Monday, April 30, 2012

Chobani Champions in Boston & a Chobani Champions Giveaway!

Going back to school, I know in the long run is what is best for my family.  In the present, though, it is incredibly stressful.  One of my biggest stressors is being the mom that I expect myself to be and trying to do good in school at the same time.  During the week, I sit at my computer and study all the time and am trying to distract my kids with activities at home so that I can get things done.  I wish I could spend more time one-on-one with them, but school keeps me so busy.

Fortunately, on Friday while sitting at my computer, I noticed a post on Facebook from Jessica from 30 Something Mother wondering if anyone wanted to attend a kid's Chobani Champions cooking class on Saturday.  I immediately jumped all over it as I knew my kids would love to head into Boston for a cooking class and I was excited to find something that we could all do as a family.

We drove into Boston on Saturday afternoon, and somehow found cheap parking directly across the street from the Boston Center for Adult Education which is where the class was being held.  The BCAE was a beautiful facility and I plan on keeping an eye on their classes and maybe heading back into town to take a class for myself sometime.  

We were pretty early for the class because I wasn't expecting to find such good parking, but it allowed us to meet Emily from Chobani and Chef Dustin who would be instructing us today.  The classroom was set up very cute and my kids were so excited to get started.

Goodie bags and Chobani Champions to eat!

Tables set up for the kids to arrive with Chobani aprons for the kids.

Chef Dustin.

Once everyone arrived, we got started.  They had picked out three kid-friendly recipes that we would be making using the new Chobani Champion flavors.  Our first recipe was an Orange Vanilla Cake for Champions.  Bridget and Gabbie were so excited to hear that we would be making cake and that they got to do all the work.

Bridget measuring out the flour and sugar.

Gabbie digging into the flour.

Bridget appears to be concentrating on something.

Orange zest!

Lots of little cakes ready to bake.

The cakes needed to bake for 15-30 minutes so after we put them into the oven it was time to move onto our main course, Verry Berry/Very Healthy Chicken Dinner.  Yes, we were cooking chicken with the Chobani Champions Verry Berry Yogurt, and I promise it was DELICIOUS!

Cutting up our chicken.

Shaking the chicken in the Chobani.

Chef Dustin emptying the chicken into the pan.

Yum, I wish I had some to eat right now.

Plating their dinner.

So cute, I loved how he served the dish over rice in an avocado shell, so fancy and so easy!

This was Bridget's FAVORITE part, she loved it and Gabbie was surprised how much she enjoyed the green stuff in the dish.  :)

As soon as they were done eating their chicken dish, the cakes were done and it was time to frost them with a frosting we made out of the Orange Vanilla Chobani and powdered sugar.  And then it was time to taste our cake and, again, it was so good.  I am not a fan of orange in anything and I loved the cake.  The Chobani made it very moist and it was so easy making the little pans for each kid.  I normally don't have the patience to make individual servings, but could see myself doing that again.

Gabbie was proud of her cake.

Icing the cakes.

Finally it was time to make parfaits with a combination of the Chocolate Chunk Choabni and the Honey-nana.  Gabbie was licking the spoon at this point.  She was in love with the yogurt.  They layered the Chobani with fresh fruit and granola.  My girls were very excited to eat their parfaits for breakfast the next morning.
Breakfast parfaits! (Or you can pop in the freezer for a few minutes for an easy dessert.)

Chobani Champions lunch boxes to take home all our creations.

The kids had a blast and I was so happy to have spent two hours cooking with my favorite girls.  This was my first cooking class I have ever attended and now I am really excited to try an adult class out myself.  If you are looking for recipes to cook with Chobani check out their website and Pinterest.  There are so many ideas that you can use Chobani in!  (If you are interested in any of the recipes that we tried out this weekend, leave me a comment or email me and I will get it to you as soon as it is available to me.)

