Category Archives: Running

Off to Runner’s World Half & Festival


Hey guys!

I leave for Pennsylvania tomorrow for the Runner’s World Half & Festival. I’m a combination of nerves and excitement. I’m going for the Grand Slam – 4 races in 3 days. No big deal. The closest I’ve ever come to running that many races so close together was Reach the Beach. And even then, I had hours in between. I think the 5k and 10k back to back are going to be the hardest – mentally and physically.

I can guarantee I will NOT be racing all 4. Maybe I’ll feel the push to actually race one or two. I’m not going to even plan anything because, remember, it’s my year of being plan-less. Winging it is what I’m doing. Famous last words as I crash and burn, right?


In addition to all the races we’ll be running, there will also be events. Friday morning we are being treated to a November Project Pop-Up Workout (so excited for that!) followed up with the Altralympics. We’ll be competing as teams in Olympic style events. Altra is a sponsor of the RW Half – Get it now – Altra + Olympics = Altralympics. Later in the afternoon, we are running the 3.8 trail race. Sounds like an active day!


Speaking of which, Altra, I recently was sent a pair of their shoes. I’ve only tried Altra’s once before. I wasn’t too comfortable going to a zero drop shoe because of all my foot drama so I didn’t really give them too much of a chance. The latest pair that I received is the Torin 2.5. I’ve been reassured by Golden Harper, the founder of Altra, that my feet would be fine with these if I just took it slow in transitioning. I’ve worn them on walks but have yet to run in them. I do appreciate the wide toe box though. It’s nice to let the piggies do their own thing! I admit that I’m not ready to switch shoes. My foot is finally feeling good and I’m afraid of making it angry again. Maybe after this weekend I’ll give it a try on a few short runs.

We’ll also be treated to meals straight out of Run Fast. Eat Slow. I’m loving that cookbook but it will even better to have dishes out of it prepared by someone else. Things taste 10x better when someone else makes it. Don’t you think?


Saturday will hold the 5k and 10k races followed by all the presentations. I’m excited about Yoga for Runners and Dr. Metzel of Running Strong.

Of course, Sunday is the grand finale – Half Marathon!

If you want to follow along with all the fun, be sure to check me out on Instagram and Facebook. I’ll be sharing all weekend long!

Have you ever run back to back races? Any tips?


How to Balance Life and Running

how-to-balance-life-and-running-happyfitmama-comThank you Florastor® Daily Probiotics for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your bottle of Florastor® Daily Probiotics to complement your active lifestyle!


Something we all try to strive for, right? I’ve been told I’m unbalanced. Muscularly, that is.

But do I think that I have my life in balance?

Absolutely not.

In 2013, I used the word balance as my word of the year – what I would focus on all year long. What did I find? There is no such thing as balance. I think life is a constant state of tipping the scales in whatever direction is most important in that moment. It then readjusts in the other direction as needed.

Since I started running more seriously after my twins were born in 2010, I’ve needed to find a balance in life and running. Training eats up a ton of time. It’s hard to not live and breathe by a training plan. But life isn’t cut and dried so there needs to be flexibility.

Here are 5 things that helps me to (somewhat) balance life and running:

1. Support – If Ron did not support my crazy running habits, none of this would work. He knows that running is what I love and what makes me happy (and most importantly, sane). In turn, he never gives me any grief about running a 20 mile race that begins in the middle of the day that practically eats up a whole Sunday of family time. Or leaving town for four days so I can hang out with my friends and run a race. It’s important to me so he makes it work. And he keeps the kids entertained so no one even realizes I’m gone.

Post Zooma Cape Cod | happyfitmama.comOh you ran a race? I didn’t notice. I was too busy digging a gigantic hole.

2. Schedule workouts – I’m a big fan of routine schedules. I think it stems from when my twins were born. I was all about the schedule. Nothing messed up the schedule. Thankfully, I like to workout in the morning. Ron likes after work. Perfect! When I go to yoga class, it’s usually after the kids have gone to school on my days I work from home.

