Is everyone fully recovered from Super Bowl weekend? I know it was a big weekend for so many! I’m (very openly) not that into sports, so I can’t say that I ever feel super invested in any kind of professional sports event, but it’s fun to get into the spirit of things… and to have an excuse to gather with friends and indulge in some good snacks on a Sunday night! I’m originally from the Philadelphia area, so even though I can’t truly call myself an Eagles fan (I’m basically neutral where most sports are concerned), I know this win meant a lot to many of the people I care about. An underdog story is also pretty irresistible, which makes the victory that much sweeter! Honestly, I’m always sort of relieved when football season is over, if only because it frees up Sunday afternoons for a lot of my superfan loved ones. I do, however, love the Olympics, so it’s kind of fun to be able to transition directly out of the Super Bowl hype and into the Opening Ceremonies later this week.

Does anyone else count down to the Olympics? It’s such a fun time!

Obviously, it’s a big week for sports, and while my annual trudge toward half marathon season is hardly on par with Nick Foles or Lindsey Vonn’s athletic endeavors (pause for laughter here!), it did seem like a great time to update you on my running — especially since last Wednesday was registration day for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I’m happy to report that I managed to get into this popular race for the fifth time this year, because it’s become such a hot commodity that I’m never quite sure if I’ll make the cut. I’ve learned from previous close calls that it’s best to be logged in to the registration page a few minutes before the window actually opens, but there’s such a flood of people onto the Web site at that time that the whole process always ends up being very slow and nerve-wracking. Especially with a potential move out of New York City looming for us (eek!), I would have hated to miss out on this race — which has become such a part of my NYC experience — in 2018.

As you might remember if you read my post about half marathon training last year, I got into this whole running thing with absolutely no experience. When I ran the Brooklyn Half for the first time back in 2014, it was my first race *ever* (with the exception of a few charity 5Ks that I most definitely walked). Given the fact that I have so little background in sports, running has proven to be really empowering for me. When I ran my first race in 2014, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish it. The most I’d run in training was 10 miles (a half marathon is 13.1), and when Matt dropped me off at the starting line that morning, I think we both had an attitude of cautious optimism. If I didn’t finish, the experience of working hard throughout the training process would still be worthwhile… and if I did finish, it would be amazing and maybe a little surprising.

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The face of a girl who has just spotted her people in her least favorite stretch of the race! Those hands belong to my dad and sister, who drove in from Pennsylvania to cheer me on for the first time last year. It was so fun!

Five half marathons later, I still go into every race with this same attitude. Because running doesn’t come naturally to me, I don’t take these races for granted, and every time I cross a finish line, I’m secretly a little shocked. When my time is good (at least by my standards!), I’m even more shocked.

Every year when I start training, the whole process is mostly a game that I’m playing with myself. Unlike a lot of runners, I would say that I only love running about 60% of the time… but even during that other 40% of the time, I feel powerful and strong — and that sense of empowerment is why I keep doing it year after year.

If you think you can’t accomplish something like this, but are sort of wondering if you might be wrong, my advice to you is that you’re probably wrong.

(That sounds harsh, but it’s true!)

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My awesome support team after the 2017 finish!

Once again, I’m using this 16-week training plan this year. It’s the same one I used back in 2014, and even though I’ve probably “advanced” past it, I’ve found (after testing a few out over the years), that it’s the one that consistently gets me in good running shape and that prepares me best to run the full 13.1. Since I know that this training schedule is pretty much a sure thing, I’m going to focus more on nutrition this year! As you know if you read my February goals post, I’ve been thinking a lot about “feel good food” lately, so that’s definitely going to be top of mind leading up to May. It’s always a challenge for me to figure out how to eat enough calories, protein, etc. without giving myself license to eat whatever’s in sight before and after my longe runs (it happens!). If anyone has any tips, I’d love for you to share them in the comments below!