Week 3: A Few Good Men (Steelers!)

Ah yes, I have been counting down to this past weekend for a little while now:  Steeler’s Women’s Training Camp yinz (Pittsburgh-ese)!!  The recap follows (spoiler alert: it was FABULOUS!) but first… the rest of Week 3 in marathon training:

{Monday} personal training w/Jake {Tuesday} unplanned REST – so. very. tired. {Wednesday} 3 mile am run + personal training w/Jake in the pm – and a deadlift PR of 105 pounds, what what!! {Thursday} 4 mile run FAIL… the prior day’s 2-a-day proved to be too much. I got one mile in on the run and walked the mile back home. Shake it off. {Friday} REST and travel {Saturday} 8 mile run {12 total weekly miles}.

And that my friends, brings me to Sunday!  SteelersTrainingcampI got up at the ridiculous hour of 6:30 am (anything for my dudes) to travel to Latrobe, PA from Pittsburgh which is about an hour. The itinerary started around 8 am but before we were called to order, I had a little business to take care of, connecting with Steelers Kicker Shaun Suisham (feel free to swoon). ShaunHe was waiting to come in and so very nicely hung out and took pictures with a few of us!  The program itself started with the Steelers marketing director greeting us, introducing the current and alumni players who’d be leading our drills and running through the days itinerary.  My girls and I were in the green stars wristband group – together for the 3rd year in a row. Do I have to tell you the marketing director actually said to watch out for the “”Green Stars” group?  Nope, didn’t think so… we’ve made a name for ourselves ;) .  After introductions we were led onto the field for stretching and calisthenics.

Photo source:  Steelers.com

Photo source: Steelers.com

We were split into 4 groups and would spend 45 minutes in each area, led by a Steelers player, then switch off until lunch at noon.  My group started with Greg Lloyd, former linebacker #95.  He led a prominent defense in the 90s and was tough on us – but hilarious.  Following defensive drills we moved on to offense with former running back, Barry Foster.  Also pretty tough but great.  Rounding out the day were offensive and defensive line drills with Tunch Ilkin and Keith Gary and our morning ended with kicking and punting.  At that point, Shaun Suisham had been called away so we missed him teaching us.  Lucky for me I snagged a pic early on! :)  Drills

After each drill we are able to take pictures with the players on the field.  So very cool! What other professional sports organization does this?!  The players are from top left Tunch Ilkin, middle Barry Foster, top right Greg Warren (current Steelers long snapper), bottom left Greg Lloyd, bottom right Keith Gary.

WomensTrainingCampAnd if you’re wondering why I’m cracking up in both bottom photos (never mind because I’m a super fun and hilarious individual) it’s because both of these gentlemen teased me for being short and graciously offered to “bend down” for my photo op.  HA!

At noon we went inside for lunch and autographs with the morning alumni players.  We are always treated so generously with food so picked up a bagged lunch consisting of a sandwich, potato salad, fruit salad, cookies, chips/popcorn, and unlimited supplies of cold beverages such as Pepsi, Gatorade, and water.

Seeing as this was our 3rd time attending we know how the flow of the day goes.  We ate quickly then made our way to the back room where they sign autographs. With over 300 women in attendance, you can imagine the line gets quite long!  We landed solidly in the front.  I had a Training Camp 2014 football I had the players sign to commemorate the day.


We skipped the afternoon portion of events which consisted of a highlights video and presentation (it’s essentially the same every year) in favor of naps and phone charging in the car!  Then it was time to head onto the field for a VIP view of practice from the sidelines.


left: Coach Mike Tomlin (yum) right: another of Kicker Shaun Suisham (double yum!)

Top: QB Big Ben! Bottom: RB Leveon Bell

Top: QB Big Ben!
Bottom: RB Leveon Bell

After many photo ops we left to get in line for current player autographs.  We never know who they are going to get as it’s dependent on availability so you basically just hang out in line.  We picked up our swag bags, completion certificates and got to meet Lawrence Timmons (defense #94) and LaGarette Blount (don’t know, don’t care – he played for the Patriots last year and was a huge a$$, #nofilter I was not impressed).

