Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baby Case

I haven't blogged much recently. I have been running. I've even had a few races and a few other running adventures, but life has busier than normal. I planned on doing a full running update this week, but then something happened and I've decided to blog about this instead. I'll return to running updates next week.

Last month our friends, Xavier and Emily, came to visit us from Texas. They had never been to Boston and we hadn't seen them in 3+ years. It was a wonderful week! We loved getting to meet their two boys, Graydon and Case, and they loved getting to meet our two. Even though it had been years, we picked up right where we left off. Lots of laughing and talking and catching up. At the end of the week I ran the Apple Fest 1/2 Marathon with Emily. It was awesome. She and I have been swapping running stories for years so it was awesome to finally run together. Right after the race, they returned to Boston and then flew home that evening.

While they were here, they mentioned that Case (10 months old) wasn't being himself. He wasn't eating very well and was more fussy than normal. Although he seemed to be pretty content, he had rough nights and wasn't as happy as they were used to. He actually cried through the whole race. We all chalked it up to the travel (they had toured the east coast for a week and half before they got to Boston) and being overly tired from the flights and driving.

Once home, Case got worse and then his skin turned a bit yellow. The first doctor said it was a virus so they went to another doctor, who promptly sent them to the Children's Hospital. After MRIs, cat scans and other tests, the results came back that he had a cancerous tumor in his abdomen and that it was pancreatic cancer. The tumor is so large and encompasses so many of his organs and veins that cutting it out isn't possible. Right now he is facing chemotherapy. They are still waiting to find out if it's Stage 4 (as most pancreatic cancer is when it's discovered) and whether it's moved into his bone marrow. Those answers will change the course of treatment they decide to take.

Emily and Xavier are still hopeful for the best, despite all the challenges that are in store for them. There is not a lot we can do for Case, other than pray.

This news hit me pretty hard. I cried all afternoon yesterday and again this morning when we got more news. It's difficult to see your friends go through something this difficult. It's hard to imagine what they have ahead. It's difficult to hear about such a young baby, who we fell in love with just last month, suffering this way.

And then it helps me puts into perspective everything else. It makes me grateful for my children and their health. It makes me want to stop "sweating the small stuff". Life is precious and can be fragile. It makes me grateful for the love of our Savior and Heavenly Father who, I believe, will guide us through trials and difficulties. I believe we will never be alone. I believe that Christ has this sweet little family in His hands and he is holding them up and helping them stand.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Overtrained?

I went on a tempo run yesterday. Well, it was supposed to be a tempo run, but really it just plain sucked. By mile 2 I was completely done. My muscles were sore. My breathing was off. At mile three I thought "Turn around and go home. Six is enough." Unfortunately I totally ignored those thoughts and kept running. By mile 5 I was on the phone, crying to my husband and apologizing that he was going to miss his train because "I just can't do it". He told me not to worry and to take my time and that we'd figure out his commute once I was home. I kept plugging on - walking and jogging. Doing anything but tempo. I arrived home 15 minutes later and 1 mile shorter than I planned. It was a complete failure.

I was disheartened to say the least. This was twice in one week where I couldn't do what I had set out to do. Sure, my speed work has been great and I've been doing all the runs I'm supposed to but I'm not accomplishing my pace/time goals.

And then I read this article (7 Ways Runners Can Avoid Overtraining) and I realized that I was making some (not all) of the mistakes they say to avoid. I haven't been sleeping like I should. I work late (10 or 11) and then I'm up early running before the hubs leaves (and working some more until the kids wake up). I've been running around doing fun summer things with my kids and not relaxing in the afternoons. I haven't been following the 90% rule (I'm kind of a "go hard or go home" kind of girl). And I really don't cross train. It's all running for me.

And then what really struck me was number 7 and the signs of overtraining:

  • persistent achiness, stiffness, or pain in the muscles and/or joints (beyond the typical delayed onset muscle soreness felt after a workout)
  • lack of energy
  • fatigued and/or achy muscles
  • frequent headaches
  • feeling lethargic or sluggish
  • drop in athletic performance
  • not able to complete your normal workout
  • depressed, moody, unmotivated
  • nervousness
  • lack of sleep and/or appetite
  • weight loss
  • lowered immune system
I have felt nearly every single one of the issues mentioned. Especially this week. It's been two weeks now that I've had a headache nearly every single day. I came down with a little bit of a cold on Sunday night and never slowed down. I did all my runs. I kept working late. I played hard (the lake, the park, hanging out with friends, etc). I didn't take any time to let the cold run its course.

So, here I am on Friday completely wasted and exhausted. I didn't run this morning - really didn't feel like I could - and I'm not going to do my long run tomorrow. Yes, it's killing me. I hate missing runs. But I also hate being on a run and feeling so weak that I break down into tears and consider taking a taxi home (true story - happened yesterday). I am hoping that by forcing myself to relax for the next three days I'll start feeling better. And when I do start training again I am going to be careful about over training.

Has anyone ever had this experience with over training? Thoughts? Tips? Advice?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nearly 6 weeks...

How is it possible that I have not updated my blog in that long? I'd say I was busy, but who isn't busy?! In all honesty, I haven't had any great running stories to tell on here. I've pretty much been trucking along doing my training - although I don't know yet what I'm training for!

I have four races this fall that I'm considering - 2 1/2 marathons, a 1/2 marathon relay with a friend and of course Tufts 10K for Women. The decision on the other 1/2 marathons is dependent on guests coming into town and my own issues with competition. {I'm going to have to get to that in a day or two - it deserves it's own post.}

I have had some really great runs recently and some really, really crappy ones. Friday's long run had me doubting everything I believe about myself as a runner. My sweet husband reminded me that I had been up all night with a sick daughter and was running on empty to start. However, it was still discouraging. But then today I ROCKED my speed work so my running world is feeling right again!

