Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hello Kitty Birthday Party

Thanksgiving weekend was so busy for me. Two years ago, I took a cake decorating class as I wanted my girls to have amazing cakes without having to pay the price. This has worked great for my daughters but has added stress to myself as now everyone wants a homemade cake. These cakes take hours to make.

This year, Gabbie decided she wanted a Hello Kitty cake. I was actually kind of relieved as I didn't have to plan a design for a cake because I could just buy a Hello Kitty cake pan.

So Saturday, I set out to bake her cake. I guess this was not my weekend for baking as the first cake broke when I took it out of the pan. Huge fail! Two hours later, I pulled the second cake out of the pan and it looked great. I did a little more shopping and returned to my cake that evening to decorate. It took about 2 1/2 hours to decorate but I was pretty happy with the results.
Sunday morning, I went on my long run before we celebrated her birthday. Do you ever plan longer runs around events so you don't feel as guilty when indulging? My run went amazing. I did 18 miles with 12 @ marathon pace. This was my hardest pace workout of the training cycle and I hit all my marathon pace (8:08/mile) miles without a problem. I ran the last 7 miles of my run with Steph which made it that much easier. She did a great write up of our run, so I highly recommend reading it, here. I love running with friends as the miles seem to fly by. I already have someone lined up for next week's 21 miler, woohoo!

After our run, I headed home to get ready for lunch. Gabbie chose to go to Texas Roadhouse, not because she loves steak, but she loves how she gets to sit on a saddle when they sing happy birthday to her.

After lunch we went home for cake and presents. We let Gabbie choose between a birthday party with friends from school or an American Girl doll as her gift. Because of this we had a small get together and it seemed perfect. My parents were in town, my sister and her family were there, and my mother-in-law came over. There were more than enough presents and cake and my little peanut had a blast.

Happy 5th Birthday to my Baby!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanks 4 Giving Turkey Trot Race Report

Five years ago today, I gave birth to my baby. Five years ago today, I was excited to be a mom for the second time. Being the mom to two little girls is the greatest blessing that I could have ever wanted. My girls keep me on my toes and smiling all the time.

This weekend was a crazy, family-filled weekend. I decided to log off from my computer and just enjoy my family. I missed being online, but I really enjoyed spending time with family.

On Thursday, I ran my 2nd Turkey Trot and ran one of my best races ever. Like I had mentioned last week, I picked the 10k and I was so happy I did that. My goal was to PR. My previous PR was a 45:59, set on a short course over a year and a half ago.

I warmed up by running a mile before the race. I know my legs don't like to go fast right away so knew this was necessary. It was also 30 degrees and I didn't want to sit around waiting in the cold.

The starting line was incredibly crowded and I got stuck behind a lot of walkers. I was a little nervous about this, but my husband reassured me that I was fine, so I just went with it. Sure, I had to weave around people for about a quarter of a mile, but it wasn't too bad. I hit mile 1 in 7:07. My goal pace was 7:10-715, so this was a little fast but I was OK as I didn't go out too fast. Mile 2 was a 7:02. Now this was approaching too fast for what my plan was, but it was at this time that I realized how good I felt. Last year at this same Turkey Trot, I did the 5k. I averaged a 7:02 pace for the whole thing and I felt dead. I knew at this time, if I had planned on doing the 5k, that I would have killed that race. But I also knew I had 4 miles to go so was hoping my legs would hold out. Mile 3 was a 7:08. That was much better. I was still right under goal pace and getting passed by 5k runners. I reminded myself that I was only halfway there and to just go with it.

I hit the 5k point in 22:35. This seemed about right to PR with 45:00 so I was excited as I still felt good, good enough to pick up the pace a bit. Mile 4 was a 7:02. I was shocked at this point that I was still able to pull low 7's. Mile 5 came in at 6:56. When that split appeared on my Garmin, I had to do a double-take. A sub-7 mile this far into a race? Mile 6 was a 6:59. Another sub-7. At this point I was completely amazed at my body, I was going to negative split this race. I ran the last .33 miles (Yes, not .2, I have since read complaints the course was long, but I am not complaining) at a 7:04 pace.

My finish time was 44:34 with an average pace of 7:12 for a 10k, but since the course was long, I actually did a 7:02 pace for that distance. A minute and a half PR and my second 5k was in 21.59! As you can see from my PR's on the side, I have yet to go under 22 minutes in a 5k, and I just did in a 10k. I placed 2nd in my age group out of 52 people and 31st overall out of about 300 people. You can bet I was on a runner's high the entire weekend after that.
Post-race photo

As soon as we got home from the race, it was straight to cooking. We were hosting our biggest Thanksgiving crowd ever and I had so much to do. I was on my feet cooking, serving, and cleaning for the next 7 hours. My hip was not crazy about this, but I rested it and got ready to go out Black Friday shopping at 10 o'clock. Yes, I am one of those crazy shoppers that shops all night. I even buy a T-shirt to show my excitement for the "holiday".
Yes, that is a Team Sparkle skirt. :) I bought it for my upcoming Jingle Bell run and thought it matched perfect with my Black Friday shirt. We got most of our shopping done between 10 that night and 5 the next morning. I was exhausted by the time I got home, but had so much fun.

