Tag Archives: Running

Yoga for Runners – Christine Bullock’s Fave Five Poses for Runners


I’m so excited to have another “Cool People Doing Cool Things” feature with a an amazing woman who is originally from Pittsburgh as well, Christine Bullock! Christine is currently living and working in Redondo Beach, California and is competing to be Women’s Health’s Next Fitness Star.

Practicing what she preaches, Christine Bullock has turned her expertise and passion for fitness, nutrition, and beauty into a dynamic lifestyle business. As an accomplished ballerina who started dancing at age three, Bullock has a lifetime’s worth of knowledge and insight into the importance of a consistent athletic routine and ongoing healthy eating habits. Passionate about helping others attain health and happiness, she has spent over 17 years working with health and beauty industry leaders all over the globe and has counseled and trained thousands of people to improve their health and well-being both inside and out. Bullock has certifications in Pilates, Barre, Yoga and Pre & Post-Natal, and is also certified as a Nutrition and Wellness Counselor.

Focusing on functional anatomy and movement science using dynamic movement to rebuild a balanced high performance physique, Christine integrates the most progressive exercise techniques used by world-class athletes into one powerful program designed to help increase strength, torch calories, boost metabolism, increase energy, all while balancing mind and body. Her workouts include functional training, high intensity drills, stability, plyometrics, flexibility, Pilates, yoga and core. Christine also teaches the importance of food quality, quantity, and preparation. She says, “20 minutes a day, no props needed, so no excuses!” The key is no boredom and no burnout. Her workouts are fast, functional and effective.

I asked Christine to create a series of yoga poses that are great recovery stretches for runners – I thought she would be the perfect person since she combines cardio and yoga into many of her workouts! Read on for a note from Christine and

Thank you Cassie for featuring me on Almost Getting it Together and giving me an opportunity to reach out to my hometown crowd while I take on Women’s Health’s Next Fitness Star competition. I am so excited to be one of the five finalists in this national competition! Not only do I get to grace the July/August flip cover of Women’s Health with the other ladies, but most importantly I get to share workouts, my fitness philosophy and more with you all! Please visit http://thenextfitnessstar.com/christine-bullock to join me on this journey, get fit, learn and vote!

I had to go with Steelers colors for my Pittsburgh fam — if you love the look, head to Carbon38.com — use code Christinebul50 for $50 Off First Purchase of $200.

Running is an awesome practice — with nothing more than your body and a pair of sneakers you can build mental and physical endurance, a sleek physique and a strong, healthy heart. I created this short yoga series to help ward off overuse injuries that can often plague runners. These moves will also provide increased flexibility for better form while running and feel-good stretches for relief post-workout.

Cow Face Pose

Christine Bullock Women's Health Next Fitness Star - Yoga for Runners - Cow Face Pose

This is a deep stretch that releases built up tension in the outer hips. Runners will also love the gentle ankle stretch that comes with this pose.

Start in a seated position and begin to cross your legs deeply so that your bent right knee is stacked on top of the bent left knee. Both knees should be in line with your chin. Make sure your heels are equidistant from each hip. Scoot your heels forward to deepen the stretch while keeping both sit bones connected to the ground.  Sit up tall, engage your core and breathe into the stretch. Switch the crossing of your legs and repeat.

Wide Legged Forward Fold

Christine Bullock Women's Health Next Fitness Star - Yoga for Runners - Wide Legged Forward Fold

This is a vital stretch for runners to release tension in the hamstrings. The mild inversion is also a great pre-run energy booster.

Begin in a wide legged stance with feet twice as wide as hip width distance apart and parallel. Engage your abs and extend your arms out to a T.With a flat back, hinge at the hips and fold forward. Allow your head to hang heavy to decompress your spine. Grab onto your calves and gently deepen the fold. Shift your weight forward into the balls of your feet to increase the stretch in your hamstrings.

Downward Dog Calf Stretch

Christine Bullock Women's Health Next Fitness Star - Yoga for Runners - Downward Dog Calf Stretch

This pose is a wonderful mild calf warm up for runners. It gently loosens tension in the calves and wakes up the whole body.

Begin in plank position; arms shoulder distance, feet hip distance and core braced. Keeping the spine and legs long, pike your hips to the sky. This is your downward facing dog. Evenly distribute your weight in your hands and feet and scan your body to ensure that you are engaging throughout. Now cha-cha your knees — bend one knee and push into the ball of that foot while extending the other leg straight and pushing through the heel.

