Running Through the Unknown and Three Reasons Why ANYONE Can Do the Peachtree Road Race

After the 2018 Peachtree Road Race I was on cloud 9. The goals I had set for myself had been crushed and I knew I wasn’t even at peak fitness. BUT with that much excitement came that much more pressure. After a short break I told myself I was ready to go, trying to prove that I still had more to give. But things never go according to plan: injuries, lack of motivation, and some health issues have plagued me for the past year.

Last July I had no idea the battle I was in for, it’s been a fight every step of the way, anxiety has been a roller coaster, and I am slower than I’ve been in three years. BUT! There is SO much I have learned and I have to be thankful for and every day that I can move my body is a gift that I am taking far more seriously these days. So why don’t we all set a new goal! It doesn’t mean it’s been easy, and it means that this year I had to walk, yes you read that right, the competitive athlete W-A-L-K-E-D part of the Peachtree Road Race because of the heat. I thought I would be devastated, but I wasn’t. It was OKAY. I got out there and did it. I moved my body, I was surrounded by an amazing community, and the encouragement from every direction can’t be taken lightly.

So where are you? How does your body feel when you get out there? Right now I have more bad days than good, but every day of proving I can still move is worth the bad days, and it’s the exact same for you! So here’s three reasons why even the furthest person from running 6.2 can participate in the Peachtree:

  1. Our bodies are resilient and they can do far more than we give them credit for when we start moving a little bit every single day. Yes, it’s a struggle to push START and yes the bad days might outweigh the good ones at first. Maybe you think there’s no way because the progress is too slow. It’s like with anything the more consistent you become the progress will start to speed up! Just be patient and start to discipline, your body will adapt and blow your mind.
  2. Don’t underestimate the power of community and encouragement. Some people relate the Peachtree Road Race to a giant parade, and it totally is from your most competitive to the people who are reaching for this goal for the very first time. There are people in ALL stages ALL around you and that’s just those on the course. Don’t forget the hundreds of volunteers and the thousands lining the streets cheering and providing water/food/etc to everyone who passes. You might think it can’t be that helpful, but I assure you, you get swept up in it and it helps carry you through.
  3. Running is optional. YEP, walking is totally acceptable. Thousands start down the street at a brisk walk, and that is completely okay. You are doing it right? Walking is a great stepping stone in seeing just all that you can do. So why not try it, you have nothing to lose and you might even surprise yourself.

So here’s to you and whatever obstacle you are facing, whether it’s health, discipline, a schedule that doesn’t seem possible. Set that small goals, in order to get to a bigger goal, see yourself reaching it, and start moving forward.

In it with you friends,

Jordan

Healing Low Iron… And the Smoothie I’m obsessed With

A couple weeks ago I had a small procedure that went completely fine, but what it led to finding has let me on in some crucial info about my body in the past couple weeks. I’ve heard the word “Anemia” since before I can remember, as an endurance athlete both in the swimming realm and running realm vitamin and mineral deficiencies were something we were made aware of young. However, the research has only gotten deeper and more involved the older I get and the more technology plays such a major role.

At my post-op appointment two days later I was weak, like really weak, and really pale – it was not my best look. My doc went ahead and took my blood work again. It was ugly. Not only was I below normal for both Hemoglobin and Hematocrit I was VERY low. I felt like I didn’t know myself, everything felt foreign.  I had lost some blood in surgery, but this went deeper than surgery there was more at play.

The last time I had my Iron checked was in the fall of 2018, not so long ago. My training had decreased and I was just pressing through at the minimum through the end of the year. At that point my levels were in the normal range, maybe a little low for a woman of my age and physical health, but normal. SO what changed in 6-7 months??? And how do I get myself back to healthy???

PAYING ATTENTION TO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRAINING + NUTRITION

At the beginning of 2019 I found my zeal for running again, while January and February were slow on the race calendar the craziness that March would bring led me to pick up intensity fast. Simultaneously, I was staying really lean in the animal protein department – I was eating almost NO red meat, even though poultry was still a regular part of my diet, the foods that I ate to make up for it were not rich in that vital nutrient.

So my training increased so my need increased but level of intake stayed the same leading to a negative outcome, and that outcome was huge when it came to my recovery after this procedure.

