Boston Marathon 2017 Recap

“Limitations only exist if you let them”

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I GET to write this blog post.  Being able to type this title was something that I wasn’t sure I would get the opportunity to do.  Not only do I get to type those words but I get to post a finish line picture!  My heart is so full and I feel so blessed.  I not only ran the Boston Marathon but I felt GOOD.  If you were to tell me back in January or even the day before the race that the only real pain I would feel in the Boston Marathon was a scorching sun burn on my back..I would have laughed in your face.  This does not mean I am free from all labrum issues but this goes to show that my dreams will not be crushed from it.

The emotions during marathon weekend were a snapshot of the emotions throughout this entire training cycle.  A nonstop rotation between moments of extreme excitement and moments of fear.  Up until race day, my hip was tight and tender and there were moments my knee ached.  I’ve done enough marathons to know that taper pains are a real thing and they are SO mental but I still can’t seem to use this knowledge to keep me sane and panic-free.

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My mom and I drove into Boston Saturday morning to pick up our bibs and do all the expo things…aka…spend lots of money and rationalize the purchases by saying IT’S THE BOSTON MARATHON.  We met up with Bethany and I was finally able to meet the lovely Sarah (@lesky27).  I can see why Bethany and her became instant running buddies and great friends, she is so sweet and upbeat.  Just one of those people that can lift your spirits without even trying!  After a lovely day in Boston, we headed home only to be hit with a friendly reminder that marathon hydration and traffic are the WORST combination.

Easter Sunday was pretty low key.  Shakeout run, foam rolled, stretched, laid in the 80 degree weather for just enough time to bronze my skin so it wouldn’t blind all the spectators 😉  We had a nice pasta dinner at my parent’s house and then relaxed for the remaining of the night.

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Turkey, Beet, Avocado and Spinach Panini with Sweet Potatoe Chips and Nuun…love me some pre-race carbssss

Race Morning

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Just like last year, there is a local bus that departs at 6am and shuttles all the local runners to Hopkinton and then picks us up in Boston.  It was already in the 60s when heading to the bus at 530am so I knew we were in for a hot day.   I wouldn’t say I love running in the heat but I am a warm weather person and would MUCH rather heat over cold and rain so the temps didn’t concern me much. My mind was fixated on that super tight hip that kept messing with my confidence.  When I reached Hopkinton, I wandered around the athletes village soaking everything in and eventually found Bethany, Katie and Sarah who helped ease my nerves.  Our squad grew when we ran into a few other Instagram friends!

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The Race

I will recap the race by sections but to be honest, this race was so consistent.  When I think back, I just see myself chipping away at the miles.  Not pushing, not holding back, but just relaxed, consistent…and burning the entire time.

Miles 1-9: Truly unforgettable because Katie, Sarah, Bethany, Kristen (@mamabear_runs_marathons) and I ran in a pack.  The power of a running pack or even with a running buddy during a marathon is indescribable.  Looking in front and to the sides and seeing 4 strong women, all whom arrived in Boston with different training, setbacks and goals but running strong and consistent is an amazing feeling.  It makes you want to fight for them and not for yourself. Running is an individual sport but if you let it become a team sport, it can be so inspiring and a fun experience.  I didn’t anticipate our squad of 5 to stay together for the entire race but I knew I was going to do everything I physically could to keep cruising with them.

Mile 10-13:  Bethany, Sarah and Katie may have a different take on what happened at this point (haha sorry!) but I will tell my viewpoint.  One of my best friend’s sister said she would be cheering close to Natick center which is around mile 10 so apparently after a water stop I started getting excited to see a familiar face in the crowd and sped up because when I turned around, I could only see Kristen.  So here I am on the course, trying to look side to side to spot my friend but then whipping around to find the other girls all while trying to actually run a decent pace and breathe.  I tried to slow a bit but didn’t want to slow too much because this was the time to clock some decent miles before the hills hit and the pace would DEFINITELY slow.

Mile 14 – I WAS THE HAPPIEST PERSON WHEN I FELT BETHANY AND SARAH ON MY LEFT SHOULDER!!!! Yes!!  This was all I wanted.  I didn’t want to pull a last year Boston when I took off on them and that same guilt was starting to surface so seeing them put me at ease……and then Bethany had to tie her shoe!! haha. Those dang Adidas Boost shoelaces.

Mile 15-18 – I lost Bethany and Sarah and was hoping mile 14 would repeat itself and they would come up behind me and we would run step for step for the rest of the race but that never happened. womp womp.  I was really starting to burn up and the sun was beaming down on me.  Every water stop consisted of gatorade, water for drinking and water for my face.  I had friends that were supposed to be at mile 18 so that was all I could focus on.  I just needed to get to mile 18 and then I would get that surge of energy that comes when you see a familiar face in the crowds.  Mile 18 finally came and I searched high and low for my friends.

Mile 19 – Hmmmm…maybe they had their mile markers mistaken and were at mile 19.  Still no friends but miles move quickly when you are on the search for people in the crowds so that was a bonus.

