Another Trip Around the Sun

In just a few days I will be another year older, hopefully a bit wiser and stronger.  This past year I really tried to regain some focus on myself and my mental health.  I had signed up to complete a half marathon a year in advance and when January came around I knew I had to start training.  So, let’s recap what 31 has looked like to me.

November and December are always a whirl wind of birthdays and holidays in our house.  That means lots of time spent with family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I am truly blessed with such an amazing family and I tell people all the time.  I don’t take for granted what my family has done for me in the least.

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Where it all started!

January and February, I finally started walking/jogging/and pretending to run again.  I hadn’t done anything since I was 4 months pregnant with Ben and at this point he was 15 months.  I spent 4 days a week in the basement on the treadmill binge watching Netflix.

March rolled around and I noticed a Facebook post inviting people to a training run for the Canton Marathon.  I wasn’t training for a marathon, but this would give me the opportunity to run with other people so I was so lonely.  This is when I met two people who were talking about a local running group called Run Happy.  I finished my lonely miles and found the group on Facebook later that day.  From that point on I joined a morning run group twice a week where I met more awesome people.

April was the start of the half marathons.  The race I had signed up for a year ago was finally just around the corner.  You can read more about that here.  I  was training with my running buddy and decided since I was already trained, I would run another half marathon two weeks later.  At the race expo I was talked into a third half just weeks after the second.  I was starting to binge sign up for races so to speak.  By the end of May I reached LifeTime status with Weight Watchers as well.  So, I was finally back to a healthy weight.

June, July and August are too hot for me to race.  I kept training with my running buddy as she prepared for a marathon.  I knew that it would help me with my half in September anyway so I wasn’t concerned.  I started watching YouTube videos and listening to podcasts about Ultra Running.  I was getting hooked and picked out a 50 miler to sign up for in a year.  *I mentally like to give myself plenty of time to panic and analyze my decisions in running.

September rolled around and I ran my 4th half marathon for the year and relayed a marathon with a bunch of Harry Potter fans I had never met.  By the end of September I had talked myself into running the full marathon with my running buddies.  There were a large number of members going to run this race and I remember the fun I had with the half marathon (not so many fond memories of the full).  So, in October, I toed the line and finished my second full marathon.

Just a few days later, myself and other Run Happy members raced to the ultra sign up webpage to register for a 50k.  This will be my first Ultra.  I’m still waiting for registration to open for the 50 miler, but when it does I will be registered day 1!

This year has been incredible.  I found joy in running again.  I was no longer training alone.  I was no longer stressing about running races by myself because I was almost sure I would know someone there at the starting line.  My family is happy and healthy and I get to share another year with all of them.  I am grateful for everyone in my life and the opportunities that I am given.  So, thank you to everyone who has shared a small part of this year with me and I look forward to what is to come.

Just to make sure I kick off my 32nd year right, I will be running my first trail half marathon with my running buddies on my birthday!  The Bobcat Trail half marathon is sure to be a muddy mess after all of the rain we’ve been experiencing.

As always, be confident, be fit, be you!

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Columbus Marathon Recap

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The weekend started out with a road trip just two hours south of home and 3 other running friends.  In the days leading up to the race, I was unsure what the temperature would be like that morning or even what I would wear.  We’ve trained all summer in hot and humid temperatures that I didn’t know what I would do in the cool crisp mornings.  We were going to hit up a running store and then the expo, so I was going to look for some capri pants to run in (I know this is a big running no- no) with my HRC tshirt.  I have a lot of cold weather running gear, but not much for the in-between.

As we all discussed strategy and running gear, the drive seemed to go fairly quickly.  Just like that we were at the running store and out stretching our legs.  I was starting to feel some nerves because I wasn’t quite sure if I could run a full 26.2 miles.  Training said I could, but there was a lot of self-doubt.  By the time we arrived at the expo, there were booths already being taken down.  There was still an hour and a half left before it closed!  We went up and got our bibs and gear bags and then headed down to see the vendors.  I picked up some GU and took the obligatory pictures with the large daunting numbers.