But, I’m also really glad it came to light, it’s helped me change somethings in my diet and be more in tune to my body in general. And I don’t think I’m alone in the endurance athlete realm who is growing in this awareness and knowledge every day!

As someone who has a Nutrition Certification I am a firm believer in a well-rounded diet. We need protein, fats, and carbohydrates to keep our body functioning at our best. I know some people don’t eat animal protein, but you HAVE to find other ways to get those nutrients. Likewise, people who believe a low-carb diet is best, please make sure to give yourself at least an adequate amount of carbs – regardless of what anyone says you need them in moderation.

All that to say here are a few things I have implemented in my diet to help increase my iron and overall health in general as well as one of my favorite new recipes below!

*Disclaimer: moderation is always key, and these are not long term solutions, but temporary changes to get the most effective results 

DON’TS

  • Limit dairy + calcium rich foods. While you need calcium for strong bones it’s also a big iron inhibitor
  • Limit corn. I am popcorn’s #1 fan, but I also love some corn tortilla chips & guac, not the best idea to go hard when you are wanting optimum iron absorption.
  • Stay clear of gluten. While this normal for me research emphasis staying clear of sugary starches and eat those natural carbohydrates like brown rice and potatoes.
  • No Caffeine! Gosh I was already feeling terrible, but the compounding caffeine headache for three days was not my best life.

DO’Sa

  • Eat animal protein including red meat. Right now I’m keeping mixed between red meat and poultry, but making sure that at least one meal has this as well as at least one meal has eggs (yes the yolks). 
  • If you are a vegetarian eat all the beans! 
  • Get those dark leafy greens. From salads, to sautéing it up with some of protein and carbs, to throwing it in a smoothie it’s essential to get these in your diet. 
  • Flax seed + Chia Seed + Hemp Seeds. The nutritional benefits of these have been researched time and time again, but they are also great for getting those micronutrients you need. I throw the mix in smoothies, peanut butter w/ fruit, and pretty much anything else. 

If you are an endurance athlete, make sure to get your Iron levels tested regularly so you don’t fall prey to the same thing I did. As always ask the doc before taking any actual supplements, too much Iron can be a bad thing. 

Knowing that I needed extra nutrients and was struggling for creativity I found a way to mix it altogether in a delicious way that helps fuel my body with everything it needs.

Jordan’s Iron Absorption Smoothie 

-1/2 cup of OJ (vitamin C for iron absorption)

-1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (for texture and flavor)

-1/2 banana

-1 cup of frozen berries

-2 handfuls of spinach + Kale mix (iron rich)

-1 heaping TBSP of hemp seed + flax seed + chia seed mixture (all the micronutrients)

Blend it altogether and enjoy!

 

urger, but because of the cholesterol and fat I had limited it pretty severely. So right now I am 

Star Wars Rival Run 2019 Race Recap

I love getting to type up a race recap, especially with the hope it encourages you to set a fitness goal and go for it! runDisney provides more affordable options too by opening up virtual runs that come with a good bit of swag themselves. This year’s theme is Marvel and registration is open now over at runDisney.com. However, this post is about Star Wars weekend and if you are a Star Wars fanatic this is one to put on the books for the future.

Jon and I flew in Thursday night after a day of work and were so excited to finally crash in our upgraded room at All-Star Movies. We are always so focused on being out and about that we choose the most affordable resort more often than not; if we are not doing park days then we spend a little bit more. We’ve stayed at Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and Port Orleans French Quarter which are in the moderate resort category for our lower key trips, all of which we recommend!

While we wanted to get an early start Friday morning for the opening of Hollywood Studios, it was still nice to sleep until 7am instead of our usual 5am week day wake up call. We headed to the quick service restaurant in the All-Star Movies Hall and grabbed a simple breakfast before heading out. We made it to Hollywood Studios about 25 minutes before opening, right as the rain was backing off, and were pretty close to the front of the line that would soon be making a mad-dash for Toy Story Land. One of the most interesting things we learned here was the way they crowd control the line of people – ALL THE WAY TO THE RIDE. It made it painless and easy to file into the line for Slinky Dog and with a simple wait time of 15 minutes the experience was great. We give the ride 7/10 for fun wishing it was just a little bit faster. We then headed over to the Alien Swirling Saucers with a 5-minute wait time and enjoyed that more than we thought we would. As the crowds started to descend post rain we grabbed one of the already infamous pop tarts at Woody’s Lunchbox and went to explore the other part of the park. We give the pop tart 9 out 10 because who knew premium pop tarts were a thing and that they could be so incredibly delicious. Super fresh, not too much filling, and cooked just past brown for a nice crunch – YES.