Mile 20-22 – Oh Heartbreak Hill.  You are bittersweet. You are hard but when you are over, you provide an overwhelming sense of relief and energy.

Mile 22-25 – Seriously questioning whether I am on fire at this point.  The sun on my back was painfully strong.  Of course I would rather a sunburn over cramped legs but darn this was going to be one nasty burn.  I was beginning to fade from sheer heat exhaustion.  I had to remind myself that at this point last year, I felt equally as exhausted, if not worse.  This is not unfamiliar territory and it will pass.  These are the moments of grit and the moments that you often can’t remember when the race is over because you were just so tired.  I didn’t want to not remember these final miles.  I kept reminding myself to stay alert and try to embrace everything.  Don’t wish for it to be over because as soon as it is, I know I am going to wish I could relive these moments despite how painful they are.

Mile 25 – 26.2 – Just like the sign that someone was holding early on in the race..’Just keep running, just keep running’ . And then it happened….HEREFORD.  I was spacing off and didn’t expect it so it was a VERY NICE surprise to say the least. This point last year was a total blur and I regret that so much.  The fact that I couldn’t remember the best part of the race killed me so this time around, I promised myself to take it all in.  Yes, Boylston is LONG.  You see the finish and you can’t help but be like “ughthat’s far..” but I tried my hardest to look left, look right, look up and just take it all in.  To my surprise, my legs had that last bit of juice left to kick it in and finish with the biggest smile and hands in the air..exactly the way I wanted to finish.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I ran hobbled into some Intagram friends, and then spotted Sarah and Bethany! We didn’t finish as a squad but we held strong for a while and I was just so happy to be able to re-connect…almost as if we were together the whole time.  In the process of trying to locate my Dad, Sarah casually got ENGAGED!!!! I met Sarah 48 hours prior and here I am hugging her mom and screaming.

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The face you make when you consumed WAY too much Gu and Gatorade due to the heat.

I couldn’t celebrate for too long because I had to get back to the finish line to cheer on my Mom.  My dad had her splits and she was on track to finish well below what she thought she would (as always!!)

We weren’t able to catch her before the finish line but we spotted her in the finishers shoot.  At this point I completely embarrassed myself by jumping on the railings and screaming “MOM”….because no one other than my mom goes by Mom, right??  We finally caught her attention meanwhile those around me are deaf…and celebrated the race with a nice long walk to bus to grab our stuff and then to my dad’s car.  Nothing like a far walk to the car only to realize that we went wrong way at some point because we were standing above the car with no way to get down but retrace our steps and take a different route. Imagine having to tell 2 females who just ran a marathon that we have to turn around.. my poor dad.. but he is the best person ever and you can’t really stay mad at him for long.

We finally made it the car and I had the ride home to reflect on everything…and eat the biggest salad in an attempt to tame my stomach from all the Gatorade and GUs.

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I was so relieved and just so happy.  Relieved that the race I have been stressing about for months was over and a success.  Happy because I fought hard and finished equally as strong as those who had great training cycles.  I say that not in a bragging manner but to prove that we all have obstacles and setbacks and although they feel debilitating at the time and make you constantly question your ability to perform – come race day, it is anyone’s race.  I am not going to lie, this race was in my favor seeing as I spent January doing hot yoga instead of running and in the end the ability to perform in the heat was the ultimate task.  The point I am trying to make is that a setback or even multiple setbacks don’t always dictate the result of the race.  There are so many factors involved.  Your weakness on race day may be someone else’s strength and your strength may be someone else’s weakness.  Take the cards your dealt, swallow your pride and run with your heart.  Sometimes that is the best racing strategy.

Boston, you were exhilarating as always.  I am beyond grateful I got to run your streets again, finish strong and healthy enough to make my way to the start line of Big Sur!

 

Where Has the Summer Gone and Where Have I Been?

You would think summer would be the time when I am on point with my blogging but this summer has proved that theory wrong! Between vacations, a summer class, yoga, crossfit, running, enjoying the outside and now school starting, I have not had the time or desire to be glued to my iPad to type up posts.

I do not know where to begin on this recap so I will start with some key events and memories from the past couple of months

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The week after the San Francisco Marathon, I was back on a plane heading to Wiscounsin for a family reunion!  My first run back after taking some time off from running post-Marathon was a quiet 7-miler along a hilly road in Wiscounsin.  Who knew Wiscounsin was so hilly!

Another great memory from this summer (end of August) …MY FIRST RELAY!

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I did the 100 on 100 Vermont Relay which starts in Stowe, Vermont and finished right in Okemo. My mom was part of a team and one of the females was injured so I volunteered to take her spot.  I had no idea what to expect but figured if I could run 26.2 then I could run my total of 16 throughout the day.  Though it sounded logical and certainly manageable, I did not expect it to be as difficult and fun as it was!  We stayed the night in Stowe and woke up early to make our 7am start time.  And by our, I mean the woman who was doing our first leg.  I was the last leg so I didn’t start until 11ish.  Right as a the sun was starting to beam. Lovely. 