All that in 24 hours. Now can you imagine why I was missing all weekend? I will have more photos from the rest of the weekend on my next post. I can't wait to show you pictures of my daughter from her birthday party!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inspiring Marathon Women

I love to run. This is an obvious fact. Upon taking up running, I chose the marathon as my goal and have since fallen in love with the marathon even more so than running. I will do other races, but I never feel the same satisfaction when crossing the finish line of a marathon. I also don't have any desire to do an ultra marathon, even though one would think that would be the next step in my goals. Ultras are crazy awesome, but I don't think my body is cut out for them.

I wanted to take a post to write about some incredibly inspiring marathon women who I can't get enough of.

I live just outside of Boston and like I mentioned in my guest post at Healthy Happier Bear, I started running because of the Boston Marathon. I love everything about this race. I go to the Expo every year dreaming of when I will be picking up my own packet. I have volunteered at the race. I have watched it on TV. I love all things Boston Marathon.

This past April, I was working in Boston as a nanny right near Boylston Street, so I was surrounded by banners and runners in the week leading up to the marathon. I was obviously jealous, but also excited as I knew with my recent Boston Qualifying time, that this would be me the following year.

It was at this time that I also first joined Twitter and I was tweeting about my excitement over Desiree Davila running Boston this year. Davila is a Brooks Hanson runner and so amazing to watch run. I couldn't wait to see how she did at Boston and my excitement escalated during the race. If you watched, you saw how she only lost the race by 2 seconds. She ran an incredibly smart race and looked amazingly strong at the end. I literally could not sit still watching her run. I am so excited that an American woman was able to run such an incredible race and prove that we can compete. I really hope Desiree makes the Olympic team and proves herself even more in London next year.

The BAA posted a picture on the Boston Marathon Facebook page a few weeks ago, that is the coolest picture. It is at the 15k point of Boston last year. You can see the lead pack and not far behind, running her own race was Desiree, amazing!

Another marathon woman that I am in awe of is an obvious choice.

As a mother, it is even more inspiring to see someone have a child and run a marathon in an amazing time only 9 months later as Kara Goucher did. I really don't need to say much about Kara's running, she is so strong and has such a big heart. After placing 3rd at the Boston Marathon in 2009, it was how she spoke and reacted that made me an even bigger fan. She ran an awesome race and came up short. The sadness on her face showed how normal she was. I loved how she wasn't afraid to get pregnant and start a family in the height of her career. The day after the Boston Marathon last year, I was walking around the mall in downtown Boston. Out of the restroom came Kara carrying her sweet little son. To say I was starstruck was an understatement. I stood back and watched as she changed her son's diaper on a bench and interacted with her family. To me, she is a celebrity but to see her as a mother outside of running was a privilege. She is a beautiful, amazing woman and such a positive influence to American women athletes.

Within the blog community I have also come to recognize a few women that I look up to and thought I would give links to their blogs so that you can see how an every day person can become inspiring.

First, is a woman, Devon Crosby Helms, who I follow both on Twitter and her blog.

She qualified for the Olympic Trials for the Marathon this past year and will be running the Trials in Houston. This alone is amazing to me, but last month she wrote a post about where she began. Talk about inspiring. Devon is ranked in the world for her 100k distance on top of her amazing marathon running yet she started out where the rest of us have. Obviously, she is a gifted runner, but her hard work makes her shine.

Another runner that I find inspiring has not qualified for the Olympics, but is a mother who has made so many improvements to her running, that I just want to soak it all in to learn more.

Dorothy from Mile Posts, is a mother of 3 and has ran through pregnancies and has proven that having kids will not slow you down. This past month, Dorothy ran an amazing 3:13 marathon at the Columbus Marathon before her youngest child even turned 1. She is even fast with a triple jogging stroller. I can tell you, my double jogger slowed me down. Not only is her story amazing, but she is incredibly inspirational and helpful on Twitter. Her posts on her blog include information that we all can learn something from.

So there you have a few of the many runners that inspire me. Do you know any bloggers that I should follow that have an amazing story? What elite runner inspires you?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Answers to My Hip Pain

So a week ago, I mentioned I went to the doctor for hip pain and I was referred to a sports medicine doctor. I was able to get into the sports med doctor on Monday and the mystery of what is wrong with my hip was solved immediately.

I have 2 things of pain that I have been dealing with for basically 5 years. First is a stabbing pain in my pubic bone and then hip pain. The stabbing pain originally was because of my separated pubic bone and now it has shown on my X-ray that I have arthritis in my pubic bone. Wonderful, huh? The doctor basically said, that this was the least of my problems. In the future he can give me a cortisone shot but lets deal with the hip and worry about that later. Thanks, Doctor, for telling me that I must deal with a stabbing pain in my groin. So much for ever wanting to have another child.

The hip pain is being caused by Hip Flexor Tendonitis. He did a bunch of movements with my legs and saw that I have a huge imbalance in muscle strength between the 2 legs. This was further confirmed by my physical therapist that I saw on Friday. Thankfully, this is a problem that I can deal with. I was not told that I have to stop running. I was not told that I couldn't run the Disney Marathon or the Boston Marathon. (My biggest fear about going to the doctor, was that someone would tell me I wouldn't get to run Boston this year. I am not convinced I will ever re-qualify again so missing out on this opportunity was not an option. I will be in Hopkinton on April 16th running that marathon I have dreamed about for years.)

