Alexa’s Thunder Run

Before COVID-19 hit I had planned on racing the USA. My plan was to run an official half marathon or further in every state. I got the idea in San Diego. I ran behind a guy who’s shirt stated that he ran a marathon in every U.S. state. I asked if it was true and he said that he actually did it twice over. I was in love with the idea. I decided that a marathon in every state was too spirited a goal but I could bang out a half marathon on a whim. It’s my preferred distance. I would love to be one of the 10% of Americans that retire in an RV but I doubt I’ll be able to sustain that type of lifestyle. Why wait until I retire to tour America?

A couple of weeks ago I ran a local trail half marathon and it was fun. I enjoy trail running. Although it requires more of an effort, I find it relaxing. My mind doesn’t run as much because I’m very focused on the natural obstacles in front of me. I like trail races because I don’t have to think about where I’m going, I just follow the arrows that mark the course. I don’t actually race at trail races, I just go to have a good time.

I found a website that lists half marathon events that are going on in every state. I found a trail race in NJ. I had attended cycling races in NJ, but I never did a running race there. It was very inexpensive so I signed up. By doing smaller, lesser known races, I can save a bit of money and see more common parts of that state.

I drove an hour and a half to Newton, NJ. It was a small, pretty town. The event was to be held in Kittany Valley State Park. There were many warning signals that this race would be tough but I chose to ignore them, plus I was already there. The first thing I noticed was that this park was in the mountains. When I opened my race packet I was delighted to see that it was loaded with goodies. It’s the best goodie bag I’ve ever received at a race! I knew then that this would be no cake run.

I left the car to use the porto potty before I put my bib and hydration pack on. There was a sad looking young lady walking by. She told me that she must’ve dropped her gloves as she was leaving the house. I told her to come to my car in a few minutes, that I always carry more than what I need. When she came to my car I loaned her the spare pair of gloves that I had in my bag.

As the start was drawing near, two ambulances came and parked in the spots closest to the finish line. I probably should’ve bailed then but I decided to give it a shot anyway. There weren’t many participants, possibly forty. This was basically an event for hardcore trail runners. Before the start they briefly explained the course. The first mile was a climb up to the radio tower! We started running and, as we were making our way up, it got steep and those before me started to walk up. I never walked during a race before but I followed suit because these people had experienced this course before. After I was situated at the top I started running. I heard someone fall behind me. I asked if they were ok but I didn’t hear the response, it was a female voice.

Not long after that, I fell for the first time. I wore a long sleeve top and pants. I knew I’d be a bit warm but, after falling for the first time at the last trail race, I decided to protect my skin from another possible fall. I wound up falling three times. The final fall would be the worse. This was a very technical trail course. There were rocks, tree roots, large stones, downed trees, steep climbs, narrow paths on steep cliffs, and steep descents. Although I wore my trail running shoes, I still twisted both feet. A few times. I did a mixture of walking and hiking through this tough course.

I had choices. I could’ve bailed at mile five when we looped back to the starting line before continuing on to the next part of the course. I could’ve bailed at mile seven when I came back to the main road. I could’ve bailed at mile eight when I made a wrong turn back to the same spot. The volunteer informed me that I had made a wrong turn and to go back to continue around the lake. I kept eyeing the road that went back to my car. She knew my thoughts and told me that she knows it’s hard and that’s why she’s not running.

I continued on. I whimpered at times, bellowed out in pain when I twisted my foot. Each time I fell I quickly got back to my feet. I was alone in the woods calling out “Medic!” as I continued on. After the last fall I got up but couldn’t breathe. I stopped to assess myself. My ribs weren’t tender and I felt nothing out of the ordinary so I continued on.

In the last couple of miles I saw two runners ahead of me. I was close but I was running my race at my pace with no desire to catch up. I saw the young man fall and not get back up. I went to him, he said he had a cramp. I helped him work the cramp out of his calf as he cried out in pain. He told me that he didn’t want to slow me down. Although there was a three hour cutoff, I couldn’t just leave him there. I got him to his feet and we walked together, arm in arm, over all of the rocks, stones, and roots. When he seemed better I let his arm go. When the terrain changed to smooth I ran on. He ran with me until he couldn’t anymore. That’s when I went ahead.

In the last mile I caught up to the other runner, an older gentleman. We chatted until his friend, who had run the 10K, came to run the last portion with him. I went on ahead of them to finish with an official time of three hours and three minutes. The timing mat was still there and, even though we didn’t make the cutoff, we were still considered finishers and received a medal. The young man came later, after the timing mat was taken down.

When the race director awarded me with my medal I cried. I explained that I didn’t know that I was capable of completing an event like this. I was the 33rd out of the 34 people who had completed the course and the 16th out of the 16 women that finished but I did it! I took a beating on the course but I stuck it out all the way to the end. I proved to myself that I can do extraordinary things. When I got back to my car, I saw that my gloves were put into my door handle. They didn’t feel damp. I wonder if that was the young lady that fell and if she had finished the race.

Over the course of this event many people encouraged me. The trail running community is a very supportive group of people. If I had more trails like this one closer to me, I’d run on them and get better at it. I could get into this type of running, it’s challenging but I would really enjoy it once I got accustomed to it. It’s beautiful and peaceful in the woods. I should’ve taken some pictures, especially when I was by that beautiful lake. I’m sorry about the lack of pictures in this post……

This event was run very well. The course was well marked. The volunteers were very helpful and encouraging. There was a good selection of food at the end which included vegan options. As I mentioned earlier the goodie bag was top notch. I was very impressed with this event.

As always I thank all of the people that believe in me and encourage me. I don’t know if any of this would be possible without that support. Thank you all very much for reading!