And as if I wasn't already in love with Chobani, they have offered to give away two boxes of Chobani Champions to one of my readers.  To enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post.
  2. Tweet about this giveaway and come back to tell me that you tweeted.
*This sweepstakes is open for US Residents Only and you must be 18 to enter. The sweepstakes runs April 30, 2012 until Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. I will be using to pick the winner and will announce the winner Monday, May 7, 2012. One winner will be selected. I will announce the winner in a blogpost on May 7th and the winner will have one week to contact me before a new winner will be chosen. Incase of a technical glitch and entries are lost, all entrants must resubmit comments for entries. You may enter by leaving a comment on this post as tweeting about the giveaway.

Friday, April 27, 2012

When to Retire Running Shoes

I have a shoe problem.  I love Brooks running shoes and I run a lot of miles.  One problem I have had over the past five years of running is when should I retire my running shoes?  Here is my problem:

This is what I found in my front closet this morning.  Six pairs of Brooks Launches, one pair of Brooks PureFlows, and two pairs of Brooks Ghosts.  Supposedly, this is what is in my current rotation as my retired shoes are either in my closet upstairs or out in the garage.  My husband is also training for a marathon so we have three pairs of his shoes in the same closet.  (My closet is not very large.)

My shoe experience goes a little something like this.  I supinate, terribly!  Take a look at the bottom of my Ghosts.

These shoes have around 200 miles on them.  I have physical issues with my foot that causes me to roll out like I do.  My left shoe does not wear down like my right as my left foot isn't as messed up.  Because, I wear out the outside of my shoes badly, I tend to retire my shoes after 250-300 miles.  (I am tall and weigh more than the average female runner, therefore this may be low compared to most.)

Making the decision that my shoes are done is where I have my problem.  I am always worried that I am retiring my shoes too early and am wasting a good pair of shoes.  I have read you KNOW when your shoes are worn out.  You feel it in your knees, ankles, feet, etc.  I feel like at 250 miles, I am hitting this point.  I start feeling it in my knees and hips.  I convince myself that I made the correct decision when I put my new pair of shoes on and the little kinks are no longer there.  The new shoes feel wonderful and my runs feel great once again.

But what to do with the old shoes?  Shoes are not cheap at all.  I spend at least $200-$300/training cycle.  Running 3-4 marathons a year puts me at $1000 for shoes.  Writing this down makes my heart sink.  I love running and I know being on the road saves me both physically and mentally.  I need running.  I tend to save the shoes that I know hurt my legs, because it is hard to let go.  I do use my older shoes for cross training such as biking, spinning, and strength training.  Occasionally I will put on an old pair for short runs. But, I don't usually run less than 6 miles, so short runs are very rare. So why am I holding onto these shoes?

Luckily, running Vermont City Marathon every year gives me an excuse to get rid of shoes.  They have a booth where you can donate your old shoes and we take advantage of it every year by dropping off 10-15 pairs.  So, thanks to this post, I have removed four of those pairs of shoes and will put them in the To Be Donated Box.  If you are looking for somewhere to donate your old shoes, here is a Runners World link that lists many organizations that take old running shoes.

And I have also been told that you should have 75-100 miles on your shoes that you plan to run a marathon in, so these guys are halfway ready for Vermont.

How do you know when your shoes need to be retired and how many miles do you get on a pair of shoes?  Do you donate your old shoes?

**Don't forget to sign up to win an entry to a Danskin Triathlon in my giveaway this week!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Training for My First Triathlon & Danskin Triathlon Giveaway

This year has been a lot of trying new things.  I have added new cross training activities to my workouts and am having so much fun. I joined a run club and have been running with a bunch of new people.  I finally decided that this summer would be the time I tried out a triathlon.  Last summer, my sister did the Danskin Triathlon in Webster, Massachusetts.  My sister is not a swimmer at all, so when she told me her plans, I got very nervous.  She assured me that the Danskin Triathlon is a triathlon for newer women triathletes and that she would be fine.

I decided to volunteer at her race as a Swim Angel so that I would be in the lake during the swim.  The Swim Angel program was an awesome experience as I had a chance to help many women push past their fear of swimming and finish their 1/2 mile leg.  If you are nervous about swimming you simply raise your hand at the starting line and you are assigned a swim angel who will swim alongside you with a noodle.  If you need to take a break, we were there to lend the noodle and then help them continue on.

