Holiday Customer Service

Holiday customer service is more important than ever because your customers have all the possibilities of turning to a big internet provider such as Amazon. Big stores are stealing business from smaller companies who may not be able to have the ad space that the other businesses can afford. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon, 2-day free shipping, I definitely get my money’s worth out of my prime account! Plus, I get 5% cashback on all my purchases Oct-December with Discover. What is not to love?

But when you have a company like Amazon that is known for being the place to get anything you want, how can the little guys compete? The answer is with general and holiday customer service.

I think there are so many negative things out there when it comes to customer services at the holidays, that I wanted to shout out a few companies that went above and beyond for me this Christmas. We all know that it is a stressful time of the year for all including the shop owners and workers. That is why I think it is important for me to take the time to shout out these 3 companies who have been amazing to me with their holiday customer service.

Remember, companies that have great customer service and do the little things for the customer from the beginning without asking a ton of questions tend to have higher rates of repeat customers. I know it certainly works for me. So let’s jump into it.

My Top 3 Holiday Customer Service Experiences in 2017

Love Your Melon

If you are not familiar with Love Your Melon, go check them out. They are a company that donates 50% of their profits to make sure children with cancer have hats to wear and have experiences to take them away from their treatments and daily life.

I had never ordered from Love Your Melon mainly due to the price but when I saw they were giving away free gifts with orders on Black Friday Weekend, I was drawn in. If you bought 3 hats you received a free headband! I was sold. So I ordered a few Christmas gifts, a hat for me, and then got my free headband.

Note: With two hats you got a free hat ornament, it was so cute, I almost did 2 orders so I could get both. But I thought that may be a bit excessive; however, I do regret not ordering that second order after I received my order and realized how obsessed I am with these hats and how warm they are. Plus the hat ornament would have looked so cute on our tree.

Amazing Holiday Customer Service

Now here is where the customer service piece comes into play. I received my order and when I went to look at the hats, I noticed one of the pom beanies I had ordered was so much smaller than the other (I had ordered two). I sent a note to their customer service team asking if I had been sent a child’s beanie by mistake. When they responded I sent them a picture of the two beanies side by side and their instant reaction was “We are so sorry, you were definitely sent a child’s beanie. Please keep that and here is a credit for a replacement.” I even asked about free shipping for the replacement beanie and they said although the promo code couldn’t be used on the shipping if I sent them an email with the new order number they would credit my card.

Talk about going a step above with your holiday customer service. I was so excited and in love with my first hat that I had ordered, that I actually ordered two more and paid for the additional hat with that second order. Plus, they did, in fact, refund my shipping.

I am definitely ordering from Love Your Melon again and will be promoting them anytime I can not only because I love the mission and the product but I absolutely love the customer service.

The Be Brand

Now, The Be Brand is probably a company you have never heard of before. They are a small business that does amazing on Instagram. They have the cutest headbands and inspirational clothes.

This season I ordered a bunch of headbands for myself; as well as, a few challengers, and completely forgot I had a promo code to use with the order. I sent them an email and within the hour, I had a credit to my account for the 15% off the order. Again, no questions asked. They didn’t have to but they did and it makes the biggest difference!

Clearly, I will be ordering from them again because I love their headbands for working out and just wearing.around the house or out. I am actually wearing one right now as I type in my office. I seriously can’t wait to order one of their sweatshirts; however, I have been dropping some hints for Christmas so maybe Santa heard me?

Blender Bottle

The last company that I want to shout out is Blender Bottle. Now, I know it is super easy to order Blender Bottles on Amazon but Black Friday Weekend, I went straight to the source. They had some great deals that I wanted to explore.

I created my list that weekend and placed one order; however, if you don’t know Blender Bottle releases a bottle of the month and I really wanted to order the holiday edition. So I waited to place the 2nd half of my order until December 1st. After my 1st order, I had received a 10% off promo code and again forgot to apply it to my order (seriously, it has to do with trying to multi-task at work).

All it took was one email and the credit was again applied back to my card.

One other thing, I want to shout out about Blender Bottle is that I still haven’t received my orders (order the 1st order the same day as Love Your Melon) but there is a reason for it. The company sent an email to all customers who had purchased in recent weeks that they had received an overwhelming number of orders that for the first time ever, EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE, would be heading to the factory to help fulfill orders before Christmas. I trust that I will receive my order before heading home for the holidays.

I can’t even begin to tell you what that email did for me as a customer. It showed they care about their customers and wanted them to be aware of the real problem. I wish more companies were honest like that. Again, I will certainly be ordering from them and promoting them whenever I can, thanks to their customer service.

Bonus: Etsy Shop – MikesFineDesigns

Now I can’t tell you what I ordered because the person may read this blog but I can tell you he did an amazing job. I made him aware of the time sensitivity to it and he pushed it to the front of his orders and shipped it out a week earlier than expected and it was at my door 2 days after I got the confirmation it had shipped from the U.K.

He allowed me to customize my order and I cannot wait to give it to the person on Christmas. I will add a photo after Christmas of the order!

If you are looking for a handmade gift this holiday season or for a wedding or birthday, check out his store!

At the end of the day, holiday customer service is the most important thing for businesses, small or large. You can lose a forever customer at the holidays or really any time of the year. I hope if you are last minute Christmas shopping or looking for a gift year round, you will consider these companies!

