Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Maine Coast Marathon {Race Recap}

Last weekend, on Mother's Day, I ran the Maine Coast Marathon, my third go at 26.2. I've spent all week thinking about the race and how I could best put into words how I feel about it. It was my slowest marathon by far, but I dare say it was the most enjoyable one.

Arms full of race swag

Jen and I drove south to the expo on Saturday afternoon, checked in at our hotel, and made a quick run to Target so I could pick up a waterproof phone case. The weather forecast was to be sunny with temperatures rising into the 80s...I knew I wanted to have my phone with me but also needed to protect it from all the water that I knew I'd be dumping over my head. I didn't really have a time goal for this race due to a less than stellar training cycle over the brutal winter we had here in Maine. To go from running a majority of my training in temperatures below 30-40 degrees (even below zero) to BAM a sudden 50+ degree increase had me realizing that I had to take necessary precautions to ensure I reached that finish line. As it is, I struggle immensely in the heat even if I've been acclimated to it, so this day was going to be long, hot and uncomfortable, but I was certain that I would enjoy myself.

Spandits! singlet and shorts, Mizuno Wave Rider18, Injinji socks, Headsweats hat, FlipBelt, Garmin Forerunner10, Nathan handheld, GU for fuel

We met up with Gretchen and her husband, Jim, for dinner. The first place we wanted to go was swamped due to the race as well as prom weekend for the high schoolers. We settled on Jimmy the Greeks in Old Orchard Beach and enjoyed a yummy burger and beer. 

Extra carbs for race day.

Sunday morning came quickly and Jim was nice enough to drive us to the start in Kennebunk instead of getting to the shuttle a hour earlier. First we got in line for the port-o-potty (priorities!), snapped a quick picture and listened to the most beautiful rendition of the National Anthem I think I have ever heard. I was feeling a little emotional as I was holding back tears, but tried to relax as we found our spot in the crowd.

Jen, Gretchen and I
(and three 2015-16 Spandits! Ambassadors!)

There was a bit of fog and the temperature felt pretty nice at the start, I wish it could have stayed like that. I focused running very easy in the beginning miles, but tried to keep an even pace as I knew I'd be slowing a lot once the temperature started rising. I got a cramp in my abdomen in the first mile that kind of ticked me off. I'd hydrated better than ever before and couldn't understand why I had a cramp. Luckily, it went away before reaching mile two. 

By mile four my right ankle was starting to bother me from the slant in the road and I was feeling ache in my left glute that gave me issues off and on during training. This was going to be a long marathon if I'm already hurting. I really tried to stay positive and thankfully at some point both of those aches went away.

I spy Gretchen's shoe.

I stopped at every aid station to grab water (they were about every two miles through mile 19, then they were every mile) and took my first GU right before mile five. I chatted with a woman from Connecticut who had similar goals for the race, but she went ahead at the next aid station as I stopped to walk and drink. 

Around Mile 7

As we ran through downtown Kennebunkport, the 4:15 pace group passed me. I was stunned because I was pretty sure I had lined up behind them at the start. This gave me a boost and the thought that it might turn out I'd get a good finish time. I wasn't getting my hopes up, though, I had a long way to go.

I kept a very steady pace until I reached mile ten. Then the heat came. It was as if someone switched on an oven, it came on so fast. This is where I took another GU and began my long, slow trudge to the finish. Mentally, I was doing great. I was surprised how positive I was feeling even knowing I had more than half of the race to go. 

Mile 10ish?

Pretty much for the rest of the way I'd walk any incline or when I got really hot and run/jog the flats and downhills. I was just about to reach mile 16 when Jen texted me that she had slowed down and maybe I could catch up. Unfortunately, the 4:45 pace group had just passed me and there was no way I'd be able to as she was about two miles ahead.

I was doing great with my fueling and staying hydrated. Buying that little Nathan handheld a couple of days before was the smartest move ever. It was nice and light, so it felt like I wasn't carrying anything. I would use it to sip from between aid stations and wash down the GU when it was time to fuel or squirt water over my neck and shoulders to cool myself down. It was easy to refill and I must have done so four or five times over the course. Another smart move was wearing my new Headsweats hat I won from Jen's blog. I was going back and forth over the new hat or a visor, but when someone was offering ice on the course I was able to stick some under my hat to cool me down.

Hazy, hot, and humid around mile 19.

