2015 Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon Recap!

 Run the Bluegrass was truly an EXPERIENCE! It was held March 28, 2015 in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky. My HB signed us both up for this race–more so of a surprise to me. I’ll admit…I smiled when I received the confirmation in my inbox. The HB is a “Bling Chaser” (i.e., he runs for the shine, not the time–yes, that’s his mantra). When he saw the finishers’ medal then found out that Run the Bluegrass was part of the Kentucky Half Classic (Challenge), he was all in! Finishers of both Run the Bluegrass and the Kentucky Derby miniMarathon would receive the challenge medal. Recap coming soon. I was still somewhat on my hiatus after the Walt Disney World Marathon, but I decided to go for it. Little did I know, I was in for a BIG surprise. 

The Expo!

I always look forward to the Expo to purchase items I really don’t need. Our first stop was the Woodford Reserve Bourbon vendor. While he checked out the cool drinking glasses and such…I went to look for the hoodies they had at the expo from their online store. But guess what? SOLD OUT! I was happy to find out we were getting hoodies as part of our race  packet (swag).

Run The Bluegrass 2015

Someone is uber excited!


Run The Bluegrass

Trying to decide between the red and gray hoodie. It really shouldn’t be this hard.

I made my way around the Expo then stopped at the Navy 10 Nautical Miler booth. I was pretty impressed with the medal! They also help support the Fisher House Foundation by raising funds and awareness to help military families through Team Fisher House, the charity I will be running for in October. You can still donate here! Definitely adding this race to my list.


The first RTB medal (horseshoe) and the medals from over the years.


Race Day!

We were ready to go, but boy oh boy–the moment we stepped outside, we hauled tail to put on an extra layer. It was unseasonably cold for Run the Bluegrass. Past participants said the weather is usually perfect on race day, but it was in the low 20’s and I was not ready. I forgot to mention, the day before the race we saw snow flurries on the way to the hotel.

We headed on over to the group photo area for Half Fanatics. Excited that I ran into a few Half Fanatics (Heather and Dana) who were staying in our hotel. They are truly FANATIC! Not sure if I’ll make it to the Sun, but maybe one day. I also ran into a few ladies from Black Girls RUN! and fellow blogger and Team Turkey Stir Fry teammate, Karen of RunKnitTravel. We were on the same team for the Cigna Blogger Cook-off during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!



Run The Bluegrass 2015 - My Pretty Brown

Ghost Runner & Artie Cakes…Ready!



 And we’re off…

A hill at the start! Who does that? WE DO!!! Run The Bluegrass 2015 - My Pretty Brown

The wind was piercing! The HB was smart to wear a face “mask”. I’m definitely investing in a neck gaiter before next winter. We had to stop and soak in the beautiful scenery!

See the “horsies”?Run The Bluegrass 2015 - My Pretty Brown

Here’s a closer look! Whoaaa! Maybe a little too close…Run The Bluegrass 2015 - My Pretty Brown

Run The Bluegrass 2015 - My Pretty Brown

….and there were more hills. Dear God, those endless rolling HILLS! They were ALIVE and THRIVING!

Pretty sure this was hill number 1,000, 024 and…025! Don’t debate me on this!Run The Bluegrass 2015 - My Pretty Brown

RTB Meg’s Mile (9-10) was in honor of Meg Cross Menzies. It was chosen because mile 9 was the unforgettable mile. I didn’t know Meg personally, but you can’t hear about a story like hers and not be affected. All of the shoes seen below were donated to the less fortunate. You can read more about Meg’s Miles here.Run The Bluegrass 2015 - My Pretty Brown

Mile 9 was truly unforgettable! Meg, may your memory live on!

