Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are you Happy?

Are you happy Mommy? This was the innocent question that my 4 yr old daughter asked me this morning.  The question that brought me to tears. 
 Now, to give the question context, I have to explain that she has asked me this question several times in the last few weeks. She asks me this question when I am stern with her, when I am cleaning up a mess she has made (nail polish on the wall, anyone?), or when I am frazzled and rushed.  I have had to catch myself, and explain to her that although I may not be happy with her behavior, or the situation at the moment, yes, Mommy is happy.
 But, am I happy? This has been a tough week. And today I don't feel very happy.  Do I have many things to be happy about? Yes I do. I have a nice house, food to eat every day. I am healthy, everyone in my family is healthy.  I have a husband who I love and who loves me. I count my blessings every day.
 But the world's tragedies and others' sadness does affect me.  And when other of life's frustrations and disappointments occur in my everyday life, sadness creeps in. 
  I want to be the best mother I can for my children. Times like this make it quite challenging. So today I make a pledge to myself to do everything I can to feel happier and project that to those around me. And for me today, that starts with a run. An all out, breathing hard, sweaty run.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Feeling the Need to Help

I have read some wonderfully written blog posts regarding the horrific tragedy at the Boston Marathon.  I don't have much to add.  I was thinking to myself that I wasn't directly affected, so I didn't need to add to the commentary.
  But I was affected in some ways.  As a runner who enjoys racing several times a year, sometimes at major events, I am affected.  My family is affected.  I talked to my older kids yesterday (ages 10 and 12) about the tragedy because they had questions, and it had been discussed at school.  It is difficult to explain to them that although spectators were killed and injured at the marathon, this most likely will never happen to them. This tragedy, like other recent ones ( movie theater shooting in Colorado, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, and others) creates fear in all of us.  It is difficult to explain to children that these are terrible things that happen,and that we can't prevent them. 
  I am running in a large Half Marathon in 11 days in a major city.  My kids know this.  They are fearful.  I have attempted to reassure them, but there is only so much I can do.  I had not planned on them being there, so that is not an issue. Will I hesitate next time when thinking if they should be there cheering myself or my husband on during a major race?  Right now, yes. I am hesitant.  Just as I was hesitant sending them off to school in December after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. But the truth is, we can't protect our loved ones every minute of the day.  We have to trust that they will be safe.  We can't live in constant fear.
  So, with this helpless feeling comes the need in myself to DO SOMETHING.  Anything to help those affected by the tragedy. I was so happy to see in my email a post from Another Mother Runner this morning.  Dimity and Sarah are suggesting 10 ways that you can help, right now.  Please click on this link, and help in anyway that you can.  10 Ways to Support Boston
  For now, I am holding my loved ones close and praying for all those affected by this tragedy. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Negative Splitsville: It is Possible at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler

Yes, I finally did it. I was able to run a negative split at the Cherry Blossom 10 mile race.  In case you don't know what "negative split" means, it is when you run the second half of a race faster than the first half. And I've never done that before.  Until now. Booyah!
 I went into this race thinking that I could take it easy, enjoy myself, and I wouldn't worry too much about pace. Just run comfortably in the first half, and then just run faster in the second half, by feel.  I did use my Garmin watch, but honestly didn't look at it much until the 10K mat, and then in the last couple of miles.  I felt myself pushing it at the end, but I was never in "pain". I guess what I've heard for years is true: by taking it easy in the first half of a race, you can speed up and finish strong. Huh... pretty cool.
  Another reason I wasn't worried about my pace was that my target race this spring is the Nike Women's 1/2 Marathon in DC which is on April 28.  I am hoping to pull off a big PR at this race, so this 10 miler was just a way to practice racing, and to test my fitness.  The good news is that it was a great practice at a negative split, and I am feeling pretty fit!
 I managed to achieve a 5 minute PR, and I felt great the whole time.  I ran the first 5 miles in 44:30, and the last 5 miles in 42:46, for a total time of 1:27.16. My slowest mile was the first (9:16). It was very crowded at the beginning, and I was placed in the blue corral, which ended up being behind the 9:30 pace group. I didn't want to waste too much energy getting around people, so I just took my time to find a better pace.  My fastest mile was the second to last one (8:09). The last mile had a little hill near the end, so the final mile ended up being 8:19.  Pretty happy with that pace, considering I am hoping to run right around that pace for the half marathon in order to achieve the sub 1:50 time goal.
 I found this race to be well organized, especially the expo.  I was able to take the metro from my hotel to the expo, and I was in and out of there within just a few minutes.  Great for such a big race.  I did run into 2 other Oiselle team members while at the expo. They spotted my Oiselle Spike Bag and we stopped to chat for a moment and take a photo.
  The morning of the race, after a restless night of sleep, I left my hotel at 6am after a quick "breakfast" of Picky Bar Cherry-Limeade Nuun, water and coffee. Breakfast of Champions, right?
I arrived at the start line of the race, which started near the Washington Monument, at approx. 6:40.  There were plenty of porta potties, so I took care of that business first and then tried to stay warm until the race start. I had worn some old running clothes over my Oiselle singlet and roga shorts. I dumped the old clothes at the start.  I also (wisely) wore my Oiselle arm warmers. The temp was 40 degrees, and the sun was just coming up. I passed the time before the start by listening to a great podcast from Another Mother Runner. Sarah and Dimity talked with Kara Goucher. This really helped pass the time, and it was totally motivating to hear Kara talk about preparing for the Boston Marathon!  It was windy and chilly at the start. I received a nice good luck text from my best friend Michele as I was moving to the start. Thanks Michele!  The race started on time (Love that!) and I crossed the start line around 7:39.  There were water stops every 2 miles, but I opted to only stop for miles 4 and 6 (took Roctane Gu with 2 cups of water). In the interest of time, and the fact that I was feeling well, I skipped the other water stops. The course was great.  Not boring, and the cherry blossoms were almost in full bloom.  I was pretty focused on not tripping over anyone, or my own two feet, and had to remind myself to look around at the scenery.  I remember some of the course because some of it is the same at the Army Ten Miler race which I did in October. There were many turns, which made it a bit difficult, but overall I really liked the mostly flat course.There was great fan support, and some along the course musicians.   It was a bit windy, but nothing that I'm not used to here in central PA.  At the finish line, I found that it could have been more organized with indicating where the food was.  I was able to get water right at the finish, then I had to walk around for several minutes to find the food, which was bananas and muffins.  I was hoping for a bagel, or maybe a protein drink, but no such luck.  So, I headed towards the metro station to get back to the hotel for a warm shower and to get ready for the Oiselle Team brunch meetup. 
  After getting back to the hotel, I received a congratulatory text from my husband with my race time. He had checked the website for results, and he knew the "official" time before I did. That was nice. I had a nice shower, a good stretch and foam roll, packed up and headed to Open City Restaurant for brunch with some fellow Oiselle Team members.  It took me a long time to find parking, which was super frustrating, but I finally made it there (after having to walk for over a mile) and it was great meeting Mollie, Stephanie V, Stephanie J, Jenna, Amanda S, Amanda P and Abby.  I had a yummy egg white scramble with spinach and tomatoes, with toast, hashbrowns and a Cafe Latte.  It was great chatting with the ladies, and we stopped outside after eating to take a photo in our pretty pink Oiselle t-shirts. 
 I made the long drive home, and was happy to be welcomed home with a delicious dinner prepared by my husband.  It was a busy 24 plus hours, but I am happy that I was able to run this race. I'm planning on entering the lottery again next year, and hoping to run it, and PR again!
 One more detail I loved about this race. Check out this great chart of my "stats" from the race. Can you believe I passed 782 people in the second half? And I beat the times of 54 % of the male runners? So cool.
This is me, Abby and Stephanie at the Expo.

 Brunch at Open City
more hardware for my collection!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hood to Coast Relay with Nuun

I haven't blogged the last couple of weeks because I have been using any extra time I have to create my Hood to Coast application for Nuun. I have never made a video before, so to say it was challenging is an understatement.  The toughest part for me was to come up with a concept.  I am not the most creative person, so I decided to make it just about me, about my family, and about my joy and passion for running.  So, either the people at Nuun will like it, or not.  No matter what, it represents me. 
  I have been wanting to participate in a relay for a long time.  And the Hood to Coast is just so epic, being run 31 times already!  One of the most appealing parts of this application process is that it is for women runners.  I would LOVE to be on a team with 9 other women who are passionate about running like I am.  How fun! And while the whole journey seems pretty daunting (have you seen the elevation profiles?), I know I could do it. 
 And, of course, the other reason I want to be accepted is because I would be representing Nuun.  How great is that? I am so impressed by their products, and their company in general.  Here is a small company, only around now for 8 years, that is making such an impact on the running/cycling community.  I first learned of Nuun from the ladies from Another Mother Runner, Sarah and Dimity.  I listen to their podcasts (now weekly!!) and they would talk about hydrating with Nuun.  I was very curious about their products.  We moved last summer to Pennsylvania, and my husband and I visited the local running store, Appalachian Running Company . I was excited to see Nuun tablets there. How great was it to have Nuun when we were both adjusting to the change in climate from dry California to the humidity of Pennsylvania in July? What a difference it made.
 Nuun is doing a great job spreading their message through twitter, facebook and by being present at many races.  I hope that they will choose me to join their Hood to Coast team. Not only would it be fun, I would be honored!
 Here is my video, just completed tonight. I hope you like it.