This was followed by dinner and I was waiting for my steak alllllll day!! Yes, STEAK!  So yummy.  Along with corn on the cob, pasta salad, baked beans and umm, cheesecake?! I worked out for 3 hours, I deserved that sweet potato cheesecake ;) 

It was overcast all day with little droplets periodically but the storms came as we departed.  Luckily we got in a full day of camp and an enjoyable experience beforehand. Outside of getting to meet the players for our favorite organization this is the best way to spend quality time with my girlfriends.  CampI can see us continue to make this an annual tradition for as long as they’ll have us!!  As for the Green Stars? Yeah, they saw us coming :)

Who’s a football fan?  Do you have a favorite team?

Friday Five: Marathon Training Goals

Now that we are beyond the half way point of the year my DC Trifecta partners -Courtney, Cynthia and I thought we’d use “GOALS” for this weeks Friday Five theme. Whether checking in on your 2014 goals or setting later half of the year goals, interpret as you wish!

It is no secret my primary goal for this year is to run a marathon.  Now that I’m just a long run away from completing Week 3 of training, I’m sharing my marathon training goals for this weeks Friday Five:  marathon training goals

1.  Shape up!  I gained about 15 pounds over the course of a year, a good bit of that while injured.  After being cleared for activity and training for Pittsburgh, I lost about half that poundage.  While it is more important for me to be healthy and strong, and not particularly focused on scale – I personally perform better (ie. run faster) when I’m leaner.  I’m focusing a lot on strength this go round and am maintaining a personal training schedule to keep me on track.

2.  Eat right!  In order to accomplish #1, I need to refocus my efforts on nutrition and fueling.  Summer is actually easier because it is so hot I rely on fruits and veggies for meals.  Oh, and I just discovered wheat berries.  My new addiction – yum!!

3.  Determine my race pace!  Ok, I know I’m now a certified RRCA coach and have run a bazillion races but I have no idea what my “race pace” is.  I average about 9-9:20 for half marathons so I need to see how the next couple of weeks go and figure out what I am aiming for.  This is not to say I want to finish my marathon in x, y, or z but in order to effectively train, I should have a pace in mind to work towards.

4.  Stay healthy!  Duh.  No repeats of last winter…

5.  Suck it up buttercup.  When I decided to marathon a year ago I intentionally picked a spring marathon.  One, to coincide with my birthday and two, to avoid training in the DC summer.  Well… sometimes life just works out the way it works out.  I’ve managed to beat the heat a bit thus far but that lucky streak won’t continue.  So, I’m committed to early long runs on Saturday and will utilize the treadmill throughout the week for shorter runs if it’s just too humid.  Otherwise, deal with it ;)

I am SO freaking excited because Steelers Women’s Training Camp weekend has finally arrived.  Make sure you’re checking me out on Instagram and Twitter for all the up to the minute action!

Did you set goals for 2014?   How’re you doing with them? any big weekend plans?  DC_linkup

Week 2: Fitting It All In

Week 2 of marathon training is in the books – the last of my “ease” in weeks to start this process.  It was a busy week with travel and such but I made it work and managed to fit in 3 quality runs as prescribed.  Week 3 is when it starts to really ramp up so I need to refocus my nutrition efforts and make sure I’m getting proper rest (ie. sleep) while dialing down some activities (to the best of my summer loving ability!!)  run_margarita

But first to recap last week, which was a GOOD one!

Monday: Body Pump

Tuesday:  Massage.  I have the absolute BEST massage therapist.  Allison at Mint DC located at the Hilton (you’re welcome).  I try to go every few months as budget allows but will spring for once a month during training.  She. is. awesome. and I felt ready to go after 80 minutes :)  MINT

Wednesday: 3 mile run.  Hump day was a big day.  Knowing I had evening plans I got up early to get my run on (I know, right?! me – getting up early to run!!)  I was able to get in a slow and sweaty 3 miler (already so humid at 7 am). Wed3mile

It was beyond worth it though because as I mentioned last week the evening went a little something like this:

Washington Kastles – Martina Hingis / Venus Williams doubles


Martina Hingis, whaaaat?!