The views were amazing and I wish I had snapped some more pictures. The only thing that bugged me were the black flies that decided it was warm enough to come out and were swarming my head. I reached a section where there was a marsh and I was hit with the most amazing cool breeze. I wanted to stay in this section, but needed to just keep moving forward. 

Still moving.

I finally reached mile twenty and felt great. My legs were feeling tired and I was extremely hot, but very positive that I was going to reach the finish. There was no mental wall this time around.

At mile 22, I noticed my Garmin battery was very low. I wasn't sure that it would make it at the speed I was going (it did). 

When I got to mile 24 I texted Jen that I'd be arriving in about 20 minutes and if she saw Ian and the boys. I had been sending mileage updates to Ian, but got no replies, so I was pretty sure he wasn't getting them. I just wanted to make sure that they were there at the finish. I got the news that he was in fact there and fought through the heat and ran pretty strong the final mile.

As I approached the finish line I could hear Jen screaming, "Go Carrie," like a madwoman from the beer tent that was way across the field. Ha ha! I crossed the line and there were Ian and my little guys waiting for me. I got my finisher's medal and water bottle and we went under the misting tent to cool off. I did go to get my free beer, but took two sips and just couldn't stomach it. Lucky me also had to go to work that night, so I figured I'd better take it easy. 

Even though it took me way longer than I thought it would, I can honestly say at no time did I just wish the race was over. I reached a point in the final miles of my previous two marathons where I was overcome with dread and just wanted to be done. That didn't happen this time. Even though the latter miles were some of my slowest ever, the race seemed to fly by. I was focused and positive. As I was driving to work later that afternoon, the sun's rays were coming through the clouds and I just felt at peace. I felt thankful and blessed.

I could certainly see myself running this race again. It was very well organized and the volunteers at every aid station were so positive and helpful. The course sports some absolutely beautiful views of the Maine coastline and the course profile would give some pretty fast times if it weren't for the heat that we had on that one day. The finisher's jacket (you had to buy it for the half marathon/marathon distance) is awesome and I have worn it every single day, as is the rest of the swag that was available for purchase. They also offered free race photos and the quality is just fantastic as you can see in the photos above with the watermark in the corner. My one and only complaint (other than the heat that can't be helped) is the finisher's medal is a little dinky. The design is cool, but the size is rather small for a marathon medal and isn't in proportion to the ribbon. Overall, I would definitely recommend this race to anyone looking for a spring marathon in Maine. 

Final stats:
5:21:59, 12:17 pace
622/705 overall
334/383 women
64/71 in AG 35-39

Disclosure: I received a complementary entry into the Maine Coast Marathon complete with jacket, hat and beer mug in exchange for social media race promotion.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Oh yeah, I'm running a marathon this weekend.

Oh my, things have really started getting busy over here. And very, very warm. Of course pretty much the warmest day of the year will be this Sunday. This Sunday I am running marathon number 3. And of course the temperatures started rising just as I got into my second week of tapering. No time to acclimate and my body does not do well in the heat. I mean I pretty much run around with out clothes on in 40 degrees, lets see what happens when it is pushing 80!

It's a good thing I had a crap-tastic round of training and already had no time goals for the race. Well, that's not completely true. I would be lying  if a little part of my brain wanted to at least finish in a time between my first marathon (4:24) and my second (4:59...due to sickness I walked the last 10K). And of course another little part of my brain though on a perfect day I could PR. My last 20 miler with Gretchen felt pretty good and put me in a good mental place. 

But, now I know that I'm going to have to take it really slow. I am seriously considering jumping into the ocean as a good part of the course goes right along the coast. 

Anyway, I'm hydrating like a boss and trying to up my sodium and potassium and hopefully make it to the finish line in one piece. At least I know that Ian and the boys will be waiting for me at the finish. And beer.  

Yesterday the Spring Run Club that I'm coaching through the Bath Rec had our first meet. I spent the morning single-handedly raking the trail and marking the rocks and roots. Probably not the best idea to rake a quarter-mile of trails four days before a marathon, but a coach has got to do what she's got to do! The kids (all 60 of them) did a great job. Zeke was very proud to wear his new Blockbuster Spandits! 