Holiday Engagement: Part 1 – Thanksgiving

Wow, it is definitely hard to believe that Brian and I have been engaged 3 months already! We are officially counting down and inside 18 months. We are slowing but surely ticking things off the list but you can check those all out on the other wedding posts. For this post, I wanted to share our experience with our holiday engagement and it is a two-parter because a lot happened!

Yes, I know we did not get engaged at the holidays but a holiday engagement is so much more than the initial shock! In fact, the entire engagement I am learning is a whirlwind and I am just trying to soak up every phase of this stage in my life. As well as, enjoy our journey as a couple.

So how did our holiday engagement actually go? Let’s start with Thanksgiving

Holiday Engagement: Thanksgiving

My Family Traditions

Every other Thanksgiving, my super large family (60+ people) gets together usually in Virginia or West Virginia which is roughly equal distance for everyone to travel to. This year was not a big Thanksgiving for the family and my family did not go to the last one due to my father’s dad passing away and a few other reasons. So, Brian has never actually been to one of those Thanksgiving because we just started doing holidays together fully 3 years ago (this was our third full Thanksgiving & Christmas celebrating together).

I am really looking forward to next Thanksgiving and having Brian there with me! I can remember my older cousins bringing their person to their first Thanksgiving and it being a lot of fun!

My family created the alternating Thanksgiving tradition so that you could visit your in-laws during the off year. So, for the last three years, Brian and I have spent Thanksgiving with his mom’s family.

An Auburn Holiday Engagement

We headed to Auburn on Tuesday night after getting out of work. Unfortunately, Brian got out VERY late so we didn’t get into town until about 9 pm. It is usually a 2-hour drive for us to get to Auburn.

Wednesday, we were able to relax, workout and just catch up with his mom. We were also able to go out with his friends that night. Thanksgiving Eve is a big tradition with them. But our age was definitely showing as his group all realized they were some of the oldest in the bar.

So, my question to you, at what age is too old to be out past midnight? We haven’t been drinking a ton because we are sticking to some very healthy habits so I just wasn’t feeling my beer. But it was great to see everyone and be introduced to some new people as Brian’s fiancé (I feel like I have met everyone in Auburn in the last 6 years but every time we go out, I meet new people). We had seen a lot of our friends at the wedding we attended in October so most of them had congratulated us then!

Thanksgiving Accountability

Thanksgiving morning rolled around, I slept great and my team was having an accountability Thanksgiving Day workout all together at 8:30. I was so excited to press play. At one point, we had 130 women working out virtually together! Talk about motivation and accountability! Knowing I was about to eat a ton of stuffing (my favorite) I was really looking forward to getting my sweat on ahead of time.

We had also seen Brian’s family the last time we were in Auburn but the engagement was the talk of the meal. They are all really looking forward to our wedding and two of his cousins will be in it! They had a lot of questions to ask about if we had made any further decisions. The truth was at that point, we really hadn’t outside of the date and the venue!

The Post-Holiday Meal

The next morning, another workout and then we were off to spend the rest of the long weekend with my mom and sister! On our way to Corning, we stopped to see my Nana and Dad in Ithaca. It was really great to connect with them since I hadn’t seen them the day before. I was able to update my Nana in-person on some of the details and ask if she would come dress shopping with me when I officially made the trip. I can’t wait to have her there and I know she appreciated being asked.

The holiday weekend with my mom flew by! Corning does this Parade of Lights every year. I had actually never seen it before so that was a ton of fun on Saturday night. My mom and I were also able to do some Small Business Saturday shopping. I absolutely love supporting local businesses. And the best part got the cutest Mr. and Mrs. Claus mugs! I am currently drinking some tea out of right now!

Sunday came and I was sad to see it (thankfully, I took work off on Monday). My mom, sister, and I had signed up to do a Gingerbread house decorating party which was a ton of fun. You should have seen the candy bar! It was kind of like a Paint with a Twist Party except without the wine and a ton of kids.

After that was all over, we packed up and hit the road to try beat the traffic. We also wanted to get organized for the work week ahead.

Our first major holiday as an engaged couple was in the books and we were really looking forward to another one in just a few weeks!

Engaged November to Remember

I seriously cannot believe that November is over already! But that means we are one month closer to our wedding date and I have big news to share.

We actually decided on November 8th at like 9 pm, Yodeler Lodge at Holiday Valley in Ellicottville, NY was going to be our place. And our date……May 25th, 2019.

 

We know it is a long way off but Holiday Valley is the place we fell in love with and they are all booked up for 2018 so 2019 here we come. That just gives us lots of time to make arrangements and truly plan the wedding of our dreams. Brian and I are so excited to be able to share this news and to spend the next 18 months planning. The countdown is officially on!

Engaged November

So how did the rest of November go? Did I make any big decisions? Well, November kicked off with a bang! Even before we had our date and our venue, my mom, sister, and I headed to a bridal show in Williamsville to just start getting ideas. Because I haven’t asked all my bridal party yet, this was something I wanted to keep small. I am not the type of girl who has been planning my wedding since I was born. So taking the time to just get ideas was what I needed. I had no idea that I would start checking things off my list that day.

