2015 In Review

Hey Y’all! Happy New Year! I totally started writing this post last week last year but I put it aside for a few days….

Last year In December 2014, I wrote a post outlining my goals for 2015. There were three (marathon number 2, coaching certification and cleaning up my diet).

Not gonna lie, reading this post now makes me laugh!  I have only partly accomplished one thing on the list. Just ONE (half)!

While a normal person would look at this as a major failure, I am giving myself a bit of grace this year. Am I letting myself off the hook too easily? Probably… but I am okay with that.

I was dissatisfied with myself last year in 2014.  I was stressed to the max, ready to snap at any moment!

This year… I don’t really feel that way…at least not as much. Am I perfect? Heavens NO! Of course not! But I have made some progress. While I am still striving to make improvements and I still have stress, I’m not obsessing over it and I am enjoying this chapter and what God has planned.

One of the major changes of 2015 was on the work front. I am in a job that I love. Is it easy? No. Absolutely not. But I know this is where I need to be. This is where God wants me, a place where I have to fully rely on Him.

A hard part of my work is that it requires me to work on Sundays. Unfortunately, this means no racing on Sundays….and all of the local(ish) half marathons and marathons take place on Sundays (except one…which I was and will indefinitely be unable to attend due to another work conflict).

As a result, not only did I NOT accomplish marathon number 2, but I also did not do ANY races this year. Not a single one! I realized this the other day… am I little bummed out about this? Yes, but it’s not the end of the world.

Another change that 2015 brought was going back to school. I started taking classes for my minister’s license in August. This means that a typical day (while classes are in session) starts around 7 am and goes until 2 am, when I finally finish my homework. I’m still working on my schedule and how to fit in regular life activities (including exercise and dinner!

While finding my footing with a new job, classes and the many changes that occurred (and are still)  with our head pastor’s death, I had many days where I was just trying to hang on… But even in that, I am amazed at the work that God accomplished. I haven’t written about this (on the blog) very much, and I am not entirely certain that I will, but it’s been a very good year. Tough… but good.

Will I ever get that run coaching certification? I think so. I get updates about upcoming courses and I would still like to take the certification course, but my reason for wanting it is a bit different than it was last year. I guess I will let that one roll over to 2016.

2015 was also a year of friendship.

This afternoon, I sat around my kitchen table with five other women for our monthly book club. As we laughed together, I realized how lucky I am to call them friends. When I started the book club, I never knew how much of an impact it would have on me. When I was first approached about working at my church back in February, I sent an email and with the click of the send button, I knew that I had (at least) 12 people praying for me, asking God to give me direction, even though they didn’t know the details.

When our pastor was sick, and eventually passed away, Ben and I knew that we had friends we could grieve with and walk through this chapter with.  We’ve been blessed to have support in many areas of our life and are glad to offer our support to the people in our life.

Ben and I have an ongoing group text with our friend’s Ben and Ashley. There are many times throughout the week when these texts will absolutely crack me up… but we can also send out a group “Hey, can we pray about XYZ together in the next few minutes?” It’s comforting, knowing that we have friendships where this is a normal occurrence. God is so good!

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image via She Reads Truth.

To be honest, 2015 was a huge blur! There are a few moments that stand out, but honestly, I have no idea how it is already January 2016!

I had no idea what was in store when I wrote this post last January….but I hope that I don’t lose that boldness and that desire to speak life!

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I’m looking forward expectantly, wondering what God has planned for us.

 

Cheers to 2016!

Let’s chat! Favorite moment in 2015? Did you accomplish all of your goals? 

 

 

 

 

 


Confessions: On Turning 28

Today is my 28th birthday. Ever since I turned 25, I have begrudgingly gotten older, panic setting in as I realize that I am hurdling toward my thirties and there is no turning back. As an example, I vividly remember a conversation with an old friend last year. They wished me a happy birthday and asked how my day was. My response? “Thanks. I’m okay… I just thought that I’d have my sh*t together by now.”

But this year is different. I am totally okay with 28. I feel that I have fully used my 27th year and am ready for the next adventures that God has for me. I want to celebrate this life that I was given!