Runner’s Lunge

Christine Bullock Women's Health Next Fitness Star - Yoga for Runners - Runner’s Lunge

The name says it all — this yoga pose allows runners to open up, stretch and relax the quads and hip flexors. Allow your body weight and breath to deepen you into the pose slowly for great results.

Begin in a low lunge with your left leg forward and right leg back. Start with your left knee stacked directly over your left ankle and your right leg extended straight back. Push through the right heel, while pulling the right hip forward and the left hip back. From this position walk your left foot six inches left and six inches forward. Bring your left arm to the inside of your left thigh. Breathe. Alternate sides.

Half Bow Press

Christine Bullock Women's Health Next Fitness Star - Yoga for Runners - Half Bow Press

This deep stretching pose opens up the front line of the body. It is a wonderful stretch for the hipflexors. The pose also gives runners a much needed opportunity to counteract the closed-in chest position that is common while running.

Begin face down on the floor with arms extended to a T, legs hip distance apart and tops of feet resting on the ground. On an inhalation, use your back muscles to lift your chest and prop yourself onto your forearms. Keep the neck relaxed and draw your shoulder blades and elbows back. Then bend your right knee and draw your right arm back to capture your left foot in your hand. Breathe into the pose and use your palm to push your foot close to your glute. Alternate sides.

Head over to the Women’s Health Next Fitness Star page to vote for Christine every day now until August 3rd! 

Chat with me:
Have you voted for Women’s Health’s Next Fitness Star yet? What are your favorite fitness poses? Do you have any questions for Christine?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 6.22

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Happy Friday! Isn’t it weird how Friday changes from when you were a kid (or in college) to when you were an adult? Except I kind of felt the same on Fridays in college as I do now because I was typically hungover from Thursday… why did I not heed the re-hydrating properties of coconut water as a senior when I had heard rumors of this magic potion? My Fridays wouldn’t have been so wrecked.

Speaking of being an adult, I have spent the past few weekends working on my gallery wall and now all that’s left is the actual hanging, which is stressing me out. It’s also stressing me out that I’m like a real adult and worrying about shit like decorating on my Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Times like these (and basically every day at most times) I wish my dad were a short drive away so he could come hang my pictures in places they won’t hit me on the head if there’s an earthquake.

Enough with my big exciting life that is home decor and on with the best links from the week.

Doesn’t Alaska feel like the great unknown? I would have no clue where to start planning for a trip there if it weren’t for Gal Meets Glam’s Alaska Itinerary.

Can we all agree that airport/airplane food is typically the worst? Here are some of Food52 editors’ favorite foods that fly well.

This list of awesome Chicago summer spots makes me want to escape Karl the Fog and head east.

Nashville has been on my must-visit list for a while.

Totally loving all these looks from the CFDA X Neiman Marcus party. Now I need a reason to dress up in SF…

I relate to this post on dealing with anxiety and heartbreak on so many levels. True story – dealing with your problems and trying to heal is a lot harder than staying depressed and anxious.

These pro tips to get your shit together will help with your summer cleaning. Is that a thing? I am wondering how I have accumulated so much stuff in 8 months…

I need to invest in some food props… this list of Seven Photography Resources that Changed My Blog from In It 4 the Long Run is awesome.

Running and Fitness
This post on the Top Five Confessions of a Fitness Professional made me feel so much better about every group fitness class I have ever taken – including the one time I took both Ashley’s BodyAttack and BodyPump classes back to back!

Ever wonder why your fitness class is so expensive? I am going to let you in on a little secret – paying almost $30 for a 45 minute spin class will ensure you get your ass there… early.

As I contemplate a fall marathon (Portland) here’s a nice reminder on how running 26.2 miles wrecks your body.

I’m having my friend Sam over for dinner Saturday night… and I’m totally suggesting we make Erin’s Plantain Sweet Potato Tacos with Guacamole.

I think we can all agree… gelato > ice cream (but ice cream still rules).

Definitely having this Grain-free Breakfast Cobbler from immaEATthat next week for breakfast.

Chat with me:
What confession would surprise people about your job? How do you handle anxiety and heartbreak? And most importantly… gelato or ice cream?

The Best Free Workout Resources

In spite of having no real idea what a budget is let alone adhering to one, I do try to not throw money completely out the window. One of the ways I do this is by not paying for a gym membership because I would never use it.

I was in yoga earlier this week thinking about how even with my “buy-in bulk” class rate (I think drop-in is $20?), this class was costing me $13.50. I multiplied it by two in my head, added the $28 I pay a week for SoulCycle (also my “buy-in bulk” rate – drop in is $30) and realized I wasn’t really saving any money not having a gym membership if you took into account all my other fitness classes. So, I really can’t validate the cost of a gym membership.

