Are you giving your hair some TLC?

Take a second and think, do I give my hair the proper attention and care it needs?

Whether you’ve just conquered a big chop, transitioning, or been in the natural game for some time…we can all agree that managing our natural tresses can be quite a tedious task. Does it have to be, though? I’ve been natural for about 13 years now and been through so many struggles with managing my hair. We can get so caught up in work, active and social life that it’s easy to neglect our hair. I mean seriously, how easy is it to just slick back a bun or pony and put off a wash day? We are all guilty! However, I have found that managing my hair is so much easier when it’s MOISTURIZED and makes detangling a breeze! These Summer months are brutal, not only on our skin but our hair as well. My hair is most dry in the Summer and on top of living a very active lifestyle, I have to make the time and give it some T(ender) L(ove) & C(are). There are tons of Moisturizers, Hair Lotions, and Oils out there; here are my go-to’s :

1.) Shea Moisture Reconstructive Finishing Elixir- So this is my absolute MUST HAVE! I use this product on a daily basis to keep my hair moisturized and to add some shine. A little goes a long way with this oil spray. Made specifically for dry and damaged hair which is a plus (especially during the Summer). It also helps control frizz because the way this humidity is set up, that’s bound to happen. Sulfate and paraban free and smells amazing!

2.) Shea Moisture 100% Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Head-to-Toe)- My love for Coconut Oil is so deep because it can be used for and on just about ANY and EVERYTHING! I use it to remove my make-up at night, on my body, and most importantly to moisturize my hair. Hence the “Head-to-Toe” because you can literally use this product from head to toe! I use Coconut oil before I go to bed, dividing my hair into 4 sections to make sure it’s thoroughly moisturized.

3.) Tea Tree Oil- Along with having dry hair comes dry scalp, which I have struggled with for years. Tea Tree Oil is great for alleviating itchy, dry scalp. I use this Tea Tree Oil on my hair daily to sooth my scalp. Every night, I massage into my scalp. Also promotes hair growth which is always a plus!

4.) Shea Moisture Daily Hydrating Finishing Oil Serum (100% Virgin Coconut Oil)- This product is also a gem that I use every other day. I’m obsessed with this particular line from Shea Moisture. This oil can be a little on the heavy side so you don’t need to spray too much. To make sure the product is distributed properly, I separate into 4 sections and work into my hair. Leaves hair super soft, hydrated and so much easier to manage.

You can find all of these products at Target in the “Natural Hair” aisle.

How do you manage your hair on a daily basis?

Are you keeping your hair moisturized?

Until next time!

Tray’s Fav’s!

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So…piggybacking off my last post “Consistency is Key…” (Check it out if you haven’t), EACH MONTH I’m going to be to sharing some of my favorite things or people with you all. These things can be from natural hair/beauty products to fashion trends/classics I’m digging as well as showcasing people that inspire and motivate me. 

LET’S GET INTO IT!

  1. Cantu (Shea Butter)Apple Cider Vinegar Root Rinse: OMG. Can we say obsessed?! I stumbled along this product frolicking the aisles of Target (per usual). I have the worst dry scalp, especially as seasons transition. I previously was prescribed something for my dry scalp but eventually weaned off of it and haven’t quite found anything comparable to clear it up. That is until I found this jewel! I faithfully use this every wash day, before applying my co-wash and/or conditioner (it acts as a shampoo). It’s made with apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and shea butter. This product will definitely leave your scalp feeling invigorating and hair soft. Try it out! $4.99/Target
  2. Kinky Curly Custard: So, if you follow this blog or had a “Hey, what do you use in           your hair?” talk with me YOU KNOW this product is holy grail. It’s my go-to for styling gels…..PERIOD. I’ve tried other styling gels/cremes/custards but nothing else really compares and has worked wonders for my hair for years. This custard is great for people who are transitioning into the natural hair world and works well with all hair types. Also, a little goes a long way with this product so you don’t need to use a lot. I always get super defined and frizz-free curls…WIN! $16.39 <— YIKES…I know. Y’all know it’s expensive to be natural!
  3. E.l.f Poreless Face Primer: Stellar product for the price! I am just as into makeup/beauty as I am with hair products. Using primer before applying makeup is so important to protect your skin and will make applying makeup so easy. This primer reduces the appearance of enlarged pores and leave skin looking smooth and flawless. Also, made up of tea tree oil and vitamin A & E. $5.69/Target A must-try!

