Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vermont City Marathon Update

So this isn't my race report, yet.  I know, 3 days post-marathon, I should be able to get a race report up but this will be a good one, I promise.  I am waiting for pictures to make it that much better.

I did finish the marathon in 5:23.  This was my slowest marathon, but instead of running my race, I ran my husband's race.  It was one of my favorite marathons to date as I hadn't run with Eric since our first marathon, 4 1/2 years ago.

Recovery-wise, I am doing great.  My legs feel great, which as I will explain in my report was what I was hoping for.  I started triathlon training yesterday and hit the pool for a crazy hard workout.  I literally thought I was going to drown, but it felt so good after I was done.  I will be returning to the pool again today for a rematch.

I also got new bike shoes this weekend, so am hoping to get some practice riding in with clipping in and out later on this week.  I am so nervous about this but also excited.  I am really looking forward to some longer rides on the weekends and I am hoping this makes it that much easier.

And, then there is life that gets in the way.  The three day weekend was AMAZING.  Coming back on Tuesday with having done nothing for the weekend and starting school, made for a scrambling day yesterday.  I am much more organized now, but did start my 8 weeks summer session so I am going to be super busy this summer.  Blogging may take a back burner until the end of July, but I am not going away.    My first Anatomy and Physiology II class was last night and it is a LOT LOT LOT of work.  Four nights a week for that class and an online class will leave me at my computer this whole summer but two classes closer to applying to Grad school so I won't complain, too much.

Hopefully you all had a good weekend.  I do plan on catching up on blogs eventually.  And please come back to check out my race report, it will be good.  :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Vermont City Marathon Runner Tracking

We are leaving in a few hours for Vermont and I have not packed.  Nothing is ready to go, but we will make it there tonight hopefully.

Life has been crazy these past few weeks.  I was hoping my two weeks off from school would leave me time to relax, but smart Robin, decided to start a new job.  While I am really excited about having a part time job, training has kept me quite busy.  I have been busy enough to keep my mind off this weekend, so that always works.

This is a short post as I really need to get this house ready to leave for the weekend.  If you are interested in tracking me on Sunday you can go to:

Vermont City Marathon Tracking 2012

My bib # is 3225.  I have it set up to send live tweets to Twitter but it is different than what I am used to, so I am not sure if it will work.  Please follow me on Twitter as I will for sure be posting as soon as I get back to my phone.

My goals are still the same as I posted the other day.  My expectations aren't huge, but am hoping for a good day.  This MIGHT be my last marathon of 2012 so I am hoping I can finish this marathon season with at the very least a memorable race.

Have a safe holiday everyone and good luck to everyone else racing this weekend!  Please let me know if you are racing and I will be looking for your results as well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Marathon Rewards

Marathoning is incredibly mental.  I have run amazing races because mentally I was all in.  I have also run TERRIBLE races because my head wasn't in the game at all.

This past year I have really worked on the mental aspect of running.  I have learned to push myself to my limits and then hold on even when my body was saying quit.  Last summer, I ran the Around the Lake Marathon in Wakefield, Massachusetts.  It was my last ditch effort to improve my Boston Qualifying time as I was afraid my two minute cushion was not going to get me into Boston.

The Around the Lake Marathon is part of a 24-hour Ultramarathon.  The marathoners are taking the easy route by only running 8 laps around the lake.  It is a 3 mile loop around a lake on a flat path and it starts at 7pm on a Friday night.    It was a hot and stormy night and I didn't meet my goal.  But, I didn't give up that night.  With three miles to go, I was spent and tired.  I was not on pace at all for breaking any PR's.  The heat got to me pretty early and I had slowed down at around mile 16.  Instead of giving up like I was used to, I continued to push myself that last lap and finished in 3:51.  At that time, it was my 2nd fastest marathon I had ever run.  To clue you in on the condition of my body, I didn't move for about an hour after the race and when I finally did I dry heaved until I was finally able to throw up, the whole way home in the car.  For me, that was a victory.  :)  I had never thrown up after a race and I knew I had pushed my body to its limit that night.  I didn't PR, but I mentally ran an amazing race.  I proved to myself, that when the going gets tough, I need to stop listening to the negative thoughts and keep running.

