My Swimming Story

Disclaimer: This post is long and sappy and mostly void of pictures.  Hopefully that won’t scare you away!

If you’ve ever been bored enough to read my Road to Health page, you’ll know that I used to swim in high school.

swimming meme

I’m going to have to do a post of just swimming memes…there are so many!

I was never really an active kid.  I did swim a few summers as a kid on a swim team of a local pool (Go Churchland Swim Club!)  I was so slow.  I was that kid who was the last one in the pool during a swim meet…all the others finished 20 seconds ahead of me.  Every would cheer super loud for me so I’d hurry up and finish! Ok, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration.  I wasn’t always that slow, but I was definitely not the fastest.

Fast forward about 8 years when I got to high school and I had a really rough freshman year.  My friends in my grade turned out to not be so wonderful But despite this, I was blessed with some really incredible friends who were juniors (yay freshman me for having older friends!) and they were into swimming.

Sophomore year, I came home one day and told my mom I was going to try out for the swim team.  I wanted to try something new and get new friends, but mostly I wanted to hang out with a junior named Nick who was so cute.  Our little brothers were best friends, and so consequently we hung out a lot, and I wanted to hang out more. Naturally, joining the swim team was the next logical step!

Mom laughed when I told her, but was cautiously supportive.  It was so completely out of the realm of what I would normally do.  Much to everyone’s surprise (especially mine!), I made the team and was involved with it for the rest of my high school career.  I was never really that fast, but it didn’t seem to matter.   I have so many memories about so many great people that I swam with (It was there that I met Hollie!)  I stopped caring so much about the cute boy and started focusing more on the great swimming community.

The three years that I was involved in swimming were some of the best of my life.  It was there that I really started to learn what encouraging and supporting others looked like.  Although we were on a team, and had team relay races, it was really an individual sport.  And sure, we compete with/against each other.  Despite all that, we were so amazingly encouraging and supportive of each other.  I will never forget what it felt like to have a crowd of my teammates cheering me on during an individual race.  Or seeing the faces of my relay team as I finished strong…or encouraging me on the rare occasions I was the anchor of the relay.  I will never forget my teammates who did the boards for me on my 500 free so I didn’t lose track of my laps.

When my brother got to high school, he joined the team too.  At first I was a little upset.  I mean, swimming was my thing.  I got really annoyed when he was much better than me.  In retrospect, I wish I had been a little more supportive.  It was really cool when we got to do the lap count for each other on our 500 free races.  I really believe that swimming brought us closer together.

Once I went off to college, I stopped swimming competitively (not that I was ever fast).  I still miss it, and love when I get an opportunity to swim some laps for cross training.

What I love about running is its very much like swimming.  It is an individual sport, but you are never alone.  The running community (and running/blogging community) allows me to feel the support that I used to get in my swimming days. And it is oh so sweet!

What sports did you participate in growing up? How have others encouraged or supported you?

Weekly Update + a FUN weekend!

This week was a week to be lazy and not feel bad about it at all.  How nice is that!?


The day after my first half marathon.  If I’m being completely honest, on Sunday night I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk on Monday.  My knees felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to them…and there were tons of other aches and pains!

I woke up on Monday and was pleasantly surprised my knees felt much better! My right hip was bothering me (has been a struggle with that hip the past few months) and my left Achilles was very angry with me.  I pretty much waddled around at work all day.  I was also surprised at how much my back hurt.

Monday was a complete rest day for me.  I came home and sat on my butt.


I felt significantly better! Tuesday was a Danny night.  He knew I was pretty sore so he had an easy stretch/recovery session planned.

After a foam roll progression, we did two sets of the following:

Hamstring walk

Walk and squat



Rest Day!


Danny night.  I went through my foam roll progression, then jumped on the elliptical for a quick half mile before working out with Danny. He has this new favorite piece of equipment that I had to google to figure out what it is.  Its called a Fitball Seating Disc.  Its a great tool to help with balance and developing those stability muscles.  We did a variety of exercises using this as a support for either my hands or my feet.

Balance Disc


Another rest day, and I didn’t feel the least bit guilty.  Friday was 6 months with the boyfriend.  He got me some beautiful flowers and a sweet card.  I am so blessed with such a sweet man.

Pretty roses!

Pretty roses!

We went out to celebrate at a nice seafood place in Rudee Inlet, called Rockefellers.