So there you have it! Hope this was helpful in any way! What’s on your “Must-Have” List?    As I mentioned in my last post, I will be posting BI-WEEKLY and posting my “TRAY’s FAV’s” EVERY MONTH. Consistency is key, right? Stay tuned….

Until next time loves…

♥ Traci

Consistency is Key…Balance is also Key.

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“Consistency is what transforms AVERAGE into EXCELLENCE.”

“Never get so busy making a living, you forget to make a life.”

Let’s face it, nothing comes easy and if it’s worth having it requires much effort, persistence and consistency. It goes across the board and applies to so many different areas; fitness/personal goals, career goals, relationships, etc. In order to achieve a specific goal, it means putting in that WORK! As I mentioned in my previous post (check it out if you haven’t), one of my goals for the year is to be more consistent with my blog posting (My goal is to post bi-weekly). I also mentioned the reason for neglecting my blog last year was due to “Life Happening” events. One of those events was training/running and completing my second FULL Marathon (Yes…26.2 miles again y’all!). If you don’t know by now…I’m a runner. I’m also one of those crazy people that weirdly enjoys challenges and pushing my body to the limit by running long distant races. If you have trained and ran a marathon you know…IT IS NOT A GAME!!!! Training for a marathon (or any race really) demands extreme dedication, drive, consistency and TIME. Time that was spent focusing more on my training and less on my blog posting. 

Which brings me to BALANCE. Maintaining balance in your life is just as important as consistency…why? For your sanity, that’s why! Working hard training for a marathon is great. Grinding hard at work and excelling on every level is fantastic. However, when you are burned out, you are no good to anybody. It is crucial to create time to spend with family, friends, and YOURSELF (and your blog)! 

I am currently training for the Women’s Half Marathon (13.1 miles) taking place in Washington, D.C. at the end of April. I am also working towards setting a Personal Record (PR) which calls for a more intense training plan (In other words, time consuming). Which leaves me in a similar space I was in last year. My goal is to not drown myself in one specific area. All accountability is welcomed to keep me on track as well! Challenges may arise when creating balance between your work life/personal life/active life. However, the test is making it a point to CREATE the balance and MAINTAIN it. 

Over the years I have learned, when you truly commit to something and consistent with it…you will always WIN in the end (it’s inevitable). You WILL get frustrated, you WILL get discouraged, you WILL have setbacks, you WILL FAIL and that is OKAY!  Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t go as planned. It’s how you react to these obstacles and failures that really shows who you are and how strong you are. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what REALLY matters! It’s not always going to be easy, but will definitely be worth it. LET’S BE GREAT! LET’S BE ENCOURAGED! LET’S BE CONSISTENT!

What are you consistently doing to better yourself? Have you mastered the art of creating/maintaining balance? If so, could you school a sistah? Haha!

Until next time,

♥ Traci

Sweat & Slay: Live an active lifestyle with great hair!

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT QUOTE:

“Relaxing your hair is like being in prison. You’re caged in. Your hair rules you. You didn’t go running with Curt today because you don’t want to sweat out this straightness. You’re always battling to make your hair do what it wasn’t meant to do.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

How many of us ever feel held back from engaging in physical activities because of our hair? Yep, I have definitely been there! When my hair was straight (relaxed), you could forget about me doing any type of activity that involved me sweating my hair out! Since transitioning to becoming fully natural, that has completely changed. More than ever, people have chosen to take the natural hair journey and rock their natural tresses. Even with natural hair, it can still be a lot to maintain upkeep and exercise regularly.