On Sunday, I will be thinking of my finish line when things get hard.  The weather is looking warmer than ideal, but I am OK with that.  I will run a mentally tough race no matter what.

Now I will give you a peek into what silly thoughts motivate me.  First of all, food!  :)  When I am tired, I think a lot of food, especially because 9 times out of 10, I can't even stomach an orange slice at the end of a race.  My favorite marathon treat are cinnamon bears.  Don't ask me why, but these calories dense, sugar-filled bears are my weakness and I look forward to eating them after every marathon.  Now I just need to find a pack before Sunday.


The next thing that gets me to Vermont City Marathon's finish line is the promise of ice cream.  Oh, Ben & Jerry's truck, you are a welcomed site at 26.2 miles.  I usually grab my medal, waddle through the food area collecting the food in a grocery bag and head to the Ben & Jerry's truck for my carton of ice cream.  I usually don't eat anything but the ice cream, but it is such a perfect treat after a hard run race.


This year, I am also headed for the beer tent!  I am not usually a beer girl, but Janine from The Purple Giraffe has turned me over to her side.  I am looking forward to sipping my beer as I cheer on the other marathon finishers and wait for my hubby to cross the finish line.


And, finally, my #1 motivation to get to that finish line is the beautiful medal and sense of accomplishment.  I can't wait to stop at the finish line with a rush of excitement knowing I ran the best race possible.  And knowing I already have my Boston Qualifying time for 2013 helps to ease the pressure off seeing a certain time on that clock at the end.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Vermont City Marathon Goals

So far so good in the weather department for this upcoming weekend in Burlington...

Sure, I would love to see the high be slightly lower, but as long as everything goes well, I will be done running before the high hits that day.

This will be my third marathon since January, and luckily I am finally feeling relaxed about the race.  Since, Boston, I have really focused on slowing down on all my training runs.  This seems to be the opposite of what everyone around me has been doing, but slower runs are what the books recommend and I found it a welcome change during recovery.  The slower runs have allowed me to get my mileage in with minimal soreness so I am happy about that.

Do I have a goal for Sunday?  Kind of.  I have a time in my head that I would like to hit, but I am not sure I am ready to say it out loud.  Because of this my A goal is to get another BQ, so a sub-3:35.  As long as the conditions are good and I am not having a bad day, I think this is well within my reach.  I don't even care if I PR (3:32:53), I just want to run another strong BQ race.

Mile 15 of VCM, Battery Hill.

My B goal is sub-3:45.  If I am having a bad day, this will be a stretch as I really have to mentally focus to get that time if my body isn't cooperating.  But, I would be totally satisfied if I saw a low 3:4x on the clock when crossing the finish line.

My first sub-4 hour marathon, VCM 2009.

My C goal would be sub-4 hours.  I can't promise that I will be jumping for joy if I meet that time, but I know I can be proud of myself with that time.  I need to set this goal as I need to avoid giving up on Sunday.  I need to prove to myself that even if today is not my day I can push through the negative thoughts and run a good race.

So there you have it, my goals are based on times for this race.  I realize having a non-time goal is good too, but I am going to reach one of those goals no matter what.  This is all dependent on weather as well.  I have promised myself, I will never run another Boston Marathon 2012.  If the weather is above 80 degrees, I will either, not run the race or run part of it as a training run.  My body had a rough time recovering and I am not going to do that to myself again.

We are leaving for Burlington on Friday after work, and I am SOOOO excited!  I am looking forward to a weekend of alone time with my husband, good racing, and hopefully meet ups with some new friends.  Vermont City Marathon, 4th time's a charm!

My first Vermont City Marathon 2009

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I am Strong for Me

The reason I started running was to be a good influence on my girls.  I wanted to show Bridget and Gabbie that being healthy and active is fun.  Falling in love with my new life has just been an added bonus.


I was 27 years old when I started this new journey in my life.  I spent 27 years of my life not knowing what I wanted to be nor knowing who I was.  Sure I graduated college, met my husband, and had two beautiful babies.  But in 2007, I couldn't see my future.  Yes, I was happy with my family.