6 mo 1 (4)

Barbecue chicken smothered in cheese and bacon with red potatoes and steamed veggies. Yum!

6 mo 3

Fried flounder with red potatoes and steamed veggies.

We know we are obnoxiously in love and we don't care! :)

We know we are obnoxiously in love and we don’t care! 🙂

We came after dinner and went for a walk.  It was so beautiful out and we were so full, so a walk seemed to be in order 🙂 Just the recipe to make me nice and sleepy!


Since I’ve been in serious training mode for the last few weeks, we haven’t gotten an opportunity to see our parents much.  Michael’s parents live in Elizabeth City, so we went down there to have lunch with them.  His mom said she had made a special dessert but wouldn’t tell me what.  She had this cake made to celebrate my accomplishments at Shamrock.  His parents are the absolute sweetest.

Shamrock themed cake!

Shamrock themed cake!

I haven’t seen my mom and stepdad much, so we had dinner with them.  The weather was amazing, so we got an opportunity to sit out on the deck and eat lots of food and drink a nice cold beer!


Church in the morning – I only missed a week, but it feels like forever! We went out with my Dad and stepmom (who I ran Shamrock with) for a lovely night on the town to see comedian Gabriel Iglesias. He was testing out some new material – so it was nice and refreshing.  I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!  For those of you who haven’t seen him, youtube him.  His tagline is “I’m not fat, I’m fluffy!” I’m happy to report that last night he talked a lot about how he’s dropped over 100 pounds in a quest to be healthier (he found out he had type 2 Diabetes).  He said if he stops being “fluffy” because he’s so buff, we can just call him “buffy.”  He rounded out the night with some older material which the audience promptly recited along with him.  Good times 🙂

Dad and Patty.  Notice me photobombing?

Dad and Patty. Notice me photobombing?

Us being obnoxious.

Dad thought we were silly for taking selfies.  So he wanted in on the action.

Dad thought we were silly for taking selfies, so he thought he’d join in on the fun!

All in all, a pretty great relaxing week!  This week should be relatively uneventful, then I leave for nice, warm Florida on Saturday 🙂 Did you do anything fun this weekend? What are you looking forward to?

Creating a Race Schedule

I’m fairly new to running.  I ran my first road race in November of 2012.  I ran two races that year; a 5k and an 8k.  In 2013, I had a pretty good schedule, I ran a total of 10 races.  Two of them were color runs, so I don’t know that I really want to count those.  They are fun, but no preparation went into them 🙂  If you are interested in what I’ve done, check out my Race Schedule page.

Spring Races:

I didn’t do any races in January-early March, because all I could think about was getting through Shamrock. Now I can think about trying to fit some others in (10k or shorter).  I’m thinking about doing the Run for the Dream 8k in late May. I will most likely sign up for that one.

Summer Races:

I don’t like running in the heat. I may try to find some, but not sure yet.

Fall Races:

My next goal race is the Crawlin Crab half marathon in early October.  I’ll also be doing the 5k the day before because I haven’t learned my lesson about back to back races yet.  And because I like race bling- its a horrible addiction.

I have signed up Wicked 10k in late October, but other than that, I have no other planned races.

I’m looking for some other great local fall races.  I usually do a small 5k in November at my alma mater (it was my first 5k that I ever did!)

I’ve also done an 8k through ChristmasTown at Busch Gardens Williamsburg every year (put on by Flat Out Events).  However, this year, I’m contemplating the Surfin Santa 10 Miler put on by J&A Racing.  They fall on the same weekend.  I’m very torn.  I really enjoy ChristmasTown, but would love the challenge of a 10 miler (and I love J&A!). I have a big decision ahead of me!

How do you formulate your race schedule? How do you decide between two races?

Lauren’s Lessons Learned

lessons learned

Here are my lesson’s learned from training for this half marathon.  I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to fix all of them yet, but I wanted to record them for posterity’s sake.

1. I need to do more core work.  My back and core hurt a lot.

2.  My hamstrings are still really tight…they need even MORE work.

3.  My feet and ankles need a lot more strengthening.

4.  This one is a biggie: I need to get away from my heel strike.

5. I don’t do any speedwork.  Need to fix that!

6. I need to increase mileage SLOWLY.

7. I cannot cheat on my workouts.  I will definitely pay for it later.

8. I need to improve my nutrition.

A lot of these flexibility/strengthening problems will slowly start to be corrected by continuing yoga and continued work with my trainer.  I am working on a plan to slowly increase mileage.  The rest still need a plan, but I’ll get there.