Sweating a lot on a daily basis can be damaging to the hair and can cause breakage and dryness. I live a pretty active lifestyle and I’m often asked how I maintain and protect my hair. Unfortunately, the first place that I sweat is my head, so I have to do a little more to my hair prior to working out.

Here are a few ways I protect  my hair against sweat:

  1. Moisturize, Moisture, MOISTURIZE! Typically before my runs or workouts, I make sure to thoroughly moisturize my hair. I use Coconut oil and Shea Moisture oil elixir spray (one or the other).
  2. Use a Leave-In Conditioner/Co-wash – In the Summer time mainly, I will dampen my hair and apply a good amount of leave-in conditioner to coat it. Also, Co-washing(Conditioning only) in between your actual wash days helps restore moisture to hair.
  3. Wear a head/hair band – This helps absorb the sweat.
  4. Protective Styles – Utilizing protective styles can be very beneficial. Wearing a protective style gives your hair a break and is not fully exposed to all of the free radicals in the air. Examples of protective styles: Braids, twist outs, locs, and buns.

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Here’s an example of one of my protective styles that I rock often when running or working out that’s quick and easy.

FINDING WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR NATURAL HAIR

 

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Sometimes it’s best to sample other curl-friends products before splurging on hair products you’re not 100% sure will work well for your curls. Recently, I team up with my fellow fit friend/DSU Alumna/curly girl, Nadia and had a hair day session where we tested each others products. Like me, Nadia lives a very active lifestyle as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. She mentioned that her hair was feeling a little dry from her consistent workouts and needed some revitalizing. From previous blog posts, you know I’m a fan of the Kinky Curly line….specifically their Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner and Curling Custard. I’m also obsessed with the As I Am product line. They have a lot of jewels within their line, but I absolutely LOVE their Conditioning Co-wash. This Co-wash is truly amazing and never fails to bring my curls back to life; I knew it would be perfect to try on Nadia.

Let the product testing fiesta begin!

If you live an active lifestyle, your hair is bound to experience some dryness here and there which is why it needs moisture, moisture, Moisture! I started by saturating Nadia’s hair so it’s damp all over and sectioned her hair to detangle. After detangling, I saturated the hair until it was completely wet and applied the As I Am Conditioning Co-wash in sections (4 sections). This product goes a long way so you don’t have to use a lot of it. Next, we rinsed out the Co-wash and applied the Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner (separate into 4 sections). After the Leave-In is applied…use the Curling Custard.

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Before

 

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As I Am Conditioning Co-wash applied
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Kinky Curly Leave-In Conditioner applied
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Kinky Curly Curling Custard applied
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Hair Diffuser
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After! Revived curls!

Wah-lah! Nadia’s curls are refreshed, revived and beautiful! We could stop here and make it an official “wash and go” but I always like to diffuse my hair…so I tried it out on Nadia as well. Diffusing can take a while, especially if you have a lot of hair (that’s me…and Nadia!). It took me about 30 minutes to diffuse her hair, so not too bad. It’s safe to say she was pleased with her results and so was I! She loved the As I Am Co-wash so much that we popped into Target to purchase it!

Hair products are expensive and sharing is caring, people! I highly encourage product testing sessions so find a curl-friend and see what works best for you! In the meantime, let’s not let our hair get in the way of becoming a healthier, more fit version of ourselves!

Sweat and Slay…all day!

Until next time!

♥ Traci

** If you live in the D.C/MD/VA area and interested in Personal Training or Group Training, check Nadia’s website out!

http://www.npoweredfitness.com

 

Stress is a B*#@!

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“You can do ANYTHING…but not EVERYTHING.”

Oh, to be a kid again; no worries, no care in the world…no STRESS! With life’s everyday hustle and bustle it’s easy to fall victim to it. Life may even throw you a curve ball that will knock you right on down (been there). Stress can seriously take over your life…if you let it. There are endless causes of stress; loss of loved ones, work environment/work load, financial problems, relationships, loss of a job…the list can go on forever. I have dealt with all of these causes as I’m sure most of you have. Of course, everyone’s situation is different and affects us in different ways. The stress levels I endured for ALL were pretty high (some much higher than others). So…how do we deal with stress?