If you’re on a budget – or looking to save money – use these free workout resources to have a little money to put towards your next trip or pair of jeans.

The Best Free Workout Resources


With my babes Erin & Angela hiking last summer. Miss these girls so much.

  • Fitness Bloggers
    This is my favorite way to find new workout resources. Tone It Up has great weekly schedules that take the planning out of everything. Pumps & Iron‘s workouts KILL me (this is a distance runner saying something is tough). Not only is Erin one of my friends and a barre instructor, but she makes gorgeous, step-by-step pinable workouts.
  • Apps
    I have talked about my love for Nike Training Club before. If you’re still in the dark, it’s free, there are over 100 workouts and you can customize most of them.
  • Complimentary Classes
    Lululemon is amazing because they are all about bringing fitness to the community and giving back in return. Their stores all have run clubs and free yoga classes throughout the week. If you’re traveling or a yoga class isn’t in the budget, I recommend finding a local store and taking advantage of their free classes (and using that money for new Wunder Unders, duh).

    has similar programs (and I’m not just pushing them because they are a sister brand!) to Lululemon. They often have complimentary barre and pilates classes as well!

Yoga in the park (except I paid for this yoga in the park, whoops).

  • Take it Outside
    It’s summer in half the world (and the part of the country that isn’t San Francisco) so get outside and take advantage of it. Google hikes in your area, run the stairs at your local track or football stadium (or neighborhood, if you live in a hilly area) or go for a bike ride. A lot of places do free outdoor workouts this time of year, too.Other outdoor exercises include running (duh, have you ever read a post here before?) and swimming as well. Only one of these leaves you with funny tan lines.
  • Youtube or OnDemand
    There are hundreds of free workout videos on Youtube. Yoga by Adriene is a great resource and I actually started my foray into strength training many, many moons ago by doing Jillian Michaels workouts that were free OnDemand. Just go to the “Fitness” section and you’re bound to find some great ones.

Chat with me:
Do you stick to a budget? Do you pay/use your gym membership? Are there any free workout resources I missed?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 6.13

Photo credit: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

I would like to think I have brought good luck to the city of San Francisco. The day I moved here the Giants won the World Series and now the Warriors won the NBA Championship. I stayed out of the craziness Tuesday night because I like not being a victim of arson but there were some really great Tweets I read including:

“Not only are all those Warriors fans celebrating right in Cleveland’s face, but afterward they get to go back to the Bay Area.” — Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) June 17, 2015


Those may have been the best tweets this week, but here are the best links I found:

This list of bucket list travel locales is insane… and so cool to discover two are only a few hours away from SF!

So I want to go to Iceland but I dry the line at puffin burgers.

Burrata ice cream basically makes me want to go to NYC right now.

Now that I’ve worked on both coasts, I can say there is a difference between working on the East Coast and the West Coast.

This is a terrible confession, but I haven’t done my own nails in over four years. I used to get so excited about what color combinations to get and now I’m just overwhelmed… these nail and toenail polish pairs from Cupcakes and Cashmere are going to take the stress out of my next mani/pedi. (I know, my life is so rough.)

I cannot wait to read Aziz Ansari’s book, Modern Romance.

Dear execs, this is not how you act after laying a bunch of your employees off. The best line is “Rose-Fuled Hunger Games Reference“. I love working in retail America.

Running and Fitness
A really interesting article on ultra-runners over-training and burning out after just a few years, but how else can you train to run 100 miles?

And on that note, a top ultra-runner who started performing better when she stopped running like crazy and started cross-training in every other way possible.

I need to get in the pool ASAP and up my surf-focused workouts for a little trip that is in the works…

Sometimes races are as much about the laser-focused training as they are about the event. This working mother talks about her Ironman training.

I unapologetically love mustard. I really want to try making my own soon along with ketchup, pickle relish and more of your summer BBQ necessities.

What does your favorite wine order say about you?

I have to make these green scallop tacos ASAP.

I’m already dreaming about these strawberry cornmeal griddle cakes post-long run on Saturday.

Chat with me:
Has anyone else’s energy been so low this week? What foods have you been lusting over lately? Would you ever want to train for a crazy endurance event? Have you ever went on a rose-fueled tirade?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 6.8

This week flew by! I don’t even know why or how or what I did. I have a jam-packed weekend, including leading a run group with Vega (come run/yoga/snack with me Saturday morning!), a stop by the West Coast Craft Fair and SoulCycle and a hike on Sunday. Also I’ve been following basketball because I’m a Warriors fan by default… whoops.

