DIY Race Medal Holder

When I first started running races, I was collecting a ton of medals and race bibs and had no where to put them. I didn't want to throw the bibs away. I wanted to put them somewhere that I could look at and remind myself to be proud, even on days when I was feeling everything but that. I looked up medal holders online, and found my way over to easy. At the time, I didn't want to spend the money on it, and no shops had quite what I was envisioning. So I turned to Michaels to create exactly what I wanted. 

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What You'll Need: 

Wooden Board (your choice size and shape)
Chalkboard Paint
Paintbrush
Chalk
Gold Wire
Gold Safety Pins
Gold Hooks

Directions:

1. Start by painting your board with the chalkboard paint. Do one side first - when it dries after first coating, paint a second coat over. Once dry, flip it over and repeat.

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2. Let dry, once dry completely, push the hooks into the wood (use a hammer if necessary). You may need to measure the distance between the two according to your race bibs. Add more hooks to the bottom for your medals. String the gold wire from the hook on the left to the right side. 

3. Add a quote or saying to the top using your chalk.

4. Add bibs and medals, hang up, and be proud - but don't ever stop adding those bibs and medals.

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My Home Gym - Details

When Sal and I started looking for home early last year, I made it known that it was super important to me to be able to have a room or garage that would be dedicated as my workout room. We saw many... many houses. I don't even think I could remember what they all looked like even if I tried. When we finally decided on THE ONE, I knew immediately which room would be dedicated as my workout room. It was pretty spacious, and was right off the kitchen, which would be perfect for when I needed to quickly devour my protein shakes. There's a ton of light coming in from the big bay window, as well as the window in the front of the house, and door. Having the private entrance will be perfect when I start seeing clients in my own home! 

We left the paint as is, and the beautiful hardwood floors, but added mats over them, as well as a rug by the door. The two things we haven't done yet is add mirrors to the back wall, and change the fan/lighting. I'd love track lighting along the back wall too. While the room is very bright during the day, it gets dark real quick at night, and the light in the middle of the room isn't as bright as I'd like it to be. Other than lights and mirrors, the room is pretty much complete, and I'm absolutely in love. I spend at least an hour in there a day, and I'm positive I'll be in there more now recording workout videos, and thinking up new ideas for the blog. 

Welcome to my HOME GYM! 

So when you walk down the one step to the room, and look to the right, you'll see my treadmill, along with the TV, speakers, and a motivational frame with pictures hung! The treadmill was given to me by my mom (THANK YOU MOM!). If not for her, I would have been checking craigslist or the marketplace on Facebook. I feel like a lot of people are always buying them, but then they sit there or end up as a dryer for clean laundry. I have used mine a ton, running many miles on it while marathon training, and just hopping on it when the weather isn't so nice outside for a quick sweat! The Elements TV was my old TV from my childhood bedroom, the Phillips speakers were a gift from Sal, and I also have an old Memorex DVD player hooked up to play workout DVDs. I usually hook my phone up to the bluetooth speakers to blast some good music to get my through my workouts. 

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If you turn to the left, when you walk in, you'll see a corner filled with my medals from all of my races and workout equipment. I made the medal rack using a wooden board, chalkboard paint, tiny hooks, and a metal string, all from Michaels. I'll do a blog post this week on how you can create your own! 

I decided to hang my resistance bands and loops on a hook rack, inspired by an idea I saw on Pinterest. I grabbed the inexpensive hook rack below at Target! See that metal basket on the floor with my yoga mat and foam roller in it? I bought that at Target too. I also threw my ladder in the bucket too. On either side you'll notice some orange cones that I've used in bootcamp drills, and my beloved BOSU that I just love using in workouts to work my stability. 

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On the same wall, underneath the big bay window, I have my weight rack, that I just actually snagged for real cheap on Amazon Prime Day! I didn't even realize I had Amazon Prime until I got the email inviting me to Amazon Prime Day, and I am so glad I did! It was originally 199.90, with free shipping, but on Amazon Prime Day, it was on sale for $149.92, I then used some rewards points from my credit card that transfer dollar for dollar, and I ended up only paying $114.60! It was a steal! Next to the rack are two kettle bells - the smaller one I picked up from Amazon, and the bigger one is from Target, but I found the same one online at Bed Bath and Beyond (hey 20 coupons!).