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As we headed to our dinner reservations, the wind picked up.  When I say picked up, I mean we felt like we were going to blow away.  A large marathon route sign fell right in front of us.  We all kept praying that the wind would die down before we had to hit the start line in the morning.  Once we got to our restaurant, we checked and there was an advisory for 50-55mph winds!!! We were pretty sure we just attempted to walk through that.

I was starting to feel like I had a sinus cold coming on so I took some medicine and went to bed.  Sleep came quick, but the morning came even quicker. The alarm clock rang and it was time to get dressed and prepped to run.  I was still feeling pretty foggy in the morning so I took some more medicine and ate some peanut butter.  I don’t like to run with food on my stomach because that’s when I experience bathroom issues.

As we headed down to our corrals, Susan and I said good luck to our fellow running friends and waited for the second wave to start. In the Columbus marathon, they actually start one wave of runners and then repeat the starting process for the second wave.  We made sure we were right in the front of the second wave because we wanted to attempt a 4:15 marathon time which was paced in the corral ahead of us.  When the gun went off we were off.  The first mile was completed in under 9 minutes.  I knew we had to back off if we were going to last the remaining 25.  I started watching the pace and Susan was watching the miles based on goal bracelets that were given out at the expo.  We were ahead of schedule through the first half.

It is always very tempting to complete the first half and just want to run in with all the people who were finishing up.  But, we still had another 13.1 to go.  I could tell Susan was feeling really good with her race because she kept running through each mile.  In training, once we hit the mile we would walk for a minute or two and then start running again.  She only walked through the water stations to get her fuel.  At mile 16 I was starting to feel cramping in my quads.  This was new because most of the time there is pain in your knees or calf muscles.  My legs just felt heavy.  I could tell Susan was trying to wait for me but by mile 17 I had told her to just go on and run her race.  I didn’t want to hold her back from her goals.  I was still on pace to hit mine, but I knew slower miles were coming.  I stopped to stretch at mile 18 and then set a goal to run at least 3/4 of every mile left in front of me.  I caught up to our running friends as one of them was singing!  She had been battling a cold for two weeks prior to this race so she’s a super hero for going out and giving it her all!

After a while, I kept going and the miles did seem to tick a little faster than 16-19 moved.  However, my times were still getting slower.  The crowd support was a little thinner than I remember, but the patient champions were out there with their families and that was inspiring enough to keep moving!  At mile 21 the crowd kept saying “only 5 more miles!”  Problem is, that isn’t that encouraging.  At the start of mile 26 I decided that I was going to run it in and not stop until I crossed the finish line.  I finished that mile in 9:40 and then the final .5 was an 8:55 pace.  I’m not sure why, but my watch clocked the race at 26.5 miles instead of 26.2.  I started it right when I crossed the start line and ended it when I hit the finish.  But, every mile marker I hit, my watch was .25 miles ahead after mile 2.

Just like that, all my training and hard work had come to an end.  The final result was a 4:21:03, just 1:03 over my goal time.  However, it is 26 minutes faster than my first marathon so I shaved off a minute per mile! I need to work on miles 18-25 to really improve my time.  This may or may not be my last road marathon.  I’m going to try trails for awhile and just enjoy my time running.  If the Columbus marathon teaches you anything, it is that running is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.

T’was the week before marathon

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T’was the week before marathon when runners were making final preparations.  The training is complete, the miles have been run.  It’s time to take faith that you can get it done! As I look back on the training, I am thankful for all the miles I was able to complete.  I can’t put myself down for only running 2- 20 mile distances.  I need to just relax and enjoy the day with my friends!

I have run Columbus one other time and it is my only marathon to date.  My training was extremely lonely.  I wasn’t running with anyone and didn’t even know running groups existed in my area.  My knee gave out in my training when I attempted my first 20 miler. I was never able to break that mileage distance in training due to my knee always causing me to stop short of my distance goal.  During the race I felt great, until I hit mile 18.  My knee pinched and I immediately had to stop.  I walked/limped in pain for 7 miles. I felt completely defeated.  I didn’t want to walk across the finish line, so I would jog for a minute, walk for a minute and repeat that cycle through the last mile.  When I crossed the finish line, I was in tears.  I was so upset with myself for not finishing the way I had hoped nor the way I had planned.  At that moment, I swore I would never run another marathon again.  I would stick to the half marathons.  After all, I like that distance.

