Summer Fun

Who’s ready for summer?? Me!!!!

I’m ready for sunshine and Garmin tan lines and running in tank tops.

And I’m giving myself tons of opportunities to this summer.

Between now and the end of August I’ve got oh…2 10k’s, a 5k and a half-marathon. Plus two concerts and a wicked awesome vacation. ūüôā

Races first…

  • BAA 10k – second leg of the distance medley and I’m ready for my next unicorn medal
  • Finish at the 50 5k – first time doing the 5 instead of the 10, but the hubs is running too (yay!). And I just love running out through the helmet onto the field.
  • Gansett Summer Run Festival 10k – one I’ve never done, but it looks SO fun. And my friend is running the 5k too. Plus I hear it’s a good after party.
  • Camp Chingachgook Challenge 1/2 – this was my first 10k ever. And I’m looking forward to trying the half – a gorgeous point to point race in the Adirondacks.

Race goals? Have fun. Run fast. Smile a lot ūüôā

Concerts? I’m seeing Gov’t Mule and the Foo Fighters. First time for both and equally excited for both.

Vacation? Epic – Zion & Bryce National parks and Vegas, baby. Looking forward to hiking and running and relaxing. And warmth and sunshine and amazing scenery. (Don’t worry – I’m sure I’ll write a “vacation recap” blog. lol)

How about you all? Running anything good? Going anywhere Epic? Whatever you’ve got planned…I’m sure you’ll do great and have fun.

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Something’s gotta give

When life gets in the way, something has to give…

My marathon fell smack dab in the middle of my two busiest weeks of work in I don’t remember how long. Which means taper and racing and recovery all fell at oh, a really bad time.

Trying to fit life into your life isn’t always easy. And sometimes, something has to give. In my case…it was my blog.

For two weeks I’ve just been too exhausted to be creative. So my apologies to all of you.

I mean on one hand, it was nice that taper week coincided with 10 hour work days because I didn’t stress over not being able to get in runs. Lol But it also led to less relaxing than I wanted.

And last week, due to post-marathon brain and continued work crazies, I just didn’t have the brain power to write my race recap from Vermont City. I’ve tried to start it a few times…but it’s just not coming together.

This week, I’m finally getting my groove back and the creative juices are flowing once more.

I will try to get my recap done. But if I don’t – I’ll just say this…

The Vermont City marathon was freaking awesome. It was the most fun I’ve had in a non-Disney marathon. And I would run it again in a heartbeat. Amazing crowd support, gorgeous views and just a great upbeat vibe. I ran to all with a smile on my face and a spring in my step – even during the hard final miles.

I’m resetting now. Work is calming down. And I’m back relaxing, running, training and blogging.

Hope you’re all also finding how to fit life into your life. And that whatever has had to give, comes back to you as well.

Be Present

Two simple little words that made a huge difference on Sunday.

Sunday was my last long run before the Vermont City marathon – a planned 22 miles. And I headed out early feeling calm and ready.

But, sometimes things don’t go quite as we plan and we end up needing a mantra to get us through. And sometimes that mantra finds us.

All was well until mile 10 when I stopped to pull my gel out of my pocket. And seeing a group of cyclists headed towards me ( knowing it could get dangerous if a car joined the mix on this narrow road), I opted to eat my gel there and wait for them to pass.

As soon as I started running again, everything felt tired and heavy. And the mind games started – you know…question everything.

I told myself it would get better. I told myself, just make it to 11 and see how you feel.

But I am an overthinker. In both life and running. I’m always planning ahead and then stressing over things that are like 2 months (or 5 miles) out.

I tried to calm myself with my usual “clear your head” “let it go” “just stop” kinda stuff. And I got to 11, then 13. And then, the my mind bounced around again.

I was thinking ahead to the next gel, and how far can I make it before I have to walk. And just generally worrying myself.

Then two words popped into my head. Be Present.

Just pay attention to where you are. Be in the mile you’re in. The rest will happen as it happens.

Stop and smell the lilacs. Bark back at the dogs. Watch the birds fly by.

Just be…

And I got to mile 16. And reminded myself again. And then to 18. At 18 I decided I was going to walk 1/4 mile so I could eat my chews. But after 1/10 of a mile I realized I didn’t need to walk and started running again.

To mile 19.25. Where again I was going to walk a 1/4 mile, but was fine with 1/10.

