Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ZOOMA Cape Cod Half Marathon Race Report

This was my 4th year being a ZOOMA Cape Cod ambassador.  The first year though I was delegated to water stop girl since I was 9 months pregnant!!  The past three years I have had the pleasure of being out on the course running the half marathon!  Each year brings a new experience and this year taught me a lot about the potential that I have inside me!  Above my own running of this race, I always treasure the time that I am able to spend connecting with fellow ambassadors....who are now not just ambassadors after many years together, but also my friends!
Dani and I upheld our yearly tradition of her sleeping at our house and going to the event together.  She got to our house Friday afternoon and after Aubs combed through all of her Run Disney photos with just about every Disney character (Aubs is a big Dani fan since she is clearly the coolest having run races with her favorite princesses), we headed to the expo.  The expo is held at the Seacrest Beach Resort and is very easy to get in and out of quickly.  It's well organized and even had some fabulous vendors there like Another Mother Runner and Run Far Girl!!  Let's not forget Luna who kept me well fed and laughing!!  LOVE their coconut bars and their new cupcake one!!  Yum!!
We headed out to the back for the mocktail party hosted by Hint water.  Every year never disappoints...seriously one of my favorite places on Cape to catch the sunset!!
After a quick bite to eat we headed back to my house and bed since we had an early morning wake-up!  Race morning is always a new experience as a mom since our Aubs is not so certain she wants to sleep anymore.  With a cold hitting her she was up with me while I sipped my coffee and we watched Dora!  Before I knew it it was time to get ready and head out!

The starting line, much like the expo, is well organized and marked.  You can snap some pics with the starting line and easily make your way to where you want to begin.  The 10k runners start a little way up the street which makes even more room for the half marathoners.  I milled around and found many of my friends who were running!  Of course they all said they weren't racing....but with the pace they kept I beg to differ ladies!!  Needless to say they are ready for NYC!!

Before we knew it it was time to start and I decided last minute to follow the 1:50 pacer.  I have never run with an official pacer before so this was a new experience.  She was easy to find since she had a big balloon flying off her shorts!  I didn't know if I would be able to hang but for about 6 miles this was my view...
I was feeling like it was an easy pace to keep...I was feeling great and sometimes too great since I went in front of her too.  Then it was like those V8 commercials....she passed me and as I literally got hit upside the head with her bobbing balloon, reality struck.  I hadn't trained for this pace for a while and a gift from Mother Nature (sorry guys!) made things get a little painful....ok a lot painful with a side stitch that radiated across my stomach making it very hard to breathe.  My pace slowed and I watched my balloon bob out of sight!

That mile was tough to say the least!  I struggled not only to breathe but to also get the cramp to stop! As we continued along the bike path, I began to feel better and gained some speed back.  From that mile on it was all about keeping my pace below a 9 min mile so that I could keep my sub 2-hour time. The course for this race, for the most part, is very beautiful taking us through cranberry bogs and along the ocean.  It highlights a lot of those Cape Cod scenes...meaning: distractions from the hills in the last 3 miles!!
I felt much better this year in the later miles (Thanks so a lot of hill work lately....need to add more of this for Runner's World) and was excited....but not really...to turn and see the last hill at mile 12.  That thing is a beast but I made it up....barely!!  There was far less swearing this year mostly due to the fact that I was alone!!  I let my legs fly down the last downhill and into the finish!!
I am psyched with this time and how I felt at the end!  I ended up coming in 14th in my age group and realized that I have far more in me if I just push.  I am working on not giving myself such a break all the time.  I want to do big things with my pace but I get in my own head and discourage myself.  This race showed me that it is there....I just need to push!
We headed down to the beach to enjoy some snacks, wine, and sun!  This Cape Cod girl always loves to be able to end a race with friends and the BEACH!
pic thanks to Dani!
Well half mary #34 certainly had it's share of ups and downs but overall I am walking away from it encouraged that I can do hard things if I just push myself!!!  I have it in me....now to chisel away even more to get it out!!

A big shout out to some fabulous ladies who just rocked this race....Dani scored herself another 1:40+ half marathon time (like anyone is surprised...this girl has wheels!)  Another fellow ambassador Jessica flew to a super fast 10k and 7th place overall finish!  Run Far Girl Sarah WON the 10k....seriously this mama can fly!  Two fellow coworkers of mine rocked the 10k...so proud of you ladies!  Melissa rocked her first half marathon as well!!!  Way to believe in yourself and do great things!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Motivation

Going into the ZOOMA Half Marathon on Saturday, I was not expecting much.  I didn't know what was going to happen and had little confidence in my training.  Even those who asked me how I was feeling would be met with a lackluster response.  I put the limitations on myself.  I won't tell you everything because a full report is on its way tomorrow, but I was used a pacer for the first half of the race and realized that the only reason I wasn't reaching my goals was because of my own limitations! Don't limit yourself...believe that you can reach whatever goals you have if you put in the work!