Have you ever had to step back and re-evaluate your training plan? What big changes did you make?

Shamrock Race Weekend Recap

I did the Dolphin Challenge for the Shamrock weekend, which means I completed the 8k on Saturday, and the Half-Marathon on Sunday. 

Race bibs :)

Race bibs 🙂

Packet pickup on Friday night was quick and easy.  My stepmom and I checked into our hotel on 35th street, which was a pretty central location to all of the action.

View from our hotel balcony!

View from our hotel balcony!

Shamrock 8k

Getting ready in the morning

Getting ready in the morning

The weather was going to be great on Saturday, but when I woke up, it was so cold and windy, I opted to wear long-sleeves.  Even though I knew I’d be walking, with all the issues I’d had with my shins, I decided to wear compression sleeves.  I was supposed to be in corral 8 (per my running time), so I decided to head back to the second to last corral with the walkers. 

View from the back of the 8k line!

View from the back of the 8k line!

Started about 25 minutes after the first corral.  Course was good, water stops were pretty well staffed and organized.  Decided to speed walk – which my speed walking is a joke compared to some of the people out there! I tried to hang with this older gentlemen and he left me in the dust. 

I finished walking in 1:14:13.  That was a pace of 14:56 a mile.  That is not bad at all.  It gave me hope that if I needed to walk during the half, that I could keep a pretty decent pace.  My stepmom ran and finished in 56:22!

Celebratory beer and 8k medal

Celebratory beer and 8k medal

Its easy to be happy after walking an easy 8k!

Its easy to be happy after walking an easy 8k!

After party was good.  Got a beer, ate my snacks and hung out on the beach for a bit. We went back to hotel to shower and relax.  My dad and stepsister met us at the Convention Center to look around the expo for a bit.  I decided to wear my compression sleeves the rest of the day (SUCH a good decision).  I bought a flip belt and “the stick.”  We had lunch/dinner at an Italian place.  I got a chicken panini, and it was so delicious.  

Shamrock Half Marathon

Cold and windy morning.  Patty and I got up around 5:30 and got ourselves ready and got our bags to our car (check out was at 11am at the hotel).  I opted for long sleeves again as it was MUCH colder and still very windy.  It was a very long, cold wait for the race to start and I knew it would take me a few miles to warm up.

Started with corral 9 – pretty spirited group, and less than 20 minutes from the start, we were underway!  Miles 1-5 were good as my muscles started to really warm up from the cold start (only walked the water stops), but I knew I needed a walk break soon.  Took a walk break from 6-6.55 (the halfway point).  Miles 7-9 were absolute torture.  It was so windy up on Shore Dr by the water. I cannot tell you how many times I was ready to walk during this stretch.  Patty and I did walk the water stops, but that somehow was not enough. This part of the race was so incredibly mental.  I was over halfway done, but had more than just a few miles left.  I’m not really sure what kept me going except the promise of the next water stop which meant I got to walk. 

Somewhere around mile 10, I got my second wind.  I don’t know if its because I got to see the first marathoner start the last loop of the race, or if it is because I knew I only had a 5k left, or because we were finally back in civilization with people cheering us on.  Maybe it was because at the finish line, I knew I had my boyfriend, beer, food and dry clothes waiting for me. I started high-fiving people (high fives for everyone!!!).  One of the water stops had oreos (heck yes!) and tissues (that person was my new best friend).  I bargained with Patty that if she let me walk from mile 11 to 11.5, I’d run to the finish. I wanted to stop and get beer from the nice people on the sidelines, but Patty wouldn’t let me. She said I had to finish to get beer 🙂

The last stretch on the boardwalk was so overwhelming.  All those people.  All the music.  I started to tear up when I thought about what I had just accomplished.  I grabbed Patty’s hand, and we crossed the finish line together

The next few minutes were a blur as I got my medal food, finisher’s items, then found my way to my Dolphin Challenge medal.  I saw Michael and was instantly relieved.  I got my dry bag and headed to the after party.  I realized that I had been done for about 10 minutes but hadn’t had anything to eat or drink yet.  I drank half my water and headed for the beer. I quickly scarfed down my pretzels and awesome Shamrock cookie! I only had 2 beers because we were ready to get warm and I already had a good buzz. 

