Friday, December 30, 2011

Help Me With My Playlist

One week from today and I will be out of Massachusetts and in sunny Florida.  Let me tell you, I need a vacation and based on the weather these past few weeks, my vacation has come at the perfect time.  Mother Nature can't make up her mind.  One day it is 55 degrees and the next it is below 20 degrees.  You can't fool me, I know winter is here.

My next few posts will obviously be about marathon preparation as I need to pack my bags and get mentally ready for 26.2 miles.  To say I am excited to run the Disney Marathon next week would be an understatement.  I feel ready for this race.  And I ought to.  This is the longest I have gone without running a marathon since my second marathon in 2009.  I haven't run more than 21 miles since July when I ran my last marathon.  I took the fall racing season off because of family issues that were mentally killing me during my races.  Mentally, I am ready to run 26.2 miles now and physically, my legs are happy.

I love running with music.  I have done races without music, but when choosing whether to run with or without my iPod, I will choose my iPod pretty much every time.  I do keep the volume pretty low, especially at Disney because there is so much going on, but when the going gets tough at mile 21, I know I will want that music there.

Here is my current playlist that I am listening to...
I made this playlist back in October just before the Baystate Half Marathon.  It is not quite two hours, as I like to make my playlist last only slightly longer than my goal time.  If I am out there longer than my playlist, then I deserve to be listening to the same song again.  As stated, this is under 2 hours currently. Unfortunately, I don't see myself breaking any world records for the marathon next week, so I need more music.

Please help me!  You can see by my current music, I like Top 40 music and Glee music, but I am wide open for suggestions!  My current pump me up song is I'm Shipping Up to Boston from the Dropkick Murphys and Lose Yourself by Eminem will get me moving as well.

What is on your playlist?  Can you introduce me to something new that I will love?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 Fitness Goals

Note:  Stephanie and her husband worked incredibly hard on getting results to you all for the Virtual 10k.  Please click here for her results and list of winners.


I am a blog stalker.  I love reading blogs even if I don't always comment.  One of my favorite posts to read are goal posts.  I like to read what you all look forward to do in the coming year and I LOVE reading the progress of your goals throughout the year.

I am afraid to set goals as I am afraid of failure.  I know what my goal is for the Disney Marathon next week, but to actually say that goal out loud, makes it known and gives me that much more pressure.  When I blogged a few years ago, I actually felt the pressure to meet goals was what pushed me away from blogging.  Not only was I not meeting my goals for myself, but I felt I was a lot of talk on the blog and couldn't pull through at my race.

When returning to blogging, I promised myself that I am blogging for myself and it is OK not to meet every goal you set out.  While I was losing weight, I never thought it was possible to lose that much weight nor run a marathon, but I did.  I need goals to work towards even if I don't meet it this year.  So with that here are my fitness goals for 2012.

Race Time Goals
  • Go sub-3:30 in the marathon.  This is NOT my goal for Disney.  I feel I am capable of this at my current fitness level, but am hoping to re-qualify for Boston at Disney and then set out for this goal later on in the year.
  • Sub-1:39 in the half marathon.  I think I could have done this in my half in October, so this may be one of my easier goals to meet this year.  The only problem being, I hate the half marathon distance, so I don't run very many of them.  This may happen in August at the Providence RNR.
  • Sub-20 minute 5k.  This may be my hardest goal for the year.  I never thought I would run a sub-21 minute 5k and I did this month, so I have set my sights on seeing a 19:xx in a race by the end of the year.  