Anyway, I am still alive. I am still kicking. I am still running. I'm just not doing great with the posting! Stay tuned....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Speed Work...without a Garmin

On Mondays I do speed work. I am using Ryan Hall's 1/2 training hoping to set a new 1/2 marathon PR (14 minute PR to be exact). So yesterday morning I headed to the track for 7 x 800m. I actually parked about a mile away, ran there to warm up and then started.

Based on my current pace and my desired 1/2 goal time, my speed work miles need to be around 8:30 (no slower than a 9:00 min/mile). Which means my intervals should be between 4:15 and 4:30. From the title you'll know that I do not have a Garmin. My friend gave me a polar watch/heart rate band which allows me to lap myself, but at no time while I'm running do I have any idea what my pace is. I am getting better at feeling it, but it's still a guessing game.

Once I finish the 800m, I'm supposed to recover for half the interval time. So here's what I do....

I run the 800m, lap it on my watch then divide by 2 and add that to the time when I finished the 800 m. Once recovery time is over I start running again and add 4:15 to whatever the time was when I finished the recovery. Which means for the first 100m or so of every lap I'm doing math. I'm not very good at math. I wasn't when I was young and had a fresh brain. And now that I have mommy brain, adding those simple numbers is much harder than it should be. Yesterday I was also trying to keep track of how many laps I actually did (because the intervals aren't based on distance, but time) so I was counting that too. So at any given moment of my speed work I have at least 4 numbers running through my head. I'm counting minutes and seconds.

Needless to say, when speed work is done, not only are my legs and body tired but my brain is tired. I guess it's a good thing to try to keep my mind working and it does help to focus on something else.

HOWEVER, I want a Garmin. It's on my wish list. We're not exactly in a position where I can go out and buy one, but I do have a birthday coming up (11-11-11 - pretty cool huh?!) and I'm hoping for a Garmin. If it doesn't happen on my birthday, then I just have to wait six weeks for Christmas.

Until then my little brain is getting as strong as my quads as I do this speed work. I guess it's a win/win situation, right?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A look back at June...

Six days into July and I'm already behind. With the holiday and my son's birthday (July 4), things have been busy. But June was a really, really good month for me so I wanted to make sure and post.

Miles Planned/Miles Run: 90/106!!!!

Rest Days Planned/Rest Days Taken: 4/5

Highest Mileage Week: 6/6 - 6/12: 24 miles

Long Runs Planned/Long Runs Completed: 4/4

Current Book: Just started Discovery of Witches. Really liking it so far.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: My iPhone. I've had it for 7 months, but now I'm on it all the time. Probably time to take a break.

Current Colors: Red, white and blue of course!

Current Obsessions: Instagram - are you on? I love it!

Current Snack: Chobani yogurt. Yum-o!

Current Drink: Sparkling tangerine juice from Trader Joe's - so yummy (even if it is carbonated).

Current Song: Best Thing I Never Had - Beyonce. I went to NYC last week for Beyonce's free concert. Now I'm obsessed with this song.

Current Wish-List: A new workout outfit.

Current Need: A tan. It's already July and I'm still pasty white.

Current Triumph: Doing speed work two weeks in a row. This is a first for me. Oh and running more miles in June than I have since January.

Current Goal: Run more miles in July than I did in June. Also not die on my 10 mile run in the MOUNTAINS of UTAH!!!

Current Blessings: Excellent friends.

Current Excitement: Going to Utah for a sisters' weekend next week. I. can't. wait.

Friday, June 17, 2011

This and That.

How is it possible that June is over halfway over and I haven't blogged once? June was supposed to be a slow month and yet, it's flying by. Nothing too terribly exciting. Lots of day to day stuff.

Running has been great this month. I started a 21-day challenge and it's gone really well. I have 6 goals that I try to meet every day for 21 days. One of the goals is exercising a minimum of 30 minutes a day (except Sundays). Well, for me, if I'm going to exercise for 30 minutes, it's going to be running. So with the exception of yesterday when I did P90X Yoga, I have run every day this month. It's been awesome. I am well on my way to my 90 miles goal and will probably pass it up.

Another thing I've noticed is that I'm getting faster...and I'm not really trying. I did speed work one day last week. First time ever. My splits looked like this:

Warm up mile - 9:27
Lap 1 - 1:45
Lap 2 - 2:11 (recovery?)
Lap 3 - 1:51
Lap 4 - 1:59 (recovery?)
Lap 5 - 1:51
Lap 6 - 1:58 (recovery?)
Cool (really?) down mile - 9:03

I think I need some work on speed work. I'm pretty sure I should have slower recovery laps. It was a fun challenge and I'm excited to do more. The biggest "problem" is getting to the track. I rather just head out my door and start my run.

Two days ago I wasn't feeling it. I didn't get up to run in the morning (stayed up working way late the night before) and didn't have a chance until that evening. In order to force myself to do it, I had my hubbie drop me 3 miles from home. I had to get home and that helped. He always leap frogged the whole way, so that was kind of fun. I guess we do what it takes. But the really cool thing about that run - my first mile was an 8:02. It totally surprised me because I didn't feel like I was running that fast.

I guess that's about it. Wish I had more exciting stuff to report, but since I'm (still) not training for anything specific, I guess this will have to do for now. Hopefully something cool will happen soon!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May - What?! It's over?!

Seriously?! Where did this month go? Between my daughter's tonsillectomy, Ragnar, my sister and her family visiting and the day-to-day stuff, May FLEW by. I really can't believe tomorrow is June. May kind of got by me. I don't feel like I conquered much. I feel like it was a bit stagnant in the physical department (other than Ragnar). But that's okay. I'm recommitted. June has some exciting things in store and I am going to make the best of this month - in every way possible. So, with just over an hour left in this month, here is a look at back at this whirlwind month...

Miles Planned/Miles Run: No plan/80 - my lowest number of miles since November. Bummer.

Rest Days Planned/Rest Days Taken: No plan/More than I should have!

Highest Mileage Week: 5/2 - 5/8: 27 miles

Long Runs Planned/Long Runs Completed: 0/0 - unless you count my 8 miler in Ragnar, I really didn't do any long runs this month.

