So, this 11 random things has been going around the blogosphere.  I was tagged by 3 lovely ladies from Team Tough Chik so I have 3 sets of answers to questions.  Here are the rules:
1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the post you were tagged in.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog, FB page, or wherever you can grab their attention and inform them of their obligation to the blogosphere.
11 Random things about me:
1.  I sing and sometimes dance anywhere!  I have no qualms about breaking out into song when the feeling strikes me.  I kinda wish life were one big musical then I wouldn’t look so silly.
2. I love my God.  I strive every day to be closer to Him.
3. I have this incredibly uncanny memory of useless information and pop culture.
4.  I run.  Not very fast. But I run with every fiber of my being, heart and soul.
5.  I’m only 5’0″.  So when you say to me “You’re so short!”, no, I’ve never heard that before.
6.  I’m an educational assistant by day and server by night.  I have a degree in elementary education so I am just waiting on my big break to get me an actual real-life teaching job.
7. I was a cheerleader from 7th grade to my 3rd year of college.  It was my life but completely stressful being responsible and accountable for the whole team!  Now I have turned to running which is completely up to me.  If I don’t improve I have no one to blame but myself.  In the same sense, if I do improve I know it was because I put in the effort.
8.  I’m scared of birds.  Like extremely.  I am terrified when people start feeding seagulls at the beach.  I always go the other direction.
9.  I don’t really like cake.  When I was younger my parents always got me a cookie cake instead.  I really really really like cheesecake!
10. I write my blog to inspire others but also for myself.  I like to see how far I have come.  I look back at the good days when I’m having a bad one.  I would love for my blog to grow in followers.  It’s great to see that other people look forward to what you have to say.
11.  I have read all of the Harry Potter and Twilight books but my favorite book ever is The Giver.
My 11 questions from Shannon at Tough Chik.
1. What is your favorite TV show?  Ooo tough one, I would say Modern Family I love to laugh and this one almost always has me laughing out loud.  If I want drama I love Sons of Anarchy, House, and Criminal Minds.
2. If you had to eat the same meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?  I’m not sure that there’s anything that I could eat over and over again without getting sick of it…
3. Do you cry at sad movies?  In a word, yes!  I am the most emotional person that I know, especially when it comes to movies and books.
4. Do you have any pre-race rituals?  If so, what are they?  Pee, then pee, then pee again.  Don’t want that happening during the race πŸ™‚
5. Mac or PC?  PC but would love to have a Mac
6. If you could pick the color of the new Tough Chik running singlet. what color would you pick?  I love the colors you have picked out already but if we are going for variety here I love kelly green.  Green and blue are my favorite colors.  They remind me of the sky and grass on a sunny day. πŸ™‚
7. How did you find out about Tough Chik?  A friend of mine, fellow tough chik, liked the page on facebook.  I checked it out and really loved the clothing!  I really want a Sweaty Betty running singlet (hint hint) until I can afford a road bike! πŸ˜‰
8. What is you favorite song?  Depends on the day of the week and my mood.  I have very eclectic musical tastes.  I like everything from Pop to Country to Rap to Singer/Songwriter to Christian. 
9. Any Superbowl plans?  Nope
10. How do you take your coffee, if you don’t drink coffee, what is your morning beverage of choice?  I don’t always drink coffee, but when I do I like mine really sweet with lots of cream or a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks if I can afford it.  If I don’t have coffee it’s usually water or almond milk.
11. What is the worst job you have ever had?  I was a tax accountant.  Oh.my.word. It was boring.  I was stuck inside a cubicle for 10.5 hours a day and never saw the light of day unless I went out for lunch.  I only had 30 minutes for lunch so that didn’t usually happen. 
NOW my 11 questions from Carmen at She Runs Everywhere.
1.  If you could change your name to something different, even just for fun, what would it be?  Well, if you had asked me when I was a little girl it would have been Ashley Elizabeth.  That just sounded like the most beautiful name in the world to me.  If you would have asked me in college it would have been Kate.  Now, I’m not so sure.  I think Niki has finally grown on me now that I’m 28.  
2.  What is the 1 household chore you could go without ever doing again?  WASHING DISHES!! There is nothing I despise more in the world of cleaning house.
3.  Tell me about your first car. (This can be the first car you drove or owned) Haha! My first car was a 1992 Plymouth Laser.  They are no longer in production if that tells you anything.  It was red and a manual.  My dad made me learn how to drive a manual before he would let me get my license.  Little did he know that most people drive automatics anymore.  Still, it’s a good skill to have I suppose.
4.  Where did you grown up?  I grew up in a tiny community called Harmony, near Johnson City, TN.  My parents still live there in the same house .  They have lived there for the entire duration of their 31 year marriage.
5.  Do/did you have a nickname?  Tell me about it.  Niki is my nickname.  I am actually Jessica Nicole.  I have been called Niki since the day I was born.  There was a kid I went to school with who always thought it was funny to call me Nike because I only have one K in my name (He said it looked like Nike).  It really bothered me then but now I know that Nike is the Greek goddess of strength, speed, and victory who is symbolized by a fit young woman with wings so I can only hope to live up to that name. πŸ™‚
6.  How long have you been blogging?  What made you start? I started blogging in January 2011.  I had just begun my training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  I had had a great run and just wanted to share it with the world.
7.  If money were no object where would you go on vacation?  I have always wanted to go to Europe.  This might be me cheating but I would take a European tour – making sure to stop in Greece and Italy.
8.  College….did you go?   what did you study? anywhere you wanted to go, but didn’t?  I went to East Tennessee State University.  I have a Bachelor’s in Accountancy and a Masters in Teaching Elementary Education.  Big difference, huh?  I really really really wanted to go to UT because I wanted to cheer there. They had an awesome squad and I wanted to be part of it.  In the end I’m glad I didn’t becuase I wouldn’t be where I am today. 
9.  tell me something shocking that most people don’t about you.  I can get horrible road rage.  It’s not pretty at all.  Read previous post…
10.  exercise….love? hate?  love to hate?  Hate it when I start.  Love it during and when I’m done.
11.  You have 24 hours to literally run….walk….get as far as you can with only your two feet.  How far would you get?  I have never attempted to walk or run for this long but I will go based on my marathon time and increase it by quite a bit.  I will say 130 miles….?
Here are my answers for the lovely Gina from Slow is the New Fast