Because of my sister's successful first triathlon with Danskin and my amazing volunteering experience, it was a no brainer to choose Danskin as my first triathlon this summer.  I will be racing in Webster, Massachusetts, on July 22, where I will do the 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run.  If anyone in the area is doing this race or another Danskin race, please let me know.  I would love a training partner whether it be virtual or in real life.  Here is more information about the race:

The Danskin Triathlon Series has eight Races throughout the country.  It is the largest women and girls Series in the sport.

What: Sprint distance triathlons (1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run) that empower women by challenging them in a motivational, supportive, and safe setting with "cheerleaders" every step of the way.  Select Races offer a Super Sprint distance option.  Participation can be on an individual or Relay Team basis - making them even more first-timer friendly.

Where: Nation-wide (see website or calendar for specific locations)

               May 13 - Clermont, FL (greater Orlando area)
               June 3 - Austin, TX
               July 22 - Webster, MA (greater Boston area)
               August 5 - Howell, MI
               August 19 - Seattle, WA
               August 26 - Chicagoland
               September 9 - Sandy Hook, NJ
               October 7 - Palm Springs, CA

Why: Be a part of something bigger than yourself.  With eight Races throughout the country there's no reason not to TRI!  We want to help women to get moving.  Our "women empowering other women" mentality combined with doable Race distances makes our events extremely first-timer friendly.

In the spirit of "paying it forward" the Series supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Team Survivor nationally; as well as a local food bank and women's shelter in each of our Race cities.


Giveaway: The Danskin Triathlon Series wants YOU to TRI something new.  They are offering a complimentary entry to one winner of the Westfordmommy giveaway.  The Danskin Triathlon Series is a great first-timer friendly Swim, Bike, Run event that can be done on an individual or Relay team basis.  Get your girlfriends, sisters, daughters, and nieces involved by signing up to do this fabulous women's fitness event together - of course if you win, your entry will already be paid for. *Terms and Conditions May Apply.

To win a free entry (please make sure I have your email address when you comment so I can contact you):

  1. Leave a comment telling me about your first triathlon or if this will be your first, tell me why you want to do one.  
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@robinbn) and come back to tell me that you are following.
  3. Tweet about this giveaway and come back to tell me that you tweeted.
I am really excited to do my first triathlon this summer and really hope that some of you will give it a try as well.  I will be tracking my triathlon training the next few months on the blog and would love to hear about your training as well.  The finish line at Danskin is AMAZING and I can not imagine a better way to celebrate women than with a bunch of ladies Swimming, Biking, and Running together!

*This sweepstakes is open for US Residents Only and you must be 18 to enter. The sweepstakes runs April 25, 2012 until Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. I will be using to pick the winner and will announce the winner Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The race entry will be provided by the Danskin Triathlon Series owned by Xxtra Mile LLC. One winner will be selected. I will announce the winner in a blogpost on May 2nd and the winner will have one week to contact me before a new winner will be chosen. Incase of a technical glitch and entries are lost, all entrants must resubmit comments for entries. You may enter by leaving a comment on this post as well as 2 bonus entries as stated above.

**I am not being compensated for this post.  I have been provided one race entry for myself and one race entry to giveaway in exchange for my post about Danskin.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's a New Day, Looking Ahead!

I am not going to lie.  Running the Boston Marathon in near 90 degree temperatures really messed with my head.  I was out there ready to quit running marathons forever.  When I had more than 8 miles to go, I could not justify putting myself through the torture ever again.

Now, I sit here one week out and I know that was just one day.  We all have bad days and unfortunately, April 16th was not my day even though I had wanted it to be for so long.  The post-marathon blues have been especially tough this time around.  I had been looking forward to Boston for so long and a 4:29, while it was the best I could perform that day, was not the time I pictured on that clock as I finished.

But luckily, recovery is going much better than I had expected.  I have run three times since the marathon including eight miles yesterday.  I know I could have run further but I am trying to avoid injury at all costs.  My body seemed to have a pretty severe reaction to the heat, so I had a week of what seemed like severe allergies.  This has convinced me even more that my body is not meant to work that hard in extreme conditions and I will not do that again.