Current Book: I FINALLY got Run Like a Mother from the library. Loving it so far. I also picked up Run! by Dean Karnazes and can't wait to start that.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Staying up too late and sleeping in too long!

Current Colors: Hot Pink.

Current Obsessions: Um, feeling like a runner again!

Current Drink: Water. I'm kind of boring.

Current Song: Fireflies by Owl City (played while I was on my night run on Ragnar) and Paper Planes by MIA (I know it's been out for a few years, but I just heard it recently and I love it as a running song).

Current Wish-List: Getting rock hard abs and arms. I want musclely arms. I really do.

Current Need: A pedicure. It's been more than two years since I had one professionally done. It's time for another one.

Current Triumph: Setting a new mile PR (8:00) while racing my (younger) brother-in-law.

Current Bane of my Existence: Not having a race to train for - I know, I can fix that. Working on it now.

Current Goal: Run 90 miles in the month of June. I need to do that every month for the rest of the year to reach 1111 miles in 2011. Also, conquer the hill by my home by the end of the month. It's about 1/2 mile straight up and I'd like to run it in better than 4:15 minutes.

Current Blessings: Healthy kids, healthy husband, healthy me.

Current Excitement: All the running I'm going to do in June.

Not a running picture, but this is me staring down June. Bring it on!

Monday, May 23, 2011

New England Ragnar

This was my second Ragnar race. The first one was three years ago in Utah - the Wasatch Back. I did that one with my family, husband and a few friends. This year, it was with friends from my ward (Mormon congregation). Both were amazing. Both were very different. Normally a team has 12 runners, but we ended up with only 9, which made things interesting. I had considered picking up an extra leg, but ended up just running three. Some of our team members ran 5, others ran 4. Crazy! Anyway, here's a (long) race report on the big ol' Ragnar.

We left at 5 am to pick our van (5 team members) and head to New Haven, CT. Our start time was 9 am. After a safety meeting and making sure we had everything ready, our first runner took off.


Run 1 (Leg 5) - 4.5 miles - Moderate (level of difficulty according to Ragnar)

I was runner 5 (I was also runner 5 when I did Wasatch Back). My first run was supposed to start at noon, but we were about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. There was a threat of lightening and rain, but the sky held off and I had a relatively cool run. It was a bit muggy, but nothing horrible. I had an easy 4.5 miles. I didn't want to push it too hard because I knew that my next two legs would be more difficult - add no sleep to that, I really felt the need to conserve. However, the racing bug got into me and I was off. It was a very pretty run through New Haven, close to the Long Island Sound shore. Really beautiful. And the stats:

Expected time - 41:37
Expected pace - 9:15
Actual time - 38:21
Actual pace - 8:31
Slowest mile - 8:48
Fastest mile - 8:19




Our van's last runner took off, rocked it and we finished with our first round 20 minutes ahead of schedule. We relaxed at the park where we finished, right on the beach, ate some lunch, took some pictures and then headed to the next major exchange, right on the Connecticut River.


We met up with van 2, who had just finished their first set of legs, ahead of schedule by 41 minutes. We grabbed a group picture, minus runner 12 who was finishing up. We cheered on runner 12 as she finished and watched runner 1 head out again. Then it was back in the van to leap frog our runners on their second legs. The night legs!

Run 2 (Leg 17) - 8 miles - Very Hard

By the time it was my turn to run, we were nearly an hour ahead of schedule, so instead of starting at 9:45, I started before 9. I don't think it mattered. It. was. dark. Seriously, the darkest run I have ever done. All runners running at night are required to wear a head lamp, reflective vest and a LED flasher on their back. (I really wish I had a picture of me in all my gear.) But still - so dark! When I told my husband that I would be running my eight miles in the dark, he told me to find a runner (or two) that I could stay with. No. such. luck. There were NO runners for nearly the first half of my run. I must have been in between teams by a long shot. Not only was it dark but it was foggy. And there were frogs. I didn't see them, but I could hear them. It was kind of creepy and cool. At one point I went so long without seeing any runners or support vehicles (including mine) that I really was worried I was lost. But luckily, I had stayed on the right path.

It was not an easy run. I gained a total of 714 ft in elevation - the highest elevation climb of the whole race - and lost 963 (um, can I say ouch on the quads). I told myself I could slow down to a 9:30 overall pace (which was what the team had calculated - we slowed everyone's expected time for their second and third legs) and there were times that I was almost at a 10 minute mile. But I really made up for it on the downhill. At mile 4 I took a Roctane GU. Mile 5 was an 8:11 mile (my fastest mile yet) because the downhill was awesome - and a girl dressed as Wonder Woman was in front of me and I just had to pass her. All in all, I did much better on this run than I expected. I mean, it wasn't amazing, but it was solid and I felt so strong!

Expected time - 1:15:51
Expected pace - 9:29
Actual time - 1:14:09
Actual pace - 9:16
Slowest mile: 9:54
Fastest mile - 8:10

After our last runner finished and we exchanged with van 2, it was time to shower and sleep (?) at a local high school. The shower was lovely and warm and perfect. Amy (the other female in our van) and I decided to sleep in the van. I didn't sleep great, because I was really cold, but I did get to rest a little. Van 2 went a lot faster than we expected so we suddenly had to high tail it out of our little rest area and get to the next major exchange as fast as possible. Unfortunately, due to the lack of sleep, the early hour (3 am), confusing directions and a GPS that was only somewhat reliable, we ended up at the WRONG EXCHANGE!!! We didn't realize it until van 2's last runner (and our team captain) had crossed her finish line and we weren't there. By the time we all gathered back into the van and got to the correct exchange, we were 15 minutes late. Needless to say, it was the low point of the whole race. An unfortunate mistake (that actually happened to a number of vans) that kind of dampened the mood for quite awhile. Luckily, on our third round of legs, we quickly made up that 15 minutes and then some.

Run 3 (Leg 29) - 5.2 - Moderate (ya right!)