But, I hated me.  I hated my job.  I hated my body.  I hated my hobbies.  Outside my immediate family, I didn't know how to be happy.  What would happen if I lost that, I would be miserable.  And when I was alone, I was miserable.  How could I be happy when I felt lost.

When my brother lived next door to me, we had a lot of conversations about life.  He was a college football coach before alcoholism ruined it for him.  All he knew his whole life was he loved football.  When that was over, he wondered what he had left besides his family.  He always told me how lucky I was to have my life, and I looked at him and said....No, I know exactly how you feel.

I hated my future.  I had no career goals and that is something I always dreamed of.  At that time, I did have running and my new healthy lifestyle.  But, in my heart, I knew running wasn't going to complete me.  Every time I got injured or had to take time off, I would go into a depression.  Realistically, I couldn't rely on running to make me happy because I was already in my 30's.  The PR's would slow down and my body would too.

My brother made me realize that I needed to take control of my life and go back to school.  He left Massachusetts in July 2010 and I spent that first week researching PT programs and now almost 2 years later, I finished another semester of prerequisites.

Finally, I see my future.  Finally, I love everything about me.  Finally, I am the mother for my girls that they deserve.

  • I am a mother.
  • I am a wife.
  • I am a runner.
  • I am a sister.
  • I will become a Physical Therapist.
  • I will run 100 marathons.
  • I will complete an Ironman.

Unfortunately, not everything is perfect and days like today bring me back down from my excitement for the future.  Addiction has controlled my family for the past 2 years and it has continued to throw its demons at us.  I received an email today from a family member who is very far into an addiction and I can only dream of the day she will be set free.  Fortunately, this person is making me stronger even though she has a hard time wishing happiness upon me.  I will not let this person's ill will bring me down.  I know the person who speaks to me is not the real person that I love and I can only hope that my constant reminders that I am here to help when she is ready will one day save her.  Until then, I will remind myself that taking care of my husband, girls, and myself is my number one priority.  I am not being selfish by putting us first even if I feel guilty.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Melrose Run for Women Race Report

I missed a post on Friday because today is my last day of the semester and my last final.  Ahhh!!!  I have avoided studying and then spent hours studying.  I am so ready to get this test over with and have two weeks off from school.

While I was supposed to be studying this weekend, I tried avoiding it as much as possible.  Saturday morning, I woke up for my 6 miles that were on the schedule and thought to myself.....I want to run 20 miles today.  And I did.  I filled up water bottle after water bottle and headed to the trail for 20 relaxing, wonderful miles.  If I could have every run be that amazing, I would run long runs daily.  I listened to my audio book, and enjoyed my surroundings.  It was a beautiful and warm morning so there were bikers on the trail encouraging me as they passed me hours after they first saw me.  I finished the run extremely strong and at the correct slower average long run pace.

I knew my sister was running a 3.5 mile race the next day and I got the crazy idea that maybe I would attempt the race as well.  I called her up and we made plans to drive to Melrose for the Melrose Run for Women 3.5 mile road race.  I have avoided this race in the past because of the abnormal distance.  I had no idea how to pace that race and love seeing PR's which this couldn't be because I had never run that distance in a race before.

We got to Melrose really early and again it was a beautiful morning.  My legs were stiff from the 20 miler the day before so I talked my sister into running a slow warm up run.  We ran 1.5 miles at an easy pace and then we stretched.  Tight tight legs.  I told my sister that I didn't think I could manage any fast miles today so was thinking of listening to my book and just taking the race in.  Famous last words right?  :)

Spending Mother's Day with my best friend

This was an all women's race and I knew based on last year's results that on a good day, I could finish top 20 out of 800+ runners, so that was my goal.  When the race started, I took off at a fast sub-7 minute pace and decided I would see what the legs could handle.  I figured eventually they would want to yell at me but knew with a short race that a slow final mile or 2 wouldn't hurt as much.  Within the first 1/2  mile, I could still see the lead motorcycle so knew exactly how many girls were in front of me, which was about 15 at the time.  By the time I hit mile one, I was in 12th place and could still see the motorcycle though it was getting further from me.