Looking ahead, I have a busy month coming up.  My semester ends in a few weeks so I am finishing up classes.  My two week break from school will be my crash course in studying for the GRE.  My husband started a new job today (Yay!!!) so I am finally relaxing there.  We are really excited about the job he chose to go with because it is for a company that centers around fitness so he gets to be passionate about the product and so will I.  I have been busy myself with other little projects and am proud to say I am staying afloat with a smile.

And, then I have a few races on my calendar that I am really getting excited about.  I am running the Vermont City Marathon next month for the 4th year in a row.  My confidence for PRing at Vermont is a little low but I am hoping my running will bounce back these next few weeks and I can maybe PR there.  I am also doing my first triathlon this summer!  I am registered for the Danskin Triathlon in Webster, Massachusetts and am looking forward to seeing how that goes.  (This will be a post in itself this next week sometime.)  

And now, I am contemplating my fall schedule.  I am torn between finding another marathon to run or maybe doing a big triathlon.  I would love to even try a trail marathon, but don't even know where to begin training for one of those.  I would love any suggestions for races on the East Coast that are still open.  Oh the decisions!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Boston Marathon 2012 Race Report

I really don't even know how to start this race report.  This race was like no other marathon I have ever done.  It was the hardest marathon I have run so far yet it was the most amazing one.

I woke up at 5 on race morning and hopped in the shower.  The weather forecast of incredible heat helped calm my nerves as all time goals were thrown out the window.  I was able to eat my normal breakfast and left about 6:15 to head to our run club bus.

Ready to leave my house.

I boarded the bus with a few girls I knew from training and another runner Michelle, who I had been chatting with.  Michelle's PR was only 2 minutes faster than mine and had the weather been nicer would have been looking for a similar goal time, so we talked about maybe running together.  The bus ride to Hopkinton was uneventful and we pulled into Athlete's Village around 7:30.  The first thing I noticed upon exiting the bus was the bright sun and lack of clouds in the sky.  
GLRR Pre-Boston Picture--Runners and Volunteers

After sitting around for only a few minutes I talked Michelle into looking for my sister so that we could get out of the sun.  My sister was working a VIP area inside one of the gyms.  I had volunteered in the same area two years ago and I knew we would be able to find a place to sit and stretch out of the heat.  We walked through Athlete's Village to find the gym and went into the VIP area.  With two hours to go until the marathon, we were so thankful to get to sit and relax.

So happy to see my sister before the race.

With less than an hour to go until the start we decided to make our way toward the corals.  The walk was much shorter than I anticipated, Disney's walk to the corals is much longer.  The walk was very exciting as I knew the race was about to start, but it also made me nervous.  I was breaking a sweat walking, what was going to happen running for 4 hours in this heat?  They weren't letting wave 2 people into the corals yet so we found a spot to sit in in the shade of a truck along with many other people trying to avoid the sun.  As soon as wave 1 took off we got up to head to the coral and there were people everywhere.  This was actually one of my least favorite parts of Boston.  You have 20 minutes in between each wave and they have to somehow get 9000 people into the corals on a narrow road.  

I was in coral 6 and there was so much room in there.  We only waited about 5-10 minutes and we were off.  As soon as they let us go, I squealed "I am running the Boston Marathon!"  It took us a few minutes to reach the starting line but once we did we were immediately able to start running and hit our planned pace.  This is where I really screwed up for the day.  The night before, I promised my husband I would run by my heart rate.  That morning, I decided I wanted to try for 8:30's at first and slow down when I needed to.  As you will see, in my mile by mile recap, that planned pace was not slow enough for the day.

Just past the start line you head into a bunch of downhills.  People lined the streets cheering for us.  I seriously felt like the town had come out for a parade and we were their entertainment.  It was truly something I won't forget.  I waved to people, I cheered, I smiled.  There were very few places on the course that there were not people cheering for us which made the experience that much more exciting.

