Cigna Blogger Cook-Off! Let The Fun Continue… (Part II)

cookoff with cigna

During the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, I was invited to the Cigna Blogger (Challenge) Cook-off! Cigna is a global health service company that is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being, and sense of security. The event was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. It was exciting to formally meet bloggers that I met or discovered through social media along with many new faces!

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Team Turkey Stir Fry1

 

Pascale Jean, Cigna Health Promotion Manager and nutritionist, kicked off the event! She ran Dopey by the way! After the introduction, we were split into teams. I felt like I was on an episode of Iron Chef! The challenge was for each team to create a meal fit for marathon training. We were given a protein along with an abundance of ingredients to help bring our masterpiece to life! Each team had their own Disney Chef to oversee them. Thank you, Rebecca!  We had all of the kitchen accessories and appliances we needed…so “let’s get it started” *in my MC Hammer voice*!

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superfoods

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Dicing like a BOSS!

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Kristin, Carrie, and I are ready for a taste test!

 

LET’S EAT!

I really need to say this…everything was AH-MAZING! Sampling everyone’s creation made it even more fun! From Team Turkey Stir Fry’s (you guessed it) exquisite turkey stir fry to one of the best vegan meals I’ve ever tasted! Let’s not even talk about the shrimp-n-grits. I think everyone is still raving over those grits! And the dessert! Oh…my…goodness—Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding! Divineeee!

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We had the pleasure of dining with two amazing people: Sarah from Sparkly Runner and her beau, Matthew! They were such a joy to be around. We chatted about everything during our meal: the fact that my husband was self-proclaimed support staff for the event, running, and so many other things. You would have thought we were old friends picking up without missing a beat. We already know they will be our Forever Friends!

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After we enjoyed our yumtastic meals, Chef Mickey arrived for a private Meet-and-Greet with all of the bloggers in attendance!

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cigna_PME7865This event was truly one of the highlights of my weekend! I am grateful for the experience that Cigna provided us and the opportunity to work with one of the leanest *pun intended* and meanest (I mean this in a good way) team: (Elbow Glitter, Katrina Elle, Run Knit Travel, Run All The Races, including Rebecca Bastian), and Maker Mother Marathon Runner). So many great moments: marathon training meal ideas, fun times with Chef Mickey, meeting fellow bloggers who encourage a healthy lifestyle, and being hosted by an organization who thrives on giving back to others! Thank you Cigna for the opportunity to share in this amazing event and being a company that makes a huge imprint on this world!

 

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The Cigna Team!

 

Stay tuned for Part III of my Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Recap! In the meantime, you can check out Part I here!

 


Cigna_logo4Cigna Corporation is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation. The products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. 

 “Cigna and runDisney share a commitment to inspire healthy living and active lifestyles across all ages and fitness levels,” said Lisa Bacus, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Cigna. “runDisney’s stature as one of the most respected race series in the nation gives Cigna and our customers and employees the opportunity to showcase our passion for community service. At the same time, we’ve been able to share inspiring personal stories of the customers, military veterans and so many others who have been part of our runDisney teams.”

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The majority of the photos in this post were provided courtesy of Cigna!

 

 

 

 

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Part I: The Pop & Expo

Hello everyone!

I couldn’t put this amazing weekend into just one post, so hang on for a Magical ride! We arrived in Orlando on Thursday morning of January 8th. We boarded the Magical Express and then we were Walt Disney World bound! It was 7 degrees when we left Birmingham so we were excited to be sun-kissed by the Florida sun. It was such a beautiful day…cold, but beautiful. And we’re off…

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When we arrived to the Pop Century Resort, we were graciously greeted by the hotel staff. We were able to check-in early, even though I didn’t take advantage of early check-in. It actually worked out for us because the systems were down prior to our arrival. Thankfully, the system came back up not long after we approached the counter. Since we had a choice of which decade we wanted to stay in, you know what we chose: the 1980’s of course! 80’s baby in the houuussseee…well, hotel!