The race was full of rolling hills.  I think on rested legs, I would have had an amazing race, but after that first mile, I knew I couldn't hold onto my pace.  Instead of concentrating on that pace, I decided to concentrate on holding my place in the race.  I could see a few girls in front of me and didn't want to lose them nor did I want anyone to pass me.  The rest of the race was spent mentally pushing out how tired I was and trying to stay with the girls in front of me.  I did eventually pass 2 of the girls and was in 10th place for a bit, but a mile 3, a girl came flying past me and there was no way I was keeping up with her.

I finished the race in 24:12, which was a 6:56 pace for 3.5 miles.  I finished 11th overall and 6th in my age group as well as 6th mom overall.  I was SOOO happy with the results.  If I had run a 5k that day, I probably wouldn't have PR'd, but I expected that based on my tired legs.  I ran a sub-7 minute race with tired legs and mentally pushed myself to race.  I didn't give up when I knew my pace wasn't what I would have LIKED to see.  This was the confidence boost I needed to get ready for Vermont.  I am SO ready to run that marathon and ready to prove to myself that I can mentally push myself through a race no matter what the final time is.

Finally mentally ready for Vermont.

And, as if my weekend wasn't already amazing, I got the best Mother's Day gift from the girls and my hubby.  I have been riding the oldest bike ever that doesn't even fit me.  We went bike shopping yesterday and I got fitted for the coolest bike ever.  I am so ready to start triathlon training.  I can't believe how amazing a bike that fits and works properly rides.  I have to control myself these next few weeks so that I can go into Vermont rested because all I want to do is go ride when I am supposed to be tapering.  :)


Back to studying!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My First Kettlebell Class

Back in the fall, I started talking to Amanda from Sistas of Strength.  She was a local FitFluential girl, new mom, and she and her husband were getting ready to open a kettlebell studio.  Amanda grew up in the town next to where I now live and was opening her studio about 15 minutes away from my house.  I was excited to hear about the studio because I really wanted to learn more about kettlebell and what better way than from someone I was already familiar with.

Skill of Strength opened up last month and I have been staring at the classes online.  I wanted to take one, but I was really anxious about trying it out and looking stupid.  I find myself a good runner, but I am far from an all-around athlete.  I have so much I can learn and have put it off for so long.

While speaking with the new managers of the Burlington, Massachusetts Athleta store, they mentioned they were taking local fitness classes to learn more about what the area had to offer.  I told them about Skill of Strength and we set up a class with Amanda.


Going into the class, I had no idea what to expect.  I had read about the training that Amanda had done to get certified, but honestly, until yesterday, I had no idea what I was in for.

The studio is BEAUTIFUL!  It is in an old mill converted to retail space.  I was of course intimidated by all the awesome equipment but was ready to take my first class with some new friends.

I really can't describe the things we did as it was a lot to take in, but I will say that it was a lot of lower body work.  My butt and thighs are SO sore today.  When I picked up the kettlebell for the first time, I was a little scared.  That thing was heavy!  But Amanda really spent a lot of time with us.  She made sure we had proper form and that we were using the correct muscles when dead lifting the kettlebell and then swinging it.  When you swing up with the kettlebell, you snap your hips forward.  I could really feel my hips working and think that my weak hips could really benefit from these workouts.

I finished the class sweating like crazy and so out of energy that I could barely lift the kettlebell anymore. I somehow got in my 9 miles of speed work done in the afternoon and today I am feeling every bit of yesterday.  I woke up with burning thighs.   I am hobbling around as if I had run a very hilly long run.  Today I will somehow get a recovery run in and stretch these achy legs.


If you have ever thought about taking a kettlebell class, I highly recommend it!  If you are in Massachusetts or southern New Hampshire, I would definitely check out Skill of Strength.  I plan on taking more classes from them in the future, but I am thinking I may have to wait until after Vermont as my body is not ready for the toning that I see happening.

And if you are nervous about taking a class, find a friend!  I was so happy to have met the Athleta team and take the class with them.  We had a good time laughing and suffering together as Amanda kicked our butts!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dreaming of Summer & Chobani Winner

It is finals week and my mind is everywhere but my Anatomy & Physiology book.  I woke up this morning ready to study and even got my desk set up to work.

