Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Marathon Bucket List

My friend and NJ Marathon training partner, The HappyRunner, has a new feature called Marathon Mondays where she profiles other marathoners.  It’s a great idea and it’s fun to read about other people’s marathon experiences.  This Monday she did a profile of me and one of the questions she asked was about what races were on my bucket list.   I gave her a few of my top ones but since answering her I’ve been thinking more about other races I should add to my list.

Here’s my marathon bucket list so far.  Any other great ones that I should add?

Look at the amazing views in this race.  It sounds like is very challenging but also worth it for the views.

I just began training for this race in 2009 when I found out I was pregnant with Mia.  I decided not to run it since I didn’t know how my body would handle pregnancy and running. Plus spending the money to travel across the country for a race I couldn’t put my all into didn’t seem wise with a new baby on the way.

It’s only a half but I am including it on my marathon list because I want to run it so badly.  Princesses are big in my house.  I need to run this race. It looks like so much fun.

You run the half one day and the full the next and it’s at the happiest place on earth, sounds like the perfect place to take on a challenge like this.

Another one that just sounds cool.  You run from Ojai, CA to the beach and it’s downhill!
Finishers get a Tiffany necklace...need I say more?!

I don’t know when but I WILL QUALIFY FOR BOSTON someday and run this. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Strength Training

One of my new year's resolutions was to try to get into a strength training routine and also do regular core work.  I have done core work randomly since then but I haven't developed a routine.  And before today I can't remember when the last time I picked  up a weight was.  I've been seeing a lot of improvement in my running this year and I've gotten into much better shape overall but I feel like I have no strength and certainly no abdominal strength.

Since I've been really good lately about running in the morning I realized I should still take advantage of my lunch hour to workout at least a few days a week and I should use that time to develop a weight routine.  Today was day one.  I went to the gym at lunch and did a basic chest and triceps routine.  I finished out my workout with some core work.  I'm not going to lie it all felt really hard but I was proud of myself for doing it.  My goal is to do some strength training at lunch 3 days a week.  Hopefully building more strength overall will help my running even more!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Adirondack Distance Run

This morning I had the perfect race.  The kind of race where everything went right and running felt so easy.  I am on a major runner's high right now!

This morning was the Adirondack Distance Run.  It's a 10 mile race from Lake George to Bolton Landing.  It's a very hilly run, its basically uphill to Bolton Landing but there are some nice downhills in the race too.  The course is beautiful.  There are some great views of the lake and you pass by some really nice lake homes as you get close to Bolton Landing.

I had no expectations going into the race.  I've run a lot this week and my legs felt tired this morning.  I was planning to use this as just a really fun training run.  My husband was running to and he hasn't been running much lately and wasn't going to run fast so I figured I would start with him and see how I felt.  It was the perfect morning for this race.  Usually this race falls on a hot and humid day.  It was hot and sunny but the humidity wasn't bad and the course has enough shade that the weather was actually pretty comfortable.

I started off slow with Joe.  The first mile or so of the race is a slight uphill so I wanted to take it easy since my legs were already tired.  Once I started running my legs felt great and I gradually found myself picking up speed.  Before I knew it Joe and I weren't running together any longer and I was on my own.  I tried not to look at my watch much and just go with how I felt.  The few times I did look at in the first four miles I was running paces in the low 8's.  I felt great though.  Every hill I encountered I charged up and cruised the downhills.  I kept passing people on the uphills and felt like I was getting faster with each mile.

I never had a point in the race where I felt like I couldn't keep the pace I was at.  My legs felt strong the whole way.  I also didn't think about things like if I maintain this pace I will finish in x time.  I just enjoyed the run.   I wish I could bottle up the feeling I had during today's race  for all my long races. 

When I crossed the finish line the clock said 1:24:59! That's an 8:30 pace! I never expected that going into this race. 

I waited at the finish line to cheer Joe in and then we both walked down to the beach and went in the lake.  It was the perfect ending to the race!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Valley Cats 5K

This morning I ran in the Valley Cats 5K with Mia.  This is the first time I've ever run this race but I will definitely be back.  It was so much fun.

