Pace and running is such a mental game.

I’ve run off and on since around 2003-ish. I would run outside randomly or join a gym and hit the treadmill. It wasn’t until 2012 that I started getting seriously into running. I’m kind of a newbie here. When I started way back when I was around 12-minute miles. I entered a bunch of 5ks and shorter races and just ran three or four days a week, trying to increase distance and speed a bit.

Then I got the bug.

I wanted to run farther. I wanted to conquer the half marathon because 13.1 miles seemed super long to me. I found several training plans, picked one and followed it the best I could. I finished my first half in 2:31:50. And I was quite proud of myself! My ultimate goal was to finish at 2:30 and I was quite close!

When I train and actually run, my races and pace reflect that and stay close to the 10-10:30 pace level. When I’m not training? I’m in the 12s. My worst half marathon, with virtually no training, was 12:24. I am also a bit slower in December, even with training. I blame the cold air. I also struggle with March races because I do a bunch of races in December/January then I tend to take time off and struggle to get back in so then my March races suffer.

Sorry, I was analyzing my races since 2012 this morning! I can be a numbers nerd.

I am getting off track… so I started racing in 2012 and then in December 2016 and January 2017 I got sick. I had been training for my first marathon and cruising right along. I did my longest run on Christmas Eve. I was feeling strong and ready to run 26.2 and then my sinuses rebelled. I went through an entire box of kleenex in about two days. I took about a week off and tried to hop back into my taper. And around 2 miles/20 minutes I’d get dizzy. I assumed it was related to being sick, maybe inner ear troubles. I couldn’t get more than two miles in and had to drop out of the marathon.

I waited a bit, tried running again. Same thing. Waited a few months. Same issue. I figured my running career was over.

So I did not run much at all in 2017. Toward the end of the year, I was itching to run, so I started again. I could go a bit further but I’d still get dizzy. I ran one race, a turkey trot, in 2017. It looks like I’m really fast because it’s listed as a 5k but in reality the course was short. I did some more races in 2018, I just took my time and walked a lot.

At some point, I decided to read 80/20 by Matt Fitzgerald on heart rate training. I switched to heart rate training thinking my pace issue might be a heart rate or blood pressure issue. I had to start out super slow to hit close to the heart rate zones. I started at about a 16:30 pace, which is slower than I can walk! I have been slowly working on increasing my speed and am now hitting paces in the 13:30-14 minute miles after two months of heart rate training. I am getting there! Slowly, mile by mile, working my way back down to my desired 10-10: 30-minute miles.

In case you were wondering, I do not have any heart rate or blood pressure issues. I have vocal chord dysfunction.

So, I know what I have and I take medicine and do exercises for it. I’ve been doing this for about a month and haven’t had any issues. *knocks on wood* *crosses fingers* I will be starting marathon training officially on July 9th and I plan to redo my threshold test because I think I need to adjust my heart rate zones after two months. I am also going to start pushing myself. I know I have more in me. I just need to reach down inside and pull it out.

I have the potential and I have the drive. I just need to do it, as Nike would say.

I think the hardest thing with my current pace is the knowledge that I can be faster. I have been there before and I want to be there again. I am trying to be patient and appreciate the gains I am getting. I know I will never win a race. I am not even an age group placer. I am ok with that. I don’t need to win. I just want to be my best self. I want to be a better runner. I want to make new PRs. I want to improve. When I was at my “peak” before I was working towards 9:30-10-minute miles. I want to be there again.

It’s a mind fuck. But I am willing to put in the work. I am willing to run more. To race more. To focus on my strength and working to fix my weaknesses. I want to finish a marathon. I will finish a marathon and I will finish in 4:45. I am putting it out there and I am chasing it. I will catch it. And once I do? I will find a new challenge and crush that too. I have crushed every running goal so far, so why stop now??

What tips do you have for building speed or increasing cadence? Or form tips? I need to work on that too. I like to keep my head down.

And if you didn’t know I’ve been adding videos to my youtube channel. Here is one I threw together real quick on pace!


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Book Review – Running is my Therapy

Scrolling through Instagram one day I stumbled across a post about Running is my Therapy by Scott Douglas and was intrigued.