But instead of studying.  This is where I keep finding myself...




Yes, that would be me....dreaming of new running/triathlon clothes and of summer vacation.  But can you blame me?  

Athleta is opening up a store near my house in June, and to say I am excited is an understatement.  I have been a fan of their catalog for years, and now I get to go to an actual store and try on clothes before I buy them.  I have been following their store openings across the country and a few weeks ago they contacted me to let me know that our mall was getting one.  I am so excited about the store and also very excited that I will be working with them in getting other women motivated to run.  Athleta is not just a clothing company, but a company that wants to inspire women.  The main reason I started blogging was to show people that you CAN be that athlete that you have dreamed of.  Having the opportunity to tell people in person that same message is very important to me and am looking forward to this summer and sharing my experience.  Athleta has a great blog with many inspirational women and I encourage you to take a look.

As for summer vacation, we have no plans as of right now.  My husband and I tried planning a family vacation this weekend and we always end up back to camping at Disney.  No plans have been made but for now I will stare at webpages and dream of one month of family, sun, running, and no school.

And, the Chobani Champions winner is....


Laura, please email me to claim your Chobani Champions for your sweet little girl!!!

I better get back to studying, oh this is going to be a fun week!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Racing Anxiety

You would think after running over 50 races that I would be used to racing but I am not.  At all.  I feel like the more I race, the more pressure I put on myself.

Running the Boston Marathon in ridiculous conditions has really caused me to question my confidence in my running.  Running an 8:30 pace for 10 miles caused me to hit a wall.  That is 30 seconds per mile slower than my goal pace that I would love to run at Vermont.

My running has been great, post-Boston, but I have  pretty much thrown out my goal of PRing at Vermont.  Why?  Because I am scared of failing again and shuffling in the final 6 miles like I did less than 3 weeks ago.  And I am not alone.  Last week at the gym I saw a friend from my run club.  This year's Boston Marathon was his 30th Boston Marathon!  He ran 30 minutes slower than last year and could only shake his head when speaking of the race.  I was thankful to see that I am not alone in my frustrations with how I ran that day.


This past weekend was my daughter's big race that I promised her she could run.  The town over from us puts on an amazing 5k/10k and kids run every year.  Since I promised Bridget she could run the race, I decided I would run the 10k.  Unfortunately, I forgot about how hilly the race was when I registered.


The day of the race was incredibly fun.  I love spending time with my husband and kids at a race.  The kids race was a 2k.  Bridget was going to do it by herself and Eric was going to run with Gabbie.  Let me tell you, when the race started and I saw my girls run by, I had tears in my eyes.  My girls looked so happy to be running.  Bridget finished the 2k in around 14 minutes and Gabbie in 15:30 or so.  I was so proud of them!


Next up was my 10k.  Because my confidence had been pretty low after Boston, my anxiety for the race was at an all time high.  I hate 10k's to begin with and here I was running a difficult one less than 2 weeks after the hardest marathon I have run.  I decided to let go of any hope of PRing in the 10k and just try to run the race as hard as my body would allow.

The race started out pretty good.  My goal in my mind was to keep the pace under 7:30 for the entire race which I figured I could probably do.  Mile one was a 6:55.  Way too fast but I knew I had plenty of hills that would soon slow me down.  Mile 2 was 7:20.  This included some pretty big hills so I was happy that I was still maintaining a pretty good pace.  I hit the 5k point in 22:30 (average pace of 7:15) and I was running out of steam pretty fast.  At that point I just ran as hard as I could up every hill and tried to mentally not quit.  I crossed the finish line in 46:34 (average pace of 7:24 pace with the extra distance that I must have run).  This was 2 minutes slower than my PR but over a 3 minute PR on this course.  (My PR is on an incredibly flat course.)



Overall, I was pretty happy with this race.  Since I decided to not pressure myself to PR, I feel like I never gave up out there when I was slowing down.  Normally, I would see my pace dropping and totally give up.  I may have slowed down, but it was not due to lack of effort.  I was spent when I crossed that finish line.