And I hit mile 20 feeling good. And ran all of mile 21, to actually a little past it. I took one last walk break of about .15. And then ran strong to finish at 22.02.

Looking at my watch I smiled. Because I realized that I if I can do this again in Burlington, I could walk the last four miles and still finish under 5 hours. Something even a month ago I wasn’t sure I could do.

I’m ready to taper. I’m feeling really good about the work I’ve put in. And I know, when I tow the start line in 11 days, I just need to remember to Be Present. ūüôā

Providence 13.1 – the recap

Gotta say…there is nothing like running a course you haven’t done in a few years to make you realize how far you’ve come as a runner.

The first time I tackled the Providence 1/2 marathon was May 2, 2010. ¬† It was my very first half-marathon and i’d only been racing for two years. ¬†I trained hard and felt prepared going in, but there are just enough challenging spots that I still remember exactly where I struggled (Pittman St). ¬†I finished the race in 2:06:33 and felt like i’d won.

I’d go on to run it again in 2011 (even faster) and 2012 (with my aunt, as her first marathon) before taking a few years off the race. ¬†When I came back to the course in 2015, it was for the marathon, and a PR! I ran the marathon again in 2016, and then took last year off of Providence.

This year, when I signed up for the half it was going to be as a time trial for the Vermont City Marathon.  But fate and a sort of injury had other ideas.  So when I toed the line Sunday, I had a main goal of just enjoying the race.   To not run easy, but not run hard. And to just see what I had.  I was FAIRLY sure I could hit sub 2:15 no problem, hoped I could go sub 2:10 and dream goal Рto try to match 2010.

The weather was great – high 50’s, light breeze. ¬†A little humid, but the rain held off, so no complaints. ¬†And when I found a spot in the corral and chatted with some other runners (who I think i’ve now convinced to run Boston next year. LOL) I felt comfortable and worry-free. ¬†The race would be what it was. ¬†The time at the end didn’t really matter. ¬†It would be neither my best, nor my worst so why care.

We took off and I noticed the 2:15 pacer in front of me (I don’t think he seeded himself quite right) and had to remind myself, its mile 1, don’t try to pass him, just don’t lose him. ¬†And over the course of that mile I crept up to and past him. ¬†Phew….

I fell into a comfortable stride.  I barked back at the little blonde terrier barking at the runners from a corner.  I high-fived a couple adorable kids.  And I listened to the conversations around me.  And I tried to not look at my watch.

When we finally made it to Blackstone Boulevard, and hit mile 4 I peeked at my watch and smiled. ¬†It was sub-10 and it felt good. I admired the stunning homes along the route, I waved to spectators and after we turned the corner and past my favorite bakery I thought of my friends. I had joked with one that I hoped it wouldn’t be open when I went past. Knowing i’d stopped for a sangria during the Disney marathon she replied Don’t You Dare. ¬†LOL No worries Amanda…I was in a groove. ¬†And almost tripped over Mrs Potato Head’s eyes (a couple other runners had dressed in costume and one lost an accessory).

For the next couple miles I had some great conversations with other runners (about gatorade flavors and rear ends and how this one woman had just finished Boston a couple weeks ago and was totally taking it easy today (she and I passed each other a few times).  I ran FUN.  I reminded myself to not push my pace.

I legit said “Why are you running? ¬†Because races are fun. ¬†And if you aren’t having fun, you’re not doing it right”

I passed the spectator blaring the Rocky theme song, I smiled and waved at more children.  And at mile 9, looked at my watch again.  Still sub 10-pace.  Woohoo! That would be the last time I looked at my watch.

The next four miles I remembered as the toughest terrain wise.  A steep downhill, a long downhill and a couple of longer uphills.  The downhill scared me more.  My wonky hamstring had been doing okay this race (tho I noticed after my downhill miles were the slower ones) but going back down Gano Street had me nervous.

I wide-stepped the wicked steep downhill, cruised along the water and remembered that this stretch had been the ‘graveyard’ stretch for me my first year. ¬†I was tired at mile 10 and just hanging in there. ¬†This year, I was still running happy and free.

I hit the turn away from the water and began the long winding climb. ¬†As I tucked in and shimmied up I passed a few people and smiled. ¬†I think that was the point where I realized how much stronger i’d gotten over the years. ¬†Hills don’t scare me. ¬†I climb like a mountain goat and never get passed going up one.