My final run started at 6:30 am. I'm not going to lie. At this point I was exhausted. I didn't even get out of the van to cheer on Amy because I was so tired. I was falling asleep as we were driving to the exchange. My legs felt like they had nothing left. Not going to lie, I honestly wasn't sure I was going to get through it. If you don't finish a leg and someone has to finish for you, you can't run again. This didn't really mean anything since I was done after this anyway, so I did consider having someone finish part of it for me. I was that tired and done.The race bible said it was a moderate run. The hills (on the elevation graph) appeared to be rolling.

WRONG! OH MY GOSH! It was probably one of the toughest short runs I have done in a long time. On fresh legs it would have been difficult. On legs that had been going since 5 am the previous day, with no sleep - it felt impossible. The hills just kept coming. One after another after another. And with very little downhill to recover. I really thought I was going to die. My team would stop along the way, tell me it was the last hill (did they think that or were they lying?!) and cheer me on. They'd drive ahead and then BAM! another hill. It was the meanest run of my life.

But I did it. I kept every mile under 10 minutes. I never stopped and I never walked. I actually passed four runners on this particular leg. I was running pretty slow at some points, but I was still running. I wanted to cry, but I didn't. Yes, I yelled and cursed the hills, but I didn't cry. And I didn't quit. And when I finished, my legs were like jello. My quads refused to work. That was it. I left everything I had on that last leg. Everything.

Expected time - 50:30
Expected pace - 9:43
Actual time - 45:17
Actual pace - 8:43 (a full minute faster than I expected - maybe this was why I felt like I was going to die)
Slowest mile: 9:43
Fastest mile - 8:48


Dave, runner 1, finished up the last leg of our van (also brutal) and we met van 2 for the final exchange. We were glad to be done. We were tired, stinky and ready to relax. After runner 7 took off, we headed to Cambridge where we vacuumed and washed the van we borrowed from a family in our congregation. Then we headed to the finish line at Harvard. We figured van 2 would finish up around 12:30 so we just relaxed, got massages, enjoyed the vendors and talking and basking in the experience.

Van 2 showed up just about 5 minutes before their final runner came around the corner towards the track. We met up with Justin and we all ran halfway around the track to the finish line. It was awesome! Such a cool, cool accomplishment. We took some team photos, exchanged a few last minute stories, worked out a few details and then headed home.


This race really did rock. It wasn't easy, but I learned that I can push myself harder than I thought. I learned I am stronger than I believe. I learned that when I want to leave it all out there, I can and will leave it all out there. I learned that having a team to support and cheer you on is worth so much. I learned that sleep is very important and not at all overrated.

Apparently I was too tired to keep my eyes open.

Will I do it again? You betcha! I wish I could do another one this year, but it probably won't happen. I am already looking at next year. Maybe another location - Florida Keys anyone?! If you haven't done a Ragnar and this sounds like it might be your thing, seriously check it out. Nothing like it. Do it!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Quads.

Ragnar is over. We finished at 12:30 yesterday (Saturday). It was a great race. I will totally do a full race report later, but I had to post one picture.


It is NOT a great picture of me - my nose is flaring, my body is twisted and my arms are way too high. However, the one thing I do like...look at my left leg. Is that a quad muscle I see? I believe it is. This is a big deal to me because I have never really liked my legs. I've never felt like I had runner's legs. I really don't like my knees. Etc. So when my friend Amy took this picture and sent it to me, I was so excited! I have visible quad muscles. Which means, one day, if I keep working, I can have runner's legs and maybe I will start liking my legs. Yahoo! Thanks Amy for an awesome picture and for making my whole weekend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Giveaway Time

I haven't done much with giveaways lately. Haven't even entered them. Crazy right? Well, two caught my eye today...

Dorothy at Mile Posts is giving away a Razzy Roo headband. I actually bought on at my marathon expo back in March. I LOVE IT! It's by far the best headband (sport or not) that I have ever owned. It doesn't give me a headache. It stays put. And it's so cute! I really, really love it. So go get yourself one and then enter the contest at Mile Posts. You won't regret it!

And then Tonia over at Racing With Babes is giving away a pair of Keen shoes from OnlineShoes.com. I've never owned Keen, but after looking at OS's selection, I totally want a pair. My favorites are the Venice and the Paradise MJ. I could see myself wearing them all the time. Check out the giveaway!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ragnar

I have Ragnar New England in 2 1/2 weeks. (We are actually looking for three more runners. Any local readers out there who want to join in the fun?) I ran Ragnar Wasatch Back three years ago with my family and a few friends. It was awesome! I am looking forward to this race. I am in much better shape. I'm faster and fitter and healthier.

However, I'm still really nervous. I still feel like I don't know what to expect. Since I trained for marathon, I didn't do the Ragnar training. I haven't run multiple times in one day like you're supposed. I am planning on doing that this Saturday. I did head out in the heat of the day yesterday to try to acclimate a little bit to prepare for the inevitable middle-of-the-day runs.

But I feel like I'm ready and I'm trying to be more excited than nervous....

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Ups and Downs of April

April was a bad month. Really bad. I don't want to get into personal stuff on my running blog, but I will say that my little family got rocked this month. It took all the power I had to keep going. There have been days when I've had to pry myself out of bed. I've had friends ask what's wrong because I haven't been a very good friend and have turned inward. I don't want to sound melodramatic, but it's been rough. However we are looking forward and we are hanging in there and we'll make it.

So, when stuff in my personal life takes an unexpected turn, my fitness and health take a hit. I wish it weren't that way, but it is what it is. I have Ragnar next month so I'm training for that and having a plan has helped. I hope May is better. I need May to be better all the way around. So, after all that nonsense, here's the fun stuff...

Miles Planned/Miles Ran: No plan/88

Rest Days Planned/Rest Days Taken: No plan/17 - April was a bad month. Went one full week of not running because of sickness and other stuff. I'm actually proud of my mileage based on everything.

Highest Mileage Week: 4/25 - 4/30: 24 miles

Long Runs Planned/Long Runs Completed: 5/4.5

Current Book: I just finished Ultramarathon Man. Great book. Now I'm reading Nurture Shock. Learning a lot about raising children. I'll take all the help I can get!

