Clearwater Halfathon Race Review

by Melissa on January 26, 2015

Last weekend, I spent a few days in beautiful Tampa Bay visiting my best friend!  We had the trip planned for a few months and initially she asked me to run the Clearwater halfathon while I was in town.  Knowing I was just getting off the MCM training and the subsequent let down to letting that go, I knew Clearwater would be more of a fun run than a seriously trained for and run race.  But I didn’t care!  Any excuse to get out of the wintery cold was welcome :)

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The race was held on the Sunday of MLK Jr. weekend alongside the running of the St. Pete Beach Half, 10K, and 5K, therefore making it a small destination race.  This also made for minimal race day traffic and free parking 3 blocks from the start/finish line!  With only 2000 runners, we arrived about 20 minutes prior to the start.  It was a balmy 58 degrees to me (yet I still wore a throw away long sleeve) .  Sunrise was at 7:20am and the start was 7am, therefore I was itching to get started and see this gorgeous sunrise over the first (hill) bridge.

Since it was small, they didn’t have pace corrals.  The lady announcing the start of the race said “if you run a 5 min mile, you should be among the first 3 people lined up.  Everyone else should be behind them!”  I loved the relaxed feeling of the race, and it was perfect considering I was doing it for a fun long run!

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I was right!  The sunrise was breathtaking.  Despite the first mile being the bridge and one of the tougher parts of the race, we had so much scenery to take in.  We went over the bridge towards Clearwater beach.

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The course was an out and back, therefore the bridges we would run twice, with the longest one being at mile 12.  My hips were already mocking me.

After the bridge, it took us down a long straight away that connected to the resort area of Clearwater.  It was lined with palm trees and each side of the road was surrounded by water.  I couldn’t get over how beautiful the day turned out!

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We looped around the round about and were taken along the beach.  There was a light breeze that despite the sun made us feel cool.  I could run near the beach everyday…just sayin’.  ;)

Next up at mile 4 was another bridge.  This one was shorter yet slightly steeper than the first.  After this bridge, it was tough to see the ocean.  We passed mainly near the resorts and beach homes of Clearwater.   When we got to the turnaround point, the race directors didn’t completely shut down the road, therefore we were on the shoulder sharing it with cars trying to make their way to the beach for the day.  I think because the race was smaller and the fact that the road was the only way to these resorts, they couldn’t completely shut down parts of it.  I didn’t have an issue with it because by the turnaround, the runners had thinned out.

On the way back, I felt great.  I decided to pick it up a little and test out what I think would be near the race pace I want at the Philly Love Run in March.  I had about 5 miles on tired legs to get a feeling for it.  Miles 8 through 10 were a breeze.

Then came the bridges.

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If I were smart, I would have taken the bridge a little slower, but I didn’t.  I was feeling good and decided to just hammer through.  When I started the descent on the other side, my legs felt like they could cramp.  Full disclosure, I’ve only ever cramped in one race so I knew I was in for a little bit of hurt through the rest of the mileage.  I slowed down a bit and then got my legs back.  From mile 10.5 – 12 I was motoring at race pace again.  Then came the 2nd and last bridge.  I knew from the first, I’d be better to walk.  Yes only a mile left, but remember, this was a long run for me, not a PR course.

So I walked half the bridge.  Long runs are just time on your feet right…?

Either way, I came into the finish and was really pleased with the beautiful course, terrific weather, and amazing post race snacks.  Pasta, croissants, bagels, and beer!  Yes please!


The medals were also awesome – it’s the biggest one I have earned to date, even bigger than the one from the Pittsburgh Marathon!  After I finished, I headed to the stage area to await Shawna and find Colleen.  The weekend before, Colleen and I found out we not only were going to the same part of Florida but that we’d be running the same race!  Small world!  Her and her husband Jim were listening to awards (they’re fast..) and enjoying all that post race celebrations offer.

