July 12, 2018

Berlin Marathon Training Recap #1 (Weeks 1-5)

My Fall Marathon Plans

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you know that I've been training for the Berlin Marathon for the past 5 weeks. SURPRISE! 

I entered the lottery on a whim because I've never been to Germany, and my new bucket list item after running the Boston Marathon is to run all 6 of the World Marathon Majors (a series of 6 of the biggest and most "renowned" marathons in the world). Also spending days after a marathon drinking beer in Germany sounds fabulous. Yes, I've already been warned by multiple people that the beer the race has at the finish is non-alcoholic! To my surprise, I actually got picked via the lottery! 

For months it was this thing I might be doing, but once May hit I knew I had to start training soon so I either had to book flights and make it real or not. I planned on taking a big trip in celebration of graduating from my M.S. program so this is it, just a bit belated. I ended up booking flights and a couple hotel rooms in June, followed by having a panic attack that I rooms were already getting booked up and that I knew nothing about Germany. 

Committing to the race was stressful because of the unknown timeline of my passing my occupational therapy board exams and finding a full-time job (which I am still searching for). The job search along with some other things in my personal life have been extra anxiety-inducing lately, so I still feel like I'm not shouting it from the rooftops that I'm running the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Some travel plans are to be determined, so I may even be making the trip alone-which honestly scares me. 

I've already run the Chicago Marathon 3x, the Boston Marathon, and now tentatively the Berlin Marathon which would be 3 of the 6 World Marathon Majors. Also can we talk about how this will be my 7th marathon?!

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2 down, 4 to go for the World Marathon Majors

I trained for the 2018 Boston Marathon conservatively out of fear of getting injured plus wanting to run it for fun. After the race, I took the time to recover and slowly get back into running in May. I am ready to have a full, more challenging training cycle for Berlin, but my race goals are still to be determined. I am following basically my training plan for the 2016 Chicago Marathon but am listening to my body and have been adding extra rest days as needed. #NeverNotScaredOfGettingInjured



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Berlin Marathon Training Weeks 1-5 Recap

While my mileage was already in the 30s by this time in the plan in 2016, for the past 5 weeks I have been hovering around 29-30 miles a week which is low to many but is okay for me right now. The past couple weeks have not been quality training weeks due to distractions, but I'm ready to take Week 6 of training and get back into. 

My plan basically has one full rest day, long run (a couple of which I've had to split into 2 runs with a short break in between due to my coaching groups, which is less than ideal), a tempo run, a speed or hills workout, and some easy runs and cross-training days including November Project-Baltimore at least once a week.


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I have been switching my runs and workouts around to fit my schedule but think I've been a little too easygoing the past few weeks and need to get into a stricter routine. The heat and humidity has also made many of my runs feel crummy. Two weeks ago when there was a heat wave (you know, real feel in the high 90s and 100 degrees) I had a 16 mile long run that ended particularly terribly and included multiple water stops including a stop at 711. I really felt out of it for most of the day afterwards. Heat exhaustion and dehydration is no joke, everyone. 

Despite the heat I really like marathon training in the summer better than the winter. It may be the comfort of having trained for all my marathons except Boston in the summer or the fact that I need to get my long runs out of the way in the AM due to the heat. It may just be despite terrible hazy temperatures and thick, humid air that your girl just loves warm weather over cold weather any day. 

Here is your daily reminder to go drink some water if like me sometimes you forget to keep your water bottle next to you and end up dehydrated. Also here's my reminder to continue to do my pre-run warm-ups, hip and glute resistance band exercises, as well as foam-roll religiously this training cycle. 


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After one of my awesome-feeling tempo runs!
In conclusion, I am definitely marathon training again and will be posting more regular training updates. 
Follow along on social media with my hashtag #breathedeeplyandrunberlin . I also seriously considered making my hashtag #willrunforpretzelsandbeer, because that is the truth. So let's call it the unofficial hashtag (and maybe of my life?). 

