Featured Runner Tuesday: Ashlee Z

Yesterday was Marathon Monday, so do you know what that means? Today is Featured Runner Tuesday!

But before I introduce my next featured runner, how about that Boston Marathon yesterday?? Meb Keflizhigi is the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983! How fitting for this year’s race, right?! But what’s blown me away is his time – 2:08:37! WOW! I can barely imagine finishing a half marathon in that time, much less a marathon. Hopefully one day! (My half PR is currently 2:20:01.)

Which brings me to this week’s featured runner – Ashlee. She just signed up for her first half marathon which she will be running in June. How exciting! So without further adieu, here’s Ashlee!

Hello! I am so excited to be a featured runner this week. My name is Ashlee Z and I blog over at Ash’s Right Direction. I am a mom to an adorable toddler and the wife an amazing guy. I live in Northern New York near the Vermont border. After getting married in 2011 I decided it was time to take control of my health. I was overweight and not happy with myself. I lost 35 lbs before getting pregnant with my son in December 2011. I stayed active throughout my pregnancy which helped a great deal with the labor and recovery. I got back into the weight loss mode when Mason was six months old. I am currently twenty pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight and I am pushing to lose twenty more.

How and why did you start running?

I started walking with my mother in law when I first started dating her son. She is a speed walker and eight years ago I was huffing and puffing to keep up with her. She encouraged me to sign up for some 5ks with her and we walked them, she usually sped ahead of me. I was pretty proud of myself for finishing the event and continued to try to better my walking time. Last spring I decided I wanted to start running part of the 5ks I was doing. I ended up shaving 16 minutes off my time from April to December. I am a speed walker that runs as well. I can run a full mile, but I change to a speed walk for a bit then I run again. I average a 10-11 minute mile usually which is great for me. I remember being on the track in high school and being one of the last people to finish at 20 minutes or more.

2010 vs 2013

Why do you run?

I am not in love with running yet, but it makes me feel so accomplished when I am done with a run. I ran 6 miles the other day and that was the first time I have gone that far. I was so proud of myself and amazed at my potential. I felt amazing after that run and I wanted to do more. I find that it also relieves some of my stresses and it is a heck of a calorie burn. :) I also have heard that it can help slim legs and anything to help my calves and thighs. ;)

How has running changed you?

I have a lot more confidence. I feel amazing about myself when I am done with a run, whether it is a race or just after work. I am pushing myself now with my distance and I am amazed every time I reach a new personal record with distance. I did/do not know what my body is capable and I won’t until I try.

You just signed up for your first half marathon. Which race did you sign up for and why did you choose it?

I chose this half marathon because it was in June. My cousin is doing it with me for the support and motivation. She said that she did not have time to train in the summer with her kids on vacation so we chose one before vacation. I figured that having it sooner rather than later would push me to train and get it done! We chose the Half Marathon in Lake Placid, NY because it is one of the closest to us (2.5 hours away) and it is a beautiful town.

How do you fuel for your runs and/or races?

This is a great question and I would love advice on this. I have only done 5ks and I usually just grab a water at the end. I find that drinking water during can upset my stomach. I am trying to learn ways to fuel myself during longer runs because I am sure I will need something during the half marathon. I also need to research carb loading for the night before. Any advice would be great. :)

Which race is your favorite and why?

I really enjoy doing a local Rail Trail 5k. It is in my hometown and I have done it every year since it started. I feel like I have to do it now, I even did it when I was 8 months pregnant. I walked the trail the first few years. Last year I decided I wanted to start running some of the race. I also like the nice slate trivet you get when you cross the finish line. It is a great course that runs along the old railroad bed that has been groomed for walkers, runners, and bicycles.

What advice would you give your former self or someone just starting out?

Don’t doubt yourself. I told someone last year that I would never sign up for a half marathon, I did not think that I could go that far (part of me still questions it). I did not think I could make it more than a 5k, but I have in my training. I have been pushing myself and I am achieving my distance goals.

Do you have any favorite running mantras or quotes?

As a mother to a toddler, how do you find the time to run?

I wasn’t finding the time to run with Mason around so I decided to add an extra hour onto his day at daycare. That gives me 90 minutes after I punch out of work to go for a run. It has helped a great deal and it pushes me to get out and run because I am paying (not much) for him to stay later. On weekends, Tim is home to watch Mason so I can hit the pavement.

What is your dream race? No limits, anywhere in the world! And why?

I have been seeing the Disney races all over Instagram and I think I would like to do one of those. They look like so much fun and I am a huge Disney fan. It would have to be on a vacation and the timing would have to be great, but it is a goal of mine. They look fun. I wish I lived closer to one of these races because it is expensive for us to get to Florida and I am sure California would be untouchable for us.

Have you ever won or placed in a race? Tell us about it!

I have never placed or won anything in a race. I am ok with this because my age group is pretty large and as I have said before I am not that fast. I do not need to place to feel good, finishing makes me feel like I did something great for myself.

What running goals do you have for 2014?

I want to finish the half marathon I signed up for. I have also signed up for some 5ks throughout the year, but my big goal this year is to finish those 13.1 miles. I also want to try one of the obstacle course 5ks this year, I am looking at the Insane Inflatables race which looks like a lot of fun.

What time of day do you prefer to run and why?

Right now running after I get out of work works for me because Mason is in daycare.
Last summer I found that I enjoyed early morning runs, hopefully I can get out of bed before my husband has to leave for work and get out and get my run in before work. I usually try to get my workouts in before work so I do not have to worry about them the rest of the day, plus it means I only have to take one shower per day. Morning workouts also help with my mood throughout the day. I always feel great and empowered when I know I already got a workout in.

Besides running, what other passions do you have?

I am a volunteer EMT for a local EMS Agency. It is actually where I met my husband almost a decade ago. We are very active in the organization and enjoy it. I love being outdoors. I like to garden, water-ski, swim, bike, and just sit outside in the sunshine.

In terms of exercise I like yoga and circuit workouts. I enjoy Jillian Michael’s DVDs and have recently tried P90X3 which was fun.

You can connect with Ashlee on any one of these social media platforms:
Blog: Ash’s Right Direction
Instagram: @ashz131
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ashsrightdirection
Bloglovin’: A Step in the Right Direction

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ashlee! And good luck on your half marathon!!

Do you have any questions for Ashlee? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

Are you interested in being featured also?
Fill out the form and I will respond with your questions and additional information regarding the feature!

See you on the road!

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