Before heading to the show, my sister gave me the sweetest gift, a personalized wedding planner! In it, she included herself as Maid of Honor even though I have not asked anyone that question yet. The rest of my bridal party asks will be coming soon and I cannot wait to give them their ask gifts! Plus, Brian hasn’t asked any of his groomsmen! Stay tuned.

Engaged November: Bridal Show Madness

For me, having so much time until the wedding, it is hard to commit and put deposits down right on the spot. I don’t know about you but bridal shows are seriously overwhelming! The vendor that I connected with the most was a DJ and Photobooth company. They did ceremony music and party music; as well as, the uplighting for behind the head table. In addition, they have a 10-person photo booth which I am so excited to have at our wedding. The piece that sealed the deal for me was the fact that they create a custom, hand-drawn scrapbook of all the photo booth photos (basically so your guests don’t draw dirty pictures).

Although we didn’t sign with them on the spot, the owner let me know the deal would be good for a few weeks which I was entirely grateful for! I actually sent him the contracts at the beginning of December after Brian and I discussed it. But more to come in my December post on that.

Engaged November: Dress Appointment

At the bridal show, I also was able to book an appointment to visit David’s Bridal in December. I wanted to be able to try on all different styles of dresses before I made a decision and had my entire bridal party (those who could come) plus my grandmother and Brian’s mom in the room. I wanted to know what I like so that when I do pick my dress I am not overwhelmed. David’s Bridal was going to let me do that and I was really looking forward to my dress appointment on December 9th!

Engaged November: Thankful

The rest of November was seemingly uneventful. We headed to a Beer and Wine Festival up at Holiday Valley with friends, which was so exciting to get to see the place again in a different setting. It just made Brian and I more excited to celebrate our special day there in 18 months. We knew as we drank our beers (unlimited for 4 hours), we had made the right decision.

I will be sharing more about the first major holiday with family where we were engaged in my Holiday Engagement post coming soon. However, Brian and I planned to ask our flower girl (my cousin Matilda) and our ring bearers (Brian’s cousin’s kids Evan and Parker) at Christmas if they would like to be in the wedding. But with little kids, we wanted to make sure we asked their parents first!

So at Thanksgiving, we pulled Todd & Tracey aside and asked if they would be okay with the boys being in the wedding. After all, it is a cost to them; as well as, extra attention they will have to pay during the wedding. But they were really excited and obviously said YES.

I had actually seen my Aunt earlier in November and was able to ask her then. Her reaction, “I have been waiting and hoping you would say that.”. As an older cousin to an almost 3-year-old, it has been fun watching Matilda grow and I can’t wait for my nana to see her 3 granddaughters walk down the aisle on the same day!

Everyone in our family is so excited about this wedding and so are Brian and I. We have a lot to plan but the next 18 months truly are going to be so exciting!

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Did you know that the average person gains between 5 and 10 pounds throughout the holidays? Do you want to know how to avoid holiday weight gain? The answer my Holiday Bootcamp: 21 Day Fitmas!

holiday-bootcamp

This year, I am putting my foot down when it comes to this weight gain thing. I am saying NO! In fact, I am saying, I am going to lose 5 pounds as I count down the days to Christmas. How good does that sound?

Now I bet you are wondering how I am going to do it? And I want to make sure you know there is absolutely no secret. The keyword here is accountability! And what if I told you that could join me too? Together, we can hold each other accountable throughout this holiday season with my Holiday Bootcamp.

So you are probably asking, HOW! Well, let me tell you and I promise no my Holiday Bootcamp has no gimmicks just real results.

For 21-Days I going to follow the 21-Day Fix Extreme program. This will be my 4th Beachbody Program I will complete this year! I have completed 21 Day Fix, Shift Shop (3x), and Core de Force (currently completing). Starting December 4th through Christmas Eve, I am counting down the days to Christmas in the best way I know how, by crossing off workouts on my calendar. Yep, no chocolate advent calendar for this girl!

With a concentrated workout program that is just 30-minutes a day, the next piece is I will be following the easiest meal plan I have ever followed. No counting calories, simply, if it fits in the container, I eat it. That means I can still enjoy my favorite holiday foods and drink wine at all the holiday parties without all the guilt.

Now you are probably thinking, “How am I going to avoid eating all the Christmas cookies?”

Well there are a few ways that my Holiday Bootcamp can help with this and it all starts with my Christmas Cookie Superfood Shake recipes. These taste just like my favorite holiday treats without all the sugar! Gingerbread, pumpkin pie, thumbprint cookies, fudge and so much more! I seriously cannot wait to share these with you.

But when I head out to a holiday party, I am not always going to be bringing along my secret recipes so I am also going to share my tips and tricks for beating the holiday party scene including healthy cookie recipes, modifications of your favorite recipes, the list can go on and on!

holiday-weight-gain

Holiday Bootcamp = Accountability

To top it all off, I am doing this with my team and together, we get the results we want thanks to the accountability factor. I have a group of ladies I wake up with every morning and video workout with and you can join us too. There is a group that wakes up 5am EST running through 8am EST (you don’t have to stay on for the whole time).

