Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hills Are Delicious (and so is cake)

I really needed to run this morning. I went to bed feeling sad and stressed out and knew a run this morning would do me good. I woke up before the alarm, shut off the alarm, and remained in bed. Luckily, I also had to use the bathroom, so I had to get up. After puttering around, checking email, Facebook, and Words with Friends, I got myself out the door. I had no real plan, I'm just messing around with training at the moment. I should be more serious with another half marathon coming up in less than a month, but my scheduling and events of the last couple of weekends have thrown everything off a bit. I was only going to do three miles. Last Sunday's long run with the girls had my legs feeling tired and sluggish as I think my body was trying to tell me that I am still recovering from the relay. Instead, I chose to challenge myself and do my five-mile loop in reverse, a route that I did about a month ago and had to walk the beast of a hill.

Just in reverse.
Heading toward said hill, I promised myself not to walk this time. No matter what I would not stop. I would not quit. I would keep going. I would take that hill, chew it up, and then spit it out. And I did. It was hard, but I did it. I just kept envisioning myself at the top and how proud and happy I would be when I got there knowing I never gave up.

In the end, I did the route eight seconds faster than before in 43:40, an 8:44 pace. I also ran the last mile which is 75% uphill in 8:20. Success!

And just a quick shout out to our son Finn who turned two on Memorial Day! We had family and friends over for a cookout and cake and a great round of hide and seek in the backyard. How is it that he is two already? Seriously. I also finally broke down and cut off his baby hair. So sad, but this is what we had been dealing with lately.

Zeke got his thick mane cut too.

They turned into these two handsome devils.

 And my latest cake creation before it was destroyed by cake-obsessed littles.

Finn's 2nd Birthday Umizoomi Cake

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Um...I'm a little afraid.

So I was inputting this puppy into my calendar.

The weekly totals to the right are off and don't count the mileage on Tuesdays or when I do multiple changes of speed on tempo runs.

It starts three weeks from today. Commence freak out...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reach the Beach:MA {Race Recap}

Where to begin? Last Friday and Saturday were literally the longest and most exhausting days of my life...therefore so shall this post be.

After getting about three hours of sleep on Thursday night due to getting home from work late, last minute packing, and pre-race nervousness excitement, I was awake around 4 AM on Friday and headed to Brunswick to meet up with the girls to start our out-of-state adventure at the Reach to Beach Relay. We picked up fellow van two teammates, Andy in Portmouth, NH and John in Methuen, MA and headed to the start at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachussetts.

We met up with van one and went through registration, a safety check, and orientation, got a group photo wearing our team Need for Speed sweatpants and our first runner, Ruddley, got ready for his first leg up the mountain that would eventually lead us to the beach in Westport, MA.

Logo designed by yours truly.
Being in van two, we had quite a long wait before we had to be at the first van transition area, so we decided to get some lunch and just hang out before our legs (7-12) began. At this point in the recap, I'll introduce you to van one, since they were doing all the work.

Runner 1 - Ruddley, husband to Runner 5 - Sarah (our team captain)

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

Runner 2 - Gia handing off to Runner 3 - Emily

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

Runner 4 - Eric

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

Runner 6 - Christy hands off to Jill at Van Transition Area (VTA) 1

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

Finally it was our turn. By the time I actually ran it had been over 12 hours since I had set out and the hardest part was figuring out when to eat. Once our van started running, all of us got ready even though some of us would still have a couple hours until the run. 

Runner 7 - Jill

Runner 8 -Andy

Runner 9 - John

Runner 10 - Stacy wearing her reflective gear. Even though it didn't get dark until later, everyone was required to wear a vest, headlamp, and two flashing lights between the hours of 6:30 PM - 6:30 AM. The way the timing went, Stacy, Jen, and myself would have to wear it for both our first and second legs.

Photo courtesy - Jen Boudreau

Runner 11 - Me, looking very serious as I await Stacy's arrival.

Photo courtesy - Jen Boudreau
My first leg was 4.45 miles. I felt good and fairly fast. I passed four ladies over the run (referred to as "kills" in relay lingo), and two guys passed me. I finished with a time of 36:05, an 8:07 pace.

Runner 12 - Jen (This is actually during her final leg on Saturday. The photos I took at night didn't come out.)