Fellow EleVen By Venus Ambassadors! Mar and Cynthia

Fellow EleVen By Venus Ambassadors! Mar and Cynthia


Meeting Venus!

Meeting Venus!

Thursday: REST. I worked half day then hopped on a late afternoon flight to Boston for a long weekend with my bestie.

Friday: 4 mile run. My friend had to work so I spent the day in Harvard Square catching up with some peeps and brought my running gear with me.  The weather in Beantown was perfect for a late afternoon run (what DC humidity?)  HarvardSq

Saturday: REST. and, libations ;)

Sunday:  8 mile run.  Another beautiful weather day in the city.  I was able to run at 11 am along the Charles River Reservation.  So peaceful and beautiful.  8mile

Total Weekly Miles:  15 – Only 14 more weeks to go :)

Who traveled or ran (or both!) this weekend? 

Friday Five: Marathon Training Favorites

TGIF!!  Cynthia, Courtney and I went with a theme this week of Friday Favorites.  We love these general topics because you guys do an amazing job interpreting them. The linkup never disappoints!  My Friday Favorites is the “Marathon Training Edition”.  Since that’s pretty much all I’m going to be about the next 14 weeks!  DC_linkupFavorite way to hydrate:  I am an H2O girl all day long but when you run long and hard you need electrolytes.  When I was a ZOOMA Ambassador this past spring they provided us with samples from Ultima Replenisher and I really enjoy it.  I’ve tried NUUN and other things but this has come out on top as my preference.

Favorite Long Run:  It is no secret I love to travel and have been doing a lot of it lately.  I have several long run/races on tap this summer with locales in Boston, LA, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Beach.  The one cool thing (no pun intended) about summer training is “oh the places you will go!”  Case in point, my 8 miler this weekend gets this view:  BostonFavorite running song:  “Latch” by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith.  I am in L-O-V-E with this song!!  Just love.  Give it a listen and you’ll understand why.  I hit repeat over and over.

Favorite workout gear:  Right now I’m loving all the pieces I’ve picked up through EleVen By Venus.  My absolute favorite is the Over-ruled tank, which naturally I sported when I got to meet THE Venus Williams Wednesday night (say whaaaat?!)  VenusWilliamsAnd I cropped Cynthia out (sorry, not sorry).  She was in DC for the Washington Kastles match and played doubles w/Martina Hingis and a singles set (more on this next week!)  It was an honor meeting her and an even BIGGER honor to be a Team EleVen By Venus Brand Ambassador (get 10% OFF using code Team11MarA).  She reads all our social content and even said to me “you look taller online, I didn’t think you’d be this short.”  True Story :)

Favorite post workout snack:   Duh, KIND Snacks.  And if you didn’t read my review of their new products last week well, ahem – go check it out. And KIND was “kind” enough to offer one of my readers their own snacks to try. Enter through Rafflecopter below for an 8 pack of assorted KIND Snack bars.  Giveaway runs through Monday, July 21 at 11:59 pm.  Winner announced on Tuesday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Who has fun weekend plans?? What are some of YOUR favorite things?!  Who’s jealous of my meeting w/Venus? ;)

Week 1: Done and Done

Last week was a bit of a blur.  I had a handful of work and personal commitments which made for a long week.  All that said Week 1 of marathon training is in the books… with only 15 more to go ;) .  This week won’t be any better in the “being around” department as I’m heading to Boston at weeks end, but I’m looking forward to some coolers temps both in DC and in Beantown so trying to fit it all in will at least be more comfortable.

And it goes a little something like this:

Sunday:  Personal training w/Jake.  I’m up to 90 pound deadlifts and squats. That’s bad ass :)  and you can check out my fitness snapshots from last week here.

Monday:  REST and a date with Mr. and Mrs. Carter.  Beyonce_JayZ2

This was a FABULOUS show! even with terrible traffic to Baltimore and head hitting the pillow at 2 am (gulp).

Tuesday: 3 mile run.  26:40 on the treadmill.  I have said before I am not one of those “dreadmill” haters so I will be using this often for my shorter runs during the marathon training cycle to combat the DC humidity.

