Friday, May 31, 2013

Freak Out Friday

Because I just did this -

And am the newest member of Crow Athletics! CAW!

Time to research a training plan! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Weekend Wrapup

We had a great weekend here in Maine. After over a week of rainy days, the sun finally showed up on Sunday night and we've enjoyed two straight days of sunshine. 

On Sunday we celebrated Finn's birthday with family and the boys helped me create this cake. 

Part of me would like the cake to be a surprise, but it's hard to hide it with our schedule and it's fun to have their input with the design and their help with the construction. 

Finn has a love of penguins and the boys are a fan of the show Pingu, so that was the theme of the cake.

Some pictures from the party -

On Memorial Day we headed to Morse Mountain in Phippsburg for a hike. What an awesome place! It follows a semi-paved road that was quite rough in spots and has a couple of long, steep inclines (about 180 feet in elevation) that was a good workout. And I did it pushing both boys in the stroller both ways for a total of about 2.5 miles. The trail ends at Seawall Beach and you are treated with the awesome view -

We then headed over to my parents for a cookout, our first of the season as we still haven't retrieved our grill from the old house. It was so good! We were all so exhausted from the past two days that we were all asleep by 10!

Today (Tuesday) is Finn's actually birthday! It's hard to believe that it's been three whole years since he was born and looked like this...

We gave him his big present this morning. A balance bike!

And then had some leftover're allowed to do that on your birthday! (helmets optional)

We headed to Mae's Cafe for second breakfast and walked there! I love that we are within 3-year-old walking distance (about half a mile) to great restaurants! After a quick walk back to the house we took a short drive downtown (because I knew the boys wouldn't make it walking) to visit the local toy store to pick out a birthday gift and also stopped at a couple of shops while we were there. Bath has such a cute downtown with some great businesses including two bookstores. Those are definitely harder to find these days!

Ian got out for a motorcycle ride and I did a quick 2.45-mile run when he got back. I had every intent on running slowly, but I ended up with my splits being 8:08 and 8:08 for miles one and two and 3:33 for the last .45. I tried to slow down when I was on the run, but my legs didn't want to listen! I guess 8:08 is my new lucky number as that was my overall pace for the Sugarloaf 15K! I was happy to see that I can still run a steady pace even when dealing with the hills around my house.

I hope everyone had a great long weekend, I certainly did. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Reebok Spartan Race {giveaway}

Last year my high school running buddy ran a Spartan Race. Seeing her look all badass this many years later made me really want to do an obstacle course race. It also conjures up memories of high school Latin class and watching the Oscar-winning Stanley Kubrick movie, Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas. In one of the best movie scenes ever, Douglas' character claims along with the other slaves, "I am Spartacus!"

I want to be Spartacus!!!

Here's what the Spartan Race series is all about:

Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life. Our events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal.

Our events challenge the familiar, today’s perception of normal living and getting you out of your comfort zone! At Spartan Race, we do this everyday and it shapes everything we do.

Having experienced many different racing events, we wanted to make adventure racing more accessible to everyone, but do not be fooled by the word ‘accessible’, as our events have a challenge for everyone’s needs.

Spartan Race now introduces a level for everyone beginning with the entry level Spartan Sprint, intermediate level Super Spartan, the advanced Spartan Beast, and the ‘99.9% need not apply’ extreme level Death Race.

Whatever your level, Spartan Race will test your strength, stamina, and sense of humor.

How fun does that look?!? AROO!!!

The contest for the free race entry is over but... on the following link for 15% off a race entry!

Disclaimer: I was provided a free media pass to a Spartan Race in exchange for this review and free race entry giveaway. All opinions are my own, unless otherwise noted. The giveaway for the free race entry will be active until Wednesday, May 29 at noon EST. The winner will notified via email.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running Thoughts

I mentioned in my recap of the Sugarloaf 15K that I was pleasantly and somewhat surprised at the outcome of this race. I mean, I haven't been running much the last few months. Look at this graph of my monthly miles:

Yes those are monthly running miles, not weekly. I've been lucky to get in one or two runs a week and all of those have been 5 miles or less, most around three miles. My last long run of 14.4 miles was in mid-March when I was still mulling over whether or not to get my butt in gear to train for the marathon at Sugarloaf. 

I'm so glad that I chose to do the 15K instead, but how on earth did I have such a stellar (for me) race? Just for a little perspective - my 10 mile PR is 1:21, an average pace of 8:08 set in February 2012. My 10K PR has me at an average pace of 8:06 set in October 2011. At Sugarloaf, I ran 9.38 miles in 1:16:21, a 8:08 pace. Those other two races were during full-on training, running three times a week doing speed work, tempo runs, and long runs. I make sure to taper well before each race. I carb-load and hydrate for several days before. 