We made it, but we ain’t done yet!Run the Bluegrass 2015

I really can’t explain these hills. It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I knew when my HB stopped to walk that it was getting serious. Being a faithful Galloway follower–my run-walk-run went all the way out the door (for most of the race). I became a walker and I’m not ashamed to walk during a race either. There was no “racing” this day. It was pure survival mode and determination to make it to the end.  And people say Birmingham is hilly. Whether you run the hills in Mercedes (Half) Marathon and/or Atlanta hills…they are a piece of cake compared to RTB. I couldn’t take pictures of all of them because I was too busy calling on Jesus! I heard there were 28-ish rolling hills. They were endless! These photos make them look “easy” to tackle, but I’m here to tell ya…they were brutal! So brutal…even Humpty felt the pain! Run the Bluegrass 2015

We’re almost there! THANK GOD!Run the Bluegrass 2015

*cue Destiny’s Child* —“I’m a Survivor!”

I was looking a HOT MESS. Like…an epic level of hotmessedness–so there’s only a pic of the HB after we finished! *chuckle* And for those who were wondering why my HB still has on his “mask”…he calls himself  “Ghost Runner” and he likes to keep his face covered. *shrug* 

Run The Bluegrass 2015

Run The Bluegrass 2015

But here’s my beautiful bling!

RTB took great care of us at the finish! This was truly the best post-race snack pack ever. It was filled with lots of goodies and that was in addition to the free pizza and beer! We also made our way to the VIP Experience tent and stayed for a little while, but we were spent and ready to get to our warm hotel, soak, and get in our jammies. #TEAMEPSOMSALTartb1   artrunb25


I’m excited that RTB was my HB’s qualifying race for Half Fanatics–completing 3 half marathons in 78 days! I must say–he EARNED IT! So proud! artb8


I do have my own thoughts on those mega mountains hills…but Run the Bluegrass was truly a great experience (even though I wanted to quit a few times)! It is probably one of the most beautiful half marathons (if not THE most beautiful) that I’ve ever ran to date. Although it was the absolute hardest half I’ve ever ran (and walked)…I thank GOD that I finished! It was so pretty and I loved seeing the horses–and because it is named America’s Prettiest Half Marathon, you must run/walk/crawl this race at least once–just please train on hills! It is such a beautiful course. This became #8 of my 10 half marathons completed (with more to come before the end of 2015).Run the Bluegrass - Race Medals

You can sign up for Run the Bluegrass 2016 here! I will not be running, but I plan to be there to cheer everyone on!  Also, I had a lot of inquiries about my chevron Bondi Band–which I love! You can shop chevron products here! I am an ambassador for  Bondi Band, but all opinions are my own.

Have you ever participated in Run the Bluegrass? If so, will you return again?




DreamBig LJInspired

Let’s Talk Dreaming Big and Healthy Swaps! #LJInspired #1MillionMinutes

The amazing Lorna Jane just released a new book—INSPIRED! I decided to celebrate with Lorna Jane and Fit Approach by joining in on the #1MillionMinutes and #LJInspired Instagram Challenge!

The week started off with… “How do you dream BIG?” I love this prompt for Day 1. My Pastor, Chris Hodges, just started a new series called Dream Again. One of the things he said has stuck with me… “Dreams have a habit of coming true”. He also talked about the importance of writing our dreams (visions, ideas, etc.) down…perhaps in a journal. That’s something to think about.

DreamBig LJInspired

I love this blog prompt mad lib we were given. Something as simple as a mad lib gave me the opportunity to write some things down.

My mad lib reads:

I believe that the key to a happy life is love. Love inspires me to be the compassionate person that I am today. I am lucky/[grateful] to have God and my family (including friends, Highlands family, and virtual friends) in my life because they inspire me to live life to my fullest and to chase my dreams.

My dream is to one day meet all of my fitness goals while doing what I love, inspire masses of people on their fitness/running/wellness journey and even if it takes a while, I know I’ll get there because I’m not afraid to dream BIG!

While I dream big, I hope to inspire others by: never giving up on my dreams, remember perfection is not a requirement and failure is not an option, and being a testament that anything is possible. Yes, dreams do come true!

“Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” – Habakkuk 2:2


 DAY 2

What’s my fave healthy swap? Me being the foodie that I am, I couldn’t pass up Day 2 of the #LJInspired Challenge!

 LJinspired + FitApproach | My Pretty Brown Blog

Baked Parsnip Chips

I absolutely love Baked Parsnip Chips! When you bake them until they are crispy, you wouldn’t miss the “other” ones! You know which ones I’m talking about. I know I’m not the only one that has had a bag of Lay’s potato chips and had a hard time putting it down. Well…with Baked Parsnip Chips, you CAN eat more than just one without the guilt! They make the perfect healthy swap! You can get the recipe here.

Healthy Swap - My Pretty Brown Blog - LJInspired  


Day 2 (Tuesday, July 14th): What’s your fave healthy swap? #LJInspired #SweatPink @FitApproach @LornaJaneActive

Day 3 (Wednesday, July 15th): Who inspires you? [Tag 2-3 friends!!] #LJInspired #SweatPink @lornajaneactive @fitapproach

Day 4 (Thursday, July 16th): What does happiness mean to you? #LJInspired #sweatpink @fitapproach @lornajaneactive

Day 5 (Friday, July 17th): What makes you an #LJInspired girl? #sweatpink @LornaJaneActive @FitApproach

So now I want to know…Do you dream BIG? What’s your favorite healthy swap?




NEW Run/Walk Strategy from Jeff Galloway

I have used the Galloway method since I started distance running a few years ago. I used it while training for my second half marathon and absolutely loved it. Galloway Method is also known as Run Walk Run for those who are unfamiliar. The Run/Walk method would take your pace per mile and assign a specific run/walk ratio. I started with a 3:1 ratio (3 minute run, 1 minute walk) and even played around with 2:1 and 1:1. After talking to Jeff Galloway at the Princess Half marathon expo, he suggested that I try 30:30 (30 second run, 30 second walk or what I call 30-30’s). I did  make character stops at Disney, so I can’t share a PR story behind this ratio—but I did like how I felt. I also used 30-30’s during the early part of the Walt Disney World Marathon. I think by using them in the beginning, it helped me stay strong to the end to complete 26.2 miles!

Walt Disney World Marathon - My Pretty Brown Blog As a Jeff Galloway Blogger, I receive tips to share with my readers on ways to stay motivated and train for optimal performance. When I found out that Jeff Galloway introduced a NEW Run/Walk Strategy: The 30-second Walk Break, I was fascinated! I actually just started using 30 second walk breaks during training runs to get accustomed to taking shorter breaks. And then here comes Jeff Galloway and all of his running wisdom! This only confirmed that I was making the right decision. Below are details about the new Run/Walk strategy from Olympian Jeff Galloway!

Jeff Galloway Introduces New Run Walk Strategy - My Pretty Brown

Jeff Introduces a New Run/Walk Strategy 

The 30-second Walk Break


Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk/Run method was revolutionary for three reasons:

1 Run/Walk/Runners felt better throughout the long run.

2 Run/Walk/Runners recovered faster and got injured less often.

3 Run/Walk/Runners went faster with the breaks than without.

Since his introduction of walk breaks in 1974, Jeff he has received feedback from hundreds of thousands of runners, allowing him to fine tune Run/Walk/Run to keep people feeling better, staying healthy, and running faster.

The greatest benefit of the walk break comes in the first 30 seconds. 

Our heart rates come down, the running muscles relax, we catch our breaths, and the fatigue melts away. After 30 seconds of walking, we tend to slow down.

Here is a typical example of what happens with a 1-minute walk break:

A run/walk/runner averaging 10-minute pace in a marathon using 3 min/1 min might walk at a 15-minute mile pace for the first part of the race.