Let’s summarize what I will be doing during my Holiday Bootcamp and you can too with me:

  • 21-Days of 30 minute at home workouts
  • 21 Days of Holiday Themed Superfood Shakes
  • Healthy Holiday Meals
  • 21 Days of Healthy Holiday Party Tricks
  • Lose around 5 pounds in just 21 Days
  • Holiday Presents (did I forget to mention, there were presents involved)?
  • 21 Days of Accountability (This is BONUS for my VIPs)

But the best part, the fun doesn’t stop when the holidays are over! When you join my Holiday Bootcamp you get:

  • 1 year access to Beachbody On Demand, consider it the Netflix for workout programs
  • A 30 Day Supply of a Superfood Shake that will help you beat your cravings through New Years
    • My VIPs get this at a discount
  • Easy to follow meal plans that take into consideration all dietary needs
  • Portion control containers that help you get rid of calorie counting
  • Access to me for an entire year as your coach
    • We will work one-on-one to reach your health, fitness, and nutrition goals
    • We will also customize a plan that works for you to achieve the results you want
  • Access to the whole team for accountability far beyond the holiday season
  • Bonus: My VIPs get access to our virtual workouts to help you get your butt out of bed each morning (this is no additional charge)

You get all of this for just $160 for the WHOLE YEAR….call it a Christmas present to yourself that just keeps on giving!

 

christmas-bootcamp

So I have told you what I am going to do for my Holiday Bootcamp, I have told you all that you can get, I just haven’t told you how to sign up. The best part, you have a couple of options, leave me a comment below and I will reach out to you or you can email fitnessmadebreezy.courtney@gmail.com. Let’s make this the healthiest holiday season yet!

I can’t wait to beat the holiday weight gain this year and I can’t wait for you to join me! As a bonus, the first person to sign-up from this blog post will receive this Exclusive – SOLD OUT – The Be Brand Headband from me as a thank you gift!workout-headbands

One Hell of an Engaged October

October was one heck of a month for Brian and I thanks to it being half marathon season! We basically referred to Engaged October as our hell month in terms of scheduling.

Don’t get me wrong, they were all fun things but we had a lot on our plates! But before I go into Engaged October, I have to finish off September when I asked one of my great friends to be in the wedding!

Will You Be My Bridesmaid: Part 1

My friend Ali and I went through MDP together at the bank over 3 years ago. We met on the first day of the program but I wouldn’t say we were as close as we are today at that point. She and I have grown super close since finishing the program and really growing into the real world together. Ali is that friend for me where we can go to Starbucks and sit and talk for hours. Brian often says when we say we are going to Starbucks, see you at dinner. She is also my friend who I have run 2 half marathons with, trained together, gone through the highs and lows, the ups and downs, and all the gross parts that come with training for a race. To say we have bonded would be an understatement.

So in our normal fashion, I asked her to be my bridesmaid by surprising her at Starbucks! I asked the barista to write on her cup, “Will you be my Bridesmaid”. The best part is the Barista did such a great job, she had some of the words written above the cup holder and then you had to slide the cup holder (you know the thing to keep from burning your hand) down to read the rest! Ali was shocked.

Now, you may be wondering, why I did it so early. The answer is Ali is moving back to Jersey (NYC) and starting a new role within the bank. I want to ask all my bridal party-in-person, so that meant surprising her early! Thankfully, Ali is a go with the flow kind of person and was down for limited details at this moment.

The Race to the Finish Line

It started the first weekend in Engaged October with my first half marathon of the season, The Wine Glass Half. I won’t go into too much detail about the race I ran with my sister because I shared my results in my race recap post. But overall it was a great race and Devon and I had a ton of fun! I may not have hit my sub-2 hour goal but I got to run Devon’s first half marathon with her and I did earn a new PR.

And great news, I am planning on running my 4th Corning Wineglass Half next year! It will be on the 30th of September next year.

A Wedding Weekend to Remember

The following weekend we got to celebrate two of our friends getting married. Not only did we have a great time catching up with friends but this was the first wedding Brian and I were attending as an engaged couple. As far as new experiences go, we had a blast. To top it off, we had time to celebrate the month of October with Brian’s mom’s family and carve pumpkins. We have done this the last 2 years and it always a fun time.

Alumni Weekend

Every year, Brian and I try and head back to RIT for Brick City Homecoming at RIT. This year was a little strange because my coach decided to not have an alumni game. So instead of heading back to Rochester together, Brian and I went separately because Brian’s team still had their game and other events. With all the stress of being on the go so much over the last couple of weeks, I was fortunate we didn’t have a game because I came down with a slight cold.

Instead of heading to the hockey game as I had planned to, I went to Rochester just for the day to catch up with a few of the ladies I had played with and headed home to get some rest because our big trip to Louisville was coming up.

Time for Bourbon

For the last part of Hell October, we were heading to Louisville. I was so excited because it meant I was going to see one of my best friends who I hadn’t seen in almost a year and a half since she moved back home. I was also going to be able to ask her to be one of my bridesmaids!

Brian and I were set to the run the Urban Bourbon half marathon that weekend (Saturday). You can read all about the race in my race recap.This post is more about the weekend itself because it was time to ask bridesmaid #2.

Will you be my Bridal Minion: Part 2

Now, Shelly loves the minions, everything about them. So I had purchased a minions cup and slipped a note inside it asking her to be one of my bridal minions (get it?). Unfortunately, the packaging got a little wrinkled in transport but Shelly didn’t seem to mind, she is easy going that way. This girl is in med school and will just be finishing her 2nd year when we get married but she was also down with limited details and ready to assist in any way she can.