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Everything changed when I was introduced to my #RunHappy friends!  I started training with them for a half marathon that I had committed to a year in advance.  I was enjoying running again.  Fast forward and I completed 4 half marathons this year and was training with my friend to complete her marathon.  I completed some of her long runs with her and decided to just throw in the towel and run it with her.  I got a bib, ran another 20 miler in seriously gross weather conditions and started tapering.

Now, we are just 3 days away from lacing up our shoes, hitting the starting line and finishing another marathon.  The distance I swore I would never do again.  I’m not only going to toe the line and finish this thing, I’m going to do it with a lot more confidence than the first time.  I’m going to watch friends reach their goals and push their limits.  I’m going to cheer on those that finish at the back of the pack.  I’m going to enjoy race day in all its glory! Columbus truly has the most amazing crowd support and I am excited to have a better race experience.

Not only will I complete this marathon, I will complete my first ultra marathon next April!  I’ve already signed up for the Forget the PR 50K at Mohican State Park!

Look for my race report next week to hear all about Columbus!

Akron Marathon Relay Recap

It was 4am on a Saturday morning.  I was up and getting ready for my race with four other like-minded people I had never met.  We had some communication via a group chat, but I only knew the name of the person that would be handing me the bracelet to continue on with our race.  I didn’t know a face, didn’t know what they would be wearing or what their estimated pace would be to know when to be at my starting point.  There were a lot of unknown variables and I was okay with it!  I just wanted to run.

This says a few things about me.  First, I’m putting myself into situations where I am forced to meet new people.  A far cry from my middle school and high school days where I would hide in the music room to eat so that I didn’t have to socialize with people for fear of what they thought about me.  Second, I was running for fun and didn’t fear being the last person.  My only attempt in Track was in elementary school and I ran the mile distance but I was almost always second to last.  My motivation was to stay ahead of the last person because they had a queasy stomach and would often throw up towards the end.  I never wanted to be puked on so I had to keep moving forward. I wonder where those track pictures are???

The morning of the race, I prepped for a long run.  I was running the third leg of the relay which was 5.4 miles and had some nasty hills.  But, I wanted to get extra miles in since I had only completed one 20 miler in my training for Columbus.  My friend and I parked, found the bathrooms and gear check and then determined the safest place for me to run.  The final portion of the marathon would be the perfect place to get in some extra miles.  I ran back and forth, back and forth, back and forth for 6.7 miles.  Then the race was starting.  I had never experienced Akron’s Marathon before, so I went to the end of the starting corrals and watched the runners take off.  Then I set off to complete a few more circles around the block to get another 2.3 miles, putting my pre-race running at 9 miles.

Now, to sit and wait.  Since I had put in extra miles, I was starting to get really chilled.  About an hour into the race I received a text from the first runner that their leg was complete and the second person was off and running.  I estimated the second runner would be about an hour. I didn’t want to run the block anymore because runners were starting to come in and hand off to their teammates.  Remember, I had no idea who I was looking for to begin with so I definitely didn’t want to risk missing my handoff.  The announcer was calling off relay bibs left and right.  It was confusing, but I eventually heard 220 and so I set up in the relay lane.  After running 9 miles and now freezing where my toes were tingling, I was not prepared to “race” this relay leg.  My teammate found me and I was off.

I started and knew I needed to get moving to warm my body back up.  My start was at mile 12, so the half marathon finishers were getting ready to break off and go into the finish line.  Within half a mile I hit my stride and was feeling good.  My toes were still numb, but they were coming around.  I finished the first mile at an 8:42 pace and started the climb for the second mile.  I was determined to make it up the first big hill, after all I have been attempting Harmon Hill of death.  I made it up Market and hit mile two at 8:56 pace.  Heading up another long hill, I was feeling fatigued.  I walked a portion, and as IMG_4254soon as I could, I started running again.  Mile three finished much slower at a 9:42 pace.  Now the fun started.  There were people out eating breakfast on their lawns, champagne and macaroons, gummy bears, and just a lot more crowd interaction.  We had some downhill in this mile and I finished mile 4 with an 8:40 pace.  One more big climb and then I was done with hills, mile 5 was a 9:22 pace.  The last .4 of a mile I was able to push myself down a straight away.  I knew I was nearing the end of my relay leg and would be handing off to another complete stranger.  I knew what this person was wearing at least! I finished my leg with an average pace of 9:02/mi. which I will gladly take when I consider the hills.  My overall mileage for the day was 14.4 miles.

