luckily my beta endorphins kicked in by mile 9 and dimmed down the pain a bit. By mile 10 I knew there was no chance at an under two hour half marathon for me. So I decided just to enjoy the run with my best friend. The finish line was back in Jarvis park and the crowds cheers were so inspiring to hear. Especially after a two year hiatus of running during covid.

The After party

The park playground was filled with laughing kids enjoying the outdoors. There was grab-and-go pizza and free beer at the finish line, which is always a bonus. We enjoyed our grub watching the alligators swim along slowly. Yup, that’s right, Alligators! Overall, Hilton Head Island was a beautiful course and location. I would recommend wave starts though if I really sought out to accomplish my goal time.

Next up, New Orleans, Louisiana! Where is your next event, (let me know in the comments) I’d love to cheer you on!

Check out your next Race VacationClean Eating recipes and Running tips!

Marin Endurance Sprint triathlon on the beautiful coast of california

This year has been my biggest racing season yet. Four half marathons, two of which were back to back in different states, and my first attempt at a sprint triathlon on the beautiful coast of California.

Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to review this run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

sprint triathlon, the Swim

I have an aversion to cold water. Ironic, because I voluntarily signed up for competitive swim in high school. I recall sitting on the stoop of the pool every practice convincing my mind, “just do it. Just jump in the pool. Everybody else is already in”. My mind would twirl around the thought of getting cold in the water and continue to escalate how much, I didn’t want to get in. My coach would nearly have to push me in the water. I hate cold water, and the spiteful pain it immerses you in instantly. However I loved swimming.

After the initial shock of cold, my skin would go numb. I would feel almost euphoric, like I was the best (junior varsity) swimmer to ever be! Unbeknownst to my 16 year old mind, cold water immersion increases the blood dopamine level by 250%, and dopamine is the Neurochemical that allows you to feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. Hence, after discovering endurance exercise, such as running a half marathon in each state, releases similar escalated levels of dopamine, I’ve always considered the challenge of completing a triathlon.

When BibRave offered a local triathlon on the beautiful coast of California, I literally jumped out of my seat for the opportunity. This was it. This was my chance to really challenge my fitness. I signed up for the Sprint triathlon. I was tempted to go straight for the Olympic Tri, however luckily I thought better to start where I belonged, as a novice. After much preparation, The day before the race I had woken up at 2 am, as I usually do, and checked my email.

“Important Update Regarding Marin Triathlon”

“Attention fellow Triathletes,

We have been informed by Marin County Parks that McNears Beach Park has failed the water quality test executed by Marin County Environmental Health Services. Your health and safety are our utmost priority and the water for our swim portion has not been deemed a safe environment for our athletes.

Therefore, the swim portion of the Marin Triathlon cannot take place on Saturday.”

“YES, I DON’T HAVE TO GET IN THAT COLD PACIFIC OCEAN!” the cold water aspect of me cheered. Of course immediately followed by the disappointment of, “This means I technically failed my first triathlon”. My 2am brain started overflowing, “Gosh, if I don’t compete in the swim portion of the Tri, should I even compete at all? I could save my energy and do a long run in preparation for my half marathon in two weeks instead”.

Marin Endurance Festival sprint Triathlon

marin sprint triathlon

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is based on the premise of having a thought, followed by an emotion, which creates an action. I weighed my options. I could have easily not participated, but what would that have taught me? The thought presented: the swim portion was cancelled. My emotion was both relief and disappointment. My action was not quitting. I got to Choose my action. I chose to try my best at a bike and run event and be thankful for the opportunity.

The Marin Endurance festival was still epic and my very first competition on a bike. The course was still challenging, and I am ready to take on the swim portion, in addition to the bike and run next year. Plus I am extremely grateful the race director did not let us swim in unsafe waters. On to the bike!

Training for the sprint triathlon in open water lake

the Bike

“It’s just like riding a bike”. The expression itself refers to how easy it is to remember how to ride a bike, even after a long time of absence. So I may have undertrained for this aspect of the event. I was fortunate enough to borrow a road bike from a friend; and my first thirty minutes on the bike in training was exhilarating! I even went so far as to say, I enjoyed riding a bike more than running. And although, yes, it was ‘just like riding a bike’, my thighs and ankles were not accustomed to the endurance cycling put on them.