I immediately went to Amazon to read more about it. And then pre-ordered it.

running is my therapy

I struggle with anxiety and mild depression.

I have since at least high school, more anxiety than depression. My brain is a constant swirl of worries. I struggle to shut down the thoughts that pop up almost every second. I like to tell people my brain is like a browser with 281 tabs open and when you close one you open two or three more. I struggle to fall asleep because I start thinking about everything I need to get done tomorrow. And the next day. And next week, next month. Hell, I start thinking months out. It’s hard to shut down. If I awake in the middle of the night my brain immediately starts winding up again.

I thought Running is my Therapy could be an interesting read, as well as a refresher, and chance to learn more about the relationship between running, anxiety and depression. I would say it was definitely all three. Douglas does a great job of mixing in his own and other’s struggles along with studies to show how running can help ease anxiety and depression.

The book focused a lot more on depression than anxiety but it was still worth the read. It was a pretty easy and fast read for me. I would, and have been, recommending it to many people. Douglas explains the scientific stuff in a way that is easy to understand and not boring. Even if you know all of this information already it is a nice refresher and I think all the personal stories help illustrate that you are not alone. Some professional athletes even suffer from anxiety and depression.

I know running helps me with my anxiety and depression but had been having troubles getting consistent with it. It’s one of those catch-22s. Your anxious and/or depressed and can’t get out for a run because of it. You know running will help but your brain tricks you into thinking it won’t and it’s too hard. Or it’s not worth it. It won’t help but in reality, it is one of the best helpers. I will definitely pull this book out again to ready when I’m having moments like these.

I have been running consistently since the start of May. I am in no way healed, those of us with anxiety and depression will never be fully healed, but I am feeling better. I am having many more good days than bad. It’s a lifelong condition and I need to make running a lifelong habit. Whenever I fall out of it, I get more anxious and depressed which causes me to run less, gain more weight, and get even more depressed.

You can find Running is my Therapy on Amazon. I am an Amazon associate and will earn a few pennies on each purchase from the above link.

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2018 Gluten Free Expo

The Gluten Free Expo is back in Glendale!

Gluten-free? You don’t want to miss out on the expo. You can hang out in the air-conditioned and sample all sorts of gluten-free goodies. Plus you can collect coupons for great deals on the products you loved. The expo is on June 23rd and 24th from 10 am – 3 pm, the perfect time to head indoors!

You know what’s better than just going to the gluten-free expo?

Going to the gluten-free expo for FREE! I have five free tickets to give away. You get to pick either Saturday or Sunday to attend. I am giving away two here on my blog and the other three on my Instagram, Runs_On_Espresso. To win one of the blog tickets, just comment below on why you want to go to the Expo. To win on Instagram, head over to my account, give me a follow and comment on the gluten free expo post! You can enter on both! Winners will be chosen on May 28th at 12 pm, Arizona time.

If you don’t win, you can always get 20% off your tickets! How? Head over to the ticket page and enter the code ADVANCE through June 22nd. Now that is a deal!

At the expo, you can learn more through several different classes that are offered over both days. Or just check out all the vendors. I would highly recommend Smart Flour. I discovered their pizzas a few years ago at the expo and now buy them all the time. I also love checking out Schar’s booth. I love their products but rarely find them in store so it’s nice to try out different products before ordering.

I see honey stinger will be back. Maybe I need to talk to them about sponsoring me as a gluten-free athlete. I absolutely love their waffles!

*As an official blogger I receive $1 for each ticket purchased through my referral link.

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Heart Rate Training

heart rate training

In April I read the book 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald. I had heard how great heart rate training is and it seems every runner I know has moved to it. I decided to give it a try and started May 1st. It’s been eye-opening and a challenge but I am remembering how much I love running and how I want to improve. I want to reach my goal of running a marathon. And I want to do it in under 5 hours.

I feel as if I’m starting over.

heart rate training
Will run for tacos

My very first heart rate training run was extremely hard. And slow. Like super slow. Like I feel I could walk faster. My average pace was 16:52! I’m usually around 10:00-10:30 in my races. After this run, I was feeling really discouraged. How would I be able to complete the Las Vegas Rock N Roll marathon in under 5 hours? If I don’t meet the cutoff time I will get swept.