As fatigue sets in, that walk gets slower, and by halfway, the runner may be walking at 18 min/mi. This means faster running is needed to stay on pace, which creates more fatigue at the end of each running segment, so the walk will get slower, and so goes the downward spiral at the end of the race.

Avoiding the Slow-down

Compared to running constantly, the 1-minute walk break still results in runners feeling better, staying healthier, and going faster, but it can get even better! Limiting walk breaks to 30 seconds, or in some cases even less, while cutting the run time accordingly, gives all the same benefits, with even less fatigue and even faster times.

 The Bottom Line

If you are in already using a 30-second walk break or less, you don’t need to adjust. If you are using an interval that takes a 1-minute walk break, keep the same ratio but cut your walk and run times in half. For example, a 1-minute/1-minute interval now becomes a 30-sec./30-sec. interval. It’s that simple.

In the past when I took walk breaks longer than 30 seconds, I did find that I slow my walking pace down…a lot! Taking shorter walk breaks keeps me in the game and focused. I’m grateful that I discovered the Run/Walk method because it has helped me achieve my goals and continue to set new ones! Also, did you know that Jeff Galloway and many others have qualified for Boston using his Run/Walk method? I may not desire to BQ (right now), but it’s great to know that walk breaks have been proven to work!

You can read the previous installments of my Jeff Galloway Blogger Motivation and Training Tips here. For more wisdom from Jeff, you can find him on Facebook and Twitter!



Jeff Galloway Introduces New Run Walk Strategy - My Pretty Brown Blog


America’s Best Places to Run enhances the running experience by offering access to very special running routes. This book gives a preview of the scenery with directions to the start and special instructions to enjoy the area.  In addition to the more than fifty trails and half dozen race venues reviewed in this book it also  includes tips on training for trail running, dealing with elevation, running uphill and downhill, terrain issues, endurance, and time-

Jeff Galloway Blogger Tips | My Pretty Brown BlogDon’t forget to register for the 2nd annual Jeff Galloway 13.1.  December 11-13, 2015 brings a fun-filled weekend with the 13.1 half marathon, Barb’s 5K and the new “Fit Kids” run.

Join us in all the weekend events including the Race Expo with exciting vendors and speakers, a festive holiday mood and surprises at the finish line!

Register now at Jeff Galloway 13.1

Copyright © 2015* Galloway Productions All rights reserved.


Do you use the Galloway Method? What do you think of the new 30 second walk breaks? If you do use the Run/Walk method, what ratio do you use?




MCM 40th - My Pretty Brown Blog

MCM 40: The Countdown + Training Smart

Training for the Marine Corps Marathon kicked off this past Monday! Woo-hoo! Nervous and excited much, Artney? Why yes, I am! I will be Running with the Marines in less than 125 days! Cue “Eye of the Tiger”! I have also been working on Shredding weight over the past month and I will continue to focus on my diet. I am definitely going into this training cycle a lot smarter. I will follow the Dumbo Double Dare training plan as much as I can, while ensuring that I cover the prescribed miles for the marathon.


Marathon Training

I am using Hal Higdon’s Novice 1: 18-week training plan while incorporating the Jeff Galloway Method into my training runs. I will be using the same plan that I used for Walt Disney World Marathon, but I will be adding cross and  strength training. You can view it here. I am considering signing up for Training Peaks online training to help me stay focused. I like that it syncs with Garmin Connect too. I’ll know before the week is out whether or not I will use Higdon’s Training Peaks online plan. Long runs will be on a Saturday or Sunday, depending on what’s going on or what races I have planned. I am extremely focused when it comes to getting in the mileage. Respect the distance! My HB is so hilarious…he always says, “I don’t run for time, I run for the shine!” and I feel the same way, but I do have personal goals for this race.

MCM40 - My Pretty Brown Blog

Cross Training/Strength Training

When you know better, you do better. I did not cross train or strength train for my first marathon. Even if it’s your first marathon–I highly recommend that you do. My goal for this marathon is to finish strong with a smile on my face and with gas still left in the tank. I will cross train three days and take full advantage of my rest day(s). Days and times subject to change.