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Team Soaring Eagles meeting for the first time!

I had a great time and during the finishers festival I was finally able to meet my fellow teammates!  Well, three out of four. It was a great experience and definitely something I would do again.  I just want to do a different leg of the race LOL!

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HRC Wizards in the Wild! #somuchgood

 

 

The 4am wake up

This is my why.  This is my blog post about why I get out of bed at 4:05am to workout.  This post is dedicated to explaining the purpose behind my crazy schedule and how I attempt to fit as much into my day as possible, even on the weekends.

Before I had my first child, I would get up before work around 6am and get a run or workout in before I needed to leave.  If I was feeling a bit sluggish when the alarm went off, I would just re-set it for a later time and fit my workout in after work.  Then came my first child.  After I returned to work, I had to fit my workout in before I left for the day.  I, also, needed to consider my husbands schedule to make sure I was home before he needed to leave.  This meant that I needed to get up at 5am.  That isn’t a horrible hour of the morning, I could do that a few days a week.

Then baby number 2 came along.  I completely lost my desire to workout simply because I was too tired to do just about anything outside of my normal routine.  Wake up, get kids ready, take them to grandparents by 7:30am, go to work, pick up kids, make dinner, put kids to bed by 7:30pm, clean up dinner or other household tasks.  I wanted my children to have consistency and schedules.  Children function much better when they know how the daily routine is going to progress.  This left little time for me to get a workout in before 8pm or I would have to start getting up at 4am.

I tried the 8pm workouts.  I found more ways to cancel on myself than one could believe. “I ate a donut for breakfast, the day is already shot, you can skip the run tonight.  Oh, the diaper laundry needs done, forget a workout tonight.”  If there was a way to cancel on myself, I did. This left me unmotivated and feeling very discouraged.

One thing I have learned, and my husband has learned, is that if I don’t workout consistently, I will live in a depressed state.  I want to sleep a lot more than my body really needs.  I will seclude myself from the people around me.  I cut off communication with my husband.  Therefore, I need to workout.  I need to run.  I need to commit to myself so that I can commit to others on a meaningful level.  Lucky for me, my husband completely understands that I need to do this as well.

So, I now get up at 4:05am to meet with a group of crazy runners at 5am three days a week.  On the days that I don’t run with the group, I still get up at 4:20am to head down to the home gym my husband so graciously remodeled recently.  I am able to get a positive physical and mental health start every single day.  I am able to still do the same daily routine mentioned above to maintain consistency for my family.  My children still go to bed by 7:30pm, but now I am able to be a better presence in their play when we are home.  I am a better me because of my 4am wake up.

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Newly remodeled home gym. That treadmill has seen enough use that we’ve replaced the belt!

Until next time, be confident, be fit, be you!

First Race

This past weekend was filled with fun adventures for our family of four.  We enjoyed the Pittsburgh children’s museum again, a favorite of ours!  We spent lots of time with family for a birthday picnic! Enjoyed the outdoors at the county fair where our 4-year-old completed her first race!  Racing was something I wanted her to enjoy when she was ready but not push it too early.  Our kids have been playing “Race” with my medals and my mom’s medals for about a year now.  I’ve wanted her to participate in a kids fun run for a while, but didn’t want it to be a hundred yard dash.  I knew she could do more than that because we walk all the time.  After searching for a race for the little one, I came across a nice 1 mile run at the local county fair.

The Stampede race had a “Country Mile” option as they called it before a 5k.  Individuals could register for the mile, 5k or both. The mile was starting an hour before the 5k, so there was no concern for finishing in time before the next race started.  The race fee would get her a medal of her own and entry into the fair.  She would be excited!  I signed us both up for the Country Mile.  The race time was not ideal with a 9am start and the 5k starting at 10, so I opted to only complete the 1 mile.  It was a double loop around the dirt track.

