Friday, May 1, 2015

No Regrets: A Marathon Journey in Numbers

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments, oh dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

Okay, how about how do you measure a Boston Qualifying Marathon time?

In 7 marathon finishes in 8 years

In 16 weeks of training with a fabulous Coach

In  543 training miles

In   21  pre dawn runs with headlamp and reflective vest

In  112 Treadmill miles

In  48  Spin classes taught

In  28   TRX classes

In    -20 degree and 80 degree (while on vacation in Mexico)  temperatures

In   8  Snow days and countless school delays

In  3 -5k races, each one faster than the first

In one tumble down a hill repeat, resulting in a busted up knee and twisted ankle

In 10 ice baths

In many tubes of Nuun Active and Nuun Energy

In countless loads of laundry to wash all my Oiselle #flystyle

In a solid race plan

In 7 Gu Energy gels

In 13 water stops

In 26.5 Garmin miles

In a 3:53:15 finishing time

See you at BOSTON 2016!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wrapping up 2014

I had never gotten around on posting about the Philadelphia Marathon, so now I will take this time to sum up 2014 and include that.
 As I reflect back on 2014, it was a great year.  We purchased our first home, and moved into it in April.  I started working at the Army base fitness center in August as a trainer, teaching TRX, Spin and leading 2 running programs.  In August I travelled to Bend, OR for Birdcamp. 
  November 15 I joined my Couch to 5k group that I had been coaching for 10 weeks to run The Drumstick Dash.  I had several ladies complete the race, and I even PR'd!!
 This whole experience of meeting with the group twice a week and coaching them in their 5k training was very rewarding. I am hoping to do another program in the Spring.

Couch to 5K

Next was the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov.23. This was my "A" race of the year.  I had trained quite well for it.  I made sure I got all my long training runs in, as well as running many of those long run miles at "race pace".  I was aiming for a sub 4 hr, time, as well as a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time of 3:55 or better.  The day before the marathon, I stopped by the Expo to pick up my number, and to meet up with some ladies from Another Mother Runner.

At the Philly Expo with Sarah Bowen Shea and Karyn Ryan

Race Day started out very well. The weather was great, cold at the start (mid 30 degrees), and warmed up to high 40's by the end.  I felt really great for the first 17-18 miles, right on pace for a sub 4 hr marathon.  At mile 19, I started feeling tired physically. My legs started to slow, and no matter how my mind tried to will them to go faster, they wouldn't.  The last 6 miles were really rough, but I kept moving forward, only walking through the water stops, taking electrolytes and energy gel regularly.  I was not able to pick up my pace, and I finished in a disappointing 4:06:00 (yes, right down to the second).  Although it was a 3 min and 58 second PR from the Napa Marathon I ran in 2012, I had not reached my goal of sub 4hr, or BQ time. 
  Looking back now, I most likely went out a bit too fast in the first half. The pace felt so easy, and I may have pushed it too much while I was feeling great.  I believed I fueled well, taking a Gu gel every 4 miles, just like I had in training.
 I am now looking into hiring a coach to help me in training for my next marathon.  I would really love to achieve a BQ time before September of 2015 so that I can run Boston Marathon 2016. 
 I am proud of my running achievements this year though.  I did achieve PR times in the 5k, 10k, 10 mile, 1/2 Marathon and Marathon.  I was injury free the whole year, and I was very consistent with my running and cross training. 
  I would like to thank Oiselle and Nuun Hydration for continuing to support my training and running.  I also loved having the support of the Another Mother Runner community.  I absolutely love getting "Kudos" from all the ladies on Strava
  Here's to a great year in 2015!



Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Loved the Runner's World Half and Festival

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the Runner's World Half and Festival.  Here are my top ten reasons of why I loved it:

10. The timing of it worked out perfectly in my training for the Philadelphia Marathon (Nov.23) and for the Another Mother Runner 13.Fun Challenge.

9.  The different race distances made it accessible to family members as well. My son, age 13, decided since he was coming with me that he would run the 5k on Saturday.
Mother-son bonding weekend.

8. The option of race day pickup for racing bibs.  I wanted to get there Friday night, but wasn't entirely sure I would make it to the expo in time.  Knowing that I could pick up my number on Saturday was great. This is rare in running events, but much appreciated.

7.  Runner's World Half and Festival app for my smartphone.  This was a free app that allowed me to check the schedule quickly, keep updated on weather, and look up results after the race.

6. Bethlehem, PA: What a beautiful city.  I had never been here before, and the setting was perfect, especially at this time of year for a road race.  I loved running over the Fahy Bridge and enjoying the beautiful Lehigh river, as well as some of the quaint neighborhoods that we had the pleasure of running through.  I also enjoyed the restaurants, especially Bethlehem Brew Works, where I enjoyed spicy fish tacos and a delicious oatmeal stout.