Excuse the glare on the photo, I was trying to be sneaky!

Bourbon Tasting

The rest of the weekend was so much fun minus the huge hill at mile 6.5 of the half, read more about that here. We had stayed with Shelly’s parents for all but one of the nights (the night before the race) which was amazing. They are great people and it really helped us stay on track as far as eating properly to have the best travel race possible.  We enjoyed Bourbon tastings at the post-race party and then headed to a new distillery in Louisville that is in their 2nd year (really at year 2.5) so they don’t have Bourbon yet because they are making their own mash. So instead we got to try their Rye Whiskey.

While we were also there, we had the chance to attend a pretty awesome exhibit of 5,000 pumpkins that Louisville does. I was mesmerized by the detail, way better than my simple Jack-o-Lanterns (although there were some of those too). Here is just one of the 5,000 pumpkins – minions of course. The theme was the ABCs so each letter had a unique theme.

Our flights home were bright and early so that we could settle back into life, get unpacked and ready for the work week ahead. We were sad to leave Louisville but knew it would be nice to be back and home and have a day to relax. Our Engaged October was over!

The End of Hell Engaged October

Even though Brian and I knew that we wouldn’t have much time to wedding plan in October, our goal was to decide on a venue and a date. We saw a few more venues and even went back to one we really liked to check out a few more options they had to offer during the work week. I will say we did not hit our deadline for an October 31st decision. But I promise a decision is coming soon!

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon: 13.1 + 90 Proof = 1 Perfect Race

If you are considering running a half marathon in 2018, you are going to want to make sure you add the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in Louisville, Kentucky to your race bucket list!

This race was different from any other race I have ever done because it was focused on the experience, not necessarily the running, there were people of shapes, experience levels, and sizes running. So when I say the experience, I mean the bourbon experience, what else?

Urban Half Marathon Race Weekend

I was really looking forward to this race because it was one Brian and I would be running together. Well, we would both be on the course at the same time. Brian was shooting for a sub-1:35 and I was going for a sub-2 again.

The best part about this race for me was going to be seeing one of my best friends, who I hadn’t seen in a very long time! It is crazy how life brings people into your lives and you can not see them for over a year but you can pick back up right where you left off. That is me and Shelly.

The nice part about heading to her hometown is she knew all the sites to go see, the must-dos, and could navigate the city for us. Plus, her parent’s were gracious enough to let us stay at their house so that helped the budget (after all, we are saving for a wedding)! We did end up staying in a hotel the night before the race to make things super easy. The nice part was were able to just get up and walk to the race (5-minute walk from the hotel). We wanted to limit stress.

The Bourbon Expo

I will say, this expo was the most understated race expo I had been too. But they had pre-warned all racers of that. The expo was about picking up your bib and trying bourbon. It was not going to be flashy or a ton of vendors. Again, it was about the Bourbon Experience. Brian and I were not in the mood to taste test so we picked up our bibs and left to go home and check into the hotel!

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon: Race Day

Race Morning was probably the easiest I have ever had. I woke up, drank a cup of black coffee and had a vegan pumpkin muffin (thanks to Shelly’s mom), drank some water and ate a banana. Then I did my thing, showered to wake up, went to the bathroom, and got dressed in my race outfit!

I also mixed up my two bottles of pre-workout, Energize. One in my race bottle that I would carry with me and the other in a coffee cup to drink as we walked to the starting line. This was a strategy I had tested on many of my longer training runs; as well as, at Corning and loved the effects. This is the only kind of pre-workout I have found that doesn’t give me the jitters.

About half an hour from the start, Brian and I walked over to the gates and parted ways. I stood in line drinking my pre-workout, listening to my pump-up playlist and tried to focus my mind.

The Starting Gun

This race was different from Corning because instead of starting with the 2:10 pacer, I started with the 2-hour pacer and said I would stay with them as long as I could. I knew the course was going to be way hillier than I had trained on so I went into it for the experience but was going to push.

Miles 1-6

As I started the race, I felt great. When I heard my first-mile time was an 8:59 I was in shock. First off, the pacer was going faster than the 2-hour pace but I was okay with it because I was feeling good. The next 5 miles flew by and my time was continuing to drop. When I hit mile 6, I was on pace to hit my goal by a few minutes. I was averaging 8:50/mile and still with the pacer. Despite the rolling hills, I was feeling great. The Energize was working.

The miles I would like to forget: 6-7

The Urban Bourbon Half Marathon up to the halfway point had me feeling great. I was thinking, I can run rolling hills no problem! Even my sister who was watching via the tracking app was thinking I was about to hit my goal.

But then at about mile 6.5 as we entered into a park was the hill that I know I will never forget. Everything was burning and I felt like it would never end. I also realized my pace was the same pace I could walk (or at least it felt like it) and mentally I was defeated. So, I decided I would walk to the top of the hill (which was well over a mile or at least it felt like it). I may be exaggerating the distance but I have never gone from being on such a high to crashing so hard. The race photos were taken right at the start of the decline of the hill.