Physical Therapy was my prescription and I headed there on Friday for my evaluation. On a side note, I LOVE physical therapy. When I suffered from achilles tendonitis, 2 years ago, I went to physical therapy and I was able to run the Goofy Challenge a month after not even being able to run. I loved my physical therapy appointments so much that I have gone back to school and am working on my prerequisite courses so that I can get into grad school for physical therapy. This is a long term goal, but I figured, I am wrong right? :)

So anyways, my evaluation told me pretty much everything I already knew. I have incredibly tight legs and my back pain is related to my hip flexor pain. I also found out that my left leg is longer than my right leg and that hip is higher than the right. This may be a factor in my problems, but obviously something I have lived with so I am not too concerned. I will start ultrasound and massage treatment this Tuesday as well as learn the exercises that I can do to strengthen my legs and prevent this from happening again.

So I am obviously still running, and did my long run of 17 miles today. It was a beautiful day in the 60s and I had an incredible amount of motivation after watching the twitter feed of Colleen killing her first marathon today at Philly. This should have been the perfect run, but sadly it was not. My amazing running partner had a different run on her schedule as myself so we ran by ourselves today. UGH! It shouldn't have been too bad, but look at this elevation profile.
I was cruising along until about mile 11, when my never ending incline got the best of me. My hip started yelling at me and my mind kept telling me that this sucked. Somehow, my mind didn't stop me, FOR ONCE, and I finished my run without a walk break when in the past I would have normally taken at least one. My overall time was 2:37 for an average pace of 9:15. I am pretty happy with my time considering it could have been a lot worse.
When I got in the house, I collapsed on the chair and was incredibly thankful that I could finally relax. Instead of hopping in the shower, I decided to wrap my thigh in Arctic Ease and let it sit there for about 45 minutes. I am still confused by the technology of Arctic Ease, but my hip tends to recover a lot quicker after using it the wrap to ice it. It puzzles me as I don't feel the cold, but it seems to work. You won't hear any complaints from me though as I hate ice so I am happy to have found a product that doesn't makes me cold.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brooks Cold Weather Running Gear

The past few weeks have been beautiful here in Massachusetts, but I know we are in for cold weather very soon. I figured a post about my cold weather running gear would be good since I love to see real life recommendations for clothes before investing my own money as they tend to be expensive.

This is going to be a 2 part post beginning with what I have used to far this year. In a few weeks, I will follow up with further gear such as running tights and hats. Luckily, these items still remain in my closet and I choose not to even remember how they feel as I am not ready for winter to begin.
For my base layers, I now have two kinds of shirts that I tend to pull out first. First is my Brooks Equilibrium Long Sleeve top. This is the shirt on the right in the picture. The Equilibrium is a more light weight shirt that works great as a base layer. The shirt is fitted and the sleeves are the perfect length, I hate when long sleeve tops end up short on my wrists. I recommend this as a base layer underneath a jacket or for cool days on their own. I have 3 different shirts of this style, the shirt in the picture is an older color.

I recently ordered the second shirt, the Brooks Equilibrium Thermal top, and I have worn it on so many runs. Currently it is my favorite shirt. The shirt is not fitted, rather it has a loose fit. I love this for the fact that I will be able to wear it over my running tights and feel like it is covering me more. The shirt is lined, therefore is very warm and soft. I also love the sleeves. They have a loophole in it for your thumb and because the sleeves are long, I am able to go without gloves if it isn't too cold outside. I think this shirt is perfect for 30 degree days, but I would use it as my base layer if it is colder.
These are my current running jackets and have been in my wardrobe for years. The jacket on the left is a Brooks Equilibrium Thermal Hoodie which I purchased at a race expo years ago. I don't think they currently sell this hoodie, but I would compare it most to the Brooks Utopia Thermal Hoodie, as I have tried on the Utopia and it is very similar in function. This is a great top layer and keeps me warm in temperatures down to the single digits. (Luckily we don't get much colder than that, so I can't make a judgement for colder.) The hood is nice for when it is really cold as it blocks the wind and is an extra layer for my ears. And, I love the sleeves because they act as a mitten. I will put my gloved hands in them when I am extremely cold.

The second jacket is my Nightlife Jacket. This is an all purpose jacket. If I am running in the dark, this is my go to jacket because of all the reflective strips on it. If it is windy out, I wear this over my base layers. It really keeps in my heat and allows me to be outside longer in the winter. This is also a great rain jacket. Finally, this jacket is incredibly light. You can find me in this jacket in the summer in the rain and in the winter in the snow. With the proper under-clothes, this jacket works for all weather.
Finally, we have my arm warmers and gloves. The arm warmers are a recent purchase and I love them. First of all, they are incredibly warm. I know this should be obvious, but I have tried a number of brands, but these so far are the best for warmth. The length of the arm warmers is also great. They are long enough to go from the base of my arm pits and can cover my hands if need be. Finally, they are snug fitting without being too tight. This was huge for me as I either chafe from tight arm warmers or they fall down, but these seemed to be perfect.