The race starts at a baseball stadium where our local team the Valley Cats play.  It was a pretty hot morning but not nearly as bad as the last few days have been.  I also was pushing Mia in the stroller and am racing a 10 miler tomorrow so my plan was to take it easy and just have fun.  The route was pretty hilly- in fact it starts on a pretty long uphill- but there were some nice downhills throughout that balanced things out. 

The first mile was really tough.  Running uphill with a 2 year old in a stroller is hard!  My garmin was initially showing me paces starting with 10 but then I seemed to find my groove and mile was 8:42.  The next mile was a lot easier and I picked up the pace a bit until we approached another long hill.  Did I mention running uphill with a stroller is hard?! Even with the hill this mile was still pretty quick at an 8:30 pace.  The last mile was much easier, there was a great downhill section as we approached the stadium.  I felt like I was flying and was excited when I started to catch up with my friend Elisa.  I had Elisa in my sights the whole race but could never catch up to her.  She was running so strong.  (She ended up placing 3rd in her age group!) I never completely caught up with her but close enough to tell her how great she was doing and cheer for her.  Mile 3 was a 7:51 pace- that downhill really helped! The last section of the race was in the stadium around the field.  It was so fun to get to run in the stadium like that but really hard with the stroller.  I slowed down quite a bit because of the packed dirt path and finished up at an 8:21 pace.  My final time according to my garmin was 26:12:05 - 8:21 pace.  The official results had me at 26:28.
After the race with JoDee and Nina

Mia running fast
After I finished I watched the rest of my friends come in and chatted with everyone for a while before Mia's kids race started.  This was the best kids race ever.  The kids ran the same route around the baseball field that we finished on.  Mia loved it.  She laughed the whole time.  As a prize the kids all got Valley Cat clappers which she loved. 
Mia trying to pull ahead of the competition

It was such a fun race morning.  I can't wait to run it again next year.

Tomorrow Joe and I are heading up to Lake George for the Adirondack Distance Run.  This race is a 10 mile run from Lake George to Bolton Landing.  It's challenging with a lot of hills but it's a gorgeous route that finishes on the beach.  I can't wait.

Oh and I'm happy to report I got my morning runs in this week!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Morning Running

I think I have finally done it...I think I have become a morning runner!

During my last training cycle I had no problem getting out of the house early to meet my running friends on the weekend. We would usually meet around 7 or 7:30 so that wasn’t actually super early, especially in mom-terms. During the week though I had such trouble trying to get runs in early before work. In order to run in the morning I need to be done with my run and back home by 6:45 or 7 at the latest because that is when my husband leaves for work. So depending on how long I want to run I need to be out running by 5:45 or 6 at the very latest. I did it a few times and loved the days that I did it but it was so sporadic. Maybe it was the cold weather and the dark of winter but I just couldn’t get into it. I feel like this hindered my training a bit because then my weekday runs were limited to lunch hour runs where I can squeeze in 4 miles max. or after work runs on days it was warm enough to run pushing Mia. I never really got a lot of midweek mileage.

That all changed a few weeks ago. One of my running buddies Gail posted on our group facebook page about needing to get 9 miles in early one day. It coincided with a week I wasn’t going to be able to run much on the weekend so I responded that I was interested but I needed to be heading home by 6:45 at the latest. This meant if we were doing 9 we were meeting at 5...the meeting spot is about a 10-15 minute drive from my house, so I was looking at a 4:15 am wake up. YIKES! In a moment of insanity Gail and I agreed that we would do it. When I woke up and drove to meet her I was definitely questioning my sanity but once we started running I forgot about that. We had a great run, with beautiful scenery and great conversation. The miles flew by! We both ran pretty fast- our average pace was around 9:08 (goal marathon pace!!).

This run inspired me to get up and run at home a few more times that week. Then I realized that since we were going away the next week I should get my long run done before we left. I asked Gail if she was interested and again the following Tuesday we did it again. Another great morning run in the books.

After I returned from vacation we met up for another early 9 miles and later in the week I was looking for company for a 6-8 mile run so I posted on the group page asking if anyone was interested. Turns out another one of our running friends meets on Thursday mornings with a group that does 7 miles and they told me to join them. We met at a different spot so I got to experience a new running route and meet some new running friends. They told me they do the same run every Thursday and to come back again this week.