Race Goals
  • Run another relay.  I ran the Reach the Beach Relay in September and had SO much fun.  It was physically one of the hardest races I have run as I don't function well without sleep, but it was such a great experience.
  • Pace somebody in a marathon.  One of my favorite marathons ever was when I ran my sister's first marathon with her.  It looks like I may be able to do this twice this spring and am looking forward to it.
  • Have an amazing experience at Boston.  I don't want to finish this race crying no matter what.  Whether I run a PR or not, I want to enjoy this race and take the whole experience in.
Non-Race Specific Goals
  • Keep up my hip strength training.
  • Stretch more!
  • More ab-work.
  • Do a pull-up by the end of the year.
  • Run a 5k with my daughter.
And now it is all written down.  I have something to push for and am really excited to tick things off my list.  What goals do you have for the upcoming year?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Virtual 10k Race Report

Last week I mentioned to Steph that I had a 10k on the schedule for Saturday. We like to run together on Saturdays, but we both knew my 10k pace was not similar to her half marathon training pace that we usually run on Saturdays. We couldn't find a local 10k to run and that is when the Virtual 10k was born along with Ashley.

First of all, thank you to all of you who signed up for the race. We never imagined the turn out for the race would be as great as it has been. I have loved reading all of your race reports and it was your stories and experiences along with your accountability that helped me PR in my Virtual 10k.

Steph and I picked Christmas Eve for our race day. It was COLD that morning, so we pushed back our race start until noon after a few wardrobe malfunctions (see Steph's blog). Before the race my husband did our photo shoot outside my house. He was going to come take pictures at the trail, but unfortunately, he had some last minute grocery shopping that needed to get done.
We got to the trail and set off for a cold 2 mile warmup. My legs felt ok during the warmup. We averaged about an 8:35 pace for the warmup, which is faster than I would have liked, but we kind of lose track of our running during our conversations. I noticed during the 2 miles that my legs felt kind of heavy and my chest was pretty tight from the cold air. I was having difficulty talking so was curious to see how running fast would hurt. We finished, drank some water and got lined up for our race.

We lined up at the edge of the trail, started our music and said go. I took off and my legs felt much lighter than they did during warmup, thank goodness! Mile one, I attempted to slow myself down. I knew I was going too fast, but my legs felt great. I should have listened to myself a little more as I knew a 6:50 pace was never going to make it. Mile 1 came in at a 6:52 pace, ugh.

For mile 2, I was finally able to settle into a normal pace. I felt fine during this mile, minus the wind that I was running against. I may as well have been going up a hill for how strong the wind was. Mile 2 was a 7:04, much better.

Mile 3 and 4 sucked. I can not describe them any other way. The wind was no fun and dragged me down and I was really starting to get tired and was reminded why I hate running 10k's so much. Both miles were a 7:11 pace. Not as fast as I wanted but I knew the wind was finally behind me and I may be able to pick up the pace a bit.

Miles 5 & 6 were shockingly easier than the previous 2. They still hurt but I kept reminding myself that I was running with other people. You may not have been with me physically, but you were in my mind those miles. This was good practice for the marathon. Running is such a mental thing for me and I really focused on channeling the competition of the race at this point. Miles 5 & 6 were 7:03 and 7:07, I was so happy to see that I was speeding up. With 0.2 to go, I was ready to be done and finished with a 6:58 pace.
The whole time, I was only watching my splits so had no idea what my total time was. I clicked over to the other screen on my Garmin and saw a total time of 43:51. This was a 40 second PR from my race on Thanksgiving. (That race was reported to be long, so I don't think I actually ran faster, but I was happy to have not gone slower.)

I waited for Steph to finish and we took some photos and then cooled down bringing our total mileage up to 10 for the day. I had so much fun and was excited to come home and report how I did. Thank you all for racing with me this weekend!

If you have stories from your Virtual 10k, please link them here so others can see them or email them to me (rbnnichols @ gmail dot com). We plan on having recaps of everyone's races so we will compile your reports along with pictures and times.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I am heading out for my Christmas 17 miler but wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful day with your family.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Preparing for Christmas

To say I have been busy this week would be a huge understatement. The week is slipping through my fingers, and I don't think I will get everything done that I need to.