Well, I'm off to go find a new hand-held bottle for the marathon and stock up on my fuel. I'm bib #1414 if anyone would like to track me for the Maine Coast Marathon! The RaceJoy app is available for both Apple and Android phones. I might not be taking my phone along with me for the live tracking (you know the whole jumping in the ocean thing), but should still be able to get alerts when I cross over the timing mats along the course. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Firmoo Glasses Review

I've been meaning to get new glasses for a while. My current pair are in their seventh year, the lenses are scratched, and the frames have seen better days. One reason for not replacing them is the expense, however when the folks at Firmoo.com contacted me to try out their service, I immediately jumped on board. 

There are hundreds of styles to choose from! I was a bit hesitant to pick a pair of glasses that I hadn't tried on, but Firmoo.com has a really cool feature where you upload a headshot and you can virtually try on all the frames!

I just had an eye exam in December for new contact lenses, so I had a recent prescription on hand. After I chose what frames I wanted, it was easy to enter all the required information to place my order. And the prices can not be beat, even for prescription lenses! There are single vision, multi-focal, and non-prescription options available. They even have sunglasses!

The Firmoo.com website information said I should expect to receive my new glasses about fifteen days after processing. I placed my order on March 17, I received an email that they shipped on March 23, and they were delivered just two days later! Super fast service!

And check out what it came with:

My new glasses, a hard case, a spectacle pouch, cleaning cloth, and small screwdriver keychain with both Philips and slotted bits. 

They were a perfect fit!

What do you think?

Firmoo has generously offered a discount for 50% off all frames for all Maine Mom on the Run readers. Click on the following link to get the code. http://www.firmoo.com/z/new-50-off.html

I was very impressed with Firmoo.com. It was fast and easy and the frames are great quality. I wasn't disappointed and I'm sure you won't be either.

Disclaimer: Firmoo.com sent me a pair of glasses free of charge in exchange for an honest review of their products and services. I was not required to post a positive review. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

SLS3 Compression Socks {Product Review}

It's no secret that I love compression wear. My socks and calf sleeves are a necessary part of my recovery regimen after a long run or long day at work. As someone who lives with varicose veins on top of being a marathon runner, compression wear makes they daily ache bearable. I recently had the opportunity to try out the FXC Butterfly Compression Socks from SLS3

Let me cut to the chase ... I love them! There you go, review over! Just kidding, here's why:

First, the fit. I've had other compression socks that just don't fit right. They are either too short and don't cover my calf or my foot just doesn't feel right or they squeeze my toes too much. The FXC Butterfly Compression Socks are a perfect fit. In the sizing my calf measurement puts me just over the Small/Medium, but the Medium/Large would be too big in the foot. I was sent the S/M and they are absolutely perfect! They give me just the right amount of squeeze for my large calves, the foot fits perfectly for my size nines, and they fully cover my calf all the way to the knee.

Second, the feel. The Micro-Nylon/Spandex blend is super soft. There are no annoying seams that would cause chafing.

Third, the look! They come in bright, pretty colors and the butterflies add a cute design.

Azure Blue (stock photo)
Hibiscus Pink (stock photo)
Teal (stock photo)
And for the guys out there, SLS3 has compression socks and sleeves for men too!

FXC Running Compression Socks (stock photo)

Here are some bullet points from the company:
  • 20-30 mmHg of graduated compression
  • Less water absorption through superior materials
  • UV protection
  • Improved muscle support
  • Improvement of strength
  • Reduction of muscle tension
  • Reduction of lactic acid
  • Speed up of cell regeneration
  • Relief of pain and muscle soreness
  • Designed by medical professionals

I have worn my SLS3 socks after all my long runs and recent Race the Runways Airport Challenge (14.1 miles). Note: I don't like wearing compression socks while running because I need my toes to fully spread out, so I did not test these on the run. I do wear calf sleeves during the run, though. Immediately following Race the Runways, I had to spend the next 9 hours at work on a concrete floor. And I really mean immediately, I had to change out of my race clothes in the work bathroom and use baby wipes to make myself presentable. Anyway, my FXC Butterfly Compression Socks saved me. I managed to get through the rest of the day and I experienced no calf or ankle soreness the next day. It really does seem like magic! I'm looking to grow my collection and get all the colors, I like them that much. Maybe a pair of sleeves next...

FXC Butterfly Sleeves in Teal (stock photo)

SLS3 also offers a variety of items including, race tops and bottoms, arm sleeves, fuel packs, and jewelry. You can check out their full line of products at slstri.com.