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Until last week it was Cadbury Mini Eggs. But since they are off the shelf now, not sure what it is.

Current Colors: Purple for me because that was my marathon color but it was too cold to wear what I planned and Yellow because it looks so good on my little boy.

Current Obsessions: Lost. I missed it the first time around. Now I have to FORCE myself to stop watching. It's really, really pathetic.

Current Drink: Water. Although we got Sparkling Pink Lemonade at TJ's and it is really good.

Current Song: Firework by Katy Perry and Someone Like You by Adele

Current Wish-List: To get back to the high I was feeling 5 weeks ago. April's been a crappy month. Oh and to figure some stuff out - get an idea of what's next.

Current Need: Sleep! I have been staying up way too late watching Lost.

Current Triumph: Surviving (barely) the month of April.

Current Bane of my Existence: The unknown.

Current Goal: Have a swim body by swimsuit season (when is that?!)

Current Indulgence: Leftover Easter candy - but I'm doing No-Sweets-May so that indulgence is out the window.

Current Blessings: An incredibly supportive family and amazing friends.

Current Excitement: Ragnar in 3 weeks and my little sister is coming in 3 1/2 weeks! Yeah baby!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Paparazzi?!

On Monday, I went running at 1 in the afternoon. I was about 1/2 mile into my run, on a main road when I saw a silver convertible approaching. As he drove by, I looked over and saw that he had a camera up and was taking a picture...of me. Weird huh? Kind of freaked me out. My husband asked if I got his license plate number. Nope. Didn't think about it. I do think that I am going to change my route up even more frequently...as well as changing around the time that I run.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hard core. Hard Bodies. Total Control.

My mantra this week. Credit goes to my sister Alicia.

My marathon has been over for about two weeks. And although I have still been running (logged 22 miles last week), I haven't been very good about my eating. Okay...let's be honest, my eating has SUCKED. And I'm feeling it. Leading up to the marathon, I was running around 30 miles a week. That's a lot of miles - and a lot of calories burned. And I was being careful about what I was eating (gave up sweets). So I've cut back miles and added calories. It's not hard math to figure out. I'm getting soft. And I don't like it.

Well, the best way to fix the problem is to set new goals, which I did so now I am on my way to reaching a new level of fitness. While I don't have a race to really train for, I'm going to focus on overall fitness. I'm going to be hard core and I'm going to get a hard body. Not scary, weight lifting chick hard. Just toned.

And since accountability is everything, I'm putting it out there for all my readers to see. Here are some of my goals include:

1. No sweets until Easter - two weeks.
2. Run at least 20 miles a week.
3. P90X two days a week, plus the ab ripper on my short run days.
4. Track my eating using an online calorie counter.
5. Stop eating at 8 pm.

There you have it. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thank you.

Thank you all for your awesome and kind comments. Means so much to hear from other runners. It's inspirational.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out what's next. I feel a little lost without a concrete goal to work for. I have the Ragnar in May, but that's a tough one to train for. I have started a 6-week 1/2 marathon training because I like a schedule. I don't know whether or not I'll run an official half marathon in 6 weeks, but I will get out there and run 13.1 miles either way.

I still think about the marathon on a daily basis. Of course I question if I could have/should have run it faster. I wonder during which miles I should have pushed a little more. I wonder if I really gave it my all. I certainly think I did. But maybe I could have done more.

These questions I did not expect. I didn't expect them to "haunt" me for days after the race. I guess the only way to put them to rest is to run another one! I really am planning on it, but for now, nothing in the works. Need to put husband and kids first for a little while. Not because they are asking for it, but because it's what feels right to me right now.

So those are my thoughts....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Ran Through History


Photo courtesy of Brightroom Photography.
March 26, 2011 - National Marathon, Washington, DC

This was my first marathon. I had no idea what to expect. I had trained. I had worked. I had focused for four months. I hadn't had any injuries, but with being diagnosed with walking pneumonia one month before the race, I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't really have time goals, although I did have an idea of what I wanted. I did have a few goals:

1. Finish under 5 hours (under 4:45 would be a bonus).
2. Don't stop and don't walk.
3. Don't lose anytime in the porta potties.
4. Enjoy it as much as possible.

Here's a glimpse of how the day went....

We woke up at 4:30. We had stayed with friends in Fairfax the night before and wanted to make sure we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the starting line. We left the house at 5:30. Should be plenty of time for a 7 am start right? Well, we were cruising along and doing well on time, until about three miles from RFK (the start) stadium. And then it was traffic. At 6:10, we could practically see the stadium, but we were stuck in traffic. It took us about 30 minutes to go two and half miles. I really, really need to use the bathroom (nerves) and knew I needed a few minutes to calm down before starting. At 6:45 I got out of the car, said goodbye to Matt and walked the rest of the way. Although I got there as the race was starting, I decided to use the facilities before I crossed the starting line - no time lost there, right? I waited in line for about 10 minutes. In that time, Matt got to the parking lot, parked the car and met me back at the porta potties. I could have stayed in the car.

Waiting to start. You'll notice that I look like I was running in the winter. I really wanted to wear capris and a t-shirt, but I am much more likely to be cold than hot. And although I ditched the pink shirt at mile 14, I was never hot on the race. Next marathon, though, I am wearing shorts and a tank!!!! I'm done with bundling up for runs.

Anyway, after my potty break I was ready to roll. I never made it to my coral because it was 7:15 at this point and I just jumped in with everyone else. I crossed the start at 7:16 am. I started off slow (it felt REALLY slow), to counteract my natural tendency to start off too fast. I didn't have music on - just listening to the thousands of feet pounding the pavement. By about a half mile in, my nerves were gone - I was doing it. No need to be nervous anymore. And then it hit me how cool it was that I was FINALLY running a marathon. So cool! And then running up to the Capitol was awesome. Probably my favorite section of the whole race. It was right about here that Tonia and her running crew passed me. I introduce myself, accepted her encouragement (thanks Tonia!) and raced on. Kind of fun to meet a "celebrity" on the way!