One of my favorite activities to prepare for Christmas is to make Christmas cookies. Two years ago, while recovering from achilles tendonitis, I had to take up a new hobby to distract myself from wanting to run. I took a small break from running blogs and started searching baking blogs. There are so many wonderful baking blogs out there, and I got the bug. I wanted to be like them. (I warn you before you start diving in, reading baking blogs will mean a 5 pound weight gain from all the wonderful goodies you can create!)

I stumbled upon two blogs that I fell in love with: Annie's Eats and Bake at 350. These ladies are AMAZING cookie decorators as well as having many other talents. I wanted to make the beautiful cookies for my family they way they did and so I began to soak up as much information as I possibly could.

I am no professional but I think I have gotten good at decorating cookies. I even got offered a job to decorate in a cookie factory in Massachusetts, but unfortunately, the pay didn't match the commute. I am very proud of this year's cookies and am so excited to share them with you. I do apologize, I am not a food photographer by any means, so my pictures aren't the greatest.




Other preparations going on.....I mentioned the other day that we got our family pictures taken last weekend. This was a long time coming and it is so nice to see my girls at their current age on my wall rather than as babies.



And the rest of the week has been spent finishing up my shopping and wrapping. Do NOT attempt the mall 3 days before Christmas, I learned the hard way today. The line to get out of the parking lot was insane. Yesterday I came home to a wonderful treat, though, that made up for all the craziness that has filled my week. I received my Secret Santa gift from the Blogger Secret Santa that Run with Jill hosted. My wonderful Secret Santa was Stephanie from Running for the Kitchen. Please check out her blog if you aren't already reading it. She just ran an amazing debut marathon a few weeks ago, I am hoping to take some pointers from her next month at Disney. She gave me two pairs of Smart Wool running socks. I was so excited as I had the exact pair of socks in my hands a few weeks ago at Dick's Sporting Goods, and put them back. And now, today, I was able to test them out on my run and LOVED them. Thank you Stephanie for the socks and Jill for hosting!


If you are participating in our Virtual 10k this weekend, you can report your time here.  Good luck!






Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home for the Holidays Virtual 10k


Editor's Note:  This just in we are RE-OPENING registration for the Virtual 10K due to a high demand.  After much consideration and requests, we have decided to reopen the 10k.  We thought about those who have not had a chance to register as well as those who took the time to register.  Given the short registration time frame and the fact that people can register for a "normal" race the day of, we have reopened registration.  

For those who have already registered early, we are giving you the opportunity to be the only ones in the raffle prize for the Brooks shoes.  

If you are registering now, please fill out this form.  The original info is as follows, minus the registration is remaining open.



Happy Holidays!  2011 has been an amazing year for races, blogging, friends, and fun! Many of us qualified for Boston, ran our first half or full marathon, watched the Hood to Coast teams with awe and slight jealously, and maybe even just started running!  

Now that 2011 is about to close and we are rushing home or to friends and families for the holidays, we wanted one last chance to enjoy that Runner’s High before we said our official goodbye to 2011.  I don’t know about you, but in our areas there were not many options for races this weekend.  People are BUSY!  It is Christmas and Hanukkah this week, so we get it.  That is why all the holiday races were previous weeks.  But we wanted MORE!!  
Robin & Stephanie looked high and low for a 10k - Robin had a 10K on her training plan for this week and Stephanie wanted to make it 11 races in 2011 (she has 10).  Ashley was headed down South for the holiday weekend, and there were not many options.  

Good thing  bloggers are so resourceful!  First we saw this...


Then we saw this...


And before we knew it Ashley, Robin, and Stephanie were planning the 1st annual

The 1st Annual
Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K

Whether you are planning on going home for the holidays or not, we would love for you to participate in this Virtual Race.  What better way to burn off some holiday stressors and a few of those extra cookies than kicking out a 10K with some of your closest friends and bloggers.








