Run The Great Wide Somewhere

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere and running is how I'm finding the courage to explore this wonderful world.

TotR: Fueling on the Run

For our Tuesdays on the Run topic, we’re discussing running fuel options and strategies.  My co-hosts Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs have some great posts too, so make sure to check them out and find a few new ideas to keep you going on those long runs.  I’ve refreshed an old post on this subject.

When I first started running 15 years ago, the closest thing to running fuel used to keep your energy up during a long run was Gatorade.  Maybe there were some gels or something available, but because the internet was new (can you imagine…how did people obsess about things back then?) and I was young and only a casual runner, I didn’t know about them.  In fact, the first half marathon I ran (walked, cried), only had one Gatorade stop.

Fast forward 15 years and the options for fueling on the run are just about limitless.  The general idea is that your muscles hold enough glycogen (the easiest energy source for your muscles) to last for about 45-60-90 minutes (depending on what you read) of exercise.  The theory is that one of the reasons runners “hit the wall” and suddenly feel out of energy and like they can’t lift their pinkie fingers, much less these 150 pound weights that used to be their feet, is that they have run out of glycogen.  Your body can be trained to use glycogen more sparingly (during your training runs).  You can also delay when you run out of glycogen by replenishing some of it on the run.

The first option is to use real food.  A bagel or banana or snickers bar or peanut butter crackers or just a sandwich will all do the trick if you like them and your stomach can handle them and you have somewhere to carry them.  I love the idea, but my stomach rebels at the thought of solid food during a run.  Not to mention the mess solid food would make in my pockets during the run.  But I do know of some runners who carry sandwiches in their pockets!

Next up is the grandaddy of all running fuel.  Gels.  Now, I need to admit here that I have never even once been able to bring myself to try one of these.  It just sounds gross.  Now, if they were just little packets of butter cream frosting I could get on board with it, but if I’m going to eat a bunch of concentrated carbs and calories it had better taste great.

The first fuel I tried when my long runs got past six miles (after one terrible training run where I somehow managed to hit the wall at five miles) was Sports Beans.  The kind I tried were made by JellyBelly.  I do like jelly beans (um, I’m not sure anyone is out there who does not like jelly beans) so I these seemed much more approachable than the strangely textured gels.  I bought a couple of flavors (they also come with and without caffeine, so make sure you are aware of which kind you’re getting if you don’t want any surprises) and tucked them in my pocket for my next run.  The first time I tried them, I HATED them.  I was using the orange flavor, which is my favorite jelly bean flavor.  I don’t know if it was a bad pack or if I was having a bad day, but they tasted awful.  Way too salty and weird.  And I needed a TON of water to wash even two beans down.

Well, since I’d already bought a few more packs, I tried the fruit punch flavor on the next run.  Somehow these were much better.  I may have just been used to the slightly salty taste or maybe I was just having a better day.  I still needed to time my jelly bean fuel intake with water breaks, because I couldn’t get them down without a swig of water but they tasted a lot better than the orange ones.  It was kind of a reward to keep me pushing through the miles.

I stuck with the beans for a few months and then I found Honey Stinger.  They are organic and all natural, which appealed to me.  They are made using tapioca syrup and honey which are easily digestible carbohydrates.  They taste great (I love orange blossom the best) and best of all, the chews are so soft and moist that I can take them without water.

These have been my one-and-only for running fuel ever since I found them.  On a long run (over six miles for me) I take one chew each mile (unless it’s a race or a hard run for some reason, then I take more).  One pack is sufficient for me for up to a 15k and I use about 1 1/2 packs for a half marathon.  So far, no upset stomach, even when I take them with Gatorade (which is a no-no for some of the gels).