52 Weeks

Back in March I was supposed to run three half marathons, I referred to it as March Madness.  I signed up for two and then gained entry by way of lottery into the third.  I ran the first race in upstate New York and even had a PR (that I’ve beaten since).  That was the last mass start event to go off before everything shut down due to COVID-19.  

The following week the race that I was supposed to run was cancelled.  I got together with a few new friends to run at the hilly college campus.  I was well accustomed to running hills at that point.  I didn’t intend on running a half marathon that day but I already had over 12 miles by the time I was making my way back to the car so I decided to run a half marathon.  The week after that I thought why not just run another half marathon.  

All of the events I was signed up for were cancelled.  The college campus closed their gates to the public to aid with COVID-19.  I had already decided to run half marathons on Sundays. Although running in parks offered the security of shelter from cars there was more of a risk in contracting the virus.  I decided that I had less of a chance of getting hit by a car on the road than I did of contracting COVID-19 in the park.  Because of that decision, I was never alone.  It was a regular occurrence that I saw my bike friends at my regular running spot.  I had been riding and running alone so Sunday was the only time that I was interacting with the people and groups that I used to ride with.

After more time passed, I became invested in running a half marathon every week.  I had decided on a goal of 52 weeks.  I was out there in all kinds of weather.  In the beginning every Sunday morning was cool, ideal for running.  As the months passed the weather got warmer and Spring offered slightly warmer weather that was still ideal for running. In the summer I ran early in the morning to beat the heat but it was still very warm and difficult to run in. I prayed for a cool rain shower or a sprinkler to run through. The fall was my favorite. All the heart rate training over the previous months had me in prime running shape. That’s when I had the PR and nearly hit my goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon at my tempo heart rate. Thats when I got sick with lectin poisoning and I was back to square one. Winter came and I ran in the freezing cold. It was hard because the poisoning robbed me of a lot of running fitness but I managed. The hardest thing about running in the cold weather were my cold, stiff hands.

There were times that I was hurting so bad that I nearly ordered an Uber or asked my husband to come get me. I decided that there would be no dignity in that so I found the strength to go on. On very hot days I contemplated ending my challenge. I asked myself “What would Scott Jurek do?”. Scott Jurek would go on and complete what he set out to do and that’s what I did. There were days that it was so humid that I could barely breathe but I made it through. There were times that I thought I’d pass out but I never did. Then there was that one day that I thought I’d beat the rain but got caught in the snow. My eyelids were frozen and my eyes were blurry but I somehow made it to the end of my run. In fact, during the last couple months of this challenge, I had doubts of being able to finish because of the snow and icy weather.

There were times that it was almost effortless. I’d glide up and down those hills. I’d take in the world around me and smile the whole run through. There were times that I wished I had added more miles. I felt amazing and could’ve run around the world. I was extra jubilant when I saw my friends. I took extra notice of everything around me and payed attention to the beautiful mansions and properties that I passed. I took in the aroma of the flowers and just kind of got lost in those moments.

Having this goal during this crazy time of uncertainty got me through. Some Saturday evenings when I thought about having a few drinks, I had this as the reason not to. Some Saturdays when I thought about spending the entire day on my bike, I had this to save my legs for. When I thought about taking a risk on a gathering, I had this as the reason not to risk my health. That, and wanting to see the people I care about the most.

Sunday half marathon gave me a deeper understanding of commitment. It has shown me who I really am. It has shown me what both my body and my mind are capable of. I now know that I’m no quitter. I know that I can follow through on the things that are important to me. I have learned more about myself in this past year than I have in the past seven years. People have told me that I have the strength to persevere but it was something I needed to see for myself. For the first time in my life I know for a fact that I am a badass!

There was no better feeling than approaching a finish line banner that was a year in the making. I was filled with pride and overcome with emotion. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and have a new feeling of calm. Thank you to the special people that chose to share that moment with me. Thank you to everyone that encouraged and supported me through all of this. Thank you to everyone who believed in me. Thank you to everyone who wouldn’t let me give up when I was on the verge of abandoning what I was setting out to do. No goal is insurmountable. Believe in yourself and embrace your own journey no matter where it may lead.

Plant Based Living (main course)

Miss Ann’s Plant Lovers Chili

I love a thick, hearty, and “meaty” chili. I love a chili that sits atop the brown rice without seeping to the bottom. Lentils give the chili that “meaty” consistency that I love so much and they take on the flavor of any sauce.  I recently joked that lentils are the new ground meat!   

What you will need:

  • Small yellow onion (1)
  • Cloves of garlic (2-3)
  • 15oz can of tomato sauce (2)
  • 15oz can of dark red kidney beans with the liquid from the can (2)
  • 15oz can of cannellini beans, drained (1)
  • Red lentils (1/2 cup)
  • Cumin (1 tsp)
  • Habanero pepper, seeded (1)
  • Pink himalayan salt (1 tbsp)

How to make it:

In a high speed blender puree one can of the tomato sauce, the yellow onion, the garlic cloves, and the habanero pepper. Put the mixture in a large pot along with the rest of the ingredients.  Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Remove from heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Then serve it over brown rice or nachos.  Top it off with vegan cheddar cheese if you like chili and cheese.  It makes delicious nachos and pairs well with sweet potatoes.  

Play with the recipe a bit.  If you enjoy it a bit more spicy then throw another pepper in there or don’t remove the seeds when you blend it.  I puree the ingredients to add thickness to the sauce but if you enjoy a thinner chili then you can just chop the onions, garlic, and pepper instead of blending them.  If you don’t have a habanero pepper then any hot pepper will work well.

I hope you enjoy it! Stay healthy and safe. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.  Thank you all so much for reading!


