Rock ‘n’ Roll – First time Marathoner!

I ran my first marathon 2 ish years ago in Virginia Beach on a cold, rather blustery day.  I know what my experience was like, but much like childbirth, you sort of forgot what the actual day is like, and you romanticize the idea of a marathon, only remembering the feeling of crossing the finish line and smiling a lot for pictures while you hold up your medal.  Or, as it were in my case, bawling like a baby whilst your husband snapped pictures of your blotchy face.

I thought it was important to talk about Rock ‘n’ Roll through the eyes of someone who’d just done it, and had just done it for the first time.  So without any further blathering on, here is my amazing friend, Liz!

Liz Marathon

Liz is in the pink in the middle, just after completing 26.2 miles in 4:45:06, which was her GOAL!!!

  • Introduce yourself!  Name, how do you know me, and what do you do! Hello! My name is Liz Passannante, I am 25 years old and currently live in New York City. Cheri and I go way back to my freshman year of college when I joined her a cappella group Twisted Measure and we’ve been friends ever since. I work in HR for a consulting firm in NYC, and have been dabbling in running for a few years now.

Liz caught my attention during her audition.  She was really cute, fearless, and admitted to fully appreciating Nicole Richie at the audition.  I was hooked then!

  • What made you decide to sign up for a marathon?  What running had you done leading up to it? I decided to register for the Raleigh RNR Marathon kind of on a whim – I had run a few half marathons and always felt the ultimate goal would be to run a marathon. I started running after college when I signed up for the More Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon in Central Park. It was really a life-changing day – that race is still my favorite to run. I always hated running in high school and college, but found myself wanting to stay active after I stopped playing sports.   Enter running! This past October I really just kind of decided to go for it – I registered and set off on my training plan!
  • Tell me about your training process?  Since it was a spring race, I know you had to do some winter running/possibly modify your training?  What did that entail for you? I started running regularly again in November 2014 to build up a baseline before launching into the training program. I started really increasing my mileage in January, just in time for one of the snowiest winter’s we’ve had in recent history. I think the biggest trick with Winter running is to prepare, prepare, prepare before long runs. I would make lists for myself of everything I needed, and it took a few tries to get it right. I usually pushed back the start time of my runs until about noon or 1PM so I could hit the warmest part of the day. On the coldest days I would wear 2 pairs of tights, a thermal layer, my winter running jacket, a neckwarmer, earwarmers and gloves.Keeping all that gear in one place was surprisingly difficult (ex: a few times I left gloves or my watch at work, and would have to swing by the office on my way to the park). I also don’t have a washer/dryer in my building, so it was also a task keeping everything clearn! I did some of my shorter runs indoors, both by booking gym time on ClassPass (best thing ever) or by attending classes at Mile High Run Club (<<<so much fun). My most memorable run was probably when I ran in 8 degree weather in Vermont on a ski weekend – FUN!!! Overall though, I was usually able to find one day of the weekend where it was bearable.
  • Why did you choose the race that you chose? I chose the Raleigh RNR for a few reasons. 1) It’s always been a goal of mine to run the NY Marathon, and I was advised to run one marathon before tackling New York so that when the time came I could really enjoy the experience of the NY Marathon. I think looking back that was smart – I have a much better idea of how to train and what to expect, and now am genuinely looking forward to when I will (hopefully) get to run that race! No first time race jitters there. 2) I wanted to run a race where I was close to my family, both because I like spending time with them and because logistically it made things much easier. My mom took me to the expo, the starting line and we had an awesome lunch all together after the race. It would have felt lonely without them, and seeing them along the course was such a great motivation. Race day would have been way less fun without them – my sister even hopped in for the last stretch which was a really cool memory for me.
  • Okay, race day.  What were you jittery about?  Looking forward to? I think I was most anxious about 1) hitting “the wall,” and 2) not being able to keep up with the pace group. I think I can say pretty confidently that I did not hit “the wall.” As Cheri can attest, there were a few times especially towards the end where I needed to walk, but I was for the most part able to push through. I definitely didn’t feel like I was going to die or anything (although I probably said it LOL).  I also for the most part was able to keep up with the pacers, which is good for me because they were amazing. They were so so helpful, and I knew that staying with them for as long as possible would be key to me hitting my goal. I lost them a little during the last mile, but I think I ended up finishing only 2-3 minutes behind them?