Currently, I am wearing the Brooks Vapor Dry 2 Glove. I am usually a mittens girl but am really happy I bought these last year. As far as gloves go, they are really warm. I love the terry wiping surface on the glove for wiping my nose mid-run. And the thumb flaps up so that you can still work your iPod. I get numb fingers very easily, but these seem to do the job for temperatures down in the teens.

So there you have my current running wardrobe. I am thankful to say that I have been able to still wear shorts with warmer tops so far this fall. I know the day is coming when I will need to go find my running tights and hat, but for now, I will survive with these.

My thermal jacket is by far my favorite cold weather piece of clothing, and I don't know what I would do if I ever lost it. Do you have any cold weather gear that you can't live without?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fear of the 10k

Today I finished signing up for my remaining races of the year. On my schedule is a 5k in December. It is a holiday run and I am running it with friends to celebrate my birthday. I love holiday runs as the atmosphere is more relaxed and it is the only race that I even consider dressing up for.

This year we chose the Winter Classic 5k in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The course is supposedly, flat and fast which is a bonus as I hate hilly 5k's. My PR for the 5k is over a year old so I am hoping to get a new one, but since I am in the middle of marathon training, we will see how it goes.

Now, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I cook everything and my whole family come over for a late lunch. Before I spend my day in the kitchen, I sneak out for a Turkey Trot.

This will be my 2nd year doing the Thanks 4 Giving race in Lowell, Massachusetts. Unlike last year though, I am doing the 10k instead of the 5k. Ahhhh!!!!

If I had to choose one race distance that I dislike the most, it is the 10k. I chose the 10k this year because of this fear. My last 10k was over a year and a half ago and it went amazing. I was first female overall and ran a pretty good time of 45:59. You would think this would have convinced me to love 10k's but the actual race itself was so not fun.

I hate 10k's because you have to run so fast and hold onto it for so long. The 5k feels like a sprint, but as soon as you start feeling it, you are done. The 15k and half marathon, you get to settle into a slightly slower fast pace; this is not fun, but it doesn't hurt as much. The 10k leaves no margin of error. If you go out too fast, you are really going to be sucking wind and your pace will show it at the end. I am the Queen of going out too fast, only to see a pace at the end that irks me.

I have read that the 10k is a good indication of how marathon training is going. I am fearful that my 10k won't show my hard work, but it is time I give it a test. My only goal is to PR and to be still standing when I cross that finish line in order to pick up my free pie. I will not put too much emphasis on the actual time as I still plan on running my normal training runs leading up to it, therefore I will be running on tired legs.

So here I go, facing my racing fear. And luckily I get to end my Thanksgiving with Black Friday shopping so whatever the result, it will be quickly be forgotten as I participate in my 2nd favorite hobby, shopping.

Are you afraid of racing like I am? Do you have any tips on calming my race jitters?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sports Nutrition Guidebook

If you knew me when I was younger, you would never recognize me as the same person. As is the case with a lot of bloggers, a few years ago, I decided to make a huge lifestyle change. I lost 92 pounds while on Weight Watchers and found running.

As of this month, I am now 4 years at my goal weight. Four years! I can tell you about all the times I have tried to lose weight in the past and within a year, I gained all of it back plus some. I attribute my current success to running as I have been able to continuously make new goals that keeps me accountable.

Here is my confession: I find maintaining my weight loss, a million times harder than it was to lose 90 pounds. Weight Watchers, while it was a great program for weight loss, does not work for me in maintenance. I gain weight and have to restart the program to get me back to where I belong. To say maintenance has been frustrating is an understatement, especially recently.

My mileage has increased gradually over the years and I am running 55+ miles a week. In my opinion, the Weight Watchers program is harder to follow with intense exercise and I needed a change. (I am not saying it doesn't work, it just doesn't work for me.)

Luckily, at the same time that I was feeling frustrated, I met Steph from Run For Fun. Steph has been seeing a Sports Nutritionist for a few years and recommended that I read her book and see if I can get something from it that will help me.

And that is when I purchased Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
First of all, this was by far the easiest nutrition book that I have ever read. I currently have about 4 sports nutrition books sitting on my night stand, and I honestly am only a few chapters into each. I find nutrition books boring and rattling off the same information. This book seems to simplify the process of how to eat correctly and balanced.

Instead of summarizing the entire book, I will just point out a few facts that I pulled from the book that have already helped me with my eating.

1--Eat three kinds of food at meals and target different types of foods. This was huge for me as I used to think, eat as little as possible to satisfy myself. This always left me hungry an hour later, therefore I ended up eating more.

2--Don't be afraid of carbohydrates. This one little fact has really changed my eating and I feel better and my weight loss has finally resumed. My lunch in particular usually lacked carbohydrates. This left snacking all afternoon to make up for the lack of calories. The book emphasized that carbs are nothing to be scared of and how much they actually fuel your body.