Plant Based Living (main course)


Penne A La Vodka

This is one of my favorite dishes.  It’s delicious and easy to make.  Someone recently asked me how I live without eating my favorite foods.  People just assume that I’m making a huge sacrifice because I’m eating a plant based regimen.  I replied “I don’t.  I eat all the same things that you do, I just prepare it differently.”  In my opinion the non dairy version is soooo much creamier.  My husband even loves it.

What you will need:

  • Raw cashews (1/2 cup or 60g)
  • Organic canned tomato sauce (1 cup)
  • Yellow onion (1/4 cup)
  • Garlic cloves (3)
  • Vodka (1/4 cup)
  • Penne
  • Peas 
  • Basil leaves
  • Salt
  • Non dairy parmesan cheese (1-2 tbsp)

How to make it:

Soak the cashews in hot water for half an hour and then drain the water.  Combine the sauce, cashews, onion, vodka, and garlic in a high speed blender and blend on high until all the ingredients are blended together stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the blender.  Put the blended ingredients in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Add salt to your preference.  The sauce will thicken as it cooks.  

Cook the penne as per package instructions.  I didn’t specify the amount of penne because that’s a matter of preference.  I personally eat 85g of penne measured while dry.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Add as much sauce as you like to the pasta.  Add the basil leaves and peas to your liking as well.  Stir it together until it looks awesome.  Put it in a pasta bowl and sprinkle it with the parmesan. 

You can also use the sauce to make pizza a la vodka which is just as delicious!

Prep time: approx 10 minutes, cook time: approx 15 minutes.  Makes 2 cups of sauce.

Bon Appetit!


Plant Based Living (dessert)


Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mug Cake

I’m a chocoholic! I can’t live without chocolate and I don’t have to. These little single serving cakes are big enough to satisfy my craving but small enough that I don’t have to loosen my belt.

What you will need:

  • Whole wheat all purpose or pastry flour (2 tbsp)
  • Organic unrefined sugar (2tbsp)
  • Peanut butter powder (2 tbsp) 
  • Baking powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Apple sauce (1 tbsp)
  • Finely chopped banana (1 tbsp)
  • Vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
  • Non dairy semi sweet chocolate chips (2 tbsp)
  • Non dairy milk (3 tbsp)

How to make it:

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mug and whisk them together.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, and stir them together with a spoon.  Add the chocolate chips on top of the mixture.  Microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds. Eat it as is or top it off with non dairy ice cream and/or non dairy whipped topping.  Enjoy!

Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 1 minute and 15 seconds





I’ve got a lot of baggage, who doesn’t? I’ve amassed emotional damage from my childhood through my thirties.  What I didn’t realize is that I was still, at the onset of my forties, collecting emotions that were detrimental to my psychological well being.

Since I started reading “Finding Ultra” I began seeing into my soul.  I started evaluating my emotions.  I didn’t realize it when I started reading but it’s a great self help book.

In 2017 I was riding strong with some really strong cyclists.  I was on top of the world.  A couple of people suggested that I race.  I really wanted to but I was nervous, and uninsured.  In 2018 I got onto an insurance plan and so there was nothing holding me back.  Despite my weight gain and lack of fitness, I decided to try racing anyway.  You all read how that went but I’ll summarize it briefly by saying that I embarrassed myself.  Yes, I did try, but I came up short repeatedly.  I’m a has been that never really was.

In the winter of 2019 I bought a bike more suitable for racing as well as the new team race kit.  I spent good money on a matching racing helmet.  The helmet even has my name on it.  I had every intention of racing in 2019 but something happened over the course of that winter.  I fell in love with running and decided to pursue a longtime dream of running a marathon.  I had abandoned my cycling goals to focus on my running goals.  

Before I started running I had always admired runners.  In cycling speed is not only dependent upon fitness but many other factors such as the bike, it’s wheels, aerodynamics, etc.  Running is pure in that nothing, except for training, will make a person run any faster.  Many sneaker companies will claim that their sneakers will help you run faster but they really won’t. In running you are the bike, the machine that you must will forward faster.  

Now that I’ve run two marathons my goal is to bring it all together.  The more I read and fuel myself with clean energy, the more interested I become in cleaning out my emotional closet.  I didn’t realize it at the time, I didn’t realize it until I sat down with my girl that the cycling races were about chasing a moment.  I didn’t experience that moment but I acknowledge it now.  Why does anyone want to race? For some it’s a moment, for some it’s a form of validation, for some it’s a rush.  For me it was all of those things.  I wanted to feel like I was on top of the world again.  Although I entered many running races, it was never a moment that I was chasing.  The running races were always about finishing and having a blast along the course.  

I’m only now regaining some of my bike fitness along with overall fitness.  My appearance is becoming more lean and muscular.  I’m gaining confidence.  This past weekend I was confronted by my racing kit in the closet except this time it wasn’t laughing at me. It’s fabric is lightweight and breathable, the chamois was made to last even the longest road races.  I never wore it because of the shame I experienced in cycling races.  I simply stopped competing after only one season of racing.  I was not good enough to wear the team kit.  This past Saturday, Independence Day, I put it on and saw myself in it.  I really saw myself and I liked what I saw.  I saw a woman not only facing her insecurities, but wearing them proudly for all to see.  I did a long, hilly ride in that kit and it felt like heaven.

I’m done with chasing a moment.  I want to enjoy the journey.  I love training even though the world is currently on pause and racing seems uncertain.  The more uncertain it seems, the harder I train.  Eventually normal life will resume and I will rise like a phoenix from the ashes armed with fire ready take the world by storm.  I now realize that the race is not just the event, but the entire journey leading up to that moment.  I’m now ready to fully experience every moment from every run, every ride, and soon every swim. 