But I kept going.

I am following the plan as close as I can. I have not skipped a run yet. I had to move a couple items around but I am doing it. This week marks the start of week 3 and it’s getting easier. And I’m shaving off a little bit of time here and there. This morning I averaged 15:26, more than a minute less than when I started. I am comparing the same run (Foundation 3) for these numbers.

Yesterday I did a 7-mile long run and I felt so good after. I was tired but not too much. My legs were a little tired but not too much. My first long run (6 miles) was 16:17 pace. Yesterdays was 15:57. It’s not a lot but it’s trending in the right direction. My hope is that after two months of heart rate training, I am closer to my usual training times.

My real marathon training starts in July. I hope to cut more time as the weeks go on. I really like the challenge and philosophy behind heart rate training and I want to keep doing it. It’s humbling to be back at these times. And frustrating. But I am not having any of the health issues I get when I don’t follow (dizziness, nauseous) so I want to keep at it. (Don’t worry, I have a doctors appointment coming up to have everything checked out to make sure I don’t have an underlying issue). If I can’t get my time down, I will drop down to the half and try again for a marathon.

I will conquer the marathon distance. I need to. I am driven.

Already doing heart rate training? Tell me about your experience. I am trying to trust the process but some days are harder than others.

Interested in heart rate training? Check out Matt Fitzgerald’s book and let me know what you think!* 

*I am an Amazon Associate. If you purchase the book through the above link I receive a small percentage.


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St. Patrick’s Day Runs

St. Patrick’s Day Runs

I did three St. Patrick’s Day runs this month.  I may be a tad crazy, but you already knew that. On March 11th I did the Lucky Clover 4 miler and this past weekend, the 16th and 17th, I did the Kiss Me I’m Irish Kilt run and 8k. I missed last year’s Kiss Me I’m Irish so I was excited to be able to do it again.

st. patrick's day runs st. patrick's day runs The Lucky Clover 4 miler was put on by 131 events. It was in Chandler, so a little bit of a drive for me. Luckily at 5:30 in the morning, not many people were out yet. The run started at the Shops at Ocotillo and did a loop route. The route itself was pretty good. There were a couple of spots that the runners were limited to the bike lane but a lot of us had to go outside the bike lane/orange cones because we had to pass slower runners.

There were also a few spots where cars needed to pass through but they all waited until a decent break in runners/walkers, at least that I saw. At one intersection, we were crossing diagonally and the police were holding traffic. I kind of sped up so I could get through with the group ahead of me in case runners were stopped for traffic. I overheard one of the runners saying the police should have stopped the runners and let the cars through because “none of us are competing”. Ummm… speak for yourself dude because I am competing.

I am competing with myself!

I always want to be better than I was before. I want to get a PR in every race. If not a PR, I want to be better than the last time I ran this distance. Also, this was about the 2-mile mark and I had settled into a good groove. I take about 1.5-2 miles to get going. I’ve been stopped before at this point and it just messes up my race, especially a short one like this because I’d never get a steady pace going. Longer races it’s not *as bad* because I have more distance to get that pacing back.

I finished 321 overall out of 635, 40 of 80 in my age group with a total time of 47:08:19. My average pace was 11:47 per mile. Definitely not a PR but I’m happy with it considering the past year and a half I’ve had. I haven’t been running much and have only recently started training again.

Friday night I participated in the Kilt Run, which was 1km. They have been doing this the last couple of years to try to set a record. As far as I know, we did not make it this year. When I finished, I ran to my car and weaved through the parking lot to get at least a full mile in. It was fun and I’d probably do it again next year to help them try to get the record.

Saturday morning was the 8k. This year was a little different and we did two loops around Westgate. I think the course was short because my Garmin ended at 4.45 miles when it should have been more like 4.97. Allegedly I PR’d this race with a 51:07 and 10:17 pace, which vastly differs from my Garmin (51:52/11:37 pace). I finished 153 out of 266 overall,  87 out of 156 females and 14 of 29 in my age group.