As you can probably tell from knowing me or from previous blog posts, running is my outlet…and actually blogging has become a new-found outlet for dealing with stress for me. These are both things that I love and enjoy doing. Among all the chaos in the world, I know that when I’m running or blogging nothing else matters and I’m completely in my zone. I’ve found that when you prioritize in your schedule what really matters to you and things that you enjoy doing it lessens the stress. There are several ways to manage stress…here are some tips that I practice and have found helpful.

HOW CAN I MANAGE STRESS?

  1. Shorten your “To-Do” list – I’m a stickler for creating a daily to-do list. However, my list is always forever long which results in me becoming super overwhelmed. By lessening my list and being able to physically check off what I have completed for the day makes me feel very accomplished (Accomplishment=happiness).
  2. Disconnect – Sometimes you just need to detached yourself from everything and just take time for yourself to recharge and refocus.
  3. Delegate – See quote above….”You can do ANYTHING…but not EVERYTHING”. We can’t always do it all by ourselves!
  4. Ask for help – Definitely something that I am still working on. My prideful folks know what I mean.
  5. Stop trying to be perfect all the time – Don’t be your worst enemy! We all strive for perfection but remember it’s a work in progress. I will literally work on something for hours until it’s perfect (well…in my eyes). I always want it to be as close as possible! I have learned that it doesn’t always have to be perfect…just put your 150% effort into it and get it done!
  6. Stay Active – Helps clear the mind. Find something you enjoy doing and make time for it!
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff – Trust me…it’s NOT WORTH THE STRESS!
  8. Listen to yourself – Learn what works best for you. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you eating well?
  9. Show up – Be present. Don’t let what you’re worrying about consume your thoughts! You will be in “LaLa- Land” all day (unproductive).
  10. Slow down – Breathe. Take a second. Stop rushing, it’s never a good thing (although sometimes it’s necessary).
  11. Talk to someone – I tend to keep things pent-up. I’ve found talking your problems out to someone is very beneficial and will definitely take some weight off your  shoulders.
  12. Take it one day at a time. 
  13. PRAY –  Last and MOST IMPORTANT. Prayer…It works!

DON’T LET STRESS GET THE BEST OF YOU!

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Stress can also wreak havoc on your skin, hair and overall health. The levels of your body’s stress hormones increases when you stress out, people! This creates excessive oil production and we all know oily skin leads to BREAKOUTS. In addition, stress can cause hair loss (Alopecia areata)  and gray hairs. As for your health, stress can affect the digestive system causing ulcers as well as the immune system which can cause a spike in blood pressure.

The main focus is to prevent stress from occurring in the first place. If we are able to take the necessary steps to manage stress, we will be well on our way to happier and healthier lives. 

How do you manage stress? I hope this helps!

STAY STRONG MY FRIENDS

Until next time!

♥ Traci

Love the skin you’re in.

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“Invest in your skin. It is going to represent you for a very long time.” 

Okay, so…as much as I love make-up products and getting “glammed up” I cannot wait to get home and take it ALL off! The key to flawless looking make-up is clear/healthy skin and obtaining clear skin requires having a consistent skin care routine. Many factors go into achieving and maintaining clear skin; the food we eat, how much water we consume daily and stress endured. Put it like this…whatever you put into your body reflects your outward appearance. Although sometimes it’s difficult to stay committed to a daily routine, it really does pay off and your skin will thank you!

A few skin care tips:

Know your skin type. Do you have dry, combination or oily skin?