So this morning Gail and I were at it again- another speedy and early 9 miles in the books. Thursday I plan to go meet the other ladies for another 7 and tomorrow I will do 5 in the morning on my own. I’m enjoying getting out there early and getting my runs done. I’m beating the heat and I am so much more energized for the rest of the day. I’m hoping that this becomes a habit so when winter rolls around again it will be second nature.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day 5K

Every year our local running club puts on a 5K for Father’s Day at the park near our house.  Joe and I have run it a few years in a row now.  He runs pushing Mia in the stroller (it is Father’s Day after all) and I get to run it stroller free.  This year my mom and her sisters were going to walk the race and one of my aunts who has recently lost a lot of weight was attempting to run/walk the race.  Plus several of the families from husband’s taekwondo school were participating.
Before the race

I was pretty excited to run it this year since I feel like my speed has really improved and this is the first 5K of the year I was going to race. I had run one other 5K in May but it was the day after a tough half marathon and I ran it just for fun and recovery.  My goal was to run the whole race at a sub 8 pace. When we got to the park and saw that the course had changed slightly this year we were a little disappointed.  They changed it so you started off running across a field.  I knew this would be especially hard for Joe pushing the stroller.  Luckily, you didn’t have to run far until you were on the paved path.

This race is pretty popular so the path was crowded but I started up front enough that I didn’t have to weave around too many people and was able to settle into a comfortable pace.  My first mile clocked in at 7:41! It was fast but I felt good so I just tried to stay as close to that pace as I could.  I tried not to look at my watch a lot during the race, I just tried to glance at to get an idea of where I was pace-wise.  Each time I did I saw that I was under 8 but not as fast as my first mile. 

As I started to get close enough to the finish line where I could see the clock I saw that the time was still in the 23's but quickly approaching 24 minutes.  I tried to kick it up as much as possible but I was quite close enough or fast enough to beat 24 minutes.  I finished in 24:10 which was a 12 second PR.  I was really excited about that time! Next time I will beat 24 for sure!

Trying to run fast

After I finished I watched Joe and Mia finish and some of our friends.  I decided to start jogging the course in reverse to find my aunt that was trying to run/walk to see if I could help her finish.  I found her about a half a mile from the finish.  She was going great.  She took one last walk break and then ran the rest of the way in to the finish.  She ended up finishing in 47 minutes.  I am so proud of her.  She really gave it her all and I think she may be hooked now! My mom and my other aunts finished shortly after and we all went over to watch Mia run the kids race.  Joe was going to run with Mia while I took pictures but as they started running she started calling for me so I went out and joined them.  She tried to run so fast and laughed the whole way.  It was great! At the end she got a little medal that she was so proud of.  Of course she made us run about 25 more “races” with her after that.
Joe and Mia during the race

As the other kids races finished up they started announcing the awards.  I was surprised to learn I won 2nd in my age group! I got a really cute Father’s Day mug for my award.  A PR and an age group award all in one day!
Mia and her medal

We had a lot of fun at the race and continued the fun with strawberry picking and a father’s day cookout that afternoon.  I think Joe had a great Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Run Disney

Last week my whole family vacationed in Walt Disney World to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday.  She really wanted to take both of her granddaughters to Disney and so that's what we did for her birthday.  It was a great but exhausting trip.  I knew before we left that I wouldn't run much while I was there.  I was planning to rest a little from marathon May but I did hope to run a few days. 

The day before I left I met one of my running buddies, Gail, for a nine mile run bright and early, 5 am since she has to be to work early and I have to be home early so my husband can leave for work.  We've done this run three times so far and I'm hoping we make it a weekly thing.  It's a great start way to start the day. 

Anyway, back to vacation, I felt good knowing I had gotten nine miles under my belt before vacation and didn't feel a lot of pressure to run while we were there.  I did go out for three miles early in the morning on our second day but that was it.  We walked a lot while we were there and I felt like I got a lot of exercise.  I was exhausted each night when we finally went to bed.
View on my vacation run

I am a big Disney fan and have always wanted to do one of the Run Disney races- especially the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  This trip made me want to do it even more.  While we were there my mom even said that she would like to do it.  She is a walker and can walk at a very fast pace.  Last year she did the Avon Breast Cancer 39 mile walk in NYC, so I know she can do the distance.  I'm pretty psyched.  It would be really special to do that with her.  We have to discuss it a little more but registration for 2013 opens up in July and I plan to sign us up!

