Run Like A Child

Being a Mom, as with any job, you often find yourself being both a teacher and a student. Sure there are things that you have to teach your kids, such as, counting, learning the alphabet, how to go pee IN the toilet (not just NEAR it)… I find that most days, I’m learning more from my boys about how to be a better mom, a happier person, and even a “funner” runner!

IMG_1589-0

So here goes, 3 things I learned about running from my crazy boys:

1. Run, Because We Are Born To

We finally had a day of sun and above freezing temperatures yesterday. We decided to get out of the house and hit up a nearby playground. As soon as my boys saw a stretch of cleared path, they both took off running.

“Boys! Why are you running?!” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the ridiculousness of my question hit me. They are 4-year and 20-months old. What did I expect?

When I finally caught up to them (those little legs move fast!) I thought I’d ask my 4-year old again, just curious what he would say.

Me: Why do you run?
C: (Giving me a look that confirmed my initial gut reaction and saying in the most dramatic way possible that only a 4-year-old can) Mommy, what are you talking about?!
Me: Why do you like running?
C: I dunno! (Running off to tackle his little brother into a snow bank)

I have written multiple blog posts explaining the different reasons I love running. In fact, the existence of my blog is built around these reasons.! But what I learned from my son is that we don’t need reasons to run. It’s instinctual and it feels awesome. Do I really need another reason?

2. Fartlek, Because It’s Fun

My boys love to play “red light, green light.” I don’t know if it’s an universal game/thing? But my older son will scream “green light” and both boys take off like bats out of hell, yelling (there’s has to be yelling for some reason). Then at a point determined only by the fancy of my 4 yr old, he will scream “red light!” Then both immediate stop in their tracks. They rest a bit. Then it’s “green light!” And off they go again, yelling, laughing.

Speed work is fun! All the times I have dreaded my speed workouts – what was I thinking?!

3. Always, Always Stop to Smell the Roses Because… Why Not?

No matter how crazy they are running. No matter if it’s “red light” or “green light.” If there’s something interesting, such as a big puddle of mud full of worms, my boys will always stop to check it out. Jump in it. Touch it. Figure it out.

I get so focused on my runs..keeping a certain pace, getting it done, that I forget sometimes just how great and fortunate I am to be out in this beautiful world and being a part of it. I forget to see – really see – my surroundings. To smell the smells. I’m not giving up an opportunities to do so on my future runs!

Love the run you’re with ūüôā

Advertisements

2014 Wrap-up and Racing Resolutions

I know, I know.¬† It’s almost February 2015 and I am just getting around to posting my 2014 wrap-up.¬† If you go by the lunar calendar, then this post is just-in-time.¬† The tardiness of this post pretty much sums up the year — 2014 was insanely busy.

On the home front, my poor boys were constantly sick.  I think my 18-month-old had a fever every other week!  My 4-year-old started pre-school and brought home all kinds of germs.  Also, I think I can sum up pre-school with two words: Birthday Parties.  Holy cow.  For a period there, we had a birthday party EVERY weekend.  I should stock up on pre-schooler birthday gifts just to have it handy!

On the work front, it was a great year.  It took me a couple of years but I stood up an awesome team at work and things were just starting to come together and getting some serious recognition.  Just in time for managers to move me to lead another project!  Now, the move did come with a nice promotion to a senior position and a nice raise, so no complaints.

Running, Racing, Resolutions

On the running front Рthis has been an epic year for me as a runner.  Starting in March 2014 with meeting my goal of running a Marathon within a year of having my second baby.  Not only did I complete the Marathon (prior to the course time limit), I achieved a personal record by shaving off 36 minutes from my previous personal best.  Then again in November 2014, I was able to slim down my marathon time by 12 more minutes when I completed the Richmond Marathon (new PR: 5:26).

IMG_0252

What I Have Learned In 2014

I don’t know if it is easy for anyone to run a marathon.¬† It is a mental and physical challenge, one that I have fallen in love with.¬† What I want to celebrate as a result of my running in 2014 isn’t the PRs but what I have learned from racing:

1. Do Not Let Others Define Your Limits.¬† People don’t say negative things out of meanness.¬† In fact, the most discouraging comments about my running have been uttered by close family and friends with the best of intentions. You know yourself best.¬† Don’t give away the power to define your own limits.