5.  Free seminars offered Saturday afternoon.  I attended Women's Running with a panel of women, including Tish Hamilton and My Life on the Run with Bart Yasso.  I also attended Course Strategy: How to Run the RW Half, which was especially helpful.  Having the route explained ahead of time really helped me to prepare my strategy the day before. It was a hilly course, and it was nice to be prepared mentally.
Tish Hamilton

Race director of the weekend events, Bart Yasso.

Editor-in-Chief David Willey

4.  Getting to meet some of the people from Runner's World in person. I have been reading Runner's World for at least 14 years, just a short time after I first started running.  Through social media, especially twitter, I have enjoyed getting to "know" them.  They were all so friendly at the seminars, and even on the race course. 

3. This was one of the most organized, runner-friendly races I have experienced.  From the emails I received before the race, all the way to the finish area, everything went exceptionally smoothly.  There were plenty of helpful volunteers, no lines at gear check, clean bathrooms and porta potty's, and a nice warm venue for my son to wait while I ran.  I stayed at the Hyatt hotel, which was only a 5 minute drive away, and offered special rates for the race.  There was always plenty of parking, as I went back and forth all 3 days.  An added bonus was having Bart Yasso greeting the runners at the finish line and calling out our names. How cool is that?

2.  Reuniting with some of my Another Mother Runner Ragnar teammates.  Karyn and Joan were able to come for the weekend as well, and we all stayed at the Hyatt.  We had fun catching up and supporting each other at the races.
Mother Runners Karyn, myself, and Joan

And the number one reason I love the Runner's World Half and Festival...........

 The Hat Trick.  What a fun challenge this was! I would encourage people to sign up for this, rather than just one of the races.  It allows you to really enjoy the entire weekend race experience.  It includes a 5k on Saturday at 8am, followed by the 10k at 9:30.  On Sunday morning, you line up to run the Half Marathon.  I decided to use the 5k as a warm up, with some strides at the end.  I pushed a bit on the 10k, and came close to setting a PR.  The biggest surprise was achieving a PR in the Half Marathon, on a quite hilly course! I came away from this weekend feeling very well trained and strong for the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov.23.

Elevation chart from Strava from the 1/2 marathon course. I loved the downhills!
Some nice hardware earned in this challenge! Plus, a hat, t-shirt and pair of socks! And of course, a shiny new PR! Sweet.

So, if you're looking for a fun weekend, and a great challenge, sign up for the 2015 Runner's World Half and Festival. Registration is already open: Come on, I know you want to try the Hat Trick!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Feeling of Being on a Team

The last few months have been a whirlwind of working, getting the kids started with school, and supporting my husband with a transition into a new job.  I am finally sitting down to blog about the amazing experience I had this summer at Oiselle Birdcamp. 
  As a volée member of Oiselle, I had the opportunity to travel to Bend, Oregon this August to attend a special camp, dubbed "Birdcamp".  Activities that were planned included running (of course), yoga, hiking, group sessions with information about nutrition, training, goal setting and general fun and bonding.
  I am not going to go into many details related to our daily agenda, as I feel some of my team members did such a nice job summarizing the activities that we experienced. If you would like those details, you can see them here (from my fellow Canadian team member, Leana), here (from Regina, an "online" friend before camp and now one IRL) and here (from the Oiselle web site with some beautiful photos from the week). 
  What I took away mostly from the experience was the feeling of being part of a TEAM.  I had never experienced this type of connection before.  As a less than athletic kid, I was never part of a sports team, unless you count my brief stint on a youth bowling team.
I am the one second from the left, not even looking at the camera. Don't you love the overalls? Tres chic.
  Growing up in the early 70's, I never really felt that I was encouraged to participate in sports.  Yes, there were sports activities built into our school experience, but unless you showed an exceptional talent for it, you were not encouraged to keep trying to get better. 
  I played the piano, participated in Girl Guides, 4H (the homemaking kind, not the show your cow kind), and eventually played the flute in the high school band.  I was not a runner, and our small high school didn't even have a cross country team. (Well, truthfully, it may have, I just never paid any attention to the sport activities).  I do know it had a hockey team. Hockey was and is everything there.  I also remember going to football games. Running events, not so much.
  So, fast forward to 2012 when I was accepted to join the Oiselle team.  To say that I was shocked that they had accepted me would be an understatement.  I was thrilled, and I am still giddy with excitement when I think about the fact that I am a part of such an inspiring, powerful group of women. 
  It is very difficult for me to express in words what Birdcamp meant to me.  To have the opportunity to be around like minded women who really "get you" is an almost disarming sensation.  I felt completely included, and appreciated for the contribution that I make to this team. 
  As a 44 year old wife and mom of 3 kids who tends to feel like an awkward teenager in social situations at times, this feeling of inclusion was huge!
 From the leadership team of Sally Bergesen,(CEO) Sarah Lesko(Head of Corporate Development and the super organizer of Birdcamp) and Kristin Metcalf (Team Manager), through the elite runners that attended camp (known as Haute Volée), including the incredible Lauren Fleshman, and with all my fellow volée members, I felt complete acceptance and appreciation.  This is a team made up of women of all different ages, from different backgrounds, with different athletic abilities.  Although we are different, we all share the drive to perform better (not only in running, but in all that we do), to train hard, and to not settle for any less.  Add to this the sisterhood of sport that we encourage and we emulate on our team and in our communities.  I have never experienced this type of atmosphere before with a large group of women. It was refreshing and encouraging, and it clearly comes from the leadership team of Oiselle.
  The leadership team even took the time to meet with some of us to discuss where the team is going as this company continues to grow in leaps and bounds.  I feel that since this is a company founded and led by women, and for women, it moves and develops quite differently than many other companies.  For me, as a team member, I appreciate the differences, and as a result, I feel valued and very optimistic for the future of this company. 
 I may not be the fastest runner, but I am always striving for my best, in training and on race day.  I hope that my passion for running can also inspire others to work to their full potential. Thank you to Oiselle for giving me Wings to Fly!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The AMR Traveling Ultimate 6 Kit from Trigger Point Therapy