The Marin Endurance triathlon is up and down hills. The very entrance of the course is a challenging upslope to get to the main road. I was not quite prepared for the competitive aspect of this race. I can’t tell you how many times I heard fellow cyclists warn me, “On your left!”. Sometimes I wanted to shout back, “I know guys, I get the point.” I was slow AF. Although I was far below par shifting gears between uphill easy gears and downhill thick gears to push forward, the race was still exhilarating. The scenery was unbeatable with the pacific ocean waves crashing softly on the shore.

The air was stagnant with humidity, yet comforting, almost sour from the ocean salt.

It reminded me constantly of baking homemade sourdough bread on Sundays. The bike course is 4 miles out and back. It seemed almost like the first 4 miles was solely downhill, so I feared the return would be mainly uphill. Oddly, the return had a fair amount of up and downs as well. On to the Run aspect of the sprint triathlon!

bike part of the sprint triathlon

the Run

The Run, this was my jive. I’m by no means a superior athlete of running. But I was pretty confident I could run a 5K in my sleep. After the smooth transition beside the ocean, I dropped my bike and tied my running shoes on. Running was familiar. All I had to do was finish at this point, a 5K. Like I said ‘I could do a 5k in my sleep’. And then my realization, Holy thighs! What a narcissist ideation that I could jump from a bike to a run without ever previously trying it before! My grandiose ideation of myself meant I could complete a 5k without ever trying the transition. silly me. I ran passed my sister after 0.1 miles of the run and recall whimpering, “ouch! this hurts!” Duh, Laura, it’s going to hurt. So I sought out to endure the 5K.

Again, the start was straight uphill to get to the road. What a cruel way to start a course, and yet Marin Endurance knew exactly what they were doing. Us athlete’s love this challenge. After that initial uphill there was a downhill along the coast. There was a soft mist caressing the left side of my face for most of the run. So much so, I couldn’t tell if it was a breeze from the ocean or actually raining. There was a small sign with a hand written ‘5k turn here’ sign on the road. There were many runners continuing beyond the sign with ease (perhaps for the olympic tri), which of course had me questioning myself,

“do I turn here, am I cheating off the course?”

Luckily I stumbled upon a man in short shorts with bright red hair for direction. He was confident. He was supporting other runners. I realized he was merely a runner, just like me, yet with confidence. He easily told me, “my watch says we’re at 1.7 miles, we’re past half way, it’s ok to turn around”. Thank you short shorts red hair man, I definitely needed that reassurance.

The water continually beat my face, only from the right side this time. This wasn’t just a pass of the ocean, it was raining from the heaven’s above. My thighs hurt, my chest hurt, my mind hurt. I saw the expressions of all those around me, we were struggling with the wind and rain beating us. At no point did I consider I couldn’t make it. My mind was humbled, gracious, appreciative. This Triathlon hurt, and that’s exactly what I had anticipated. I passed the finish line with Katrina, my sister, cheering me on. My first Triathlon, technically a Biathlon. I still felt very accomplished and cannot wait to participate in this event again next year.

Next up, Hilton Head half marathon in South Carolina next weekend. Where is your next event, (let me know in the comments) I’d love to cheer you on!

Check out your next Race Vacation, Clean Eating recipes and Running tips!

New and upcoming! travel, clean eating and half marathons

Wow! Life has been a whirlwind this fall and I’m sure you can agree. School is back in session, and then school is in quarantine…. and then school is back in session! Between planning and packing school lunches, getting ready for holiday travels and of course, getting my running miles in, it’s been a busy season! I wanted to give you a glance into the Half marathons, clean eating and what’s new and upcoming here on We Run the States.

New and Upcoming: Travel

With the covid vaccine readily available, travel has become a part of our daily lives again. This summer our family traveled to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, which reignited our passion for nature and exploring. This sparked a spur of the moment trip to Zion National park in September for a half marathon through the night. I had never really had Zion on my list of places I wanted to see, but after seeing it’s beauty, I Highly recommend the adventure. Waking up at 3 am to run through the night jumping over boulders gave a definite runner’s high!