July 6, 2018

Things That Made Me Happy This Week #1

Hi, it's been a minute since I've typed a post. Honestly I've been going through a rough patch in life, and haven't felt like blogging and/or don't know what to blog about. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I'm  marathon training again (more on that in an upcoming post!). I'm switching things up as one does when things feel stale. Instead of Five Friday Favorites I'm changing this series to "Things That Made Me Happy This Week" inspired by a segment on one of my favorite podcasts Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR. So despite the sad/mad/frustrating/blah in my life, here is what is making me happy this week: 


things-that-made-me-happy-this-week



1. Lake Street Dive's new album Free Yourself Up

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This is my favorite song on the album.
I have been obsessed with this album from Lake Street Dive, a band with a killer lead singer making a mix of pop, soul, and folk rock music. I was SO happy to get to see them at WTMD's free concert series First Thursdays at Canton Waterfront Park. Lake Street Dive put on an amazing performance! 

2. Ice cream and freezy treats

As a sweet tooth, I enjoy ice cream and other cold desserts/treats year round, but there is something especially satisfying about an ice cream cone on a hot day. 
I've been making it a weekly treat to go to a local ice cream or snowball stand and enjoy something delicious and refreshing. 

This mint oreo ice cream cone from Dessert Fantasies in Locust Point after a really hot morning long run (and nap!) hit the spot last week. 

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It's local Taharka Brothers ice cream too :) 

3. Nuun Hydration gummies

nuun-hydration-gummies

It's been hot and humid so I've been trying to make sure I am getting enough electrolytes, especially before/during/after my weekly long runs. I made these Nuun Hydration gummies before Boston and just whipped up another batch this week. I basically follow this recipe with some tweaks (I'll share mine on the blog another day!). I have been using Lemon-Lime Nuun Hydration along with lime flavored Jell-O. They are delicious and packed full of electrolytes. 


4. Made to Be Broken on Netflix


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{Source: Netflix
I'm mostly a road runner, but still I love to read books and watch films about ultrarunning. I find it all fascinating and some of the distances covered (and in such short times often) amazing. I randomly turned this documentary, Made to Be Broken, on Netflix the other night and was glued to the screen. It chronicles Karl Meltzer's last attempt to break the Appalachian Trail time record in 2016. He set out to cover over 2000 miles of trail in less than 47 days to break the previous record. I do not want to spoil anything, but it's less than 45 minutes long and a really fun watch. 




What is making YOU happy this week? Any good Netflix recommendations for me? 

I'm linking up with the Friday Five 2.0 with Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness :)

June 15, 2018

Last-Minute Father's Day Baltimore Gift Guide

Disclosure: I was invited to visit Hammer & Nails and received a complimentary service for my boyfriend as well as a gift card. As always all thoughts & opinions are my own. 


Just a heads up, Father's Day is this Sunday. Yes, we are already in the middle of June (HOW?!). Sometimes I have trouble figuring out what to get for my father but know that local Baltimore eats, spirits, or golf balls are always a great option. Have no fear, if you still have not picked up a gift for your dad, here's a list of 5 great options that are all available in the Baltimore area. 


Last-Minute Father's Day Baltimore Gift Guide

1. Sagamore Rye, Sagamore Spirit ($45)

If the father in your life enjoys whiskey, pick up a bottle of local Sagamore Rye from the Sagamore Spirit Distillery. It's a smooth rye that is super drinkable. I gave a bottle to my dad for Christmas, and he loved it! You can find it in many local stores-check out their locator for the retailer closest to you. 

2. The John duffle, Treason Toting Co. ($100)

Treason Toting Co. is a Baltimore company that makes durable and classic bags for "the travelling craftsman." Their The John duffle bag is made from water-resistant canvas with brass hardware for a classic look perfect for any adventure. Let's also put a Treason Toting Co. bag on a list of gifts people can give to me as well. 

3. Coffee beans, Ceremony Coffee (prices varies,$15-24)  

When in doubt grab some local food and drink goodies from the local farmers market or your favorite coffeeshop- a mug and a bag of beans from your local Ceremony Coffee shop such as their Summer 18 Annuals blend ($17) makes for a delicious gift. While you are there, grab yourself a coffee or one of their delicious coffee drinks too. 

4. Hammer & Nails gift certificate, (price varies) 

If you know a dad that needs some self-care, Hammer & Nails in Owings Mill is the perfect place for him to treat himself. It's a grooming shop for guys that has a man cave with oversized leather chairs, personal HD televisions, and complimentary beverages that make basic manicures and pedicures feel extra luxurious. The shop also offers haircuts and beard trims-check out their full list of services here. I had the opportunity to visit the shop a few weeks ago and think it's the perfect place for men to pamper themselves. My boyfriend really enjoyed his complimentary manicure. Hammer & Nails is offering a $125 gift card for only $99 for Father's Day as well as a great package that includes a manicure, pedicure, and haircut for $100. 