We all have something going on.  Now may be a good time to confront it and stop the demons from haunting you.  Release yourself from the hold that they have on you.  Fight back and come out victorious.  We only get this one life.  If it all ended tomorrow would you be happy with the way that it all went? I’ll leave you with that thought…..

I hope you are all healthy and safe.  Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.  As always, I thank you all very much for reading. 

My Experiment

Over the course of the past few weeks I have been experimenting with nutrition to see how it affects my personal sports performance.  The result of this experiment amazes me.  I’m simply reporting on my findings.  This experiment has nothing to do with environmental, political, religious, or personal views.  What you choose to eat is your business. 

I have compiled my runs and documented what I ate in the twelve hour period prior to each run.  I chose my runs instead of my rides since its a consistent and steady effort.  My rides have too many inconsistent variables such as stopping at traffic lights and things of that nature.  Here are my findings:

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating meat and dairy for dinner followed by a vegan breakfast.  No running power data is available.

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating fish with avocado, sweet potato, and cauliflower for dinner followed by a vegan breakfast.  The image shown on the right is the data from the running power meter. It shows that I had to stop during the recovery intervals due to muscle fatigue.  I actually felt victimized by my own planned workout.

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating a plant based regimen for two days straight.  Not only did I surpass my targets but I still had more energy after my workout and did not feel at all depleted.  This surprised me because it was warm and very humid (98% humidity).

I have plenty of data from plenty of other runs but it all results in the same conclusion.  I chose these examples because they are the same exact intervals on the same exact course.  I have data that shows a faster run a week before a slower run and many inconsistencies due to nutrition.  It’s fascinating.  Eating a plant based regimen enhances my sports performance.  Not only do I perform better at cycling and running but I have more energy.  Over the course of my seven week stay at home order I reduced my caffeine intake.  I have more energy drinking less coffee.  I’m more alert, I solve puzzles seconds faster, and I rarely nod off at my desk (that was a somewhat regular occurrence prior to quarantine).  I feel less sore and my legs rarely feel heavy.  

When I first started this experiment I was eating animal products a few times per week.  Over the course of this experiment I reduced my intake of animal products.  I now eat no animal products.  My decision is based solely on how I feel.  I feel much better than I ever have before.  I’m not at all interested in consuming animal products.  I’m not saying that I’ll never tear into a juicy skirt steak ever again but I have no interest in feeling sore and sluggish on a regular basis.

I encourage you all to explore your own curiosities, whatever they may be.  This life is too short not to seek the answers to the questions in your minds.  If you do conduct your own experiment please share your results with me, I’d love to hear all about it.  I’m always ready and willing to learn something new.  I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.  Thank you all so much for reading!





I’ve always worked. I’ve been working since I was a teenager. I had three months off back in the summer of 2010 but I’ve come to regret how I spent my time. Back then I was a smoker and I had no interest in exercising. I spent my days in front of my big screen. I did other things that summer but nothing compared to how I would spend my time nowadays. I often dreamed of what I would do with that amount of time if I had to do it over again.

I’m not saying that I’m happy that a pandemic broke out but I was happy to be able to have time to myself. I did everything that I should have done back in 2010. I spent my mornings either cycling or running and my afternoons either reading or watching movies. I read “Let Your Mind Run”, “Shut Up Legs”, “The Incomplete Book of Running”, “Eat & Run”, and “A Life Without Limits”. I watched a lot of Running and Cycling Documentaries as well as the inspirational movie “St. Ralph”.

I had fun adventures while cycling and running. I enjoyed the minimal car traffic and took advantage of roads that I would normally avoid because of heavy traffic. Every day was not a beautiful and cloudless day with perfect weather but I enjoyed them all the same, despite all the damn wind we were having. On one of my rides I was just a couple of miles from home when I came to a roadblock due to a car fire! Once it was established that the driver was perfectly safe and that it was his company’s car, I took pictures. The car was ablaze and there were mini explosions within the fire. It was crazy!

I normally run a half marathon distance on Sunday at tempo heart rate with ten second hill sprints at the campus nearby but it was converted into a Covid-19 testing center. I started running on a quiet, hilly road nearby instead. I normally start my runs with my legs feeling like lead logs before they finally warm up after three miles. One day I felt amazing from the very start of the run until the end and it was my second fastest half marathon distance. My fastest half marathon was at the Celebrate Life Half Marathon, a hilly race upstate. I pushed my heart rate to the max at that race and had a PR by about four minutes. This run was at my tempo heart rate and was about two minutes slower that the race.

The runs after that started the same as they usually did with my first thoughts being “I feel like crap and I’m dying”. I decided that that one day was just me having a good day. It wasn’t until three weeks later that I put it together. I was reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. I normally don’t judge people but I saw him as a scrawny vegan… until I read his book. I always thought of vegans as tree hugging wild environmentalists. Scott Jurek is none of those things. In the beginning of his book he wrote about eating barbecued meat! He is not opposed to eating animal products, he simply chooses not to. He wrote about how much better he felt on a plant based regimen. I loved how open he was about his life and searched for movies with him in them. That’s how I stumbled upon “The Game Changers”. This movie showed me how the body metabolizes different foods and contradicted everything that I thought I knew.

That was when I had my great epiphany. OMG! The night before that awesome run I had eaten Tofu Pad Thai, the date was on my billing statement. I always eat overnight oats made with almond milk before my activities. That was it! I ate plant based foods and benefitted from it. I started experimenting with different foods, including seafood. My best efforts were after eating a high protein plant based pasta with either tofu or seafood. My favorite thing to make is butternut squash sauce with dill, it’s delicious. I make a lot of Thai inspired food loaded with vegetables. I’ve always eaten a wide variety of food so I was prepared to switch it up. If you season food properly anything will taste great.

