Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One Lovely Blog

May 29 - I have been enjoying some stress free weeks of running following my last half marathon earlier this month. My calf tightness is on the mend thanks to the ART and Graston techniques applied by my PT. I ran a 12K a couple of weeks ago because it was one of my favorite running routes and had my best race photo ever taken. See for yourself...

I wish they all turned out so nice, but unfortunately they usually look like a monster invaded my body.

Thanks KrissyK for making me look totally amazing in at least one race photo in my lifetime.

More good news - today I found out that I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by Angela from Happy Fit Mama.

Isn't Angela super sweet? 

The One Lovely Blog Award is a "pay it forward" kind of way to recognize your favorite blogs. 

Here are the rules:

1. Post the award logo and and picture on your blog and link back to the person who nominated you.
2. Tell seven things about yourself.
3. Nominate up to 15 additional bloggers who you think deserve the award.
4. Post a comment on the blog of each nominee to tell them him/her they have been nominated.

So, seven things about me that you might find the least bit interesting, hmmm...

1. I named my dog after a baseball player.
2. I'm an organizational freak - think Monica of Friends!
3. I recently jumped on a trampoline for the first time ever.
4. I really love watermelon.
5. My favorite pizza is from LaRosa's in Cincinnati.
6. I've never been on a cruise.
7. I'm running my first "mud run" in July.

And the nominees are...

Have you ever had ART or Graston? What do you think?
It can get painful, but it seems to be working for me.

How do you feel about race photos? Love 'em? Hate 'em?
I love them, but hate that they usually look terrible.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bedford Rotary 12K

May 19 - Today I ran the Bedford Rotary 12K in Bedford, NH. I ran this race last year as part of my RnRPROV half marathon training. My official training for RnRPROV this year doesn't start for another couple of weeks, but I have been continuing to run on a pretty regular basis since my last halfathon. So last week I decided to run this race again for two reasons:
1. I love this route. It is just the right length and challenge level for a feel good run. The hills are not my BFF when I'm running them, but I love the feeling of accomplishment when I'm finished. 
2. I wanted to see if I could improve my time from last year. My running has been more consistent than ever, so I was hoping to see an easy PR for this distance. 

This local race started at 9AM from the high school, so I planned my arrival for 8:30. After easily parking in the lower lot (where exiting would be easiest), I made my way up the hill to pick up my bib and race day shirt. Just like last year there was a crowd of people who all seemed to know each other (except me, I live in another town) and super friendly volunteers. I had plenty of time to walk back to my car, put on my bib, and make one last trip to the bathroom inside the school. While milling around waiting for the race to start, I listened to the DJ music that was being provided and watched for anyone I might know. Nope. No one today.

Right on the dot, the bagpipers appeared and then the crack of the gun signaled the start. The hardest part of running for me has been pacing, so I tried really hard to start out slowly, so that I wouldn't fade away at the end. Being familiar with this course, I know how they save the hills for the middle and the end - just like all good race courses do, right?

So the first few miles were pretty uneventful. I did what I usually do when I am running alone and found some fellow runners to stalk follow. I like the fact that these people don't even know that they are pacing me or that I am totally listening to their conversations. About mile 4 is where the fun began - MAJOR elevation increase. I kept telling myself, baby steps, baby steps. Again, knowing the route, I didn't want to burn up all my leg energy knowing there was more fun to come. At mile 5 there is a little comic relief in the form of a peacock farm. They like to show off by fanning their tales and screeching at us as we run by. Leading up to mile 6 our legs got a little breather before a set of rolling hills. Just after passing the mile 6 marker, I came upon a runner who was limping. His calf was cramping and I'm sure the hill wasn't helping. I ran with him for about 3/4 of a mile just chatting and offering some distraction. He just ran Boston with a time of 3:30 something - pretty amazing! Today was his most painful run in 30 years, he said, but he was toughing it out. Right before the mile 7 marker I wished him luck and made my way to the finish hoping that I would still manage to beat my last year's time. The last 1/4 mile of this race leads runners up a final 30 foot incline and then around the high school track for the finish. As I was approaching the finish line, I saw the clock time...OFFICIALLY 1:10:42 (which according to my husband is a 3:31 PR!!)