5. Brooks Running Ghost 10, Brooks Running and available at Charm City Run ($99.95-$120)

It is the perfect time to grab your dad a new pair of running shoes like the Ghost from Brooks Running or pop into Charm City Run and find something else he'd like. A gift certificate is always a great way to go so he can come in and get fitted for shoes or pick up any gear or nutrition he needs.  

I spent some time with my dad last weekend. The weather looks too great to not be out and about in Baltimore this weekend. Follow along in Instagram @breathedeeplyandsmile to see where the weekend takes me. 


What's your go-to gift for the dad in your life? Any other gift ideas? 

June 14, 2018

5 Reasons to Train with a Running Group {at Charm City Run}



This post was originally published on the Charm City Run blog. Head over there to check out more great blog posts talking about running shoes and gear, training tips, inspiration, and stories from the running community in Maryland.

With the arrival of summer, comes the start of training for fall race season. Training through a hot and humid summer in Baltimore takes guts, and some days it can be tough to get out the door for a run. Charm City Run offers many training groups throughout the summer from 5K to full marathon and beyond. In the age of the internet when anyone can google a training plan for any distance, I think that in-person training groups offer so much more than a plan. Here are 5 reasons why YOU should train with Charm City Run.

5 Reasons to Train with a Running Group {at Charm City Run}


1. ACCOUNTABILITY.

For some people, paying money for a group alone makes them more accountable to showing up and committing to the plan. It is also easier to get dressed and out of bed before 7:00am on a Saturday morning knowing you have a group of people waiting for you to run together. Aside from the sign-in sheet, everyone notices when someone hasn’t shown up to a workout. The group becomes a tribe or family of runners, especially with longer distance groups.

2. OTHER RUNNERS WILL PUSH YOU.

When running by yourself, it can be harder to push or pace yourself. Running with other people allows you to challenge yourself to finish tough workouts that may seem scary at the start. Running with people in your training group also allows you to stick with others of a similar pace which usually helps you learn to pace yourself more evenly. I also find I will push my pace a little more when completing workouts with others which allows me to become a better runner. And, if your running group buddy says they are running X distance, you’ll probably try to stick with them and run X distance as well even if you weren’t feeling great at the start of the run

3.FRIENDSHIP.

I always tell anyone who moves to the city to join a training group to meet people! I trained for my first marathon with Charm City Run right after I moved downtown. I didn’t know any runners before, and by the end of the group I had made so many friends including a handful of close ones.  You and your training group members will bond over the tough workouts, a really hot long run, or the weird and funny things seen on the run. Something I’ve found true in life is that I can find more out about a person from running with them for an hour, than I could in any other setting!

4. YOUR GROUP WILL BECOME YOUR CHEER SQUAD.

It is awesome to finish a run to a bunch of sweaty high-fives or maybe even some hugs. It is nice to have people to cheer you through the last repeat of a track workout or finish strides of your longest run yet. On race day, your squad will be there to support you.
training group charm city run.jpg

 5. IT IS A SPACE TO TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING RUNNING.

No topic is off limits with your coach, store employees, and fellow trainees. You can ask about that nagging pain in your calf and get some suggestions of what to do. You can talk about the GI distress you had during the run. You can ask questions and learn about fueling for runs, hydration, and stretching. It is a space where people WANT to talk about all things running, races, and gear! It is not weird or annoying or silly!
The full marathon and Charles Street 12 training groups start this weekend (June 16th) at all Charm City Run stores. Half marathon, 5K, and other distances will start later in this summer. Check out all the information on upcoming training groups on the Charm City Run website. Just show up, and see what it’s all about!
Have you trained with a training group before? Do you prefer training solo or with others?

June 6, 2018

Global Running Day 2018 Discounts and Baltimore Events

Happy Global Running Day! 




As a runner, I love spreading the run love. I love encouraging others to find that sweet spot of doing things that are healthy and make them happy (and are FUN!). 
What is Global Running Day you ask?

{Source}


 Of course I started my morning with a workout with my November Project Baltimore crew. It was still part of the week-long Summer School workout series (free workouts every day of the week instead of just Wed and Fri) so there was some geography, pencil sharpening, and memorization in the workout-all before I had any coffee this AM. 
Doesn't this look like a fun group of people to workout with?
There are lots of fun events and sales (including race discounts!) happening in honor of Global Running Day so I'm sharing them here for you to check out. 