Here’s the name of the game:

  • Cleanse
  • Exfoliate
  • Tone
  • Moisturize/Sunscreen

MY SKIN JOURNEY

Maintaining clear skin has ALWAYS been a struggle for me…for YEARS! From Middle/High school to post College…even moving into my adult years I’ve had an off and on battle with acne which I absolutely despised! I found it to be a major confidence-crusher. Even mild breakouts would make me feel less-than confident. I would have the worst breakouts to where I wouldn’t even want to socialize or be seen! I remember so vividly crying to my mom (I’m emotional) as a teenager about how awful my skin was and praying for it to improve. The day I had my first dermatologist visit (and wouldn’t be the last) was so exciting to me because I knew it was one step closer to having clear skin. I’ve been prescribed everything under the sun including the infamous “Differin Gel” that seems to be the universal treatment for anyone with acne.

To some, acne is often thought to be a trivial problem compared to other health issues/diseases. But for those who have it- it’s a real problem that can actually effect major social, psychological and emotional ramifications for many teenagers and adults. Having acne definitely took a toll on my self-esteem growing up and I know many out there can relate. It has been an ongoing goal to achieve clear, flawless skin and I’m still working on it at 30 years old! So…What do I have to do to achieve healthy/clear skin?

Here are a few tips:

  • 8 glasses of water daily
  • Eat healthy
  • 8 hours of sleep daily (that never happens)
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week
  • Reduce stress (easier said than done)
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Try sleeping on a silk/satin pillowcase

For more severe acne problems, consult with your local Dermatologist.

MY SKINCARE ROUTINE

First things first, ALWAYS remember to take off your make-up every single night! I totally understand, some evenings you’re tired and had a long day or maybe partied a little too hard and just want to crash. Either way it’s best for your skin to remove any make-up and impurities before bed. Allowing make-up to stay on your skin overnight results in clogged pores which leads to breakouts (no bueno!).

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My go-to for removing my make-up are Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes. They are super effective and gently removes all dirt, oil and makeup in just one step. I keep a pack of removal wipes in a visible place so I won’t forget to take it off at night. This product is pretty amazing and I have been using this brand for years. I usually purchase mine from Target because it’s always a great deal. Try it out!

CLEANSE

After removing my makeup, I cleanse my face with Proactiv Skin Smoothing Exfoliator or KIEHL’S Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser. Now…I’ve been using Proactiv off and on since my early/mid 20’s. I first tried it as a teenager, but it didn’t quite work for me until giving it another shot in my young adult years (adult acne is the worst!). The second time around I was so impressed with my results, I got hooked. It still works pretty well for my skin and helps me maintain clear skin with minimal breakouts. The only downside is it’s a little on the pricey side which is why I don’t use it as often so I can stretch the products out as long as I can. I only use the  Proactiv line 3-4 times a week (mostly at night). I alternate between that and other milder facial products (featured below).

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I recently started using the KIEHL’S line after being recommended by a friend and really like it so far. 

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For more of a deeper cleansing, I pull out my Clarisonic Mia 2. I’ve been using my Clarisonic off and on for years. I stopped using it for a while because I found with daily use I experienced my skin purging (breaking out) more than clearing up. I’ve read in reviews that purging of the skin may occur. However, my skin at that time just wasn’t clearing up the way I’d imagined it would. So…recently I’ve been using my Clarisonic and loving it! I use it 2-3 times a week for a deep cleansing; using the “Sensitive” brush head. It really does leave your skin feeling rejuvenated and looking radiant! This bad boy retails at $169…expensive? Yes, but we are investing in our skin, right?

EXFOLIATE 

What I love about the Proactiv line is the cleanser has gentle exfoliating beads that gets rid of any dead skin; leaving my skin nice and smooth. If I’m not using the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator (acts as a cleanser as well) I use St. Ives Blemish Control exfoliator which works wonders at getting rid of dead skin!  

TONER

Next, I use toner. Some may skip this step in their daily skin care routine but for someone with extremely oily and acne-proned skin (that’s me) it’s necessary. It removes oil and traces of dirt and grim; soothing the skin. I use KIEHL’S Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser which works very well. The Proactiv Pore Targeting Treatment is not exactly a toner, but acts as one.