In the middle of all this I had been researching the Stryd footpod for running power metrics. I read an in depth review that focused on the training aspect of it instead of the technology itself. That sealed the deal for me. In TrainingPeaks the only unit of measurement or progress is pace. Pace is dependent on so many factors. The Stryd footpod also has wind detection as well as efficiency metrics. There are times that I’m running slow but working harder and vise versa. It’s important to me that I know what my actual efforts are. I have learned so many fascinating things about myself while analyzing the data it provides after my runs. For instance, I use less power to keep my heart rate from shooting up when I climb up hills and more power going downhill to keep my heart rate from dropping too low. So, basically, in order to keep my heart rate even I have to climb slowly and power down a descent. The data is very interesting.

Between eating a regimen conducive to making gains and analyzing my running power and efficiency metrics, it’s almost as if I became faster overnight. My Critical Power (running ftp) has shot up since I started using the footpod. All of my running training is coming together. I was experiencing many inconsistencies that I’m no longer having.

Of course I’m also having cycling gains. I have a lot of work to do on the bike to get to where I want to be but it’s coming along and I feel much better riding. Just like my runs, I feel good from beginning to end. There were times on my rides when I couldn’t figure out why my hard work wasn’t adding up to me putting out power. The answer was simple, it was my shoes. My winter cycling boots don’t have a stiff sole like my spring/summer shoes do. For a couple of years I couldn’t figure out why I slowed down, again it was the shoes. I was wearing cheap shoes with more padding in the sole. When I bought new shoes with a stiffer sole last summer my riding dramatically improved. My confidence is going up and I feel better about myself.

What does a lady do to boost her confidence even more? A makeover of course! A friend of mine posted herself on Facebook doing her hair. I hadn’t trimmed my hair since 2012 and my ends were straight out nasty. My grays were running rampant and I’d done nothing to stop them. I felt ashamed of myself. She was using a hot air brush. I looked into it and that brush blows hair out straight in twenty minutes! I bought one. I also bought a set of scissors and hair dye. I trimmed and dyed my own hair. Not only do I feel much better about my appearance but I feel empowered from being able to do it by myself.

I’m not happy about the pandemic but I am happy about being able to hit the pause button and reset my life. I learned and grew tremendously in the seven weeks that I was off. I have absolutely no regrets about how I spent my time. I was extremely productive and forever changed. I hope that all of you are heathy and safe. No matter what you have going on, every day is an opportunity to grow and make positive changes. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. As always, I thank you all very much for reading!

San Diego, California


As a broke girl from Queens I’ve always dreamed of traveling all over the world.  As the years passed and my bank account failed to grow I then started to dream of traveling all over the country.  After more years had passed I then started to dream of simply seeing the west coast.  In the past 10 years I only took a week off from work to get married and go on honeymoon.  I took weekend getaways but I didn’t take time off for vacations.  

Over the winter my friends Mr. & Mrs. Scuba Cyclist came to visit.  We met for dinner and they told us all about their life on the west coast and how nice it was.  It all sounded wonderful.  They invited me to come visit. They’ve had a few friends come to visit them and they love entertaining.  They had no plans for February so I searched their area for half marathons going on around that time and found The Mermaid Half Marathon, an event for the ladies.  I’ve never done a ladies race and decided to visit them surrounding the event.  

The race was on the morning of Saturday, February 8th.  I flew in on Thursday morning and spent the day with Scuba cyclist preparing for our super fun extended weekend.  We stopped by the military base so I could get a cyclist’s visitors pass to be able to ride through the base.  There was a wait so we went to lunch at a nearby restaurant on the water.  The food was delicious and everyone on the west coast are really nice and laid back, so much different from the uptight people of New York!  When we returned to the base there was a short wait and we were able to get my pass fairly quickly.  We went for delicious ice cream afterwards before going to pick up my race packet.  

We sat in rush hour traffic on the way back to her place and I was freezing.  She had the air conditioner on in the car but it wasn’t all that cold.  Luckily I had bought a Navajo blanket when we were by the water so I used it in the car.  I felt like crap.  Shortly after we got back to the house we sat down to a very nice dinner.  I started to warm up a bit.  Since we’re the same height I borrowed Scuba Cyclist’s bike, she had it adjusted for me with the email I sent her from my last bike fitting.  After dinner we prepared by bike for our ride the next day.  That night I slept like crap, I was fighting something.  I was worried that I’d flown across the country just to be laid up sick but, thankfully, that was not the case. 

I woke up feeling refreshed.  Since I was doing a half marathon the next day this ride was gonna be more chill, at a tempo pace.  I had no intention of actually racing the half marathon but I didn’t want to run on depleted legs either. Riding tempo suited Scuba Cyclist just fine, she enjoys just riding.  She took my on a very nice route along the coast through the seaside towns.  It was all very breathtaking.  It was mostly flat except for a coupe of hills in the military base.  There was a spectacular view of the mountains.  We visited the sea lions that sunbathe on the pier.  I took pictures of amazing water views at a few places along our ride.  I didn’t want the ride to end but I was getting tired as the first half of the ride was into a headwind.  

That afternoon we all visited the farmers market.  I love shopping on the street, I always have.  I also love eating on the street but that’s a whole other thing.  My friends did their regular shopping and I bought essential oils.  I started aromatherapy in my essential oil diffuser while I sleep and I’ve been sleeping deeper and waking up feeling more rested.  We went back and had a sensible meal and I went to sleep at a decent hour.  