October has been spent Triathlon training for a trip to the California coast on Halloween. I highly anticipate that Bay Area swim will be frigid cold, so wish me luck that I don’t freeze! Then just two weeks later we travel to the sunny Hilton Head island of South Carolina. This will be my first in-person half marathon as a Bibrave ambassador, and I am so excited to meet other Bibrave pro’s that I continue to follow on my instagram running community.

The new year is just around the corner and Holidays are coming up fast! I plan to take a short break from running at the end of November and then jump right back into training for Rock N’ Roll New Orleans, LA half marathon in February.

Hilton Head, South Carolina, lighthouse at dusk.

Clean Eating

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this category. Moreso, how can I make Clean Eating easy to prep for school nights and busy lives. I’ve debated recreating recipes like those amazing food blogs online, as I usually tweek most recipes, (just a little) to suit our family needs. But recreating recipes didn’t seem to make much sense as that requires a LOT of time and those amazing food blogs have already put in the work. (I know, much to your surprise, I also have limited time with full time work, kids, running and blogging). So this category will be a guide to Clean eating recipes.

I love creating weekly meal plans and food prep with my kids on Sundays. So here I will share with you all the recipes. Although most of the recipes I make are from cookbooks, I can often find the same recipe in an online version to share. If all else fails, you’ll get a picture screenshot of a clean eating recipe. It’ll be like we’re food prepping together 🙂

healthy recipes for fall
Autumn Meals

New and upcoming: Running

I am super proud to say, I am officially a Road Runner Club of America COACH! (RRCA) I decided to take my running knowledge to the next level and completed a weekend experience to become a coach. I have SO much great information to share with you to improve your race pace and achieve your set goals! The first athlete I’m training is my very own brother-in-law preparing for his first Full marathon in May. We are training for a sub 4 hour marathon and he is ready for the commitment to log miles!

Also new to the Running category is We Run the States, LLC. Yep that’s right, WRS is officially a business! Currently I am working on a really big project to have health insurance pay for you to run all 50 states! I’ll definitely keep you posted.

Yellowstone Half marathon: Beautiful Scenery, epic elevation and bears!

There is so much to learn and explore in this beautiful nation of ours! I’ll admit, national parks hadn’t been on my list of top things to experience, until Vacation Race’s Half Marathons. Their name alone drew me in, as my goal is to run a half marathon in every state, in order to travel and experience America. I had just completed the Grand Teton Half marathon the weekend before, (pushing a double stroller!) so I was amped to run Yellowstone Half marathon with my best friends (and not pushing kids haha).

Before you visit Yellowstone National Park, I highly encourage you to download the audible Gypsy guide. This app felt like we had a personal tour guide as we drove, answering all our questions before we even asked them.

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Yellowstone Half Marathon- The Run

This is a mostly trail run up to a peak of 6,990 feet elevation. There are portions of the run that are over rocky terrain, so watch carefully and protect your ankles! (If you watch the video of Yellowstone above, there’s a very clever tutorial how to run down rocky terrain). Located in Gallatin National Forest, southwest of West Yellowstone, there were a few bear spotting throughout the run as well. Vacation Races put on a wonderful event, as always. If you get the opportunity, run a race with them! They now have events all over the world!

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone half marathon

Things to Do

Yellowstone was America’s very first National Park established March 1, 1872 as a “public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”. It is one of the world’s largest ACTIVE volcanos! Kinda scary to think about standing on an active volcano as you peer into the boiling geysers and mudpots while exploring. Yellowstone is also the only place bison have roamed freely since the prehistoric times. Exploring was very family friendly with many stops and sights along the way. Be aware, there are not many bathrooms along the way or stops with food so I would recommend packing a lunch, (and also maybe a kid potty).

Drive around the Yellowstone Grand Loop hitting iconic landmarks like Old Faithful erupting faithfully every 60-90 minutes in Upper Geyser basin. We lucked out with an early morning parking spot to walk the geyser loop, but be aware, the line of cars was astronomically long, so plan early! Yellowstone also has the largest concentration of mammals and you’re sure to see a bison. If you see a cluster of cars on the side of the road, pull your car out too, they’ve likely spotted a bear or moose. Yellowstone was one of the three national parks we visited this summer. All three had amazing unique features and were well worth the trip. Check out Zion National Park. Next stop, Hilton Head island, South Carolina.