Wednesday: REST

Thursday:  4 mile run. 38:32 at 7 am!!! Yes, you heard that right.  I was off site Wednesday overnight and into early evening Thursday so met up with a colleague for a morning run.  I’ll be doing more of those too!

Friday:  REST. My body was done after 2 days of non stop work events so I worked from home and tried to relax and let myself catch up on much needed downtime.

Saturday: 30 minutes elliptical and upper body weight training

Sunday: 7 mile run. 1:04:54 on the treadmill.  Sunday was brutally HOT so I ended up on the treadmill for my long run of 7 miles.  I *think*.  I say that because I ran about a mile and a half before my hand accidentally hit the stop button and I had to start over, which I didn’t realize until the treadmill stopped moving (annoyed) and never looked at the time or mileage.  However, I was watching the extra time portion of the World Cup so I knew my general timeframe and distance.  I ran 5.5 officially to round it out. Oomph!  MarOnTheRun7


How are your training weeks going if you’re in process? Anything else fun to share? :)  Friday Five theme:  Friday Favorites!

Friday Five: Fitness Snapshots

Several months ago we did Fitness Snapshots for Friday Five.  It was SO much fun we’d thought we’d bring it back this week.  My first week of marathon training was a little off. I was at the National Harbor in MD for 2 days for a work retreat so moved the bulk of my training to the weekend (and there may have been a Beyonce/JayZ concert in there). Getting to 5 was certainly more of a challenge, but hey – I got a post out of it anyway ;) .  DC_linkup

Join me, Cynthia and Courtney with your Fitness Snapshots and tell us how your week went! TGIF!!!!



foamrolltreadmillrun4milerunAnd because the rest of my workouts have yet to come (including a training session Saturday and a long run Sunday) my final snapshot is a throwback to last Friday from the race photos for the Autism Speaks 5K: AutismSpeaks5k

Do the Kind Thing…

Disclaimer:  KIND Snacks provided me with samples to try in exchange for my honest review which follows.

Several weeks ago I wrote about what was in my gym bag.  It was a fun Friday Five for us and turned out to be one of my most popular and viewed posts to date!  In that post, I raved about a new discovery after standing in a lo(oooo)ng line at Whole Foods – KIND Snack bars. I’ve been using them as my go to post workout snack and might I say am addicted.  KIND

That post actually captured their attention as they reached out to me asking if I’d give some of their new products a try.  You don’t have to ask me twice!!  After just a few days wait I received a box of samples.  The bars were from their Nuts & Spices and STRONG & KIND lines.  KINDbars

Some notes from KIND:

KIND Nuts & Spices bars are made with whole nuts flavored with delicious spices and have only 5g of sugar (or less) (Available in eight flavors)

  • Point of Difference: No artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols here! Just a delicious bar that’s lower in sugar naturally
  • Key Benefit: A good source of protein, high in fiber and lower in sugar

STRONG & KIND is our first-ever savory snack line featuring 10 grams of soy-and-whey free protein made from ingredients you can see & pronounce (Available in five flavors)

  • Point of Difference: Bold flavors; 10g of protein
  • Key Benefit: Because not all protein is created equal, we use whole almonds, seeds and pea protein to give you 10g of natural protein and all nine essential amino acids

If you’ve paid any attention to what was in the box and know me but AT ALL, you can probably guess what I went for first – the Dark Chocolate Almond bar.  Correction: devoured it.  Yummy is a delicious understatement!  Then I had the sads because I ate the only one!

Because I was fighting a summer cold for a bit, ending up with limited taste buds, I wasn’t able to try the other bars for awhile.  But last week I turned my attention to the STRONG & KIND bars.  I tried the Honey BBQ one first.  It was “different”.  There was a strong punchy flavor to it and I can’t say I really enjoyed it.  I know these bars are intended to be savory, so I expected there to be a different kind of flavor but the “smokiness” wasn’t enjoyable to me.  KIND_STRONG

Next up was the Honey Mustard.  And… that’s more like it!  It was like a pretzel dipped in mustard!  You could definitely taste the robustness of the mustard seed.  I love mustard so two thumbs up for me there.  The last of the STRONG & KIND I tried was the Thai Sweet Chili.  Which was just that… sweet and chili flavored. A nice combination of crunchy, spicy and sweet.  I really enjoyed this one actually.  I’m anxious to try the Roasted Jalapeno!