As much as the crowd was exciting, I began to focus on the race and what was happening with my body.  When you look at the course profile, you see a lot of downhills in the beginning of the race, but as I learned during training, there is quite a bit of inclines as well.  It was on the inclines that I really noticed my body wasn't performing the way I wanted it to.  Miles 1-3 I was able to maintain around an 8:30 pace, but it didn't feel good.  At Disney, my legs felt fresh and my 7:50 pace felt effortless.  Running 8:30's in nearly 80 degree temperatures made my heart rate take off and my legs felt like lead. This was a bad sign at mile 3.  

This race can basically be divided into two parts.  The first 14 miles and then holding on for dear life in the final 12 miles.  Below are my splits for miles 1-14.  I obviously ignored my race plan in those first miles and watched my heart rate sky rocket.  I can tell you based on my recent heart rate training I have been doing that my heart rate only reaches 180 when I am doing intervals at a 6:45 pace.  The fact that my average heart rate going 8:30ish pace was 180 means my body was working way too hard.  I can tell you mentally what was going on in my head......This pace doesn't feel great, oh shoot my heart is beating way too fast, but I don't want to slow down yet, I know this is going to hurt me but I know I am going to slow down anyways........Bad, bad, bad Robin.  This is how Robin of the past used to race.  I was not using my brain out there but rather was running by what I wanted.

So while everything going on in my head wasn't smart, I had a blast those first 14 miles.  I grabbed ice from the spectators and stuffed it in my bra.  I high-fived kids.  I saw my husband at mile 10.5 and gave him a big kiss.
One of the many spray tunnels they had set up for us out there.

Look at all the people behind me!  Yet I never felt crowded.

At around the halfway point you heard a roar up ahead of you and I knew we were entering Wellesley College.  I could not believe you could hear the crowds for at least a 1/2 mile before you saw them.  The girls were lining the street with signs asking for kisses.  The men were kissing them and they were screaming.  AND, I wiped out.  In front of hundreds of screaming girls I fell on both knees and one hand.  My hand was bleeding and I refused to look at my knee.  When I fell the crowd gasped.  I immediately popped back up and they cheered.  Embarrassing, yes.  Did it phase me?  Not really.

Less than a mile later, I could no longer convince my body that it was having too much fun to slow down so the walking began.  My legs were exhausted and I could not cool down.  There was NO way I wasn't finishing this race so I figured I was going to walk and get my heart rate back to a normal range so that I wouldn't overheat.  And so began the longest 10 miles EVER.  But, luckily, I wasn't alone.  Everyone around me was walking.  I was seeing red bibs with low numbers next to me.  I was not the only one who ran too fast for the conditions and now was suffering.  But we were all working together to get to that finish line safely.

Going up Heartbreak Hill, I really can't tell you much about because I zoned out.  I was tired and just wanted to get it over with.  My running form was suffering immensely from being tired so I decided to walk on the downhills since I was heal striking and didn't want to get shin splints from this mess of a race.  At around mile 18.5, I saw a familiar face and I literally wanted to cry.  I gave Steph the biggest hug and told her how miserable I was.  She of course pumped me up and told me how amazing I was doing and I decided to chat for a bit just to calm myself down.  At this point I knew I was halfway up Heartbreak and I just need to keep pushing.

Run, walk, run walk......At around mile 20, I realized I was probably overheating.  Every time I got sprayed by a hose, I felt like I was going into shock and someone was punching me in the chest.  It was the scariest feeling.  I needed the water to cool me down but it hurt too much to take advantage of it.  I decided no more hoses and to just drink as much water and gatorade and walk even more to avoid getting hotter.

Just after peaking Heartbreak, at mile 21, we entered Boston College and my FAVORITE part of the race.  This makes me laugh because I hurt so much, but it was SOOOO fun.  The college kids were out partying and screaming and it was just what I needed at that point.  Suddenly, I was running a sub-9 minute mile pace and hitting every hand that I could.  The kids were encouraging me and loved seeing someone benefit from their cheers.  And just as fast as the adrenaline to run through there hit, it left when my calf started cramping up.