Newton Gravity

1. How many pairs of running shoes do you have and are they all the same brand? I just recently won a free pair of Newtons at a Christmas Lights fun run.  I chose the Gravity.  I am learning to love them.  They have really increased my speed.  For long runs, I wear Brooks Ravennas.  The caterpillar crawl at the toe has me hooked.  I also own a pair of adizero racing flats that I, um well, race in.

2. Are you an early bird or a night owl? I really wish I could be an early bird but I am most definitely a night owl.  Sometimes, I’m up until 2 and I don’t even know what I have been doing because I started trying to go to bed at 11.

3. What race/races do you have on your bucket list?  For sure, Big Sur Marathon is huge one fore me.  I just want to run it to its beauty.  I would really like to run NYC Marathon.  I just think it would be a cool experience running through all the boroughs and Central Park.  Last but not least, I would LOVE to qualify for Boston one day.  I am a far way from that point but it would definitely make me feel like a boss.

4. Running with an Ipod. Yes or no? Why?  I do.  I love making up my playlists of what I will be listening to as I run.  I always put something kooky in there because it makes me smile.  I crack up inside my head wondering what people would think if they could hear the Vanilla Ice or Spice Girls playing as I’m running past them.  I have also learned to love the run without an iPod, too!  I never thought I’d run without music but it’s kind of nice sometimes to completely zone out.  I usually don’t run half-marathons and didn’t run my marathon with music because I wanted to be in the moment.
5. What’s your favorite thing to cook? I don’t really cook.

6. Were you an athlete in high school or did you become one as an adult?  I was a cheerleader in high school and for a competitive squad.  I was a flyer so stunting was my favorite part.  I could also do backhandsprings and back tucks.  That’s about as far as my tumbling went.  I cheered in college too.  I, then, took about 5 years off from being an athlete before making myself into a runner.  

7. Why did you start your blog?(Ex: accountability, encourage others, etc)  I started my blog one night because I wanted to post my feeling on facebook after a long run…but I decided that it would be one long status update so I decided to start a blog.  I can’t even remember now what made me think to do it.  I didn’t know anyone who blogged and I didn’t really read blogs but I guess I had heard of them and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I continue to blog because I want to encourage others but also encourage myself.  It makes all of this training and hard work seem real when I can read it in black and white.  I write with a lot of emotion usually.  I am a bare-my-soul kinda girl.  I want everyone else out there to experience what I am feeling. Therefore I try to motivate those who would otherwise feel too slow or not good enough to just get out there and feel good about themselves and live the lives they have.  πŸ™‚

8. Do you wear running skirts? If yes, which are your faves?  I only own one running skirt and it doesn’t fit me right.  It’s too big in the waist but fits in the hips so I never wear it.  I am not opposed to them just don’t have any right now.  I think they are cute!  Maybe I will get one this summer.  Any suggestions are appreciated!