*Source



If you have never done a Virtual Race before and have no idea what we are talking about, don’t worry it is simple and easy to catch on!  The idea behind the race is that you register (here) and instead of actually going to a designated area to race you get to do it on your own time (within a certain deadline) and at your own place.  We organize it all and then you just have to run and report back - tell us how it went, send us funny stories, pictures whatever.  You can get friends to do it with you in person or just rock it on your treadmill. Whatever works, anything goes!  Holidays are stressful and crazy.  This is supposed to be fun, healthy, and enjoyable!!!   

Plus, if nothing else, we are going to have wonderful, fabulous prizes!!!  Amazing companies came out left and right to offer some great gifts.  Since this is just for fun, we will be doing prizes for Best Holiday Outfit During the Run as well as random sweepstakes (you enter the drawing by registering and running the 10K).  

Here are the brands participating thus far:
Attune Foods
Skin Sake
Sparkly Soul Bands 
Five Bamboo
Pretzel Crisps
Chobani
Popchips
Gu
Nuun
Choose Cherries
Road ID

Fleet Feet Sports
Cross Country Cajun
Run for Fun - Run for Fun Bondi Band & the new I <3 My Crazy Bitch Dri-Fit Shirt
Healthy Happier Bear - Lululemon shirt
Westford Mommy - iTunes giftcard

Wow!  We are pretty excited about all these prizes which came in so quickly.  Please check out the Terms and Conditions on winning these items here.

So lets talk logistics



HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
REGISTRATION

Race Date:  Friday December 23, 2011 through Monday December 26, 2011 - run whenever you would like between this time frame

Where:  Wherever you want - that is the beauty of the Virtual Race.  Run at home, outside, with friends wherever.  Stephanie & Robin will be running together if you are in the area, let them know to join in.

Race Distance:  10K - Run 6.2 miles!

Outfit:  As this is a holiday race, feel free to dress up! There will be prizes for the most spirited holiday outfit

Afterwards:  Afterwards submit your times - here (link will be updated with the correct information after registration has ended).  We would love to share your pictures and stories! We will let you know the results and who has won the prizes by 12/31/11.  Send us your pictures and stories so we can report back to everyone.   Please send them to healthyhappierbear@gmail.com)

Activity Waiver & Terms and Conditions:  Please check this page out as well. By registering, you are agreeing to abide by our Activity Waiver as well as the Terms & Conditions for the Sweepstake prizes.   More information can be found on this page.

E-mail:  You will receive a confirmation e-mail with any other need to know details Friday December 23, 2011.







Registration:  Register here!  Registration is open until Thursday December 22 at 11:59 p.m.

We are soo excited about the 10K!  Please tweet, blog, facebook, and share with everyone! We can’t wait.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Life Gets Busy

I can't believe how fast a week can go by. This past week was my peak week for training. I felt like between my kids and running, I had no time to even breathe. I have enjoyed my small vacation from my computer and may continue to take breaks throughout the holiday. There are just so many little things that I can do with my kids, and I want to enjoy that time while I can.

As for my training. Did I ever run last week! I was scheduled for 70 miles ending with a 20 mile run yesterday. Because of my race last week, I threw in an extra run on Monday, since I didn't run much last weekend. So this is what my week looked like:

Monday--3 mile recovery run in 29 minutes. I did this run on the treadmill and strength trained for an hour after.

Tuesday--6 miles recovery in 57 minutes in the morning and 4 miles recovery in 40 minutes in the afternoon. These runs were not easy, I think my legs were still tired from the 5k on Sunday.

Wednesday--11 miles in 1:33. This was my speed workout for the week and I did it on the treadmill because I had my kids home with me. I ran 6x1000 @ around a 6:50 pace. My treadmill runs fast so this pace was pushing it for me.

Thursday--15 miles in 2:21. Another treadmill run due to my kids. There really wasn't much to say about this run except I was ready to quit from the very beginning. I wasn't tired or too sore, I was just bored. I had what probably will be my last Physical Therapy session an hour later and could barely move my legs.