My Princess

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Freihofer's Run for Women

This past Saturday was the Freihofer's Run for Women 5K.  We are very fortunate to have a race like the Freihofer's Run for Women in our area.   This race is an amazing combination of elite women and recreational runners.

From the Freihofer's Run for Women website:

The Freihofer's Run for Women 5km combines some of the top International and American women distance runners and over 4,000 women from the Capital Region and across the nation. From Olympians to recreational runner, it's a wonderful blend of competition, participation and camaraderie.

I have run this race a few times in the past.  It was through training for this race that I met the Strong Running Mamma's a few years ago.  This year, having just come off two marathons in May, I decided not to run it and go down and cheer on some of the Strong Running Mama's instead.  I brought Mia with me and planned to have her run one of the kids races.  Tami was also spectating.  One of her daughter's was running the 5K and her other daughter was running the kids mile. 

I haven't really spectated many races before and until Saturday I had no idea what I was missing! It was SO MUCH FUN! We staked out a spot with a good view of the start and finish and we cheered our hearts out.  We were definitely those crazy loud ladies at this race.  We cheered for the elite women, we cheered for our friends, we cheered for strangers.  We screamed our lungs out.  It was awesome!

Seeing the elite women come through was amazing.  They are so fast! It was also cool to see how they literally left everything on the course. You could tell they were pushing it as hard as they could. It was so inspiring.

It was also a great day for my friends. Felice, Bridget and Gail all PR'd.  Darlene was supposed to be walking her first race post injury but ended up running the whole thing.   I was so proud of all them!

Mia didn't end up running the kids race because it was pouring but she was proud to wear her race number around and she got her free cookies so it was a good day for her too!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Memorial Day Marathon Recap

When I was training for New Jersery my running buddy Tami was originally training for the Memorial Day Marathon.  Well somehow our other running buddy Karen and I got the idea that we would run that one with her too.  The course is known as a very tough course.  It's located in the Berkshires and everything we read about it said it was very challenging.  In the meantime Tami had surprised us by running NJ with us so now we were all doing two marathons in one month.  A first for all three of us!

We were all feeling pretty good since NJ and so we planned to just enjoy this race and run it more for the experience instead of a specific time goal.  We were going to treat it like an extra long training run.  In the days leading up to the race I was pretty excited for it.  I didn't feel any pressure and was looking forward to having a fun day with my friends.

The morning of the race I headed out at 5 am to meet Tami and Karen for the drive to the race.  The day before my husband had purchased new wheels and tires for my car and had them installed. Well on the way to meet Tami and Karen I suddenly heard an awful noise coming from my car and it felt like I couldn't control it.  I was on the highway at this time.  I pulled off at the next exit to discover I had two rear flats! I just started race was ruined and I didn't understand what had happened with my car.  I called Karen to tell her what happened but I'm surprised she understood me through my sobs.  She immediately said "We're coming to get you! Don't worry!".  I called my husband and he said to just go he would deal with the car. A few minutes later Karen and Tami pulled up and I felt better, I was still upset about the car but I was happy I could still go with them. 

They both cheered me up on the ride with funny stories and race talk.  We agreed again, we were taking this race slow and having fun.  No repeats of our crazy pace at New Jersey.  Once we got off the highway the drive to Lenox was so pretty.  We arrived got our packets and waited for our friends who were running the half to arrive.  Once everyone got there we all took a lot of pictures and headed for the start.

We started running a nice comfortable pace.  It was already pretty hot but in the first few miles there were some shaded areas and the hills were not so bad.  We ran into another runner from our area.  She is a maniac and part of the only mother daughter marathon maniac team and we chatted with her for a while.  The miles were going by really fast.  We were having a great time running despite the heat.  We stopped often at the water stops to refill our bottles but we were still running at a decent pace.  In fact we were looking at a 4:30 or better time.  Around mile 9 or so we started splitting up a bit, but we seemed to all catch back up to each other from time to time.  I was still feeling really good and continued to feel good for most of the race.  Around mile 18 the rolling hills ended and the hills started getting tougher.  I still felt good but felt myself slowing a bit but I still felt like I was running strong.