The Incredibles Alley was our next stop where we walked up to Edna Mode and snapped a quick pic. No lines – what was this? The same thing happened with BB-8 in the Star Wars Launch Bay and Pluto in the Disney Junior Area (don’t judge I love my Disney pups). Unfortunately, right about that time the skies opened back up with a little sprinkle, so we headed to our Fastpass at Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Then things took another turn as we walked up to a closed sign due to technical difficulties, sad, but nice for a readjustment that sent us to go ahead and run by the race Expo before heading to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival for lunch. The expo was easy, I really think they make the flow better every time, but I also know it’s a smaller race weekend than some of the others, regardless it was painless.

As we made our way to Epcot for the festival and lunch the clouds started to part and made way for a beautiful day. We started towards the World Showcase and I stopped first at the Honey Bee pop up for a honey roasted rice and cauliflower dish – the portion was a little smaller than I would have liked but the taste was 10/10. As we made our way around we stopped at the Poutine pop up for Jon to get some Coffee-roasted, Smoked pork poutine for lunch. His portion was HUGE and while I only took a few bites it was so full of great flavor. We explored everything the World Showcase had to offer and toyed with stopping at so many places, but it was getting warm, so we decided on something cold and refreshing. We headed to the pineapple pop-up and both grabbed a pineapple soft serve. The portion was HUGE, and even though it was a little bit too sweet we both downed ours and I would give it 8/10 stars.

While at this point we were refreshed I realized I was doing a bad job hydrating and I simply wasn’t feeling my best. I have never been more excited to sit down when we finally made our way to the monorail to hop over to Magic Kingdom. The monorail is simply the best way to travel if you are switching from Epcot to Magic Kingdom or vice versa – OR – doing anything in the resorts around Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom greeted us in the best way as the Festival of Fantasy parade was about to begin which meant no line for the special Celebration Mickey & Minnie meet and great. I waited about 10-15 minutes and snapped a pic with them in their party clothes. Then we made our way out right as the parade was coming down the street.

Ya’ll I cried. There was enough room on the train platform to be able to watch the parade from there and as Beauty and the Beast came around with the music playing tears streamed down my face. Which was bad because I was already dehydrated. The parade was amazing, and the new additions were really excellent, but then it was time for water and coffee. So, we swigged a full bottle of water and walked towards Storybook Circus to see some of the new Dumbo features, and then to Gaston’s for coffee.

This trip was much more leisurely than we are used to, but it made it incredibly nice.

I was exhausted at this point and needed to watch my hydration, so we were back at the resort by 630p for dinner. I grabbed a chicken sandwich and lounged around the resort shop and then went on to bed. Saturday morning, we woke up around 7am again but I went out for a short shakeout run before breakfast. Three hot and humid miles reminded me that missing hydration today was NOT an option. We ate a leisurely breakfast at the resort and headed to Disney Springs around 10am. First stop was Vera Bradley because they have an adorable new Disney collection out NOW, while it was just window shopping I gave some hints to Jon for my birthday next month. We hit all the shops and then grabbed up the free chocolate at Ghirardelli and it was almost time for lunch with some of Jon’s family he hadn’t seen in awhile, but had helped make this trip possible. Paradiso 37 is one of our favorite restaurants and it never disappoints. We talked and ate, and a good time was had by all. We always give Paradiso 9/10 stars – they even sat our large group early.

After our time at Disney Springs and LOTS of water, I was feeling great. I asked Jon if we could check out the Boardwalk since the only time I had seen it was running by early in the morning. He happily obliged and we had one of our memorable experiences here. Jon was really wanting water at this point – it was pretty warm. So, we stopped in the General store and asked for water. Cups of water are FREE at Disney (not bottled but paper cups), but they happened to be out. Instead of sending us on our way they asked if we wanted slushies free of charge. When Disney offers you something for free you do NOT decline, and they were the best slushies. 10/10 for the slushies and the cast member who gave them to us.