You can immediately get 40% off with the code Carrie40!

Disclaimer: I was provided one pair of SLS3 FXC Butterfly Compression Socks for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Shamrock Sprint 5K {race recap}

Over the weekend prior to St. Patrick's Day, the City of Bath holds their Blarney Days celebration. There are many festivities that occur to celebrate our Irish heritage and one of those is the Shamrock Sprint 5K. I also ran in this event last year and plan to in the foreseeable future.

Ian dropped me off at the start on his way to work and I planned on walking back home after the race. Yet another benefit to living in the city. I was all decked out in my best green, white, and orange which, of course, included Spandits!

They held a best dressed contest beforehand, but the cuteness of the little girl in the blue jacket won over the crowd. Maybe next year!

It's been a long time since I've run in town due to the vast amounts of snow this winter. It just hasn't been safe to run with the sizable snowbanks blocking visibility at the intersections and shrinking the width of the roadways. Because of that it has also been a long time since I've done any sort of hill training. And Bath is all hills.

This race was planned as a fun run and I knew that I would be hard pressed to PR, so that wasn't even a goal. The race started and I got caught up in the crowd and ran the first quarter mile at a sub-7 pace. I quickly slowed it down to just under 8 minutes per mile, but then I kept getting slower as the hills kept coming. Mile one beeped over at 7:46. Mile two came in at 8:21 which was only a little slower than where I was in 2014. I managed to pick up the pace a little in mile three with an 8:07 and then the awesome, super fast finish down Centre Street! My Garmin registered a 5:48 pace for the last .1!

photo courtesy Don Penta - Maine Running Photos

Final stats:
24:40, 8:01 pace
38/126 overall
12/72 women
3/9 AG 30-39

Even though I was over a minute slower then my 5K PR, I was only 16 seconds off my time from 2014 on the same course. Considering the lack of hill work, speed work, or overall miles, I'm happy with how things turned out. This was the second year in a row of placing 3rd in my age group and out of awards...I plan on changing that next year!

photo courtesy Don Penta - Maine Running Photos

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Solo Long Run

The first 18-miler of our marathon training plan was this past weekend and was the longest run I would complete since the MDI Marathon in October of 2013. I was scheduled to work during the morning on Saturday when we usually do our long run, so Jen and I would have to do this run apart. She had an insanely great run and did all 18 miles on the treadmill. Amazing! I scheduled my run for Monday and I was actually really looking forward to it. 

Don't I look excited?

One great thing about having a training partner to go on long runs with is you have someone to talk to which makes the time and miles go by a lot quicker than when running alone. I don't run with music, mostly because I can't help but run with the pace of the song and find it distracting. I suppose the distraction is one reason that people run with music, but I rather be a little more in tune to how I'm feeling and breathing than having my brain struggle with matching my pace to a song. I did download some podcasts to my phone so I could have someone "talking" to me to pass the time.

It was pretty busy at work in Sunday night and that left my legs feeling a bit dead feeling come Monday morning, but I was still positive that this would be a good run. The sun was shining and although the temperature was still in the teens, it was going to warm up to the 40s throughout the day.

Two of my favorites - Spandits! and Mizuno Wave Rider 18s

I headed to the bike path where I would be breaking the run into three six-mile out-and-back legs. The path is only 2.63 miles long, so I had to run past the trailhead for a bit (which also added on another little hill) to reach 3 miles one way.

I started without my headphones, wanting instead just to warm up and enjoy the run. There were a few icy spots where the snow along the sides had melted, run on to the path and then froze overnight, but overall it wasn't too terrible.

A few more days like this, the river will no longer be frozen!

My hope was to keep the pace in the mid-9s and if I felt able, run the last 3 faster. I kept with my fueling plan of a GU every 5 miles and would stop at the end of each leg to grab some water out of the car. I could certainly feel my energy lagging in the miles leading up to miles 5, 10, and 15 and this was evident when analyzing my paces after. I also practiced taking on fuel while running and it usually takes me a good .75 miles to finish one. I did get really thirsty after my third GU, but mostly because I was a full three miles from my car at that point. I had run with a water bottle in my hand the week prior for 16 miles, but I really hate carrying something in my hands. I suppose it is time to get out my Camelbak.

