Summer Race Goals

It’s been a busy week. Jim’s family gets to town this afternoon so I’ve been doing all sorts of domestic things before their arrival. Cleaning, shopping, cooking, baking, stressing. Normal things when the in-laws are coming to the house for the first time. Yes, I refer to them as the in-laws. It’s been 4 years. His dad said it was official at 3. 

On the running front, this week has been all about finalizing my summer race schedule and setting very specific goals for each race. I’m focusing my summer on learning to RACE instead of RUN. I hear there is a difference.

My first summer race will be the Jamestown Half Marathon on July 13. I had to miss this race last year due to a run in with food poisoning so I’ll be sticking to toast and whole wheat pasta the day before this year. Just in case. My goal for Jamestown is pretty simple. No walking. I’ve become accustomed to walking at all of the water stations during races and it’s a habit I really need to break. During my runs I’ve been trying to focus on slowing down and pacing myself rather than walking when I feel winded. It’s been a nice challenge to add into my runs while waiting for my fall marathon training schedule to start on July 8th.

After the Jamestown Half is the Narragansett Beer Festival Half in Easton, MA on July 21. Goal? Beat my Jamestown time. I never said these goals were lofty, but they are specific and that’s good.

My other summer races are…

– Falmouth Road Race. I’m going back despite my terrible experience with it in 2011. I’m running it with a friend who has never done it before so I’m trying to keep an open mind for her.

– Providence Rock and Roll Half Marathon. This will be my first Rock and Roll series race so I’m super excited about that. I’ve heard all great things which gives me hope it is worth the rather expensive entry fee.

So that’s the plan for this week. Sorry for the lack of posts this week. Life got busy. You understand 🙂

What races are you super excited for this summer?

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Start Running. There is No Step Two.

Have you ever seen “How I Met Your Mother”? I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you’re nodding your head in agreement and will completely understand the characters I’m going to refer to and be able to add their little inflections in yourself. If not, my apologies and please consult your On Demand during your next well earned couch ride. You’ll thank me later.

There is an episode in season two where Marshall decides on day in April that he’s going to run the NYCM that year. I’m going to overlook the incredible odds of deciding to take up running in April, register for the NYCM lottery, get in and train without a hitch here. There just isn’t enough time to rant appropriately. Anyways, Marshall trains for the NYCM and the day before the race he breaks his toe. Barney scoffs at the idea that Marshall even trained for this race to begin with and when everyone reminds him that a marathon is a true feat of human endurance, Barney utters these words of sheer genius.

“Um, guys, here is how you run a marathon. Step one: Start running. There is no step two.”

Despite the story ending with Barney running in Marshalls place, finishing the race then being unable to use his legs and getting stuck on the subway for six hours; this has been my personal mantra for every race I’ve ever run. Since my first road race was the Chicago Marathon and a few friends thought I was absolutely insane for going from 0 to 26.2 (I would agree with them in hindsight), I had to remind myself that this was no different than a 5K they had all run. Just start running. That was all I had to do.

I look excited. That's to mask the sheer panic.

I look excited. That’s to mask the sheer panic.

This morning I shared those same words of wisdom on one of my best friends, Ida. Now something you should know about Ida up front is that she is in incredibly good shape and can kick my running butt on a spin bike any day of the week. She’s the girl who screams ‘Woo!” with the instructor from the bike and gets the energy of the whole room up. Yes, she was a college cheerleader. Who would have guessed?

Every time Ida asks me about my runs she does two things. The first is to call me a crazy person, the second is to say she wishes she were a runner. I’ve told her time and time again that she should just come with me for a run. I’d be easy on her. It would be as good for me as it would be for her because it would give me someone to run with and her someone to “coach” her through it. Disclaimer: I am not a coach. I’m not even kind of a coach. But I can read the “Couch to 5K” plan online and do it with someone.

So this morning Ida finally took me up on my offer and met me at my house at 8am. The first 5 minutes of stretching was filled with her repeating the words “I’m going to die”. I assured her she would not die and that we’d keep an easy 11:00/mi pace just to ease her into it. She told me she didn’t know if she could even run a mile at a 13:00 pace, never mind 11:00. That’s when I told her “Just start running. There’s no step two”. And off we went.

Fifteen minutes later we were back in my driveway slightly sweaty and very proud of ourselves. Her for making it through 1.38 miles in the pace I promised, me for actually keeping her at the pace I’d promised. I’ve always been very bad at pacing myself but apparently I have a knack for pacing other people. Not quite sure how that’s possible but I guess it works for me.

She agreed to run again Thursday and join me for 2-3 runs a week during the summer. Not the winter. She said I’m out of my mind if I think she’s running when it’s cold outside. Can’t really blame her for that one. I told her when November rolls around I’ll teach her some treadmill work outs. And I’ll start with the same words. Just start running.

How was everyone’s weekend? Any races or awesome workouts? I want to hear all about them! 