Right around Mile 6, Dupont Circle, we met our first beast of a hill. It was an impressive hill, but I was ready thanks to all my months of running Heartbreak Hill. I didn't feel like the hill beat me and felt great coming back down. A few more rolling hills to get through in the next couple of miles. I was still running without music and talked to a few runners along the way. At one point, two young girls running the half noticed I was running the full, cheered me on, told me I looked strong, and I continued on. It helped to have a little bit of encouragement along the way.

Speaking of which, I had my earphones in the whole time and throughout the race various family members and my hubby would call and if I felt like I could answer and talk, I would. It was great! It was really a boost when I needed it. It seemed that someone called every time I really needed some encouragement.

As I reached mile 10, I was still feeling strong. I had run through a little bit of knee pain, and some tiredness in my chest, but really was feeling great. I knew that the split off at mile 13.1 could be difficult (having heard from runners who'd done this race) so I was prepping myself mentally. I passed my friends (and training partners) Justin and Kristin as the course wrapped around and looped. I wasn't sure how far ahead of me they were - and I'm kind of glad, because I think it might have bummed me out. We split off from the 1/2-ers and things got quiet. Not completely, but it was definitely quieter. Running around the back of RFK seemed to take FOREVER. Maybe because I knew Matt would be at mile 14 and was looking forward to that, or because it was ugly.

Right before mile 14. See? I'm the only one bundled up. Oh well, I was comfortable.

I saw Matt at mile 14. I ditched my top layer, which took a little longer than I expected because my watch fell apart in the process and Matt had to fix it. I kept running and he caught up with me, gave me some Swedish Fish and I was on my way. I finally turned music on at mile 15. Couple of really good songs came on my Pandora running station. Then at mile 16, we went through a big ol' long tunnel. The song for that tunnel and for another 1/2 mile was Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root. I'd heard the song before, but it took on all new meaning and is, for the time being, my favorite running song.

At Mile 17 I got totally emotional because I had single digits to go. I was still feeling strong. I was tired and a bit sore, but didn't have any real pain. Nothing I hadn't run through before. I knew I was going to see Matt at mile 20 and I was looking forward to that. After Lady Gaga's Just Dance, I turned the music off. I wanted to focus on how on my breathing, my feet, how I was feeling and what I had ahead of me. For months I've heard that the last six are the toughest, so I was going to take the next 2 miles to prep for that. Mile 18 felt long. I remember wondering if I was going to hit a wall...but I didn't. Then mile 19. And then I saw Matt at mile 20. He gave me a couple Starbursts, encouraged me on and said he'd see me at the finish. I ditched my hat and was on my way.

Running across the bridge right after mile 20.

Those last six miles were tough. I was tired and I knew that there were hills at mile 24. Physically my legs felt heavy and my feet hurt. But mentally, I felt really strong. I was able to keep thoughts of doubt from creeping it. I really just kept focusing on each mile...and the miles kept ticking off. I had lots of encouragement in those last six miles. I think from mile 22 on, I had someone talking in my ear the whole time. Of course I wasn't responding much, but it was nice to hear Matt pushing me forward and cheering me on. The hills from mile 24 to 25 were just plain mean. Seriously, who puts hills in the last two miles?! Especially those kinds of hills. But I was able to run them without stopping to walk.

And then it was the last 1.2 miles of the race. If I hit a wall, it might have been during this last little bit, as crazy as it sounds. I knew I had to cross a bridge and that the finish line was somewhere after the bridge....but I didn't know where. And as I crossed the bridge, I saw a red sign with white lettering. I don't have great eye sight, so I thought that was the finish line. I could hear the crowd but couldn't tell if there were people at the "finish line" so I thought that's what I was approaching. About .2 miles away from the sign I realized it wasn't the finish line (it was a car ad) and that I had farther to go, uphill, than I thought. That was the first time I thought, "Wow, I really don't want to run anymore. I just kind of want to be done." Luckily my husband was in my ear telling me how close I was while I was kind of running blindly for a finish that I wasn't sure was going to come. So I kept on, keeping on. It really wasn't that long, but it felt like an eternity. As I was approaching Matt said, "I know you're tired and I know you're hurting, but when you cross the finish line, smile so I can get a good picture."



So I did. I smiled. And not just because he told me to. Because I was truly happy. I had run a marathon. I had done better than I could have hoped. I felt (relatively) good. I had accomplished my goals. My time was 4:38:35. I only walked through aid stations. I stopped to stretch once. And I never stopped at the porta potties. All in all, it was a success. And yes, I totally want to do another marathon. I've told Matt I'll take a break for the time being, but I definitely want to do one again. And now that I know what to expect and I can set real time goals, all I can say is "bring it on".

I wanted to share my splits. I don't have a GPS and there weren't mile markers (WHAT?!?!) so I don't know each mile split, but the official splits are:

1 Mile - 9:59
10K - 1:02:00
Half - 2:13:17
20 Miles - 3:27:33
Full - 4:38:35

These number help me know where I can push next time.

A few post-race pictures...

Me and Kristin, my training buddy. She ran with her husband and finished under 4 hours. Awesome!

With the man. Couldn't have done it without him. Any of it.

Matt, Rachel, Kristin and Justin.

Anyway, I have a few more thoughts on the marathon itself, the thoughts I've had since and what's next, but this post is long enough so I'll save all that for another day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

National Marathon - FINISHED!

I finished the National Marathon...on my feet. I met all my goals and it was AWESOME! More to come....
{And because I feel I need to point out...my chip time was faster than the clock time.}

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

T minus 2 days.

My marathon is almost here. Just two full days. I can't believe it. I have been thinking about this marathon for 6 months. I've been training for it for four months. I have so many thoughts running through my head, but can't get them down. I'm hoping to revisit the blog before the big race, but not sure I will.