2. If Your Goals Don’t Scare You Just¬†A Little, Then It Is Not Set High Enough. Do what scares you. Just a little.¬†¬†¬† It is a¬†wonderful feeling to know you conquered your fears.

3. Celebrate Your Achievements. It’s OK.¬† It’s not self indulgent to do it. Now, I’m not talking here just buying new gear (though I am known to do that…).¬† I found myself minimizing my achievements.¬† “You ran a marathon?!¬† That is amazing” “oh, yeah, I did.¬† But I’m so slow…”¬† Can you imagine if your best friend or family just ran a marathon after training for it all winter long and you say to them “yeah, I guess you finished, but man were you slow!”¬†¬† I would never say that or feel that way so why should I tell myself that?

Looking To 2015

I don’t usually set “new year’s” resolutions.¬† I guess I usually set goals all throughout the year. But this year, I decided to do things a little differently.¬† In fact, I am not setting any racing goals… I am setting anti-racing goals.

1. No Marathons for 12 months.  I want to focus on getting faster.  Focus on shorter races, nothing longer than 13.1 miles. Do more speed workouts.  Incorporating strength training and swimming.

2. Incorporate My Family Into More Runs.  The shorter runs will allow me to achieve this goal.  In the fall, my son started riding his bike.  We went on many family runs and it was so much fun, and challenging keeping up with him on his bike, that I resolve to do more of it this year!

IMG_0258

I hope this belated post finds everyone happy and healthy.¬†¬†I wish all of you an awesome New Year ūüôā

Be fearless and run on.

Race Review: 2014 Anthem Richmond Marathon

Overall: Good Race. I probably won’t do it again… but never say never.

Expo:¬† I did not make it in time for the Expo, so can’t comment on that.¬† It is GREAT that the race mails your bib to you ahead of time.¬† Take advantage of that if you won’t make it to the expo.¬† I also heard from my friends that did go the expo that they met Bart Yasso and sat through his pep talk…I was jealous of that!

Race Tips: You will not need to pack your own hydration for this race.¬† This race had the BEST organized support stations that I have ever seen.¬† Water and Powerade ever 2 miles until Mile 20, then EVERY MILE after that.¬† They were well stocked and never ran out of anything.¬† There is dry and wet towel stations at two mile markers toward the end of the race.¬† “Junk Food” stations at Mile 17 and 22.¬† Also Gu along the way.¬† That said, you may want to train with the nutrition they use if you choose to shed the fuel belt.

Course / Elevation:¬† Someone told me that Richmond was relatively flat… I should have asked “relative to WHAT?”¬† It. Was. NOT. Flat!¬† No giant hills but rolling hills.¬† Then of course there’s the infamous “hill” at Mile 19.¬† I think to call it a hill is being generous – it’s nothing but a slight incline onto an overpass but at Mile 19, it might as well have been Mount Everest.¬† I was well prepared for it so I ran up it, no prob… but everyone I passed was walking.¬† I lost my running partner on this hill…¬† Bottom Line: DO HILL WORKOUTS.

One more thing.¬† The finish line is at the bottom of a pretty steep hill.¬† I guess it’s good to finish down hill – but DANG, it was a sharp decline for Mile 26…¬† My knees actually hated that downhill finish.¬† BE CAREFUL if it’s the same course.¬† You will be inclined to spring down that hill but you may risk injury.¬† I had to slow myself down about halfway down the finish stretch.

Logistics:¬† BOOK THE HOTELS EARLY!¬† I tried to book the hotels 6 to 7 months in advance and the hotels were completely booked.¬† I ended up in a hotel about 7 miles from the start line.¬† It actually worked out well because the parking wasn’t too terrible at the start.¬† A couple of tips:

  • HOTELS: Check a week or two before the race.¬† A running friend did and booked the hotel right at the start line – which was great.¬† We hung out in her room until 10 mins before the start and used the nice, warm restroom in her room instead of porta-potties.
  • PARKING: If you stay a¬†little ways from the race, do not fear.¬†¬†Race day morning, drive in and park in garages about¬†3 blocks NORTH of the starting line.¬† We did that and had no problems but saw the traffic jam of cars completely stuck in the road about 1 block or so from the starting race route.