I got the first couple packs at a running store, but have found the best price on a little box of them at  If you want to check it out, you can use my referral link, which will give both of us a $10 credit towards purchase, or feel free to just go straight there without referral at

Like most things in life, I’ve found that the perfect running fuel is different for every runner.  Some people prefer nothing at all and each brand and type has its own die-hard fans.  The best advice I can give is to try out a few things on your training runs LONG before your race to figure out what works for you.  It’s much better to have a miserable training run because a new fuel didn’t sit well than to have your hard-earned race day ruined.

What is your go-to running fuel?  Have you tried any that you hated?  Do you use them for every run or just over a certain distance?

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Disney Days: Tomorrowland Speedway

One of our go-to rides at Walt Disney World is the Tomorrowland Speedway.  It’s loud, it’s noisy and in the summer it’s really hot but there is not much more exciting for the under twelve set than driving your own race car.  It’s the first thing Eli wants to do every time we go.


I have memories of riding the race cars myself as a kid and how grown up I felt the first time I was tall enough to ride one alone!  The height requirement is 32 inches to drive with someone over 54 inches in the car or they must be 54 inches to drive alone (whew, I barely made it!).  At three, Eli’s tall enough to drive with one of us.

The ride now has FP+ and it is usually available even on the day of your visit.  It’s handicapped accessible as long as you can transfer from the wheelchair or ECV into the car.  The cars are pretty low to the ground, so if you have knee or hip problems, it could be hard to get up and down.

The cast members direct you to a loading zone that’s numbered.  There are no gates, so it’s a good idea to keep a hold of little ones (kind of like in a parking lot) while you load and unload so they don’t stumble or wander in front of a car. 

When you finish your ride and return to the loading zone, the cast member will tell you which numbered zone to return the car to so you can exit and the next guest can load.


The cars fit two people easily and have one steering wheel.  There is one seat belt that fastens across both passengers.  There is a gas pedal in the center, so it can be operated by either person in the car.


With little ones, it’s best to let them do the steering (if they want to) and let the adult operate the gas pedal.  You push down to go and let it up to brake.  There is a guide rail track under the car, so while it can get kind of jerky if you have a crazy kid like me who likes to slam the car back and forth, there’s no risk of hitting other cars on each side.


The only rules are to leave a car’s distance between the your car and the one in front of you, no bumping each other and stay seated in your car.  You wind around the track and get a couple of great views of Space Mountain along the way.  The cars are gasoline powered, which is why they are loud and stinky but really it’s a lot of fun.

This is a great chance for little ones to have a low-intensity ride that’s a lot of fun.  It’s also great for kids who aren’t really thrilled with dark rides (Eli’s getting over it but he’s still a bit skittish about rides that have any dark parts).  There are always those who would like to see it replaced with a quieter, less fume-filled ride (like the Cars ride at Disneyland) but I love the nostalgia of it and it is still a great attraction!

Have you ever ridden it?  Would you like to see it replaced or do you want it to stay the same?


Reasons Change

Back in 2008 when I started this weight loss journey, I wrote down a series of reasons I wanted to lose weight on a notecard.  I wanted to write them down and carry them around so that I’d have something to refer to when I was tempted to give up and get off track.


I’m thinking that I need to do it again, but I know that I need to update it because some of those reasons have changed.  And I need to celebrate the Non Scale Victory (NSV) of all those reasons to change that I’ve accomplished!  And while being 50 pounds overweight is so much less painful than being 100 pounds overweight was, there are still a lot of reasons I want to get to my goal weight and I’d like to remind myself of those.

Here are my 2008 reasons and whether I’ve accomplished them or not: Before2008

  • To be healthy and see my kids and eventual grandkids grow up – so far so good, but I still have room to improve.
  • To be able to get on an airplane without worrying about needing a seatbelt extender – I never actually did have to use one, but it was close.  Now I don’t even think about it.
  • To be able to ride all rollercoasters and rides without worrying if I’ll fit – I never actually didn’t fit, but I always worried.  Now I don’t even think about it, I know I’ll fit on any ride.
  • To be able to buy clothes in non plus sizes – Yes!  I am now a comfortable size 12 and can even wear mediums in some brands.
  • To pick my clothes based on my style, not just to hide my shape – I’m maybe 75% of the way there on this one.
  • To be fit enough to run and hike and do adventures without worrying about dropping dead – Yes!  Five half marathons later, I feel like I can do anything if I train properly.
  • To be able to get and stay pregnant – Yes!  Eli is the result of that.  And we’re DONE, so this one can come off the list!  IMG_3751