Zion half marathon at night guaranteed to give you an uplifting runner’s high

Is running Zion half marathon at night on your bucket list? It should be. Zion, Utah was a last minute add on for me and Jenn. We had just completed Vacation Race’s Yellowstone half marathon that was epic, and we were so thrilled by our runner’s high we immediately sought out another Vacation Race. Zion half marathon was only three months away and we considered ourselves trained enough to sign up. However the only catch was, we had to run Zion half marathon at night. We had never run a half marathon at night before, so we added it as yet another challenge on our journey to run the states.

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Zion Half Marathon at Night- The Run

Vacation Race’s has been, by far, my favorite series of races. Extraordinarily organized, and very conscientious of the environment; Vacation race’s is also very attentive to social distancing in our current covid prominent world. So for the Zion half marathon at night, you choose a time slot from 7pm to 7am with a wave start every 30 minutes. This allowed smaller waves to maintain social distancing. You had the option to run with the sunset. Through the deepest dark of the night through the desert. Or as we chose, rising with the morning sun.

I had anticipated a very cold start, however the weather forecasted mid 50’s so we dared to run in shorts and a tank top. There was a breeze, but it felt genuinely amazing the whole run. After mile 6 we left the safer dirt trails for what felt like rock climb running through the night. Pink reflective flags helped guide us through the course. There’s something about running and jumping on rocks, with the stars sparkling above for 13.1 miles that gives such a runner’s high.

Jenn and I were actually surprised by how giddy we were. Extraordinarily appreciating the life and day god had given us. Again, we hadn’t even planned on this Zion half marathon at night until a few months before, so we felt beyond blessed. We finished with the sunrise, and although with some very tight calve muscles, we got our jumping high five finish as always.

Zion Half Marathon at night

Zion half marathon
Zion half marathon
Zion half marathon
Zion half marathon

Things to Do

Zion is a rock climber’s dream, with sandstone cliffs ever changing, mostly from flash floods. If you’re lucky you can spot a bighorn sheep, or catch a sunset over the blood red mountains. Zion landmarks can be experienced only by shuttle or walking quite a far distance. Although the shuttle’s stop every 4 minutes, it did take nearly an hour of walking to get to the ‘start line’ as parking was very impacted. (Even during off season).

Plan on a full couple of days exploring. The first day we were able to drive the upper canyon towards Bryce canyon and venture off a bit on our own. The second day we were limited by time in order to make our flights home, so we only got to experience one of the landmarks. If we could repeat our trip, I wish we had been a bit more prepared for sight-seeing, as we missed the opportunity to hike Angel’s Landing.

Emerald pools trail is absolutely stunning 3 mile hike that features a waterfall and leads to three tiers of natural ponds. One tip is Pack your lunch. Jenn and I inevitably got hungry after all our hiking and there is only one concession stand throughout Zion canyon. This tiny cafe took nearly 35 minutes to hand us an already pre-cooked slice of pizza due to the long line of others who forgot to pack their lunches also.

Zion Canyon

Zion half marathon
Zion half marathon
Zion half marathon
Zion half marathon
Zion half marathon

The Food

There aren’t many stops along Zion for food, so again, pack a lunch! But Balcony One was a gem along the way. The tranquil atmospheric ambience was such a relaxing end to our Very long day. You could tell a lot of thought went into the design of the restaurant, and we even had the opportunity to meet the hospitable owner.

Zion Half marathon at night was absolutely epic, and really encouraged our love for running each state. Another run by Vacation Race’s is the Grand Teton half marathon, be sure to check it out. Up next we have Hilton Head island half marathon, South Carolina.

No Questions asked, the Top 10 Comforting Clean Eating Recipes Fall

I’m sure every comforting recipes for Fall blog starts with how incredible autumn is. The changing leaves with days getting colder. The nights getting longer and families growing closer by the fire. These blog posts start like this for a reason, Fall is the most wonderful time of the year! For clean eating recipes for fall, the crockpot becomes the Head chef. The leafy greens and earthy root vegetables are harvested to become the main attraction. More time is spent inside the kitchen over the steaming stovetop. Or sitting around the dining room table with a board game, friends and wine. Enjoy these Top 10 Recipes for fall that are healthy, just click on recipe for ingredients and directions.