3--Eat more calories during breakfast and lunch and eat a lighter dinner. I love breakfast and have never had a problem eating a decent amount of calories for breakfast. On the other hand, I always thought a salad with fillings was appropriate for lunch when trying to lose weight. By the time I got home from work to cook dinner, I would be ravenous and would eat anything in sight, not to mention would have a HUGE dinner. This would leave me with an upset stomach and it was an endless cycle. I have since started eating a larger lunch with a substantial afternoon snack. I can now cook dinner without feeling like I am going to eat my hand off and eat a small dinner to satisfaction instead of until my stomach feels like it is going to explode.

4--Eat your favorite foods. Don't deny yourself! Again, something that was hard to accept. What do you mean, I can eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch or I can have that cookie? I now know what my calorie budget is and I work food into my plan. When keeping track of food the correct way, I see that there is a lot of flexibility for what I can eat as long as I am eating a balanced diet. And by not avoiding these foods, I don't crave them, which means I won't go crazy on them when I do get a chance to eat them.

5--Slow down and enjoy your food. Sigh. I am a TV watching, computer reading eater. This is a work in progress, but let me tell you how much more satisfied I am, when I concentrate on what I am eating and how good it tastes. I get more out of each bite, not to mention I can listen to my body saying, that is enough, you don't need to keep eating.

Hopefully these tips help you and if you want more, I highly recommend reading this book. She also gives information on how many calories you should be consuming, which for me has always been a huge source of confusion. There are recipes in the back, which I already have tried and loved. I finally feel in control of my eating and am hoping my running will also see some benefit.

And please note, I am not trying to lose a lot of weight. I am at the top of the weight range for a healthy weight for my height. I know losing some weight will help but am also being realistic about my goals. I am now eating more and feel better because of my balanced diet.

**I purchased this book with my own money and my review is based on my own opinion and the fact that I really enjoyed this book.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Amazing Run on 11/11/11

Storm damage from our October snow storm continues to hinder my plans. I had a 10 mile run with 5 miles at tempo scheduled for this morning. This is usually a difficult run for me. I would normally choose to do this on a treadmill to force the pace or go to the trail where it is flat and I can zone out and concentrate on pace.

I did my 15 mile run on Wednesday on the treadmill and my toe was killing me, so I chose the trail. We have an amazing trail about 10 minutes away from my house. It is a rail trail that goes for 11 miles in one direction. It only crosses about 4 streets for all 11 miles, so I don't have to worry about getting hit by cars. Finally, it is beautiful, especially during the fall. I slept in this morning, oh how that felt wonderful, and headed to the trail about 9am. I got my Garmin set, put my iPod on, and hopped out of the car and saw yellow tape across the trailhead. My heart sunk. I had a feeling the trail would have downed branches from the storm, but was hoping it would have been still runnable. Sadly, I think my trail is closed for the winter. I doubt they will clean it up until their normal spring clean up. Sad, sad day for me.

I hopped back in my car and quickly drove home. I was short for time because I had a doctor appointment this afternoon and knew if I didn't get moving, I may have to cut my run short. I ran in the house, dropped off my stuff and hopped back out to the road.

Now, I love running in my town. It is a nice, safe area. There are cops all over and I feel like the drivers actually drive the speed limit. The one downfall is, we live in a hilly town. We have a ski area in our town and there is a hill that I ran by this morning that is the highest point in our county. I am not one to avoid a run because of hills, but when I know I have to hit fast paces, I tend to run around the hills. Because of my lack of time, I just ran.

Miles 1 and 2 were my warm-up and were in an 8:53 and 8:30. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good. The wind was pretty strong but my legs felt better than I expected. For tempo runs, I like to begin running faster, peak at my fastest pace for a mile, and then slow down where I started. I hit the first tempo mile in 7:48 which was perfect. I was able to pick it up for mile 2 and ran a 7:40. Mile 3, still felt easy and was a 7:30. Mile 4 found me turned into the wind but I was OK with that as I was on my slow down and hit a 7:46. Mile 5 was up the monstrosity of a hill and I somehow managed a 7:49. Normally, I think I would have slowed down on mile 5, but I kept reminding myself, you are almost done, how hard can it be to finish this strong? I also gave myself permission to slow way down if I hit these tempo miles and that kept me moving as well. After hitting my last sub-7:50 mile pace, I told myself, just get home and run by feel. Miles 8-10 were 8:33, 8:41, and 8:41 for a total of just under 1:22 for 10 miles. After my week of training (68 total miles in the past 7 days), I never thought I would have such a strong tempo run, but it worked out perfect. Perfect running weather, perfect run. Bring on my weekend long run!

As for my doctor appointment, I learned nothing. He doesn't think it has anything to do with my pubic bone. He has no idea. He just knows that my flexibility in my right hip is far from where it should be. He did an X-ray, and there wasn't a fracture, so I am relieved. He said my hip looked like one of the healthiest hips he has seen in a long time. Thanks for that tidbit of info, Doc. I am going to a Sports Medicine doctor on Monday and hope to get some more answers. I just found an article on Inflammation of the Rectus Femoris Tendon, which seems like it could be what is wrong with me, but who knows. I am just hoping for a referral to Physical Therapy, so that I can make my muscles stronger and continue to run. Knowing that I don't have a fracture makes my fear of missing the Boston Marathon go away, so I will just work with what I have. I have come too far to stop running so I really hope I can find a doctor or Physical Therapist who trusts that I am not running through pain. But we will soon see!