Anything Else? This Marathon is termed the “Friendliest” Marathon.¬† And it was friendly.¬† But I was told by another runner that had ran previously in Richmond that the spectators weren’t out in full force because it was freakishly cold (read: Polar Vortex) this time around.

They put the runners in “waves” but it’s all one start.¬† Meaning, no separate gun starts for each of the waves – which was great because you didn’t have to wait, standing around in the cold, to start 50 mins after the actual start time.

The stretch along the River… Gorgeous.¬† If you do run this race, enjoy that stretch ūüôā

IMG_0252

Nutrition Strategy: Richmond Marathon 2014

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

This is a quote that I have seen many times on social media and it definitely holds true to Marathon running. Race day nutrition can make or break your race experience. As Richmond approaches, I have settled on a race nutrition strategy.

IMG_0128.PNG

This is my first time running Richmond so I don’t have experience with the support stations along the route. By looking at the course map (here) it looks like there will be a water station every 2 miles on the even miles, then every mile after mile 20. And they will provide gel at mile 14 and 17. There is also a junk food station at mile 16 and 22 (not gonna lie, this was one of the deciding factors for signing up for this race!).

That said, I don’t plan to partake in the nutrition provided on the course. I am more of a BYON – bring your own nutrition kind of gal. And water. For a couple of reasons. I’m SLOW. Meaning, in past races of this magnitude, by the time I get to the stations, they often have run out of Gatorade or sometimes even food. Though, this race looks pretty well supported and may not be an issue. Secondly, if you’ve read my other posts you know that I struggle with my blood glucose as a prediabetic. A lot of the gels and nutrition provided are all carbs and I prefer to take my calories as a mix (carbs+protein+fats). For some that upsets their “system” for me it works (VERY IMPORTANT: everyone’s different. I’m just sharing my experience)

A note on the junk food station. I love the idea. Like I said, it was one of the reasons I decided to sign up. But… No, I will not be taking part in it. Miles 16 will be one of the toughest miles. It’s a tough segment of the marathon (physically but especially mentally), there’s also a big hill in this mile, to mix in junk food, if you didn’t train with it, may spell disastrous stomach trouble! And mile 22? I will hopefully by in my “don’t talk to me, touch me, or even look at me”-focused, hard to the finish zone.

IMG_0127.JPG

Here’s my plan:

– take nutrition roughly every 5 miles (equates to every hour for me)
– alternate between honey stinger chews (all carbs) and chia bar (mixed)
– take the picky bar at mile 20 – this is when I get hungry. So something more substantial helps me feel better.
– bring my own water but partake in the powerade as needed in the second half of the marathon
– avoid water stations as much as possible and the slippery paper cups on the course!
– I probably will skip the pizza at the finish line too

Man. I sound like no fun! But I’m Richmond Ready.

Have a great race everyone!

Pacing Strategy: Richmond Marathon 2014

Four days until the 2014 Richmond Marathon and my “taper crazy” phase of marathon training is setting in. For me, this phase is often filled with self-doubt, nerves, and this insatiable need to DO SOMETHING. This is also the phase where I freak out and start bothering my running coaches with a million questions and ignoring their reassurance that I am ready.

This time, I have decided to try to channel my energy into a more positive exercise – planning my pacing strategy for the marathon.

IMG_0076.PNG

I was texting back and forth with Laura, my running buddy also running the Richmond Marathon, about different pacing strategies for the race. Specifically we were discussing whether to try to start out slow and shoot for negative splits or just to keep a consistent pace. Based on experience, negative splits plan may not always work, especially in a marathon. In previous marathons, we both have started out slower thinking that we will speed up later… But once we hit that 20 mile mark, the fatigue inevitably sets in and the “speeding up” never happens.

Our goal time is 5:30 (12:35 mins/mile avg). Laura mentioned that she is going to try to stick to that pace the entire race. And fortunately, our friend Kim had ordered all of us Marathon Pace Bands for wearing during the race so we can make sure we are on track:

IMG_0075.JPG

When Laura and I got done texting, I felt good about that plan… And now, 24 hours later, I am re-thinking it.