As I reflect back on the last year of my life, I smile at that conversation. I had no idea of the wild ride that God had in store for me.

I am so incredibly grateful. Not that it was an easy year, by any means, but I (eventually) chose to be joyful. And I am so grateful for the blessings that came with all of the hard things.

Year 27 was a year filled with loss. Ben and I left the restaurant; we lost a great mentor and friend and closed the book on jobs, projects and relationships that meant a lot to us. I struggled with not feeling my best and not doing things that I enjoyed doing. Not gonna lie, the first few months of 27 were spent very angry, upset and feeling as though I could snap like a rubber band.

But then something changed. I surrendered. And I let go of the fear and the bitterness that I was holding onto. Life didn’t get any easier; I simply chose to be grateful for whatever good I could find. I sought contentment and it changed my life.

Because of that choice, year 27 was filled with blessings, renewal, strength and so much love! Looking back, I realize that these things never would have happened if I had not decided to find joy and to submit to God’s plan.

I am absolutely amazed and humbled by how much God has done in my life as a result. He has blessed my marriage, my career and my friendships. Everything! I’m not saying that I have it all figured out, and there are definitely hard days where I would rather choose a pity party than gratitude, but I am actively seeking Thanksgiving and Joy.

I took a chance to start a book club, and have seen so much growth, friendship and wisdom come out of this.

By clearing out our schedules, Ben and I were able to spend more time with another couple. As a result, Ben and Ashley are some of our closest friends and we can’t imagine doing life without them! We’ve been through a lot with these two and are so grateful for their friendship.

We were also able to spend more time together. This year, we were able to have dinner together almost every day. Before my 27th birthday, I don’t think we ever did that more than 1 night a week. We’ve been able to take walks, to try new things together, to read and just be together in comfortable silence. I know that it won’t necessarily be like this forever but I am so grateful for this season of life.

I also took risks. I left my comfortable, secure job and am trying something new. Every day is filled with new challenges but this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I am doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it is not anything like I imagined it would be.

So, this year, instead of groaning at the thought of turning a year older, I am smiling. And I’m looking forward to what year 28 will bring. Because God has a plan.

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Gross But Necessary: Two Weeks

Hello Friends!

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything for GBN last week, so we are making up for it with two weeks of workouts today!  I started my online orientation class and I’ve had a ridiculous amount of meetings the last couple of weeks, AND Farmer Ben’s schedule has changed, which makes the morning run a bit trickier now… so there were many missed runs. Even though I am a bit frustrated by this, I realize that I just have to prioritize my time better. And, today is a new day!

Right?

Right.

Farmer Ben joined me on a couple of runs over these two weeks and I was absolutely ecstatic. There is something about running with the hubs that just makes it so much better…even if he is way faster than me!

That being said, my runs were … just okay last week. I don’t know if I was overtired or just bored, but pretty much every run was a struggle. Also, apparently last week was the week of meetings. Holy moly! I literally had some kind of meeting every day!

This week… I was sore. Like, I had a hard time bending over and putting pants on kind of sore…So, there’s that.

Anyway, here we go!

Gross But Necessary: August 23-September 5.

Sunday: So… I’ve decided to just go ahead and call Sundays a rest day.

Monday: No run. Instead of my usual forcing myself to run in the morning, I came into work early with the intention of running to a friend’s house after work for our usual dinner and small group. As I was about to literally run out the door, I got a phone call from someone who needed help. I was annoyed that I missed my run, but it was perfect timing and I was able to pray for this person AND practically help them…And honestly, that’s more important to me.

Tuesday: Short Night Run. I ended up going out in the evening with Farmer Ben for a little over 2 miles. This was after a taco dinner and a beer. Needless to say, this was extremely poor planning on my part and I didn’t feel too hot and it wasn’t pretty.

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Wednesday: I woke up at 5:00 am and got ready for a work conference just north of Albany (I was thrilled. Heh). We got back to town around 4:30 and I was incredibly car sick from the trip. After lounging around on the couch, Farmer Ben forced me to go out (God bless that man!). We did 3 miles and a cool down.