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If you're noticing a theme, it's because almost everything in the room is black, grey, white or blue. On top of the window I recently added a basket I got from Target to hold my little items, including DVDs,  running essentials, old school CDs, and even small paper plates for core work. Shout out to Tone It Up. Notice the bright light!? This picture was taken at 4 in the afternoon too! 

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I have my phone holder set up to document some workout videos, as well as my tablet stand to watch workout videos on the internet. The phone stand I grabbed at CVS over the summer, and the tablet stand Sal got for cheap, I believe on Amazon. 

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Right next to the window, in the corner of the room is our heavy bag. Shout out to kickboxing workouts for giving us a total body workout! This was one of the first things Sal bought me, knowing one day it'd be in our gym. It sat in my parents basement for awhile, because there was nowhere to put it, but now it's got a special place right in our home gym. You'll also notice a stability ball, because if you didn't realize already, stability and balance workouts are SO important, as well as a medicine ball! Both of those I think I grabbed from Target. I try to get good equipment, but I know it can cost a fortune, so I watch for prices, and usually have coupons! 

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Finally, the last little section has a bench, and some extra weights Sal and I have collected over the years. The bench was, again, from my mom, who was not using it. I so appreciate being able to take it, instead of spending money on one. While the color doesn't match entirely, it does play off the blues and greys in a way that doesn't make everything so matchy, matchy. 

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If you have any questions about where certain things are from that I didn't link, let me know! 

Recipe: Turkey Chili

Even though it's officially Fall, and a week into October, the weather has not been very fall-like, not even a little bit, when I'm still wearing shorts and the humidity is insane. However, I can't let it stop me from making alllllll the fall recipes. I love the comforting meals, the soups and chili, and breads. I decided the other night that I just couldn't wait for the weather to catch up with the season, and I grabbed all of the ingredients I needed to make some chili. I also picked up a fresh  loaf of french bread from our local bakery. 

I could have just threw all the ingredients in a slow cooker, but I wanted to make dinner with Sal no matter how late at night it was after we both got home from work. It was a simple recipe, and only required a few ingredients that I didn't already have on hand. I'm glad I ended up scooping up some ground turkey from costco, because now I have enough to make this again, maybe when the weather is actually chilly. Chilly Chili. Ha. 


Turkey Chili

Ingredients: 
1 package lean ground turkey
1 whole small onion, diced
5 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
3 bell peppers (yellow, red, green), diced
1 small jalapeΓ±o  
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 container vegetable broth

Directions: 
1. In a large pot, heat vegetable broth and 2 cans of beans on low until they come to a simmer. 

2. Add in diced tomatoes and spices; stir to mix thoroughly. 

3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet sprayed with cooking spray, cook turkey on medium heat until browned. 

4. Mix diced onions and peppers into turkey and cook for another minute. Add turkey, pepper, and onion mixture into pot with the rest of the ingredients simmering. Continue to heat on low until ready to serve. 

5. Remove from heat and serve! 


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It was delicious and we devoured it with our buttered warm fresh bread. Sal hates beans, and even ate a whole bowl! We had enough leftover to enjoy it for lunch for a few days, or dinner when we didn't feel like cooking. I cannot wait to make this easy recipe again! 

Let me know below if you try it, I'd love to know 

Running with Essential Oils

I'm sure you know, I'm a huge Young Living essential oil user. I use the products AND oils on a daily basis, and they have helped me in more ways than one to live a healthier life, and have a cleaner, better home. They've also helped many of my friends and family members, and I truly cannot say enough positive things about it. 

So it may come as no surprise to you that I used my oils on race day. While I know it was all me who ran that race, Young Living helped me before that start line, and after I crossed the finish line during my recovery. 

I used... 

  • Valor Essential Oil 
  • Mountain Mist deodorant 
  • Deep Relief Roller
  • Aminowise Amino Acid Supplement
  • Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream
  • Cool Azul Sports Gel
  • Stress Away Bath Bomb + Epsom Bath Salts
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Valor went over my wrists while we rode the shuttle to the start line. I chose Valor because it's formulated to help balance energies, and instill courage, confidence, and self-esteem. I seriously needed all the courage I could get. As I sat in one of the seats on the bus, I tried to focus on my breathing, and inhale as much Valor as I could. I could have bathed in that liquid courage. By the time I got to the start line, I forgot all of my worries and fears, and just ran when the horn sounded. 