3. Prioritize – My daily to-do list is usually a mile long. With my job as a part time Clinical Exercise Physiologist, managing a blog, my coaching clients and picking up more freelance writing projects, I feel like there’s always something to do that I haven’t done or that needs to be done ASAP. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, I prioritize from most important to least on my list. For the most part it works, but I can’t say I never feel overwhelmed.

4. Multitask – I stretch while I’m on the floor with my kids playing a game. I foam roll, do my core and PT exercises while watching TV at night. Or use my kids as added resistance. I clean the shower and stretch while taking a shower. What? I know I’m not the only one that does that!

Planks with kids |

5. Make Myself a Priority – For years, I’ve had mommy guilt. I’d get the side eye from other moms when they asked where my kid’s were while I was training for races, at a yoga class or working out in general. It was like – How dare you leave your kids for that long! But I got over that guilt really quick when I realized that I’m a better mama, wife, friend and overall person when I take that time for me. If I don’t make myself a priority, no one else will. And I can’t take care of my family if I’m not well.

I exercise, eat right and take supplements to fuel my body so everything runs smoothly. Finding balance in my digestive tract is equally important. That’s why I take a probiotic.

A few years ago, my iron clad stomach decided to get funky. It wasn’t pretty and I was beginning to think something was seriously wrong with me. Around the same time, I read an article about endurance runners being more likely to have leaky gut syndrome. When you exercise, cells lining the intestinal wall pull apart a little bit. Gaps between cells allow things from the GI tract to leak into the bloodstream causing problems. One of them being an urgent need for a mid run potty break. Like any runner, I’ve been in that position one too many times.

Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast cells that aid the damaged, dysfunctional, or inflamed bowel in digestion and absorption. Essentially, it helps grow good bacteria to get rid of the bad. It’s commonly found in select yogurt and soy products, pickled vegetables, and other probiotic-laden foods.


I’ve been taking Florastor Daily Probotics to strengthen my digestive balance and to support a healthy immune system. Florastor vegetarian, gluten-free, and contains non-GMO ingredients. It’s the only probiotic brand with Saccharomyces boulardii lyo CNCM I-745 which helps restore your natural flora. Florastor is the best selling probiotic worldwide backed by over 60 years of use and research.

I don’t think I’ll ever have a total balance in my life. But that’s o.k. as long as I have harmony!

How do you balance life and running?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Leaf Peepers Half Marathon

Leaf Peepers Half Marathon as part of Rise Run Retreat 2016 |

“And in this moment I am happy. Happy.”

I scanned my surroundings and took it all in. It was breathtaking. Not just because I had run (and power hiked) up a 17% hill and was gasping for a full breath, but because the world around me was nothing but vibrant shades of orange and red peeking out behind the fog. This is why I run. This is what makes me happy. That lyric from the Incubus’ song always seems to pop into my head when I’m happy. In that moment, I most definitely was happy.

This past year, I had kind of lost my running spirit. Well, not my running spirit, but more of the racing spirit. Picking a goal race, following a training plan, gunning for a PR – it just didn’t excite me. After spending so much time NOT running in 2015, I wanted 2016 to be the year of a running reset. To be able to run because I finally could.

The Leaf Peepers Half Marathon was just the thing I needed to reignite that racing spirit.

Flat Angela |

It wasn’t because I had the race of a lifetime, I PR’d, or because I felt amazing through the whole thing.

It was one of the slowest half marathon times I’ve ever run. I had massive calf cramping the last 2 1/2 miles. Sounds like a blast, right?

Actually, it was a combination of being surrounded by strong, powerful, and motivating women during the Rise.Run.Retreat and the race that kicked in that spirit.

Going into the race, I had zero expectations. Everyone kept asking what was my plan. Like everything this year, I didn’t have a plan. I was going to go by feel.