The rest of the day was spent stretching and being lazy around the house.  My wonderful amazing boyfriend brought me Starbucks and picked up a Firehouse sub for me (for some reason, I reallllllly wanted a sub).

My ultimate goal was to finish, but my secret goal was to finish under 3 hours.  I finished in 2:55:33! I know that is not anything close to what is considered a good time, but its MY time.  And I’m so proud of myself.

My race bling!

My race bling!

What was your first half marathon experience like?

Weekly Update

The week of all weeks.  Shamrock.


Was supposed to go to yoga.  I ended up working late, got home and lost track of time, then showed up 15 minutes after it started.  FAIL.

So I foam rolled and stretched for a long time.  Ran into my trainer – helped demo a quad roll for his FIT 360 class that was working out nearby.

Rowed 1600 meters on the ergo meter: 400 slow, 200 fast, 200 slow. Took a small break, then 200 slow, 400 fast, 200 slow.

Foam rolled and stretched AGAIN, cause it just felt so good.

Came home and iced my shin.


Shin hurt pretty bad when I first woke up.  Motrin helps, but I’m worried that only masks the pain…I don’t think the anti-inflammatory meds are giving me that much relief.

Danny night. I made the mistake of telling him my shins hurt, so guess what we did? A lot of things to stretch my shins/calf muscles.  We also did some hip flexor and hamstring work.  I’m beginning to realize that I need to spend like 20/30 minutes stretching every single day.

He made me to a gait test; basically watched me walk without my shoes on.  Apparently I’m a major heel striker even when walking.  This has got to be remedied.  Add to the list of things I need to do on my training “reset.”


Rest day.  Last time to see the boyfriend before the craziness of the weekend.

Shins felt much better – but still some aching and pain.


Woke up with some tightness in my shins and calves.  Most likely DOMS(delayed onset muscle soreness) from my workout with Danny on Tuesday.  Shins felt better, mostly just achy.

Was supposed to work out with Danny but he had to cancel last minute.  Honestly, I was ok with that.  I foam rolled instead, and really got a chance to sit down, really think about packing for the race, and got to bed early.  Logistics on race day stress me out.


Shamrock Expo Day! Left work a bit early to grab dinner, head over to VA Beach, stop by the expo, and check into the hotel.

Had a dinner of grilled chicken and broccoli…. Yum! Packet pickup was easy and fast. Hotel was the perfect location. My stepmom and I got checked in and got our stuff together for Saturday’s 8k.


Shamrock 8k day! I’ll write a more detailed post later. Speed walking was a friend to my shin and I finished in 1:14:13. Not too bad for walking!


Shamrock Half-Marathon. THE DAY.  More details to come, but I finished under 3 hours!!! I’m so incredibly proud of myself and so incredibly SORE.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers this week!  No shin pain during my run! You all are so supportive and I love it 🙂

Hope despite Frustration

Before you read on, please read this post of my dear friend, Hollie.  Her post this morning inspired a lot of these thoughts.

If you had asked me about 6 weeks ago if I had felt ready for Shamrock, I would have told you “absolutely, I’m so excited!”  However, here we sit a few days out, and I’m extremely frustrated and apprehensive about what this weekend will bring.

Here’s the deal: last fall I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for the Shamrock Dolphin Challenge.  Runners who participate in this challenge run the 8k on Saturday and the 1/2 Marathon on Sunday.  Nevermind that I’ve never done a half marathon before.  Nevermind that I’ve never done races that close together before.  I decided it was a great idea.

And 6 weeks ago, I still thought it was a good idea.  Then I was plagued with shin splints, and sickness, and shin splints again.

As I said in earlier posts, I’ve decided to walk the 8k.  It’ll be significantly easier on my shins and allow me to put more energy and effort into the half.  My stepmom (who is doing the challenge with me) will run the 8k, and I couldn’t be more excited to cheer her on (from miles behind) as she seeks to finish in under an hour.

My shin splints feel significantly better.  I owe so much of that to the advice of you all, the magic power of ibuprofen, and the assistance of my trainer, Danny.  While they feel much better, I’m still being cautiously optimistic.

