Always thankful….

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the good ole’ US of A.  This just happens to be my favorite holiday.  I love the fact that we all take a moment to think about gratitude, things that we are thankful for.  In my life I tend to practice this on a daily basis.  I love to spend a few moments daily reflecting on at least 3 things that I am grateful for either from the day before or things that might happen in my life today.  For example: I am grateful for the long run that I had this weekend and I am also grateful for the strength that will be there when I need it today to conquer today’s challenges.  I really feel if we live in a gracious state of mind, we tend to see life in a different more present experience.

You may not be celebrating tomorrow this holiday of Thanksgiving but I challenge you to make thanksgiving part of your every day.  How will you do it?  I will continue to keep my daily journal of gratitude and be focused on the present because afterall it is a gift (present).  🙂 thanksgiving4

Half Marathon #11 – Wolf Hollow

IMG_2994I don’t usually do Half Marathon recaps in fact I’m not real good with many race recaps except those big crazy Marathons, which by the way I just signed up for Marathon #6 – Vermont City at the end of May, I am really starting to think I’m crazy but that is for another post.

Anyway, today was the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon.  What I thought was going to be a normal somewhat flat rail trail run (I run a paved rail trail all the time and it is mostly flat and paved) turned in to a jaunt through the woods where most of it was on soft surface/gravel/dirt/leaves/pine needles and it was mostly flat but had some killer hills at the times when we never really want them, which during a half marathon I believe is all the time.  This is not to say that it was not fun.  I really did enjoy it.  I went out with the intent to have fun.  In fact Dave asked me what I thought I would run and I said I wanted to keep it under 9 min miles and that is what I did.  Just 600 of my closest running friends doing a long run and getting a medal and t-shirt at the end.  My idea of how to spend a Sunday morning.  🙂

Near mile 9.5 I met Ian who told me that he had been following me for most of the race.  Usually we would call this person a STALKER but in the running world, somehow we are flattered that someone would pace off of us.  Made me feel good.  Since I was just having fun and quite frankly I needed someone to help me through the toughest part of the course which was two huge hills we began to chat.  Always fun is the conversation where we continue to tell each other that they can go ahead if they want to because I don’t want to slow you down and then we both realize that really we have been running the same race the whole time so why not finish together.

Ian and I finishing the Half together!

Ian and I finishing the Half together!

It was great to get through the tough hills pushing each other (sometimes physically because around mile 11 and 12 when you are going up hills running in a straight line is optional).  Also nice is to have someone pushing you when you think you are giving it your all and the other person says, “I think you can do more” and out of the blue you find that extra gear.  It was a great race.  As we crossed the finish line we exchanged hugs, told each other congrats, oh and I introduced him to Dave so there would be no crazy questions about why I am hugging this random stranger.

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Getting for the race. A little chilly and a little rain, perfect for running! 🙂 One happy girl!

This is why I love running.  I love going out for a race, enjoying the run, facing new challenges and meeting people along the way.  My new friend Ian and I talked about races, running, family, work, and why we run.  For him it’s a stress relief from being an Assistant principal at a local middle school.  Gotta keep up with those crazy middle schoolers under control.  For me we all know it is therapy.  I know when I don’t exercise I am a bear and really I am shocked about how much time I spend at the gym and out on my runs but I know if I don’t do it, everything else suffers.

Since today was a essentially a trail run and trail running is a lot different then road running, I know that there will be muscles that hurt tomorrow, probably because I can already feel them.  Here is hoping I can move.

If you are in New Hampshire in November, I would really encourage you to run this race.  It’s a double loop so you get to see the trail the first time and then the second time around you get to dread the hills but find a friend and you can make it through the second loop!  🙂

Ever find a friend during a race?  Dave says I always do!  What can I say, I’m very social.  🙂

Enjoy some more pics from today:

The beginning of the race.  So happy to be moving.

The beginning of the race. So happy to be moving.

Mile 8, this is the last big hill you do at mile 12 too.  Such a pretty area to run in.

Mile 8, this is the last big hill you run at mile 12 too. Such a pretty area to run in. (the pic is a little blurry because I’m so fast or Dave was cold and shaking.  I’m going with my speed.)

Happy to be done and starting to get really cold.  What you dont see is me shaking!

Happy to be done and starting to get really cold. What you don’t see is me shaking!

My new turkey running socks.  Seemed fitting for the race right before Thanksgiving.

My new turkey running socks. Seemed fitting for the race right before Thanksgiving.