I’m really proud that so many of these don’t apply anymore but it’s time to get some new ones.  Here are my 2014 reasons to get the rest of the way to my goal:  2013

  • To be healthy and see my kids and eventual grandkids grow up.
  • To pick my clothes based on my style, not just to hide my shape.
  • To be as fast as I can be without being held back by my weight.
  • To be able to run a full marathon without getting injured.
  • To know that I’ve done everything I can do to lower my blood pressure and keep my heart healthy.
  • To be strong.
  • To have energy and feel good.
  • To be a good example for my kids.
  • To be fit enough to hike Rim-to-Rim at the Grand Canyon.


Hmm.  What am I missing?  What are your reasons to get to or stay at your goal weight and fitness level?



Saturday Update: This Fall We Get Fit!

I’m gradually digging myself out of my summer funk and the intense stress of having Eli in the hospital is starting to fade.  It’s time to get serious about my diet and exercise plan if I want to reach my speed goals at the WDW 10k in January.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still super proud of myself for losing over fifty pounds so far.  And I know plateaus happen.  But I’ve been stuck in the same ten pound range for getting close to two years and I know I can do better.  I still have between 30 and 50 pounds to get to my goal weight, so I still have a lot of work to do.

I’ve tried the diet bet three times and failed all three times.  I’ve joined Weight Watchers several times and the point tracking just wasn’t working.  I tried low carb, healthy carb, and my own patented “don’t eat crap” diet.  I tried moderation in diet.  Throughout this I’ve exercised 3-5 days a week at a high intensity.  I added strength training which helped me maintain but didn’t make the pounds drop away.

So, because I’m a scientist at heart, it’s time to try something new.  After thinking about it for a full year, I decided to join Beachbody and to give their Shakeology and PiYo programs a try.  PiYo is a set of DVDs that combine Pilates and Yoga to help stretch and strengthen.  I’m going to continue to run 3x a week and add back in my speedwork as soon as it cools off so this seemed like a nice way to balance out my workouts.


Shakeology is a powdered supplement that you can add to water, milk and fruits or peanut butter to make a smoothie for a recovery drink or meal replacement.  I had been enjoying having a protein powder/peanut butter/almond milk smoothie for a while but have gotten slack about it.  I’ve heard tons of things both good and bad about Shakeology so I figured I’d give it a one month try.  I got half chocolate packets and half vanilla packets so I can report back on which I like better.

And, because if you sign up as a coach you get a bigger discount, I went ahead and did that too.  It feels strange calling myself a coach since I’ve never done one of their workouts.  I am hoping to get a group of people who also are ready to give this program a try together for an accountability and support group.  I set up a “secret” facebook group called This Fall We Get Fit for whoever wants to join me on a three month challenge.  I’ll be doing PiYo and Shakeology but anyone who wants to commit to a three month accountability and support program using any of the Beachbody products is welcome to join in.


If you’ve been thinking about any of the Beachbody stuff and you want to learn more or join up, here’s the link to my coach page.  Some of the other workout programs they have are more intense cardio and strength like Insanity and P90X and some are gentle like Tai Cheng.  There are a lot to choose from and I’d be happy to research and discuss if you want to learn more.

I can’t promise it will work for me, much less for you, but if you’re a regular reader, you know that I always say: you only fail if you quit trying!  So, I’m going to pick myself up, have a little faith in myself and try something new and trust that three months from now, I’ll be closer to my weight and fitness goals than I am today.  If you want to join an accountability group with me but don’t want to do Beachbody, I’ve also started a general Facebook group called Adventures Through Fitness.  I’d love to have some company on this journey!