So how could I run over 9 miles just as fast when I haven't been following a training plan or even running much? Don't they say if you don't run, you can quickly lose your fitness? Well, I think that could be true, but how do you explain my race on Sunday?

Here are a few of my thoughts/ideas:

1. Magic shoes. I raced in my Mizuno Wave Evo Cursoris for the first time. Super flat, lightweight and fast. Mizuno promotes their shoes as aiding runners in finding Mezamashii (a brilliant run). The Sugarloaf 15K was definitely Mezamashii for me. I am still sold on the Mizuno brand. 

2. Pre-race fuel. I've always had a slice of peanut butter toast and water before racing and have never felt it totally worked for me, but never switched it up for fear of trying something new on race day. On Sunday I nibbled on half a plain bagel, ate three Shot Bloks, and drank 12 ounces of Strawberry Lemonade nuun. Is this the magic formula for running on undertrained legs?

3. Perfect weather. This was close to being the same in all three races I've mentioned. Overcast skies, no wind, and no rain with temps in the 30-40 degree range = ideal running conditions. I wilt quickly when running in temperatures over 50 or 60 degrees. 

4. No pressure. Not giving myself a real goal for this race enabled me to just run for fun...just like I have been doing the last few months. While my girls trained for 16+ weeks for this one moment and could be either good or bad (it was a success for all and they all kicked ass for 26.2 miles), I didn't have that pressure. As I was sitting at the table sipping my nuun on Sunday morning, someone commented on how relaxed I was. And I was. I didn't over-analyze the race or how I would do. Whatever would happen, would happen. I just had to go with the flow and I wasn't going to be upset if I performed badly, I hadn't run much.

5. Rhythmic breathing. I've always run without music and listened to my breathing to find a good pace. After reading an article in Runners World about breathing so you aren't landing on the same foot on the exhale, I've been trying to breathe that way during my weekly runs. One, it reduces the risk of injury by alternating your feet when you begin to exhale as this is when your are exerting the most force. Two, it make me focus on something else rather than any pain or discomfort I am in while running, therefore making the time seem to go by faster. I also seem to get fewer side and/or shoulder cramps when breathing in a 3-2 rhythm. At the start of the race on Sunday I had pains in my neck and shoulders from shivering in the cold for an hour and a half. Once I began breathing in a 3-2 pattern, those pains disappeared.

6. Just believe. I knew from a few recent training runs that I was still capable of running around an 8-minute pace. I ran a hilly 5-miler in the low 8s and ran an unofficial 5K pushing the double stroller a couple of weeks ago with a pace in the mid-8s. Endurance running is just as much a mental exercise as it is physical, maybe even more so. By believing that I could hold the pace I started at enabled me to do it. Not once did I have doubts of "I can't do it." Even when my legs started to get tired and I could have bargained with myself to walk a hill, I just told myself that I could do it, that I really wasn't in that much discomfort, to push past it and keep moving forward. 

7. Frame of mind. This goes along with believing in one's self, but I was also in a good frame of mind because I where the race was. When I was little, my family spent time almost every summer at the campground where the marathon started. Running past the slow moving and shallow river brought back happy memories of my brother and I jumping on those very rocks and wading through the water. Happy thoughts put me in a good, positive place.

Well, that's all that I can think of of why I had a great race even though my training was lacking. Everything came together on race day to give me the most enjoyable race experience I've had in a long time.

Have you ever had a good training run or race when everything went your way? 

What so think was the main reason(s) it went in your favor? 

Sugarloaf 15K {Race Recap}

Sunday was the Sugarloaf Marathon and 15K held up in Maine's Carrabassett Valley. If you've been following this blog, you'll know that I had originally planned on running Sugarloaf as my second marathon, but other things in my life took precedent over running and I decided it would be best to do the 15K instead.

After attending a birthday party of one of Zeke's schoolmates, I dropped the boys of at my mother-in-law's and made the 2+ hour drive to meet the girls (all running the marathon) at a "camp" on the water where we would be spending the night. It isn't really a camp, but a beautiful house with a ton of space for all of us (14? in all, including runners, spouses, children, and babysitter). We headed to bed fairly early in anticipation of a 4 AM wake-up.

C9 tank and skirt, Mizuno Evo Cursoris

Photo courtesy - Jen @ Running With The Girls

We woke up to an overcast day with temps in the mid-30s. We quickly got ready and headed to the finish to catch the shuttle to the starting lines. The girls' shuttle was 30 minutes before mine, so I saw them off with wishes of good luck and kept warm in the car before boarding the bus. 

I find a seat and look across the aisle to see Weez from and we were able to chat quite a bit before the race (the shuttle was at 6:00, while the 15K didn't start until 7:30). It was nice to see the course beforehand on the drive to the start and noted that though the description of it was all downhill, there were a few rollers, but nothing too major.

