Processing Disappointment + Cultivating Positivity

The Chicago Marathon 2021. It’s been a bucket list race for so many years, and three weeks ago I finally was able to toe the line. It was warmer than they anticipated, about 15 degrees warmer – yikes, 75 degrees start was not what I was hoping for. Still, I felt confident. I knew my fitness was there despite nagging injuries, I had run plenty of miles, and my Chiro and PT had helped me through it all. So my wave started around 7:45am and I felt great, I had to really hold myself back from going out too hard, the crowd was energetic and loud. The course just barely rolling – what a thrill.

10K in and I was in a stride still holding myself back trying to stay between the 3:25 and 3:20 pacers, for now. I knew I could keep this pace up no problem, the only hard moments were when the wind decided to gust in your face – it knocks your breathing off rhythm but I didn’t think too much about it. 10 miles in and while my legs still felt fresh as ever, something didn’t feel quite right, it was hard to place it. Was it my back, my leg that had given me trouble, was it the high temp and humidity forcing my lungs to work too hard? It was truly hard to pinpoint. The freshness of my legs, wanted me to keep going, my mind said I shouldn’t. So at 12.5 I dropped to a walk, called Jon on the phone and told him something wasn’t right. I was sad and confused, because I could have kept the pace up the whole way… but something had gone awry and I had to chose what happened next.

I walked 1 minute and then ran 2 minutes trying to loosen up my body, I was done by now no chance at coming back, but the decision to finish or walk off the course was another question entirely. Mindset is everything, I could live in the disappointment, but I could also embrace the atmosphere and the 11 or so miles I had left at this point. I did a body check to make sure I wasn’t actually causing damage to my hips or legs and pressed on. Smiling, chatting, breathing it all in. My legs were still fresh so as long as I circulated in a walk break to make sure I didn’t lock up I could run half miles at a time. Slowly (respectively – I realize it is still a nice clip to most) the miles ticked by. Jon was a rock, catching me at the points I needed it most.

I had fun the last 6 miles, when most people are just toasted my legs could still carry me with my steady clip. So down the last straight away we went and finally the finish line! I walked through feeling fine, until the 80 degrees suddenly caught up to my stomach, embarrassing! I sat down for a moment in the finish shoot (pretty far down, I wasn’t in the way) and quickly got told that I had to keep moving. That sounded dicey. So I breathed slow and steady to keep my stomach from actually taking me out and I made it over to Jon! In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have chugged the whole water bottle at the finish line.

We slowly made our way to the hotel and Jon stopped in for donuts that was just a block down. I didn’t feel like eating anything yet the donuts seemed like a great idea. Jon was so sweet to get a six count variety pack and I took small bites of each so we could try them all. It did not disappoint (shout out to Stan’s Donuts). We didn’t have as much time as we had hoped for since I finished about 45 minutes later than expected, so I quickly showered and headed to our last stop before flying out – Chicago deep dish.

OK, so I’m not a pizza person, however, when I traveled to Chicago in 2013 for a girls weekend we hit one of the iconic Chicago pizza places and I ate it up! This was not that. I am glad I had it, I still love true Chicago deep dish, but do NOT try to force it on your stomach a couple hours after a full marathon. It is not worth it.

The next couple hours were a blur, we made our way to the “L” and on to the airport. I talked to a nice older man from Maryland who had just finished the race as well. These young guns who had no idea what they were doing were sitting near us and asked us for running and fueling advice. Our flight was a few minutes delayed despite the flight attendant’s best efforts to make people board efficiently. I got upgraded at the last minute to Delta Comfort, which made Jon sad but my legs happy. Watched a fascinating documentary about the week after Princess Diana’s death, yes I am one of those people. Had a smooth drive through the city home; night time against the Atlanta Skyline is my favorite. My parents were there to greet us with pumpkin muffins and a sound asleep little boy. That adventure that really was 6 months in the making over, life moves on.

I would recommend Chicago to everyone. It’s an experience. A good one. I will forever look back and be glad I did it despite the result. But Monday started, I had a smiling boy that was so happy and surprised to see me, my work team didn’t care how I did, they are just forever impressed that I run marathons, I had so much support from my community. That’s a really beautiful thing about being a runner, you don’t have expectations added on from outside forces, it just gets to be you, and then when its over life is moving and people are with you through it all. A few days later I was in my kitchen eating ice cream and donuts with my friends and just happy to be there, thankful for the life God has given me.

If God is calling you – you can hold both, and they might have tension. You can set goals, step into the “yes’s” God is asking you too, but regardless if you hit a home run or strikeout, you did something and the people around you will spur you on for better or for worse.