Friday--8.31 miles in 1:15. I treated this as a recovery run and just ran by feel. It felt surprisingly easy. It was a beautiful day and I pretty much got lost in my book on my iPod.

Saturday--8 miles in 1:03. I promised Steph I would meet her for her longer run this weekend, but I didn't think she would be cruising along this quickly. Each mile seemed to be faster than the previous mile and we ended with a 7:36 mile. The run overall felt fine while I was doing it, but I was worried the rest of the day about my long run the next day because my knees felt pretty tight. But, I was also proud to pull out such a strong run in the middle of a high mileage week.

Sunday--20 miles in 3:08. Colleen and I met down at the Charles River for our long run of the week. This run was mentally a very challenging run. It was only 20 degrees and with the wind it felt less than 10 degrees. We ran the first 9 miles into the wind. This really drained our energy immediately. At about 8 miles in, we realized our water bottles were all icing over. I know this is normal of the winter, I just wasn't prepared for this to already happen. We ended up stopping about 12 miles in to use the restroom, warm up, and drink some water. I have the worst time drinking when I am cold so I only consumed half as much water as I normally do on such a long run. We finished strong as the wind was with us on the way back, but overall this was a very mentally tough run.

So I finished the week with 75 miles. I was exhausted yesterday but didn't feel as if my body was yelling at me by any means. My hip feels fine and I am ready to taper!

Besides running I also spent the weekend getting ready for Christmas. I finished my Christmas shopping on Friday. Saturday I got my hair cut (first time in almost a year) and we got our family pictures taken. (First time in 3 years!) Here are my daughters in their Christmas dresses:
And today I am making cookies. I have made 10 dozen already and will be decorating this afternoon. I like to give out cookies as gifts so figured I better get moving this morning.
Time to get back to work. I will have update pictures for you all later this week.

How do you get ready for the holidays? Are you ready?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Sweaty Birthday

Having a December birthday for me, usually means some sort of run since it is the month before the Disney Marathon. This year was no different than the past four. I had not only one, but two runs scheduled on my birthday this year.

This is my last normal training week before taper, so my training schedule has me running 70 miles again this week. In order to run 70 miles in a week, you have to run a lot of double-digit runs or doubles. I haven't run too many doubles in the past so I don't have much of an opinion on them other than what I experienced yesterday. Yesterday, ugh, it wasn't a pretty day.

I woke up and got both kids off to school and headed home for my first run of the day at 9:30. The temperature was finally rising so I set off for 6 recovery miles around the neighborhood. My legs were a little achy from Sunday's 5k, so I was happy I only had to go at a recovery pace which ended up being around 9:30 pace. The run went by fairly quickly since I was listening to my Hunger Games book. (Highly recommend this book! I may review when it is finally over.)

After my run was over, I took shower #1 of the day and hurried to preschool to pick up Gabbie. (The theme of this day is running, as I never had a moment of rest.) We drove to my sister's work and had lunch and then were off to Target. Gabbie was excited to buy a gift for someone who needed it this year. This worked out perfect as I have been working with an awesome charity and hadn't bought a gift yet to donate.
Christmas in the City is an awesome organization that throws a Christmas party for children from shelters surrounding the Boston area. If you are looking to give back this holiday season, please see their website for more information.

After we got our gifts, we ran home to pick up Bridget from school. We got home and then I had to get to work to get ready for our company we were having that night. My wonderful husband made me a cookie cake the night before but ran out of time when it was time to decorate it. If I wanted my name on a cake, it was my job. Luckily, decorating a cookie is a million times easier than a cake, so it only took me about an hour to decorate it and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.
My cake was done and it was time to get in another run. Out to the garage I went for 4, sloooooow, not fun miles. My legs didn't feel too bad, but they felt heavy. Luckily, I found something to watch on TV and was able to forget that I didn't want to be running. (My husband mounted the TV to the wall in front of my treadmill for my birthday and got cable for it, so excited!)
Forty long minutes later I was running back into the house and wrapping up my leg. Apparently, my hip was not a fan of a double run today. Thank goodness for Arctic Ease. I wrapped my thigh up and was able to get back to work as the swelling continued to go down. I haven't mentioned Arctic Ease much on here, but the product is really growing on me. I HATE icing my leg as I hate being cold. Last night, the wrap really saved me as I still had a few hours left on my feet to go. When I removed the wrap, my leg felt cold to the touch, but not once did I feel cold while it was on.
(Sweaty Robin in front of the Christmas tree)