9. Have you ever had a running injury? 4 letters. ITBS.  It was horrible!  I got IT Band Syndrome while training for my first half-marathon.  I was new to running and didn’t really know how to treat my body.   I ended up not being able to run for 2 full weeks prior to the half.  My parents told me to just not worry about running it but I didn’t put in all that time training for nothing.  I was afraid that if I didn’t run this one then I would never do one.  I ran it and I finished but could hardly walk afterwards.  Then I took about 2 months off from running.  I haven’t had any trouble out of it since then.  But that’s probably because I take extra special care of my IT bands now.  I never want to suffer through that again.

10. What’s your favorite distance to run?  5 miles.  It is just enough for me to get loosened up and feel great running at a fast speed but not so long that I have to take a fuel belt with waters and gu.  I do love my long runs as well but I prefer them when I can have a water stop halfway or water fountains along the way.  The belt just bothers me.  I don’t feel as free.

11. Where’s your most relaxing place to be? (It can be a place in your home or somewhere you travel to.)  Most definitely the beach, if I’m relaxing, at sunset when there aren’t too many people out there.  I used to live in Charleston and loved to drive out to Folly Beach to just breathe.  But when I can’t be at the beach, it would be on a run by myself.  Nothing like a little solitude to clear your head.

My 11 questions for you lucky ladies!

1.  Where do you live?  Have you always lived there?
2.  Do you run/bike/swim for time(PRs) or for enjoyment?
3.  How long have you been doing your sport of choice?  What made you start?
4.  If you have kids, how do you find time to do this?  (I’m just asking for future reference for myself)
5.  Is there anything you are deathly afraid of?  What is it?
6.  What’s your day job?  Are they supportive of your athletic endeavors?
7.  What animal would best represent your personality?
8.  What’s your favorite song to run to?
9.  What did you participate in in high school/college?
10.What is your favorite book? Why?
11. What is your favorite movie? Why?
I’m tagging ladies from my Tough Chick team (I don’t have 11).  If you don’t want to do this please don’t feel obligated.  If you do and weren’t tagged please feel free to answer and let me know!  I would love to learn more about you! πŸ™‚ 
2. Christina
3. Jessica
4.  Lisa
5. Hope
6. Jenna
7. Jamie (I’m tagging you so that you will have something to start your blog with πŸ˜‰ 

You may be knocked down but not out forever – tobyMac "Get Back Up"

I had quite the run last night.  It was group run night so I had to jet over to Foot Rx by 5:30.  I wasted time getting ready so I was running late.  Then, I blamed being late on every single car/truck/van I got behind on my way there.  I was livid when I arrived.  I may be a quiet girl but I can get mad road rage.

I pulled up as everyone was outside getting ready to run.  I ran up to meet them, still aggravated about the traffic.  I had planned on trying to run a pretty decent pace considering last week but not knowing if I could because my knee had been giving me the trouble it had this week. When I took off my knee felt fine.  I thought I am going to run this out!  Then…less than a quarter of a mile into it, I fell.  I don’t mean I tripped and kept on going.  I FELL, as in near face plant, in the road no less.  It was painful, embarrassing, stunning, and humbling.  Someone helped me up as soon as I fell so I wasn’t there long but I have some pretty gnarly road rash in my shoulder and knee to show for it.  Plenty of friends stopped to ask if I was ok and check on me.  Heck, some even came back from in front of me.  This kindness is why I love my running group and brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.  If you need some running friends come to FootRx on Thursdays at 5:30, you will find some πŸ™‚  I will admit it was so tempting to go back to the store and not run the 5 mile loop.  I had just begun and knew I was going to hurt.  BUT, I wanted to run.  I had come to run and knew that if I didn’t I would feel worse than if I did.  I caught my breath from the fall and ran on.  I didn’t run slow either.  I kept up my pace.  I didn’t want anyone to pity me but it also felt great to be able to run knowing that I could have really hurt myself.  Running is where I clear my head.

In the moment that I fell and was laying on the road, God humbled me.  I didn’t need to be griping about the traffic, especially when I could have left earlier.  I know what is important in life but sometimes I lose my focus.  As funny as it sounds, I’m glad I fell.  I needed that.