Steak with caramelized vegetables

This Clean eating recipe for fall can be made tonight and use the extra prepared steak and veggies for tomorrow’s French onion-style beef stew. One key feature of this recipe is how much time it asks for sautéing the veggies. Chef’s tip, Don’t skip out on this time to hurry the recipe. Time is used to caramelize the vegetables which really enhances the dinner. Enjoy with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Farm Wines.

French Onion-Style Beef vegetable stew

I’m a sucker for French onion soup, yum! If it’s on the menu, I’m ordering it! Make this stew from yesterday’s saved steak and veggies.

Whole roasted chicken with lemon and Rosemary

You absolutely cannot exclude a whole roasted chicken with rosemary in your recipes for Fall lineup. There’s something about rosemary that’s warm and comforting. Accompany that with rosemary being rich in iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and B-6 and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Apricot Curry chicken thighs with potatoes and Asparagus

A good friend brought over this easy sheet pan recipe already prepared so all I had to do was stick it in the oven. The kids and I were fed wonderfully for an entire week! The sweet apricot jam mixed with the pungent curry was very satisfying.

Autumn on a plate

Every season needs a Salad. 🙂

Sautéed pork chops and Apples

This is a classic combination of pork chops and apples that satisfies even the pickiest kid eaters.

Slow cooker Pot Roast and Veggies

Autumn equals Slow cooker pot roast and veggies. ‘nough said.

Slow cooker turkey and white bean chili

Warm chili sitting by the fire as the autumn leaves fall blow outside. That evening sounds like pure perfection to me!

Pumpkin Pie

Do you know how you can tell if it’s time for recipes for fall yet? It’s when you start seeing pumpkin EVERYTHING in the stores! pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin granola, pumpkin etc. so of course we had to find a healthy pumpkin pie recipe.

This Fall I have planned two half marathons and a triathlon. Here’s an article on How to run back to back half marathons. What’re you training for this Fall?

Conquering Grand Teton half marathon pushing a double stroller

OH Wyoming, you’re quite a story! If you’re one of those jump-to-the-cliff-hanger type of readers, I’ll give you the quick and easy. I ran the Vacation Races Grand Teton half marathon at 6395 ft elevation, uphill, pushing a DOUBLE stroller with two big kids! Every other person passing me, (because there were many passing me) called me “badass” or “you’re a beast”, or “you go mama!” which felt really encouraging. But it wasn’t until I started writing this that I discovered, damn! I AM a BADASS! Check out how amazing the Tetons were!

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Grand Teton Half Marathon, The Run

This was my first run with Vacation Races, and I was expecting a great race based on previous reviews. But this run far exceeded all of my expectations. I’ll say it multiple times during this post, if you get the opportunity, Run a race with Vacation races.

The course is primarily paved on a bike trail, with some dirt tracks near the finish line. I had expected to become weary with a 583 ft elevation gain at max 6,383 ft. What I had not anticipated, was my husband having an emergency and being left with our two kids. I, like most situations in life, had two choices. To choose defeat and get my first ‘did not start’ (DNS), or find a way to run. Sometimes life throws us changes that we can’t control. It probably would have been easiest to accept this race was out. But I thought, WHY NOT TRY? So I found an online service that rents baby gear and rented a Bob double stroller and we started.

Two and a half hours later, we were still running. There had only been one 3-year-old melt down, (because Cheetos had fallen on his seat) but we could see the finish line. So again I considered, WHY NOT TRY?

Sadie and Pierce’s first half marathon

We decided to try, and made one of the most fulfilling personal records of my running career. Sadie and Pierce’s first half marathon! The scenery was absolutely mesmerizing, so much so, that it kept my kids entertained for 13.1 miles. For the cherry on top, The finish line had a picturesque photo drop of the Grand Tetons. A carousel of buses transported us back to the start line. But be cautious, if you have a double stroller you may have to wait quite a while for a bus that can fit the stroller too.

Grand Teton half marathon scenery

Things to do

I’ve heard of the wonders of Jackson, WY for over a decade. My husband worked on a wildfire hot shot crew in his twenties, and was captured when the helicopter flew over the Grand Tetons. He’s been pressing on returning since then. I didn’t get the same aerial view that he did, but even from the ground you can enjoy the sheer magnitude of the Tetons. First and foremost, download the gypsy guide. It’s 100% worth the commentary that is informative and entertaining. It’s like having a personal tour guide in your car; then you’re ready to explore this beautiful national park.