Since I was free to be on my feet while icing my leg, I got to work in the kitchen making dinner. I made a pineapple meatloaf that turned out great and came out of the oven just as my sister arrived with her family. Finally, it was time for me to relax and enjoy my birthday with family!
(Me and my girls)


(It is going to be a long winter on the treadmill, now I have entertainment, thanks to my sister!)


(Bridget & Gabbie know what music their mommy likes to run to.)


(Steph obviously knows I am sweaty and wants to save my beautiful Brooks Launches.)


(Hubby was sick of my excuses that my legs were weak because we didn't belong to a gym, now I have no excuse!)


What an amazing birthday. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family and great friends. This past year has been both good and bad. I can only hope that 2012 brings happier times so that we can make even more of it.











Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Classic 5k Race Report

Apparently, the best part of not racing as much in a year, is you see amazing results when you finally do race. Who would have thought, don't race as much and you get faster?

Yesterday, I met Steph, Meaghan, Danielle, and my sister in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the Winter Classic 5k. Steph and I had been planning this race for a few months. She wanted to do a Jingle Bell run and I love doing a race for my birthday (tomorrow) so we quickly agreed upon the Winter Classic 5k. The race was described as a pretty flat out and back course. I love seeing flat with 5k's so I was excited that I may see a PR.

Steph and I planned to dress up for this race. Please note, I do not like drawing attention to myself, so dressing up was a big deal for me. We purchased our Team Sparkle skirts, bought socks from Target, and paired it with a few Christmas shirts I had and Brooks Arm Warmers. We looked quite festive.
During our warm-up mile, we all discussed our racing strategy. I was hoping to go out at around a 6:50 pace and hopefully hold on. I had no idea how it would go as I have never run that fast before for that long.

We stood at the very crowded starting line and we were off. I spent the first half mile weaving around people. I kept looking at my Garmin and noticed I was only at about a 7:15 pace. This was frustrating as I knew I could go faster, but the crowd was just too thick. When I finally got around everyone, I was finally able to settle into my pace of 6:35. Whoa, way too fast but I knew I would slow down, so just held on.
I hit the first mile at 6:34. I ran my intervals on Tuesday at this pace so was not surprised my legs wanted to go that fast. From mile 1 until the turn around I started worrying. I was already feeling a little tired and I felt like the halfway point would never come. I was still passing people and didn't really feel like I was slowing too much even up the small hill on the way out. We turned back and I started picking people in front of me to catch up to, to keep my mind focused on the race.

Mile 2 beeped in at 6:41. This made me happy. I was still under my goal of 6:50 pace so I figured even if I slowed down, I would still see a 21:xx at the end. At this point I started to observe my body. My legs felt fine, not heavy at all. My breathing was also fine, I didn't feel short of breath. I continued to pick off people, just waiting to see the familiar restaurants that meant I was almost to the finish.

Mile 3 came in at 6:41. I looked at my Garmin and saw that I had just hit 20 minutes. If I booked it to the finish line I would go sub-21. (This was not even an option in my head before today.)

I took off and my last 0.15 was at a 6:26 pace and I finished the race in 20:56. (Average pace of 6:38) I bent over at the finish line, I was in shock with what had just happened. For the longest time, I would only drop 10 to 20 seconds off my 5k PR and I had just dropped nearly 90 seconds.
My overall place was 144/1115 and I was 11/225 in my age group. For a city race, I was incredibly happy with my results.

