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?

Aha Moment

This week I had one of those moments.  One of those moments when you feel like you might actually be understanding what the world/universe or in my case my higher power (I call mine God) is trying to teach you.  This is how it happened….

Daily I post a motivational type quote on my facebook page.  I have been doing this now for about 2 years or more and usually it is because the quotes are something I need to be reminded of or need to think about for the day.  On Wednesday I posted this quote:

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This was to remind me as I embarked on my 12 hour + day of meetings to just take it slowly and you will make it through or at least I thought that was why I posted it.

Then while in my first of four long meetings a colleague gave a presentation and at the end of the presentation she had this same quote.  That was when I felt like it was much more than a perseverance quote I posted on facebook because what are the odds.  I had never even heard this quote before I posted it on Wednesday morning.

I really began to think how does this quote apply to more in my life?  Over the past couple of days I have been thinking about it and trying to figure that out.

In my job which can be very overwhelming right now because I am basically learning how to run a million dollar business while running a million dollar business, I need to learn to take things slowly.  Set up the right procedures and policies and not just try to put a temporary fix on the problems because that will not work.  Also I need to not be so hard on myself.  In reality, I have only been the Director for 2 months and the facility has only been open for a little over 3 months.

In my running, especially my marathon training, there is so much to learn.  Yes I have completed 5 marathons, 10 half marathons and numerous other races, but I am nowhere close to where I want to be as far as how fast I want to be.  I hope to get there but I know that it might happen in time or it might not.  I need to enjoy the pace.  It might be happening slowly but as long as I don’t stop at least I am making progress.

Ever have one of these (as Oprah calls it) Aha Moments?

Chicago Marathon #2 of 2

So it got warm and it got warm fast……(if you want to read the first post start here)

Here is a pic just 3.5 miles later at mile 16.5 and I was hot!  But don’t worry, there is no stop in my head, maybe slow down but never to quit.

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I was thankful for carrying my fuel belt with water because I was able to utilize the water stations to refill and then drink freely as I continued on and try and fight off any leg cramps that do happen to me at most marathons (big accomplishment #2).

Since I had no idea how I was doing on time, I just kept pushing on and when the clocks read 5 hours and 28 minutes at one point I was thinking, “this might be my slowest marathon ever but let’s just enjoy the race”.  I think that really helped me relax and realize it is just finishing the race that makes me a marathoner not the time (accomplishment #3).

At mile 25.5 we found ourselves running through a huge crowd that was very quiet and for fun I threw my arms up in the air and got the crowd cheering.  It was so much fun to hear them cheering for us marathoners because at this point, we were all going to finish the race.  Even better was the fact that when the race signs said one mile left, I had started to run and did not stop running until I crossed that finish line (accomplishment #4).  This was the first time I have been able to run the whole last mile.

When I finished I was in tears.  Happy Tears, exhausted tears, some upset tears because I thought it was my slowest ever, but then back to happy tears because I did it!  #5 was in the books.  I was able to talk to my daughter shortly after I crossed the line.  She was getting texts while she was at school and called me to tell me Congrats right after I finished.  So sweet!

Marathon #5 in the books

Marathon #5 in the books

I finally found Dave after what seemed like forever and a very long walk to the runner family reunite area.  We were able to hang out in the beautiful park, enjoy the wonderful weather and reflect on the huge accomplishment that I had just completed, oh and see that really my finish time was 4:49:39 with an average pace of 11:03.  Yeah, not my slowest and really when I look back to April (5:13:58 with 11:59 pace) what a huge improvement (accomplishment #4).

We all have lofty goals when we begin training for huge races like marathons and sometimes these lofty goals tend to block the whole idea of doing something because we love it and it really is something that not a lot of people attempt.  I am no different.  I wanted to have my fastest time ever but that was not to be.  I wanted to run sub 10 min miles but again that was not to be.  I wanted to have fun and that did happen.  I wanted to be more comfortable and not start the self-doubt early in the race making the race miserable and I was more comfortable and really never had a doubt that I could and would finish.

This church was at mile 13 and loved the sign on the side of it.

This church was at mile 13 and loved the sign on the side of it.

Most of all the biggest accomplishment of the Marathon #5 and Accomplishment #5 was my recovery!  I did not struggle with the major calf cramps from the past although those were there.  I was able to take a 3 mile walk after the race although very slowly.  I had a great massage the next day and was still able to put quite a few miles under my feet touring the city the next two days post marathon.  I would say if nothing else besides the fact I just ran a marathon, my body said, “you are strong and if you want to (no rush) we could do it again.”