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It was such a beautiful day! As the sun was setting, it created the perfect backdrop for snapshots of our retro residence for the next five days. I thought I’d share a mini tour around the resort! From floppy disks, Walkman, Rubik’s Cube, Roger Rabbit…to Pac Man! This resort was truly taking me back to circa 1980-1989. 

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Art Runs Disney

We’re ready for the runDisney expo! Yes, those are pineapples! Can’t you tell I’m excited to be in Florida!

 

THE EXPO!

The expo is always fun because there is every vendor you can imagine and then some. I also love the Speaker Series which included: Former Olympian and official runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Ambassador John Bingham, actor Sean Astin (Yes, from the Goonies!), Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray, Diet Diva Tara Gidus…just to name a few! They also had really nice merch this year for all of the races! I was happy to snag an official runDisney commemorative marathon jacket along with some other cool items. If it’s going to be your first marathon, you gotta live it up! Speaking of living it up…also available were the 2015 commemorative runDisney Steamboat Willie New Balance shoes (available only at the runDisney expo). Last year I had anxiety trying to get my hands on a pair of Minnie’s, which I did — but this year I didn’t stress it as much. You’ll see why later. They are pretty sweet and you can read more about them here.

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I love all of the runDisney medals! I can’t wait to earn them all!

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at the expo!

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runDisney Steamboat Willie New Balance! Mickey (black) Minnie (Grey). Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog

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My Hubby’s first runDisney race! He’s pumped!!!

 After we picked up our race bibs, race gear, and checked out the vendors, we decided to head back to grab a quick bite at our hotel. We were blessed with passes to Epcot so we debated whether to go Thursday evening or Friday. Our schedule was packed so we opted for Thursday evening. We wanted to do the bulk of our walking on Thursday since Hubby’s race was Saturday and my race on Sunday.

If you ever go to Disney for a Racecation, make sure you take time for rest. Most people will want to go to at least one park. For the Princess Half Marathon weekend (read that recap here), I had no idea what to expect. I do know I was excited and overwhelmed by all of the vendors. We ended up doing more walking than anticipated on both days at the expo. Before the marathon, I knew I needed to limit my walking. If you get your activities in early (or post race)  your legs/feet won’t feel as tired. I know, it’s Disney and it may not always work out that way — but try to give yourself a day or two of complete rest before your race day. If you do walk, don’t forget compression socks and comfortable shoes!

 

Next up is Part II of my Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend:  Cigna Blogger Cook-Off and Meet-Up!

Now That We’re Acquainted…Hello 2015!

Happy New Year guys and gals!

So I thought I would at least get a good week in before I posted about my goals for the new year. I think my struggle with writing 2014 2015 is enough. We also, know that improving our diet and exercise habits are standard goals for life. It is, however, a great feeling to knock off one of your top goals for the new year within the first few weeks!

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Here are my randomly awesome goals for 2015:

2015 Goals

Complete my first FULL marathon (26.2 miles): Well, guess who’s having the most Magical start to 2015? I AM! I completed the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11, 2015! What an amazing way to bring in the new year. I’m still on Cloud 9…you have no idea. I’m seriously still soaking it all in, as you can witness here. My runDisney WDW Marathon Weekend recap is coming soon!

Blog More Frequently: So I must admit, I didn’t blog as much as I would have liked in 2014, especially the last quarter of the year. I committed to marathon training and on most days, by the time I made it home, my eyes needed kickstands just to stay open. I can now shift my focus back to my blog.

Learn Spanish: I took French in high school and I don’t remember much at all…just that my teachers name was Mrs. Broglie, my French name was Arianne, and oui means yes. I do love watching French films (with subtitles); however, Spanish is where “it’s at”! Spanish is not a foreign language anymore and I feel with me living in the U.S., I need to familiarize myself with it. After returning from my visit with my Sissy in “Ellll-A” (aka Los Angeles) this past summer, I decided I was going to purchase a subscription to Rosetta Stone. Now that my schedule has freed up a bit, it’s time for me to pick it back up and practice being a good “estudiante”. The structure will eventually get there. Wish me luck!