Mountain Mist deodorant is one of my new Young Living finds. It's aluminum free, petrochemical free, and made from edible ingredients, and pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. I've been searching for a natural deodorant that actually works, and while I did try the Thieves toothpaste, which was working for awhile, I knew I needed something a little bit stronger. It contains natural, skin-soothing properties of coconut oil, beeswax, and vitamin E, infused with lemon, rosemary, and other essential oils. It did it's job, and also helped keep me cool, but in the end, after running 4.5 hours, I was a hot smelly mess. 

Deep Relief Roller not only helped me during training runs, but it was also great to use during my recovery. This roller is pre-dilluted and can be applied with ease. It relieves muscle soreness and tension and soothes sore joints and ligaments. It combines 9 essential oils (peppermint, lemon, idaho balsam fir, clove, copaiba, wintergreen, helichrysum, vetiver, dorado azul) that are most known to help with all those uncomfortable feelings that come after running a marathon. 

Aminowise Amino Acid Supplement is what I drank immediately after I devoured chocolate milk and part of a bagel. While they had other things to refuel with like soup, pizza, bananas, cookies, and apples, I chose the chocolate milk. I could barely stomach the bagel, so I only picked at it. As soon as I got back to the car, I grabbed a scoop of Aminowise, put it in my bottle full of water, and shook it up. I also gave a scoop to a friend! IT's an advanced, triple-targeted formula that includes muscle performance, recovery, and hydration mineral blends. It helps to fight fatigue, reduce lactic acid, and rehydrate. Let me get a little nerdy here... The muscle performance blend, supports the production of nitric oxide with its branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), to help muscles during and after exercise. Vascular blood flow also improves. The hydration mineral blend replenishes the important minerals that are lost during exercise, such as sodium citrate, potassium citrate, calcium citrate, and magnesium citrate. Finally the recovery blend is enriched with polyphenols and antioxidants to help reduce lactic acid, which was so built up mile after mile. The wolf berry lemonade flavor is delicious, and I can easily drink it within seconds. 

Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream and Gel was applied to my legs, and neck, immediately following the race as we sat at the table for lunch. From my ankles and my calves, to my knees and IT band, I was feeling all sorts of pain and uncomfortableness that I had never felt before. I kept trying to move my legs and stretch, even while under the table. I easily massaged them out, and kept doing it all night while we were in the car, after my epsom salt & stress away bath, and the following days. Think Icy Hot, but better working and better for YOU. 

Stress Away Bath Bombs are the bomb.com - ha. But seriously, I have not taken a bath in YEARS. I am not a huge fan of just sitting there in the dirty water, but I was all for this bath, especially when I added epsom salts to the mix. They're great for relieving pain. Combining the salts with the bath bomb was an easy decision, because I wanted to take as much stress out of my body as possible, considering it had just endured something that I've never put it through, ever. Stress Away essential oil bath bombs are a fun, fizzy way to unwind. Stress Away is one of the most calming essential oils to create these relaxing bath bombs and filled them with nourishing ingredients and no unwanted additives. They're made without colorants, synthetic preservatives, parabens, or animal-derived ingredients, making them some of the best bath bombs you can get your hands on! Instead of artificial ingredients and harsh chemicals, they're vegan bath bombs with a mineral-rich formula and skin-loving ingredients, such as coconut oil and sweet almond oil. That means they’re not only fun and relaxingβ€”they also leave skin soft and moisturized. Needless to say I felt so relaxed after, I passed out on the couch, and woke up roughly 11 hours later. 

These will be with me whenever I do something absolutely insane again, because let's face it... I will. It may not be a marathon, but I'm always ready to conquer new heights and fears! Don't ever let negative thoughts or fears hold you back. Push yourself way past any limit you thought you had and crush it. 

Wineglass Marathon 2017: My First Marathon Experience

Well ... I did it. 

I'm a marathon finisher.

I crossed the finish line of the 36th Annual Wineglass Marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes on Sunday, October 1st in Corning, NY. 

I used to be half crazy two years ago when I finished my half marathon, and now I'm full on batshit crazy. 