So when I finally reached my arch-nemesis Pittman Street, I kinda smiled.  And not just because the November Project cheer station was such a great boost.  But because this year, no fear.  I chugged up the hill to the top steady and strong.

Left onto Gano, and down the hill…as I neared the mile 11 marker, I heard noise and looked over to realize the marathon winner was coming by. WOW. ¬† The runners I was with started to attempt math to figure out pace. ¬†We realized at that point, 24 miles in, he’d been running about 2 hours and 20 minutes. ¬†Ummm….whoa. ¬†That guy was on pace for a 2:30 marathon, with no one even close behind him. ¬†SO impressive.

I ran through India Point Park and looked at the water, smiled and ran on to the mile 12 marker. And thought to myself, home stretch, we got this.

I didn’t try to go faster, well expect for when I saw that final photographer and went full stride for a good pic (LOL), I just ended up doing so. ¬†I remembered how hard that final mile had felt in 2010. ¬†And even in 2015 when I ran the marathon. ¬†And thought about how easy it felt in comparison this year. ¬†(It would turn out to be my fastest mile of the race – a 9:16.)

When I saw the mile 26 marker and knew there was only .2 left I just focused on finishing.  Turned the corner to the finish chute and scanned the crowd a bit (knowing the hubs was probably there somewhere) and then just stared at the finish line.

Opened my stride and went for it. ¬†I flew across the finish with my arms raised. ¬†Stopped my watch, but didn’t look, got my medal and a water and then walked a few feet.

Now…I looked down, read the 2:06:50 and started to shake. And started to cry. ¬†I couldn’t believe it. ¬†My training wasn’t what I wanted. ¬†My hamstring wasn’t what I wanted. I haven’t run that fast that far in a freaking YEAR. ¬†And yet somehow, the legs remembered.

I thought of my friend who I had just asked the day before if she wanted to pace me again next year for a new marathon PR. ¬†And I mouthed “Eff Yeah!”

I headed for the hubs, feeling SO dang proud of myself.  But I was about to be even prouder of him.

For while I was off kicking asphalt, so was he. ¬†My amazing husband, who has only been running for about 6 months and only run two 5k’s prior (both with me), took 3rd in his age group with an amazing 25:32 finish. ¬†Wow babe. ¬†You rock!

Once again…Providence proved it its my BFF course. ¬†And apparently, the hubs’ also.

Love the run you’re in

Sometimes, the run you get is exactly the run you need.

Even if you maybe kinda had the mother of all meltdowns before heading out the door.  LOL  Does anyone else do that?  Get SO worked up before going for a long run?  I mean, its not like my self-worth is based on how fast or how far I go on a Sunday.  And yet, sometimes it feels like it is. So I get buried under this imaginary pressure.

Especially as its now 25 days to Vermont City.¬† And this training cycle has been less than ideal.¬† Stuff going on every other weekend, challenging weather and well, this darn hamstring thing that just will not go away.¬†¬† Although in retrospect, its continually improving.¬† It just doesn’t always seem like it.

So yeah, facing the idea of 20 miles in the rain Sunday morning in addition to all that other stuff….I kinda freaked.¬† (Sorry babe!) And then went all suck it up buttercup and went.¬† And was greatly rewarded.

The goal was to start slow, and stay slow and see just how much of it I could do.¬† The 18 miles two weeks before, was a lot less running than i’d have liked.¬† So I had to tell myself, it doesn’t matter how slow this run is…if it helps you run them all.

I didn’t look at my watch…I felt it beep the miles, but I refused to be ruled by a number.¬† I saw a hawk sitting by a pond.¬† I saw a gorgeous fox run across the road.¬† I got a text of encouragement from the hubs (Thanks babe!).¬† I spent a lot of time telling myself to Get Out Of My Head and just run.¬† It got damp and it rained and my fingers became useless.¬† I found an aquatic creature out ‘swimming’ too.

I remembered Shalane saying at some point during the marathon it felt like she wasn’t even wearing shorts, and I knew EXACTLY what she meant.¬† LOL

When I hit mile 14 somehow miraculously still running, I aimed for 15.¬† When I hit 15 I tried for 16…¬† At 17, and still running (albeit likely slower) it started to become a mission.¬† And at mile 18, still running, I started to smile.¬† Cuz now it was game on and there was NO way I wasn’t finishing these miles running.