Charity Running

For those who are just following me, I am running for charity for the first time ever! E-X-C-I-T-E-D! I always wanted to run for something greater than myself, so I am thrilled that I will be running as an ambassador for Team Fisher House!

Fisher House Foundation is a wonderful organization that supports our military families when they need it the most—during hospitalization for unexpected injury, disease or illness. Fisher House provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes provide free temporary lodging so military and veterans’ families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis. 

Team Fisher House for MCM - My Pretty Brown Blog

I’m not going to stop fundraising until September, so keep the donations coming! These sweet families would love and appreciate your support. You can visit my Team Fisher House for MCM Campaign page here: http://www.teamfisherhouse.org/goto/artwalker.

Have you ever used Training Peaks?



Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare

RunDisney: Dumbo Double Dare Challenge Training…In Progress!

Dumbo Double Dare - My Pretty Brown Blog

Training for the Run Disney Disneyland Half Marathon 10th Anniversary Weekend started at the beginning of May! I may be two months in, but I couldn’t help but share the deets and the theme for the weekend! I’ll go from Coast to Coast to run the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge presented by Cigna. I’m so excited because this is my first Run Disney challenge! I’ll run the Disneyland 10K and the Disneyland Half Marathon consecutively. I’ll earn a medal for each race completed, the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge medal, and I’ll earn my Coast to Coast race challenge medal for running the Walt Disney World Marathon and DDD Challenge all in the same year! That’s four beautiful medals y’all! Run all the races…earn ALL THE BLING! Medals haven’t been revealed yet, but I know Disney will not disappoint! I will share them once they are revealed!

MPBB Dumbo Double Dare Training Plan - My Pretty Brown Blog

View unmodified version online here.

This is the training schedule adding cross training days. Now that MCM training is underway, my schedule will change to accommodate the mileage for marathon training.

In the meantime, I’ll be counting down the days until I see my Sissy and nephews—and I’ll be deciding which characters I’m going to dress up as for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. Yes, you MUST dress the part when you run Disney!

What races are you planning to run this fall?


SHRED INTO SUMMER! My Pretty Brown Blog

SHRED into Summer!

Can you believe summer is here? It has felt like summer since the beginning of spring! It has been hotter than the Caroliner Reaper here in the South and don’t even add humidity into the mix. I wonder if I’m going to take back saying I would rather train for a marathon in the spring/summer over winter? Craziness! The good thing is, heat training is great for runners as they prepare for fall races. But remember…hydrate, Hydrate, HYDRATE!

You probably know by now that I just finished Dr. Ian Smith’s SUPER SHRED Diet! I lost 15.1 lbs and 14 inches on Super Shred…woo-hoo! I loved Super Shred so much, I decided I wanted to SHRED into Summer! I learned a lot about food during my 4-weeks on Super Shred. Examples: meal spacing, calorie disruption, negative energy balance, and nutrient density—you can read all about that here.

SHRED INTO SUMMER! My Pretty Brown Blog


What is SHRED: The Revolutionary Diet ?

SHRED combines a low GI diet, meal spacing, and meal replacements. Those who follow SHRED will constantly be eating, 4 meals or meal replacements (soups, smoothies, shakes) and 3 snacks a day, over a six week program. Read more.

Again…I don’t look at Shred as a “diet”, but a different way of looking at food and a way you can incorporate the plan into your lifestyle. I started last week and I love the plan and how it keeps me on track with meal spacing, healthier options, and making sure I EAT! Like…who needs a reminder to eat!?  Clearly, me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do believe in allowances and occasional indulgences…just not extended stay vacays off of a daily “plan”. Plan meaning, knowing what you are going to eat and sticking to it, writing it in your food journal or even plugging your food into your app.