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My first leg was 5.8 miles, my second leg was 5.2 miles and my third leg was 4.8 miles.  It is safe to say that I experienced all the climate changes throughout the day.  It began to downpour during my second leg which actually made me concentrate less on how miserable I was and more on just trying to hurry up and get out of the rain.

Leg 2 was definitely the most challenging.

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People said that leg 2 is where you loosen up but it was the exact opposite for me.  This is where I felt the tightest.  Thankfully the rain gave me the kick I needed to finish up the final 2 miles.

Leg 3 was actually my favorite!  I never run at night or with a headlamp or through trails so this leg was pretty exciting.

imageI quickly found out that the headlamp does not replace a street light.  I had very little light and the trail-type road was not helping with the struggle.  As much as I would have liked to move faster – not spraining an ankle took some priority and I just focused on my stepping.  Around mile 3 I met up with a runner and we decided that if we wanted to finish this thing with ankles still attached to our legs, it was best that we stay together and use some teamwork headlamp action.  It worked perfectly and the miles (it was only 2 but after a long day, that seemed like a lot) just seemed to fly by as we were chatting.  Before I knew it, we were approaching our final hill that led us right into the lodge.  The buffet table was in the same area so it almost felt like I was running straight toward the buffet line…which isn’t a bad way to end a race. 😉 After a day of eating/drinking just electrolytes, gels, bananas and nuts, it felt great to have a real meal!  Even if it was 11 o’clock at night. 

I have also finally made my way to local Thursday night 5ks.

imageThe races go on for 12 weeks and you accumulate points every time you race.  The better you perform, the more points you get at each race, however, if you miss just one week, you miss out on the points and can drop significantly.  Every year, I say I am going to start at the beginning and try to get the most points but once again, I don’t start until much later and have missed so many points that even my wins will not bring me up.  Points aside, they have been nice Thursday night runs and every week I go into the race telling myself that I am just running for fun.  I do Crossfit on Thursday mornings so my legs are never feeling race-ready but for some crazy reason, every time that gun goes off, my soreness goes away, I stay relaxed and manage to pace myself perfectly.  And with great pacing and low stress, I have been getting some pretty solid times and have consistently been placing 2nd.  They may not be PRs but it feels so good these days to pace myself and learn how to just run for fun with a little competitive edge.  Last year, I would come to these races with a plan to win.  I would start off crazy fast, hit a wall, and usually want to die by the last mile.  I may have had better times but it wasn’t worth it.  I think I stopped going after 3 weeks because that whole “feel like dying” thing was not really what I wanted to schedule into my Thursday evenings.  Now, I just start off with a solid pace, listen to my body, and start catching people if my body feels good.  And with some good pacing, it usually does!

I also raced a 20k on Labor Day weekend.  This race was a USATF certified race so I was racing for/with my team.  I had a long run planned for that day prior to signing up so I figured I would make the haul to Eastern, MA so I can get a long run in with people, represent my team and enjoy the time with my team.

imageWe also bought new uniforms that are black, pink and baby blue so of course, I was eager to rock some of my favorite colors.

So far this summer (and September), I have run 2 new PRs!! What is my strategy you ask??? JUST RUN DISTANCES YOU HAVE NEVER RUN BEFORE! ha ha. But seriously, it is a sure way to score yourself a new PR.

A couple additional things (I am scrolling through pictures on my phone to recap my last 2 months ha ha)

imageI bought a pair of Hokas because I just couldn’t resist the thought of how comfy they look despite the clown-shoe-like style.  I am not sure why I thought breaking them in on a 14 mile run was wise, but of course, that was exactly what I did.  They felt pretty good.  I was not in love, but I am starting to warm-up to them.

The weekend before school started, I went to Ithaca for a big family reunion/get-together with my boyfriend’s side of the family.  It was the absolute perfect way to end the summer.  Good BBQs, good people, good weather, and lots of fun and games.

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Quick food recap.  I bought the Oh She Glows cookbook and feel in love.  I learned how to make creamy sauce by simply blending cashews that have been soaked and almond milk.

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This dish was one of their curry dishes (we added the shrimp because it is a vegetarian cookbook) The sauce is simply curry, cashews and almond milk and it is mixed in with all sorts of delicious veggies.  I topped some zoodles with this concoction but some brown rice would be perfect. 

My mornings have consistently been delicious Greek yogurt and fruit bowls for the entire month.

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The key to a wonderful Greek yogurt bowl is some Purely Elizabeth Puffs + Granola.  I absolutely love granola but the sugar content is pretty high.  This cereal is primary puffs with some granola mixed in.  It is perfect because you get just enough granola with some puffs for the added crunch.

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I have also been a huge fan on zoodles (Zucchini spiralized into noodles)!

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My summer lunch was usually zoodles mixed with Cottage Cheese and Flavor God Pizza seasoning.