After the race we took a few more after pictures and set off for a few cool down, chatty miles. I have really grown to love running with friends and the cool down made my day even more fun.
And now it is back to normal training. 4 more weeks of training and I will be toeing the line at Disney. I am hoping that my recent short race results are a positive sign in what is to come for me in the marathon. Only time will tell!

Friday, December 9, 2011

One Month to To Go

One month from yesterday is the day I look forward to every year, the Disney Marathon!
My plane ticket is purchased, my hotel is booked, and there are even plans being made to meet up with people down at Disney. Yesterday, they posted bib numbers and I am excited to say that I am #737. That has got to be a lucky number right? I have one long run left and it is taper time!

Today I set out to do 18 miles, as I am doing a 5k on Sunday and wanted to go into that race with "rested" legs. It took me about 2 hours to get moving. Do you ever have those days where you know you have to run and you don't dread the actual run as much as the time it is going to take? Today was that day.

I could not get off Twitter this morning. I was wasting my morning away avoiding heading out into the cold. Finally I decided to look for an audiobook, maybe that would help me get out the door. First of all, iTunes, you charge way too much to download a book! I payed $25 to download Hunger Games. This frustrated me a bit as I already have Hunger Games downloaded to my Nook, but I have had the hardest time getting into the actual book, so I figured what better way to get into it than listen to it for 3 hours straight.

After I downloaded the book, I finally left my house for the trail. I drove to the Nashua River Rail Trail which is a 10 minute drive from my house. I call this my trail as I have spent so many hours and miles on this trail. It is 11 miles long in one direction, so I figured I could just run and zone out to my book. I start 3 miles up the trail so that I could run in one direction, run back, refill my water, and run the other way.

There is no need to give a play-by-play, this run was HARD! I managed a 9:07 average pace for the entire 18 miles but my legs felt like lead for the last 10 miles. The book was a welcome distraction, and I kept reminding myself that I am supposed to hurt and running on tired legs was good training. I honestly do not know how I finished with such a good pace, but I do know that as soon as I stopped, I started crying. UGH! I wasn't in pain, I was just plain tired and I almost think the tears were tears of relief that I was done. In the past 7 days I have run 76 miles. That is what happens when you slip two long runs into one week. 76 miles. I am so proud of my body that it did what it did today. And it is worth it when I looked at these pictures from last year's Disney Marathon today.

8 miles to go


1 mile left and ready to be done


Crying in disbelief


So proud, I'm going to Boston

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why I am FitFluential

I come from an Italian family. I grew up with a family who ate to celebrate, and we celebrated everything! Needless to say, 99% of my family is obese. We are not overweight, we are obese.

I played sports my whole life, so I didn't immediately put on weight. I joined the Army ROTC in college and was forced to run every day and this kept my weight at an OK weight for the first year. (I say OK as I was still overweight, just not obese yet) After I quit the ROTC, my weight ballooned.
From age 18 until 27, I ate for every reason. I ate when I was happy; I ate when I was sad. I ate when I was bored; I ate for entertainment. The scale didn't just creep up, it flew up. I spent my 20's as a heavy young lady and I didn't really care. Yes, I would diet occasionally and drop 20 pounds, but then I would get bored and go back to where I started or gain more.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my sister started losing weight. She joined a gym and went all the time. I continued to eat every day and witnessed my sister shrinking and enjoying life in a new way. She was enjoying exercise like I used to. She was taking step, yoga, spin, and bootcamp. She was addicted to exercise and I was intrigued. I had my daughter but went back to my life as normal. I still didn't exercise and I continued to eat.
I went to Florida 8 months later and I was miserable. My feet hurt and I couldn't keep up with everyone. My sister, however, was carrying my daughter in a backpack and was enjoying herself in a bikini. That trip did it for me. I was done with being obese like the rest of my family. I joined Weight Watchers as soon as I got home and joined her same gym. I spent the next 4 months taking classes and the weight started to drop. I have to add, I didn't enjoy the classes like she did, but the weight was coming off so I continued to go. I dropped about 45 pounds when I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter.