Then we hit mile 20! This is where the real hills started! I have never run up hills like this before.  For the next 6 miles it was all uphill and directly in the sun.  The temperature was in the mid 80's and super humid at this point.  It seemed like everyone on the course was doing a combination of run/walk at this point.  Ocassionally things would flatten out a bit and I would try to run as fast as I could for as long as I could.  I kept thinking the hills would end but they never did. 

As tough as this part was I felt strong.  It was just hard but I was well hydrated and I didn't have the cramping problems I had in NJ even though the conditions were a million times tougher.  This part of the run was also beautiful, the views of the Berkshires were amazing.  I tried to just enjoy my surroundings and hang in there.

As time went on I knew there was no way I was pulling off a 4:30 marathon and I was fine with that.  Finishing this race was enough.  Later we would find out that the winner finished in 3:05 which is much much slower than winning times at most marathons. 

Eventually I hit mile 26 and the finish line was around the corner.  I picked it up and as I approached the line I heard Joe and Mia cheering for me.  Mia ran out and grabbed my hand ran through the finish line with me.  I have never been prouder of finishing a race and having her with me made it so special.

After I finished I found out Tami had finished about 10 minutes before and Karen (our speed demon) about 25 minutes before.  Tami was having some breathing issues and being checked by the medic. She turned out to be fine she just needed some water and to sit for a bit.  Once she felt better we went to collect our medals- custom dog tags with our names engraved on them.  They were so cool!

We then went on to enjoy the food and drinks for a while and we toasted with some chocolate milk that Karen had brought for us.

This was the hardest race I have ever run and I am so proud of finishing it.  I'm even prouder to have done it with Tami and Karen.  They are such strong women and I'm glad they are my running buddies!

Now it's time to rest a little!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Jersey Marathon Recap

All winter I had been training for the New Jersey Marathon with an amazing group of ladies.  I worked really hard in training and this was going to be my goal race- I was going to run a sub 4 hour marathon in NJ.  I was ready!

Well that didn’t exactly happen, as I mentioned in my May recap, but it was a great marathon and fun weekend.

A few days before the marathon I got the best news.  One of my running buddies Tami, who had trained with us but was not coming to NJ because she was planning to run a marathon closer to home in late May, surprised us with the news that she was coming to NJ and running the marathon! Everyone was so excited.  It never felt right that Tami wasn’t going to be with us on race day after training with us.

Saturday morning I met up with Felice, Janis and Bridget so we could start the drive to NJ.  Our car was certainly a bundle of nerves and excitement!   Once we arrived in NJ we hit up the expo and got our packets and browsed the expo.  After that we decided not to drive the course as planned but to head back to the house we rented to meet up with the rest of the ladies who had arrived earlier.

The house was amazing.  Even more amazing was the awesome dinner Gail made for us.  She made us pasta, sauce, and meatballs and it was so good.  The perfect pre-race meal!

We all tried to go to bed early but I don’t think anyone slept much.  We all had to get up pretty early to leave for the start.  We knew traffic would be an issue and at the expo we were advised many of the roads would be closed down early for the half which started about an hour before the full.  When we got up we realized there was no hot water in the house which definitely sucked.  Most of us wanted a quick shower to wake up but it wasn’t in the cards.

While traffic to the race was slow we made it with plenty of time to spare and spent it hanging out by the porta potties.  Once it was time to line up we all split up into our various corals.  Karen, Tami and I were in the same coral and lined up in front of the 4 hour pace group.  The three of us waited for the start and talked about how we were not going to start too fast, stick with our target pace, blah blah blah...As soon as the gun went off, we took off! We were running around 8:30.  We talked about dialing it back but we felt so good it seemed like we couldn’t go slower.  In my delusional mind I was doing the calculations (never a good idea for me to do math while running) and trying to figure out by just how much we were going to crush our sub 4 hour goal by staying at this pace.  I was in fantasy land for sure!