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

So now we have arrived at VTA 2 if you're keeping track and it is now after 9 PM. Van 1 is now out on their second legs and we stopped to grab a sandwich before heading to VTA 3 to (hopefully) catch a little sleep. Well, that didn't happen. Slamming doors of the other teams' vans, talking loudly (even though it is quiet zone time), and can you believe cigarette smoke? kept us all awake though Andy and John claimed to get a little rest. To be honest, I HATED this part. I wondered why the heck I had agreed to do this. I was cranky and tired and missed my boys. I really wanted it to be over and I had only run one leg so far. 

Christy arrived in the wee morning hours and it was our turn to start running again. I started to really loose track of what time it was. When it was time for my second leg (leg 23 of the race), I had been awake for a full 24 hours. At least I looked cool!

Photo courtesy - Jen Boudreau
I thought I spotted Stacy coming in to the transition area, but then decided that the blinking light wasn't hers. Lo and behold, she zoomed up and shouted my name. Oops, not prepared for that handoff! I thought I'd go into this leg taking it easy since I was going on no sleep and much less than ideal fueling, but my legs felt great and once I was going it was like any other race...but it was dark in the beginning. I passed one guy toward the beginning and two gals on the hills, bringing my "kill" total to 5 on the positive. There was a fairly long, steep hill at the end of this leg that slowed me down a bit, but I must have been cruising otherwise because I finished the 4.34 mile route in 34:30, a 7:57 pace.

Jen finished up her second leg and we headed to VTA 5 while van 1 ran their third and final legs. We actually got at least an hours snooze here. All the other teams that were so loud at VTA 3 must have finally gotten tired and we woke up sweating in our car. I woke up feeling like absolute crap. I was tired and my belly was not feeling good. I tried to hydrate as much as possible and only managed to nibble on a small plain bagel. I lost count how many times I visited the Port-o-potties. I did eventually start to feel better and tried to stay out of the sun. It was going to be another hot day, and today I'd be running in the heat of the afternoon. I really haven't run in anything above 45 degrees and here we have a bit of early summer with temps in the mid-to-upper 70s. 

I botched another handoff with a last minute bathroom break, but we weren't going to win it so a few seconds wasn't really going to matter. I took the "baton" from Stacy one last time. Man, it was hot. At least there was a slight breeze that helped a bit. I passed one girl in the first mile and other at what must have been mile two. The team met up with me just after three miles to offer water and Shot Bloks. My legs at this point felt shot, I was battling cramps in my shoulders and sides, and I was struggling with the heat. 

I actually look so much better than I feel. Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski
I walked for a bit to drink and took off again carrying a water bottle. I hate carrying anything and I had to keep alternating hands. I walked a little more up a hill, but again started running at the top where some runners from another team cheered me on while they were waiting to offer support to their runner who was somewhere behind me. I passed one more gal who was walking, but then came across a team who offered me ice to stuff down my shirt and oranges. I told them I loved them and I meant it. A little bit of sweet relief. They told me they loved my outfit, I thanked them again and carried on with about two miles to go (at least that's what they told me). I played leapfrog with the girl who I had passed before, but ended up pushing ahead. Finally I reached the turn that would bring me to Jen and the final transition area. The volunteers at the turn shouted, "You're almost there!" Yeah, right! A few twists and turns to go and runners coming back out on the final leg were a little more honest, "Two turns and you are there," "About 400m left." Finally I spotted the end passed the bracelet to Jen, patted her on the back, and I was done. 7.29 miles in 1:05:30, 8:59 pace. I was honestly surprised with all the walking that I kept it under nine minute miles.

Now we headed to the beach where we would meet up with van 1 and wait to run across the finish line with Jen. As we were on the way out, we caught her resting posing.

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

We got to Horseneck Beach and before long Jen rounded the corner and in we ran...200 miles from where we started just the day before.

Running to the finish

Team Need for Speed
Top row (l to r) John, me, Eric, Sarah, Ruddley, Jill
Bottom row (l to r) Andy, Jen, Stacy, Emily, Christy, Gia

We finished in 30 hours, 4 minutes, and 23 seconds with an overall pace of 8:59. We placed 107 out of 165 teams and 31 out of 52 in our division.

I ran a total of 16.08 miles in 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 5 seconds with an overall pace of 8:27 and totaled 8 kills on all three legs. I am more than happy that I accomplished such stats having been awake for about 36 hours with 1 hour sleep and in the heat.