  • Talk to me about your nutrition leading up to/on race day?  I kept things pretty normal leading up to race day. I didn’t drink for the majority of the 2 weeks leading up to the race but that was mostly to make sure I was well hydrated. The night before I ate some delicious gluten free pasta, and the morning of I had a luna bar, hot tea and water. During the race I used 2 flavors of Gu: Tri-Berry and Jet Blackberry (delicious). The plan was to take them at 3, 10, 15 and 20. I ended up taking one at 19 because I started feeling tired and I felt like I wanted to get ahead of any potential crash.
  • Talk to me about the race.  What time did you wake up?  Talk to me about your outfit (silly, important tho!).  Talk to me about the day.  How long did you feel good for?  When did you start to feel rough (if you did at all)?  Did you run with pacers?  What factored into your decision to use/not utilize a pacer? Race day I woke up at 4:20AM because we needed to be out the door at 4:40. I tried to pick clothes that I had run in many times before, but it was hard because I’ve been training in cold weather and race day was warm! I wish I could have worn shorts, but it was just risky because I hadn’t trained in them and the last thing I needed was some type of wardrobe malfunction. I honestly felt great up to mile 18. I feel like I looked up and we were at mile 13, and then again at 17 when Cheri joined. At 18-20 I started thinking to myself “this is getting really hard” but overall the race flew by. I could not believe when I crossed the finish line. As I mentioned above I did run with pacers and am so glad I did. I wanted to stay with them for majority of the race because I felt like I would probably really benefit from having a group later in the race. I was confident in my ability to push myself through 20, but felt like having the extra motivation during the last 6 miles could be helpful. It was such a lifesaver. = The pacers were truly amazing – they had an altitude specific pace plan and they did such a great job telling us when we should bank time or when we could dial back and take a rest. I definitely lost them a bit on the last mile but really feel like I was able to stay on target due to their help.
  • And finally, what’s your takeaway from this experience?  Would you/will you do this again? I had such an amazing experience training for and running my first marathon, and I would totally do it all over again (and hope to this fall for the NY Marathon!) I was initially dreading the training process but by the end I really enjoyed it overall. The hardest part surprisingly was fitting in runs during the week – I weirdly started looking forward to my long runs and feel like I don’t know what to do with all of my free time now that my weekends aren’t going to be dominated by training! My key takeaway – if you want to run a race, any length, just go for it! I hated running in high school (ask my parents). When my field hockey coach made us run 3 miles I thought it was the hardest thing in the world. Little by little I trained, improved and learned how to enjoy myself! I also need to give credit to you, Cheri Armour Samples, because you definitely have inspired me to run races far beyond what I believed I was capable of doing (hello, marathon). My race day was so fun and you were such a huge help to me – thank you!!!

Pink Ladies

And that’s it! An extremely well-prepared marathon first-timer!

How was your first race (ever)?

Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh

So I ran Raleigh’s Rock ‘n’ Roll race last year, the half.

The race was amazing, extremely hilly, but an awesome representation of our city.  I tried to capture it all when I actually ran it last spring, but when I run now through downtown, I remember little things.  Like when I started tearing up at the mile at Dorthea Dix’s Campus when there were pictures and American flags with our fallen soldiers on it.  Or when the priest near the start was blessing us.

So anyhoo, I registered again.  For the full.

God help.

If you’ll remember, during my last full marathon, I woke up with a stomachache, ran anyway, and proceeded to vomit from mile 18 on.

Come to find out later, I’d developed a gnarly case of gastritis after my grandmother passed…

HospitalAnd I sort of didn’t run anything intense after that, save for a few half marathons last spring, for fear that I would be vomiting on someone’s front lawn once again.

But I’ve braved the registration, and I did it.

And now I suppose I’ve got to train.  Humph.

Also, sorta thinking about an ulta. A 50k!  Eep!

Have you signed up for any races this spring ??