The day of the race was upon us and I was pinning her race bib to her shirt.  She was getting excited and her brother was less patient.  We did a couple of practice laps around some of the vendors at the fair just to get us warmed up.  The little one did some stretching with Mimi and we went to the track to wait for the start.  It was an inaugural race with a ton of race options in the area, so the pool of racers was very limited.  Daughter H was the youngest in the group to complete the 1 mile.

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We set off around the track and about a quarter of a mile in, she was getting HOT.  It was a scorcher, so I don’t blame her.  But, we enticed her to keep going because the back portion of the track was shadded.  She made it around the track and as we circled the hay bail to head back the other direction, she was starting to negotiate for some sweet treats.  She wanted shaved ice, ice cream, cold water poured on her head, anything to keep her cool.

As we were coming around the end and she was getting ready to cross the finish line she took my hand and we went across together!  They hung her medal around her neck and cheered for her since it was her first race!  I poured some cool water on her head and apparently she didn’t really want that after all.  A few tears later and being allowed to dump water on my head made up for that parenting mistake.  She was proud of herself for finishing but wanted something to help cool her down.  Unfortunately the fair vendors were still not open.

Little H’s medal is now proudly displayed in her room for her to see it daily.  She has requested to get more medals to hang on her wall! I may need to make her own display rack for her to hang her accomplishments up as she earns them!  I want to encourage her to be active without burning her out or pushing her further than her body is capable at this point.  She is young and I want her to enjoy exercising and being outdoors.

Training Continues

I haven’t stopped training and I haven’t stopped tracking with various forms of tracking methods.  What I have stopped doing was updating my blog weekly with the recaps.  To be honest, I think “oh, I’ll just update every two weeks.”  But then that comes and goes and I still haven’t updated anyone on my training.  So, here goes the few weeks of training recaps as well as the Weight Watchers updates.

Training has continued to be 5 days a week.  I have 3 run days and 2 cross training days.  I am using the 80 day obsession sessions for the cross training.  I actually want to complete this entire series when I am done with my half.  I may modify to keep 2 running days a week because I want to keep up some distance running.  I’m loving the 80 day obsession workouts because they are hard but they don’t include a lot of jumping and lunges, both of which my knees can’t handle.

My running has increased and my longest run so far completed is 7 miles.  I’m actually ahead in mileage for this training plan, but the longer runs skip over 8 and 10 miles and go from 9 to 11.  So, by being a little ahead I can add in a 10 mile run with no problem and just inch up each week by 1 mile instead of 2.  I ran my 5 mile training run with a

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7 mi. training run in 18*F

group of people training for either a full or half the week after my race.  During that run I met some very nice people and they introduced me to a group called Run Happy.  I joined their facebook group and found other crazy people that run at 5am consistently.  I was able to join up with them and have a good solid group of people to run with for my 7 mile training run.  I plan to join them each Saturday at the crack of dawn to train.  It gives me a sense of safety instead of running by myself.  Plus, I don’t find myself playing mind games to finish when I am with a group.  I keep pushing and telling myself to keep moving forward and make a turn that is further away from your car instead of ending short of the goal.

As for Weight Watchers, I am down 9lbs since I started 5 weeks ago.  I am losing slowly, which I am perfectly content with the results.  I haven’t completely given up my sweets and I’ve overindulged a few too many times.  I’m sure that number could be a little higher, but I haven’t deprived myself from foods that I want either, I have just cut back a little.  Over time, I am sure that I will be able to cut back even more to squash this sweet tooth that has taken over my taste buds.  I haven’t tracked everything, especially when I know the points will be insanely high.  Part of the reason I haven’t tracked certain foods is due to the process.  Not every recipe I use is in the system and I have to create a recipe before I can add the points.  This can be frustrating when the recipe on paper already tells me the points and I can’t just do a quick add, name the food, add the points and move on.  Regardless, I will continue to use the tracker and connect to help make me accountable for what I choose to eat.  Only when I am fully honest with myself will I see success.

Goals for this coming week:  Keep working through the training plan.  Track more consistently and honestly.  No CHOCOLATE- decided to give this up for Lent this year and I’ve noticed the struggle, but it is also a good thing.  I haven’t replaced the sweet with another form of sugar.  I did make egg-less chocolate chip cookie dough on Fat Tuesday and at half of it in preparation.

Be confident! Be fit! Be you!