Throw off those limitations!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

TTT...#BRFWeek Style

Keeping with the theme of the week (in case you missed the other posts I am celebrating BRF Week with AMR!), this week's three things BRF related!!  I've been running with Jill for almost 7 years now so it was fun to go back over our crazy adventures together!

A BRF is game to celebrate....and always has just the right gear to do so!!
Over the years we have sported tutus of many colors, crazy hats and headbands, and even more wacky socks!  I love my texts from Jill before a race asking what I'm wearing!  Her dresser drawers are deep and she always seems to find just the right gear for the occasion!!

A BRF will step up to the plate, no matter how crazy the idea seems!
I don't know how many times I read something and thought, this is crazy I should ask Jill if she wants to do it!!  From planking for our dinner, to jumping the wharf...from a 200 mile relay, to running in stupid cold temps before the sun comes up...we certainly have our fair share of crazy memories!  They usually include one or both of us swearing, one or both of us saying how stupid this is, and most certainly tear inducing laughter!  I could try to sum up the adventures we have had together but it wouldn't do it justice.  All I know is they are memories I cherish!

A BRF knows the power of a finish line and celebrates your accomplishments like her own!
I absolutely love this picture from the New Bedford Half Marathon!!  Jill dragged my 6-month postpartum arse all over that city and then proceeded to drag it in a sprint over the finish!!  Jill is always quick to celebrate things that I've done or send me a quick, "You're ready and you're going to kick ass" text before a race!  I know she believes in me and is my cheerleader no matter what!

Bonus: A BRF is there for you through thick and thin...ups and downs...injuries and heartbreaks...victories and defeats!
Jill and I have been by each other's sides physically and metaphorically through it all in our lives! Our friendship and runs together have helped me through some of the most challenging times in my life.  I cherish our friendship and the miles we have shared and will share together.  To end there is a quote by Dimity McDowell from the first Another Mother Runner book that I think sums up this point perfectly!
 "Running is conducive to frank, sometimes soul-baring conversations in the same way road trips are.  When you keep your eyes on the road, you can speak from your heart."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Most Memorable #BRF Race-A Run to Remember

So in case you missed yesterday, this week is Best Running Friend Week at Another Mother Runner, and so this week's posts are going to be dedicated to all things about my #BRF Jill!!

On tap today is what I think is one of our most memorable races together.  Now let me preface this with telling you just how hard it was to pick just one race!!!  Jill has been right there next to me for both first races post-baby, up and down COUNTLESS hills, on 24 hour adventures, and countless others but this race for me held a special meaning.

On May 25, 2013, Jill and I strapped on our running shoes and headed to Boston to run Boston's Run to Remember.  This is yearly an amazing race but let me back up a bit so that you understand just what made THIS race so memorable.  On April 15, 2013, a sunny and beautiful day in Massachusetts, two brothers decided to change people's lives forever.  My family and I went to our usual spot in Framingham to cheer on runners as they came to mile 7 and Jill headed for her usual spot on Boylston Street to cheer on her brother.  I can remember hearing the news report coming through the radio as we were driving home about what had happened at the finish line.  Shock filled our car and we immediately turned on the news when we got home, but the first thought that entered my mind was, "Jill is there."  Hours of frantically calling her phone leaving messages, I was finally able to talk to her.  I can remember hearing her voice on the other end of the line and just weeping because I was just so incredibly thankful that she was ok.  Jill was positioned in between the two blasts and actually jumped the barrier and began to run the course backwards in search for her brother (For those of you who know Jill this is not a surprise).  It was an awful day on so many levels but I was so thankful that she was safe.

Flash forward now to race day....the first race run in Boston after the attacks...a race dedicated to police officers....dedicated to Officer Sean Collier.  There I was side by side with Jill!!
We almost immediately fell into step and conversation but this race was different.  After we passed her brother Stu (lol), the run vacillated between singing funny sounds aloud and laughing to reflecting and fighting back tears.  Police officers at MIT that stretched on for what seemed like forever out of their cars saluting us...thanking us.  Banners hanging and special bibs and signs reminding you of what was lost just a short month before.

All of these things kept the miles in perspective.  Did I run my fastest post-baby half? YES!  Did I do it with Jill screaming at me to keep going at mile 11?  YES!!!  And that's what made it all the more sweet!  Just a month before...that run amongst two BRF almost didn't happen!  That day in Boston's Seaport District meant so much more than a finish line to me...it meant I could run with my BRF again in a city we both loved!

What has been your most memorable race with your BRF?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Motivation

It's Best Running Friends Week over at Another Mother Runner and so today's motivation comes from my BRF Jill!!  She sent me this quote a week or so ago and my encouragement to you ladies (and men too!) is to thank your fierce lady friend....and be one.  Jill and I have a friendship where no matter what we are rooting for each other...pushing each other to be better...and want nothing but the world for each other!  No competing to push each other down ladies...let's push each other up!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

WIAW....Get Your Freekeh On!