The only let down was the part where I was hoping Ample Hills had a dairy free ice cream and they do not, but from everything I hear it is worth going!

When we got back to the resort we decided to eat somewhere a little bit cleaner at the All-Star Music resort next door, where they had some basic dinners that would fuel me better for the coming mornings race. It was an early night in bed watching Iron Man and drinking more water – ha.

 

Sunday morning race alarms are not my favorite because 2:40am is not any time to be awake, but I was up and on the bus at 3:02am and on my way to the Magic Kingdom parking lot where it all began. It didn’t feel terrible as I was walking around but I knew that would soon change. I finished off my water, stood in line for a couple character photos, and downed my Rxbar about an hour and a half before the start. Once the corrals opened I warmed up and jogged over to A where I met up with my new Atlanta, runDisney friend, Michael, and a few other of his friends who I met that morning. Having people to chat with and enjoy before the start made time go by so much quicker – it was such a nice change of pace.

As the start fireworks went off we headed out for the first of 13 miles, and an unusual but not unknown issue arose: I was cramping, and early. The heat and humidity weren’t terrible, but this early in the season I was completely unadjusted to the conditions, so I slowed up, way up after blazing through the first four miles. I grabbed both Powerade and water at all but one of the hydration stops (something that is very unusual for me), but I wasn’t the only one and the comradery around the conditions made it that much easier to keep fighting for the finish line. That and the fact that running through Pandora at night is incredible and turning down the main street in Hollywood Studios is stunning, every mile really is magic.

Finally, the 13-mile mark, and then I turned the corner and the finish line lay right ahead. I didn’t finish with a great time, but a few fun moments of getting jumped at by a storm trooper right at the line and then meeting up with my friends for character photos at the end help the recovery efforts 10-fold. I still managed to finish 7th overall and 1st in my age group so it’s exciting to add a new plaque for the shelf! Another perk was the ALL GLUTEN FREE snack box. FINALLY!

One of my favorite moments of the whole trip came during the post-race brunch. I always try to book a new restaurant on each of our trips and preferably at a new resort. So, I booked Olivia’s Café at Old Key West. Old Key West is a DVC resort so it’s a little quieter and serene. We sat a small table next to the window overlooking the lake as we dreamt about this trip and those to come, Jon over Banana French Toast and me over an omelette w/ gluten free toast. These moments are my favorite as we quiet back down before we head home to the crazy of life. Olivia’s is much like the Grand Floridian in price point, variety, and taste and I always lean towards the Grand. However, it’s a little less intimate so it depends on what environment you are looking for. And then we were headed to the resort to pack up and head out.

Also shout out the Orlando International Airport for some incredible upgrades all-around.

Another great weekend in the books, which means another trip to be planned. Until next time.

I hope this gives you a little insight into race weekends, how we maneuver all the things, and some of the best foodie finds on property!

 

Playing with Passions and Remembering the Reason

I like to run… if you are reading this you most likely know that already.

After my competitive swimming career was over in 2012 and I had recovered from 13 years of my body being subject to incredibly intense training, I missed the competition, I missed the goals, I missed seeing how far my body could go. But I wanted to live my life on purpose no matter what I chose as my sport or physical activity of choice.

During college cross-training had involved a good bit of a running, I could naturally hold my own so I thought I would give running a shot. It started with running ONE mile around the front of my parents neighborhood – it’s a convenient one mile loop – and then TWO miles around the bottom loop at Little Mulberry Park, just a few miles from where my parents live. It felt good, I was running farther and faster, so I signed up for a 5K. It was a disaster. To this day, it still haunts me. That was in November of 2012. It would be a full eight months later before I would try my hand at an actual race. The Peachtree Road Race in 2013 was that moment and while it was grueling, rainy, and exhausting it sparked something new in me. Half Marathon #1 was then placed on the calendar. At this point it wasn’t so much a passion as it was a physical outlet for work days.