5 Things You’ll LOVE About Coronado Springs Resort @ Walt Disney World

I recently stayed at the newly opened Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort on the Walt Disney World property. It was majestic and the details intricate and stunning but it wasn’t my first time staying on this property – we stayed in one of the regular rooms as a family back in 2012, and had such a wonderful time. It really has everything you need at your fingertips, and for a reasonable price, want to know why? Here ya go:

  1. Customizing Your Vacay – You can customize however you want and for the price you want. A suite by the pool? A water view from the top of Gran Destino? How $200s/night, high $400s/night (at club level)? Now that Coronado has expanded it really has something for everyone! A great place for a family vacay on a budget or a romantic honeymoon for the happy couple with an incredible view you can choose from an array of options to fit your style and budget.
  2. Foodies Unite – you literally have every option here from top of the new tower to the middle of the lake, the restaurants are plentiful and flavorful. Do you want quick service? Check out Cafe Rix or El Mercado for Mexican inspired and traditional American cuisine. Want a nice restaurant surrounded by the water? Check out Three Bridges that sits in the middle of the lake. Want some incredible views from up high? Check out Toleda for Tapas, or Dahlia lounge for drinks. If you desire something more themed check out Maya Grill. And you can keep going. There truly is something for everyone in the foodie world.
  3. Spa and Fitness – Not every resort has a spa and fitness option but this one gives you everything you need inside the budget you are on. We all know how hot and humid the Florida days can get so this is a great option for keeping in shape while staying cool before you hit the parks for the day.
  4. The perfect running spot – But if you do prefer to keep it outdoors for your cardio this resort is perfectly located and side-walked for a 1-5 mile run. You can get around a mile just running around the waterfront, and if you want to expand the side walk road right out front of the resort gives you a direct and flat route over to the All-Stars and back.
  5. Pools that are top notch – This is one of my favorite pools mostly because of the incredible slide that waves you in and out of the rainforest and pyramids, but I also love the smaller pools that you can find outside some of the individual resort spaces. Besides the pool itself, Coronado has volleyball course and hammocks on the beach area right near Gran Destino Tower.

Obviously I love Coronado for so many reasons, but it’s a really great place to include everything you want on a vacation into one spot and on a budget. Let me know if you have ANY questions: jordan@fuelingherforward.com

For now,

Jordan

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

The Fear in Goal-Setting & the Hotlanta Half

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about goals, it breeds vulnerability and accountability. Fear can come into the frame in terms of not meeting expectations therefore disappointing yourself and those around you. This can happen in relationships, careers, your health, and pretty much every other aspect of your life as well, but fear isn’t a good state to live in. I would rather fight ‘til the end and have people around me, then play it safe alone. So, I thought maybe we could start there today.
Most of you know I ran the Hotlanta Half on Sunday. It was my first half since the beginning of April, and I haven’t been near that distance since then. With my recovery from my procedure mid-April and the events that followed I was iffy leading into the weekend, but I have big dreams. My hope is that I can break into the elite realm while still maintaining this everyday person lifestyle, I hope it inspires people along the way. The idea that you can be active, wherever you are, see the world, and enjoy it to the fullest training yourself for the road ahead is something I am passionate about and all this is scary to say out loud. It’s important though and can’t be dismissed as fantasy. I can go into a whole long post about why the ins and outs of all this important, but I will save it for a later time.
Now going back to Sunday, I stepped up to the line with the idea that I would play it safe, but I had no idea what that would look like. Would I be able to run the whole thing? Would I even be able to stay under 2 hours? It scared me but I was ready to find out. While the weather had looked dicey several days leading up to the event the rain held off and the clouds hung overhead the whole time I was on the course. The humidity absolutely played a factor as to my ability to move forward, but I made it. Running those 13.1 miles in the hills and humidity of Atlanta reminded me why I loved it, but it also reminded me of the fact that each day and each season brings unique challenges. Yes, I did run the whole thing and my time was much better than anticipated, however over two days later and my body is still reeling, soreness after a half is something I haven’t known in several years.
Things look different now, my body has changed, my season has changed, but my goals remain the same. I can say in confidence that this next season will bring even more beauty, and that this past season has taught me SO much that I will use to fuel me.
Whatever season you are walking through the soreness won’t last forever, and there is a reason you have it there. You have grown, stretched, and possibly feel as though you’ve gotten trampled on, but you are still here, and you still have the opportunity to move forward. The Hotlanta Half has been one of my favorite events over the past several years and while this year looked different, I love it more than I ever have. That’s the funny thing about pain sometimes, you look back and realize you would do it all over again if it allowed you to learn, grow and step into where you are now. Even in a setback kind of way this weekend helped me get further towards those lofty goals I set a year or so ago.
What goals do you have? What sticky season have you had to walk through to help push them forward? Have you had the “Ah-ha” moment when it made sense on exactly why you walked through what you did?
I want to know! Send em my way via email or in the comments!
On to the Peachtree Road Race!!

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!