If you’ve heard of the 80/20 Rule then you know I’m all for it! POPSUGAR shares, “When you practice 80/20, you have the space to go out socially and enjoy a meal (or a cocktail!) with friends, but most importantly, it makes the whole clean-living thing feel doable for the long run.” I’m a realist when it comes to eating. That rule is necessary to keep you from crashing and going by Krispy Kreme when the hot sign is on and stuffing your face with a half dozen doughnuts. This really happened (No judgement, please)!

I will check back towards the end to share all about it. Now that I have the scale moving in the right direction, I must keep going. I’m also excited because one of my sweet friends, blessed me with the SHRED DIET Cookbook! I’m very thankful for people like her in my life—those who see the best in you, your potential, celebrate your successes, and encourage you when you need it the most! Sooo…thank you, Temeka! I appreciate you. Love you mucho! Yes, I’m having a sappy moment! You can find her over at Simply Temeka!


I’m so excited for all of the people that I have met during my Super Shred journey and all of those who have joined the Shred journey with me! I can’t wait to share some new recipes with you all from my cookbook! SHREDDER NATION STAND UP!

What goals do you have for summer?


Want to know more about my 4-week journey on Super Shred? Check out these posts!

The Super Shred Journey Begins (Part 1)

Super Shred Week 1 Mid-week Update (Part 2)

Super Shred Week 1 Review (Part 3)

Super Shred Week 2 Review (Part 4)

Super Shred Week 3  Review (Part 5)

Super Shred Week 4 Review | The Homestretch (Part 6)


*This post contains affiliate links

When It’s Acceptable To Say “Yo’ Mama’s…”

Yo' Mama's Restaurant - My Pretty Brown Blog If you live in the Birmingham area, in town for a race weekend (racecation), or traveling through the city, you must make your way to Yo’ Mama’s restaurant downtown! I kept seeing photos of various dishes from Yo’ Mama’s float through my newsfeed and I knew I had to make my way there soon! When I dine at a new restaurant, I always order something that I know I would like. One of my favorite menu items (if offered) is chicken and waffles. When I found out they were on Yo’ Mama’s menu, I was sold!

Yo’ Mama’s exceeded my expectations! My food was truly made with lots of love! My extra-crispy chicken shared the space with a perfectly golden, waffle. I added fruit which went well with their “top secret” syrup. They syrup is house-made and delicately sweet. Some may opt for fruit-only, but this Condiment Queen had to taste Mama’s house-made deliciousness! My HB and I were trying to guess the ingredients, because the flavor was like no other! Also, if you want to add a little excitement to your crispy chicken wings, make sure you ask for Yo’ Mama’s “made-from-scratch” wing sauce (on the side)…You’ll thank me later! For the gluten-free lovers, Yo’ Mama’s offers a variety of options for you too!

Yo Mamas Bham EatsBirmingham has truly grown into a Food Mecca and the list of eateries just keeps growing! Don’t believe me? Check out my recap of Eat Drink Birmingham here! I’m so glad I no longer have to travel to Atlanta or Los Angeles to get a delicious order of chicken and waffles. I can’t wait until my next visit…I hear the Shrimp & Grits are DIVINE! Next time I go, I must get one of Yo’ Mama’s freshly made desserts too! Doesn’t Mama’s Peach Cobbler made with farm-fresh peaches just sound amazing?! I know for sure this would make a great place to dine during a race weekend! *hint hint*

Yo’ Mama’s restaurant is located: 2328 2nd Ave North in Birmingham, AL 35203. You can also get a peek of their menu here. Don’t forget to check out their brunch menu and times (see website for details)! Make sure you sign up to receive future emails about specials and events. Eat local! Follow Yo’ Mama’s Restaurant: Twitter: @YoMamaMeals, Instagram: @YoMamaMeals, Facebook: Yo’ Mama’s Restaurant.

 Have you tried Yo’ Mama’s restaurant? What’s your favorite menu item?