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My 37th Year is Complete…

Let me start out by saying I’m a HUGE believer in celebrating birthdays. I don’t understand those who don’t like to make a big deal about the day that brought them life on earth. It is incredibly significant; and a day – I feel – should be filled with reflection, new direction, (or renewed discipline towards ones goals), and lastly, I think it’s the one day of the year where it should be ALL ABOUT YOU. So, to celebrate me, I’m going to take you on a little journey of how my day has gone so far.

Earlier in the week, I knew I wanted to kick off the big day by working out for as long as my body would allow me. I just wasn’t sure WHAT I wanted to do EXACTLY. I still didn’t know at 1:00 a.m. either. (C’mon, I had to partake in the 4th of July fun too! Check out the app LongExpo for limitless fun.)

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Anyway, I had dashed any hopes of getting a really long run in, because I knew I wouldn’t be getting up before the sun, to beat the heat. The most sleep I could muster, and still get out the door at a “cooler” time, was 6 a.m. See below… I managed to get almost 5 hours. WOO HOO! You are starting your 38th year off RIGHT lady. (Can you see me rolling my eyes? I am.)


By 7 a.m. I was out the door and on my way to the trails. My mom had called to wish me happy birthday, so while I was half asleep and talking to her, I was also getting dressed for my run. I pulled out my road shoes… then I thought… no… what am I doing… I want to go on the trails. This is the summer of trail running! I’m coming for YOU South Mountain!!


A quick look at the map at the trailhead, “hmmmm what new trail do I want to check out today… I’ll take a pic to reference later…” (Don’t mind my nail polish, I’m testing out Jamberry nail strips compared to regular nail polish. I think Jamberry is winning, what do you think?!)


Yay for cloud cover!


It’s still hot though…

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Whew! Made it to the top… “I’ll take two pics and Photoshop them together…”


Same pic, just focused on the sky… no energy for Photoshop today folks… it’s my BIRTHDAY!


I just ran/speed hiked up that.


Can you tell how steep it is?


No? Maybe this will help…
Love conquering hills and mountains. I’m kinda weird like that…

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Tempe/Phoenix in the distance….


“Oh look! Maybe I’ll take that trail back! I think it’s Mormon Loop… that might be fun!”


Awkward lone selfie on the mountain. 🙂


Ok, back to running… I still didn’t know where I wanted to go for sure at this point…


But it sure was pretty on National Trail today… fresh rain last night made everything extra vibrant… and humid… which I actually enjoy! 41% is PERFECT cooling weather!


“My legs are tired. Maybe I should turn around…”


At this point I heard my Garmin alert me of “Low Battery” two times already. I started to think about how I like to plan things, to some degree and then at other times, I fly by the seat of my pants. I have a constant inner turmoil happening and it’s quite annoying! I was wondering why I am that way, and began to wonder if this run was a metaphor for the upcoming year. I told myself, all the heat and hard work would be worth it in the end, that the view at the top would be worth it. A great analogy for life if you ask me. Then I felt this cool breeze, sweeping over the trail and it made me think there was an open area ahead, where I would see my great view! I got excited and pushed up the hill.

This is what I saw at the top… which does not look like much when captured with an iPhone camera. But I could see the mountain ranges off in the far distance much clearer than you can see pictured below.


I knew this was the furthest I’ve ever RUN on this trail and I already felt accomplished, but it wasn’t enough.


I looked at the trail ahead, and could see the South Mountain towers in the distance.


This is where my Garmin died. 🙁 It was a message that this workout wasn’t going to be about speed, but about the journey and the distance. (OR the message was “always charge your Garmin, even if you think it’s charged.”)


At this point I was thinking maybe Mr. Zucchini Runner could just come pick me up at the upcoming trailhead. Can you see the car? After all, I had little sleep, I was tired from all the uphill, and I didn’t really feel like turning around and going back the way I came. It was behind me, and I wanted to keep moving forward. 😉 Plus, my Garmin died.


Then I saw this…


AND THIS… if you click on the image, you will get a bigger image (I think) and you should be able to spot the trail that zigzags up the side of the mountain. “WHERE DOES THAT GO?!”


I was about to find out….
At the Buena Vista Lookout I examined the map and realized I was SUPER close to the OTHER side of the mountain where I first started trail running. I knew that loop so well! “I CAN DO THIS! AND EVEN RUN HOME AFTERWARDS!”

I called Mr. Zucchini Runner to tell him the new plan… well, I guess just the plan… since I was really winging it this whole time.
NOW I actually HAD a plan. And the call was an EPIC fail, since I had no cell service. “WHAT ARE THOSE TOWERS FOR THEN?!” LOL I sent him a series of texts that seemed to go through.