I have been dealing with Pirformis Syndrome since last Fall, and when the ladies at Another Mother Runner were offering to send injured Mother Runners the Ultimate 6 Kit** from Trigger Point Therapy to try, I jumped right onto that!
 Here is the post and video that I helped to contribute to after trying out the products for 3 weeks:

I am thrilled with the results, and I ordered my own Ultimate 6 Kit as soon as I had to send it to the next ailing Mother Runner.

**The Ultimate 6 Kit was sent to me to try out,with the option to contribute to a blog post and video. I was offered a discount to purchase any products from Trigger Point Therapy afterwards. All opinions and comments are completely my own.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

National #RunningDay June 4

I hope you will all get out for a run on National Running Day, June 4.  This is a relatively new "holiday", only 5 years old.  The day is set aside for runners to declare their passion for running.  Sounds like a great day for me!

I will run tomorrow with a few of my running friends, just to reaffirm my commitment to running and a healthy lifestyle. I will push my 5 yr old daughter in the stroller, and have her run at least part of it, to set an example of a healthy lifestyle.  My kids have learned that running, and daily physical activity is "normal" and what is expected.  I think that is the best lesson that I can ever teach them. 
  I will also be running my miles for charity tomorrow.  I discovered Charity Miles more than a year ago.  It is a free app that you can download onto your smartphone and dedicate your miles to several different charities.  Every mile walked or ran equals 25 cents to the charity of your choice. You can also bike to earn money for your charity of choice, with 10 cents earned for every mile biked.  Charity Miles has partnered with several corporate sponsors, including Timex and Humana in order to collect the donations to charity.  I run with my phone anyway, for safety, and to be reachable while my children are at school. It is so easy to turn on the app when you head out.
  My favorite charities include The Wounded Warrior Project, Team RWB and Every Mother Counts.  Just by turning on the app when I start my run, I have been able to donate at least $25 per month, just by doing what I would have done anyway: running!
  I hope you can get out there and run or walk tomorrow. Also, think about turning on Charity Miles when you do.  #EveryMileCounts
 Happy #RunningDay everyone!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