Thanksgiving Day of 2013 was long, painful, and really really cold. My first half marathon ever was a crisp 18 degrees, and that 13.1 was happening after recovering from knee pain due to lack of stretching and appropriate recovery. Thankfully, I finished and then hopped on a plane two hours later for a three and a half hour flight to Denver. That is never a good game plan. Yes, my dad half carried me through airport and down the sidewalks of this new and short adventure.

I loved the feeling of finishing, but I needed a do-over. You might not love the first races you ever do, you might think it’s not worth it, you might think you’ll come to love it. And maybe that’s true, but I challenge you to give it one more shot. So I signed up for the Nike Women’s Half in DC slated for April 2014. After spending several weeks fully recovering I hopped back into running slow and steady.

Mom took me up to DC and we explored the city where her and my dad fell in love and explored the way Nike took over and made it an unforgettable experience (it’s also where I found Nuun Hydration). I toed the line against the backdrop of the sun rising above the Capitol and off we went. Words don’t fully embody and describe what happened to me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually during those two hours. It wasn’t any faster than Thanksgiving, but it was completely different in the best way. Something clicked.

I say spiritually and it could raise eyebrows, but here’s what I mean: I have always loved the athletic industry, but as I named our athletic association “the devils playground”, it’s a dark world that can leave you dry and stale when your complete identity is wrapped up in the sport you do and the publicity and acknowledgment you get. The Lord sparked something in my mind that made me wonder how I could enter in to that space and help change that perspective. That we are far more valuable and purposeful than an athletic endeavor.

Unfortunately, the road was more winding and roller coaster-esque than I would have preferred. I am rather shy at first and can be independent to a fault and that caused issues as I tried to get more involved in the running community, but still maintaining the one-man show bit. There had to be more.

My times got faster which helped build confidence, and after I moved back to the city and Jon and I got married with community around us I had very little reason to not show up for the community and start building those relationships that the Lord was pressing me to step into. I started showing up for a group run, but at this time running became more of an obsession. I was taking it too far and still trying to figure it out on my own. Enter over-exercise, disordered eating and everything spiraled be down to the pit.

Passions aren’t meant to be paramount. Jesus is our purpose, and the passions are that which we are used to point to him. I lost that in this season, and it took so many months and even years to work through mud and create, what I hope to be, a beautiful story that shines light into darkness.

Enter book right, during this season of recovery and refocusing my passion and purpose it brought lies and darkness that I didn’t even realize was there due to events that had occurred many years ago. In every way this season has been incredibly hard, but it’s also been incredibly restorative and refreshing to weed out some of the yuck and let the Lord start to light it up and give it beauty. And now I sit here smoothing out some of the final edits in my first book centered around all of this and I am so excited to share it with you in the coming months.

Let your passion shine His light, and remember where your focus should truly lie. Identity’s don’t come from earthly things, they come from your Creator.

For now friends,

Jordan

Smiles All Around and Running Lately….

July 4, 2018. I didn’t feel fast, after mile four I actually felt like throwing in the towel. My breathing shallowed, my quads were on fire, and the finish felt so far away. Never imagining what lie on the other side of that finish line. A top 30 finish in the largest 10K in the country, less than one minute away from being considered “elite”, and the impending weight of massive expectation.

July 14, 2018. A last minute 5K in support of an incredible organization: Back on My Feet. At 2.8 Kada collapsed on the ground, unable to move her legs, the pleading of help in her brown eyes. The fear sinking deep to the pit of my stomach that I might lose my pup (I didn’t).

Recovery.

Not a word that is unfamiliar, but one that has been largely tied to the physical aspects of running, but in this past season there was a different type of recovery that had to be done. Mental. The Peachtree Road Race left me numb and unmotivated because the pressure that I allowed to mount was unbearable for someone who was still on the tail end of the greatest mental, physical, and emotional battle of my life to date.

So the races stopped, the high mileage felt far too daunting, and it scared me to feel stuck  in the unknown. There were a few races that I was able to help pace and push-assist and support over this season, but I was never myself, and the community helped keep me going in whatever form that took. My friends and training buddies were with me in whatever way they needed to be and it really was key in keeping me in the game. So I looked at 2019 with open eyes, not really knowing where I was headed, but knowing that I still loved this sport I had found a home and community in.