Take time today to maybe join a group run, workout with a new crew, treat yourself to some new gear, sign up for a new challenge, or do whatever gets YOU moving and having fun. 

In Baltimore

Global Running Day with Under Armour
Under Armour is hosting a run and post-run party at 5 PM today at 2601 Port Covington Dr., Baltimore, MD, 21230. You can find more details and register here  .
TIME: 5:00 PM

Global Running Day with Lululemon Towson & Harbor East 
Lululemon is hosting a community run from R. House at 6:30 PM (301 W. 29th Street, Baltimore, MD, 21211) and then a post-run strtech with a Movement Lab instructor (bring your own yoga mat!). There will be food, happy hour, and socializing to follow. All running levels welcome! More information and registration here


Around the Country and Beyond

#RunItForward with Brooks Running
Brooks Running is asking runners to #RunitForward and pledge miles, dedicate miles to something they believe in, and share the run love. It's all about community, appreciation of the environment, and connecting with people. Sign up here

Check out some discounts via this list from Runner's World as well as this list of Global Running Day runs from SELF magazine. 

Race Discounts

Rock 'n' Roll Race Series
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Rock 'n' Roll race series always has a big sale on Global Running Day. Save HUGE on most of their races for 24 hours (ends at 11:59 PT today)-hurry up and register because there are limited registrations at the lowest prices. 

If you miss out on today, you can always use code RNRRNB2018 to save $15 off most of their half and full marathons this year.  I'm a Rock 'n' Blogger for them and am hoping to do at least one more of their races this year. 

Philadelphia Marathon
Register today and receive $20 off the AACR Marathon, Dietz & Watson Half Marathon, or one of the combo challenges. Use code GLOBAL2018, and they'll donate $10 to the awesome Back on my Feet Philadelphia which empowers the homeless through running and community. Offer expires 11:59 PM EST 6/6/18. 

Donate Like 5K in Baltimore
I have run the Donate Like 5K with the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland a couple times (and placed both times ::woop::woop), and besides the fun swag and fast course, it's a great 5K. It support the Donate Life Foundation which works to support saving lies through organ, eye, and tissue donations. 

Today they are offering 50% off all 2018 Donate Life Family Fun Run and 5K registrations-adult 5K registration (bib, shirt, and medal included!) is just $12.50.
donate-life-5k-sale


ZOOMA Women's Race Series

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North Face Endurance Challenge Series
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Sales

StrideBox
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HoneyStinger 
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Sarah Marie Design Studio
FREE pair of Superhero Nail Wraps today only with code "LOVETORUN" with any purchase. Just add to cart and use code at checkout. 


How are you celebrating Global Running Day?

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap.

May 30, 2018

Why I Trust NOW Foods for my Natural Products


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fitfluential, LLC on behalf of NOW Foods. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.



In health and fitness, there are lots of claims and labels being thrown around by brands and people. As a former chemist (who will always be a science nerd at heart), I’m the type of person that finds the actual research article when I read a headline about a new study. Sometimes there are small samples for the study, bias, or parts of the research aren’t addressed. The same thing goes with labels such as “natural” not being a regulated label or even their being specifics about what constitutes “organic”. Before visiting NOW Foods headquarters just outside of Chicago for the #NOWGetFit influencer event this month, I hadn’t considered myself super brand loyal, but now I can tell you I trust NOW Foods!

NOW Foods #NOWGetFit Day 1
After a travel snafu (ugh American Airlines WHY) I made it out to the event on Thursday starting with a trip to the Cooking Skills Academy for an “Iron Chef Challenge” using NOW Foods ingredients. 

Chef showing us how it's done.

My team won with a take on an avocado toast-clearly all those years watching Iron Chef and the Food Network have paid off! 

The winning dish!
Also forgot to mention that the before our challenge the night before, Kasey from Powercakes made us DELICIOUS protein donuts. I don’t throw around the word delicious paired with protein donuts ever.
Girl, I'd watch your Food Network show. 
I’ve bought many NOW Foods products in the past because it seemed to be good quality and has been a very affordable option for me for supplements, essential oils, and baking products. I’ve bought their products in natural food stores like Whole Foods, on Amazon, or on iHerb. All of their products are free of preservatives or artificial ingredients.