After happily accepting two freezer pops from a teeny tiny volunteer and watching for my-injured-runner to cross the finish, I made my way back to the car and home. I forgot about the post race food and free massages, but that's ok. My family's congratulations and a cold Gatorade made for a great post race celebration.

My race day outfit was made up of many of my favorite running BFFs, but today I was especially loving my headband, my racerback tank and my water bottle. First, Sweaty Bands do not move. I love this. Nothing is worse than having to deal with sweaty hair on your sweaty face while you're trying to run. Second, I have fallen in love with the Nike racerback tanks. They are so comfortable in the warm weather and long enough to happily cover all my belly parts. Last, my Simple Hydration Water Bottle is the best thing ever. I love that I can breeze by the water stations drinking water without choking or spilling it from a cup. But, if I need to, I can quickly refill at the station and move on. Hands-free running and without being weighed down by a water belt is the greatest feeling and keeps me from messing up my running form. Today was all about being comfortable and these items definitely helped.

In my excitement after the race I posted my unofficial time on Twitter and have to share with you the amazing support I received from the running community and members of FitFluential. It is such an amazing feeling to read the replies and comments after reaching a goal or overcoming a hurdle. I love fitness, especially running. Being a part of a group of people who "get me" and understand my need to shout from the roof tops all the little successes I make along the way is by far one of the best experiences. If you can relate to this at all and are not yet a member of FitFluential, join!

What is your favorite race/route/fitness activity?

Have you ever "helped" a fellow runner in a race?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Cheerleader Mother

May 13 - My mom was there for almost 20 years of competitive sports. Hours were spent sitting in the stands, chauffeuring me from one sport to the next, laundering dirty practice jerseys and uniforms, selling baked goods and washing cars, traveling endless miles to make it to games and tournaments and handing out hugs and kisses for countless injuries.

When I began running, it was no different.   

She was there to cheer for me at my very first 5K race.

She continues to be there to celebrate my successes.

Thanks mom! Happy Mother's Day!

How will you celebrate Mother's Day?
Living 900 miles away means that I will be Skyping today!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cox Providence Half Marathon Weekend

May 7 - My Cox Providence Half Marathon weekend was packed full of expo-ing, shopping, eating, meeting running friends, and of course running! I began blogging about this race in January after being asked to be a Rhode Scholar Blogging Ambassador and I'm excited to share my recap.

Saturday: Hubs and I arrived in Providence around lunch time. To our surprise, the host hotel was ready for us and allowed us to check in early. We loved this because our goal was to park the car and walk during our stay. The Providence Renaissance Hotel was gorgeous. Our room was at the cul-de-sac end of the winding hallway and it was beautiful. The large bathroom was the best with a glass enclosed shower and extra door leading back into the main room (sorry no picture). The hotel also offered free valet parking and late check out as part of the race weekend package. Awesomeness.

After checking in, we walked to Providence Place Mall where we grabbed a quick lunch at the food court before heading over to the Health & Wellness Expo. I've been to two other expos: Rock 'n Roll and Boston. I'm sorry to say that the Cox expo was disappointingly small. There were limited vendors and it was crammed into one small, dark ballroom at the Rhode Island Convention Center. I did get a good deal on Sport Beans at the Discount vendor though.

I can say that bib pickup went smoothly and the volunteers were friendly. The goodie bag was filled with the typical samples from sponsors including a cute clown nose promoting the circus which was in town.