I finished the 5 mile run at an 8:52 pace which is pretty good for me considering my knee and the fall that happened.  I am planning on running a 10k tomorrow.  Hopefully, I will get a new PR! We shall see!

Happy Running!

Runners and their Knees

It’s Thursday!  I really want to go to group run tonight but my left knee has been acting funky.  I haven’t ran since Sunday’s 9 miler.

I took Monday off from running, as usual, and did a Pilates Core video instead.

Tuesday, I hopped on the treadmill before work and it was like I was the Tin Man.  My knee would just not cooperate.  I was hobbling along….it was not pretty.  I slowed my pace hoping that would make it easier.  It did not.  The only thing that made it easier was when I slowed to a walk.  I had started out at a 6.0 and ended up at a 4.0 after only 1/2 a mile.  Ugh.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I thought I would give it a rest, that maybe that’s just what my body needed.  But I was still tempted to test out the knee…soooo I ran to my mailbox and back.  It felt like someone was stabbing my kneecap!  What tha crap?!

I am in no way a medical professional able to diagnose myself but that never stops any of us does it?  From reading what I have on runnersworld.com I think I have a case of “runner’s knee”…go figure.

Have any of you experienced this before??  What helped and what prevented it?  Thanks for the input!

Happy Running!

Make my heart beat faster!

I just got back from a 9 miler with a great friend.  I felt myself wanting to slack today and not run so I texted her early and asked if she wanted to do LSD (Long Slow Distance, my friends).  She said “Yeah buddy!” so off we went.  We ended up going faster than I had anticipated with an average of 9:38 pace.  I usually do my long runs at about a 10 so maybe I’m improving or maybe I just need her to make me push it a bit.  We ran a hard course (part of the Bluegrass Half Marathon).  I am happy with our overall time although I know for a Boston-Bound girl that’s at the low end of the training plan.  She could have ran a lot faster!

I am pleased with my training this week. Even though I didn’t get in all the workouts I wanted to, I made the ones I did get in count.  I got to go to Foot Rx group run again this week! Wahoo!  We are on a streak!  Thanks to my boss for giving me these Thursdays off.  I need them for my sanity sometimes.  Jamie ran with me this week.  We planned on going 9:00 pace for the 5 mile loop but ended up with an 8:36 pace. Wha?!  I don’t run this fast.  Something must be wrong with my watch…and hers.  I am loving the results I am getting with my training and I strongly believe training partners help so much too.  I plan on continuing this streak of getting faster.  It feels good and gives me more confidence in all facets of my life.

I was asked to give one word to describe my training this week for Team Tough Chik.  I chose “revealing” because every time I run I find out more about myself, what I am capable of, and how to handle life in general.  Run Happy!

Getting with it

Tonight I ran 5 miles in the pouring ran with temps in the 40s…And it felt great! I really really really dreaded going but I had Thursday night off, which is FootRx group run night. I had planned on going since my schedule came out. It’s not often that I get the chance to go so when I do I am super stoked. Then the rain started. I decided that I was not going to go and instead I was just going to do a workout video or something (inside). Then about 5:10 rolled around. I got motivated and got dressed. I’m going!

I got so into the run that I went straight where I was supposed to turn right. Ha! It was dark and my first time back in a while, in my defense. What’s funny is that I was just relishing in how good the run was feeling and how happy I was that I was there. Then suddenly I hear my name being called. Thankfully, Debi and Hannah saw me before I had gone too far off course.

I am now trying to get back into my training. I have taken too long of a break and now it’s time for some improvement. So far this week of running has went great. I did an easy run on Tuesday, 10 x 400s yesterday (fast for me going from 7.4 to 8.3 on the treadmill increasing each interval), and ran a nice half marathon pace today at group.

I was inspired by Desiree Davila after reading the article about her in Runner’s World. If you are unfamiliar with her, she was the 2nd female and 1st American female to finish Boston last year in 2:22:38, setting a record for the fastest time an American female has ever ran Boston. And get this – she is only 5’2″!! I love this! I have always used the excuse that I am too short to run fast. Well, Desi is proving me wrong. She has been an underdog for her entire career. She competed in cross-country through high school and college but was never in that top spot…always right behind someone else, someone better. She has spend 6-7 years since college to be where she is right now and I’d say she’s right where she needs to be. So this weekend for the Olympic trials, I will be rooting for the underdog…well, her and Kara Goucher. Gotta give that classy lady some love too!

I almost forgot! I am now part of Team Tough Chik! I’m so excited to see what this has in store for me! Visit toughchik.com to see the cool products and to get an idea of what they are.