Complete Six Half Marathons: It’s no secret that I love half marathons. It’s my favorite distance to run. I’m so excited to not have any pressing commitments, so I can have fun, run ALL the races, earn all the bling, and just enjoy running! I’m really excited that I will be running for a great cause this year, which I will share about later.

Learn How To Sew: So I’ve had this sewing machine up in my closet for over a year now. It’s time to dust that baby off and start creating some masterpieces! My name doesn’t have “Art” in it for nothin’.

newgoalsStrength Train + TRX: I’m no stranger to strength training, weights, etc. I started taking Body Pump (BP) classes back in 2011 and I enjoyed them. Then, I took some time off and decided to take on Shaun T’s 63 days of what? INSANITY! Thennn…I was introduced to TRX last year and I’m really excited to add it to my workout regimen. TRX is a total-body workout that uses gravity and your own body weight to give you an insane workout. It’s helps create a stronger core, helps build muscle, and overall increases fitness level.

Latin (Infusion) Dancing: I love Zumba! I seriously have the best Zumba instructor on the planet. Heyyy Marta! Her class is always packed with 60+ people and it is truly a dance party. I stopped Zumba while training for my marathon and I’m so happy to be back. I come from a dance/cheer background so Latin dancing gets me excited! I’m hoping to find somewhere I can take true lessons and learn the technical side of dances like the Merengue, Bachata, or the Samba! Who knows…you may find me on So You Think You Can Dance! Okay…maybe not.

I think goals are more attainable than resolutions. You don’t have to beat yourself up if you have a setback. Just keep pushing until you reach them! Happy New Year and make it an awesome 2015!

Do you have any goals for the new year?

 

 

My Pretty Awesome 2014! {Year in Review}

2014 was a great year!

I had two goals (outside of the obvious: eat right, exercise, no swearing…you get the point). My first goal of 2014 was to become a Half Fanatic. My second goal was to increase my mileage with running (i.e., gradually cover more distance).

I completed my 3rd official half marathon on February 16, 2014 for the Runniversary of my first half (Mercedes Half Marathon). Completing this race meant that I was one race away from becoming a Half Fanatic!

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Seven days later, I completed the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World which was the race that would qualify me for Half Fanatics! I became official on February 25, 2014 as HF #6579!

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One of my highlights was meeting Jeff Galloway!!!

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Serve Day 2014 (serving the communities of the Birmingham area)

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I joined my first small group with my church called LIFE (Living in Freedom Every Day) group and it was the best decision of my life! At the end of the Life Group semester, we attended a retreat that changed my life. I found FREEDOM!

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“I’ve gone through life and not quite understood the magnitude of His love. I was baptized when I was 12, but after the LIFE retreat there was no question—I wanted to get baptized again. There was no way I could pull off all of those layers and not seal my heart for Christ. When you really get it…I mean REALLY get it—your life will NEVER be the same. All of the shame and guilt that I carried and there was not one ounce of condemnation. Not one. All He wanted to do was love me immensely. Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Pursue is such a powerful word! It means to search with relentless abandon, capture, chase, overtake, to run after…” No matter where I am, where I go, or what I do—His perfect love will NEVER stop pursuing me. I’m seriously still soaking this in.” -written by Artney Walker, May 4, 2014

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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I traveled to Redondo Beach/Los Angeles this past Summer to visit my Sissy, nephews, and brother-in-love!

Manhattan Beach!

 

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Me and Auntie’s Baby headed to church!

 

First ever, In-N-Out! This is huge!

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Ran the Sweat With Your Sole 15K and received one of the sweetest pieces of bling that I own! This was also my first 15K race ever!bgr15k

 

Ran my first race as a Half Fanatic (#6579) after being inducted into the asylum. The Women’s Running Half Marathon–Nashville. You can find that recap here. I guess you can tell I love half marathons! Half Marathons are my favorite distance to run. nashvillehalf

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Half Fanatics ready to rock the WRSNash!