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The Training

I'm going to be honest, I did not train as well as I should have. Would I change anything about my training? Absolutely not. You may not know this, but I believe a marathon takes 30% physical abilities, and 70% mental abilities. My longest run was 14 miles, I also worked my way up and completed 8, 10, and 12 mile runs - adding on 2 miles each week. For months though, I was getting my runs in, mostly outside, but some on the treadmill, including sprints and hills, and I was incorporating a ton of strength training in, as well as yoga to practice my breathing. For my strength training I did many Tone It Up workouts, a couple of LG workouts, and many difficult strength classes at CKO Kickboxing. I flew through miles 1-14 with ease, and 15-19 with a bit more toughness, 20-26 was all mental. While I wouldn't suggest not doing long runs, I did what worked for me. I could not get motivated to do the long training runs, even with friends, because quite frankly I didn't want to waste several hours getting them done. My last run was the day before, and I set an intention of pushing myself harder than I had in all of my training, but enjoying the feeling of the run, being outside, with the chilly fall air. I ran all the way to the lake, sat down and visualized myself crossing that finish line. I had joked a ton with other people saying they'd need to carry me over, not believing that I could do it, but that day, I believed with everything inside of me that I could do it, no matter what, I was crossing that finish line on my own two feet. I ran at a faster pace than in any of my training runs that day, and felt with every fiber of my being that I was going to come out changed when I crossed that finish line. 

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The Days Before

Since the marathon was on Sunday, my friend, Joe, suggested we carb up on Friday night. So we went to a local pizzeria and I had a ton of pizza, way more than I would ever have in one night. I devoured almost an entire one, and I'm not ashamed. I also had a garlic bite or two.

The next day was the day we'd be leaving for Corning, NY to pick up our race packets. I had two hard boiled eggs in the morning, packed up my bags, and we started our 3.5 hour drive. The views were beautiful so we didn't mind it, plus we stopped for Krispy Kreme donuts.

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When we arrived at the Corning Museum of Glass, we quickly registered and got our swag bags, which included an awesome running sweater, a wine glass, a mini bottle of champagne, our bibs, and coupons! We checked out the vendors at the expo, and my friend even even purchased a stick to help roll out her muscles. Me, on the other hand, I grabbed some glide so I didn't chaf, and a sticker for my jeep. Because I only run these races for the sticker - ha, just kidding. 

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Afterwards, we headed to grab something to eat, since we were all starving by then. After walking down the street for what felt like forever, we finally decided on a place to eat that had delicious pasta dishes. We all felt called to eat pasta and chicken, and that's exactly what we did, aside from my friend's husband, who wasn't running the race, and who enjoyed his steak and beer. We all quickly got sleepy, and knew it was time to grab our pre-race fuel at the store, and head to bed.

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The motel we stayed at was super shady though, and they both joked that we were going to the Bates Motel. I was just glad I had never seen that show. We checked in after some minor issues, and walked around to the back where our two rooms were, thankfully next to one another. We walked in and immediately got settled by blocking the door with two chairs. I can never sleep the night before a race, but I really couldn't sleep, knowing we were at a motel that looked like it could be in every SVU episode. Thankfully, we made it through the night. We got up, got dressed and prepped for the race, and got the heck out of there. 

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The next morning was full of pre-race jitters, even at the freezing cold start line, but once I threw on some Valor essential oil, and that horn sounded, we were off, with little time to think about our fears. 

The Marathon

Two friends, Joe and Sarah, from the kickboxing gym I work at peer pressured me... I mean convinced me rather nicely, to run a marathon with them. When we lined up at the start line, Sarah, who had thoroughly trained for this started at the 4 hour pacer, and I ran with Joe, who stayed with me the entire time. He has another marathon coming up in three weeks, so this was all to see where he was at, kind of like a training run for him. We ran quick the first 1-14 miles, staying pretty close to the 4:20 pacer who we started with at the start line.

We fell off the pace a bit once we hit miles 15-19, and then really fell when we were walk/running miles 20-26. I did not suffer from any side stitches, or get out of breath. My calves were pretty tight the entire race, but didn't get unbearable until the last long strength of the run. The hills were minimal, which I was grateful for, aside from 1 or 2 hills. Everyone kept telling us how great the race was because of the decrease in elevation, minimal hills, and beautiful views, and they weren't wrong about any of that. 

Eventually the 4:40 pacer caught up with us, but we were so incredibly motivated not to let that guy pass us, that we kept pushing, even when our legs wanted to fall out. And trust me, I thought they would give out on me at any moment. They didn't, and that 4:40 pacer never passed us. We crossed the finish line together at 4:38.