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Thursday: 4 Mile Morning (!) Run and a 1.5 Mile cool down. Knowing that I had a meeting on Thursday night, I set out to do five miles in the wee morning hours. And I tried. I got to 4 miles and decided to finish the loop as a cool down, so I alternated walking and running. This was a “meh” workout.

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Friday: I slept in that morning, went to work, had another meeting and marathon cleaned my house that evening, prepared for my monthly book club, cooked and baked until about 1:30 in the morning.  Does anyone else do this? I always pick really inconvenient times to decide to do the really OCD cleaning. Am I alone on this?

Saturday: I finished tidying up, did dog duty for friends who were out of town,w drove to a work luncheon, sped back to my house, frosted cupcakes for book club, hosted book club, second dog duty, had dinner with the hubby and took some chicken broth, soup and medicine to my mother who caught the black plague.

Sunday: See note above. Work, lunch with friends, work, delicious pizza with Farmer Ben celebrating the end of the week of meetings. Phew!

Monday: I can’t even lie, big fail; I didn’t drag my butt out of bed early enough…Then, instead of running in the evening, I started classes.

Tuesday: This workout from Erica House. I loved this workout…and I hated it. I love doing pushups and squats. I HATE lunges. Especially being as out of shape as I am…I’m still sore. Yesterday, I had trouble putting pants on! I know this means that I should probably do more lunges.

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Two notes: We actually did a 1/2 mile warmup and 1/4 mile cool down… We also did about .32 miles instead of 400 meters. Also, did you know that running on a soccer field is more challenging when it needs to be mowed (we did this at a field near our house)? True story.

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Wednesday: Um…I hurt all day. I had a lunch meeting and then ended up doing school work til late.

Thursday: Still in pain. I probably should have gone out and done something, but after work and homework, I really just wanted to spend some quality time with Farmer Ben…so that’s what I did.

Friday: Evening run. 3 miles, slow and easy.

Saturday: 5 miles with lots of hills.

Takeaways from the last two weeks?

I was very happy to get at least one good workout in this week after such a rough time the week before… I probably overdid it (or else I am just a major wuss) but I’m thinking that it was better for me to just start doing stuff like this, instead of waiting to “get back in shape.” If I wait for that, it’ll never happen. So, in spite of being sore, I am really glad that Farmer Ben and I did it and we will keep it in the rotation…it can only get easier, right?

Looking at my calendar, I really need to just go ahead and block out time for working out, otherwise, it won’t happen. Especially with schoolwork and all these meetings!

I’m also thinking that I need to sign up for a race… I unfortunately won’t be able to do the Ragnar Relay like I’d hoped, which means I haven’t done any races this year and have none coming up! That’s kind of depressing. Any race suggestions? They have to be Saturday races.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Tell me, how are your workouts this week? Any Saturday race suggestions? 


Confessions: Be Bold!

Hi Friends! Happy 2K15!

I hope you and yours are safe, happy and healthy today (and hopefully not nursing too much of hangover–from food or drink).

This year I decided to join the #365daysoftruth reading plan (reading the entire Bible this year) with the She Reads Truth community. I’ve never read the entire Bible  and felt today was a good day to start. I’ve got a lot to learn and fully admit that!

It is so amazing how God works; I’ve really felt it pressing on my heart and soul to be more of a sign that points to HIM and less of … Myself, if that makes sense. That sentiment has been a constant subject of prayer lately and I’ve been wondering exactly how I’m supposed to accomplish this.

Part of this morning’s reading on the 365 plan was John 1. Though I’ve read the book of John several times, the first chapter really struck me this morning.

Though John was a great man of God in and of himself, he always made it so clear that the world was waiting for someone far greater than him. He “was not the light; he was only a witness to the light (John 1:8, NLT).”

The whole chapter was the perfect place to start this journey that is the new year.

My favorite verse was John 1:23.

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A voice shouting in the wilderness! That is our purpose… Not to conform to this world but to stand out and to give glory to Him.