First, a big preemptive congrats to all my friends and running family that are running Boston on Monday.  It is so exciting to see everyone’s posts, and I hope that one day I will work hard enough to be there, enjoying the expo, and exploring the expo.  I’m so inspired by my friends who are there, and heading that way now.

Onto the gross stuff

I know this is literally so gross, but I have to talk about this.

The runner’s trots.

Trots refers to the thing that happens when you run long distance, your stomach starts killing.

I did some reading up on it, and there’s an actual reason for it.  So evidently, when you’re running your body focuses on sending blood to other areas of your area, so your digestive system gets neglected, meaning that halfway digested and undigested food gets shot through before it’s supposed to, which attributes to the cramps, the stomach pain, and in extreme times, the pit stops that have to be made during the runs.

Between that and my gastritis, my stomach has been really sensitive, and I’ve had to be really careful about putting things into it.  That includes gels, and things even in the week leading up to a race.

So, before Rock ‘n’ USA, I was really considering playing with Imodium, because of the experiences I’ve had, and I didn’t really do it because I hadn’t tried it throughout my training.  So around miles 9 of the race, I was hit with some pretty gnarly cramps, and pushed through to the end, but I really wasn’t feeling great in the stomach department after the race.

So for Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh, I paid really really great attention to what I ate in the week leading up, and the evening before, I took a full dosage of this stuff after sending Austin on a hunt for the pill version the night before…

Image via Amazon
Image via Amazon

And despite my concerns about using something like this (was I blocking my body from its natural functioning, would it stop me up, so to speak,) it was great. There were never a moment during the race that I was concerned about my stomach, and it really really helped my shift my focus from my normally-upset stomach to actually tearing up some of the hills.

So, what do you think? For my folks with upset stomachs, would you consider swigging a little bit of Imodium?

Here’s What! What three things are you obsessed with?

If you’re new here, I do this every Friday, and here’s last Friday’s so you can kinda get the gist of what we do around here.

So let’s get started!

1.  MY SAVE THE DATES ARE ALL DONE.  Now, by all done, I mean they’re all printed up, and I still need to address them and stick them with stamps, but I am a step closer to getting things accomplished.  And it feels awesome.  I would absolutely show you them, but I want them to be something of a surprise to the folks who I’m sending them to.  But if you’re really curious, email me or comment, and I will definitely send you a little preview.



2.  Something really terrible has happened to me.  I have been waking up early to work out.  And I sort of love it.  Mainly because my body is looking really sexual, and I have been lifting more weights and stuff.  I’m not sure if it’s making me any faster or anything, but my little abs are coming in!



3.  Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh.  And this one isn’t a funny ha-ha obsession, but I really loved the race for a few reasons.  The course was hilly, and the race was no-doubt, really challenging, but it was a challenge in the best way.  Even though it was hilly, and I worked really hard, I smiled for most of the race, and it was so arresting to see so many folks out spectating.  The tunnel leading to the finish was incredible.  That roar?  I won’t forget that.

But, all of that said, two men died at the race on Sunday, and I’m still feeling really confused about that.  I feel so deeply for the families of the men, and it makes me want to make sure that I get my check-ups every year.  Can a doctor catch everything?  Certainly not.  But I want a doctor to be able to tell me if I’m not healthy enough for the level of racing that I will be doing.  And I thank these men for helping me remember to take care of myself.

Scenes from the race.

So what three things are you obsessed with on this Friday?

I wrote a real thing.

I kinda forgot that I wrote this thing for NPR a few months ago, so when I got a call from a really cool Carol Jackson,  I sorta had no clue what she was talking about for like 10 seconds before I remembered I’d written a little something something.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 11.57.28 PMClick through to read the article. 🙂


So a Haitian, and two Argentinians walk into Fleet Feet…

Kinda sounds like a joke, right?

Well it happened.  Except I made a rookie mistake and I didn’t snap a selfie, so I just have to tell you what I was doing with an Argentinian camera crew.  So enjoy today’s favorite gif instead.

So a few weeks back Competitor Group, the group that puts on Rock ‘n’ Roll contacted me – ESPN Run, a division of ESPN that’s really big in Latin American countries needed a local runner, me to like, do what I do and let them film me doing it.

You would think that would make you feel like a boss ass bitch –

boss assBut really, I felt horribly dorky the entire time.