MOISTURIZE

I use to always avoid really moisturizing my face because I already have super oily skin…why add to the greasiness?! In fact, neglecting to properly moisturize your face could actually lead to more breakouts! We don’t want that, do we? Absolutely NOT! Knowing your skin type is crucial when deciding on which moisturizer to purchase. I use either Proactiv Complexion Perfecting Hydrator or CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion. Both products are light, gentle (for all skin types) and leaves your skin feeling refreshed to take on the day!

Have you developed a daily skin care routine? Do you know your skin type? What products work best for your skin?

Until next time!

♥Traci

 

My Running Journey

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It never gets easier, you just get stronger.”

Throughout the last three years, running has become a substantial part of my life. Whether training for a race or just for leisure, running has always been an outlet for me. I often come across people who are interested in running, but end up convincing themselves that they can’t…but the thing is, you CAN! Anyone can become a runner and no, you don’t have to be athletic or have an athletic build to start. There are a million and one excuses…”Running is too hard”, “I’m too slow”, “My hair will get messed up!” Listen, I’ve had all of these excuses and some! However, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts…everyone has to start somewhere, just as I did.

Life hits you HARD

2012-2013 were particularly some tough years for me. I experienced a very tragic loss in 2013 that put me under…way under. I was so confused about life and just…EVERYTHING. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and wasn’t motivated to do ANYTHING. Sure, on the outside looking in may have seemed as if I was happy; partying and eating ALL the time. These were all coping mechanisms. I was depressed and in a dark place for a while. I tried to think of things that would lift my spirits…other than hitting the streets of D.C. with my girlfriends. I also neglected the fact that I had packed on some pounds in the process. I’ve always been an active person and getting myself back into shape was the only thing I could think of to help turn things around.

In the beginning,  I never ran long distances…no longer than maybe two miles primarily on a treadmill. To clear my head, I began running outdoors. Something about running outside and taking in your surroundings was so liberating. I started with 2 miles (STRUGGLE miles!) and then as my endurance increased, I would push myself a little farther each run. I wasn’t the fastest, in fact I was very slow starting out. The main objective for me was not my pace but not to give up, no matter how painful or exhausting it was. I wouldn’t let myself quit… all of the sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness…all of the emotions I felt helped push me farther and farther. Then my competitive spirit kicked in and I became interested in running a race.

When one of my friends mentioned she was registering to run the Ukrop’s Monument 10k (6.2 miles) in our hometown (Richmond, VA) I was very intrigued…so I signed up! I wasn’t aware that I needed a training program so I pretty much did my own thing; alternating between running outside and strength training in the gym. Fast forward to the day of the race…so excited, anxious and nervous! I felt great 2 miles in until the sky decided to open up and pour buckets…downpours the remainder of the way (oh joy). I was pissed but wasn’t letting the rain discourage me (although it was!). I thought of all the reasons why I started running in the first place and pushed through to the finish line. I was completely DRENCHED but so elated that I had officially completed my first race!  At that moment, I understood why people run and participate in these races…that feeling of accomplishment is like no other!

From that moment of completing my first race, I didn’t want it to end there. Since then, I have completed 3 10k’s, 2 ten milers, 5 half marathons (13.1 miles), and most recently completed my first FULL marathon (26.2 miles). Through running, I have accomplished things I never thought I would and have pushed myself to limits I never imagined I’d reach (and still going)!

Running is metaphorically a lot like life. Some days are great…some days are not so great. There may even be some unforeseen twists, turns, and hurdles that you have to push through no matter how hard it is. The good thing is…through all of the struggles lies victory at the end!

Get up, get out and get moving!

:: Check out my dope running crew’s (District Running Collective) site to learn more why I love this running culture (link below) ::

www.districtrunningcollective.com

While you’re there, check out my “Journey to 26.2 miles” blog posted in their “In the Running Room” blog tab (link below).

#TrayTakesPhilly: The Journey to 26.2 miles

Until next time!

♥ Traci