 

 

Got a chance to see The Roots live at a free concert at our local park (Railroad Park)!

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My second goal: I completed my longest run to date: 20 miles.  I know my hard work and effort will shine through in 2015!

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I celebrated my 3-year wedding anniversary with the one you have known as my HB (Hubby Batman–long story lol)! Here’s to a lifetime of God’s blessings, favor, joy, and unfailing love!

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The Pops!

hairposts My most popular post in 2014 was Tis the Season To Protective Style–Senegalese Twists Edition found here. Braids, Twists, Locs, etc. really boomed in 2014 and they will continue to be a going trend–which means, there will be more posts of hair projects in 2015!

My favorite post of 2014 was the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend (3 parts) found here.

My favorite recipe of 2014 are my Lobster and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms found here. Okay, I really have a lot of favorites, but since I’m making these tonight I thought I’d share!

My favorite restaurant of 2014 is Babulu Tacos & Tapas! Recap here. You must dine there in 2015!

 

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I’m really excited about the new year and sharing with you guys! I hope you are inspired in some way. Whether it be a new workout, recipe, restaurant, project, complete a first 5K…whatever! Be inspired! I just want to thank each and every one of you for joining me on this journey!

What are your highlights of 2014? I’d love to hear them! In the meantime…

Here’s to an AH-MAZING 2015!

-XO,

Artney

 

 

 

 

Even Supergirl Gets Surprised!

The month of December has come with a lot of unexpected blessings. The Hoka One One Team was gracious enough to send me a card and a few coupons for my next purchase for myself and a friend! Well, I did just that. I decided on the Hoka Conquest. I’ll share a review of these in the upcoming weeks. I also have the Stinson Lite and Stinson ATR (trail). These shoes rock in ALL departments, especially the colors. It’s rare for me to find a running shoe with a super rad color combo! Thank you, HOKA ONE ONE!

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Hoka

 

Countdown to runDisney!

Disney fans know what this cute, little package means! Our Magic Bands arrived last week! After receiving them, I was overwhelmed with excitement, happiness, anxiousness–and everything in between. Race day is almost here!

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Holiday Eats!

Okay, so I surprised myself with this one. I posted to my Instagram how I was making something fun! A few people guessed what it was, and they were right! It was Peppermint Bark! I never thought I would make it myself–but, why not? From here on out, I will be making my own peppermint bark during the holiday season. Yes, that’s the only time of year that I indulge in this chocolatey-minty goodness!

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Spreading Christmas Cheer!

I surprised my HB with his first Road ID! He was very excited and I made his Road ID even “cooler” by adding a 13.1 badge since he completed his first half marathon in September. Everyone needs to be as safe as possible while out on a run, bike ride, hike, walk etc–especially if you happen to get your activities in solo. Find out about the inspiration behind Road ID here. Get one! Trust me, you’ll never leave home without it.

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Here I am cheesing from ear to ear on Christmas morning after my HB surprised me with this big, gift box! I couldn’t help but feel like Supergirl after lifting it. You see those guns? Rrrawwwwr! By the way, how cute are these Supergirl jammies? I posted here about footed pj’s being on my list of holiday favorites.

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*Pause* You know I had to show off the cape! EPIC-NESS!

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So here’s what was inside the big box–it’s a Foot & Calf Massager! I seriously stalked this thing for months! I didn’t even tell Santa I wanted it for Christmas. Santa said he noticed how hard I’ve worked over the past 20+ weeks with my training and felt I deserved it. What’s even more awesome about it–I can change the settings from my smartphone app. How cool is that? Best. Massage. Ever! Thank you again, Santa!

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 Clearly, someone loves it as much as I do!CCCC

 

It was a Post-Festivus celebration on the pavement!

I decided to get my long run in on Friday instead of Saturday (due to possible rain). I’m so glad that I did. After those 12 miles, I’m starting to see the light! It was a gorgeous day.  Sometimes you have to adjust your schedule to ensure that you stick to your training. run

 

Lazy Saturday Eats!