I obviously didn't learn enough in those 4 months as I returned to my old ways while I was pregnant. I ate whatever I wanted and I stopped exercising. I told myself, I was only pregnant for 9 months, I would be fine. I delivered my 2nd daughter and again struggled to get back on track. Four months went by and I was only down 20 pounds from my original 45 that I had lost. My halfway doing things was not going to get me to a healthy weight.

It was at this time that I watched the Boston Marathon on TV and decided I was going to run that race one day. I knew, that the current Robin could never do it. I knew I needed to change my life in order to run marathons and I was finally ready to do it. I started running the next day, joined Weight Watchers, and I registered for my first marathon. Nine months later, I was 90 pounds lighter and running a marathon. I was addicted to marathons and loved being a runner.
So here I am, 4 years and 15 marathons later, and I am FitFluential. I was finally a fitness inspiration to my sister, who was my inspiration to get me started. After she had her second child, she decided to start running in order to lose her weight and she fell in love with the sport as well. I ran her first marathon with her in 2009 and we run the Disney Marathon together every year. We are beating the odds in our family and maintaining over 150 pounds lost between the both of us.



So here are 7 steps I recommend to you in order to start your fitness journey as I did:
  1. Reward yourself for non-scale victories. The scale doesn't always tell the truth. This is a huge thing that is hard to accept. The scale will not always reflect your hard work so recognize the other things that have come as a result of your hard work. This could be dropping a pant size, fitting your towel around you for the first time, or running up a flight of stairs. These are huge accomplishments and you should celebrate them, I did.

  2. Pick a long term goal and stick to it. I chose the Disney Marathon and paid the $100+ entry fee. I knew that if I skipped a workout, I was only hurting myself. I finished my first marathon in 5:12 and didn't miss any workouts. I knew I had a time limit at Disney and knew that if I didn't train properly, I may not make that time limit.

  3. Get fitted for running shoes. A lot of running injuries are a result of being in the wrong shoe. Go to a running store and get fitted. And, yes, I know how intimidating going to a running store is. I have been running for 5 years and still don't think I belong there, but they are really helpful. Running stores are excited to see another person interested in fitness and are passionate about helping you get started.

  4. Research your new sport online. When I first started running, I joined the Runners World forums and read them everyday in order to soak up all the knowledge of the experienced runners. I read race reports and answers to everyone's questions. Now there are so many other outlets that you are flooded with information between Twitter, blogs, Daily Mile, etc. Soak it all in. Not only will you learn something, it makes you more excited to get up the next day to do something.

  5. Find a training partner. This can be difficult, but I promise you will be so much happier if you do. During training for my first marathon, my husband and I did most of our runs together. Now I run with my sister and with all my friends I have met from Twitter. I look forward to my weekly run dates, even if it means 3 hours on a trail where I am nearly falling over at the end, at least I had good conversation the whole time. :)

  6. Fuel your body. This is another thing that has been hard for me to accept but have learned the hard way. My goal was originally to lose weight. You can't lose weight if you aren't properly fueling your body. My weight will plateau during weight loss, if I starve it. Feed yourself and your runs or fitness activity will be much more successful.

  7. Pick short term goals in order to not lose sight of what you are doing. This can be losing a smaller amount of weight from your total you want to lose. This can also be running a smaller distance race. My first race I ever ran was a 5 mile race. I did this 3 months into my training and it was HARD. I finished that race wondering how I could ever run a marathon but I also was so excited that I RAN a 5 mile race. It was a short term goal that I was able to tick off much faster than my marathon that was still months away. Every training cycle I pick a few races that keep me excited to race and I can also gauge if my training is working.