This summer was absolutely amazing and I am still on cloud nine from the marathon.  I want to do a fall marathon but I also just want to train and run while the weather is still nice without having a specific game plan.  I like having the choice to do what I want and not have to plan around events.  October is stacked with races and crossfit competitions.  Although a fall marathon sounds wonderful –  jumping in a bunch of different half marathons and some Crossfit competitions also sounds great.  My game plan is to increase my long run distance every weekend that I am free and if I can manage to get that 20 miler in with 2 weeks allowed for tapering, then we will see if there is something possible for early November.  But right now I just have my eyes set on some great runs, great Crossfit workouts, my Spartan Race next weekend and just taking the weekends to wind down.  🙂

I hope everyone has had a great summer! It is always sad to see it go, but I love working with my new group of students and am excited to implement some new things in my teaching!

Boston Run to Remember Race Recap

Between ending the lacrosse season and a 3 day field trip to Cape Cod with my students, I am FINALLY here and ready to recap the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon.

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This was my 3rd time running this race and is the only half marathon that I have run 3 consecutive times.

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It was also my 3rd time staying in the Hilton at Logan Airport with my mom.  Prices are cheap, transportation to the start line is quick and easy, view is spectacular and post-race brunch is delicious..which is a necessity.  It was also the 3rd time that my mom and I set an early departure time but ended up leaving hour(s) past the intended time 😉

Time of departure aside, my mom and I met up Saturday afternoon and were off to Boston.  We had a few pit stops that had to be made along the way…

Marathon Sports was a necessary stop because I have been struggling to find the perfect shoe.  The Asics Gel-Pursue have been my go-to for the past year and although I have tried to explore different Asics, I always end up coming back to the pursue.  Well sure enough they had the Asics Pursue at Marathon Sports and sure enough the shoe expert said that it was a good fit given my foot structure.  But I also had my eyes on the beautiful Brooks Launch running shoes.  I have been contemplating trying out Brooks because I have heard great things about the brand.  The second I slipped them on, it all made sense.. they felt amazing.  So amazing that I felt the need to walk out of the store with them on and wore them for the rest of the day 🙂

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I also felt the need to talk a picture of how awesome they were while standing in line for my over-priced/standard Boston price Americano.

A Whole Foods stop for some pre-race fruits and a Sushi lunch was also mandatory

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..and of course another over-priced drink.

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But this was a drink I didn’t mind spending $4 on because it was delicious!  You can’t even imagine the excitement I had when I went to my local Whole Foods this past weekend and saw a sign “2 for $5” for them.  Definitely walked out with 4 different flavors.  

And after multiple stops throughout Boston, we finally made it to the Expo!

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The Boston Run to Remember expo is always pretty decent.  Nothing too crazy but you have a solid amount of samples..free samples are what make an expo awesome, right?!  It’s hard to judge the expo when your last Expo was the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  Lets just say the expectations are set pretty high after you experience that.  After the expo we headed back to the hotel to relax..and catch up on Grey’s Anatomy with a Boston Skyline view.

We had reservations at the same restaurant that we ate at last year, Salvatore’s.  It still holds as some of the best pizza that I have ever had. So delicious that I even still have a picture of my pizza from last year….

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In the midst of inhaling the pizza, my mom was chatting with the bartender about last year’s race which somehow turned into a convo about my time and place last year which then led to the bartender saying “If you get top 3, you can come back tomorrow evening and I will buy you your meal”.  First of all, you should never offer to buy a female dinner after racing….we/I can EAT. So I guess you can say, my lack of placing top 3 was because I am overly generous and did not want the bartender to go bankrupt 😉

The race was at 7 so we had a 5am wake up.  I wasn’t too nervous because I had no idea what to expect.  I have been getting in my long-runs but my mid-week runs have been limited.  I have been focusing on strength and Crossfit rather than improving my race times.  I want to be ready and prepared to jump into half marathons for fun but fast times are currently not my main focus.  Last year, I ran a PR (which was beat this past fall) of 1:27 and with most PR races, there was a whole lot of pain and struggle.  It is hard to enjoy the beautiful Boston scenery when your fighting to hang on.  This time around, I decided to take it all in and not focus on time.

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3 minutes slower than last year which is still a bit hard to accept but it was truly an enjoyable race and I can’t say that about many races that I’ve raced hard in.

The expo samples may have been limited but they certainly made up for it after the race!

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If I had any class/dignity left in me after the race, it was definitely out the window when I grabbed an empty cardboard box and just started loading up on every possible (free) sample I could find.  Thankfully, I found a bag to transfer everything which made me feel a bit more classy.

Another reason why I decided to take the slower, more enjoyable racing option was because the next day was Memorial Day which means HERO WOD at Crossfit.  I was already signed up for the 10am session and I definitely did not want to skip on this fun!