8-The Finish

Now, at this point, I was still on pace if I picked it back up to where I was to hit that goal but I couldn’t get my legs moving again. That hill had taken so much out of them. It was heart-breaking for me to hear my total time continue to increase as I went along.

I ended up crossing the finish line with a time of 2:07:21 (which would have been a PR before Corning 2017). I had also run 13.39 miles so almost .3 more than 13.1. But that didn’t bother me because even if I had only run 13.1, I would have missed my goal.

Although I didn’t hit my PR, I still managed to have fun and take in the sites of Louisville. Despite having an evil death hill, the park we got to run through was beautiful.

Post-Race Party

After the race, I got to meet up with Shelly and Brian. Brian had hit a HUGE PR with a time of 1:34. I was so happy for him, I even paid to have his medal engraved with his name and time (plus now we won’t confuse the two).

The line of food for the runners was amazing coming across the finish line! Panera Bagels, chocolate milk (what I crave after any race), Powerade, water, and bananas. I grabbed a Cinnamon Crunch bagel (my favorite that I try to avoid because it is over 400 calories) and enjoyed every last bite of it.

We headed back to the hotel to stretch and shower before hitting the party. Something I was grateful for as I really needed to stretch. Plus, by this point, my sweat had started to turn to salt, a major sign I was dehydrated.

After we had showered, hydrated, ate a bit, we headed to the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon post-race party and it was a ton of fun! Definitely earned its top 10 status for a reason. The only thing was there had been some rain and it had made the field so muddy! But the tastings were great.

Brian and I did not wait in line for pizza because the line was so long but the soup/chili was amazing! We grabbed some photos and stayed until the party was over listening to the music and enjoying our tastings. Having never had bourbon, the bourbon barrel beer was my favorite drink, but I did have one tasting that I really enjoyed.

Post-Party Festivities

After the race, we headed to Peerless for a tour and tasting. And then Brian and I downed two pizzas at Garage Bar with Shelly and Brett.

The rest of the night was low-key. We enjoyed some relaxing time with Shelly’s parents at her house, stretched and headed to bed after watching Game 7 of the American League Playoffs. We were flying out early the next morning to have the rest of the day to recover and prep for a week ahead so after an eventful day, it was time for sleep.

Consider a Half Marathon?

Overall, if you are considering running another half marathon or your first and love bourbon, the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon is for you. If you have never been to Louisville, this race is a great “runcation”. That was one of the reasons we ultimately ended up deciding to go! We had never been to Louisville, we wanted to see Shelly, and there was a top 10 race with an after party. If you love hills or even if you don’t, this course is a fun time and the after-party is one to remember!

Top 4 Reasons to Run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

  • Free Race Photos
  • Great Post-Race Party
  • Free Bourbon Tastings
  • Convenient Hotel to Race Start
  • Really Cool Medal

My only recommendation: Stay at the hotel closest to the start!

A Wine Glass Half Marathon to Remember

wineglass-half-marathon

It has been awhile since I wrote about crossing a finish line. Since I started running, I have completed 1 full marathon and 5 half marathons including 3 Wine Glass Half Marathons in a row and will complete my 6 half marathon on Saturday (10/21) at the Urban Bourbon Half in Louisville, KY.

Corning Wine Glass Half Marathon

What I wanted to write about though was my experience training for the Corning Wineglass Half (my 3rd time running this race) with my sister or seester as I prefer to call her on social media platforms. Now, let me start this by saying, Devon and I are not runners. We have never been runners and the only race we have ever run together was a Turkey Trot 5k and we walked most of it.

Tall Seesters Run

So when I convinced her to run Corning, I wasn’t sure she would take the training seriously but boy did she!

To be honest she had me nervous going into race day because all of her times for her training runs had been crazy fast! We tracked our progress on our sister Instagram account (@tallseestersrun). I am so glad we did that because it became a way for us to stay connected and accountable to each other and our plans.

 

Race Day

Race day came and the weather was looking perfect (little chilly, it was 35 degrees as we stood outside on Market St. waiting for the buses). We had gotten to the buses at 6:10 but did not get on a bus until 6:45, this had never happened to me before. We got to the start (it is a point-to-point course) at nearly 7 am which made me slightly anxious but I knew we had time. The race did not start until 7:45 but I knew they also usually started cattle-herding you to the start line around 7:15.

We hit the potties and to be honest I just sat in there to get warm (totally gross I know but on race day you gotta do what you gotta do!). I was shaking from the cold at this point. I was so glad Devon and I elected to not wear the tank tops I had bought because I felt so bad for those who were wearing no sleeves and shorts!

corning-wineglass-half-marathon

To stay hydrated, Devon and I had brought up a water bottle filled with Energize (pre workout) that we planned to start drinking about 30 minutes before the start. We finished it about 10 minutes before the horn went off which was great because it takes about 30 minutes to kick in and neither of us were feeling full or bloated from it (so glad I had tested this on a training run). We also had our handheld water bottles full of Energize to keep us going throughout the race!