In the morning I got ready and Scuba Cyclist dropped me off at the race before heading to the gym.  She didn’t ride that day because my race was along her riding route and the roads were blocked off.  On the way to the race I felt the familiar pang of my stomach.  I used the bathroom before leaving the house but, yea, I was about to have one of my pre race porto potty episodes.  At least it was before and not during the race…. After that I lined up and chatted with the other mermaids, they were all very nice.  None of them sized me up, acted catty, or acted like competition.  These ladies were all very positive and friendly.  

The race itself was very nice and scenic.  It was a bit windy and the course was in the sun but it was a lovely day for a race.  I spent some time running behind and with a very nice lady.  We chatted a bit and, it turns out, she’s also from NY.  She currently lives in San Diego and, I later learned, spends a good amount of time encouraging female athletes.  Although I wasn’t racing I wasn’t exactly taking my time either.  I actually came close to having a PR but that would come at a later race.  I was on vacation and I was there to have a good time.  I did push the final 5k as I always do but this time it was tough and I had to back it down a bit.  The nice lady and I met again at the results kiosk and chatted a bit.  She told me about Stryd, the running power meter footpod.  I was intrigued and that started my research into running with power.  Gathering more information about my runs could only help me as pace is dependent upon many factors but I’ll get into all that on my next post.  Yes, I plan on writing some more 😉

After taking part in some of the finish line festivities I made my way back to the lot at the  starting line to meet up with Scuba Cyclist.  It was a mile walk back to the lot and I was dance walking because a good song came on.  She was happy to see that I was having fun and I told her all about the race.  We went back to the house and got ready.  We went to the brewery for lunch and then went hiking up a mountain.  The only other time I went hiking it was freezing out and there was a lot of ice.  It was nice to only worry about navigating the steep uphills and descents while maneuvering around the rocks and stones.  The view from the top was spectacular.

That night it was ladies night at a friend’s house.  It was nice to meet her friends and learn more about life in California.  It was a late night but, since it was raining the next day, I was sleeping in.  I woke up feeling like crap.  As the day went on it was clear that I had a cold.  It was just as well that it was raining because my legs were toast.  We took an hour drive to the vineyard for lunch and wine tasting once Scuba Cyclist returned from the gym.  The Vineyard was so beautiful and all the wines we tasted were amazing.  It was a very fun way to spend a rainy day.  We were planning on having more wine with dinner but none of us were into it and we drank water instead.  We went to bed at a decent hour but I still woke up feeling like crap.  

It was raining again and Mr. Scuba Cyclist offered to take me to a nice running spot while the Mrs. was at the gym. It was beautiful.  There was a light rain but running in the rain never bothered me.  I did a nice zone 2 run or at least I tried to run zone 2 up a mountain.  The downhill was certainly at zone 2 though. I stopped a couple of times along the run to take pictures as it was one of the nicest places I had ever run.  That was the last thing I did in San Diego.  Just like that my visit had come to an end.  Once back at the house I bathed and got the rest of my things together.  Scuba Cyclist dropped me off at the airport and she even packed a meal for me to take on the plane.

I’m ever so grateful to my friends for giving me the opportunity to visit the west coast.  I’m also grateful to have visited before the world shut down.  Not long after my visit all hell broke loose with the pandemic and nobody went anywhere.  I thank my friends for being excellent hosts and making me feel welcome in their home.  I’m deeply grateful to have been trusted with her top of the line bicycle, I treated it like royalty.  

Through cycling I’ve made friendships with truly wonderful people, people that I may not have met otherwise.  I’ve made friendships with people that don’t care that I’m a BrokeLadyCyclist and that means the world to me.  In a time of materialism these wonderful people see me for who I really am.  Thank you to everyone who has been kind to me. Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Scuba Cyclist for everything, including repeatedly picking me up when I was down.  I hope you all stay healthy and safe, thank you all so much for reading!




The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2020


My husband loves going to Disney.  Every year he goes to Disney with his boys.  He asked me to go this past summer but I chose not to go.  Being that we’re on a budget I chose to save my money to go on a cycling trip or to Scuba Cyclist’s house in San Diego.  A while back I read about a man who lost weight by taking up running after having weight loss surgery.  His goal was to run his first marathon, he chose the 2020 Disney marathon to be his first.  I wasn’t into running at that time but the event was somewhere in the back of my mind.

One day I was on Facebook and an ad for the Disney marathon popped up and I remembered the article I read and thought it may be fun to do it.  Although I hadn’t run my first marathon yet I decided to sign up for a second marathon, the Disney marathon.  I asked my coach if it would be advisable to do two marathons within a couple months of each other and she said it would be a good event for me to participate in.  She told me I would have a lot of fun and she knows people that love it so much that they do it every year.  I talked it over with my husband and he was just as excited to accompany me to Disney as I was about running the marathon.  He made all the travel arrangements for an extended Disney weekend, including the itinerary, and I registered for the marathon. 

In the months leading up to our trip I was getting excited.  I bought some Disney apparel for both the marathon and for the parks.  I was excited about running the marathon and wasn’t at all nervous.  I was actually very relaxed.  That is until my training runs got longer and I started experiencing discomfort.  I couldn’t go crying to my doctor because I had met the calendar year allowance for his services and I couldn’t afford to pay completely out of pocket.  I wasn’t in horrible pain so I continued my training as planned.   The marathon was in the beginning of the next calendar year so I was able to resume treatment prior to the event.  I went to him a few days before I left for the trip hoping that that one visit would help me.  In the back of my mind I questioned whether I’d be able to complete the marathon but I kept it in the back of my mind where it belonged.  Even if I didn’t complete it I’d be happy to run as far as I could in the happiest place I know. 