For The Love of Endorphins. And Beer.

photo 1

The best item in the 2013 Boston Marathon swag bag.

Some workouts are done with a specific goal in mind. A BQ at the next marathon. New distance acheivements. To win an impossible bet with your 6’5” boyfriend that was entered into over one too many beers. That last one just me? Ok. Fine. You know you’ve done it too but I’ll let you pretend.

Yesterdays workout was done with a less athletic goal in mind. Beer. Sam Summer to be specific. Jim came home with a twelve pack of the good stuff on Monday night and it has been staring me in the face every time I’ve opened the fridge since. Even though summer has yet to make an appearance for more than a few hours around here, rumor has it that it’s bathing suit season. With that in mind, I have been abstaining from the joy of an ice cold beer after long sweaty workouts. I knew I truly had to earn the beer this week. I may have taken that slightly overboard.

A morning of errands and healthy grocery shopping was followed by a morning Group Power class. I love Group Power and the way I feel like I’ve had my distance running butt handed to me following every class. If you’ve ever tried Crossfit, Body Pump or aerobics picture a combination of all three. It’s amazing but you most certainly feel it the next day if not immediately afterward.

After Group Power I went home and made Bob Harpers skinny pasta sauce to cover my spaghetti squash in. See, told you I went healthy grocery shopping. Does anyone else dream about food during their workouts or am I the only fat kid in the gym doing it? Just me. Again? Ok fine. Back to the pasta sauce. My amazing auntie Gina is full blooded Italian and I grew up eating her pasta sauce. Classico just isn’t doing it for me. Never mind all the sugar and chemicals in it. Just the taste alone. Ick.

Believe it or not, all these healthy things equal sauce. No sugar. No corn syrup. Imagine that.

Believe it or not, all these healthy things equal sauce. No sugar. No corn syrup. Imagine that.

Feeling fairly accomplished for my day off, I parked my butt on the couch for an hour and read this months Runners World. After Wednesday night it just felt right to read the stories about the true heroes from that day.

After a couple episodes the little voice in my head started whispering “You’re being lazy. Go do something productive”. It turned into more of a yell than a whisper rather quickly, so I went back to the gym for a run. Nothing crazy, especially since all the treadmill running I’ve had to do lately is boring the crap out of me. I have such a beautiful running route now that staring at a TV screen just feels terrible.

My obsession with Nike+ is still going strong.

My obsession with Nike+ is still going strong.

I got home, checked the sauce was doing what Trainer Bob told me it should be doing and jumped into a wonderfully hot shower on a rainy day. I don’t like warm showers. I prefer to feel like an ambulance may need to be called at some point if I stay in one spot too long. My only mandatory criteria in the rental property was that it had incredibly hot water and good water pressure. The beach was a bonus.

After drying off and changing into sweats I re-parked my butt onto the couch and saw a text from my friend Ida.

“Spin?!?”

Sure?

I knew going into it that the class would be downright painful. My legs were already pretty tired from the two other workouts of the day but I love spin and there was a different instructor Ida had been telling me to try. So I went. It was worth it.

John’s class is all up tempo, upbeat, happy riding. Yes, the hills made me want to cry at certain points. I cursed his name and swore I would come back next week and do twice as many hills if he promised to let me off the hook. No deal. Oh well, I tried.

The end of the hour came faster than I could have expected and to be honest, I wanted to keep going. I was on that crazy endorphin high usually reserved for 16 miles into a run where you haven’t hit the wall quite yet and feel like you could run on forever. I took that feeling home with me where I fell onto the couch in a post long run glory type of way.

Thankfully Jim came home soon after because I’m pretty sure if I was left to my own devices I would have slept in my sweaty clothes right there. The endorphins were still there but even those weren’t enough to get me on my feet at that point. I yelled to Jim to take the pizzas out and he yelled the three words every woman loves to hear at the end of a long day.

“Want a beer?”

Yes. Yes I did.

Cheers and happy Friday everyone! Are you running any races this weekend? Let me know!

Thanks, Boston

Sometimes it takes a complete stranger to put things in perspective for you. Last night, I worked a private party for a solider returning from Kuwait. The party was about 30 or so older people congratulating an Army commander on his return from an overseas deployment that had lasted about a year. There were a lot of really kind words and big smiles. For all military families go through, it was really nice to see such a happy celebration. I had never met them and I couldn’t stop smiling for them.

Near the end of the meal a man in his 60’s walked over to me.

Man: “Excuse me sweetie, I heard you ran the Boston Marathon this year?”

Me: “Well, the first 22 miles of it, yes.”

Man: (extends hand) “I just wanted to congratulate you. I feel like with everything that happened you runners had your accomplishment, what you went through that day and the months of training overlooked. Congratulations young lady, I will be there cheering you on next year!”

I was dumbfounded. First, I had no idea how he found out I had run the Boston Marathon. I hadn’t said anything more personal than “Could I offer you another drink” to him at any point during the meal.