Friday Five: 5 Ways to Reclaim Your Mojo

Today’s Friday Five with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What is a free week so we get to choose our own topic.  Sometimes that makes it harder to write posts but sometimes it’s nice to just sit and get inspired.  It only took about 15 seconds for me to decide that I wanted to write about five ways to reclaim your mojo.


It’s no secret that I can’t stand the heat, humidity, bugs and brutal sun of the summer.  The only good things about the summer are the afternoon thunderstorms and water activities (not simultaneously of course).  And this has been a bad summer.  So not only am I not working out, I honestly don’t FEEL like running, working out or eating well.

I’ve got the equivalent of a two-year old in my head stomping her feet and insisting that she doesn’t want to do it and no one is going to make her do it.  Fortunately I also have another, more grown up attitude that recognizes that this petulant behavior is only going to hurt myself and isn’t going to get me to my goals.  So, I am aware that I need to change my behavior AND my attitude, but how to go about it?

Here are the five things that I’m putting in place on Monday (yes, I know I should do it today but I’m giving my inner toddler the weekend to get the tantrum out of my system) so I can get my fitness mojo back:

  1. Try something new.  I’m always more excited when I get to try something shiny and new.  The first time I did speed work it was like running all over again.  The first time I did Weight Watchers it was fun and easy.  So, after reading about it and thinking about it for over a year, I’ve decided to give part of the Beach Body program a try.  I bought a starter kit with Shakeology and the PiYo program which is like Pilates and Yoga and Core stuff to help balance out my running.  I know Beach Body is one of those things that people either hate or love but I figure it can’t hurt to give it a try.  I’m actually feeling excited to see what it’s all about (if you hate it, PLEASE don’t mess with my mojo with negative comments just yet!).  CIndypink
  2. Get some new gear.  There’s nothing like a new running skirt/shirt/shoes/watch to make me look forward to getting out there and running.  I have some new shirts from InkNBurn to try and a cool new runDisney shirt I got nice and cheap in an online garage sale that just came in the mail.  And I’ve got a custom sparkleskirt that I’m getting ready to get made for me soon.  Cinderella-Slipper
  3. Plan a trip.  I know some people hate trip planning, but I just thrive on the research and details.  I’ve got a bunch of trips that I am way behind on the details with.  We are going to do a short trip in October to Disney for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, then a full week at Disney Thanksgiving Week plus a week in San Diego in October.  Time to get my planning hat on!  Cinderella's_Carriage_Close
  4. Focus on my goals.  I want to lose weight for lots of reasons including my health, my appearance and my athletic performance.  I need to visualize myself succeeding and to put more value on that future feeling of success than on the present desire to relax on the couch with a bag of chips.  I think it’s time to write out my reasons for losing weight again (although happily they’ve changed a lot since the last time I did that when I was 50 pounds heavier than I am today). fairy-godmother
  5. Get some partners in crime success.  I tend to do my training alone and am pretty consistent about starting diet plans alone as well.  I tell the whole world about it but I don’t tend to have a specific accountability partner.  This time around, I think I’d like to find a few people to do regular check-ins and updates so I have more incentive (my ego!) and support to stick with it.  I’m still not exactly sure who and how, but I’m going to think on it some this weekend. Cindybirds

So, that’s how I’m planning on getting excited about fitness, running and weight loss again.  I know that with the smell of crushed acorns and the first cool, crisp breeze of the fall, my energy will return and running will be fun.  Since I live in Florida, that day is still several months away and I hope that this plan will give me a jump start.

How do you get your mojo back when you’re just not feeling it?


TotR: Mantras

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic with Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs is Mantras.