It was like…

…run – but run slow

…stretch slowly so we can see your muscles

…breathe into this mic

…stand still for three minutes, and stare in the same spot.

I’m really excited to see how this footage turns out, and I will snap a quick pic for you all tomorrow, because the guys are coming over tomorrow to film me making breakfast – through the magic of editing, they’re going to make it look like I’m prepping my breakfast in the minutes before the half, without stressing me out and actually following me around on Sunday morning.

So….what are you guys up to today?

The project is still in progress –

Race week! Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh!

It’s race week.  Which I almost forgot with everything going on around here, but I am so so so excited for the Rock ‘n’ Raleigh, but it’s so interesting to be doing races at a time in my life when I’m busier than I could ever have imagined, and all in positive ways.

This time last year, I ran these races with a very specific goal in mind, wanting to get better and better.  Now, I want to run fast, surely, but I also want to run strong, and feel happy and healthy throughout the race, and warp it up with a smile like this one.


Without further ado, here are some of the things I strive for this week, and in the race on Sunday morning.

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  This time last half marathon, I was vomiting violently from a little stomach bug I’d contracted.  If we can stay healthy, hydrated, and not drink this week, that would be great.  I will certainly allow myself a beer the night before, but other than that, I’m gonna chill on what I drink, and focus on consuming a good bit of water.
  • Rest.  I’m not good at this.  I am going to sleep this week.  I am going to sleep this week, dammit, if it kills me!
  • Foam rolling.  From last week’s 15-miler, the lactic acid has built up into my legs, and during a little maintenance run yesterday, my legs burned the entire time.  I grabbed the foam roller after, and rolled, and need to stay on that in general, and not neglect my poor legs/quads/butt.
  • Compression.  Along the same vein, I need to be sleeping in my compression socks to keep my legs fresh and rested for the race.
  • Time goals? Eh, it’s funny where I am at this point in my life, but until I get married, I don’t feel like I’m gonna be too crazy about time goals.  As long as I feel good and strong throughout the entire race, I feel okay.

Anyone else running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh? Racing this weekend?  What are your goals leading up to/the day of the race?

Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Recap! Friggin epic post!


I had an amazing weekend, which I’m guessing you can gather from all the tweets and the FB posts that were all “omgomgomgomg I love it here!”.  I’m trying to figure out how many times I can tell you guys I’m having and epic weekend before you start to suspect that I do nothing but traipse around with no other purpose but to write about it, but rest assured, I have a real life too!  My weekends have just been insane this past month or so.

So anyways, I headed to DC this past weekend, the best city in the land, to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half marathon, and the weekend literally gets a 10 out of 10 from me.  I’ll totally tell you why.

P1160264So I stayed at the Westin in Georgetown, and the first thing I saw when I walked in was this.  A big, giant, comfortable bed, with a robe on it.

P1160267Then I saw this, which I immediately decided would be put to good use before I raced the following day.  And use it I did.  Following a quick pre-race dinner of a sandwich and some greens, I immediately set about to fill up this tub, take a quick swig from my bottle of Skinny Girl California White, and soaked in the tub with a Demi Lovato book (don’t judge) until i was too sweaty to continue.  Baths usually go that way for me, I get too sweaty to enjoy it after awhile and I have to get out!

P1160272Westin has this sick program, where, for $5 a day, you can skip packing you workout clothes (which always take up a good bit of room), and sort of rent/borrow some New Balance apparel.  I believe they also guarantee that you will leap about like the model does in all-white clothing.  Added bonus!

P1160268More tub!  P1160276You didn’t think I was going to leave the hotel without trying on the robe, right?  It was comfy, and there’s my mug without makeup.  What do ya think?  And with all of that, I hit the sack for about 3 or 4 hours, and got prepped for the race, the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA!  (And don’t worry, I will go over all the good, the bad (none), and the awesome in a minute, just enjoy the photos for a second!)

P1160277What I wore!  The trusty Brooks Glycerin, my printed Nike tights, a muscle tee from Fabletics, and a little Fabletics Yoga hoodie.  As for socks, I went with some Smart Wool to keep my toots warm.
P1160278And let’s skip ahead!  Mama finished 13.1 and is still smiling, even after a bout with some Norovirus or something funky this week.