Looking back at my last two races, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon and the Leesburg 20k, I noticed that I ran negative splits in both. I also felt great in both races. I know it’s a long shot for the marathon distance but why change a pacing strategy that is working for me.

For both of those races, I mentally divided the race distance into 3 mile “chunks.” I told myself to conquer each chunk at a time and progressively increased my level of effort (not pace).
First 3 miles: super easy (able to carry on full conversations)
Second 3: easy-moderate (able to speak in short sentences and/or phrases)
Third 3: moderate (one or two word answers)
Fourth 3: moderate-hard (please don’t talk to me)
The Finish: give it my all running

So after all the pacing discussions and the cute pink pace band… I have decided not to wear the pace band and to stick to my “race by feel” strategy.

Planned Marathon Chunks:
First 5 miles: super easy (full conversations)
Second 5: easy but focusing on quicker turn over with my foot strikes (can still speak in sentences)
Third 5: moderate (able to speak in short phrases)
Fourth 5: moderate (without a doubt, this will be the toughest part of the marathon. There is a huge hill at Mile 16 and in my training runs, this is where I fade mentally. So while the level of physical effort remains the same as the previous chunk but the mental effort will need to be increased.
Fifth 5: moderate-hard (please don’t talk to me)
The Finish: IT IS ON!

I guess in four days, I will find out how this “pacing” strategy works out! I’m ready.

Why-The-Hell-Did-I-Sign-Up Phase of Marathon Training

There comes a point in my marathon training when I start to lose steam.¬† This phase is typically sandwiched between the “height” (feeling strong and happy) and “taper crazies” phases of marathon training.¬† I call it “Why-The-Hell-Did-I-Sign-Up Phase.”¬† I’m knee-deep in it now.¬†This morning’s 13-miler was just awful.

photo2

When I first sign up for a race, my head is full of hopes and dreams.¬† I start having visions of weigh-loss and PRs.¬† And once the training starts, I get swept up in the excitement of increasing mileage and speed work.¬† I’m excited for every work-out, even cross training.¬† And for some reason, usually about a month before the big race, my attitude changes.

I start getting frustrated on long runs.¬† I start talking myself into lower mileage than planned because I get annoyed with the run.¬† I start thinking that I hate running.¬† I start wondering,¬†why the hell did I decide to sign up for a marathon? ¬†I don’t know why this happens and I never deal very well with this phase.

Does this happen to anyone else?

So I have come up with some ways I battle the next¬†few weeks (until I enter into taper crazy – and that’s a whole other phase of insanity)

1.¬† Realize that this is¬†ALL MENTAL.¬† In fact, I have come to realize that this phase for me is¬†the most crucial part of my marathon training.¬† Every time I want to quit on a long run, I remind myself, “if I can tough it out through this phase, I am mentally ready for a marathon.”

2. Do NOT Run Alone.¬† I hardly ever run alone for safety reasons but when I’m in this phase, I always make sure I have a few running buddies that will help to push me or guilt me (which ever works best) into completing my runs.

3.  New Routes. This helps a little.  New scenery helps to distract from the mental fatigue.

4.¬† Stalk Elite Runners On Social Media.¬† I know it sounds crazy…¬† and a little creepy.¬† I love looking at elite runners pictures of their routes and read about their training.¬† They inspire me.¬† I especially love elite, Mom runners (Lauren Fleshman, Kara Goucher, you name them).¬† If they can do it, I can.

Anyone else have tips?  I have 20-22 miles next weekend so that will be my big test.  Run Safe. Run Happy!

Yoga Under The Stars

IMG_2673-0.JPG

Yoga, stars, wonderful runner friends.. What an amazing night!

Last night was my first experience with yoga and I loved it. This is the most relaxed and mindful state I have been in since… I can’t even remember.

I’m thankful for my friend, Laura http://www.laurentinaphotography.com), for bringing me as a guest. And if you haven’t been to Lifetime Fitness Gyms… They are OFF THE HOOK! Awesome facility, wonderful staff. Amazing service. Hope one day I can join this gym. One day.

Happy and calm.

Namaste.