Jenny Lake

There is a trifecta of highlights to visit, all of which we were able to do in one busy day. Start at the explorer center for a wilderness badge for the kids and a few souvenirs as well. Then head on over to Jenny Lake. You can either choose to hike the round trip of 7.5 miles or pay $18 for a roundtrip on the boat. On this trail you’ll visit hidden falls and inspiration point. One tip, don’t wait too long to get back to the boat if you don’t plan on hiking home. The boat ride closes at four and we ended up waiting an hour in line. Many people were forced to hike.

Next up on our journey around the Grand Tetons was mormon row. This is known for its photogenic barns that belonged to some of the earliest settlers in Jackson hole. Then to snake river outlook, made famous by Ansel Adam’s 1942 portrait attracting visitors to the Grand Teton national park. There are several other features of the park you can follow with your gypsy app if you have more time available.

Snow King Mountain

We’re always looking for fun family friendly activities while we travel. Snow King mountain definitely filled that role. There’s a scenic chair lift to the top of the mountain, where kids can enjoy a treetop adventure. Then choose to either slide down or ride the cowboy coaster. There’s also a bungee trampoline, mini golf and bike rentals. Check it out in the video above, we liked it so much we went twice!

Jackson Village

Probably the most enjoyable part of our trip was visiting Jackson village. This quaint town had a variety of stores, including the biggest toy store to reward my kids for “patiently running/being pushed for 2.5 hours in a stroller” for their first half marathon. I enjoyed sampling at spirits and spices and the whole family loved eating at Pizzeria Caldera.

Where to stay

Originally I had searched for a camping experience, with showers for after the sweaty run. But If you take one tip from this post, it’s Book early! I made reservations in January for our June half marathon, and nearly everything near Jackson village was already booked! We luckily booked the absolute best Fireside resort, minutes away from the start line. These luxurious rustic cabins are ideal for family and friend settings, perfectly equipped with a kitchenette to make some home cooked meals to enjoy by your own fire. I hope you enjoy Wyoming as much as we did!

Delicious Ultima replenisher electrolytes Mocktail review

I received Ultima Replenisher hydration packs to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

This spring I attended a nurse practitioner conference that addressed all aspects of healthcare. It included diabetes management, new updates on birth control and antibiotic stewardship. However, the one lecture that captured my attention and then ignited me to research more in depth was; “the Ketogenic diet: It’s not just a fad”. I had heard of the ketogenic diet, like most people have, and I too, thought it was a cultural trend. But the supporting literature on the benefits of the keto diet astounded me, and so I thought, “I’ve got to try keto for myself”! (I’m a strong believer in recommending evidence-based practice to my patient’s so they can make an informed decision.) Now this post is not about the keto diet, I’ve written an entire post on how the body uses macronutrients here. This is a review on finally finding,

a zero sugar, zero carbohydrate Ultima replenisher electrolyte

Electrolytes are vital for athletes to replenish the minerals they lose while sweating. Did anybody else watch the women’s marathon olympics in Tokyo? Those girls were in record heat! One strategy for peak performance is maintaining proper hydration while you’re exercising. I knew all of this information, however I could never quite find the ‘right electrolyte for me’. When Bibrave mentioned writing a Ultima replenisher review “Run the rainbow” Mocktini variety pack, my response was “YES PLEASE”!

Ultima Replenisher electrolytes are:

  • Sugar Free
  • Keto Friendly
  • Vegan
  • Caffeine-free
  • Non- GMO
  • Sweetened with organic stevia leaf
  • Real fruit extract flavors

Ultima Replenisher electrolytes are right up my alley!

My favorite flavor’s are the Cherry pomegranate and Peach Bellini, but I suggest you try them all to find your favorite. Not only do I enjoy Ultima for running, my husband uses them for his workouts also. And my kids make them into electrolyte popsicles! I’ve subscribed monthly and can’t wait for my next supply to arrive!

Check ’em out at Ultimareplenisher.com for 20% off your first purchase!

Check out other reviews, race discounts and cool gear!

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