Getting to listen to the NOW Foods CEO Jim Emme talk about the company and hear about its history was really eye-opening. Today it is one of the largest independent manufacturers of natural products in the U.S. with over 1500 different products including foods, supplements, sports nutrition, essential oils, health & beauty products, and a new pet supplement line. 


The company spends very little money on marketing which helps them keep their cost so low for consumers which may be why you’re unfamiliar with the brand. You may recognize their signature orange and white label from health food stores or your own pantry!

NOW is still family-owned since Elwood Richard started the company in 1968 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It still continues its original goal of making healthy, quality, and affordable products. 

When I made it back to my hotel room at the Eaglewood Resort & Spa that night (which was fabulous!) I sifted through two giant bags of NOW Foods products including protein powder, a diffuser and essential oils, and supplements (psst…you can win the same gift bags valued at $520 on my Instagram)

Swag on swag. 

NOW Foods #NOWGetFit Day 2 

The next morning we got up bright and early for a tough group tabata workout with the lovely Kasey from Powercakes. 

The group post-workout

This lady is so much fun and knows how to lead a killer workout. 

After our workout, NOW Foods had created the smoothie bar dreams are made of so we could refuel with our own smoothie creations. 
Can I have this in my apartment every day? 

I got to try out NOW Foods protein powders, MCT oil, amino acids, and more. While enjoying my smoothie, I learned more about the sports nutrition which I was very interested in as an athlete.


NOW Sports uses quality ingredients that are heavily researched and tested. This year NOW Sports will have the Informed-Sport certification which is a globally recognized assurance program by the LGC for anti-doping that certifies that every batch of a supplement product and raw material with the certification logo has been tested for banned substances. Professional and collegiate athletes can use the 150+ products in the NOW Sports line without worrying about the ingredients. I even met a couple awesome Olympic athletes at the event who were NOW Foods ambassadors!  

All the proteins and MCT oils-with the new labels coming out soon!
Later in the morning we headed over to the NOW Foods Operations facility to take a tour of the plant in Bloomingdale, IL (they do public tours monthly FYI!). I was honestly blown away by the level of quality, documentation, and testing. NOW tests each and every batch of raw materials and finished products that come into and leave the facility. All of their products are non-GMO, and their products in the Living Now line are produced in a dedicated gluten-free and allergen-friendly facility. These products are made without the 8 major allergens (including dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, and fish).

Looking chic in my factory gear and hairnet!
So clean and organized. 




As someone who spent the last 7 years working in research labs, I was excited to learn about their Quality Control and Quality Assurance programs as well as see their labs. NOW has an A rating from the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and is one of the first to seek GMP certification in 2000. Their testing goes above and beyond this as I mentioned earlier, making sure that everything that they say is in their products is actually there, free of contamination. 

I used to work with these LCMS machines-but look how many they have!
Also without geeking out too much, their labs were immaculately clean and organized (and yes some of these labs had people working in them). Learning a little about their research to make a stevia that was complete but not bitter-tasting was interesting too.

Research poster on NOW and stevia
Everyone I met from the company and in the factory was friendly too, which is nice to see in a company.



After the tour we headed to the corporate headquarters for lunch catered by Whole Foods which was a dream-like a Whole Foods hot/cold bar without having to weigh your plate! I learned more about NOW Food’s body care products and essential oils and also made my own fitness cleaning spray and sports soak. 

All the Mediterranean goodness on one plate. 



NOW Solutions, their health and beauty care line is made of pure and natural ingredients. Besides being affordable, their essential oils are certified organic and 100% pure, which is tested using strict quality standards. I learned that their essential oils are some of their top-selling products!



One of the fellow influencers asked the CEO Jim why fly a bunch of influencers/bloggers out here and take the time to put on such a nice event for us when he could pay for marketing. He said that we shouldn’t undervalue ourselves and that visiting the company in person is more valuable to him because we can see it all for ourselves and share our experiences with other friends, family, and followers. To him that was more important than any TV commercial. So I left the weekend 100% trusting the NOW Foods brand and knowing that when I’m buying their product, I’m getting exactly what the label says.

Some of my swag that YOU can win too!
Again, I’m partnering with NOW Foods for a giveaway to win the same amazing swag bag I received with over $520 worth of products including an oil diffuser, body care products, protein powder, baking products, and more. Head over to my Instagram to enter!


What decides what natural products you purchase-quality or price, or both? What is a brand you trust?