Here are the best links I found this week… and keep reading for a giveaway with Krave Jerky!

I don’t know why LA has seemed so appealing to me lately (I think it’s all the food), but Cupcakes and Cashmere’s Guide to LA makes me want to visit.

Mongolia isn’t at the top of anyone’s travel bucket list but maybe it should make an appearance.

If you’re going to visit San Francisco, you should consider a trip to one of these off-the-beaten-path getaways. (I can attest to Pt. Reyes being amazingly gorgeous.)

I love Airbnb… and I’m so excited to stay in an Airstream over 4th of July weekend, but these crazy Airbnb rentals are also on my to-visit list!

This is where I am a responsible adult for like two seconds: here are things you need in an emergency kit. I saw those previews for San Andreas… maybe I should be prepared.

Continuing on my theme of being dark, it’s not really a secret I suffer from self-esteem issues, despite thinking I’m pretty awesome… because I always think I can be better. Anyway, I’m working through these issues with a professional but I also think these tips for boosting self-worth are great.

I think I agree with all of DKNY PR Girl’s Top 10 Social Media Pet Peeves. The FOMO one is the best one.

This is a little old but this #sadvertising is great. And makes me a little sad I don’t work at an ad agency (what, who am I becoming?).

I’ve said it before… wine tasting should be about learning, not just getting your buzz on. The Food 52 Editors managed to learn a things while wine tasting.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almond Butter. There aren’t any other words. The only thing that could make it better is Davida personally delivering me a jar. Come to SF please, I miss you!

Who wants to come over for a Macaron Party? This is beyond a brilliant idea.

You know how every day is a random food holiday? Today is National Jerky Day. Who makes these decisions? Anyway, my pals at KRAVE Jerky are giving you the chance to win a pack of their six best selling flavors! I actually love their jerky, as a snack and good protein source but not as a breakfast food from a gas station. The contest is open until midnight on Friday, 6.21 and I’ll pick a winner at random!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you’re looking to win other things this week, head over to Running with SD Mom and Erica Finds for even more giveaways.


Chat with me:
What are your social media pet peeves? Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb? Did you see San Andreas… should I?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 6.1

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So… this post is a little late. I had started it earlier in the week but I’ve been surprisingly social and busy all week so it was never finished. Despite going to bed at 11:30 last night (late for me!) my body was up and ready to start the day at 5 a.m. I’m going to feel like death at 3 p.m. for sure.

I luckily had a bunch of the best links I found last week still stored away so I’m sharing these with you and hopefully going back to sleep for a few hours!

When some people travel to a foreign city, they take a bus tour with other Americans or eat at restaurants with pictures out front (pro tip: never eat anywhere there are pictures of the food on the window). Here is how you really experience a foreign city.

How to travel like Anthony Bourdain. Need I say more?

I want to stay in every single one of these stunning beach homes, but especially Jade Jagger’s in Goa.

I’ve talked about my make-up free skincare routine before and I’m a big fan of Josie Maran’s Argan Skincare Ritual. People are hesitant on using facial oils but this article busts the myths that you’ll break out or have oily skin.

I really should have sat down and decided on a color palette for my apartment rather than just jumping in and buying things I hoped worked together. Also, Elsie from A Beautiful Mess’s home is gorgeous. 

Don’t have the budget for a gym membership? Not an excuse for not exercising Greatist has a list of cheap or free workout resources. (Hint: Running is also mainly free, but can be expensive if you want it to be too – not that I know from experience.)

It’s bikini season – everywhere but San Francisco because it’s winter here. Tone up your core with these kettlebell exercises.

I can’t get behind body-weight workouts… I don’t know why. Using dumbbells or hand weights are is just so fun to me – which is why I’m going to try this Full Body Circuit Workout with Dumbbells.

I’ve always been a fan of non-traditional meats. My parents made me try everything growing up so I’m pretty sure I had tried Noah’s Arc by the time I was in Kindergarten.

Here’s something you might not want to know about your go-to green smoothie – it might not be as healthy as you think. Three kinds of fruit, two tablespoons of almond butter, protein powder – that stuff lays on calories and sugar quickly. Here’s why I’ve been experimenting with fructose-free smoothies all week.

Speaking of trying to lose weight and failing miserably because there are so many tasty things in the world to try, thank God I’m too lazy to make these Xi’an Style Lamb Meatball Sandwiches because they look insane.