Overall I enjoyed all of my St. Patrick’s Day runs and would do them both again.

My only wish is walkers were told to start last. I try to go in the middle of the pack, as I know I’m a middle of the packer. At the Lucky Clover, I couldn’t even run across the start line and had to weave around a ton of people who started out walking. The start of the Kiss Me I’m Irish 8k was similar. I was kicked by someone trying to get into the corral by climbing over the rope in order to get ahead of a ton of people by someone with a cane. I passed them on both my loops. Know your ability and plan accordingly! It’s all about respect. I am planning a race etiquette blog and will be sure to put this in there!

What races do or did you have this month?

Here’s a little video the Kiss Me I’m Irish had of me (mint green tank) finishing:

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Coyotes 5K Wrapup

Coyotes 5k Wrapup

coyotes 5kYesterday was the inaugural Coyotes 5K. As a Coyotes fan, I hope this can become an annual thing and grow into something popular, like the Diamondbacks 5K. According to the results, there were 44 runners. I am not surprised as there was very little push or advertising for the event. As a runner that does a ton of races (every Facebook ad seems to be a different run), someone else had to tell me about this one. It was originally scheduled for November and was only mentioned on the Coyotes Foundation Facebook page (and maybe a tweet). I signed up right away and was the only registrant for a while. Eventually like two others signed up. We were notified it was being delayed until February. I opted to have my registration moved to the new date. I’ll give them props, they offered a refund if you didn’t want to move registrations. Some races will stick with the no refund policy.

I arrived about 7:20 to pick up my packet and there were only a handful of people and two vendors. We left to get coffee and came back with about 15 minutes before the race started. We gathered at the start line to get a break down of the route. It was a bit confusing because it weaved through the parking lots of Westgate but the course was well marked with different color duct tape arrows and orange cones. I give them credit for making the course clear. I was a bit disappointed in the parking lot weaving. It definitely wasn’t my favorite route.

The race itself was gun time and not chip time. With only 44 people, we mostly crossed the line about the same time so it wasn’t that big of a deal. The runners seemed skewed to the fast end. I am usually a middle of the pack runner, but I was just ahead of the walkers this race. I ended 29 out of 44 and 13 of 21 women. I think I was designed for more distance running because when I finally settled into a good pace and cadence, I looked at my watch and it was 2.9 miles, right as I rounded the corner to the finish line.

The medal was good quality and I *almost* forgot to collect it. I crossed the line, stopped my Garmin and walked over to Justin. I talked to him for a few seconds and realized I didn’t get my medal. The Paw Patrol was already walking over and was like, “Don’t forget this! You earned it”. I think that was a first for me. LOL

I would definitely do this race again but I’d love to see a few things changed. I would love for them to really push the race. It seemed kind of like an afterthought. The Coyotes Foundation pushed it a bit on their social media but they’d reach a lot more if they used the Coyotes main accounts. Or get ambassadors to push it. Have members of the running community do your advertising for you in exchange for a free or discounted entry. I’d gladly plaster social media for a free race entry.

Chip timing would be awesome but it’s not a must-have for me. I can use my Garmin and just try to beat myself but I know some people won’t do races unless they have chip timing.

The route was explained to use but I’d love to see a better route that doesn’t do switchbacks in parking lots. The Kiss Me I’m Irish and Redneck Run both start and end in the same spot the Coyotes 5k did but they run you out to the canal path nearby and around Cardinals Stadium. It’s a much more enjoyable route. The only advantage of the parking lot weave was bystanders could quickly and easily move to different parts of the course to cheer on the runners/walkers.

I’m not a race organizer, nor do I claim to know how to do it, but I have run about a million* races. I know what I like and don’t and what gets me to run a race again. Normally, this would be a no for me but I love the Coyotes and want to see this succeed. I’d do it again just because of that.

What makes you run a race again? Why do you choose not to re-run a race the following year?

*slight exaggeration


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WTF Trail Race

wtf trail race

WTF trail race was my worst race ever.

wtf trail raceWTF trail race went down on January 28th, 2018. Although not the fault of the race, I had a terrible time. I thought I would DNF (did not finish) and would be found on the course hours after the race had ended. I did finish, barely. It was rough. We’ve all been there though. What matters is how do we react. Do we give up or do we keep going?