The Fuel: Before, During, After

You read what I devoured before the day of the race above. The morning of, I stuck with what I usually eat before races - oat nut bread, natural peanut butter, and a banana. 

During, every 3-4 miles I ate Stinger energy chews, and Stinger waffles, and then towards the end I ate even more. My body was starving at that point. I alternated between drinking gatorade, which they so graciously provided, and water. 

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After I was still feeling pretty out of whack, but I did drink some more water, tried to get down a bagel - only got down half of a half of a mini one - and drank my Young Living Aminowise. We headed to lunch, and I was able to drink some more water and eat half a cheeseburger with some fries. It wasn't until we got home about 4 hours later that I was able to eat a full meal, and then some. I finished my pasta from the night before AND I polished off my cheeseburger and fries. The following days I was still super hungry, thirsty and craving salt, but I slowly started to get back into my regular eating schedule and routine. 

Recovery 

We kept moving after the run, we tried to walk, even though our bodies would have none of it. As I sat in the car for our 3.5 hour ride back home, I kept trying to move my legs, and stretch. When I got home, I quickly ate dinner, and then hopped into a warm bath with epsom salts, and a Young Living Stress Away Bath Bomb. It was incredibly relaxing, and felt so good on my tired muscles. After I got out, I applied some Young Living Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream, and passed out within seconds on the couch, eventually making my way to bed in the early morning. Sal and I slept almost 12 hours. Needless to say my body needed it. 

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Monday, the next day, I took off of teaching kickboxing and training my client. I knew my body would not be in any shape to train people. My calves were tight, and my left knee hurt due to my IT band. I laid up on the couch all day, making sure to fuel my body, hydrate and to stretch out. I also walked a ton to the bathroom, and even to the end of the driveway! It was tough. Tuesday I was back into my routine, and while I still wasn't feeling 100%, I could move a little better. I still continued to stretch. My calves are still tight, but my knee is feeling better! 


The Feelings

Training for this marathon, and going through the motions of the days leading up to this big day, I honestly did not believe in myself that I could do something so crazy, something that would require such mental will and determination. I've done some wild things in the past like swimming with whale sharks in the ocean, running a Spartan race, and even running a half marathon, but I just could not picture my body running 26.2 miles. I signed up to prove to myself I could do this though, even if I didn't do half of the training runs since I didn't have the motivation or drive. The day before, at the lake, I visualized myself crossing that finish line, and when I lined up at the start line, literally all of my fears drifted away, especially as I conquered mile after mile. There was not a doubt in my mind at mile 14 that I would be finishing the marathon. I almost started crying, but I held it together. The tears almost flowed again a few miles later, and again I held them back. It wasn't until I crossed that finish line with Joe and saw not only my friend and training partner waiting for me at the finish line, but I also saw Sal. 

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The race had a special app that followed you along the run on your phone - RaceJoy. It would tell you your pace, what mile you completed, and what your end time would be if you kept at that pace, which was awesome. But the thing I loved most about the app was that it was able to send messages from spectators right to your headphones. I had both Justin, Sarah's husband, and Sal sending me messages, and I swear, between that, the spectators, and other racers, I was so motivated to finish the race. I said that I didn't want to see Sal on the sidelines as we ran, but without him and his messages, I swear I could have stopped several times. His support means everything to me, and I am so grateful for him. 

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The spectators with their hilarious and inspiring signs, the other racers cheering you on, especially when you got closer and closer to the finish line, the support from friends and family from all the text messages and comments I received, the messages and love from Sal, my running partners never giving up on me, and the "easier" trail of decreasing elevation, minimal hills, and chilly fall air, I would recommend anyone run this marathon. 

I'm being serious when I say if you can run, if you are without injury, then you should run a marathon. Work your way up to it sailing through 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons, but DO IT. It's one of the most terrifying things I've done, but it's so empowering when you cross that finish line. You feel like you can do ANYTHING. And guess what? YOU CAN. If you set your mind to it, and just go for it, you CAN. Sure it may seem scary at first, but once you start, those thoughts disappear, and all you're thinking about is the next step... all it's just one foot in front of the other. And that's with anything in life. Don't let this life pass you by as you sit there in limbo. You need to live in the moment, and make the most of each and every one you get. 

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