The Race

It took about 3 miles for us to thaw out but once we did we were cruising. We made it up the steady one-mile incline between miles 6.5 – 8 and felt great. Things took a turn for me around mile 10 when my hamstring started to get tight (definitely stemming from my knee). My hip on that side had been tight all week but I had been diligently stretching it out all week in hopes to avoid an issue.

sarah-marie-designs

But by mile 10.5 I knew this was going to be a slow go for the next 3 miles but after a short walking break to stretch it out, we were off. Another short stretch at 11.5

and 12 and Devon was ready to push. She was prepared for the last stretch of the race and I couldn’t be more proud and I was crushed inside that I was holding her back. But the goal was to finish together so she stuck by me. As we ran down Market Street, I wanted to cry, my baby sister had just run a half marathon!

 

The Finish Line

We crossed hand-in-hand just as we planned. Right after we crossed, my body instantly tightened. It had given me what it had and now it just wanted a hot tub! And that is exactly what it got….oh and champagne! Next up, Urban Bourbon, and this one I am about to go at alone!corning-wineglass-half

The First Month of Being Engaged

When we got home from Boston, reality started to set in. We have to plan a wedding.

My head was spinning not only because this amazing thing just happened in my life but I was also set to start my new job! To add to both of those really BIG things, I had 2 half marathons that I was training for (Wineglass Half & Urban Bourbon). My freelance business was thriving and I had just signed on a new client and I also had my coaching business. If that wasn’t enough, I was planning a brand new program for the bank called Reverse Mentoring that involved senior leaders of the organization.

engaged-millennial

Some would say, “You have too much going on”. But the reality is, I thrive on staying busy!

So as we settled back into our routine, I instantly went into organizing and planning mode. How was I going to get it all done? How was I going to be an engaged millennial managing my relationship, working a full-time job, freelancing, coaching, and working on my health?

The Ideal State

  • The training part was easy, run or cross-train every morning before work so that my evenings could be spent focusing on other things.
  • My coaching business I would focus on in the morning, 4:30 am wake-up calls would quickly become my best friend.
  • Freelancing, any freelance clients I take on know I work a full-time job. I have agreements that I need a 3-5 day lead time on any deadline; as well as, most of my social media clients are all okay with being pre-scheduled. So I would focus on myfreelance clients during the weekend.
  • Planning the wedding, I knew we had to first nail down the date and venue, nothing else could really be planned until that point. So that is what I would focus on first.
  • The new job, although there was a lot to learn, I knew if I took it day by day and just stayed present in the moment that I would start to catch on.
  • Reverse Mentoring was going to be the piece that I knew would challenge me. Bringing together 12 Senior Managers and 12 Mentors was going to be no easy feat but I knew this was going to be something I was really proud of if I could pull it off. Thankfully, I had an amazing team behind me helping me, every step of the way.Hotel Gym Run

The Reality

As much as I have tried to keep things orderly since becoming engaged, that has not always been the case and certain things have become out of balance.

  • My half marathon training has been great and I have made it a priority. I know I am ready to take on Corning with my sister in 2 days and then Urban Bourbon after that.
  • My coaching business has been the piece that has unfortunately taken a backseat. As I have been w12-week up a 12-week training cycle for running, I have had to lessen the BOD workouts that I am doing. I have not been as active with my coaches or my challengers but I am ready to jump fully back into it once half marathon training is officially over.
  • Freelancing has been going very well. Focusing on completing as much as I can on the weekend has made things easier for me.
  • Wedding venues are a struggle! The reality is in Buffalo, the engaged millennial boom has created a booking problem with engaged millennials all fighting for the same venues. Brian and I want to get married during the summer and were hoping for 2018 but it is looking like we may be waiting until 2019. We will see how this all pans out and I will definitely keep you posted. Our goal is to have a date and venue picked out and confirmed by the end of October, hopefully, that sticks. We do have a courtesy hold on our favorite venue for May 25th, 2019 and are 3rd on the waiting list if something opens up (highly unlikely).
  • The new job is going well, I had a few travel and recruiting commitments that I had made prior to accepting the new role that I just wrapped up and now I am ready to jump into the role fully.
  • We are launching Reverse Mentoring to the bank on October 24th and things are going well. The team I have is truly inspiring and I cannot thank them enough. I am looking forward to the official launch party!

Stay Tuned

As the races approach, hopefully, the balance continues in my life although I am sure things will continue to lean one way or the other throughout October! Life, just like yoga is all about balance.

The First 48 Hours After You Get Engaged

The day had come, Brian and I were finally engaged (September 1st, 2017). This date was special to us as it was six years to the day that we had met at a college party at RIT. Never did I think he would propose in Boston, a town that neither of us had spent much time in.

We had headed to Boston on a recruiting trip for the MDP program that Thursday morning (August 31st), which we had both participated in at the bank and made plans to enjoy the long weekend in the city with a few friends.

The Proposal

After walking over 10 miles exploring on Friday, I was shocked that on our way to dinner as we sat by the Harbor enjoying the views, Brian got down on one knee. Now, I didn’t scream, I didn’t cry, and simply smiled and said the one word that felt right, “YES”! The evening was perfect. As we walked the rest of the way to dinner we called our parents and my sister (who Brian had already tipped off) and then enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner!

We elected to take the night to ourselves, no social media, no more calls or texts (it was also already 9pm). Instead, we decided to enjoy Mike’s Pastry and treat ourselves to 2 cannoli’s and a cookie.

The next morning, we called the rest of the people that needed to know before we posted anything on social media. I called three of my best friends, my nana, my grandpa & grandma, and my dad’s sisters.