For breakfast Saturday morning I decided to make one of my favorites: Sausage Quiche! It was the perfect easy-meal for a lazy Saturday.  You can find the recipe here. It was football and The Wire marathon…ALL day long!

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Did you have a great month of December and holiday season? This year truly went by so fast. I can’t believe 2015 is almost here! I will be sharing my 2014 “moments” soon!

 

 

Trying Something New While Rollin’ in the Deep (Trails)

Hey y’all! Update!

I have been consistent with running in the mornings, especially now that time has changed. I know a lot of people don’t like the time change, but I’m loving it! It has been very cold the past week and, of course, on my run days. I’m currently on week 10 of my training and I just wrapped up what Hal Higdon calls a “sorta-long run” with 7.8, then 4 miles. I have 15 miles scheduled for the weekend at some point when I’m ready to brave the cold. I have been using the 5:1 (Galloway) ratio and I like it. I have to remember on my long runs to take walk breaks because I’ll get in a groove and ignore my Garmin alerts. I’m definitely going to do a better job of staying on that!

Gear and Fueling

For the past few months I have been experimenting with different fuel, gear, etc. to see what will and will not be joining me on race day. I was using my CamelBak on my longs runs (which I love btw), but I wanted to try a different hydration system. This past spring, I found a 2-bottle hydration belt from TJMaxx, tried it out, but it didn’t quite work with these curves. Women with my kind of curves feel what I’m sayin’. I had my eye on the Nathan “Triangle”, but I really wanted the purple and pink. Since no one had the colors I wanted, I went to old-faithful, Amazon. I found it for $22.00 which was a lot less than in the stores. BAM!

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I also found out about Pickle Juice (PJ) Sports Drink through my running group’s recent educational series. I had pickle juice at mile 11 at the Magic City Half last year and loved it! Also, as a kid, I loved drinking pickle juice out of the jar before my Mom discarded it. I know I’m not the only one. According to the label, the sports drink has more electrolytes than regular sports drinks and it helps with muscle cramps. I rarely have cramps (thank God), but I know runners that swear by it. I’ll definitely keep it in my runner arsenal just in case.

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I ran into my friend, Leticia, a few mornings while getting my miles in! I enjoyed sharing the pavement with her, it made made those miles go by much faster.

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My first Long Run with Coach Lubbs! 

If you don’t know who Coach Lubbs is, he’s one of my friends. He’s from Kenya and I must mention, he’s an incredible runner. It’s in his blood. He took me on a route with LOTS of rolling hills that I was NOT prepared for. So rude! lol I was pretty vocal about it too…and I will not dare type it on this post. I stopped complaining and looked at the brighter side—it was an opportunity to make me a better runner. Well…in this case, a better walker with those crazy hills! *side eyes*

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I have no idea how we got here! It was my understanding that Coach Lubbs knew exactly the route we were taking; but he actually made it up as we went. *side eyes again* However, I was happy that I found this trail. I frequent this trail from time to time, but from another entrance. We left the road to enter this beautiful portion of the sun-forest. I was happy to discover that it was one of the trails that I always wanted to explore, I just didn’t know where it led. I think I can grow to like this trail running thing.

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Then there’s this face. This is the face you make when your coach tries to take you more miles than what’s on your training for the day. I was supposed to run 13.1, but we ended up with 14 miles by the time we made it back to the start. That’s what happens when you go an unplanned route. *hmph* All I could think about was food!14 miler 2

 

After my long run I headed over to this cute, locally owned coffee shop called O’Henry’s (Coffees)! I have officially fallen in love with this place. It has a loft, country-rustic feel and it’s perfectly cozy for a post-run latte, relaxation, or just quiet time.  I had a bagel with a “skinny” Café Mocha…which was awesome by the way! If you’re in the Birmingham area or passing through, make sure you stop by one of their locations.

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Until next time…

 

 
 

Women’s Running Nashville Half Marathon Recap!

Hello Nashville!