Since we didn't hang out at the expo as long as we were expecting to, hubs and I did a little shopping at the mall, stopped in PF Changs to have a drink and then walked around a little before heading to the Cheesecake Factory to meet Kat, the only other Rhode Scholar able to make it to dinner. Kat blogs at Eating the Week and ran her first marathon yesterday! Although it would have been nice to meet all of the Rhode Scholars at dinner, we had a great time chatting and sharing running stories. You should read about how she broke her finger during one of her training runs!

After dinner, we took another walk to the local CVS and picked up some snacks and bottled water for later. It was fun strolling the sidewalks downtown and along the waterfront.

Sunday: The marathon start was at 7:30 and the half followed at 8:00. We made it to the starting line area just in time to see and offer good luck sentiments to Kat and Portia before they started the marathon. After a last port-a-potty stop, it was half marathon time. Both races had a great turn out of both runners and supporters, and they both started right on time.

The Race: I knew that this race was going to be challenging because of the month I'd had dealing with my calf issues and not getting in a long run of more than 8 miles since my last half marathon in March. My goal was to keep my pace around 9:30 and hopefully have enough energy left in my legs to get me to the finish. The course was exactly what I had expected: beautiful, lined with cheering supporters, and hilly. The gray skies started clearing up right away although it stayed cool. Great running weather.

For most of the race I felt good. My calf was pain free and loose, I grabbed water at nearly every stop, and cruised slowly up the hills. The first couple of miles were uneventfully straight while mile 3 was a series of turns through a neighborhood. Mile 4 (which was also mile 8 on the way back) was a straight-away supporter-lined boulevard. After mile 6, I pit-stopped at the port-a-potty and then hit a tough hill. Around mile 10 my legs started to tighten up and fizzle. I ran the last three miles on empty. Even though I ate Sport Beans and grabbed Gatorade when available I was fuel-less. I kept thinking how great it was going to feel when I could sit down and take off my shoes. I got a small burst of energy when I saw hubs and my step daughter near the finish line. It was just what I need to make it up the final incline. (I hate finishes that end uphill!) My tired legs and tired feet managed to get me across the finish line in 2:11:01. Not my best, but not my worst. Someone handed me a medal and a bottle of water, and I began to search for my cheerleaders. Before finding them I ran into Samantha, another Rhode Scholar, who PR'd her half marathon. Way to go, Samantha!

After walking back to the hotel and getting cleaned up, hubs treated step daughter and I to lunch in the hotel at Temple Restaurant, which offered a Mediterranean inspired menu in a relaxing but sophisticated setting. Between us we had New England Clam Chowder, Margherita Flatbread Pizza, and the Temple Mezze Platter. With full bellies we checked out of our room and drove to Providence College to drop off one almost finished freshman.

The Cox Providence Half Marathon Weekend was a success. We absolutely loved the host hotel and wish more hotels would offer one night stays, free parking, and late check-out. I would like to run this race again in the future with a regular and healthier month of training leading up to it to see if I could do better against the hilly course. Even though my performance wasn't stellar, I am happy with my ability to push through and finish the 13.1 miles. Today I'm feeling really good and am already looking forward to my next half marathon in August.

Have you ever abbreviated your training before a big race?

How do you power through a challenging race?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strength Training: 30 Day Challenges

May 1 - The past couple of months I have been adding strength training to my exercise routine. I have been using some of my own and daily workout challenges that I found on Pinterest.

The first one I found was FAB AB FEBRUARY:

Then in March I found MAD ABS MARCH:

Last month it was AWESOME ABS APRIL:


Source: tumblr.com via Amy on Pinterest

This month it will be MAD MUSCLE MAY:

I'm still on the hunt for a daily workout calendar for abs, so let me know if you have seen one!

**Update!! Found it...MUSCLE MANIA MAY:

I love these daily workouts because they are quick and get progressively more challenging each day. The simplicity of three focus exercises makes them doable for someone like me who doesn't particularly like strength training. I do them because of the benefits: strength training helps you burn more calories, run more efficiently, and prevent injuries.

What is your favorite strength training exercise?

Are you starting anything new this month?