I took Corona de Loma Trail to meet up with Warpaint Trail. 🙂

This was where I started testing my inner strength. I grew up with very loving, yet protective parents. Everything was “be careful”, “are you ok”, “don’t do that, you will hurt yourself”, “where are you going”, “when will you be back”, “call us when you get there safely”, etc.  — all of this is ironic too — because they also raised me to be very independent. So, this was a test for me. A test of inner strength and a test to quiet that worried little girl who was always afraid she’d hurt herself if she did anything out of the norm.

Oh, did I mention I hadn’t seen a single soul since the mountain biker in that one picture? Yeah. The moment I got on Corona de Loma Trail, I knew it hadn’t been used in a while – definitely not today. There were shrubs growing in the middle of the trail, debris from the storm on the 3rd still and the trail didn’t have any new footprints or bike tracks. (It was easy to tell, because of last night’s rain.) At one point though, I did see coyote tracks. 8| Then I looked up to the left and saw the spot where I just was probably 30 minutes earlier when I thought “Where does that go?!” And then… I decided to trip and fall… AGAIN. (If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know the story already.)

Luckily, I caught myself so I didn’t hit the ground fully or too hard; but there was a little bush that wanted to blind me… and I did a wonderful job at bending my thumb nail backwards – a lot – while I was preventing the fall. Hey, rather my thumb than my face… gotta protect the face! It started to bleed immediately and I put pressure on it, brushed myself off and continued up the trail. No time to stop here and now!! It’s hot out here folks.

At the top, there was this view of Ahwatukee…


And this amazing view and trail would lead me to my familiar trail. (Still no signs of anyone… which I decided to attribute to the 4th of July festivities and not the heat.)

But come on, seriously? Look at this! I was on cloud 9. Hazy humidity and pollution ridden sky and all, this is my home. I’m lucky.


I started getting service again, so I was able to check my location on the Map app. I’m the blue dot. 😉


On the long, switch-backy, descent I managed to stop once and take a pic…


Once at the bottom, I took a pic looking back at what I just ran/hiked down.


I was so thankful for a normal, flat trail at this point. Not sure how much more my knees could take…


I stopped under a tree to regroup, cool off a bit, text Mr. ZR…


…and take my second serving of Energy Bits.


Then I took a cacti, running selfie… since I still hadn’t seen a SINGLE PERSON… at this point I was one with nature. Thanks for lending a helping “hand” cacti.


In the end, I finished with roughly 8.5 trail miles, with a freakload of elevation change. No wonder it was cooler at the top… hahahaha.

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Here is a snapshot of my Moves app. Purple is running, green is walking. 🙂 I was able to use this imagery, to map out the rest of my mileage on Daily Mile.


5.38 miles after my Garmin died… some of it was on the road… but it was getting unbearably hot for me at this point, so I called Mr. ZR to come pick me up…

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Deep down, I wanted 13.37 miles today. Should I do it? Should I?




I sweat through another 3 miles, at a 3% incline on the treadmill, at a comfortable pace. Music was my friend, while I pondered why some people are soooooo outwardly religious and others are far more subtle.


I was a happy gal, doing my cooldown walk. Feeling satisfied that I reached (as close as I could tell) 13.something miles.


My Fitbit was my guide, before I mapped everything out afterwards.


And just in case you were wondering… that’s not dirt under my fingernail! 🙂


Lastly, I wanted to do PiYo Sweat! If there were any sliver of doubt that PiYo was going to be good for my running, today sealed the deal.


By the end, I was DONE. Child’s Pose never felt so good.


And homemade breakfast never tasted so good. (Thank you Mr. Zucchini Runner for making exactly what I asked for, while I showered.)

I’m seriously lucky. 🙂 Bring it on 38th year, I’m ready for you!!


What about you? Do you celebrate your birthday or do you brush it under the rug?

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T25 Review

I have put this post off for FAR too long. It’s for a good reason though. I don’t have a whole lot to report on this fitness program — at least not at first glance. I’ve had a mental block about what to say and struggled with showing you successful before and after photos. But the success that I received from this program can’t be measured in a before and after photo – and that’s ok. It took me a while to accept that.


Day 1 – August 19th

My goal when doing T25 was to have a workout that would compliment my running – as you can tell by the name of my blog – I am first and foremost a runner.

Running is my passion.

However, I know that it is important to incorporate cross training to my daily routine, in order to become a better runner and avoid injury… but knowing that and DOING that are two VERY. DIFFERENT. THINGS.

You name the excuse, I’ve made it. The number one excuse I ALWAYS had however?


Not enough time. How am I supposed to spend more time working out than I already do?! Running is so important to me, so by default it gets done first and easily most days. Anything else I consider a bonus workout. When I started seeing FOCUS T25 advertised like crazy all over social media, I was STOKED! 25 minutes a day, five days a week. BOOM. Sign me up!

I had always been intrigued by Shaun T’s Insanity workout, but was not willing to do something that crazy and risk GETTING an injury at the expense of my running!