Oh yes, my favorite calf problem.  Each marathon, my calf cramps have progressively gotten better.  I always get them but they have been coming in later in the race. At Disney, I didn't feel them until mile 25.5.  My calves cramp so badly, that I have to walk because I feel like I am going to fall over.  Run, walk, run walk.  I knew I had no other choice.  This is what the second half of my race looked like....

You have to love seeing my crazy splits.  Entering Boston, my adrenaline started coming back.  I saw the Citgo sign up ahead and I knew I was almost there.  Getting to the Citgo sign took a lot of effort but  I kept pushing forward.  When I finally reached the Citgo sign, the celebration began as you can see by my splits.  I took off!

I may or may not have been the crazy girl whooping it up for the final 1.5 miles.  I cheered, I screamed, I ran fast.  I was almost done with the Boston Marathon and I was going to finish strong.  My calves were still cramping, but I didn't care.  I was not walking it in.  Turning on to Hereford was another favorite part of the race.  Even today, I feel like that final half mile was a dream.  I saw Boylston Street up ahead and I yelled even louder.  I was finishing!  Next was my turn on to Boylston.  Wait a second! Why was that finish line so darn far away?!!!  Oh well, I guess it was more time to celebrate and hope that I wasn't going to fall from my calves seizing.  I yelled, I cheered, I ran to that finish line.

Five years, I had been waiting for that moment.  I was so proud of myself.  This race wasn't about running fast and hitting a time.  The race was as hard as my journey to get here.  I proved to myself once again how strong I was.  It wasn't easy to get to this point in my life, but I am here.  That was the hardest finish line to get to, but I crossed it.  I finished in 4:29, my 4th slowest marathon, 17th marathon in 5 years.  I am a Boston Marathoner!!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boston Marathon Finisher!

So I am alive and moving quite well today.  My race wasn't exactly what I pictured my first Boston Marathon to be, but I enjoyed every bit of it that I could.  The weather was obviously less than ideal so instead of pushing my body to its limits, I decided to soak the experience in.  I will have a more detailed report later this week, but I wanted to update you all right away.

My time was 4:29, my 4th slowest marathon, but it was the hardest one to date.  Thank you all so much for your support yesterday.  It was so nice FINALLY getting back to my phone and having all the messages.

I asked my husband if he would mind if I wore my medal to bed last night because I am pretty darn proud of it.  That tiny little thing is what pushed me to finish a race I didn't think I had in me.  Now I am finally wearing the finisher shirt I have been staring at people wearing for years.  I am a Boston Marathoner.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Boston Marathon Deferral

It is going to be a hot race tomorrow.  Here is the forecast for tomorrow morning's Boston Marathon.
This definitely does not look like an easy race, at all!  Yesterday, the BAA announced that qualified runners could now defer their entry to next year because of the weather forecast.  Defer my Boston entry?!  Believe me, it is tempting.  Other than my entry fee and clothing purchased at the expo, I really haven't spent much money going into this race.  I didn't purchase a plane ticket or pay for hotel rooms.  I could easily defer and know that my ticket to Boston will be stamped for sure in the fall.

But, I can't do it!  I decided about 7 weeks ago that I was OK with not running a fast Boston.  I am running Boston to take in my reward of qualifying in January of 2011.  I will slow it down and run this as a long run in preparation for Vermont.  (I was regretting my decision to register for a marathon so close to Boston and now I am thankful I have a race scheduled for 6 weeks later.)  My decision was also made a little easier made by the fact that I am qualified for 2013.  My time may not get me in now with all the deferrals, but I have faith that I will get int.  I am going to run by my heart rate and keep my heart rate at a safe number.  I always wear a water belt and plan on walking through all water stops, making sure to drink extra.  My time goals are out, but I am hoping to get this thing done in not much more than four hours as I don't wan to be out there all day.  My time won't be great, but I will be a Boston Marathon finisher.

I have also adjusted what I was planning on wearing.  I wanted to wear my new run club uniform:

But the shirt is too thick and too dark.  Luckily, I had ordered the new Brooks Women's D'lite Micro Mesh Racerback.