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Not your typical ‘day-after-half marathon-workout’ but I am so glad I have some energy left from the race because this was crazy, challenging, and so rewarding!

imageI can’t say enough great things about working out with these people.  They are so strong, so motivating and they always keep me humbled.  Each person has a different strength and a different weakness.  Crossfit is such a mix of different abilities which is why I love it so much.  There is always something (multiple) things to improve on which keeps me wanting to come back and push harder everyday.

It sometimes worries me that I am not getting in as many runs and I have been lacking the motivation to push myself in races.  I am naturally a competitive person and will always want those race PRs and those super speedy times, however, I am still mentally recovering from some really tough races and I just want to get back to the joy of racing before I return to that level of pain and struggle.  I also need to keep reminding myself that although I am taking my racing lightly, I have been pushing myself harder and faster everyday in Crossfit.  There are so many goals I am trying to reach in that arena and I have been really fighting hard to reach some solid benchmarks.  Balancing running and Crossfit has been manageable but there is a lot of give and take.  In the fall, my focus was on racing.  I was only able to make Crossfit 3 days a week because I needed to get in high mileage.  I was improving in Crossfit but certainly not as much as I am now.  I guess you could say, I Crossfitted with caution which limited my achievement in that aspect, however, I ended up racing some fast half marathon times.  This past spring is opposite, I skip more weekday runs because I want to give my crossfit workouts everything I have without tired legs.  Despite my lack of racing PRs, I’ve set some solid PRs on the rower, on many lifts, and FINALLY just set the highest Max Double Unders.

So, with all this PR talk, I will end with this.  At the end of the day, no one really knows what your PRs are/is, many probably don’t care, and SOME DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT PR STANDS FOR! (Personal Record by the way) Just got out there, do what makes you happy, do what keeps you coming back for more, and do it for YOU!

A Long Overdue Check-In and a Killer Smoothie Bowl

Wow.  It is safe to say that my blogging activity will hit an all time low this Spring.  I am three weeks into coaching Varsity lacrosse and despite how much fun it is to watch the team grow each day, my stress level is in overdrive which has not been very helpful when trying to kick this cold that has been lingering for the past 2 weeks.

But here I am – a little less stressed now that I am adjusting to my busy schedule, my cold seems to be just about gone, and the weather is looking a bit more like spring which is enough to put a smile on my face.

Since my last recap/half marathon post (3 weeks ago, WHAT?!), I have done a good amount of resting.  My body and mind needed it.

Two weekends ago (week after my half marathon), I had a St. Patrick’s Day 10k.  Despite the brutal beating my body took during the last half marathon, I didn’t want to take the ENTIRE week off after the half and show up to the 10k out of it, so I did some workouts here and there.  In hindsight, I was probably better off just taking the week completely off because every workout I squeezed in just hurt.  It was my first week of coaching lacrosse, every muscle in my body was still sore from the race, and my cold was coming in strong…let’s just say it was a tough week.

If there is one thing I have learned over the past couple of weeks, it is the amount of training you do and how hard you push becomes completely meaningless if you are not taking care of your body.  I pushed through the half marathon on little rest after a brutal workout which resulted in a terrible race.  In the midst of trying to recover from that race, I tried to squeeze in more workouts to prepare for my 10k, hence little recovery.  What do you think happened at THAT race? Another poor and painful performance. My time was 42:20 and I placed 20th female.  I hate to complain and say “ugh I did so bad” because to someone reading this, it could be a phenomenal time.  So I guess I will go with this…I am grateful to have been able to run a 42:20 and I am proud that I pushed through some pretty painful miles, but this was about 2 minutes slower than the 10k I ran in Disney and I am pretty sure it had nothing to do with my training and more on my inability to pay attention and listen to what my body needed. REST.

After the 10k, I did have one more thing I had to take care of… Crossfit Open Workout 15.4.

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I promised myself on Sunday morning after the rough 15.4 open and a day after my 10k that I would take 3 complete days off.  Those three days were just what I needed.  I just needed to get home after practice with not a care in the world about getting a workout in.  I just needed to be home before 6 to enjoy down time.  I just needed to get to bed early and kick the cold.  It was a perfect few days of rest.  I did have that itch to get back into it so on Thursday I was ready to get in a 5am crossfit WOD.

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It wasn’t my favorite thing to set this alarm..but once I was up and had the music blasting with a cup a coffee on my ride over, I was ready to take on the Hero WOD.

imageOh man.  What a workout to come back to. It hurt.  But finally a good hurt. One great thing about WODing in the morning is the great stretch you get before the day has even started.  Despite the sore legs, the rest of your body feels so lose.

Another great thing about Thursday morning was the start of a delicious smoothie bowl kick that I have been.

imageQuick, delicious, nutritious and doesn’t leave the full/bloated feeling that I sometimes experience after eggs.  I used my new Ninja food processor to blend up 1/3 cup of rolled oats, 1 scoop Vega Sport protein powder, spinach, mixed frozen berries and almond milk.  The mixed nuts and cacao nibs add the perfect crunch!  It is safe to say that this has been my breakfast for the last 2 weeks and I not sure if that is going to change anytime soon.