I plan to dust myself off and try again. This was only my second trail race and in an area, I was not very familiar with. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect with the route. To add to it, my ears were plugged. I had woken up the day before the race with ears so plugged I couldn’t unplug them or even move my head much. I took it easy and crossed my fingers that I’d feel better on Sunday.

I did wake up feeling a bit better. My head was still a bit plugged up but I paid so I figured I’d at least go and try. And I really wanted the medal! So I got up, got ready and headed out.

I overdressed. When I was getting my clothes ready the night before, the temps at 8 am were expected to be around 50. In reality, it was already 60. I had set out pants and a t-shirt. I wish I had gone with capris. The t-shirt wasn’t bad but my legs got warm. I also wish I had remembered my headband. My hair was sticking to my face by the end.

WTF trail race stans for Winter Trail Frosty, or as the back of the shirt says, where’s the finish?

131 Events doesn’t have corrals but does do wave starts. They asked slower runners to go to the back. Knowing I was probably going to be slower than usual, I headed to the back. But more people kept lining up behind me. I heard them saying how slow they were and they wouldn’t be as fast as anyone else. Which is weird because usually, runners think they are faster and always want to line up in front! So I ended up in like the 3rd or 4th wave. I started a bit faster than I wanted (always a problem) and I wasn’t prepared for the elevation. There was a lot of climbing in the beginning. I learned with my asthma it’s better for me to walk up than run up these hills. They were a lot steeper than I realized.

At about the three-mile mark I was out of energy. I walked the next 3.25-ish miles. I had to stop and rest a few times. I would guess the combination of sinus issues, starting too fast, and elevation got to me. I just couldn’t get up the energy to run. At one point, I threw up. That was a first for me. I’ve never thrown up from a workout. Granted, it was mostly liquid (and I didn’t even have that much – I drank less than 8 oz over the course of 6.55 miles).  Either way, yuck. Never want to do that again.

Once I saw the finish line, I started a slow run. I crossed the line in 1:53:16. A slow 17:41 pace.

The same company that did WTF trail race is doing a Hot as Hell in May. I plan on doing the quarter again. Now I have an idea of the route and how the race works, I can set myself up better. And hopefully, I won’t be battling my sinuses in May! I had contemplated doing the half marathon but it’s two loops of the same course and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to do that. I will stick to the quarter marathon.

I feel 131 Events put on a good event. This was their first WTF race here and using this route (they have a few other road races that have been in Phoenix area before). I liked the atmosphere and the race director was having fun MC-ing before the race. The route was well marked and easy to follow (which is important in a trail race). They had a lot of volunteers on the route to help with confusing areas. I also appreciated the brand of chips they used, as they are gluten free plus a banana. I was a little sad I couldn’t eat the cake. It looked yummy!

They also gave a choice of two styles of their shirt, which is nice. I picked the long sleeve thermal because it looked comfy. And the medal? They are huge! Aside from the Hot as Hell trail race, they have several other road races that I am putting on my calendar. Mostly because the medals and shirts are awesome.

What was your worse race and how did you get back at it?

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Adjustments to Goals

I’ve been reflecting on the goals I’ve set for 2018 and decided I need to make a change. With limited time and energy, some things needed to go. We’ve only got a limited amount of hours each day and rather than force time for something that doesn’t currently fit in my life I’ve decided to drop it and focus on other pursuits I enjoy more.

I have determined that at this time, meditation is not meant to be in my life. I have been trying to force it into my routine and it just doesn’t work for me. I would rather spend time reading and writing than meditating. I often find myself with no good time for meditation because I can’t do it with others around (too many distractions) and if I am alone, I tend to fall asleep while meditating which kind of defeats the purpose. 

Finding time and a place to comfortable meditate is causing me more stress than reducing it. I plan to focus on keeping myself in the present in general rather than meditate. It just seems to be a better fit for me at this time.

Sometimes you realize something wasn’t meant to be in your life at this time. Instead of forcing it, you have to let it go.