Right now, I think I will just focus on some halfs but I am sure another full or two will be in the future.  🙂

Three days later my first run post marathon and last run in Chicago before heading home.

Three days later my first run post marathon and last run in Chicago before heading home.

 

I hope the recap was worth the wait.  Thanks for reading.

 

Chicago Marathon Recap #1 of 2

chicago8Sorry for the delay in my Marathon Recap of the Chicago Marathon and let me apologize about the length but it is full of pics too so enjoy and I did divide it up into two different posts so you have to come back tomorrow to get the end.  🙂

Well…. I finished.  I also finished over 23 mins faster than my marathon in April.  Unfortunately it was still not to the goal I had set but more on that in a little bit.

The weather for the trip could not have been better (well, it could have been a little cooler on Marathon day but definitely a beautiful day).  We arrived in Chicago on Friday afternoon and made it to our Airbnb residence for the next 5 nights.  Here is the view:

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After taking Uber to the expo to pick up my bib it was time to relax and get ready for my first ever group shake out run with Another Mother Runner.  On Saturday morning, I woke up and ventured down to take my first adventure on the Chicago Transit system to make it to the meet up location.  I do have to say I was impressed.  It was easy to get around and pretty cheap too.  (Let’s just say that we did not use Uber after we figured out the subway)  Here are some pics of the run on Saturday morning…..

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Sarah in the middle is one of the creators of Another Mother Runner. Go check out their website here and get some cool another mother runner bling.

Great shot at Lake Michigan and the background of Chicago

Great shot at Lake Michigan and the background of Chicago

At the "Bean" in Grant Park with another running group we hung out with. So much fun.

At the “Bean” in Grant Park with another running group we hung out with. So much fun.

I was so happy to have spent some time getting the nerves out of my system and thankful to meet so many other mother runners.  But we all know that the day before the marathon you should not walk around too much so we opted for a River Boat Architecture Tour on the Chicago River.  It was a great idea and there are some fabulous buildings along the river.  Take a look….

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Sunday morning arrived and believe it or not, I was not really nervous.  After all, as my other half says, “You’re a pro.  You have done 4 other marathons.”  Well I am not really a pro but I am beginning to really learn what works and does not work before races and have developed a sort of routine like visiting the bathrooms early because they fill up as the race gets closer and then sitting in the corral because we didn’t even get started until 8:20 which was almost an hour after the race started (that’s what happens when you are in the slow group but I did not mind.)  I look pretty ready for the race here:

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Right before I said Goodbye to Dave to head for the Corral.

Right before I said Goodbye to Dave to head for the Corral.

 

Once we got going I was very excited.  I also tried to not let the excitement get me to go out fast and I would like to say I did a great job of that but really I have no idea.  Why you ask?  Well, let’s just say that my wonderful Garmin watch does not like the very tall buildings of downtown Chicago and since that is where we are running I was at a loss for pace from almost the very beginning.  My first mile went pretty well but when my 2nd mile chimed on my watch and I was nowhere near the 2 mile mark according to the course and the clocks where off because they started with the elite runners I knew I could not trust the watch so it was time to just run based on feel.  Now I am not sure you have ever tried running by feel in a huge race (45,000) runners but if you haven’t and I really didn’t train that way, trying to do it for 26.2 miles is a little bit of a challenge.  Really I did not let this factor into my mind though and focused on enjoying the race.

Right after mile 2. Who needs a working Garmin? Im having fun.

Right after mile 2. Who needs a working Garmin? I’m having fun.

Even though the weather got up to 75 by the end of the race, it was a beautiful day to run.  The first 13.1 miles where pretty much in the shade of the huge buildings of downtown Chicago and through the parts of Chicago that had lots of trees and were very beautiful.

In fact, a little side note… I did something I never thought I would do.  At one point in Lincoln Park, I did jump off the course and find coverage in some of their draping trees and gave back to nature.  Hey, when you have to go and you are only at mile 5 and the bathrooms are all 10 deep at each water stop you do things you would never do before and really I had no desire to pee down my leg which I have heard some people do.  Yuck!

Anyway, back to mile 13.1… I felt great.  It was the best I have felt at the halfway point in a marathon EVER!  (big accomplishment #1)  Here is photo proof:

A big thumbs up for just over halfway!

Little did I know that after mile 13 was the heat wall.  Apparently when you leave the downtown area there are no more tall trees and the buildings are shorter too so it’s just you and the sky (oh and those 44,999 other runners)!  So it got warm and it got warm fast but more on this tomorrow…..