The final results.  Not to bad.  I was 57th out of 316 women and 14th out of 92 in my age group.  I will take it!

The final results. Not to bad. I was 57th out of 316 women and 14th out of 92 in my age group. I will take it!

 

Well Duh!

nutritionI had one of those moments this weekend.  I met up with my marathon friend and we went for a walk along the Charles River in Boston chatting about our recent marathons.  For me it was Chicago for her it was her hugely successful New York Marathon where she PRd by 23 minutes and got even closer to the elusive Boston Qualifying time.

Before I get started on my Duh moment, I have to say how impressed I am with her.  She did incredible and I am so happy with her accomplishment.  She worked so hard this summer through the crazy heat and lots and lots of miles under her feet.

As we discussed our races and things we did leading up to the races (well everything besides the running because we had already spent quite a bit of time talking about the running each week during the summer) we found ourselves spending a lot of time discussing nutrition.  I started to have another one of my Aha moments but we will call this a “well Duh” as in you should have thought about this way before now moments.

My nutrition is pretty good, basically meaning I eat well and drink lots of water.  I do overindulge in sweets but I always say that is why I run, “to eat desserts!”  But really something I have never focused on in my 5 marathons and 10 half marathons is the pre race nutrition.

You know…. What to eat for the week or 3 days before the race, primarily the carbo loading.  Shockingly (insert sarcasm here) one bowl of pasta the night before a marathon does not last you a whole marathon.  I thought you could eat well, eat your pasta the night before the race and then fuel during the race.  Well that works okay if you run a half but this is not enough food to fuel you through the marathon. pasta

As I described the wall I hit during all my marathons and discussed my nutrition to my friend, it became glaringly obvious that I need to make some changes to my nutrition plan.  But it also gave me hope that if I can finish a marathon like I eat right now, what could I do if I did the fueling part correctly.  As my friend put it, “the wall is 3 things, mental strength, training, and nutrition.”  I have the mental strength because I have done 5 of these crazy things.  I have the training although, I will up my miles to a little more for my next marathon.  But it was the nutrition that was what I was lacking.  My body got so tired during my last race that I forced it to even drink and had no desire to eat during my last 6 miles.  This will not happen again!

So instead of feeling defeated, I have found my new focus for my next training.  I have even begun to start about running a spring marathon instead of just looking for a fall one.  I’m not sure why I continue to push myself so hard other than I just want to do better and feel successful and I don’t feel like I have gotten anywhere close to what I can do for a marathon.  Now it times to research nutrition a little more and create a plan for the next marathon and maybe even sign up for one….

Well Duh can be a moment of “I feel so stupid for not thinking of this” or a moment of “Wow, that was the thing that was missing.  I can do so much better with this knowledge.”   I have had both of these thoughts go through my head but I am going with the positive one and setting new goals.nutrition3

Have you ever had one of these moments? 

What did you do with it?

What would you be willing to give up to reach your biggest goal?

question-markThis is the big question rolling around in my brain right now.  And the reason is because I had an incredible friend who ran the New York Marathon yesterday and did something amazing.  She improved her marathon time by almost an hour and is still flying on Cloud 9.  I am soooo proud of her and glad it happened.  She totally deserves it.

Then that normal human trait hits and I start to wonder, “will I ever be able to do that?”  I train hard but really she trained harder.  I want it just as bad but then I remember how much she ran, how much she gave up each day and how she pushed herself almost at points of never wanting to run again and do I want it that bad?

I love to run, I love to feel free, go distances I never thought I would and achieve things I never thought I would.  I feel very comfortable at distances from a 5K – half marathon and know that those are all very achievable and for the most part I usually do very well at them.  My last half marathon I was third in my age group (I’m very satisfied with that).

But that marathon….it’s elusive.

I train really hard and do what I think I need to do and then the test hits and I do my best and hope and pray I will hit my goal, yet it still hides.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am very happy completing 5 marathons and each one I learned a ton.  This last one I did improve my time by 23 minutes over my April marathon but the desire inside me to go faster is really eating away at me and I’m not sure how to fix it.

Really what this tells me is that I’m not done.  We all knew that.  We knew that I was not done with the marathon even though at mile 23 in the marathon I have a very strong urge to never get there again.  I really do think I don’t want that feeling either.  I want to be successful.  I want to reach my goal afterall isn’t that why we set them.  To achieve them, to be inspired by them and hopefully obtain them.

I haven’t solved the question but I think I realize it’s gonna take some more sacrifices to get there.