I need to make veggie ice cubes for my smoothies!

Chat with me:
Are you a morning person or a night owl? What is the weirdest meat you’ve ever eaten? Do you have any fructose-free smoothie recipes for me?

Beet Apple Lime & Ginger Juice for Runners [Vegan, Gluten Free]


It’s not really a huge secret I want to write a book some day. I have an entire book outlined (well, two – one lifestyle guide and one memoir-style) but I’m not sure if it’s something I am ready to have out there. Basically, it’s about all of the boys who have come in and out of my life and the things I have taken away from each situation.

One of these boys is the reason I love beets. He took me to dinner in Brooklyn and asked if I liked beets. I totally admitted that I really wasn’t sure. This is the girl who couldn’t remember what foods she liked and had to call her mom to ask in college because her parents made her try every food ever. Anyway, he ordered some beet and goat cheese salad and I was hooked.


I totally tried photoshopping the creases in my wrist – and photoshopped juice off my arm.

As I’ve been focusing on becoming a better runner this past year, especially focusing on nutrition, I have been eating a lot of beets. Beets are a great source of nitrate which basically increases your endurance (you can read more about it on Runner’s World). They are also low calorie, high in fiber and high in Vitamin C. The week before my marathon, I drank beet juice every day.

I actually pulled out my juicer and developed a beet juice that I like to think is made specifically for runners – it includes beets (duh), apple, lime and ginger (to reduce inflammation).


Beet Apple Lime & Ginger Juice

5.0 from 1 reviews
Beet Apple Lime & Ginger Juice
Recipe type: Juice
Cuisine: Gluten Free, Vegan
Serves: 1 juice
  • 4 beets
  • 1 apple
  • ½ lime
  • 1 inch ginger
  1. Place all ingredients in order into a juicer.
  2. Drink immediately.

If you don’t have a juicer – or the time to juice – or even the time to cook and eat beets, you can still get all of their nutritional power through Naked Juice’s new Bright Beets juice. Bright Beets is perfect for runners because it not only has 2 1/2 beets per bottle but also coconut water for electrolytes (and potassium!) and ginger to beat inflammation, clocking in at only 170 calories. It also has no added sugar or preservatives – you’re just drinking pure fruits and veggies!


Bright Beets from Naked Juice – perfect for post-run.

This post was sponsored by Naked Juice but all opinions are my own!

Chat with me:
Do you ever drink beet juice? Do you ever drink Naked Juice – which is your favorite kind? What food did you think you hated but you loved once you tried? Would you read my book?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 5.11

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So tonight (Thursday night) I held my first ever Vint session. Vint is a personal-training service in the Bay Area that gives you unlimited sessions with fitness instructors each month for only $95. There are running, yoga, strength, tennis and every other imaginable fitness endeavor sessions available. I am holding running and yoga recovery for runner sessions each week. You can try Vint for free for a month with my code joincassandrap. Join and come run with me a night or two a week!

Anyway, so other than that, this week I’ve been just trying to catch up on sleep and get back in the swing of things after being in Pittsburgh the past week. I kind of canceled every plan I had up until Friday so I could get the rest my body has wanted for a month now and take a week away from the wine and indulgent food. You could call my current diet JB6PM – juice before 6 PM. I realized today I was feeling way more energized mentally than I have been the past few weeks.

There were so many good posts this week it was hard to choose the best links to share with you!

I can only host “dinner parties” when I’m at home in Pittsburgh because I have yet to buy a bench for my kitchen table (but I do have two chairs – so one person can come over for dinner), but once I finally have more seating (or better yet, a bigger place) I’ll totally use these Tips for Being an Amazing Dinner Party Hostess.

Well, I was surprised to see “Marketing Managers” so high on this list of mean wages in the US. I’m feeling better about my chosen major right about now.

Wes Anderson designed a bar in Milan. This totally makes me want to go back to Italy.

Can you believe I’ve never been to Las Vegas? I’ve been to the airport once or twice but that doesn’t count. I love these ideas of how to do Vegas like an adult (uh, hello spa + pool + food +shopping).

I seriously cannot with these crazy requests to travel agents. People are ABSURD and so clueless. Mostly clueless.

For being the most uptight and high-strung person sometimes, I am crazily laid back when it comes to two things – work and travel. I totally relate to these Secrets of People Who Don’t Stress When They Travel.

Running and Fitness
I’ve kind of thought about training for a triathlon once or twice – I obviously have the running down, I can ride a bike and I swam in high school – and this article by Elle from Keep it SimpElle makes finishing a triathlon look doable – and fun!