When my watched beeped the magical sound of mile 20 complete….I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.¬† Instead I texted my running friend (who was out running her long run in a matching outfit (twinsies, yay!)) and said “I ran the whole f@$%ng 20”.¬† I then slowly and gingerly ambled into the house (I finished .05 from my door – convenient!) and said “Guess what I just did!”

At that moment, it was the Best Run Ever.

I was tired.¬† I was sore.¬† And I was so incredibly happy.¬† Its not where I used to be…but it doesn’t matter. Because it was exactly what I needed that day.

A side note… today is also 5 years from the day I broke my hip in a running “accident”. Two weeks after my 3rd marathon (Boston 2013).¬† Spending four months on crutches and rebuilding almost from scratch for my 4th (Disney – January 2014) was a challenge.¬† Yet now here I am training for my 14th.¬† Its all about perspective.¬† Belief you can overcome anything…and that you can’t keep a good runner down.

A Tale of Two 5K’s

This month so far I’ve run two 5k’s which were as different as night and day…and not just literally. Lol

April 7th was the Newport Night Run, held at sunset on a gorgeous (from what I could see) ocean loop in Newport, RI.

April 14th was the B.A.A. 5k, held in the morning at Boston Common, on a great loop that goes right on, left on, and across the famed marathon finish line.

Both were different field sizes (900 versus 9,000), and totally different experiences, both both equally amazing. ūüôā

For Newport, I had my favorite training partner by my side. We were decked out in full neon, reflective strips and a headlamp, as suggested by the race director.

And just before dark, we joined the glow at the start line and headed off. ¬†There was a great starting downhill, which unfortunately my wonky leg didn’t love. ¬†But I hung in there and tried not to think about it. ¬†We went through a lovely narrow section lit by luminaries where we noticed a HUGE osprey nest high atop a pole. ¬†We wove around, up and over hills, past some enormous houses and cool stone walls. ¬†The mile marker signs were crazy lights you could see from a ways back, and checking out the cool reflective patterns on some people’s backs when my headlamp hit them was fun.

The race was crowded. ¬†There were definitely spots it was hard to run your pace, and it was WAY hillier than I expected, but we had so much fun chatting and pointing out cool stuff to each other. ¬†And when we finally crested the last hill and saw the downhill to the finish, we ran it out strong. ¬†It was a little slower than i’d hoped – but considering how much my leg hated the downhill sections, how crowded it was, and how it was hard to see where you were stepping sometimes, i’ll take it. ¬†ūüôā A 31:07 finish.

But while I said i was fine with it, I sorta feel like I let the hubs down. ¬†He’s fast for a beginner and I know we ran slower than capable off. ¬†I had wanted him to get a sub-30 finish for his second 5k of the year (Disney was the first and we purposely ran that sucker slow), but I know he’ll nail that at his third in Providence next month.

So with the BAA 5k looming, I really wanted to nail that one.  I spent the week between resting more, stretching more and trying to stay zen.  I had a great freak out, and then, just let go, knowing it would be what it was.

Reasons I knew this would go better? ¬†It was morning (my fave run time), a little warmer (high 40’s) and flatter. Plus this time I taped my leg. ¬†ūüôā

And as we headed up into Boston to meet my friend, and the sun rose above the horizon I broke out into the Circle of Life (LOL!) because it just seemed the thing to do when your friends are also Disney runners (Hakuna Matata Cara).

The hubs didn’t run this one, but was serving as team coach & equipment manager, saving me from having to deal with what was apparently a zoo at bag check. ¬†We met up with the princess posse and hung out, snagging some prerace photos and getting ready.

And a little before 8, headed to the corral, which was SO far back from the start it felt extremely Disney. ¬†In fact, by the time we approached the start, we were just in time to watch the elite men finish. ¬†COOL! ¬†Then…it was our turn.

I went out solid with the crowd, dodging and weaving to get room to run.  I surged up Comm Ave feeling pretty good and when the mile marker hit, I chose to not look at my watch.  I was just gonna run my best and not worry about my time.  I had told my friend Cara that anywhere between 28 & 32 would make me happy, and I meant it.

When we hit the turnaround at Charlesgate I smiled, knowing I was now on the marathon course.  After running it three years in a row, I knew it well.

When we hit the underpass at Mass Ave, I had a brief moment where I remembered 2013, and how that was where my race ended at mile 25.67. ¬†So close, and so far. But I got past myself, I high-fived a guy on the corner of Hereford as I made that infamous right, and scurried up the hill thinking “this is way easier when I haven’t already run 26 miles”.