Secondly, the idea that this man wanted to go out of his way to congratulate me rather than offer his condolences. For the past two months every time someone has asked me about the race it has started or ended with “I’m so sorry you didn’t get to finish” or ‘Really makes you think how unimportant things like the actual race really are in the grand scheme of things”. For the first time since April 15 I felt proud of what I had done that day rather than guilty for being one of the 27,000 reasons people were drawn into a trap.

I’ve learned a lot about myself from this years race. A few days after the race Jim and I went to dinner and I confessed that I hated my job. Jim simply said “So quit”. That was it. No plan, no what-if’s. Just quit. His idea is that if it wasn’t making me happy, pack my desk and find something that would.

And that’s what I did. That Friday was my last day in marketing, and by the next Tuesday I was re-enrolled in my graduate program as a full time student. I’ve never been one to pull the trigger on life that quickly but if Boston taught me anything, it’s that life is short and precious. Don’t take it for granted and don’t think you can do anything tomorrow.

I’m not trying to pretend that I had all positive, life-affirming moments after Boston. It wasn’t until last week that I started to sleep through the night, and even that has only been a couple nights. I still can’t bring myself to display my medal, race bib or anything else from that day. I certainly couldn’t run the One Run Boston last month and cross the finish line. Not yet. Not without 26.19 miles behind it.

One day this will find its place in my house. For now, the sock drawer will do.

One day this will find its place in my house. For now, the sock drawer will do.

I’m trying to take a silver lining and let my experiences have an overall positive effect on my life. I can’t control what happened, and I can’t go back in time and warn everyone. But I can live my life to the fullest and take pride in the 22 miles that I accomplished.

Getting Back to Normal

You may be wondering where I’ve been. To be honest, I was wondering that for a while too. Life has thrown more than a few curveballs in the past few months and while they all were leading to something pretty fantastic they certainly threw me off my game for a bit there.

From the time I was born I have not been known as one to seek out major life change. Arriving a month and a half past my due date (sorry, mom!) my family eventually admitted they should have taken that as a sign that I am content in routine and will change that routine in my own good time. So when I came home in October and broke the news to my family that Jim and I were buying a house 45 minutes away from them and I left my job to take a new position closer to the new house they were understandably a bit shell shocked. To be honest, I was too. At 27, I was finally ready for the much needed life change I had been craving for so long.

October feels like a world ago. The universe decided to have some fun with my little plan and challenged my Type A personality in a declaration of war type way. I’ll sum it up like this- if you can at all avoid it- do not buy a short sale house. We spent 5 months with our money and time sucked up into a home that fell through on closing day. I cried for days. I refused to see any silver lining in the situation and every time someone reached out to offer their sympathy about the situation I immediately had to hand Jim the phone while I had a mini breakdown in the corner. It wasn’t dramatic at all, I promise. However if you happen to know of any official “Boyfriend of the year who stayed with a woman clearly having a psychotic break” awards, please let me know. A friend of mine wants to nominate someone. Again, just asking for a friend here.

A few weeks later Jim told me he found a perfect rental for us while I mourned the resale of our dream first home. He reminded me that there will be a million other houses and that this was a great opportunity for us to take a year and live together in a setting outside of my moms house and do whatever we want. After all, we didn’t have a mortgage to worry about. We looked at the rental house, I cried again, and told Jim do whatever he wanted I would hate everything anyways. Again with the positive outlook on life. I’m a winner.

We moved in last month and I have to admit I couldn’t be happier. It’s a perfect house for just the two of us, located 5 minutes from my job and 10 minutes from his. Grad school is 25 minutes away. Oh, and this is our backyard.

 

 

This does not suck. In the least.

This does not suck. In the least.

Overall I’m adjusting pretty well and I think running has been a huge part of that. I’m such a creature of habit and as strange as it sounds, changing my morning routine was my biggest concern about moving. No longer would I have a Marylou’s Coffee shop where everyone not only knew my name but usually had my coffee made perfectly waiting for me by the time I walked through the door. I wouldn’t have a quick breakfast with my brother in the morning before we played musical cars for whoever had to leave first. For all the things I don’t have- I still have my run. It’s not at the same gym on treadmill days, it’s not in the cemetery on perfect weather mornings, but it’s still my run and that’s adjusting too.

These days every run is done with the end goal of a BQ at Boston 2014 in my head. It’s going to be tough. I’ve never really trained for speed before, I’ve only trained to finish. I’m excited for the challenge and ready to put in the work. Before Boston I have a slew of other races to get through, including my most ambitious race yet. In October I’ll be running the Cape Code Marathon Chowdah Challenge. Like the well known Goofy Challenge during the Disney World Marathon Race Weekend, it’s the half marathon on Saturday followed by the full 26.2 on Sunday. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I’m sore already.

If any of you nice folks have any advice on how to run a double race weekend and not die I’d love to hear it. Looking forward to more daily posts and getting back to the wonderful world of run blogs!