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( Don’t ask me why I thought pants were a good idea. )

After the race, Shawna and I headed back to well earned showers, food, and a post race nap.  We weren’t up for much more that day, so by the time we woke up, we decided to head to the beach to read, stretch, and take in the sunset.

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Thanks to Shawna’ parents, we were treated to a delicious seafood dinner to celebrate our accomplishment and also 12 years of friendship!  Snappers is definitely a restaurant I’d recommend if you’re ever in the St. Pete area.   The food is fresh and uniquely prepared.  I had snapper, shrimp, asparagus, and lobster risotto.  It was so much fun spending the weekend with Shawna and getting out of the winter misery of DC.


Here’s to more fun long run races and Florida visits with great friends!

Have you ever run a race as your long run?  What’s your favorite destination race?


Enchilada Stuffed Peppers {Veg Recipe}

by Melissa on January 14, 2015

As part of our Tofu Tuesday {see Meatless Mondays} resolution, cooking homemade meals seems to make more sense.  Most vegetarian staple foods such as beans, rice, legumes, whole grains, and lentils are extremely affordable and easy to buy in bulk to have on hand.  Even before this resolution, I usually had brown rice, beans, and lentils on hand to whip up a quick dish.


So why stuffed peppers?  Well first, they’re warm.  It was in the teens last week in DC and I’m not a huge salad person when it’s that cold.  Give me all the warm foods!

Also, stuffed peppers are quick to make.  Even with cooking the quinoa, I still only spent 20 min in prep time, most of that waiting for the quinoa to cook. 

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

  • 6 bell peppers, tops cut off and cored
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 can black beans drained
  • 1, 14oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1, 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 1/2 cup roasted corn (if using frozen, thaw ahead of time)
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika (obsessed)
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook quinoa according to package.  Mix with all ingredients except peppers.  Using an ice cream scoop (or large spoon), fill peppers.  Top with leftover cheese if desired.  Bake at 375 for 20 – 30 minutes.


{per stuffed pepper}

nutrient analysis


Goals Set, Progress Made

by Melissa on January 12, 2015

Welcome to the second full week of 2015.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a new year’s resolution type person, I’m going to take a guess that you still take a moment to think about how 2015 will compare with 2014.  I know I do! Last year started as one of the worst years and ended being one of my best, therefore giving 2015 a lot to live up to.

Small Changes

So, instead of going into 2015 with one lofty goal, I decided to look at small changes I could make or habits I could create that would make my life just a little better.  Here is what I’m up to for 2015 (so far):

Make One Day Meatless.

Nope, not meatless Monday.  Monday is way too chaotic and I’m usually eating leftovers for lunch and rushing home after a busy day at the office and then teaching after work.  So Devin and I decided to create Tofu Tuesday!  Haha, yeah we’re not big on tofu but thought the name was catchy.  I bought a few chickpea burgers at the store to heat up for lunch and top my salad with and then I cooked a warm dish that was both tasty and filling:  Enchilada Stuffed Peppers (recipe coming Wednesday)


Read 12 Books.

Yes this is still health related.  I’ve noticed that since I’ve finished college and my internship that my attention span is off.  I’m blaming it on social media and also being at a computer 8 hours a day.  Hundreds of distractions, small beeps, and pings to catch your attention and drive you away from whatever it was that you were doing.  I need to take control.  I’ve found that reading helps me increase my ability to focus.  Just a book and a comfy chair.  So this year, my goal is to read 1 book per month, leading to 12 books in year. I’ll be using GoodReads and Pinterest to start the process.  Follow one of these channels, share your favorite books, and I’ll rate what I’m reading!

{I finished Wild before Christmas and saw the movie: 5 stars}


{current read: Unbroken}


Run Faster, Get Stronger.