Wow! John empowered me this morning and though I’m still not entirely sure what this means, I’ve got these words to push me closer to that end goal.

That’s all for today friends, have a great day!

Be BOLD!


Real Talk: Vega Sport Hydrator Review

Happy Saturday Friends!

Just popping in to share my thoughts on this fun little product! Vega Sport Hydrator.

Full Disclosure: I was provided this product by Vega and Fit Approach, for the “Fuel Your Better” Campaign, in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

As you know, I run…and I sweat… a lot. As I’ve started running longer distances over the last couple of years, I’ve learned that my body does not do well with just water… I’ve also learned that my stomach doesn’t like a lot of the energy gus and gels on the market (hence my obsession with ENERGYbits). And Gatorade? not my favorite. So, when Fit Approach sent out information on their campaign with Vega, I was excited to try it! Fuel Your Better? Heck yes!

I’ve been reading a lot about Vega and following them on Social Media. I like that they offer a plant-based and natural alternative to the mainstream endurance and nutrition products on the market. Not gonna lie, I am a little obsessed with the Fuel Your Better campaign. Check it out for some serious motivation.

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Anyway, I was sent the Berry Sport Hydrator. I liked that it came in single serve packets. Super easy (just add to 16 oz of water, stir and drink!). I also loved the fun pink color! Not your standard lemon-lime or blue raspberry!

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Here is a look at the nutrition label on the hydrator I received.

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Notice the lack of scary ingredients!

So what exactly is the Electrolyte Hydrator?

From their website: “A natural, alkaline-forming drink mix, free from sugar and artificial sweeteners, Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator is formulated with all the essential electrolytes your body needs to stay hydrated during workouts.

With zero calories per serving, Electrolyte Hydrator tastes great, so you can sip it not just during your workout, but throughout the day to:

  • Replenish electrolytes and minerals
  • Enhance metabolism and alkalinity
  • Provide antioxidant protection”

Sounds promising, right?

How did it taste?

I LOVED that it wasn’t as sweet as your standard sports drink… It also didn’t stain my lips/clothes and it didn’t have that weird aftertaste.

That being said, it was still a little too sweet for me, but this was easily remedied by adding a little more water than the 16 oz per packet. Honestly, I think I would have preferred the lemon-lime flavor over the berry, but this was still pretty good.

Did it work?

I definitely noticed that I didn’t feel as depleted/drained after a hard workout when I drank this before/during (Also, here is where I tell you that I’ve had this product for a little while, and it took me forever to test it out because life seriously cut into my workout time. No big deal.).

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I also drank it while I was running around doing errands or at my regular job and it definitely helped me to feel more hydrated.

Would I buy this?

Definitely. I love that there aren’t crazy ingredients and will definitely be adding this to my water for long runs with CamelBak.

Thank you to Vega and Fit Approach for the sample! I would definitely recommend it to my fellow runners looking for a better alternative! #fuelyourbetter

Let’s Chat: Favorite Hydration Product? Flavors?

 


Why Can’t You Just Be Happy?

Hi Friends!

Can we have a real, honest-to-goodness conversation? I need to unload a bit…there are a lot of thoughts roaming around in my brain!

I am a big ball of nerves and randomness lately…not sure if you’ve picked up on this or not. But, as strange as it sounds, I feel more focused and clear-headed than I have in months. It’s strange; I’m all over the place, yet… I have it together (in my head anyway). Does that make any sense? Have you ever felt like that? I just feel like something big is coming… what it is, I couldn’t tell you, but it’s something important!

I’m looking forward, hopeful…but I’m also enjoying the present (mostly). This is something that I’ve always struggled with and this feeling of hope and moving forward is relatively new—and exciting! I’m ready to challenge myself and to do bigger things than I think are possible…it’s scary territory but I am finding it’s exciting and helps me push past those feelings of uncertainty.

I try to keep this relatively light-hearted on the blog… I also don’t hide my faith, but I don’t discuss it very often in this space. However, I feel like we know each other well enough that I can be truthful and open. I’ve wanted to tell this story for some time but I wasn’t sure if the time was right… today feels like the right day to take a chance and to make a confession.