At mile 11 I saw my husband and daughter who had driven down the night before to surprise me by spectating at the race.  Seeing them made me so happy. I continued running fast and strong through the first half even getting a half PR at 1:57!   I felt pretty good after the half although by this time I must have slowed down some because I had lost Tami and Karen, they were ahead of me.  I knew I was also still way ahead of the 4 hour pace group. 

By mile 16 I had slowed down significantly and as I stopped to refill my water bottle the 4 hour pace group ran by me.  I was already starting to feel the effects of my ridiculous pace early on and seeing them pass me really killed my spirits.  After that I started getting bad cramps in my calfs and needed to walk from time to time.  Around mile 18 I saw Joe and Mia again.  This gave me a nice boost but I was still frustrated as around this time I saw the 4:05 pace group pass me.  I kept running and sometime after this I saw Felice who had already passed the turn around point and was heading back for the final 6 miles.  Seeing her was another boost and at this point I was running with the 4:10 pace group but not for long...they also passed me.

I was still dealing with pretty bad cramping in my calfs.  Around mile 20 I saw Joe and Mia again and Mia even ran alongside me for a bit.  It helped to see them but I was still feeling lousy.  Not long after that I stopped to walk and pulled down my compression socks.  I don’t think my body was used to wearing them in such heat because once they were down my legs felt a lot better.  I would have taken them off completely but I figured I wouldn’t get my shoes back on.  I kept them down for a while and continued walking.  I started trying to mentally regroup.  I put my headphones in (which I should have done earlier) and tuned everything else out and then I started to run again.  It was slow and it was painful but I kept going.  I knew if I just kept at it I was going to PR and that while it wasn’t the race I planned on that was still pretty amazing.   Not far before the finish I saw Joe and Mia again.  They were seriously the best spectators ever! I kicked it up and got it done.  My official time was 4:23:59- a 10 minute PR!

While it wasn’t the time I had in mind, I learned a lot from this race.   Mainly that I have to stick with my race day plan.  I can’t get caught up in the excitement and start so fast.  I know I am capable of a sub 4 hour marathon.  I have trained for one I just have to run the race I trained for.  I didn’t train to run 26.2 miles at an 8:30 pace, why on earth would I try that?! I’m glad it happened because I will be smarter in the future and I will get that sub 4 marathon this year!

All in all it was a great weekend.  Everyone PR’d! Even if we didn’t all meet our goals we had so much fun! I’m so lucky to have gotten to know this group of women and gone through this experience with them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

May Recap

I am the worst blogger ever.  I don’t know what happened.  I haven’t written in forever.

May was literally a marathon month for me.  I ran two marathons, a half marathon, a 5K and a 3.5 mile race.  It was amazing.  I have never felt so strong as a runner.

While I intend to do more detailed reports on these races let me give you a quick recap:

New Jersey Marathon, May 6, 2012: This was going to be my sub 4 hour race.  I had trained for it, I was ready for it and for various reasons but mainly me taking off like a bat out of hell and running the first half at a ridiculous pace it didn’t happen.  It still ended up being a great race for me and I finished with a 10 minute PR of 4:23:59!!!

Make it a Great Day Half Marathon, May 19, 2012: I ran this only because most of my running friends were doing it and I had 13 on the schedule.  The following week I would be running the Memorial Day Marathon so I was treating it mainly as a training run.  I was hoping to run it under 2 hours but I think I was dehydrated going into it.  I felt ok for the first half or so and then had some cramping.  I tried walking at times and finished in 2:05:37- not my best or worst half marathon time.

Memorial Day Marathon, May, 27, 2012: This was the hardest race I have ever done and probably the one I most proud of.  It can be described as rolling hills for the first 18 miles and then all uphill for the last 8, with the last 6 being the hardest uphill ever.  Oh and did I mention the heat and humidity?! That being said this was an awesome race on a super hot day.  I am so glad I did it. I finished in 4:46:28- again not my best or worst but I earned every mile and I am proud!

My next race it the Boilermaker, a 15K on July 8th.  I am also running the Hudson Mohawk Marathon on October 7th so training starts in 2 weeks for that.  For now, I am in recovery mode, trying to listen to my body and run however long and fast I feel like.  I am amazed at how good my body feels after all of those races in May.  I never thought I was capable of 2 marathons in a month and now I find myself thinking about how many more I can do...