P1160279The Rock ‘n’ Roll VIP Tent!  Best post race thing ever!
P1160280More VIP celebrations!

P1160281Me and the beautiful Carrie Keagan hung out before and post race.  Side note, her parents are friggin adorable, and by the time we left, we were referring to each other as Mom, Dad, and their long lost dark-skinned daughter.

P1160282Back stage at the concert – The Head and the Heart.

P1160283What a crowd!

P1160284More more!

P1160285 P1160286 P1160287 P1160288 P1160289 P1160290

And I finished off the weekend with a shower and friends!

So now that you got to see my wonderful pics, let’s talk about Rock ‘n’ Roll USA!

The Good

  • The start waves.  They nailed this one, better than anyone has ever nailed it before.  The waves were timed so well that although a ton of people were running, there was never a point where I felt like the situation was too crowded to move in.
  • The transportation.  If you weren’t familiar with the city, no matter because we were provided detailed maps in tons of ways to get to the start easily by the metro.  So seamless.
  • The course.  The course was sick.  Aside from an ungodly hill at mile 6 (that is all people were talking about after the race), the course was beautiful.

The Bad. 

  • Seriously?  I have 0 complaints.

The Awesome.

  • VIP Access.  Seriously, if you have never sprung for the VIP access, do it!  Because of my VIP access I had an early breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, I had a ride down the the start line, I had a charging station for my cell phone, I had a warm place to hang out pre-race, a separate bag check, and access to the heated VIP tent after the race, where there was a ton of food, liquids, and BEER after the race!
  • The concert.  So rad.  The Head and the Heart.  So rad.
  • The weather. Could not have asked for a more beautiful day.  I wore the yoga sweatshirt for maybe the first three miles, and then peeled it off and was able to get by in a muscle tee the rest of the race.

The verdict. 

Rock ‘n’ Roll USA was a 10/10.  I have run many a race, good and bad, and this one is up there as the best – the best organized, the best weather, the best course, and the best service of any race I’ve done, and from what I heard from my folks, Rock ‘n’ Roll has been like this in general.  Sign up sign up sign up!

[Disclaimer – I was given a race entry + VIP access, but I would tell you if it sucked or not.  Seriously, this race is a two thumbs up!]

RnR USA Preview + I love DC :)

I’m not gonna spoil tomorrow’s epic post about my weekend running DC for you guys, but I cannot tell you enough how much I love this city.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Raleigh, it’s where I met my future husband, and I love the little love nest we’ve turned Raleigh into, but I haven’t always felt that way about the city.  When I first moved here, I was doing a lot, too much in fact, and that soured my experience a little bit with here.  I moved right after I graduated undergrad, was prepping to go to grad school, was in the process of breaking up with someone, and I felt like I didn’t have any friends here, when the truth was, I did.  But when you’re feeling sorry for yourself, you really and truly convince yourself that you’re alone, and no one likes you, blah blah blah.

So anyhoo, the things that I’ve learned this weekend (without spoiling the epic race post I have for you)?

photo 1 (6)
My view from Saturday morning’s race!
  1.  My stomach is still healing from the little debacle I had last October, where I found out that I’d somehow developed gastritis.  I’ve been really good about taking my meds, but not as good at avoiding caffeine, and during the race, which went really well, my stomach definitely had a few moments where it tried to revolt a little bit.  I was able to breathe through it but it jerked me back to reality.  You can’t jump from gastritis to ultra marathons in a matter of a few months.  That’s just the facts.
  2. All that said, I think it might be a good idea for me to drop from the RnR Raleigh Full to the Half.  My stomach told me so, and I have to agree with her.  She needs more time to heal up before I start shoving Gu and stuff into it.
  3. I am a boss at this city.  I’ve been super open about my love affair with this city.  And nothing has changed, between the public transit, which I rocked at, and between being able to find stuff, I am so comfortable here.  So this blog might turn from a running blog, into a convincing-your-husband-that-moving-to-DC –is-a-bomb-ass-idea.  I’ll keep you posted J

How was your weekend?  What are you looking forward to this week?