Doing a workout to suit your mood is a concept with which I am well familiar. I love to run when I’m angry/stressed/sad/happy (okay, I mainly always love to run), go to yoga when I’m stressed and love(d) swimming because it’s the only time I can totally not think.

Have you been a little too indulgent and not focused enough on workouts? You and me both (until this week). These Five Ways to Bounce Back from Tone it Up are seriously on my to-do list.

Love this Brief History of the Marathon infographic.

I don’t know what any of these words are but I need this legume (noodle) soup in my life ASAP. Plus, did I mention it’s WINTER in San Francisco right now?

If you’re reading this blog you’ve probably made a 2-ingredient pancake because #healthylivingblogger. Here are 10 ways you can upgrade 2-ingredient pancakes… into 4 or 5 ingredient pancakes.

I have to make these Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars from Making Thyme for Health this weekend!

This avocado toast is next level – mushrooms, feta cheese and honey – what?

Chat with me:
Do you do workouts that fit the mood you’re in? How do you bounce back from being a little over-indulgent? Do you stress when you travel?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 5.4

Photo credit: 1 / 2 / 3

I didn’t have a lot of time to read blogs this week as I have been soaking in every moment home that isn’t spent working. This trip definitely feels a lot different than my trip home during Christmas for a number of reasons. Here are the best links I found this week.

This could even fall under lifestyle but this is literally just #goals from relationship to house to life.

I need to plan my next trip soon and may be using these gorgeous roads as inspiration.

See above: bucket list destinations on a budget. I’ve been to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap… I’m hoping Morocco or even Havana next!

Whenever you see how people’s style evolves throughout the years, is it really their fashion sense improving or just the evolution of fashion? The comparison between these style bloggers’ style when they started blogging and now is still amusing either way.

My kitchen is kind of perfect for the most part, but if I ever move out to a less wonderful kitchen, I’ll for sure use these tips on how to personalize your rental.

I think before I even crossed the finish line of the Pittsburgh Marathon last weekend, I knew I wanted to run another marathon. Angela sent me this great article on perceived pain after a marathon and how it decreases as time passes.

How does your marathon time stack up against other runners around the world?

Marisa’s recipes are always a home run. I hope we can have a homemade brunch date or two when she moves to the Bay this summer, especially if she makes these Huevos Rancheros.

Kendrick Lamar has his own kale salad now incase you were worried. It’s called Beets Don’t Kale My Vibe so like, that’s a thing.

How do I love avocado toast? Let me count the ways…

What does your favorite breakfast cereal say about you? I don’t know what mine is! It’s a cross between Special K, Cocoa Puffs and Honey Nut Cherrios, not that I’ve eaten any of those in years…

Chat with me:
What is your favorite breakfast cereal? What do you top your avocado toast with? What rapper should get his own salad next?

Race Recap: 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon


I’m writing this and still can’t believe I can finally say I’m a marathoner.

Almost 12 years ago I walked into Woodrow Wilson High School’s cross-country practice not being able to run three miles. I never thought I would have a half-marathon in me. I never thought a marathon was something I wanted to do. I don’t know if it’s having a lot of friends who are amazingly talented, Boston-qualifying runners (Lesley, Emily and Lorraine to name a few – hi, guys) that made me finally want to run a full-marathon.


With Coach Lesley who paced me through the first half – next year I’ll keep up :)

I went through most a training cycle – though not as good of one – over the summer and early fall. That marathon didn’t happen as I moved across the country a week before the race. Over Christmas, someone told me I needed to have a goal and to stop just going out and running without a purpose because I was never going to improve otherwise. Coming home to run the Pittsburgh Marathon seemed like a good idea – I would have the support of my friends and family, I assumed Lesley would be a pacer for a time that I could probably strive for and I knew the course pretty well.


Why yes Lululemon, I am.

I don’t know how it happened, but I somehow convinced Kay to come home to Pittsburgh with me and run the half-marathon. It’s a race that I really love and is near and dear to my heart and I thought it would be fun to bring a friend home. So Friday after work, we met at the airport and took the direct red-eye back to Pittsburgh.

As soon as we got to my house on Saturday morning, we ate some breakfast and immediately went back to bed for a few hours. I went on my shakeout run, cursing my incredibly hilly neighborhood but refusing to drive the 5 minutes to the trail so I could run flats. We popped into to see my girl Tu, had some lunch and went to the race expo to pick up our bibs where shit got very real. I think seeing the bib is what made the fact I was running a marathon the next day very real to me. I also got some new Lululemon Speed Shorts with a little Pittsburgh skyline outline on them.