I drove the tank Excursion all the way home and was on autopilot once I got back to my car and drove the last 30 minutes home. Unfortunately, it was to an empty house (with the exception of the dogs), as Ian and the boys were at first in Saratoga Springs, NY for his sister's college graduation and then went down to Maryland for his grandfather's funeral. Ian did have his own all-nighter and drove straight from Maryland Sunday night and got home this morning. I'm so glad that we are all back together...even if they are super sleepy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Need to Get Moving

Seriously, I really don't have the time to blog right now. I've got to get organized and packed for the Reach the Beach relay this weekend. The boys and Ian are driving to NY to his sister's college graduation. I need to clean the house for the neighbor's who are watching our dogs while we are away. I'm also working the next three nights prior to leaving, so it's going to be a mad scramble to get everything done while taking care of the boys. I didn't get a chance to write over the weekend. Actually, I chose to be pretty much offline and enjoy the family. So here I am blogging away and procrastinating!

Mother's Day was great. I started it with running eight miles with the girls on the rail trail. When I got back, we went over to my parents for breakfast and I ate entirely too much sausage. Zeke had made me a card at school, as well as a planted marigold. 

I'm so blessed to be the mom to these boys. They are so incredible and make me laugh every single day. I love watching them interact with one another and see the love they have for the other. They are growing up way too fast. Finn is getting around to sitting in a big boy chair and they ate their breakfast together yesterday. 

I don't think I've posted a video on my blog before, but I couldn't resist capturing the first time Zeke read to Finn.

It might be close to torture this weekend. I won't see them from when I drop them off at my mother-in-law's at three on Thursday to go to work until Sunday morning. I've never been away from Finn overnight and Zeke only a couple of times. While I know I'll have a good time this weekend, I'm hoping racing will keep my minds off of missing them and they don't grow up too much while we are apart.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Love at First Run

I've been battling a rare cold/sickness the last couple of days, but am glad that it happened this weekend and not the next when I'll be up for pretty much over 24 hours straight running the Reach the Beach relay. On Thursday I had planned on a five-mile tempo run, but waking to the cold rain AGAIN was not very inviting. Two nights ago I barely slept, not being able lay on my back due to an overabundance of snot running down my throat and not able to lay face down due to an overabundance of drool. A picture of loveliness, I know. I woke up obviously not able to run though it was actually sunny out and I hated feeling like crap. I was finally feeling better last night and came home to a box containing my Brooks Pure Flows and really looking forward to a run this morning. 

Where should I run, was the question this morning. I didn't want to go too far or hard wearing new shoes and the girls and I have an eight-miler planned for tomorrow morning. So, I decided I'd do my happy run and go across the bridge to Ft. Edgecomb and back, a quick 3.4 mile route. 

Heaven on my feet. Love these shoes. A perfect fit. I'm hoping they work just as well for me on my longer runs. They felt fantastic and aside from my recovering lungs, the run felt effortless even though I ran it at an 8:25 pace.

I also have a Brooks fan in the making.

Finn approved!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Logan Sweet Memorial 5K {Race Recap}

This past Sunday I ran a local 5K as part of a team for Zeke's preschool. I don't think I've ever been so emotional before a race. This is why - 

Logan Sweet was little boy who passed away on this day in 2008 from Viral Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. He was six. You can read the Sweet's heart-wrenching story here. Logan's family started the Logan Sweet Foundation to raise funds and awareness for the disease, as well as promote a healthy lifestyle. Every year they have put together a fundraiser and this year they organized a 5K and Fun Run in Logan's memory.

Logan's mother spoke for a bit before the race and it was all I could do not to cry as I looked over at my two beautiful boys sitting with Ian on the curb. All I could think of was how fortunate I am and could not even imagine what the Sweet's have gone through. 

The course was an out and back with a couple of hills in the beginning. I was glad to know that I would be coming down them at the end. Though every race I am usually looking to PR, in the whole scheme of things, it wasn't important. I was just happy to be out there supporting a worthy cause and felt blessed that I was able to run on a beautiful sunny day. 

I ended up coming in 11th overall and 2nd female with a time of 24:38 (7:57 pace). I honestly have no idea how many runners there were and was not able to stick around to look at the results because the boys were anxious to go to the playground.

My 8th 5k is in the books. Number nine will be with Ian as he runs his first race. Now I'm preparing for the Reach the Beach relay in less than two weeks!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Goodbye Ghosts

So after several runs and about 50 miles, I've decided to return the Brooks Ghosts 4's. I got them because I thought I wanted a more substantial/cushioned/supportive shoe for my longer runs and rotate them with my Pure Connects that I use for speed work and racing. 