My legs really started hurting around mile 14, but once I reached that point I could really start counting down the miles. Once I reached 14, the next step meant I only had 3+ miles to go. At mile 15, I got to turn around one last time and then had 2+ miles to go. 

I decided not to listen to anything on the second leg and even the third. I figured that I got this far without it, I didn't want to mess around with headphones and just focused on getting the run done. I really don't know what I thought about for nearly 3 hours, but I got through it and not once, even when my legs were close to giving out, did I not want to be out there. I did wonder what the walkers thought of the crazy girl in bright tights running back and forth umpteen times!

Take Me Away Spandits! 3/4 tights just shout spring!

With the exception of mile 16 when I had to stop to use the bathroom along the route, I kept all the miles under a 10 minute pace...just where I was trying to be.

My only "injury" occurred at 17.75 miles in. Apparently I had blister forming between my big and second toes on my left foot. For whatever reason, I occasionally get a blister in this same spot. Anyway, with a quarter mile to go, it decided to pop (sorry, gross) and was crazy painful. I was sure I was gushing blood. When I finally took off my sock it wasn't too bad, but I actually have two small blisters on top of the bigger blister. Crazy. I'm just hoping that this doesn't happen during the marathon, because it felt like I had stepped on a nail or something!

My quads are a little sore today, but I did an easy 7.5 miles on the bike this morning to get them moving. I also wore some awesome new compression socks all day yesterday that were delivered just as I got home from the run. I'll be doing a full length review on those in a bit. 

Leg savers!

I've got the Shamrock Sprint 5K in Bath coming up this Saturday. I'm not thinking PR at all, but it will be fun to get dressed up for this St. Patrick's Day themed race. I also don't want to go all out because I will still need to get a 16-miler in next weekend for a drop down week before Jen and I tackle our first 20-miler of this training cycle. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What's the Skinny?

Oh, you know. 

The usual. 

Been running a little (yes, still running a marathon in less than 10 weeks...AHHH!), but it is still insanely cold. 

We woke up to this last Tuesday...
But, it is supposed to reach 40 tomorrow! 40? That is like bathing suit weather...well, at least shorts. 

After nearly two weeks of a run slump after a crappy treadmill run (feeling sick, stressful crap going on, not used to running in one place in a warm room, definitely didn't hydrate enough, blah, blah, blah)... 

I'm crawling back.

For February I ran 55.15 miles (1 race...the Mid-Winter Classic...perhaps I'll get around to recapping that before summer hits) and biked 124 miles. I've got to get that run total higher, but I'm very happy with my cross-training!

My recumbent bike has been my new best friend. Last week I did 90 biking miles! Then Jen and I ran our 16-mile long run on Saturday...OUTSIDE!  

It was a little chilly, but most of all it was a big confidence booster. Sure it was a little tough and I petered out a bit at the end due to a fueling snafu, but we did it and I'm again believing that I can do this crazy marathon thing. 

Following the run I took the boys ice skating. They have never been. I haven't been in at least 20 years. 

I don't recommend ice skating after a long run, but it was fun and the boys had a blast. 

It shredded my legs though. Basically skating in a squat position to hold the boys up for an hour mixed with my own balance challenges meant it felt like I had run a downhill marathon afterward. I could barely walk down stairs for two days. 

I'm feeling a bit better today and have been doing some recovery miles on the bike. 

I just finished reading Lauryn Evarts new book, The Skinny Confidential. She's the voice behind the fitness and lifestyle blog of the same name. 

I found the book to be full of great little tips on how to better your life and touched on many topics including healthy recipes, tightening and toning exercises, skin and hair care, and more.

The book is written in a conversational style. It was more like talking about it over coffee rather than your standard how-to book. I'm really looking forward to incorporating some of her exercises into my routine and trying out some of her recipes. 

There is a big focus on eating simply with whole ingredients, but she also doesn't hesitate to mention that it is okay to cheat every once in a while. The cravings that we have are natural, but completely shutting them out isn't necessarily the healthiest either. It's about moderation. 

And Lauryn doesn't shove all this down your throat. She's honest and approachable and not the least bit preachy when sharing her experiences. 

I definitely recommend checking out The Skinny Confidential, there is a little bit in there for everyone. I know I'll be revisiting it again and again.

It's also available both in paperback or e-book versions on Amazon and from Barnes and Noble.

Until next time...