Now in the remaining few days of January, new wind has blown in my sails, and that smile has crept back onto my face. During December I had to learn to let myself back off without guilt, something I resisted for the first 5 months of this journey. Guilt of letting people down, and even more pressing, letting myself down and not stewarding the gift I had been given had begun to become a banner, and it just couldn’t. So I picked up more cross and weight training and stuck to under 5 miles not sure if that would actually help where I was other than maintaining a base layer of fitness, but I finally learned to be okay with sitting there for whatever amount of time it took. I also found that my people cheered me on regardless. AND THEN in the past two weeks that spark has started to reignite, the excitement for runs has increased, the training runs with my people no matter the weather seem more enjoyable than feeling like a job. However, it’s listening taking the time to listen to where I am mentally and physically every single day that sets the tone.

So, now as I get excited for what’s in store here is a little bit of my training schedule and where I am headed the first part of this year with a smile on my face:

Mon – Cross-training/3 mile shakeout

Tues – 10K: 10 minute warm up, 5 minute progression, 30 minute intervals

Wed – Mobility and Yoga

Thurs – 5-7 mile tempo run

Fri – Mobility, light body-weight circuit, shake out (sometimes just an easy run, sometime striders).

Sat – 10-14 miles steady pace.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

And this week we get the bonus of having back to back 5Ks in the mix! Feel free to hop in!

Fri – Super Bowl VII 5K – medium-quick tempo

Sat – Hearts & Soles 5K – quick-sprint tempo

____________________________________________________________________________________________

On The Horizon:

Well besides the two aforementioned 5Ks to work on speed, here are a few things that are slated for 2019:

  • Road to Gold Test Event (March) – 8.2 miles on the Olympic Marathon Trial Qualifying course
  • Publix Half Marathon (March) – Pacing with my girl A @ 1:45
  • Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon (April) – This will be my first trained for half in over a year!
  • Peachtree Road Race (July) – The 50th anniversary and excited to see what I can do this year, without feeling the weight of expectation

More TBD!

If you have any questions, or want some race or training recommendations please let me know at jordan@fuelingherforward.com ! I would also love to put my nutrition certification to work so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thanks for reading friends,

Jordan

 

The Weekly Blurb

Christmas is just TWO weeks away! After a week full of Christmas Parties and MLS Cup victories the beginning of this week was a game of catch up.

Quick shout out to my sister at Hevesi.co for snagging some pictures from one of the first major gatherings at our home, we love getting to share the season and celebrate our first home with some special people.

I hope you are getting to spend the holidays celebrating even through the hard things that I know so many of you are facing. Even if it’s just getting out for a bit, embrace the best parts of the season.

Workouts

So where are we now? On the workout front it’s been tough a few recents from life in a rainy season around Georgia:

Saturday – 20 minute blaster thanks to Nike Training App, plus 20-30 minute core-work.

Sunday – recovery/walk

Monday – 15 minute warm up, 30 minute easy on the treadmill

Tuesday – 60 minutes on the treadmill (this is the longest I have gone since the half on Thanksgiving so I took it easy just getting my legs back under me)

Wednesday – 40 minutes of bodyweight circuits with the November Project

Speaking of, I was excited and honored to be asked to write for the November Project blog last week, the post dropped Monday if you want to check it out here.

So while workouts have been consistent the racing plan is still up in the air. Over the next few weeks I am taking a breather to reprioritize some things in 2019 and what that looks like competitively I am just not sure yet. One thing that has been added to the calendar as of yesterday is pacing the Georgia Publix Half Marathon in March. Getting to pace is such a special opportunity so thank you Atlanta Track Club!

Recipe 

This week also sparked some creativity in the kitchen. Red-Roasted Pepper-Chicken Bake over zucchini noodles (check out the recipe here) and mixed in homemade skinny Alfredo sauce (check out the recipe here). While I didn’t get the texture of the noodles 100% for my picky texture husband we both thoroughly enjoyed the taste and would absolutely recommend.

The end of this week is going to be full of celebrations of all kinds from Christmas, to birthdays, to graduations and project finishings. Hope to dive more into this next week. Until then friends!

Jordan