It’s funny, but I had a running mantra even before I knew what a mantra was.  Back in high school (probably 1989 or so) I started running as part of being on the crew team and I vividly remember doing my mile and a half at the track and breathing along to the following (very embarrassing) mantra (names have been changed to protect the innocent): “Think of Bill, think of Ben, think of just how thin, thin, thin”.  Yes, pretty silly and a little sad but it did keep me doing the six loops of that track!

Mantras are simply a word or phrase that you repeat to help you focus.  They’re used in meditation practices to help you concentrate and rise above the constant mind chatter that we all have.  In running, mantras are usually motivational words or phrases to help focus on the run or to get past difficult moments.

My favorite running mantras are:

  • Focus (ok, that’s pretty basic and direct but sometimes I need that!)
  • Suck it up buttercup.
  • Dig a little deeper.
  • Just keep swimming.
  • Strong, calm, steady.

I’ve actually used a few of those at work in stressful moments too!  What are your favorite running mantras?  Are any of them as embarrassing as my high school one?

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Asheville Marathon and Half Marathon Discount Code

Last week, I was excited to learn that I’d been selected as an ambassador for the Asheville Marathon and Half Marathon.


Over the next seven months I’ll be announcing lots of exciting news and events related to the race weekend but we’re kicking it off with an amazing discount code for race registration.

First let me tell you why I am excited to run this race and why you should register today.

  1. I first learned about this race last year when my friend Amy from Mom’s Magical Miles tried to talk me into registering.  Unfortunately I’d already signed up for the Gate River Run 15k, so I couldn’t do it too.  Once I read Amy’s race recap and saw her photos, I knew I had to run this one.
  2. The Biltmore is one of my favorite places.  Whenever we go to North Carolina, we make sure to schedule a trip to Asheville to explore the house and the grounds.  On our last visit, we decided that the grounds were even more amazing than the house.  We rented bikes and explored and had a wonderful time.  The idea of running a half or full marathon completely on the Biltmore grounds (America’s Largest Backyard) is so enticing.  Biltmore1
  3. I hate hills.  Now that sounds like a reason I should avoid this race, right?  Nope, I need this race on my calendar so that I stop avoiding hill training.  I know hills will make me stronger and I need to embrace that!
  4. The swag.  This race had some awesome swag last year.  Nice race shirt plus a sweet fleece blanket.  And the opportunity to buy 13.1 wine bottles!
  5. The medal.  I love a unique medal and last year’s medal was gorgeous and unlike anything you’ll get at any other race and represented the spirit of the race!  It’s artsy and wooden.
  6. The run-cation.  It’s been too long since I’ve been to Asheville and this race is an awesome excuse opportunity to take a run-cation to the Biltmore and Asheville area.
  7. Great friends.  I’m so excited that Amy will also be running!  I’ve been able to spend some time with her at other races and am looking forward to getting to enjoy the race with her!
  8. The choice of exploring the civilized side of the grounds for the half or branching out and exploring the normally closed, wild-side of the grounds on the course of the full.  While I’ll be sticking to the half this year, I have a goal of doing the full in 2016!  The ability to get to see the rugged, wilderness that is usually closed to the public is a great temptation!

Did I convince you yet?  Who else is going to take advantage of my discount to sign up and join me on Sunday, March 15, 2015 in running the great wide somewhere in a gorgeous location?


The race director has given us a discount code for $10 off the Half and $20 off the Full.  Send me a message at or contact me on Facebook or Twitter messaging and I’ll happily share the code with you.  I hope to get to meet you before the race or on the course!


Saturday Update: A Doozy

I struggled with what to post today and I’m going to try to walk the line between oversharing and not being open.  After my successful six mile run last Saturday I have done nothing at all because on Sunday Eli had to go to the ER for a rare complication from his procedure a couple of weeks ago.

He was admitted to the children’s hospital for two nights and had to have another colonoscopy done Monday night. The doctors and nurses and techs at Shands Children’s Hospital were wonderful and really helped us through the ordeal.