Race expo moments (in my new SoulCycle Union Street shirt because I’m that girl).

Okay back on track – we’ll fast forward through some things, maybe saw Kris Letang at Fresh Market (TBD), came back to my house, went to my fave pizza place ever (including pizza I have eaten in Italy), Il Pizzaiolo with my dad and Angela and then took obnoxious flat runner photos to Instagram so everyone know we were running a lot of miles in the morning. I also realized at this point I left my favorite socks in San Francisco and had a minor freak out.


Race day gear. Note – I don’t run in compression socks, but definitely wear them after.

Angela stayed over so she could come cheer us on in the morning and we stayed up a little too late over-analyzing things, laughing over things we couldn’t remember in the morning and then talking about how much excitement and nervous energy I had.

Saturday night I had a lot of running dreams. I have running dreams a lot. I had a dream that I had run a marathon the week before but couldn’t remember it because I had a DNF. I forget the others, but that one stood out to me.

One thing that made me feel a lot more calm than I expected is the fact that I have run a lot of half-marathons. Emily mentioned this to me earlier in the week and I realized she was right – I have a race morning method down pretty solidly. When my alarm went off at 4:30 I just immediately went through the motions of drinking coffee and making breakfast and getting dressed without a second thought. The fact I was about to run a marathon still hadn’t totally sunk in yet.


Thanks for the words of wisdom, True Runner.

Angela drove Kay and I down to Station Square (where I have parked for the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon the past two years) and my dad drove separately so he could take his bike to ride around the bike cheer route. This is the second or third year he has done it and I think it’s a really great part of this race. If your loved ones who are coming out to watch you run bike/have bikes, I totally recommend them taking part in the bike cheer route. They even have bike rentals available if you don’t have a bike.

When I got to Corral B, I was looking frantically for Lesley, who was pacing the 3:55 group. This is also about the time I realized I forgot my hat in my gear check bag and wondered WTF my problem was with getting it together for the most important race I had ever run was. For being a planner, I’m terrible at the execution sometimes. Anyway, luckily I found her and then the emotion of what I was about to do really hit me. I get real emotional at start lines like a nerd.

The first 10-11 miles, I felt great. I had run this part of the course so many times before, both in races and in training when I still lived in Pittsburgh. I loved running an 8:5X pace. I was able to chat with Lesley, really enjoy everything going on around me, read signs, etc. etc. Then the part of the course I was most nervous about, the hill going up from the Birmingham into Oakland, was in front of me. This is where the half-marathon and marathon split, so I felt very committed at that moment.

True Runner, one of the larger running stores in the city, had people running up the hills offering encouragement and good vibes, which I thought was awesome. For living in a city known for it’s ridiculous hills – and running hills (and a very nasty hill during a few races) a lot in the Presidio – I did not feel good about this hill. I started to back off the pace group a little, then caught up again when we got onto Forbes in Oakland.

Going down Fifth Avenue, South Aiken and onto Walnut Street I was still with the pace group. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the race because there were so many people out cheering and a really awesome drum line. Soon after, I realized I was not feeling very solid and watched as the group got further and further ahead of me. For another mile or so, I could still see them and thought to myself, “Okay, 3:55 is a really aggressive first marathon time. You can still get sub-4”.

Around mile 14 or 15, I had a real dark half mile or so. I say this because I literally thought about quitting. I didn’t think I had it in me to run another 10+ miles. I just thought maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a marathoner – maybe all this hard work and training and talking about this race would be for naught. I imagined having to call my dad to come pick me up. I imagined having to delete all the Facebook posts and Instagrams talking about the race and marathon training. I thought about the fact I made my friend fly across the country to run with me. I thought about all the words of encouragement that everyone in my life had given me and what it would have been like if I had to say I didn’t finish because I just didn’t feel like I could.

This really bad mile made me realize how important positive self-talk is to achieving things. I always tell people running is very, very mental and that day I took my own advice. Tearing myself down wasn’t going to do any good. Just because I wasn’t going to run a 3:55 didn’t mean I wouldn’t finish the marathon. I told myself I was going to cross that finish line no matter what and I was awesome and doing things not many people can say they have done. Finishing a marathon is not basic bitch level and I definitely am not basic (despite that Mad Mex quiz that said I was a Basic Burrito*, WTF).