I am currently planning the next couple of days - getting everything packed, making sure I have everything, a few last minute errands, getting my mom situated with the kiddos, etc. I have decided to take quite a few running clothes because the weather has changed so much in the last few days. Right now it's supposed to be partly cloudy in the low 40s. I'll take it all and then decide. We leave Friday morning. Agh!

I am nervous and excited and scared and ready and terrified and tired and pumped and....well, you get the point. It's almost here! Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Holy crap! My marathon is so close. Close enough that I was able to check the weather (54 degrees and sunny) for the day. Close enough that I have my bib number (968) and coral number (9 - I'm pretty far back there). Close enough that I have butterflies all. day. long. Close enough that I have my "outfit" all picked out - pictures to come.

2. I went on a quick three mile run this morning. My legs were so tired and sluggish and kind of in pain and for a minute, it scared me. I kept thinking, "What if my legs feel like this on my first three miles of the marathon?" Of course I was running faster than I plan to come marathon, but still. Luckily they loosened up and it was all good. Scared me for a minute.

3. It's no longer winter here...time for an update. I need a new blog topper picture. I'm hoping my husband will take a good one during the marathon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"My new shoes make me run faster"


I said this to my husband this last night and he laughed at me...rightly so. I got Nike Vomero+ 5 on Monday (after going to Marathon Sports and trying a bunch of different kinds) and I was so excited to wear them. Maybe it's not my new shoes, but considering that I set a 10K PR last night - knocking nearly 5 minutes off my last official 10K time (Tufts, October '10) - it felt like it might be the shoes.

I actually headed out with a full intention to set a PR. I needed speed. After being held back because of sickness, I needed to unleash it. And I did. My splits....

Mile 1 - 8:10
Mile 2 - 8:20
Mile 3 - 8:46
Mile 4 - 9:26 (this was tough mile - lots of hills)
Mile 5 - 8:53
Mile 6 - 8:17
Mile 6.2 - 2:11
Average - 8:43

It was not easy - especially after those first two miles. My legs felt like they were going to give up on me, but we kept pushing on. Mile 4 I really slowed back because I knew I needed to in order to come back strong for the last two. For the second half of my run I was listening to Ultramarathon Man, the chapters where he covers his first Western States 100 Mile run. At one point, he quoted his first coach who said, "If it doesn't hurt like hell, you're not doing it right." I must have been doing it right because my legs hurt like hell on that last mile. They gave it everything they had...and then some. I love my legs for that.

And with just 10 days away from the marathon, I am feeling good. No, I will not be running the marathon at this pace. Never has been my plan. Not sure if I'll even run one mile at a 8:43 pace. But it felt good to do this. It felt good to know that my body can and will still work. Bring it on.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

13 Miles and No Sweets

I ran 13 miles this morning. The longest distance since my 20-miler three weeks ago and since the pneumonia hit. It felt good. I never got completely exhausted, which was a relief. I was still super sore from P90X the day before, but the running actually helped loosen up all those muscles...until I stopped! It was good to know that I haven't lost it in these weeks of recovery.

Also, with the marathon two weeks ago, I have decided to give up sweets completely until after the race. I have been off and on with the sugar for the last couple of months. I want to get it all out of my system before the big day. I am announcing this here to make myself accountable. There you have it folks...now hold me to it!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

3 Things Thursday: Apparel

1. I am buying new shoes today. I'm taking Hal Higdon's advice not to run my race in the shoes I've been training in. I have been running in Nikes for the last year and 3 months. Although I've never really thought of Nike as being great for running shoes, I have loved these shoes. So I wasn't surprised when I went into Marathon Sports and he recommended the Nike Vomero+ 5. I also learned that I am neutral runner - I don't supinate or over-pronate. That was cool to learn.

2. I want a running hat with a visor. I'm done with my winter running cap. Any suggestions for running hats? Any particular brand that has worked for you?

3. With my marathon just over two weeks away, I decided I need new running shorts/capris/pants and maybe a new shirt. Trying to decide what colors I want to run in. Obviously I am a big fan of pink and black, but I've done that a lot. Maybe it's time for a change. My shoes have blue accents, but I don't really look good in blue. Maybe purple? What are your favorite colors to run in?

Monday, March 7, 2011

I did it.

I went on my first post-walking pneumonia run. Just 4 miles (75% of what I was scheduled to do). And it was a fairly slow 4 miles. But I did it and it felt good. My body appreciated it. I could tell. My legs were happy. My heart was happy. I was happy. And the cloud has lifted. I'm not sure I'm 100% better so I'm still taking it easy. I'm not doing as many miles and what I do do will be slow. But it felt SO GOOD to get out. Really amazing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MIA

I have been MIA for the last two weeks. Less than 48 hours after my race I came down with a horrific cold/flu. I had it all - throwing up (although not much), diarrhea, chills, fever, body ache, cough, sore throat, etc. Monday and Tuesday I was completely wiped out and good for nothing. Wednesday I felt a little bit better but still laid low. On Thursday I woke up, for the first time, not feeling like death. The Nyquil did it's job and I slept so well. So I went about my day running errands and getting my house in order. That night I went on a 4-mile run with a friend. I came home feeling TERRIBLE. I almost never feel worse after a run, but it was bad. I didn't sleep as well that night and woke up on Friday feeling really sick and weak. My stomach hurt and was unsettled. I could not, no matter how hard I tried, warm up. It didn't matter what I was wearing or how many blankets I was using, I was just cold. The day did get a bit better, although I went to bed still not feeling great.

I got up for my run (13 miles) and headed out the door. I was feeling a little bit better, but determined to take it easy. Luckily my running partner had the same goal in mind (she was recovering as well). It was not an easy run. My stomach was giving me fits for the first 5 miles and mentally I felt completely beat. Around mile 7 I started to feel a heaviness in my chest. It hurt to breath. I called my husband at mile 8 and asked him to come get me (first time I've ever done that). I knew he was going to be awhile since my daughter was still asleep so I kept running until about mile 9 and then I couldn't run anymore. But it was too cold to just stop, so I walked. I finally convinced my running partner to go ahead and run home (took a LOT of convincing - she's a good friend like that) and I kept walking. I walked until about mile 10 when my husband pulled up and drove me home.