Early in the morning on Friday, January 10th we headed out to the airport by way of ride share car service.  We took off and landed on schedule.  Arrangements were made for our bags to be sent to our hotel and we were to arrive there by way of the Magical Express bus service.  We were to be the last stop on the bus.  We noticed that we were passing the ESPN center where the race expo was being held so we decided to get off at the very first stop and take a bus from there.  The expo was a lot of fun.  I picked up my race bib, shirt, and gear bag as well as a couple of other small things.  We took pictures and demoed a couple of new items.  While we were at the expo we received a text that our room was ready, we checked in online so we could go straight to the room.  Our luggage hadn’t arrived yet.  My shoes were cute but not comfy enough to walk around in for long periods of time.  As luck would have it our luggage arrived before we left for lunch and Animal Kingdom.  

Being that our trip was short my husband had made arrangements that were efficient with time.  He scheduled a VIP group tour of Animal Kingdom that would afford us the time to take in all of the main attractions in a short amount of time.  I had a blast!  A meal, a drink, and a dessert were also included as well as plenty of bottled water.  At the end of the tour we were escorted to prime reserved seating at the River of Lights show.  We went to dinner in the park at a nice restaurant after the show and took the bus to the hotel closest to ours that served delicious beignets for dessert.  It was a magical day that filled me with a deeper appreciation of my husband and all the lengths he goes to ensure my happiness.  

I woke up early the next morning to run before having breakfast and going to the Magic Kingdom.  It wasn’t hot but it was very humid.  The marathon would have similar weather so that helped me decide on my race strategy.  My husband got us fastpasses that would begin in the afternoon.  The lines for certain rides were short in the morning so he planned accordingly.  We had lunch before using our fastpasses. We went on all of the rides that we wanted to go on and had so much fun.  We took the monorail to the Skyliner because we thought it would be cool and it was.  We had dinner in Disney Springs but we didn’t walk around because I had to wake up very early for the race.  The race started at 5:00am but participants were encouraged to leave their hotel at 3:00am.  

Our hotel didn’t offer an early breakfast for race participants but I had packed most of what I would need to make overnight oats.  The shop didn’t have almond milk so I bought soy milk.  I didn’t bring my pure maple syrup so I used the syrup packets from the hotel and took a banana.  Ordinarily I’d have blended the banana into the milk and pour it into the oats but I ate it separately instead. There was a coffee maker in the room.  I brought my hydration pack as well as all of my normal race nutrition.

I woke up very early and was on the bus by 3:20.  I arrived at the start at Epcot Center with plenty of time to spare.  I used the porto potty before heading to my corral.  I didn’t anticipate the event starting twenty minutes late.  The event wouldn’t start until after they received confirmation that the roads were all blocked off and ready to go.  Before we even started I had to pee very badly.  My strategy was to run as far as I could before sunrise while keeping my heart rate even.  I had absolutely no intention of racing it even if it were cooler out.  I was there to have fun! The weather would be getting hot around noon so I planned on being long done by then.  We were released from our corrals in one minute increments.  I was in corral D, the fifth corral to be released including the wheelchair racers.  

The first set of porto potties was a half mile in and there were no lines so I went.  I felt instantly better.  I was very conservative with my pace.  At the very first water stop, before any sign of feeling warm, I started dumping water on myself to remain cool and drank a tiny bit of it to alternate with my energy drink.  I doused myself at nearly every stop.  At the second stop I doused myself with about half of a cup of gatorade before realizing it.  At every stop after that I drank before dumping it on myself.  I didn’t stop to take pictures with any characters in the first few miles as there weren’t any that I was dying to see.  

I had conversations with random people all along the course.  The first was a nice young lady that had studied the map prior to the event.  I already had to pee again.  She informed me that we would be passing actual bathrooms when we got to the Magic Kingdom.  I would hold it until then.  Around mile six my stomach started to kill me.  Around mile seven my body informed me that it desperately needed the bathroom.  At mile eight I had to give in and use the roadside porto potty.  I prayed that this was a one time occurrence that wouldn’t haunt me throughout the course and, thankfully, it was.  That was my last bathroom stop.  I attribute this sickness to not having my regular food for breakfast.  My strategy of getting as far as I could before sunrise went to hell with that not too lengthy stop.

Once my stomach was completely settled was when all the characters I was interested in seeing were along the course.  I felt really good because, although my stomach was killing me, I still ate my gels and nutrition bars on schedule.  No matter how bad it felt to eat, I knew I needed the extra support in the harsh conditions.  I was only mildly interest in the first characters I passed so I didn’t wait in line, I took their pictures between participants.  Around mile 10 was when I started waiting in short lines for pictures.  The lines moved very swiftly.  There were professional photographers as well as people ready to take my own phone for pictures.  The only unknown characters I posed with were these pretty colored bugs that didn’t have a line. Right after that I remained at that stop to retrieve my sunglasses from inside my hydration pack. They were wet with the water I kept dumping on myself and I had nothing dry to wipe them with.  I was starting to get tired so any excuse to stop was a good one.  Although my glasses were dry they were streaky so I stopped when I saw the towel that people used to wipe their hands after using Biofreeze, I used a corner to be safe.

I stopped briefly to take pictures of and with anything and anyone that I thought was cool.  Every time I stopped I felt better.  I rarely stopped for any reason in the sun.  I was tempted by the sign that said “Open Bar” that a man was holding up in Animal Kingdom.  Other participants had stopped for a drink in the shade but I knew it was a bad idea so I kept on moving.  Shortly after that there were volunteers handing out small bags of ice.  I took one and held it in my hands.  I opened the bag and offered some ice to people that looked very hot and instructed them to hold it in their hands to stay cool.  I dropped a few pieces of ice down my bra and took some ice out to hold before ditching the bag at a water stop.