While I think the Ghosts are very comfortable and fit well, they are just too much shoe. I'm at the point now when running in the Connects that my form, specifically landing on my mid/forefoot, feels effortless. Whereas with the Ghosts, I really need to concentrate on how my foot hits the ground. It doesn't feel as natural since I'm a supinator and tend to land on the outer edge of my foot. The cushioning is great, but I think the structure of the shoe and the higher heel-to-toe drop is affecting my stride. 

Thanks to Road Runner Sport's rockin' 90-day exchange policy, they are headed back and these babies will be here soon.

The Pure Flow is a neutral shoe with a little more cushioning than the Connects to help me deal with increased mileage, but still sport a 4mm heel/toe offset which will support the mid-foot landing that I have finally been able to achieve. They also have more flexibility than the Ghosts that will aid in a more centered foot fall. Plus they are flashy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Running Perspective

My last couple training runs I've switched up a little. Last Wednesday night I was really looking forward to running in the morning. When the alarm went off on Thursday morning, I just could not get out of bed and opted for a run on Friday instead. I love the fact that my training program allows for little changes like this that do nothing to affect the big picture. This run was to be a five-mile tempo run. My usual route is a loop that I always do going in one direction. Usually because of this one hill.

While huge in both directions, my usual way (seen above) is more gradual and not as steep. When driving on the road, this section doesn't really register as a hill. However, when driving in the other direction (or right to left on the elevation) it is definitely a monster and I'd rather run down than up it. But I decided to be adventurous and run the loop in the opposite direction. Holy hard. I walked for a little bit right before that itsy-bitsy, tiny little reprieve on the monster. I was sucking wind hard-core. I was cursing myself for taking so much time off after the half marathon, even though I was also taking it easy for two weeks because I did something weird to my foot (which is still NOT bothering me - YAY). But guess what - when I was done and entering my run data into my log I went back to compare my previous times on the route (even though it was all from running in the other direction and IMO easier), I posted the second fastest time ever! Okay, so maybe I didn't lose as much fitness as I thought. I was just running harder on a route that is more difficult. On a side note, this is something I can't wrap my head around. This is a loop from my house that ends at my house. How is it possible to have a difference in ascent and decent? Shouldn't it be equal in the end? 

Today, I had planned to go to the track for the first time in months and do a speed workout. Well, it was supposed to be three sets of 2 x 1200 meters - I still think of speed work as 400m max distance - the perspective of an ex-sprinter. I woke up with enough time. I was actually wide-awake nearly an hour before I had to get four-something in the morning, and wondered why I was so wide awake when I was only on 5 hours sleep. Maybe because it was a solid 5 hours. I still go to bed thinking I'll be woken up at least three times a night, even though Finn has been pretty much a rockstar sleeping pretty much through the night for nearly two weeks now. Anyway, by the time I got around to doing my "business" (TMI?), I wasn't going to get in the full workout. I should have just gotten up at four, but it was still dark and I was looking forward to running in the light. But with the flexible training schedule, I just switched my track workout to Thursday and did Thursday's six-mile tempo run today. Perfect.

My six-mile route is usually an out and back and is pretty boring since I used to run it a lot. But it's been awhile and I didn't have time to come up with an alternative. I didn't feel like I was killing myself, but felt like I was still pushing myself. To be honest, I had to really talk myself out of walking for just a second when I was nearing the three mile turnaround point. But the out is harder than the back.

You'd think I would choose less hilly routes for my tempo runs, but this is as flat as it gets unless I want to run on the track or treadmill. It does make staying at a steady pace next to impossible, but I think running hills are one of the major reasons I have improved so quickly over the last year. Again, when I was done I thought that I had a fairly hard run. Again, I thought I was trying to rebuild my fitness from my break. Again, I was pleasantly surprised when I posted my all-time fastest time running this route - by over half a minute! Though not entirely consistent, my mile splits were half-way decent - 8:33, 8:54, 8:30, 8:09, 8:17, 8:25. Technically, they were supposed to be all 8:15, but given the terrain and the fact that I was constantly jumping off the road to avoid morning commuters, I consider it a success.

It's all how you look at things. I seriously thought I was out of shape because it didn't feel like I was running very fast during these runs. I thought I was out of shape because I felt like I was breathing harder than I normally do during training. But it just turned out I was breathing harder because I was running faster.