Kait Turshen of BubbleGirlBakes.com shares her recent experience training for and completing her first half marathon:

KaitTurshenTwo runners walk into a bar.

No, no this isn’t one of those jokes with a barely mediocre punchline that requires an obligatory chuckle at the end. It actually happens to be the beginning of how I started training for my first half marathon.

It was a frigid evening in March. The winds were whipping and the skies were spitting rain. All anyone could talk about was what an awful winter it had been. Luckily, there was warmth and plenty of spirits in the bar where I had met my friends. The last to arrive were two of my girlfriends, who walked in all smiles despite the dismal weather conditions outside.

We’re a jolly bunch, but there was something about them, about their smiles, that was different than usual–happier than usual. They had this glow about them, as if they might explode with happiness at any moment. They also had medals around their necks. They had just returned from running the marathons in Washington D.C. that weekend.

But shouldn’t they be tired, cranky, and hungry? I asked myself, as I stood nearby listening to the details of their races. They had just run 13.1 and 26.2 miles respectively the day prior, after all. But they weren’t tired. Or cranky. Ok, maybe they were a little hungry. But they weren’t crippled or crotchety or about to keel over with complete exhaustion as I imagined one would be after running miles upon miles as they had done. They were radiant.

It was at that moment, in the middle of a bar in Manhattan, while sipping a glass of Prosecco, that I decided I needed that glow, that radiance. So I asked when the next race was and said, sign me up!

I got home that evening and looked at the calendar. It was March 16th and the half marathon was on May 4th. I had only seven weeks to train and three of those weeks I would be traveling. Most people train ten to twelve weeks for a half marathon, but I needed that glow, that boost of confidence, that feeling of accomplishment. So I signed up anyways.

I formulated a training schedule and laced up my sneakers the very next day. I was an avid indoor cyclist, a sometimes yogi, and a twice daily meditator, so I was in decent cardio shape and excellent mental shape, but I was nowhere near in half marathon shape.

I quickly realized that it wasn’t just about getting my miles in every day. It was also about my breathing technique, my stride, my posture, my cross-training, my rest, and most importantly, my fuel. It was a journey that started every morning with what I ate, not just when my feet were pounding the pavement. My post workout meals were just as important; they were what helped fuel my body to recovery each and every day.

Finding the proper fuel can be a journey in and of itself, especially for me. You see, I happen to be a gluten free  vegetarian with over twenty food allergies (no, that’s not a typo). Try hitting up a juice bar or smoothie shack with me after a workout and you’ll quickly see how difficult finding proper pre- and post- workout fuel can be for me.

But luckily, I had Growing Naturals. I remember the first time I came across the bright orange and white package at my neighborhood health food store. I read the ingredients. And then reread them again and again. Were my eyes deceiving me? Or had I finally found a quality protein powder that was gluten free, allergen free and vegan?! I excitedly ran home and made the first great tasting protein shake that I had had in over a decade.

Thanks to Growing Naturals, I had the proper fuel I needed every day of my training and for the big race day. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite protein smoothies that fueled me during my training program: Banana Cream Pie Protein Smoothie.

GROWING-NATURALS cream pie smoothie

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