I have never seen a tank like this when I received it, I wondered when I would ever wear it.  Now I am thinking it was made for the Boston Marathon 2012.  This tank is mesh and very thin.  It is the closest thing you can wear that isn't just your sports bra.  I am too self conscious to wear just a bra tomorrow, but feel this is the perfect alternative.  It is very breathable and luckily I had worn it on a few test runs so know that it can handle the distance.  Thank you Brooks Running for coming out with a summer tank that is much more breathable than any other tanks that I have found!  

So yes, I am ready for tomorrow.  I am incredibly excited to experience the Boston Marathon.  I did take it all in at the expo this weekend.  I went both Friday and Saturday as I love to hit the expo twice leading up to a race.  I bought all things Boston and will wear my new purchases with pride tomorrow afternoon.  And I had to get my race number picture that I have been waiting to do for years:

I also stood in line to meet Dean!!

Today I am going to brunch with some FitFluential girls and hoping to get some finish line pictures.  Then I will chill out for the rest of the day.  I am so ready for this!

And if you are interested in tracking the not so exciting race, I am #14187 and you can set up online tracking.  My sister will also be out there volunteering and then tracking me so you can follow her on Twitter.

Good luck to those who do decide to run.  Please take it easy and enjoy the experience that is Boston!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

26.2 Miles to Remember

Next week marks the anniversary of two important days in my life.  On Monday, I plan on reflecting on these important days over the course of 26.2 very memorable miles

First, as I have mentioned many times, April 16th is my 5 year running anniversary!  As I cross the finish line in Boston, I will remember the hard work I have put into my running.  I will also remind myself of how much running has changed my life for the better.  5 years ago, I was a couch potato who hadn't run in almost 10 years.

I wanted to change my life so that my girls could look up to me.  Now my babies will get to watch me run with 25,000 other amazing runners.  I am so thankful that I get to celebrate this anniversary running the marathon that motivated me to get me started.  I could say I would be complete after crossing that finish line, but I know I have so much more in me.  I plan on running the rest of my life and this will be the first of many Boston Marathons.

The second anniversary, is not as much a celebration.  It is a remembrance.  This time last year, I received the following text message from my older brother, Chris.

My brother knew how much running Boston meant to me.  He died two days after the Boston Marathon.  I will never forget the phone call I received to tell me that he was gone.  I literally had just talked to him the night before and now he was gone.

Chris w/ Gabbie at her baptism

Chris was taken at the young age of 38.  He was a father, son, uncle, and brother.  He was a Division I football player that I looked up to.  I shared my passion of running with him the summer he moved to Massachusetts (the summer before he died).  We drove to the trail every morning and ran some miles together, but mostly alone.  The ride home we would talk about how good running made us feel and about everything else in life.  Chris was one of the first I called when I qualified for the Boston Marathon.  His goal was to one day do a marathon and I was going to do it with him.

We don't know exactly how Chris died.  It could be blood clots, or it could be a complication of alcoholism.  My brother suffered from alcoholism and my heart hurts whenever I think about it.  I was never mad at him for being an alcoholic.  He was trapped and I was mad at myself that I could never help him.  I still don't understand addiction and haven't convinced myself to go to an Alanon meeting yet.  I have used running as a way of dealing with his death.

I spent the first few days after my brother's death just outside of Washington, DC, where my parents live.  Luckily, for me they have an awesome trail there that goes straight into the city.  I spent those days on that trail running.  I had no purpose and felt I had no control.  All I knew was, I needed to run. For the 2nd time in my life, running saved me and it has continued to save me this past year.

Dealing with my brother's death was hard mentally, but running has been my therapy.  The first 6 months after his death, I ran to sort out feelings.  Every race I entered, ended in disaster as I was not in a good place mentally.  Slowly, I have healed and I am thankful my running has been part of my healing.  Now, more so than ever, I am thankful to have found a hobby that I am able to love and that takes care of me.  My body and mind are better because of running.

And now, on Monday, I will reflect on all that running has done for me in the past 5 years.  Yes, I do have time goals, but I am OK with not hitting them.  I am OK because running has made me a better person and I know I will have my brother rooting me along every step of the way.

I dedicate my race to you Chris!