Have a good weekend everyone! Sunday, I get to run 18 miles and am so excited because it looks like I may have company for at least part of it. Marathon training is so much more fun when you get to train with friends!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Silly Teenage Obsession

Now for an embarrassing confession. I will be 32 years old next month and I love teenage TV shows and movies. I am so ashamed of myself.

This morning I ran 15 miles on the treadmill, watching the adult movie, Bridesmaids, I might add. I liked it, it made the time go by fairly quickly. I got done with my run and had to get Bridget, my 6 year old, ready for school. At this point, I was STARVING. I ate an English muffin before my run, but 1500+ calories burnt and I was famished. I had a quick glass of chocolate milk, hopped in the shower, and made Bridget's lunch and ran her to school. Normally, I would have started my oatmeal before hopping in the shower but I knew I was short on time, and I also had this thought in my mind. If I got Bridget to school and Gabbie occupied when we got home, I could enjoy my oatmeal while watching Glee. Squeal!

So there I was enjoying my delicious oatmeal, getting constantly interrupted by Gabbie, and totally enjoying my morning. The "Warblers" made an appearance on the show and again, I squealed. Seriously, who am I? The Warblers, are a silly little singing group on a silly little TV show and yet it made me so incredibly excited. Those 45 minutes were quite enjoyable but made me realize I am a teenager in a woman's body.

Do I love these crazy shows, such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Felicity, because I want to be young again? I can tell you, the story lines have not changed in the 15 years since I have been out of high school. (Crawling under a pillow right now, 15 years, wow!)

I fear getting old. I remember when I was 21 and I thought to myself, I do not want to turn 25 because that is so old. What I would do to be 25 now, oh goodness. Now at 31, I dread birthdays. I don't want to get old because that means my body is aging and I am not ready to slow down. The only benefit of getting old in my eyes is age grouping up, therefore having a higher Boston Qualifying time.

An absolute sign of me getting old is my doctor's appointment I have for Friday. I am going to the doctor because there is something wrong with my hip. I swear, they are going to tell me I need a hip replacement, so I have put off this appointment for way too long. I basically know what is wrong with me. While pregnant, I suffered from diastasis symphysis pubis or in easy terms, a separated pubic bone. The pain went away after the birth of my daughter, but unfortunately, due to the repetitive nature of running, I am still suffering. My hip has referred pain because of this and it is so bad that there are days that I limp after a long run as I can't lift my leg. (Please note, I have no pain while running, and treatment is strengthening exercises which I do, but I have recognized that I need physical therapy in order to make the situation better.)

So, I am a woman who doesn't want to get old and am excited for the next Twilight movie to be released next week. Is anyone else as excited as I am and will you be at the theater on opening day like myself? Now I just need to find someone to go with, or I will be the crazy woman by herself in the theater watching Breaking Dawn.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekend Ramblings of a Boring Mom

Seriously, where did the weekend go? I am having a hard time adjusting to the fact that it is Monday and I am sitting at my computer and supposed to be doing a menu plan for the week. I even took the lazy way out for groceries this morning. I went to Target to buy hats and gloves for the kids for the winter and left with chicken, vegetables, and fruit. I am not proud of my laziness, but I was just not in the mood. And Gabbie was happy, because she didn't have to walk through another store. I guess we both win because I didn't have to listen to her complain through the grocery store.
So my crazy fast weekend was pretty fun. I started out Saturday with a recovery run in my new Brooks PureProject shoes, the PureFlow. I only ran 5, slow miles in them, but so far so good. My first reactions to the shoes were: they are light, flexible, and cute.
They seemed so much lighter than my current shoe, the Brooks Launch. The Brooks Launch are also a lighter shoe, so I don't think the transition will be too hard. I felt pretty fast even though my legs were tight from my 12 miles the day before.

The flexibility of the shoe was by far my favorite attribute. I am a mid- to mostly fore-foot runner. I like to land on the balls of my feet. This seems to be great running form, but in the past year, I feel like my 4th toes on both feet are either broken or jammed. I don't notice the pain unless I am running, so I don't think they are broken. The PureFlow shoes, because they have a more flexible sole, allow me to land more on my balls rather than my toes. This fact alone made for NO toe pain on Saturday. Now, I realize it was only a 5 mile run, so am not going to say it is a success, but for now, I am happy.

Finally, the shoes are so cute. This is a dumb reason to like a shoe, but it is a factor when picking out shoes. I have been really happy with the Brooks brand in the past couple years, as they have seemed to really started picking cool colors and styles that make me feel like a stylish runner. Please note, I am far from stylish in real life. My wardrobe consists of race shirts, jeans, and running shoes. If I can feel stylish at a race, I have to go with it.

After my run, I met up with my running partner to help her go shoe shopping. She has been having heel issues and was hoping to try on some shoes to see if that would help. We had to go to Boston for our shopping trip which meant we got to make a stop at Pinkberry for some frozen yogurt. My peppermint frozen yogurt was worth the drive and annoying Boston parking.
Sunday, was also another fun day in Westford-land. I started off the morning with my long run for the week. I met my running partner and my sister at the trail. Steph is recovering from the Marine Corp Marathon and was only allowed to do 6 miles so she was my warm up.