Another wonderful meal was our Sunday evening homemade burger night..

imageTrader Joe’s 90/10 ground beef cooked on the grill, chopped and broiled sweet potato fries and homemade tortilla chips with melted cheese.  It was perfect.  

imageThe homemade tortilla chips are something I have been meaning to try but never got around to it.  I guess I didn’t realize just how simple they are.  Sliced Ezekiel tortilla sprayed with coconut oil and sprinkled with Himalayan seat salt, garlic powder and curry powder – baked @ 350 for 8-10 min.

Another great meal was chicken cooked with curry sauce topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions, broiled Brussel sprouts and broiled sweet potato fries.  I am convinced that any meal can be made delicious by adding broiled sweet potato fries and covering everything in mushrooms and onions…

imageOn a less attractive note is this wonderful battle wound from another 5am WOD with burpees….

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At least I had a cute little pup to serve me a post-workout smoothie bowl at 7am as I rushed to work..

imageI think I have hit the point where this post is getting obnoxiously long so I will leave you with a couple great pictures.

imageMy Disney Princess Challenge prizes came in!

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..and my babies are enjoying the warm temps just as much as I am! 🙂

A Finish is a Finish – New Bedford Half Marathon Recap

A finish is a finish..yup, sometimes that is all you can say about a race.

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There are races where I have a goal of getting a PR or a top place finish and others where I just do it for the experience or for training purposes.  Usually I have my top priority half marathons in the Spring and Fall.  After my racing season this past October, I started jumping in half marathons for the experience of just enjoying the races rather than racing hard.  It was more of a way to train my brain and legs to race without going all out and learn how to just embrace the joy of racing.  I have been stuck in this laid back state of mind for a bit too long, especially after a winter of little running. It has finally come and kicked me in the butt.  I also think the Disney Princess Challenge got to my head and made me a bit too cocky.  I was so impressed with my half marathon time given I had raced the 10k hard, had sore calves and little running throughout the winter.  I started thinking I was capable of just jumping in half marathons even when not prepared.  So with that mindset, I said, “Yeah sure, I’ll do the Crossfit Open Workout 15.3 two days before a race…I’ll be recovered by Sunday if I just do shakeout run on Saturday”…Nope. Not the case.  I may have been able to run Disney with sore legs, but that is not something that should be a regular doing.  After some mid-race tears, cramping and one of the most mentally and physically challenging races to date..I have learned my lesson.

Now, I certainly don’t regret my decision to take part in the Open Workout because I loved the workout and finally logged a great score in the Open challenge.  I may have even won some cash if my score is still the top after everyone at my box has done the workout!  But, it definitely affected my race and more importantly, it set me up for potentially injuring myself.

Now that the race is over, I have some clarity to reflect on what exactly happened during the race.  I pretty much lost control of my emotions and broke down mentally and physically.  The feeling of your body just shutting down and working against you is scary.  Every half marathon is a fight and a struggle at some points, but this was different.  This was a feeling of hopelessness. A feeling that my body would not fight with me and was ready to give up while my mind was trying so hard to put up a fight.

Mile 8 was where I experienced my first calf cramp and from then on, there were LOTS of stops to stretch and attempts to get my head back in the race.  Stopping actually did the exact opposite.  Looking back now, every time I stopped I worked myself up more.  It is as if stopping gave me time to process just how bad my emotions were taking over ( I swear I am not this crazy!)

I kept telling myself, “I think my Mom is at mile 11, I just need to get to her.  I just need a familiar face.  A calming voice.  I just need her.” Don’t ask me what I expected her to do about the situation, I still don’t even know.  Sometimes just the presence is just what you need. By mile 11.5, there was no sight of her so I figured she was at the finish line.  At that point, I just stopped..cried..walked…pretty much lost the mental battle.  People running by were pushing me to keep on going but I ignored them until one guy said, “the best thing you can do is run it off!”…Logically, it didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t make sense. How can the cause of your pain also be the solution? Any marathoners out there to help me understand this?? But after a few deep breaths, I gave it a try.  And I somehow managed to push through to the finish.  You know when you hold in a breakdown and then it finally comes out? Well it happened at the finish. Right there.  No control.  I am all about sportsmanship and appreciating just being able to cross the line so that being said, I knew how I should have been acting.  I should have gone back to cheer on my teammates.  I should have said thank you to all the volunteers providing water and medals.  I should have been thankful rather than having a pity party. The mental game got the best of me and I am not proud of my performance nor my actions, but the best I can say is, lesson learned.

imageOuch. It is what it is…

But despite a rough day, my team,  Western Mass Distance Project, did awesome and finished 6th while the masters finished 13th! They all put up such a fight and some solid PRs!  Congrats to all of them and a special thanks for the encouragement.

Glen..you said you read my blog. Maybe you lied 😉 But if you do then, thank you. Thank you for getting us to New Bedford, for all the support and for witnessing crazy runner/female emotions.  I will get a top 3 place soon so I can live up to the expectations!