The winter months are typically very difficult for me. I struggle.

I have a hard time being my best self in the winter. I don’t know how else to explain it and I never understood it in my younger years, it was just something I dealt with…I still don’t completely understand it and I still “just deal” with it.

When I was a kid,  I’d push my feelings down and focus on something else… then I would eventually have a melt-down and repeat. Not the best way to deal with things, but it got me through.

As I got older, I had a harder time dealing and pushing my feelings away. I would go to work every day, but on weekends I would hide away, not changing out of my pajamas and just trying to block the world out. Or I would cling to other people, other things, put all of my hope on them for my happiness and self-worth, which automatically set them (and me) up for failure. I never talked about my struggle.

I vividly remember a conversation with someone close to me during a particularly bad year. I was having more frequent meltdowns because I couldn’t find a good distraction and things were falling apart before my eyes, I couldn’t deny it much longer. We were having an argument and he looked at me and said “Why can’t you just be happy?”

I was stunned. And I couldn’t answer, so I did what I always did; ended the conversation and cried myself to sleep that night.

I had asked myself the same question several times but I had never uttered it out loud… I would make up excuses and just tell myself that I wasn’t happy…yet. That it wasn’t my fault. But even though the same question had always tugged at my heart, no one had ever asked me that out loud… and it hurt. It made me feel like a freak…a failure.

Even though I never answered him and that person is no longer in my life, that question has haunted me. (Looking back, I realize how completely insensitive that question was…but he had every right to ask it, even if I couldn’t answer it.)

I blamed my failure at happiness for making my life fall apart (this happened a few months after that conversation).  I took all of the blame; it was all my fault because I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t attractive enough, my job wasn’t good enough,  I wasn’t HAPPY enough. I was messed up. Looking back, I realize that this is all bull shit (pardon my French). Yes, I did some stupid, terrible things, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control. And it’s never entirely one person’s fault.

It was a God thing… I needed to be broken so I could be made stronger. And I’ve never been more grateful for a series of events.

In a recent conversation with a good friend, this time in my life came up and she asked if I was truly “over it.” Answering as honestly as I could, I said, “Yes. I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t get upset thinking about certain things, but I have no ill will. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still painful to think about at times, but it’s because I didn’t like the person I was then. And thinking about that former self is difficult.”

A lot has changed in the years that have passed since that question was spoken into existence.

I’ve regained my faith as a direct result of things falling apart.  It’s incredibly freeing to know that no matter how much I mess up, God is there. That He will take care of anything I give to him, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.  Yes, I still have responsibility, but He’s behind me.

I still struggle with “just being happy,” especially in the winter months, but I’ve been blessed with an incredible support system that gets it and the ability to find joy in the small things. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get down and I don’t get depressed…however, I don’t pin all my hopes and future happiness on other people and events…that’s just not realistic. But I do things that make me happy and I try not to over-obsess about the negative. And I try to be a better person and to help others.

If I’m having an off day, I admit it. Embrace it. And I talk about it… then I try to find the good and move on. Some days, this a lot harder than others.

In recent years, people ask me a completely new question and it always catches me off guard: Why/how am I “always so happy?” Quite a change, right? The answer is simple; I’m not. But, I don’t let my off days consume me as they once did.

In my slightly older/not-that-much-wiser years, I’ve discovered there are things that help me.

The number one thing is my faith, the second thing is my incredibly understanding and hilarious husband, Farmer Ben.

Running helps. A lot of people assume that I run because I want to get/stay in shape. That’s not the reason (most of the time). I run because it reminds me that I can survive and that I can persevere. It makes me feel strong and brings me a joy that I can’t completely explain. It’s also my time to talk to God. Running helps me get out of my head, get out my frustrations and my fears and just helps me … to be.

Speaking of talking to God, prayer. I’ve been a “re-Christian” for almost five years and sometimes I still have a hard time with prayer, especially praying in front of other people…but I’m finding that practice makes perfect and HE can do amazing things.