It was terrifying and exhausting and draining and I ended up taking the whole week off of work and working out so that I could just be close by to monitor how he was recovering.  We’ve been home since Tuesday and Eli’s acting and feeling just fine (although he is a bit paranoid about random people showing up with needles to poke him, poor baby).  The doctors feel confident that he’s going to be just fine but it’ll take a while for me to relax (talk to me in September).

My blog kind of kept itself going last week due to the magic of prewriting and prescheduling a bunch of posts on Saturday but my diet and fitness are just not a priority right now.  I did lose about seven pounds in three days from not eating at all, but since we’ve been home it’s been a free for all with chinese food delivery and pringles.

I did learn that I’m stronger than I knew and that I can do what has to be done for my kids no matter how hard it is.  Now I just have to find a way to trust that everything is going to be ok and start finding a little balance again.


Friday Five: Race Memories

The Friday Five with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What is Race Memories this week.  I love this topic because I have such great race memories!  Here are my five favorites so far:

  1. Space Coast Half 2013 – My favorite memory from this race is the combination of how uncertain I was feeling in the corrals and how strong I ran this race and how I felt rounding the bend at the finish knowing I was going to finish under 2:30. IMG_1233 This whole race was a great experience and made me feel like I could do anything.
  2. Expedition Everest 2013 and 2014 – I ran the first one with my teenage son as his first race and the second one with my husband as his first race.  It was so much fun to see them both do great and finish strong. EE Plus this race was just beautiful; running through Animal Kingdom at night is really magical.
  3. Princess Half Marathon 2013 – This was my big goal race that got me to lose over 50 pounds and get moving after having my youngest son.  I had a few setbacks and injuries along the way, but the feeling I got when we rounded onto Main Street and I heard and saw all the cheering families and friends along the route was simply amazing.  PrincessHalf13 I ran my race at just under my planned pace and finished feeling great.  I proved to myself that I could set the bar high and still achieve my goals.
  4. Princess Half Marathon 2014 – I wasn’t sure if I could recapture the feeling from the 2013 race and this was my first half after my disastrous Tink Half (I did the Tink 10k/Tink Half combo) and I’d done the Enchanted 10k the day before.  I was unsure if I was going to have the same troubles that I did at Tink and was very nervous. GSC14 But I felt great during the race and when I met up with my running twinkie Karen around the last 1/3 of the race I was able to re-experience the magic of finishing right beside her.
  5. Gate River Run 1998 – This was my second race (a terrible half marathon that I was undertrained for was the first) and I had a lot to prove to myself.  I trained well, ran the exact pace I was aiming for (before Garmins even existed!!) and when I got to the top of the big bridge in the last mile, I had one of those peak life moments where I was blissfully happy and proud and just plain awesome.  hart That was the moment that got me hooked on running and racing.  I may have taken a long break, but the desire to recreate that moment is one of the things that got me back to running a few years ago.

Those are my top five favorite race memories.  It’s funny that they aren’t all that specific, but they are all focused on the feeling of accomplishment, of proving to myself that I’m an athlete and the pure joy of pushing past my own limitations!

What are your favorite race memories?


Disneyland on a Budget: Ten Tips for Magical Savings

Growing up in Florida, I feel like I know almost everything there is to know about Walt Disney World and almost nothing about Disneyland.  Why go clear across the country to visit something that is practically the same as what I have in my own backyard?  The original inspiration was to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland, but as I started researching for my visit I learned that Disneyland has so many unique attractions to offer that it is definitely worth visiting more than once.

Because I lack a trust fund, a Fortune 500 executive spending account and a winning lottery ticket, our family vacations have to be carefully planned to maximize the magic and minimize the cost.  Nowhere is this more true than a trip to Disney.  As part of my obsessive extremely detailed planning, I reached out to friends and Disney fans to get tips on what to see, where to stay and how to do it all without melting my credit cards.  DL10Tips

To see my top ten tips for saving money at Disneyland, hop over to the Type-A Parent Blog where they shared my post!

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