Enough running talk, lets talk race recovery.  Nothing like recovering from a mental fight with some trivia and burgers!

imageYup.  Winning just wasn’t in the cards that day. My second poor performance 😉 Thankfully, I had the perfect partner who managed to get us some points..and a delicious burger to fill to void of losing.

Despite everything that went wrong on Sunday, being able to finish, spending the evening with such a special person and just being lucky enough to have the opportunity to race is a victory in itself.

Disney Glass Slipper Challenge – Princess Half Marathon Recap

Initially, I planned on writing one giant Glass Slipper Challenge race weekend recap but as I was writing about the Enchanted 10k, I realized that each race is different and amazing in their own way.  It just didn’t feel right to transition immediately into the Half Marathon after I ended a, what I thought was, a well written 10k recap.

So here we are with the second race of the Glass Slipper Challenge

The Disney Princess Half Marathon

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After the 10k, my legs felt shot.  I was proud of my 3rd place finish so I tried to remind myself that my game plan was to race the 10k hard and see what I had left in me for the half marathon.  Despite how annoyed I was with my legs not being very reliable, I was still on point with my game plan. But, let’s be honest.  I knew that was a terrible game plan from the start because I have a difficult time admitting when I should back down and rest.  Aside from some sun bathing and a short visit to Epcot, I spent a good portion of Saturday icing, rolling and living in my ProCompression socks…even if they DID NOT go with my outfit.  Saturday was a whirlwind of emotions, there were moments when my legs felt great and I had a surge of confidence and then there were moments when they did not feel so great and the nerves started kicking in.

One thing that really calmed me down was a couple of women my Mom and I met while waiting for our seat at our pre-race pizza place.  One lady was in a boot because she had tibia tendonitis but was still planning on running the half marathon.  I jumped with joy, not because she was injured, but because I finally met someone who was experiencing similar issues.  I asked her if she was worried about being able to finish.  She was so confident with her answer, “No, I know I will finish it just won’t be fast”…so casual and confident even though she was walking in a boot less than 10 hours away from a half marathon!! And here I am, a little sore but no tibia pain..and im freaking out!  Sometimes you just need to chat with other people to help you put everything in perspective.

With another 2:45 wake-up call around the corner, it was an early night for us.

Sunday morning looked very similar to Saturday…coffee, banana sandwiches, nerves and LOTS OF STRETCHING. In my opinion it was more of a ‘last minute attempt/plead for my legs to come back to life and not be sore’.

imageFunny story about my banana sandwich that did not happen on Saturday and was pretty unexpected.  I am walking onto the bus holding my fine dining plate..

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..and the bus driver says, “Ma’am please don’t bring food on the bus.”..now I understand that the majority of people are not runners and probably could not even tell you how long a 10k or half marathon is so I am used to the interesting comments, however, I am NOT going to just casually toss my breakfast in the trash and then go try to run 13.1 miles.  Luckily, Disney does a great job hiring kind and enthusiastic employees so we were able to agree that as long as I take my empty plate off the bus, I could bring it on. Scarfing down a sandwich didn’t seem like a desirable or wise pre-race move.

The morning was pretty funny/interesting in terms of my nerves.  I woke up feeling confident and just told myself, even if I have to walk half of the race, I WILL finish.  I began accepting the idea of having a very slow race, which is a hard acceptance for me.  Meanwhile, my mom was pretty nervous.  I kept reassuring her that she would do great because she always does fine.  Her training was much better than mine in terms of how many miles she has been logging (yup. my 59-year-old mom runs more than me. I am both impressed and slightly embarrassed) Also, SHE WASN’T EVEN SORE! However, as we started walking into the race, that confidence was sucked right out of me.  My calves were tight and sore which pretty much sent me into a panic.  I never felt more unsure of myself. Meanwhile, my mom was beginning to relax and the roles were reversed.  My response to all her positive comments was probably something negative and maybe not always in the nicest tone, I’ll blame the nerves for that, however, I do feel pretty bad…

imageEven though I have done this race before, I forgot how long the walk is to the Elite Corral.  Let’s just say, once the National Anthem starts playing, it is no longer a walk, it’s a run! I finally made it to the Elite corral and realized, wow that little run over here didn’t even hurt.  Could it be that walking hurts more than running?! Well my friends, that was just the case.