AMR Strava Prove it Challenge

I'm finally getting around to posting about this challenge.  Dimity and Sarah over at Another Mother Runner introduced this challenge way back in January.  The challenge offered a 17 week training plan for either a 10K or Half Marathon distance.  Training started January 13, and was to conclude Mother's Day, May 11. The "Prove it" part meant that you would accept the challenge to "prove" something to yourself. Maybe it was to run the distance the first time, run it faster than ever before, or maybe even just to commit to getting the miles in no matter how life got in the way.
  I accepted the challenge, and chose the Half Marathon distance. I have run at least a dozen half marathons over the last 8 years, so this seemed like an appropriate choice for me.  What appealed to me about this challenge was that there was going to be a virtual community of support at Strava.  In case you have never heard of Strava, it is a  free mobile app and website that allows you to track your runs ( or bike routes, if you are a cyclist).  You can follow other users, and they can follow you, with the option of giving and receiving "kudos" and comments.  There are also discussion boards within challenges to share comments and questions.  I had never tried Strava before, and at first it seemed like just another thing to add to my social media "time suck".  Once I got started with the challenge, however, I found it to be quite enjoyable.  I liked seeing what other people were doing for their workouts, and I must admit, those "kudos" and  kind comments boosted my ego a bit.  Not only did I have this group of "mother runners" on Strava, but I soon found Strava teams to join with Oiselle and Nuun.  How fun!
  I tried the mobile app on my iphone, but I found that using my Garmin Forerunner 10 watch and uploading the run from that device to Strava was easier for me.  The mobile app was good for checking others' runs during the day, and receiving push notifications when I others had given me kudos and comments.  I am going to continue to use Strava. It is a great way to track my runs, set goals, join challenges and feel like part of this running community. 
  Another aspect of the challenge that enjoyed were the weekly emails with the training plan, and training tips.  The plans were designed by Christine Hinton and I found them to be comprehensive and challenging for me.  They included easy, tempo, interval, hill and long runs. I looked forward to receiving the email on Sundays for the following week, although I had printed out the plan at the beginning of the challenge.  During the month of April, we moved into a new home, and somehow those papers got lost in the shuffle! Knowing that I could just check my email was helpful.  What also was provided in the plan was two 20 min strength training workouts.  The recommendation was to do these workouts twice a week.  I have to admit, I was sporadic at best with getting these in.  Even getting a good stretch or foam roll during the last 2 months has been difficult, giving the stress of moving.  That is probably why I am still having issues with my piriformis syndrome. 
  There were also monthly Webinair hangouts, with different experts answering questions, including Sage Rountree and Greg McMillan.  And to top it all off, there was swag: a "Prove it" t-shirt, a medal, Nuun tablets, Hyland's Calm Forte tablets and Roctane gels!
  Now, as far as me "proving it", I have struggled with this since I completed the challenge on May 9.  I chose to race "virtually", rather than joining an organized race on Mother's Day.  There were no logistically easy races for me around here on that day, and I decided that I would rather relax at home on Mother's Day rather than race.  I decided to "race" on Friday, May 9 after I dropped my daughter off at preschool. No fanfare, no on course support, no cheering fans. This was fine with me.
  If I were to choose a word to describe my training for this challenge, I would have to choose lackluster.  Very few shining moments, mostly "blah" workouts. After struggling with piriformis syndrome in the fall, only coming back to running in early January after Physical therapy treatments and rest, I was ready to take this challenge. 
  But, for good or for bad, I had also registered for two half marathon races, which were to take place in February and March. February was the Love Rox 1/2 Marathon in Richmond, VA with my best friend, Michele. I went into it without expectations, only hoping to finish the distance. I was able to run that race in 2:10 and it was a hilly course.  I was happy with the result, just coming back from injury and it ended up being a great weekend.  The next race was the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon in Virginia Beach, which was also a fantastic Oiselle Team meetup. I had some solid training effort going into this race, and it showed. I was able to run 1:58, which I was very happy about.  I felt like I was finally getting back in shape, and running this Half Marathon Challenge could possible bring me to a PR. 
  I don't want to dwell on excuses, or come up with reasons why I wasn't able to run faster on May 9. But I have to say that April was an extremely busy and stressful month for our family.  We closed on a new house on April 7, and moved for a whole week from the 15th to the 25th.  Most of the move was done by myself and my husband with some assistance from friends.  I also had to go back to the old house to clean, which was exhausting.  On top of this, my son was performing in a ballet with CPYB in Harrisburg. Not only was I driving him back and forth to rehearsals and performances, I had committed to volunteering with back stage costume changes.  Oh yeah, and I haven't mentioned that I started leading a new running group on Saturdays for my local gym and studying for my Group Fitness certification.  To think that I would be able to run a PR was unrealistic at best.  I really should have sat down to think about my goals, and set some realistic goals.
  The day of my virtual race, I set out with the thought that I would just run by effort, not worry about the time. I covered my Garmin watch with a piece of tape over the time. I could still see the distance, so I would know when to stop. I didn't want to be focused on pace, just effort.  I ran through my normal running routes, which tend to be pretty hilly.  The weather was warm and humid, so that may have affected my pace as well. The run was tough. I actually had a really difficult time just convincing myself to finish in the last 2 miles. It did not feel good. It was upsetting.  But I did finish. In 2:08. Disappointing for sure.
  What did I "prove"?   That is such a tough question to answer. I feel like I really haven't proved it yet.  I still think I have better times in me. I would love to get faster than 1:50 in the half marathon. My fastest time is 1:53, which I ran in early 2012.  Is it possible? Maybe. Do I need to really dedicate myself to training? Yes. 
 Which brings me to the next AMR Challenge: 13.Fun.  Starting in July, I will join this challenge, with my focus on a PR on October 19. 
 What will bring me there? First, I need to get my body strong, and injury free in the next 2 months.  I am going to work on my core, with special attention to my hips and glutes.  I am going to go into this challenge much stronger and smarter.  Strength training will be non-negotiable. I will finally Prove It in October.  Who's with me?