I couldn’t wait to get to Nashville for the Women’s Running Series (WRS) Half Marathon! It was my fifth half marathon, excluding (2) virtual half marathons. My HB also wanted his first half marathon to have a sweet medal so he decided on the Women’s Running Half Marathon. *insert proud wife expression*  We found out about the WRS at the Disney Princess Half Marathon Expo last February. You can read my race recap here. My HB saw the medal and said…”I WANT that medal!” When I heard that the medal was going to be even sweeter than the year before…I was sold! You’ll see why in a minute.

 

On to the Expo!

I spy something shiny and big!

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If you are a runner/walker (especially distance) or into athletics…you MUST look for The Stick people. You can find them at most race Expos but just in case you haven’t seen them, you can visit them online here. The Stick has changed my life! It goes into abyss of every muscle and will make it hurt so good. Works that soreness right on out. It’s easy to carry with you and can tuck nicely into your suitcase. They have different sizes available too. Trust me you’ll want one!

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Of course Bondi Band was there!

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FLOWERS! Fellow Flowers is a movement that was created by two amazing women to uplift, encourage, and connect us (women) through our passions…and to show the world, “We run simply because we get to.” Find out more about the amazing movement here.

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I had the opportunity to meet, Tori, one of the core gems behind Fellow Flowers! She was super sweet!

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  Swag

 

This was my first race as a Half Fanatic! I also wore my first “Flower”. What it stands for is perfect as I prepare for my race in January. I BELIEVE and know that I CAN!

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“Believe. To look within, to overcome. Loving myself enough. I have the will, the determination and the courage to defy the odds…and inspire. My challenges have made me a fighter – a survivor. They will not define me or confine me. I will run my own race. Different, beautiful and all my own. I believe in me and my potential. And I’m going to succeed because I’m brave enough to think I can.” fellowflowerbw

 

Race Day!

My socks were getting all the love. They are by Bondi Band and you can find them here!

Before

It was my first time meeting Half Fanatics from around the globe! They are absolutely amazing and they provide great support and energy while you’re on the course! So happy to be a part of this group! #HF 6579

Half Fanatics WRSNash!

 

 Mama, I made it!!!

Mile 13 yay!

 

Can you tell where I’m headed?

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Mimosas at the finish line waiting for us! How awesome is that?!

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The lawn relaxing

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Had to make a pit stop at the Smoothie King Truck—compliments of Women’s Running!  And look at that smile…someone is happy to rock their FIRST half marathon medal/bling! I’m so proud!!! :) SK

 

Another half marathon in the books! I am absolutely in LOVE with this medal! The charm keepsake is adorable! This photo doesn’t do it ANY justice. It’s huge!WRNFinisherMedal

This is one of the best races and post-race party experiences I’ve ever had. Women’s Running Nashville was so much fun and the support and camaraderie was amazing! Even though the hills were alive…it was such a beautiful course. I can’t wait to return again next year! I have fallen in love with this city!

 

 A little fun on Broadway and Nashville Eats!

I found this placed called Fresh To Order (fine. fresh.food.) and loved it! For my pre-race meal, I ordered the Chopped Wedge and the manager was kind to give me a complimentary Raspberry Mojito Lemonade while I waited. Ah-mazingly refreshing! The Wedge was enough for 3-4 people to share…so yummy! No, I didn’t eat it all. I had it along with half of my Jet’s Pizza, Grilled Chicken “Boat”.

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The day after the race we wanted to try out some of Nashville’s delicious barbeque! We weren’t sure of where to go so we asked a few people and went to the Yelp app to check out some reviews. Jack’s Bar-B-Que kept coming up so we decided to try it out! Broadway was clearly where all of the happenings were. There was a motorcade with hundreds and hundreds of bikers riding through Broadway along with a benefit concert by Dierks Bentley!

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Jacksons

 

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 I’m sorry, but you don’t go to a good BBQ place and order green beans! Just sayin’. The food was great!

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If you go to Nashville with running shoes, you MUST leave with new cowboy boots!

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Until next time, Nashville!

 

 

 

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