And now with a little confidence and a couple of minutes to spare before the start of the race, I managed to snap a picture of just how amazing this experience is aside from all the other nonsense that trickles through my crazy mind before a race.

imageFrom the second I crossed the start line, I promised myself that I would just have fun. And that is exactly what I did.  I kept a strong pace but I made sure to take in every moment.  I just kept flying through the miles pain-free and comfortable.  It felt amazing.  I did not care about my pace, but I knew it was pretty darn decent. I did not care about my place, but I knew I was up front. I just ran MY race.  I surprised myself with each mile.  I truly was on cloud nine.  I DID NOT expect to feel and do as good as I was doing.  I remember at mile 6 saying to myself “you are doing amazing, keep it up, you have what it takes to finish this strong”  I even surprised myself with that comment.  I am always so hard on myself and my performances.  I aim to be great at everything I try and rarely give myself enough credit for the small victories.  At about mile 10 I started feeling my legs wanting to slow but my pride in what I had done thus far was enough to keep me moving. I passed some security men on bicycles and turned to them to let them know that I was ‘very jealous of their means of transportation’.  I quickly put my ear buds back in so I did not catch their whole response but I did hear, “We are actually jealous of you…”.  At the time I thought to myself, ‘they must be crazy. what in the world could they be jealous of? Being tired? Still have to run 3 more miles?’ Looking back on it now, I still don’t know why they were jealous but I do know  that they were right, they should have been jealous.  I was given the opportunity to run through Disney.  I was just about to complete something I doubted only an hour prior. I had the ability to run 19.3 miles in two days.  I had the ability to run.  Yes.  That is something to be jealous of.  And something I should never take for granted.

And with that ability, I trucked through the last 3 miles to finish an amazing weekend with some solid times and amazing memories.

image10k – 40:22 and Half Marathon – 1:32.39

Scratch that. WE finished the weekend with some solid times and amazing memories.

imageI can’t thank her enough for booking this trip, for running this challenge, and for just being such an amazing person.

It is safe to say, we left Disney limping and with some pretty hefty bling.

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Disney Glass Slipper Challenge – 10k Recap!

Here it goes…

After getting home at midnight on Monday and a 6am wake up for work, it has been tough getting back in the swing of things and even harder to get on here and put the whole experience into words.  So here I am..about to attempt to put such an amazing, fun-filled, exhausting and memorable week into words.

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This was the 2nd time my mom and I took on the Disney Princess half marathon but the first time we took on the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge.  I have been battling some tibia tendonitis and have not been able to run longer than 7 1/2 miles since Thanksgiving so it is safe to say that my nerves were pretty high just thinking about the upcoming races.  I knew the 10k was doable and was probably my best shot at placing so I decided to make that the race of the week and really give it all I had.  And if I made it out alive then I guess I would attemt 13.1 miles the next day…

imageAnd a pre-race Southwest Burger was exactly what I needed…wanted… in order to make it happen. I usually do pizza or pasta before race day but vacation time and Disney is all about having fun and doing what you want even if you have races on the schedule.

A couple things that DID stay consistent with my normal pre race routine were…

1.) COFFEE…There was no way we were getting through a 2:45am wake up without a couple of these.

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2.) Pre race Selfies..never on a pirate bed though!

image 3.) Banana and almond butter sandwich..the best sandwich a person could ever have.

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And once all that is done, MAKE SURE TO CATCH THE LAST 4am SHUTTLE BUS TO THE RACE! And then when you get there…make sure to snap a picture with your Mom because despite all the nerves, these moments don’t happen often, so when they do…capture them and hold them for as long as you can!

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Lets talk about the race.  I started out strong and held that comfortable yet difficult pace up until mile 4.  The excitement of leading the race in addition to the beauty of running through Epcot was helping me remain strong throughout mile 4 despite some tired legs.  By mile 5, I was really starting to feel it and as soon I saw the second female coming up behind me, it became a fight against tired legs as well as some negative thoughts.  I did my best to hang on but it just did not happen.  I finished strong and still can’t think of anything I would have done differently.  I can’t say I started off too fast but I guess I just couldn’t hold it.  Though it is easy to get wrapped up in the “what ifs”, you need to step back and celebrate simply crossing the line.

imageI will proudly take 3rd place and am beyond happy with my performance.

imageAfter the race, my calves completely cramped up and I had little time to celebrate my finish becasue the pain lead to immediate stress and fear of the half marathon I had in less than 24 hours!

But once again, even in the midst of stress and pain..don’t forget to capture the moment when you meet up with your Mom after the race.

imageAlso, don’t forget to raid your free goodie bag to find some random but delicious snacks..

imageLemon Zest Luna bar and some Krave cereal..sure, why not

These races are always well-organized and with the 10k only being 10,00o runners (no big deal)..the bathroom line was super short and almost non-existent.  As all you runner know, that’s a rare and special moment. And for you hardcore racers like us, it means you can stay clear the woods and start the race with some dignity 😉

I didn’t plan on splitting this recap into two separate 10k and Half Marathon posts but seeing as I’ve spent an hour just talking about the 10k, I think I need some sleep before tackling the half marathon.  I now know why it takes bloggers a few days to post race recaps..they are no joke! You just want to spill all your emotions into the post but it’s exhausting trying to find the right words to describe all the emotions on race day. It is hard enough just to tame them let alone describe them!

So on that note I will end it with a picture describing the hour I had between getting back to the room and the pool/hot tub opening at 9am.

imageJust some classy ice buckets on the toilet in the hotel room..haha

Just Kidding. I will end it with how my mom and I celebrated 6.2 done and 13.1 to go.

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