Then we were off to meet our friend for brunch. Once he knew, all I had to do was hit post on both Facebook and Instagram and we were live. It was then that we decided to once again enjoy brunch with no phones. When we did check (on the Uber ride to Harpoon Brewing Co.) we had a lot to scroll through.

The 3 Biggest Things to Any Couple About to Get Engaged

Take time to tell your families in a personal way

No one who should be included in the news first should have to find out via social media or in a crowd. I am so glad I took the time to have a conversation with each of my family members. It made it more intimate for them and me to be able to personally hear the happiness in their voice. Plus, I was able to call on my schedule not accidentally miss a call from them trying to congratulate me.

Take the moment for yourself

I am so glad that we didn’t post anything on social media for almost 24 hours. This gave us time to enjoy the time to ourselves. If we had posted, we probably would have spent the rest of the night scrolling through our phones answering people. It is okay to keep the news a secret for a little while.

Breathe when people immediately ask you if you are thinking time frame

When I called my family, some of their first reaction was, “so do you have a date in mind”. The way things work now is it is less about the date you want and more about finding the venue you want with a date available. I will save more details for a future post on this one. Just know, people are going to ask you for a date because they are excited for you. Don’t feel like you have to have an answer prepared. It is okay to say, we are just enjoying the moment.

If you are reading this hoping to get engaged soon, my biggest advice, don’t rush it. You have a whole life ahead of you together. And if you are reading this because you just got engaged CONGRATULATIONS!

3 Ways Beachbody Coaching has Changed My Life

When I first signed up to be a Beachbody coach, I never thought that I would experience a mental shift as quickly as I have. Not only have I physically changed thanks to the amazing accountability but I have also mentally changed.

Becoming a Beachbody Coach is about so much more than sales and hitting sales goals. In fact, that is probably the last thing anyone on my team will tell you. Becoming a Beachbody coach is about helping others, helping yourself, and becoming a better overall person. Let me explain.

Becoming a Better Person

Growing up, I used to read a ton. I was proud to be on the leaderboard for reading 25 books each summer at the library. I was proud to be so involved with everything I did. But at some point, not sure if it was college or during my adjustment period in life, I stopped making time for me. Stopped looking for ways to improve me not just physically but mentally.

I looked for excuses to not pick up a book. I never made the commitment. Thanks to Beachbody’s team of amazing managers and coaches, they reminded me that you have to love yourself if you are going to love anyone else.

So each day, I have made a commitment to read at least 25 of personal development book. Right now that is in the form of books my CTO gave me on team development and where teams struggle. I finished the book, UnFairly Labelled as well. This was something I had been procrastinating reading for work in just 4 days because of my commitment.

Helping Myself

How can you help others if you don’t have self-love? For so long, I have been questioning things in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great life and I truly love it; however, I have found that I am bored in my job, unhappy with the current direction of my career, and could see that it was bringing me down physically.

I was okay with turning off the alarm in the morning and skipping my workouts. This led to me being okay with saying it is okay to eat ice cream every night. I was okay with making excuses for myself and letting them run my life vs. taking accountability over it.

In the past 2 months, my mindset has totally shifted. I have gotten up at 4:30 or 4 am every day this week. What, who am I? I am committed to my workouts and that includes training for my half marathons in October and my programs that are allowing my body to totally be changed. Not only am I working out hard but I am also committed to a healthy eating plan that does not count calories. Finally, I am committed to celebrating the non-scale victories with things other than food.

In 2 months, I am down over 10 pounds, my bloat is gone and I am feeling so much more confident. I have met amazing women in my coaching team and I am happier than I have been in a long time.

Helping Others

Now comes the fun part. I have always loved coaching whether it was the 8th-grade basketball team that I coached when I was a Senior in High School or my Nichols basketball team now. I love seeing people improve and reach their goals. The best part about coaching for me is when you see the light go on in someone’s head and you know they really get it. My second favorite part is when you see the look on their faces that they have fallen in love with what you are talking about.

As a Beachbody Coach, my role is to help people find that passion and self-love when it comes to their health and fitness. Similarly to my basketball coaching, it is my job to show up every day and share my passion. My individual goal is to help women. Brian and my goal regarding our business together is to help couples find happiness through healthy activities.

I would not be able to do this without the support of Brian. He is my rock. I am so glad to have a supportive partner who also cares just as much about his health and wellness as I do.

Why Beachbody

So many people are skeptical about Beachbody. They think it is just a scam. And you know what, some Beachbody coaches are just in it to make money. You want to make sure you are tied into a team that is about self-love. This team will be focused on helping you reach your goals. Not one that just cares about making a profit.

My team is designed to foster a culture of accountability. We have over 300 coaches in our network to help you reach your goals. If you want to start feeling better about yourself whether it is physically or mentally, I promise that shift can happen and it can happen faster than you think with the right team. I want to help you to reach your goals. I would love for you to share them with me, please leave me a comment or send me a private message.

My Goals

I set a goal of helping 100 women by June 2018, will you be one of them?

Whether you are interested in becoming a Beachbody coach or just want an accountability partner for just yourself or you and your spouse, I would love to talk to you. Leave me a comment or send me an email. I promise, when you find that feeling of being happy with yourself, you will not want to let it go.

Together, we can make Fitness Breezy.