And to round out that day, I decided to run home from the race.  I added on another 5.6 miles to my 7.2 that I had already run and felt like I had a good weekend of running.  Obviously, I didn't leave everything I had on the course that day or I would never have been able to run as strongly as I did after the race.  That short 5.6 mile run really boosted my confidence back up a bit.  I needed to know that my 46 minute 10k was not my best effort and that I could still run faster.

Because the lack of pressure on myself to PR seemed to help me mentally push through my race, I am thinking of taking that same pressure off for Vermont.  I need a strong race, not a fast one to get my confidence back.  I hope in the next few weeks, I can find a time that I can be happy with that I know I can hit with confidence.  I would love to see a faster time than Disney, but I don't think I am ready for that yet.  What is funny is, I am OK with knowing that I am not going to run as fast that day and am actually kind of relieved.  My priorities have changed as I have set goals outside of running that excite me just as much as my BQ goal of the past used to.  Thank you to Mel from Tall Mom on the Run and Erin from See Mom Run Far for opening my eyes to this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Triathlon Training and Danskin Entry Winner

Hey guys, first of all, I finally purchased my domain name, so you can now find me at http://www.westfordmommy.com.  You can update your readers, but everything should for the most part be forwarding you to the correct address automatically.

I am 12 weeks away from the Webster, Massachusetts, Danskin Triathlon so it is time to start thinking about training.  Since I still plan on training for longer distance run events, I don't necessarily plan on following a triathlon plan as much as adding swimming and biking to my current schedule.  Based on what I have been reading, 8 weeks is a good amount of time for a beginner triathlon training program.  

Danskin has a free beginner training program on their website that I plan on referencing when my 8 weeks until the race begins.  For now, I have decided to add an extra spin/bike day and am hoping to get into the pool very soon. 

On Saturday, I did my first brick workout.  My next marathon is in 4 weeks, so I was supposed to do a long run.  I woke up that day and my legs felt dead.  There was no way I could run a quality run, so I decided to go for my first bike ride in over a month.  Overall, the ride was good.  I did 9.5 miles in just over 35 minutes.  After I got back to my house I thought I would try my first run off the bike and so I put my bike in my yard and took off for a run.  I had no idea what to expect from my legs but I decided 1.5 miles would be my max since I was taking the day off from running.  I concentrated on an even effort from my legs and not pace.  I looked down halfway through my run and noticed I was running an 8:30 pace.  My thighs were definitely burning from the ride so I was happy my legs were able to turn over as fast as they were at that point.  I completed the 1.5 mile run in 12 1/2 minutes and I was satisfied with my workout for the day.  

The brick workout did leave me a little anxious on what to expect in the future.  But it also left me excited to realize my body has so much to learn and I won't always be doing the same thing week after week.  I also had a new appreciation for triathletes, especially 1/2 Ironman and Full Ironman participants.  I can't imagine running 26.2 miles after having just ridden for over 100 miles on the bike.  That is so awesome and I am in awe of you.

While searching around on Danskin's website for the training program I also came across a podcast that is titled Motivate and Inspire.  If you are thinking of doing your first triathlon, I highly recommend you listen to it.  The podcast is by Sally Edwards, who is a Series Spokeswoman, triathlon legend, and Triathlon Hall of Famer.  She will have a series of podcasts on the website, and in this first one she encourages you to realize that you CAN be a triathlete, no matter who you are.  She also offers tips on how to get started on training for your first triathlon.  

And finally, the winner of the Danskin Triathlon race entry is:



She Rocks Fitness, please contact me and I will pass your information on in order to claim your race entry to a Danskin Race.

If you didn't win, I really do hope you decide to sign up for a Danskin Race this summer.  For girs, ages 14-21, they do offer a discounted rate of $60, so please check that out here.  For the Webster race there will be 3 opportunities to pick up your packet which makes it even more convenient to race especially if you are driving in.  I hope to see you there!

*I was not compensated for this post.  The Danskin Triathlon Series has given me a race entry as well as one race entry for my readers in exchange for me posting about their event.  All opinions are my own.