Despite all the frustration of the last few weeks and especially the last few days, I am trying to remain hopeful.  It may take me every second of the 4 hour time limit of the half to finish (if I get stuck walking more than I want), but I can celebrate the achievement of finishing my first half marathon.  And no matter how fast or slow I am, it’ll be a PR 🙂

So, if you think of it, please send positive thoughts, prayers, well-wishes my way this weekend, but especially on Sunday morning.

What drives you when you are frustrated or losing hope? What positive things do you focus on?

Flailing Arms

Ok, so I don’t actually flail my arms when I run. (I just couldn’t think of a title)

But I do sometimes tense up and find my shoulders creeping up, and that tightness starts coming across my back.  I have to constantly remind myself of this picture and think about my form.

Running favs form

I wish I looked that pretty when I run!

I think part of it is reacting to the weight of the water bottle I’ve been carrying on my long runs.  I constantly feel like I need to support the weight of the water. I don’t really like carrying anything, but I love/need my water.  I’ve contemplated other ways of carrying my water, but I really don’t like hydration belts.  They get in the way of my bathroom breaks!

water bottle

This is my precious.

Do you tense up your arms when you run?  Do you carry water with you?

Weekly Recap

I did not have the week I wanted to.

runner injury


I was supposed to do yoga.  Due to the snow/ice, my gym opted to close at 5pm.  I should have done more,  but I settled for less than a half hour of foam rolling and stretching.


Worked out with Danny.  Can’t remember the warmup we did.  The workout involved the TRX and ReACT trainer.  We repeated the following sequence 2x:

15 one-legged squats each side with TRX straps for support

15 crossover lunges each side with TRX straps for support

3 minutes on the ReACT trainer


Rest day.


Worked out with Danny again.   I honestly have no idea how to describe what we did.  Lots of stretching and a little bit of jump roping.


I had to work late – till 10pm on a big work project.


I should have worked out.  I’m very frustrated with my laziness, but there is nothing I can do about it now.


Last long run before Shamrock so it was a taper run.  I was supposed to do 6 miles.  I ended doing 4.5.  I’ve been getting shin splints recently, however there is NO rhyme and reason  to them.  I ended up walking most of the time.  Honestly, I only walked so much because I was so far from home base.

I’ve got to figure out what these shin splints are.  I’m not entirely convinced they are shin splints, but since that’s the general area of the pain, that’s what I’ve been chalking it up to.   I’m going to take a few weeks off of running after Shamrock.  I will probably end up going to the doctor (he formerly was a sports med doc) to make sure that is what it is.  If so, I’ve really learned my lesson about increasing my mileage too fast and cheating on my weekly runs.  Either way I’ve learned that lesson and will be correcting it.

Game plan for this week:

Yoga on Monday for sure.  Danny and I will be doing a lot of stretching on Tuesday and Thursday.  I want to stay off my legs and rest the shin splints, but I want to get some cardio in, so I’ll either take to the pool or get a little time in on the rowing machine.

The main goal for this week is to rest the shin splints so I’ll be ready for Shamrock.

Since I know I’m not even remotely where I want to be, I’ve decided to walk the 8k.  My ego is very frustrated with that decision, but I know its the right one.  Since TowneBank (my place of employment) is the sponsor of the 8k, there will be a lot of people walking it from work.  I’ll team up with them.

I made this decision so that I can be rested up enough for the half.

How has your week been? Did you meet your goals?

ReACT Trainer

Do you ever walk into the gym, see a new machine and think; “that looks cool!”? That’s what I thought about the ReACT Trainer. I made the horrible mistake of mentioning that thought to my trainer.

Last night he put me on the ReACT machine.  For those of you who haven’t seen this instrument of torture piece of machinery, it is a Rapid Eccentric Anaerobic Core and Strength Trainer.  It basically looks like a small treadmill.

react trainer React trainer 2

The goal is to keep your head, shoulders and chest level as the platform moves.  It really works your core and your legs.  My legs were burning after a minute on this thing.

To best describe the motion, its kind of like mogul skiing.  Its a strange sensation.

mogul skiing

Proven benefits of reACT include:

– Rapid increases in muscle mass, strength, and power compared to other training methods.

– Improved balance, coordination, and kinesthetic awareness.

– Improved core strength and stability.

– Injury prevention by improving the muscles ability to absorb force.

This machine is hard. Every muscle in my legs were screaming for relief! I’m surprised to report that I’m not very sore today, but it was definitely hard while I was doing it.

Have you ever tried a ReACT trainer? What new machinery have you tried recently?