In other news, I did run both the 5 and 10 K over the rock n roll weekend with no ill effects! In fact, I haven’t had any issues while running! I am slower than I’d like to be but sometimes going slow is for the best. I have a quarter marathon trail run coming up and I will have to keep telling myself to go slower because for some reason I want to go SUPER fast on trails.

I have been sticking to my consistency word. I’ve been really good about my workouts. A few time I have taken an extra rest day but it was because my body (or mind) needed it and I got right back at it the next day. I’ve also been logging my food every day (except one!) and logging completely honestly. I’ve been eating really well and staying in my calorie goal. I am still struggling to hit my protein goal but I keep working at it.

How are you doing at working towards your goals? Have you reevaluated any yet?



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Goals: Physical and Mental for 2018

Goals: I have a lot of them.

I want to start showing up. Every other Monday, I will be here, pouring my heart out and working toward my health and fitness goals. I hope you will come back and join me each time. It always helps to have others to hold you accountable for your actions. You do that for me, as long as I keep showing up here.

goalsMy word of the year? Consistency.

In 2018 my focus is on overall health, physical AND mental. I want to feel good inside and out. I want to decrease my anxiety and depression. I want to find joy in the everyday. I want to decrease stress. I have a plan to slowly add in daily meditation, journaling, and reading. These three activities center me and help me decompress. I am starting out with 1-2 days per week and when that becomes habit increase it slowly until it’s a daily thing. The hardest part for me is finding the 15 minutes to meditate. I work all day and then come home. It’s easier after work when no one else is home but that is a rare occurrence. And then I sometimes doze off while meditating later in the evening. It’s a work in progress.

For journaling, I can easily do that most nights. I just don’t. I have journals and pens, just gotta do it! Same with reading. I usually read on my commute and lunch break, I just need to be more consistent with these times. I want to read a book a week this year. I’ve devised a plan of attack and week one went great. I figured out I needed to read 55 pages for 7 days to finish my book. It was easier to sit down and read knowing I *only* had to read 55 pages. Most days I read more and the last two days I had about 30 pages each day. I also listed out all the books I plan to read this year so I know which one is coming next and when I finish one I can move right on to the next!

I am also focusing on logging my food and hitting my calories and macros. For now, I am working on just logging. I log everything I eat. If I have a great day, I can hit my calorie goal. If I have a bad day, I log and go over but at least I am logging. I am holding myself responsible for my choices, both good and bad. Meal planning and healthy recipes are also a focus. I am trying to find easy, quick recipes with similar ingredients to make it easy to do and stick with.

Finally, the physical. I want to be consistent with all my workouts. I want to be a runner again. I want to gain strength. I want to push myself to workout when I’d rather sit on the couch. It’s so much easier to sit on the couch and listen to that voice in my head than it is to workout. I have signed up for a few short races to help push myself in running and another challenge to help me reach my strength goals.

Part of me is afraid to run more than 3 miles. If I push myself in distances will I have the same reaction I did early in 2017, which caused me to stop running altogether? I’ve had it a few times over winter, but not every run. I plan to discuss this with my physician at my annual appointment. I think it might be blood pressure related, high or low. I test high at the doctor and normal at home but the symptoms read like low blood pressure drops. It could be related to poor nutrition and going out too fast/hard. I need to figure it out though because I get anxiety when a new distance comes up on a training plan and then find out reasons not to go.

I still have plans to get the runs on (not) gluten page up and running, in the meantime go join the Facebook group as it is slowly becoming the place to be!

What are your goals for 2018 and how will you be consistent? What is your word of the year?

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I know it’s been awhile. I got busy trying to get my photography business on track. I promise I will get back to posting. I have ideas and just need to execute them!

I really want to develop my runs on (not) gluten section of my website and make it a destination for all things gluten-free.

I want to start writing about health and fitness. I have a personal project in the works.

I want to start posting recipes. Again, I have another personal project in my mind.

I have a few other ideas in my mind as well. It’s all up there. Promise.

I just need time. And the ability to get everything out of my head and actually done.

In the meantime, join my Facebook group! I am posting over there, as it is quick and easy.

Adulting is hard y’all. But, I will be back! I know it. I can feel it and I want to be here.

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