Another thing I’ve found is reading my Bible helps. I’ve always been bad about reading, but this year I am making a concentrated effort at making this a daily habit. It’s amazing what you find reading through this book. David, for example, was a man after God’s own heart. Yet, he STRUGGLED. He faced so many challenges; including someone trying to kill him… and he also struggled with “just being happy.” The first time I really read Psalms and paid attention, I was overwhelmed….speechless.

I had a lot of hard lessons to learn before I could “just be happy” and I probably still do. I suffered a lot of heartache and setbacks, but it forced me to take responsibility, to take a long look at myself and it made me move forward. Again, I’m far from perfect, but I’ve I feel like I am finally there–or at least a lot closer–even with my off days and my struggles…I’m in a good place and I’ve been incredibly blessed. Great things are happening, and there’s a plan for me (and you!) in spite of those times when I don’t feel like my best self.

Why can’t YOU just be happy?


It’s All About the Benjamins; Running on A Budget

I bet you thought that this post was going to be about Farmer Ben, but it’s not. Sorry…I know he’s a pretty neat guy. Instead, I’m talking about cash. Dinero. Money. It can be a dirty word. Having money is really nice, and not having it…well, it stinks.

I hesitated whether to write this post or not… but in all honesty, I feel like there are plenty of people out there who deal with the same kind of thing… so here’s some real talk, straight from the Notebook.

The other day, the hubs and I were having a discussion about money. We have some silly debt (student loans, car payment, etc.) that we just want to get rid of. So, we are committing ourselves to paying them off–early!–one at a time. It’s kind of like when you’re running a race, you start from the back, pick off the slower runners first, and move up to take on the big guys last–after you build up your confidence.

So, we are getting back to our B-U-D-G-E-T.  Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with that word? I find it empowering and depressing at the same time.

This means that we had to take a good hard look at where our money is going. What are we buying? What are we spending money on that isn’t necessary?

As I’ve rekindled my relationship with running, I notice that I spend more of my hard earned cash on running-related things…whether it be a race entry fee, new sneakers, or some shiny new gadget, running on the regular can add up.

True, all you really need to run is a good sports bra (if you’re a female), and a good pair of sneakers… but even those can cost upwards of $100…and if you’re on a tight budget like myself, it can be tough to afford it.

Obviously, it’s easy to be envious of other runners (especially other bloggers) who are able to do all of the cool races, have all of the latest models of running shoes and other gadgets and always seem to be up to date on…everything…especially when we are constantly hit with images of their cool stuff on social media. Am I right? BUT….it’s also a perfect example of why we have to work hard, on our runs and in real life.

This year, one of my goals is to run 14 races (click the little icon on my sidebar for more info!) in 2014. Depending on when and where races are, that can add up.

Side Note: I decided on (committed to) this goal right before the previously mentioned “budget conversation” with Farmer Ben. Impeccable timing, am I right?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any free race entries, running shoes or other fun gadgets/apparel coming my way… I also don’t have a ton of extra income to spend on said items because right now, paying off the silly debt comes first…but that’s okay. It just means I have to get creative.

So, I decided to share my plan for saving money AND accomplishing my 14 in 2014 goal.

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1. Sign up early. Most races will have the cheapest entry fees the further out you sign up…. if you wait closer to race day, you’re likely to pay up to $60 more! Bonus: If you already spend the money, you’re more likely to stick to your training!

Real Life Example: Remember how I signed up for the Wineglass Marathon in December? Well, the registration fee has already gone up $10!

2. Scope out smaller races. My first marathon was an $80 entry fee (and that was after the price increase), why? Because it was small. Not only do you get to see more and feel less rushed, but you save! Bonus: A lot of times smaller races have some pretty unique swag (Wineglass has a blown glass medal!) that you won’t find in a bigger race.

Real life Examples: With more popular races, such as the Rock n Roll Series, you’re going to pay $130 (got that from their website), plus you’re going to have to shell out travel and lodging expenses in major cities–if you don’t live in said city. (Not that I wouldn’t love to run a Rock N Roll race…but this year will not be that year). I paid an $80 entry fee for Wine Glass. Next, I was perusing active.com the other day and found a half-marathon about 40 minutes from me for $20. Um, yes please!