Finally, I was sitting on the Caramel Almond and Sea Salt Nuts & Spices bar because I tend to really only like caramel with chocolate.  But then I broke off a piece.  My eyes may have rolled to the back of my head.  So. Freaking. Good.  Just  the right amount of sweet and salty.  The clean, wholesome ingredients is a bonus.  KIND already had a fan in me so overall I wasn’t disappointed in the bars.  While I liked a couple of the flavors I don’t think I’m a huge fan of the savory STRONG & KIND ones yet.  You will have to be the judge for yourself.  

Naturally, I decided that the Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond was my favorite and I had to have more.  Last weekend I scoured the aisles at Target and Whole Foods but couldn’t find that flavor specifically.  No matter, I discovered a new one – Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate (though this is from their Protein Plus line of bars).  Now you guys know I only do product reviews for things I am generally interested in so it should come as no surprise that I bought a box (ok, maybe 2) and will continue to use my hard earned cash on this stuff because I really love it.  ???????????????????????????????

So… if I haven’t yet convinced you to go out and get yourself some KIND Snack Bars.  What’re you waiting for?

Disclaimer:  I was provided with samples from KIND Snacks to review.  All opinions are my own.  Visit them at http://www.kindsnacks.com/ .

Ready to Run!

First things first, I hope you all had a marvelous July 4th weekend (well, my USA peeps!)  Mine started out on a very positive note.  Colleen, fellow ZOOMA Ambassador and blogger invited me to be her partner in crime at the Autism Speaks 5K. We were the Secret Service detail for President Woodrow Wilson during the race.  This volunteer assignment was two-fold.  One, to promote the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in October and two, to support the race’s charity partner in Autism Speaks.  AS5kWe started near the front of the pack and ran a little under a mile before we hopped out and cheered on other runners offering “Presidential Power” high fives and getting big smiles and laughs from the racers.  AS5KIt was an out and back course so once some of the front runners started to return we hopped back in and ran the last quarter mile (downhill!!) to the finish line.  Woody waited at the finish for other runners continuing to give out high fives and take photos.  I gotta say, it was really amazing.  Seeing the smiles and laughs (and cries!) was simply heartwarming.  If you have never volunteered for a race or a charity, I really really recommend that you do some time.  Participating in a cause bigger than you is priceless.  I hope to join the Presidential detail again ;) AS5KLooking forward, this week will be a little challenging as I have a couple of work days off site AND marathon training has commenced.  I repeat, marathon training has commenced.  I am using the 14 week plan I had through my winter distance training program – modified to include 2 additional weeks.  I’m looking to get in 2-3 quality runs this week.

Having learned a few things from injury the last training cycle, I’ll continue to personal train once a week for the duration.  Jake and I already have a plan and will focus on injury prevention and strength maintenance.  I’m happy to be continuing my work with him (have I mentioned how awesome he is?  I know you’re reading, Jake!) and glad I took the last month off from running – only getting short 3-5 milers in here and there.  I’m feeling refreshed heading into this training cycle and will keep you all posted as it gets going!!

Anyone training for a Fall race?  Which one? 

P.S.  If you are joining us for Friday Five – the theme this week is “Fitness Snapshots” so show us your workouts this week.

Friday Five: 4th of July!

Happy Birthday America!!!!  4thofJuly

Annnnnnd, TGIF!!  Since the 4th just so happened to be on a Friday – Cynthia, Courtney and I decided to use it as the backdrop for this weeks Friday Five.  I hope you all have some pleasant July 4th weekend plans!!  As for me, the doctor has prescribed a reasonable amount of relaxation and fun times this weekend.

ONE:  Running with Woody!!  Woodrow Wilson that is.  I’ve been tapped to join the Secret Service detail for the 28th President of the United States at the Autism Speaks 5K this morning.  What? You’ve never seen a dead President? ;) This is all to promote the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in October and support one of it’s charity partners.  I ran the WWBHM in 2011 as my first ever half marathon so it’s very near and dear to my heart, as is this charity.  WoodrowWilson

TWO:  There is no better way to celebrate the founding of our country than with its national pastime – baseball.  Though my allegiances are with my former hometown teams (Pirates/Red Sox) what better way to spend Independence Day than with some Washington Nationals baseball action, hot dogs and beer?!  An American treat!