I turned that left onto Boylston and shouted “Best Left Turn in Town” and raced towards the finish line to fly across and keep going as there was still 3/4 of a mile left. ¬†I started watching the crowds, in case there were any familiar faces. ¬†And cracked up at the blue t-rex alongside the public garden.

Then there was the left turn onto Charles towards the finish line, which seemed SO far away. ¬†I didn’t want to kick until I knew I could sustain it, but when the young girl started to pull alongside I thought “oh honey no” and kicked. ¬†Flew across the finish and to a dead stop (oh no, folks, I gotta keep going, or this won’t be pretty……this is not the place for selfies!).

Checked my watch, got my medal, hugged a friend I randomly bumped into (we’ve managed to run into each other at three or four different races now) and went to find the hubs. ¬†Because I was ready to celebrate…. ¬†I pulled a 29:30. ¬†YAY

Now granted, I am so far from my PR paces it sucks, but to at least be back under 30 makes me happy. And the leg continues to get better every week.

What was also cause for celebration? ¬†My friend Cara got a PR!!!!!!! ¬†So exciting. ¬†I just love seeing my friends achieve greatness. ūüėĀ

So yeah, these two races were completely different experiences for me, but I loved both and would run both again. ¬†We run different races for different reasons. ¬†Newport was a birthday celebration for me, and quality time with the hubs. ¬†Boston was because its the 5th anniversary of my only race DNF and a chance to earn another unicorn medal. ¬†I had something to prove out there…and I did.

Another thing both races had in common?  Cheers!

Keeps Getting Better

I am oh…. thisclose to being back to normal. ¬†I can almost taste it.

I was running SO much better this week that I felt almost silly for spending close to 8 weeks wondering if this is my new normal. ¬†If i’d ever be my self again. ¬†The non-injury is finally down to one little tiny spot that still makes my knee twinge if I overstride, but we can deal. ¬†We have KT tape. ¬†And its magical…

Of course this progress comes just in time…as we’re a mere THREE DAYS to the season opener of Spring Racing. Yay!

First…how did the weekend go? ¬†Well, the hubs and I drove over to another part of town on Saturday for a 3-ish miler…and its going to definitely be one of our favorite run loops. Swans, waterfalls and just enough rolling hills to keep it interesting – and by mile 3 we had a great pace going (his fastest mile to date).¬†IMG_7544.jpg

Sunday was my long run. ¬†This marathon training cycle has been weird for me. ¬†We’ve had just enough weekend plans that i’m only getting in a long run every other weekend. ¬†But i’m trying to find that life-run balance and not freak out over missed 12-milers. Sometimes family and friends are more important. ¬†I just plan around to get in the ‘big runs’. ¬† So Sunday was a 16 miler – and I really wanted to run as much of it as possible, since 2 weeks ago i’d only run 10 of my 14.

I made it a full 13.1 before my legs were all WHAT?  And not only that Рbut I did it without needing to stretch every couple miles.  YAY. (I know РI feel silly being excited, but still.  I AM!)  But this was more my legs having lost some endurance than that anything was bothering me.

I ran / walked the final 2.9 for an even sweet 16. ¬†And then did the runner math…which leads me to believe that if I had to run Vermont City next weekend, I could pull off a 5:30 finish. ¬†And hopefully with another 53 days to go, I can pull off a sub-5. ¬†A far cry from a PR…but I’m really earning this one, whatever it turns out to be. The ones you have to fight harder for, usually mean more.

Anyhoo…. like I said, its almost Racing Season and i’m so happy. ¬†I haven’t done a race since the Dopey Challenge and what a long three months it been. ¬†I’m so ready to put on a bib and get back out there.

I’ve got four races on the schedule between now and June 1st and i’m looking forward to all of them:

  • Newport Night Run – April 7th
  • BAA 5k (part 1 of the distance medley) – April 14th
  • Providence half-marathon – May 6th
  • Vermont City marathon – May 27th

I’ve got different goals for each but fully expect to have a blast at them all. ¬†First up:NNR

The hubs is joining me for the Newport Night Run this weekend and i’m SO excited to race with him again. ¬†Even tho i’m making him race in the dark for the second time this year (lol) he’s a good sport about it. ¬†Newport encourages neon and reflective – and we fully intend to look like the 80’s threw up. ¬†ūüėÄ

If you’re running it too – come say hi, i’ll be the one in ALL the neon and a pink sparkle skirt.