It was a really hot and humid day in Pittsburgh and I have definitely gone soft when it comes to dealing with weather that is not between 60-70 degrees with 0% humidity and sunshine. I was stopping for water and/or Gatorade at every fluid station. I also remembered that when I start to get the least bit dehydrated, I get really negative. So when I started having negative thoughts, I focused on just running to the next fluid station.

I kept looking at my watch and until mile 20 or so, I was still running 9:10-9:20 pace. Then I hit mile 20 and even though I had a 10K left (and in my head, I kept breaking into pieces of my normal six mile route), I started to slow down unintentionally. I was now in a distance territory I hadn’t ever run before. I also kept reminding myself that many talented runners have said no matter what, that last 10K is Struggle City.

Miles 20-22 I somehow felt okay. At mile 22, I started feeling some real pain. My feet had been hurting since at least mile 18 and now my thighs were not cooperating with moving forward very well.   I just kept telling myself all I wanted was to run the entire time (minus when I started walking for fluids around mile 16-17) and that I could push through it. I didn’t spend entire Saturday mornings running and mornings before work doing 10-mile track workouts for no damn reason. I was going to push through the pain because why bother leaving anything out on the road?

With a little under a mile left, I caught my dad on his bike again. I gave him a really big smile and wave and made myself look like I wasn’t in probably the most pain I had ever been in, minus maybe running on a sprained ankle or with tendonitis in high school. I kept trying to focus on relaxing my face and not looking miserable.


If you want to know what complete misery looks like after running 25.5 miles and trying to smile for your father, this is what it looks like. I’m kind of embarrassed of how bad my form is here.

I was very close to the mile 26 sign and had a real fear my legs were no longer going to move. I was in sight of so many people and walking at that point would have been the biggest embarrassment. A race official or volunteer hopped onto the course and started running with me, forcing me to pick up my pace a little. I was so thankful for him. He left me with probably .05 of a mile to go and I just kept forward towards the finish line, which I never thought was going to come. I crossed the finish line and got a little Tear City, which I knew was going to happen.


Ang captured this shot of me near the finish.

I looked at my watch and saw 4:06:XX (I don’t remember the seconds) and was a little disappointed but also felt like I couldn’t really vocalize that. I ran my first full marathon – I had to stop being so hard on myself and just be proud and celebrate.


This is kind of what death looks like.

They lengthened the finish line corral this year, which was really nice. I seriously was having trouble moving very fast at all by that point but it was nice to not feel crowded. I think that also happens when most of the 30,000 runners don’t run the full marathon. Finally I emerged at the end and went to the family reunion section to try and find Lesley, my other friends and my dad. I was not walking very fast at all and was afraid to sit down for fear I wouldn’t be able to get back up. Finally I did because I needed to stretch out and everyone found me so we could take photos and make our brunch plan of attack.

I was asked afterwards what I would have done differently. Truthfully, I didn’t do the best job tapering. I went to SoulCycle. I played tennis. I walk around the city a lot. I may or may not have drank a lot of wine and maybe a whiskey and ate some indulgent food last week. I kind of just ran my tempo runs 8:40-ish pace rather than pushing any harder. I didn’t do any marathon pace miles during my long runs.


I would not have done brunch differently.


Post-race Bloody Mary is kind of my thing. #allthesalt

Will I do another marathon? Probably. Definitely. I really loved this race and truthfully, I feel like new distances are always the hardest the first time because you don’t know what to expect. My next marathon I’ll know what it’s like to run 26.2 miles. Spoiler alert: painful. Overall, I had so, so, so much fun despite how badly I was hurting at the end.

I know you’re all super invested in my nerdy stats from yesterday (I secretly love math), but I was the first girl from San Francisco to finish the marathon (out of four) and second girl from California (out of 38). Now for real stats that actually matter – I finished in the top 25.9% of my division, top 21% of females and top 31.2% overall. I really love knowing I run faster than a good amount of boys.


With my support group and sherpas, Angela and Kay.

I don’t know what my next goal to conquer is going to be just yet. I still want to run a 1:45 half-marathon this year (which is taking 6 minutes off my current PR, which would take a lot of work I believe). I’m considering running the San Francisco Marathon in July or at least one of the halves. I might take some time off training hardcore and focus on surfing for a few months. I do know right now I want to focus on losing the couple of pounds I have gained marathon training, get my strength and core back up, and enjoy this week of taking it easy and letting my body heal.

*I retook the quiz tonight looking for the link and got Shrimp Fajita, aka Cassie Death Fajita, so maybe I’m no longer basic.

Chat with me:
Have you ever run a full marathon? Do you want to? What would you have done differently if you were me?