I was so excited to have been chosen for a review of Freekeh Foods through my partnership with Fit Approach!  I am always looking for new ways to make my meals even more healthy for myself and my family.

For those of you who were like me and haven't heard of Freekeh before, it is a grain that has three times the fiber and protein of brown rice and fewer calories than quinoa and white rice.  It is a super versatile grain that you can use in just about anything from salads to soups and stews and even alone as a side!  It has a smoky flavor naturally and a nutty, chewy texture but it adds so much flavor to your dishes!  It comes in three varieties, original, sage and rosemary, and Tamari.

I tried out the Original as well as the Rosemary Sage varieties.  First I tried out the Rosemary Sage as a side dish to our meal.
It cooked in the same amount of time that it would have taken me to make our usual brown rice and I loved the variety of flavor and texture!  It took a little longer to convince my family but I was sold right away!!  

I used the website as a resource for more creative ways to use the Original variety.  It had a lot of recipes that were easy to follow that showed me the best ways to use my Freekeh Foods!  My favorite was the vegetarian stuffed peppers!  I'm a huge fan of stuffed peppers anyways, and this was just so full of flavor!!  I'm using the picture from the recipe because mine certainly wasn't as pretty....but it was still tasty!  
I also used the recipe for the sweet potato stew which was awesome...I just omitted the kale (sorry kale lovers!).  I am looking forward to trying out the Paella recipe...maybe for a party!  

Overall I really liked this product and found it to be super versatile!  You can order it right from the website for just under $15 a case (which holds 6 bags) coming out to just $.60 per serving!  Score!  Freekeh Foods can also be found in local grocery stores as well as special natural food stores.  

And because teachers know that sharing is caring, I have something to share with the class!!!  I am giving away a package to one lucky reader!  Just enter below!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Talking Training...A Week Away

A few weeks back I had posted about feeling tired and rundown and really just not feeling this whole running thing.  I was pushing through because I have some big races coming up but it was resulting in cruddy runs and even worse mental struggles.  So I did something that I never thought I could do just a few weeks away from race day....I took a week off.  No running...no lifting...nothing.  At first it was freeing...like I suddenly had nothing but time on my hands.  However, as the days ticked away...my mind began to question what was happening.  I mean who in their right mind takes a week off just a few weeks before running a half marathon unless they are injured.
Thoughts of not being able to complete ZOOMA Cape Cod crept into my mind but I stuck to it.  Even the week that followed I found I didn't run much.

This past week I was back at it and let me just say that the week off was exactly what I needed!!!  I nailed my shorter weekday runs.  I was admittedly nervous to head out on Sunday on my 10 miler expecting the same results I have had most of the summer, but it went awesome!!!  I paid less attention to pace and more to just getting in and enjoying the miles!  It went so well and I was happy with how my body felt after....sore but not awful.  While the week away was a mental struggle, it was clearly what my body needed!  Looking forward to another strong week and a great last long run before ZOOMA!!

Have you ever taken time off during a training cycle not because of injury?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Motivation

Yesterday I saw this posted on the fabulous Glennon's Instagram page and it hit be like a bag of bricks.  Yesterday I looked like an escapee from a psych ward....done with my kids who hadn't been sleeping and who seemed that their goal in life was to push me over the edge...done with the never-ending laundry, dishes, dust, you name it...just done.  Then I saw this.  Hubs offered to let me go out by myself but mid-losing it I passed and probably said something crazy like he was trying to punish me.  The next morning I got up...did some more laundry...and headed out for 10 miles just me, myself, and I.  I waged up hills and down them again until I had worked it all out and felt ready to be mom again.  We all need this...a time just to ourselves to unplug....to take off whatever hat we are wearing and just be.  I'm not saying it was all doves and daisies after I got home (We still have a 2 year-old) but at least I had that time to unplug and I could do it again!

You do it for your phone when it is wacky...do it for you!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dear First Grade...

Dear First Grade...

Today we send you our chickie....our eldest...our girl.  We hand her over through shaky hands and teary eyes and pray that you see what we see when we look at her....a sweet, precious child of God!  We pray that you love her and her quirky ways...laugh with her...hold her tight when she is feeling sensitive...let her know that mistakes are ok...help her to grow in the ways she needs to.  You see she is our silly, passionate, princess loving girl who loves her friends and family with all her heart.  She loves to laugh....loves to play...and loves to learn.  She may seem a little prickly at first but that is just nerves.  Give her a chance and you'll see the girl we love.
Just like every parent out there, First Grade, we send you our gift and pray that you love her and treat her right!  
                                                                  Chickie's Dad and Mom
                                                                     (aka balls of nerves!)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Monday Motivation

I love this quote!  Sometimes we set goals for ourselves that seem so big...so overwhelming, but really all we need to do is take that first step...and then another!  One piece at a time toward our goals gets us where we need to be!  Set your goal and then break it down...You CAN get there step by step!!!  This week it's all about the speed work and sticking to the fueling plan!  I'm prepped for success and ready to take the steps I need to take!!  What about you?
What are you stepping toward this week?