There was a loop through a sunny parking lot at Blizzard Beach.  We were already in the sun for a while at that point.  It pretty much sucked but it wasn’t unbearable.  I stopped there at the mile twenty-one marker to take a picture because the marker had Lilo and Stitch on it, whom I love.  At mile twenty-two there was a DJ playing a popular song.  There was an older gentleman dancing so I stopped to dance with him for about a minute.  I thanked the DJ in my own little way (by smacking my booty and then pointing at him:-).   Both the older gentleman and I started running again but he gave me a pound before we separated.  

I had my last gel at half past mile twenty-two.  It was pretty sunny the rest of the way.  I dug deep to keep on moving.  We got to Hollywood Studios sometime around mile twenty-three.  The crowd at Main Street was very hype and encouraging.  The volunteers handed out Hershey’s Kisses.  I took some and ate one.  It was gooey from the sun but it was just the sweet that I needed at that point.  I put the rest in the front pocket of my hydration pack.  

Shortly after that, around mile twenty-four, we were back in Epcot Center and it was there that the crowd was carrying some of the best signs I’d seen all race.  One said “Soon you can drink on Friday Nights Again”.  More ice was distributed and, again, I took some.  At mile twenty-five I knew I was almost done but it was tough.  In a shady spot I saw a lady carrying a sign that said “Free Hugs and High Fives”.  I saw another runner had just finished hugging her and her t-shirt was wet from that runner’s sweat.  I stopped for a hug too and she was a very good hugger.  I thanked her for the hug and she asked if I was ok.  I told her I was and she told me I was almost there.  I thanked her again and left.  My legs smelled the finish and they started moving faster.  I no longer had to watch my heart rate.  I let my legs run free.  About half a mile from the finish line my legs took over and I ran fast.  When I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I sprinted for it! I ran past two ladies that were excited to finish together.  I didn’t care, I just wanted to be done.  I crossed the finish line at about 10:38am after being on the course for a little more than five hours.

Shortly after the finish line, a respectable distance away to let other runners have their finish, I pulled off to the right and bent over to regain my composure a bit.  I just needed a minute to catch my breath.  Shortly after a young man approached me and, respectfully, got me upright gain.  He asked me to walk with him.  I explained that my husband was around there somewhere.  I put my hand on his shoulder to help me walk on my sore knees and he continued leading me down the finish line area.  I stopped to collect my medal and we continued walking.  He brought me to the self treatment area.  He asked me if I wanted my knees iced or to sit at the fans and he suggested the fans, which I was already starting to point to.  A young lady came to ice my knees and asked if I was still lightheaded.  I never communicated that I was lightheaded or that my knees were sore but I’m guessing that they’ve seen this behavior in previous finishers and knew what to do.  

As soon as I felt right again, I reunited with my husband who greeted me with a single pink rose with a Mickey ornament inside of it in my signature color.  I cried.  He’s such a good man and he’s so good to me.  On the way to see him I was given a water, my finishers Mickey ears, and someone opened the water for me.  I collected my finishers snack box on the way out and we headed over to the bus depot.  The bus came shortly after we got there but the participant that was there had waited long.  My first stop at the hotel was the bar.  I drank an IPA leisurely.  It was just after noon when my husband got the notification that, due to the weather, the course was being revised.  Although it was being revised all the remaining participants that crossed the finish line would be considered completed and they would receive finishers medals. I would later learn that the participants were passing out from the heat, most of them at Blizzard Beach.  That’s the loop of the course that was removed.  

I noticed that, over the course of our stay, that the participants that finished the various races that were held over the marathon weekend were wearing their medals out and about.  I thought that was great and I did it too.  I wore it on the Surrey that my husband and I rode around the hotel grounds and I wore it while lounging by the pool.  After I got dressed for dinner I put it back on.  My husband asked, because it was heavy, if I really wanted to walk around in it.  I assured him that I did, that it would be the only race that would be stylish to wear the medal afterwards.  It was Disney after all!

We took the riverboat to Disney Springs and walked around.  I was congratulated by many people and congratulated many participants myself.  We went to the Coca Cola store and we, unexpectedly, got to meet and pose for pictures with the Coke polar bear.  My husband then took me to a very fun Irish restaurant with live entertainment.  We loved it!  As luck would have it they had a 20% discount for marathon participants.  My husband immediately apologized for questioning my decision to wear my medal out and about.  We went to Ghiradelli for dessert and then, also unexpectedly, waited on a long riverboat line to return to the hotel.  

Our vacation was amazing and we both wish we could have stayed longer.  Disney is a magical place and the marathon event was run very well.  My only criticism is that they didn’t feed the runners well.  Only a packet of sport beans and Hershey’s Kisses were handed out.  There was plenty of water, gatorade, and powerade but the food was lacking.  There were many volunteers and medical tents.  The race entertainment was awesome and all of the volunteers, including the characters, were very cheerful and encouraging.  I would definitely attend the Disney Marathon Weekend in the future.  

On Monday morning the Magical Express brought us back to the airport.  I wore the shirt that I received at the expo.  It was at the airport that I spoke with other finishers wearing their shirts that told me about all of the participants that suffered heat exhaustion and the part of the course that was omitted.  Being that I had finished early, I was spared the sight of many people passing out.  The organizers sent out many warnings and advisories prior to the event as well as tips to avoid exhaustion but not everyone can handle those conditions.   

Although I had an amazing time at the marathon and I’m recovering well, I think I’m going to take it down a notch.  I think I’ll limit myself to running a marathon annually.  I love running marathons but the training is tough.  I’ve trained in the sweltering heat as well as the freezing temps and, in both extremes, training for a marathon is hard work bot physically and mentally. I hope to be able to run the NYC marathon at the end of the season but we’ll see how it goes.  Thank you all for the love and support I’ve received from you all as I conquer all of my goals and, as always, I thank you all very much for reading!