3. Stay close to home or with friends! While it may be temping to turn a vacation into runcation, if you’re a penny-pincher, like myself, shelling out big bucks for a hotel room and air fare is not always an option. So, if possible, stay with friends/family,  race within driving distance, or car pool! (When I run Wineglass, I’ll be crashing at my sister’s house!) It’ll be more fun!

Real Life Example: When I ran the Army Ten Miler a couple of years ago, I drove down and stayed with my friend Liz-this saved me over $200 that I would have had to spend on a hotel room. AND while it took more time, I ended up saving quite a bit by driving instead of flying (This was due to the fact that I ended up getting into the race at the last minute, and the closest airport to me only flies direct to Boston, Florida and Vegas.).

4. Use discount codes. Many bloggers are also race ambassadors. That means, if they are running a big race, they’ll often have a discount code to share with their readers. This also applies to gear and running fuel (Shameless Plug; 25% off ENERGYbits with code, “NoellesNotebook.”).

Real Life Example: I’ve found some great discount codes for brands such as ProCompression, ENERGYbits (see above) and Reebok from some of the blogs I read and #RunChat is always offering discount codes to their twitter followers.

5. Bring something with you. A lot of races will allow for a discounted race entry if you do something for the organization.

Real Life Example: I’m looking at a “run for chocolate” in February–they will discount your race entry if you bring something chocolate! Other races will ask that you bring a canned good or similar with you.

6. Volunteer. I’ve seen a trend in the last few months that certain races (or a race series) will give you a credit for a future race if you volunteer. OR, if you bring a volunteer with you, you’ll get a free race entry. What a great way to give back and save some cash! Team up with some friends and make it a party!

Real Life Example: This organization out of Massachusetts.

7. Run as a team. Some races allow runners to form a team, especially corporate groups. This allows team members to get a discounted registration, while repping their organization….now if only I could get some of my co-workers to run!

8. Look for deals. I cannot stress this one enough. I very rarely pay full price for running apparel/sneakers. Not because I’m cheap (okay, maybe I am), but because I look for the deals… whether in the store or online–I hate getting weekly emails, but I keep myself subscribed because every once in a while, I find a GREAT deal. I also look in places out of the ordinary (Craig’s List, TJ Maxx, Woot, etc.) Lastly, I try not to worry about getting the newest model clothing/shoes because last year’s model is usually discounted.

Real Life Examples:  I always update my cold weather running gear in November. Why? Because Dick’s has all Reebok cold weather gear on sale for 50% off AND I use coupons (I saved $85 this year)! I also get apparel at Target–I found a pair of C9 compression capris that are the most comfortable I’ve owned and weren’t ridiculously priced. Next, I snagged Ben a pair of Vibram Five Fingers from Woot.com for $30…Lastly, I purchased my foam roller at TJ Maxx for $15 and frequently see high-end sneakers there for a very affordable price, just never in my size. Bonus: Now and then you can score an amazing deal on treadmills or other equipment on Craig’s List, it never hurts to check the “free” section!

9. Save your race goodie bag! I know it’s tempting to just toss it  without looking through it, but speaking from experience, people spend a lot of time putting those together…at least take a peak at what they’ve got for you!

Real Life Example: I’ve gotten $30 worth of gift certificates (to the same store!) from the last two races I’ve done…not to mention other coupons, all in my goodie bag. That’s $30 off the price of my next pair of running shoes.

10. Start Saving. This may seem a bit elementary, but it doesn’t hurt to set aside some money in your budget specifically for races (especially if there is a big race you REALLY want to do)…even if it’s just saving the random change you find while cleaning your car. It all adds up.

Real life Example: The other day, I was going through a pile of stuff I had been neglecting and found $23. It immediately went into savings. I also set aside some of my tip money whenever I randomly pick up a shift.

That’s it. Simple enough, right? We’ll see how I do as the year progresses!

What about you?! Any tips and tricks for saving on races or running must-haves?! Favorite major savings story on running related items/events? Best race swag you’ve gotten? What races are you running this year?!