We hit the first 6 miles at about a 9:15 pace. Next up, were my marathon pace miles. Woohoo, those are so not fun. My goal marathon pace is 8:10 and I was pretty easily able to hit my pace through the next 10 miles. I was quite happy that my legs decided they were going to move today. About 5 miles in, I knew I was feeling good so I decided to run to find my sister and let her know that I would run in her final miles even if it meant adding to my 17 mile run. Mile 9 of my marathon pace miles was my hardest due to a gradual incline on the trail, but my average was below where it needed to be, so I was ecstatic. After I finished mile 10, I turned around to find my sister and ran her remaining 3 miles with her. My extra mileage added up to a total of 20 miles for the day. I couldn't believe I hit a unplanned 20 mile run so early in my training cycle. Considering I did 10 at marathon pace I came out of that run so much more confident.
After the run we headed home to get ready for our Halloween. We ate pizza, thank you long run burnt calories, and I sat home and handed out candy while the kids went out with my husband and sister.
The kids had a blast and I am happy I can finally say goodbye to October and hello to November. I am in love with the month of November. I love the weather, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and my daughter's birthday. Yay, for a new month!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Disney Marathon 2012 Training Plan

I am currently training for marathon #16. I am running the Disney Marathon on January 8, 2012 and this will be 4th year in a row running Disney.
To say that I am in love with the Disney Marathon is an understatement. My first marathon was there in 2008, where I finished in 5:12.
The following year, I ran a 4:16, 4 weeks after I ran the Honolulu Marathon.
I did the Goofy Challenge in 2010 while coming off an achilles injury.
Last year was obviously my favorite year when I ran my BQ in a time of 3:37. I don't have a race recap for that race yet, but one day I will sit and write it as it was a day I will never forget.
My goal for Disney 2012 is to re-qualify for Boston 2013. This means I need to go faster than 3:35. This training cycle I decided to focus on mileage instead of speed work in order to have strong legs going into the race. In the past, I have gone with Pete Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning programs and figured I would do it again as it matches with my training goals.

I am currently using the Advanced Marathoning 2nd edition book and chose the plan that has a base of 55 miles and peaks at 70 miles. I don't think my legs can handle the 70 mile peak week, so I plan on resting on recovery run days if I am not feeling good. I ended up doing that this week as my calf felt tight and I didn't want to risk injuring it. The plans in this book seem to focus on multiple medium long runs (12+ miles) during the week as well as marathon pace running during long runs. There are some tempo runs and interval training but not near as much as I did during half marathon training. I am hoping this break from speed work allows my legs to recover quicker and put in the longer mid-week runs. I keep having to remind myself that I need to slow down for longer runs in order to get all my runs in during the week.

If you go on the Runners World forums, you will see quite a few threads on the Pfitz plans. He has lower mileage plans that peak at 55 miles that many people have used successfully as well as myself.

So we will see how training goes. I am not looking forward to the temperature dropping, but it is isn't anything I am not used to. Here is what this week looked like:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 9 miles w/ strides
Wednesday: 14 miles medium long
Thursday: 5 miles recovery (skipped due to calf)
Friday: 12 miles medium long
Saturday: 5 miles recovery
Sunday: 17 miles w/ 10 @ marathon pace

Again, it is a lot of miles, but at a slower pace. I think doing the longer runs during the week gives me more confidence when I am out there doing long on the weekends. Let's hope everything goes as planned and I hope to jump into a similar plan for Boston. If not I guess it will be time to re-evaluate.

What are you currently training for and what plans have you found to be successful in training?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Treadmill Running: A Review and Tips

I love running outside. My favorite time of the year to run is in the spring and fall as it is the perfect temperature. I can run at normal hours and enjoy the brisk air. I have a rail trail a short drive away that I call my own. Everyone else on the trail is running with me that day as I know that trail like the back of my hand. It is my trail and I am always sad when December hits and the trail is no longer clear of snow.

Unfortunately, the Boston Marathon is in April which means, I am going to have an entire marathon training season during the winter. I don't hurry to run inside as soon as the temperature drops below 30, but I am also not afraid to put in a long run on the treadmill. Due to the downed trees and power lines in my town, I do not feel safe running around my town yet, so training this week has been on my treadmill.

Yesterday I had a 9 mile General Aerobic run and today was a 14 mile Medium Long run. After driving my normal 9 mile route yesterday and realizing the roads were blocked, I headed to the treadmill.

We didn't purchase a treadmill until this past spring. We had gym memberships so you could find me at the gym early every morning. After our schedules got crazy this past year, we knew a gym membership was no longer worth our money. We hesitated from buying a treadmill in the past as my husband is a big researcher and had in mind that he wanted to buy the best consumer treadmill. My husband is 6'7", so not only did we need a treadmill that could keep up with our intense training, but we also needed one that his stride wasn't longer than. He knew he wanted to buy a Landice treadmill, but we knew we couldn't afford one right away so we waited and saved. We finally purchased a Landice L7 Pro Sport and are so glad we waited.
Compared to treadmills you can buy at Sears such as the Nordic Track, the Landice doesn't have all the bells and whistles such as internet and built in music. The Landice treadmill on the other hand makes up for this in its functionality. You can transition your speed and incline very easily. Other treadmills we tested seemed to take significantly more time to bump up the pace. Also, when going faster than an 8:00 pace, the treadmill does not shake. This was one of the selling factors for us. We knew that we wanted a treadmill that could make it through speed workouts and not annoy us. It doesn't have as many programming options as the treadmills at the gym, but it has basic programming and I have no problem manually adjusting pace as long as my treadmill is continuously working and not constantly needing to have the belt adjusted.