He'd had enough and while I was showering he called the doctor and set up an appointment (like he'd been trying to get me to do all week). I went in early that afternoon and was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. Seriously. I was totally freaked out because my marathon is FOUR WEEKS AWAY! I asked her if it would take that long to recover and she said it was up to me and how willing I am to rest.

So, since Saturday afternoon, that's about all I've done. I've slept and read and watched movies and done minimal cleaning. I've had friends watching my kids, bringing in dinner and checking in on me. My husband's been super helpful when he's been home. I've cried a few times to my husband and sister because this kind of set back just doesn't feel like a good thing at this point in the game. And I've been super nervous about what this is going to do to me and my marathon.

I still haven't gone running and I'm really trying to decide when to go again. I don't want to push it and end up regretting it. I've talked to a few running friends and even emailed Tonia (thank you for the immediate response!) to get opinions on where to take my training from here. So far everyone agrees that since I've already run 20 miles, I will be able to run my marathon. It may not be fast, but I should be able to do it. I'm going to cut back on my running and will just listen to my body for my next three weeks. I didn't have a time goal, since it's my first marathon, so I'm just trying to focus on gaining strength and getting better. And when race day comes, I'll do my best. And it will be great.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Martha's Vineyard 20-Miler Top Ten

I ran the Martha's Vineyard 20-Miler yesterday with my running partner and her husband. This race fell right in line with our marathon training (just 5 weeks away) so it was great timing. And really, it was perfect. Such a great race! I would recommend it to ANYONE near or far. It's probably worth traveling any distance for. Here is my Race Top Ten (in no particular order)...

1. The View - Martha's Vineyard is gorgeous...even in February. The first 10 miles are along the eastern coast, then four miles heading inland and west, and then 6 miles heading north. The last 10 miles were on a bike path that wound through forests. Even with empty trees, it was pretty.

2. Negative Splits - We decided to try this out for the first time and it really worked. I couldn't believe how good I felt at the end. Our last mile was our fastest - we felt that good.

3. No Potty Breaks - There were no potty stops along the way. That's a huge success for me!

4. Sprinting Across the Finish Line - And I was smiling. That's gotta be a first!

5. Inspiring People - I was so impressed with all the people we met. Really an amazing group of runners. We met a couple in their 60s who ran the Rome Marathon last year. And another woman who is running Boston for the third time this year. She qualified by running the Berlin Marathon - how cool is that?!

6. Great Conversation - We were joined for the first 10 miles by a man named David who said he liked our pace and decided to run with us. He stopped at 10. We talked about everything from TV to kids to racing to everything but the kitchen sink.

7. Overall Pace - Right at 10-minute mile, which was our goal. We were using this as a training long run, so it wasn't about speed. And this pace felt perfect.

8. Race Organization - There were so many volunteers and police officers and smiling people at all the aid stations. As soon as we crossed the finish line and headed into the school, they handed us our bags - they already had them ready. They played music along the way. Everyone was so helpful and fo friendly. Awesome.

9. Post-Race Food - Clam chowder, minestrone, bagels, fruit and cookies. Yummy! That clam chowder was the perfect New England way to finish off a race. So good!

10. Finishing My First 20-Miler - This is my farthest distance. And I felt great. Now I really believe I will be able to run a marathon. And that feels awesome!

And now for a few pictures (in reverse order) we took before and after. David's wife took a few while we were running, but we haven't received them yet. I'll post them once we do.







Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pace - with a plea for help...

There is no wall if you pace yourself correctly. - Hal Higdon

I know this. I believe this. I have lived this. However, I continue to make the mistake of shooting out of the gate too quickly. And I always, always pay the price at some point during my run. In my most recent 1/2 marathon I shot out faster than I ever should have. Running my fastest mile up to that point - an 8:15 - and that was mile 1. I usually run around an 8:45 in a pace and a 9:00/9:15 in a regular run. 8:15 should never have been in the cards. It caught up to me and I hit a wall, big time, at mile 10. Almost didn't recover from that.

Fast forward to today. I had a 14-mile run, which sounds short after last week's 19. Well, I shouldn't have let my brain think "short" because 14 is still longer than the longest race I have run to date. I started out fast - too fast. Despite running partners telling me to slow down, five of my first six miles were faster than they should have been. But I did okay...until mile 10. My legs felt like lead. I could barely move them. I wasn't hurting, they just felt tired. I was sluggish. I trudged on, barely for the next three miles. I even had to walk for a bit (maybe a 1/4 mile?). I regained my strength for the last two, but they weren't easy. Here are my splits....

Mile 1: 9:53
Mile 2: 9:44
Mile 3: 10:07
Mile 4: 9:41
Mile 5: 10:28
Mile 6: 9:11 - that just doesn't belong in a long run
Mile 7: 10:01
Mile 8: 10:25 - right around where I should be...maybe 10 seconds faster
Mile 9: 9:50
Mile 10: 10:04
Mile 11: 10:07
Mile 12: 11:44 - and neither does that!!!!
Mile 13: 11:07
Mile 14: 10:38

This was just a practice run. This is where the learning should happen. Not on race day. So I'm trying not to beat myself up...although I have a tendency to do that over even practice runs.

I have a 20-miler on Saturday - my longest race so far. Me, my friend and her hubbie are running together. We are treating it like a long run - not a race. We don't want to run it at race pace. Especially since there is about a minute difference between their race pace and mine.

So, here's the question (and please, please comment - I need tips)....How do you stop yourself from shooting out too quickly in the beginning? I cannot afford to do that come marathon time, but if I don't learn it now, it could be a tough lesson to learn that day. Any tips? Anything you've tried that worked? I would love any advice. I didn't plan on wearing a watch on marathon day (it's my first and I don't want time to be a factor), but wondering if I should just to make sure I'm not starting out too fast. Any thoughts would be appreciated.