After our first T25 workout. Clearly got a sweat on.

Mr. Zucchini Runner and I are pretty loyal Tony Horton fans because of the changes we experienced with P90X. For me especially, Tony is the first at-home fitness pro that I could tolerate regularly. So adjusting to Shaun T’s style was… well… an adjustment. I had to keep telling Mr. Zucchini Runner, “We didn’t like all of Tony’s corny jokes in the beginning either! Shaun will grow on us…”

And he did… slowly…

The first workout left us both thinking – wow – this is a lot harder than I thought! But, at the same time, we were able to handle it and do every move. (We couldn’t say the same for most of the P90X workouts on the first go around…)

Day 2 was almost… easy… which was great because I needed something easy, since I run Wednesday’s. (We started on Monday, so our workouts were Mon-Fri; I typically run M, W and Sat. Hard Tuesday workout + sore muscles for Wednesday’s run = not a happy Zucchini Runner.)

Then day 3 workout hit – after my run. Holy mother. Total Body Circuit was/is a KILLER workout. We were both modifying, for sure! Thank goodness for Tania, the modifier, in the video! It still stands as the toughest T25 workout in my book – including the Beta series.


In a nutshell, Mr. ZR and I both noticed after 3-4 weeks that our legs were growing and becoming more defined. PERFECT! This was exactly what I wanted.


He was jumping higher and with less effort in volleyball games and I was running faster and had greater endurance in the summer heat.

The Details
There are two segments to T25 that come with your base package: Alpha and Beta (Gamma is ordered separate, and we didn’t go that route). Each segment is only 5 weeks long – so 5 weeks of Alpha and 5 weeks of Beta was perfect to get me through summer running!

The downside: Both Mr. ZR and I started to notice that our ankles and knees were getting achy after about week 4. There is a LOT of jumping… a LOT. So, being a big proponent of listening to my body – we both took a week off in between Alpha and Beta to let everything heal up. Best decision ever. We started Beta and were able to hit the ground running. We noticed a huge difference – the break totally helped. If you do T25, I would suggest the same thing.


My last T25 workout before my half marathon

Now this is where things started to get a little fuzzy. Temps in AZ were starting to cool off, I was starting to pick up my mileage, and prepare for a half marathon, where my goal was a hefty PR. Mr. Zucchini Runner had a major volleyball tournament he needed to rest up for… and therefore we both had less commitment to T25. However, I surpassed my hefty PR and got 3rd place in my division, and he and his team won the tournament in their division. Not too bad!! 😉


We stuck with Beta for a solid 2 weeks before it became sporadic.

Sept 29, our fresh calendar with all the beta workouts.

Sept 29, our fresh calendar with all the beta workouts.

With both of our passions calling to us, it was difficult to stay engaged with the T25 workouts. Additionally, dare I say it, we were both getting a little bored. Sorry, but I’m being honest. We both expected something more in Beta, more weights maybe? Different moves? Instead, it was more of the same moves we learned in Alpha, just combined together in different sequences. I really wish we could have stuck to it for the entire 10 week period, but I would be lying if I said we did. We gave it a solid, 7 week effort and then I averaged about 2-3 solo workouts a week, versus our previous 5-6. Oh yes, on Fridays you have the option to do two workouts, or double-days as they call it. Sunday there is also a 25 minute stretch DVD, which is really nice if you are feeling stiff and sore.


In our first week, getting ab intervals done!

In conclusion, I did really appreciate the workouts in T25 and Shaun T’s motivation did grow on me. His ability to know when your quads are burning and that you’re about to give up, is perfectly timed on the video and it’s like he’s there in person, saying “You’ve got this!” And just like moments in P90X when we’d yell at Tony, we’d yell at Shaun T too. I just wish there was more variety – seems odd from someone who can run for hours, I know. But like I said, cross training is difficult for me so I need something that will keep me engaged the whole time. Having said that, we are both EXTREMELY EXCITED for the release of P90X3 today! Good old Tony Horton will soon be back in our workout room, telling us NEW corny jokes, but this time, for only 30 minutes a day. MY DREAM COME TRUE! It has all the variety of P90X, but in half the time… which means get in, get done, get on with it. STOKED!


Getting an outside workout in after a run this summer, with the sprinklers on, so refreshing!

If you are a runner, I do think T25 is a good addition to your running regimen. I could definitely tell my running improved – the good news is – that improvement has stuck! I know I’ve lost some of that fitness and strength I gained during the program, but I’m still running personal bests!

Sept. 19, after Alpha phase

Sept. 19, after Alpha phase – before Beta phase

Maybe once we get going on P90X3, I will finally get my full 6 pack abs! 🙂 If you want to join Mr. Zucchini Runner and I on our P90X3 journey, you can purchase it through my website starting December 10th. If you don’t find the program right away, check back again towards the end of the day!


Nov. 19th – final photo