The first three miles were definitely hills. Not gently rolling hills but holy sh!t HILLS. I had Mount Washington flashbacks as I puffed up Perry Hill Road. When I saw a sign about 17% incline, I laughed – this was more than most of Mount Washington. No wonder my heart rate was through the roof! I pulled out my Mount Washington ratio – Run 200 steps/Walk 100 steps – to make it up and over.

Once at the top, I soon found myself alone. I could see runners ahead a bit but there was no one around me at all. I found myself fading and kind of settled into an easy long run pace.


Thankfully, two runners caught up to me at one point and woke me up – HELLO! THIS IS A RACE! I latched on to them and settled into a good pace. I was the creepy stalker that listened in on their stories. I was so entertained with the man retelling the story of a ultra mountain bike race that went wrong that I never realized we were cruising along at a 7:50 pace. And it felt really comfortable.

Around mile 5, Jes spotted me and gave me a shout out. Seeing friends on the course always helps for a little boost.

My boost didn’t last too long. My running buddies decided it was time to pick up the pace. NOOOOOO! I knew that I wasn’t going to hang on for too much longer.

Sadly, they left me in the dust as they powered up yet another hill. This was an out and back section that kind of sucked the life out of me. I can’t stand out and backs. The good thing was that I got to see all the girls – Allie looking relaxed and casual (was she even sweating?!?!), Sarah smiling with her signature braid tailing behind her, Laura and Sandra running together (so jealous that they had company!). I finally made the turn around and soon saw the other girls – Christine looking focused, Kara cruising along, and then Natalie and Sue smiling and encouraging.


I passed Jes again at around the 10 mile mark feeling pretty rough although I tried to put on a happy face. I had been milking a GU for almost the whole race. I just could not get it down. I knew that it wasn’t going to cut it. Soon after that, my calves started to cramp up. It was the kind of cramping that happened mid stride while my back leg came around. I would land on the cramped leg and it would give out. I then would have to stop, try to stretch it out and then walk before running again. This was the routine for the last 2 1/2 miles of the race.

That happiness from before? Completely gone.

I finally made it to the turn into the parking lot for the finish and tried to pick up the pace. My calf cramped up one more time in that short stretch as I gimped it into the finish with a 1:58 time.

Truthfully, I was quite disappointed in my time. Like I said, it was one of my slowest half marathon times ever. It was my own fault though for not following through on fueling during the race.

Post Leaf Peepers Half Marathon |

And then I felt like crap afterwards and was totally out of it. I was totally throwing out the fake laugh for the above picture. I’m so out of practice with fueling. I hadn’t been practicing my mid run fueling at all. Remember when I said I didn’t have a plan? That goes for fueling too.

I know every race can’t be a PR. I know that I can’t compare myself to where I was fitness-wise 2 years ago when I ran my last half marathon.

It’s hard to let go where you were before and where you are now.

Post Leaf Peepers Half Marathon |

After shaking my pity party, my perspective changed.

I felt happiness again. Happy to have been able to run this race with so many talented runners that I call friends.

I felt a fire growing. A competitive fire. I’m done with winging it. I’m ready to challenge myself again. I’ve spent too much time worrying about the potential of another injury. We all need to start somewhere. This was my starting line.

I’ve got goals and dreams floating in my head. I’ll be using the last months of 2016 to work with a sports nutritionist (Jamie who spoke with us at Rise.Run.Retreat) to find the root of my calf cramping (I almost always get it either during or post race) and how to fuel properly for optimal performance. I’m also looking for a coach. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for some time.

Now’s the time to start again.

Btw – Congrats to all who raced over the weekend!

Laura had a HUGE 10 minute PR at Steamtown. I can’t wait to read her recap.

And a special shout out to my coaching client, Dawn, who ran Chicago and scored a gigantic PR by taking 27 minutes off her previous marathon time. Congrats on your 3:36 marathon Dawn!!!!

Have you ever had a race gone bad but still happy about the outcome?

Would you rather run a hilly race or pancake flat?