Since purchasing our treadmill, I have run several hundred miles on it. I have done speed work outs and long runs up to 17 miles. This treadmill is a beast and I am so glad that we finally jumped in and purchased it. I am also thankful we waited and purchased a quality treadmill.

So now that you know about my treadmill, here are a few tips for treadmill running:

1) I set up a motivation wall in front of my treadmill. I hate staring at a wall, but I love looking at old race bibs and just thinking. I also have a Boston Marathon poster up there that is a constant reminder of my end goal.
2) Bring entertainment and back up entertainment. I am not the type of runner who can just zone out during a run. I need music or something to watch on TV. My iPad has been an amazing investment for that reason. I love renting movies on iTunes or watching shows from Netflix. (I watched Crazy Stupid Love this morning--Loved it!)
3) Bring lots of water and gels if needed. I have been known to bring an entire bag of fuel with me to the gym for my 18-20 mile runs. People look at me like I am crazy, but it saves you from running to refill.
4) For longer runs, go at odd hours at the gym so that you aren't hogging a treadmill. 60 minutes is usually the time limit, so go at off-peak times to get your entire run in.
5) Bring a towel! I can leave an entire puddle of sweat around me. It is easier to dry off before the sweat hits the ground. Turning on a fan helps with this problem.
6) Don't think about how far you have to go. This is a mental trick I use both on the treadmill and outside. I run each mile as if it is the only mile I am running. I don't think of how much I have left to go. When I think I have 10 miles left, I convince myself to stop, but if you are thinking mile by mile, you won't necessarily be as quick to give up.

Do you have any tips for treadmill running that I can take from you?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nor'Easter Slams Our Town

Within a few hours of publishing my last post, my weekend took a turn for the worst. As I had mentioned, we were in for quite the October snowstorm. Everyone realized that, but no one knew the damage that it would create.

As of 9:45pm on Saturday night, most of my town was blacked out, at least 90% of us lost our power. Massachusetts is not used to snowstorms so early in the season. Our trees still had leaves on them and the snow was wet and heavy. Because of those two factors, trees fell all over creating a mess.
I went to bed around 10pm in the dark, but thought, how long could this possibly go on? About 1 in the morning I heard the loudest crack outside my window and a smash. We have a very old tree outside our house that is basically dead. I was ready for that thing to come in through my window so immediately covered my head, but luckily it was a fear that was not to happen that night. We looked out the window and our tree had lost a huge branch, basically half the tree. I laid back down and tried to fall asleep but all I could hear were cracks and bangs for the next few hours. The other tree in our yard also lost a huge branch as did our neighbor's tree which landed on the power line.

All I could think of was Poltergeist and that tree, coming through so I decided I was switching rooms and spent the rest of my restless night on a futon listening to more cracks and bangs. We woke up the next morning with no power and heat and freezing. I was trying to think positive so went about my normal Sunday, minus my run as I knew the streets were dangerous and I obviously couldn't use my treadmill.

My husband left the house and observed the damage throughout the town. He said it looked like a bomb had gone off. Trees were split everywhere and laying across roads. There were downed power lines under branches. Because of the mess outside I spent the day cleaning to keep warm and just hoping we would see power before the evening.
To make a long story short we didn't get power for another day and a half. Our power was out for almost 48 hours. My town got almost 10 inches of snow but parts of our state received up to 24 inches of snow. School has been now cancelled for two days as Halloween was postponed until Sunday. Many are still without power and this storm has caused more damage to our state than when the remnants of Hurricane Irene hits us only a month and a half ago. While it was no fun sitting in a cold dark house for a few days, I am so thankful that my home did not receive any damage and that my family is safe.

Yesterday, I went for a drive around my normal running route to see if I could safely run this morning as my power wasn't on and my treadmill was still not an option. Every turn I made, I found more obstacles that I did not feel safe running near. This drive was a real eye opener of what everyone around me was going through and also a reminder to be safe while running. I usually run with a headlamp on at 6am. If I had just went running without previewing the route, I would have had tunnel vision to the danger that was surrounding me.

I get tunnel vision with my training plans all the time. I see what is on the schedule and think I have to complete that run. If it is not possible to do a run due to my health, injuries, or mother nature making a mess, I need to accept that sometimes it is better to take that extra day off than to push myself. I can always make up that run tomorrow.

I am semi-thankful Halloween was postponed as I have yet to have the temptation of the candy being in the house yet. I swear, November 1st is usually an evil day to my diet. And luckily for my kids they did get to celebrate Halloween at ballet on Saturday before the storm started, so they did get to wear their costumes. They hate when my husband pulls out the camera, so they were not being the easiest targets.
Dorothy and She Ra