For so long I’ve focused on my mileage; the marathon was the holy grail.  But in 2014, I let go of the marathon, accepted my love for half marathons, and now in 2015 I want to dive into shorter distances too: the 5K and 10K.  I’m working with my coaches again and targeting the Philly Love Run to hopefully set a PR in the half.  I want to then focus on the 10K and 5K this late spring and summer and run faster.  Through more speed workouts and more consistent strength training, I’m truly excited to have a game plan for 2015 racing! 


What are your 2015 goals?

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Enjoy Your Holiday, Don’t Survive Them

by Melissa on December 18, 2014

“32 Science Backed Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain”

“Beat the Holiday Bulge”

“Survive the Holidays without Gaining Weight”

Do these sound familiar?  If you live in the US, have looked at a blog or magazine, or have just talked with someone about the upcoming holidays, then I’m going to bet all my money, you will say yes.

Even though as an RD, I’m always up for helping others find their way through the holiday season, I’m grossly tired of these headlines, and slightly perturbed by them.  Like Katie at HungryRunner said, “what is this, another volume to The Hunger Games?” 

No Katie, I think not.  The holidays aren’t to be dreaded or worried about with such emotion.  If anything, these headlines perpetuate the issues that arise during this time of year, not help.  Each time a coaching client mentions something about their worry towards the upcoming holiday season, I usually work towards helping them find some joy in it.  How do I do that?  I tell them to enjoy it.  Enjoy the day – and everything that comes with it!  The people, the company, the lights, the festivities, and of course the food. 

I’m not saying this as a way to live forever, but we have to live our lives.  Avoiding the wedding cake, saying no to ice cream on a beach vacation, and pouring out the champagne before a NYE toast does not a fun life make. 

So eat the cookie, relax the workout plans and just go for a walk with mom, and have a glass of eggnog with grandpap.  Sometimes these traditions are also where our favorite memories are made, and you just never know when it may be the last of them.

As an RD, I advocate a healthy lifestyle 24/7, and part of that lifestyle is also learning when to lean in, say yes, and eat some butter.  (and yes, on the flipside, it’s also learning when to say no)

Live it up.  Enjoy your holidays.  The running shoes will be there waiting for you when it’s over.  :)

run oranment


Her Holiday Wish List

December 16, 2014

I wish I could write this from the viewpoint of a guy, but I can’t.  I could even try to pull from what I think Devin likes, but even then I’d be taking a guess.  Instead, I’m offering up some last minute gift ideas for the active lady on your list.  She may not be […]

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Abs Challenge Week 3: Beating Sugar Cravings

November 18, 2014

You’ve made it to week 3!  [recap:  Week 1 Part 1, Week 1 Part 2, Week 2 Part 1, Week 2 Part 2, Dietitian on the Run] As we enter this week, much of the US is covered in snow and/or preparing for the holiday season.  While I love the snow (if it’s going to […]

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360 Degree Ab Workout

November 12, 2014

How’s the water situation going? Feeling fresh? I BET! Now it’s time to tune into targeting your abs this week in the FITNESS FOCUS But what does it mean to train your abs from all angles?  Well, your abs are more than just the front of your stomach and they require a bit more work […]

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Week 2: November Abs Challenge

November 11, 2014

Welcome to week 2!  I hope you enjoyed week 1 by focusing on whole foods and kick starting your journey to washboard abs with 2 interval training routines!  In case you’re wondering, we’re not getting rid of whole foods and cardio – that was just the beginning.  Instead, look at each week as building on […]

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Abs are made in the kitchen & Worked in the gym

November 7, 2014

Hey abs challengers, how’s it going?  Are you a little tired from your first round of cardio intervals?  Need a little extra nutritional push to keep you going?  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.  Today I’m sharing one of my favorite vegetables and the many ways I use it to create a healthy, low carb […]

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Week 1: November Abs Challenge

November 3, 2014

Why an abs challenge during a month that leads into the busiest of holiday seasons? Well, why not? I honestly can’t think of a better time of the year to host an abs challenge right when we’re starting to become slightly more sedentary (um, hello! no more sun after 5:30pm) and eat a bit more […]

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