THREE:  Playtime is over.  Yes, this weekend marks the last of my summer *rest*.  With my ailment last week I missed a bunch of personal training sessions.  We made up for them this week but my random miles and focus on strength training comes to an end with the start of marathon training.  My plan officially starts in 2 weeks but I’ve modified it to incorporate 2 weeks of “pre-season” work (ie. get me back used to running a few times a week consistently).  And since I’m speaking of rest…

FOUR:  Pool. Time.  I visited our community’s pool last Sunday – the first time this season.  As I was trying to get over my summer cold it was really the only known cure, right?! ;) .  I forgot how nice it is to just relax and chill with an iced coffee and my Kindle.  Definitely more of that this weekend is in store.


FIVE:  Fireworks!!  Until I moved last year I had the most amazing view of the Washington Monument, Capital and Fireworks.  While I gained more space, a nicer place, my own washer and dryer and a better commute I lost this view.  This is the one day of the year I miss it (insert sad face here).  I opted out of a work event this year which has perfect viewing for them.  Crowds and tourists drive me batty so I haven’t made an actual plan yet to see the show but love the annual display in our Nations Capital.

I hope you all have wonderful holiday and even better long weekend. What”s one thing you are looking forward to?  Celebrate America!! (responsibly) DC_linkup

Coach Mar Says…

Wake up wake up wake up its the first of the month… You can pretend I didn’t just break out Bone Thugs n’ Harmony, but I did ;)

Welcome to July!  I don’t know where the heck June went, but another page has turned to usher in a new month.  As you may know (or not) I officially became an RRCA Certified Running Coach this spring.  Yay!!  While I’m not quite there yet to offer full fledge coaching services (you know, day job) I am excited to showcase some new enhancements on this here blog.  You should see a new tab on the menu bar titled “Coach Mar”.  CoachMar

At the start of each new month I will offer my “Running Tip of the Month”.  Beginning next month (August) I will also feature “Coach Mar Says” where I will answer YOUR questions.  To submit a question complete the contact form on that page.  Of course, if you ever have a question that needs an (almost) immediate response or have requests on what you’d like to see/hear more about, post in the comments and I’ll see what I can do ;)

Marathon training is going to keep me pretty busy the next 4 months and it is going to be a HOT summer and training cycle.  Gulp.  I’m getting myself ready to go (and thank goodness I got sick before I was in the depths of training) so for July I’m giving you:  RunningTips

  • Acclimate.  It takes your body about 2 weeks to adapt to the heat and know how to cool itself.  Wear light colored clothing, start s-l-o-w to get used to it and adjust your pace as necessary.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint ;)
  • Wear Sunscreen.  I have to remind myself about this all the time.  Just because the sun isn’t shining or it isn’t blazing hot doesn’t mean it can’t affect you.  Aside from avoiding runners tan (wink) protect your skin daily from dangerous UV rays with an SPF of at least 15 and be sure it’s waterproof.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  This really goes without saying.  For workouts 45 minutes or less, water will suffice.  Anything longer you should supplement with electrolytes.  Sports drinks or other electrolyte replenishers work well.  My personal favorite is Ultima Replenisher, though there are many out there.  Find what you like and can tolerate best.
  • Find a shaded route.  If your normal route isn’t treeless, switch things up for the summer!  If you just don’t have that option, see tips above and don’t be afraid to take your workout indoors on days where it is really, really hot.
  • Know the warning signs.  This goes without saying but if you feel faint, dizzy or extremely thirsty – stop what your doing.  No need to be a hero as these are symptoms of Heat Exhaustion.  More serious symptoms such as confusion and or loss of consciousness are signs of Heat Stroke and medical attention is needed immediately.  In all instances of outdoor activity, wear a Road ID or carry identification.

That’s what I’ve got for you this month – Happy July!!!  How do you adjust to summer running or outdoor activities??