We all got off the bus and shivered. It was so cold! Thankfully I brought along a blanket and huddled in it while talking with Louise waiting for the start. Another bus finally came which was going to bring all our bags back to the finish and a lot of people got on to keep warm. With about 30 minutes to go, I got on to warm up my now frozen feet and sat with a woman who was running the 15K for the first time too. When we took off our long sleeve shirts to head to the start line I noticed her bib said Carrie too! Such a coincidence!

Finally it was time to line up and I prayed my Garmin would find a satellite before they said 'go' (it did with about 15 seconds to spare). I didn't really have any plan for this race. I was stress-free going into it and was running for fun. I hoped to at least be able to average an 8:30 pace. I wanted to run a steady race and be conservative in the beginning, not knowing how I would handle going 9.3 miles.

I quickly found a good rhythm and tried to keep the pace at something that felt easy. I was surprised when I hit mile 1 and my split was 7:58. I wasn't laboring with my breathing at all and I decided to just keep at this pace as long as I could knowing I wouldn't have to to deal with any monster hills. Then mile 2 came up before I knew it - 8:05.

At this point I noticed a few of us were sticking together. Not bunched up, but we were all running about the same pace. There was one girl in particular in aqua colored shorts that I fell into step with for a good portion of the race. The cadence of her steps matched mine and I was comfortable with the pace we were at. I wondered if I was pissing her off because I was pretty much drafting her as she moved onto the flattest sections of the road as we moved along. A random observance was that she must have come down from Canada as her GPS announced her pace every kilometer. 

The miles ticked away and I only glanced at my watch just out of curiosity more than anything else, but saw my pace was sticking around the 8:10-8:15 pace every time I looked. 

I hadn't noticed the cold once we started and actually it was absolutely ideal running weather for me. Not too hot, not too cold, no wind, no rain, no sun - perfect.

I'd come up even to aqua shorts girl on any inclines, but let her go back in front on the declines. I have never been great at using downhills to my advantage. There were water/Gatorade stops every two miles, but I didn't feel the need to stop at any.

I couldn't believe how fast the miles seemed to go by. I had settled easily into a cruising speed with 3-2 breathing (inhale 3 steps, exhale 2 steps) and was working comfortably hard, but at the halfway point still wasn't ready to kick it up a notch. By about mile 6, my legs were starting to feel fatigued. It wasn't anything major and I forced any thoughts of taking a walk break on any hills out of my head. With only 5K to go, I just kept plugging along. The route was just beautiful following the river on one side with the rocky mountainside on the other and trees with their new leaves the whole way.

Aqua shorts girl moved ahead a little, and I ran with a couple other women for a while, but we never spoke. One pulled some fuel out of her pocket around mile 7 and knowing that a water stop would be coming up soon, I decided to eat a Shot Blok to carry me through the final two miles. I took a cup of water at the water table and actually took a couple sips while running. There was no way I was going to slow down now. I came close to choking on the first sip, took one more and threw the rest away. Let's get this thing done!

A quick check at the Garmin showed a 10-minute pace. WHAT?!? There is no way, I thought to myself. I figured it must have lost the satellite for a bit and it quickly dropped back down to the low-8s.

With one mile to go I thought of speeding up but my legs were getting a bit tired. There was no real sprint at the end (I did have some left in the tank) but I was just so happy to be running that day I didn't feel the need to run any faster.

I saw 1:16:xx on the clock and was so happy. Even though I didn't have any real time goals, I was hoping to at least be around 1:20 given that I ran a 1:24 10-miler in February on a hillier course. I'm sure if I really pushed it and "raced" it I could have easily been in the 1:15s, but I was just amazed at how comfortable I felt the whole way and didn't want to mess with a good thing. Not once did I think, oh my god, I want to die, I can't breathe, where is the finish, can I be done now. It was awesome start to finish and was close to a perfectly executed race...probably the best I've done which is just crazy, all things considered. 

My Garmin had me at 1:16:21, an average pace of 8:08 over 9.38 miles. Official time was 1:16:29.5, but there was no starting mat so I am going to go with my watch time on this one as I didn't start it until I crossed the starting line. Check out these splits, they are so even I still can't believe it!

Mile 1 - 7:58
Mile 2 - 8:05
Mile 3 - 8:15
Mile 4 - 8:13
Mile 5 - 8:13
Mile 6 - 8:13
Mile 7 - 8:12
Mile 8 and 9 (where the Garmin went wonky) - 8:41 & 7:43
Those times average out to 8:12.
Last .38 - 2:51

To have the pace of 7 consecutive miles within 1-2 seconds just makes me so happy! I'll analyze what I think made this such a great race in a future post, but I want to finish this recap before it gets much longer.

Here's my official placement:
148 out of 455 overall, 74 out of 316 women, 12 out of 55 in my AG (35-39)

I went back to my car after picking up my bag and getting food to warm up and wait for the marathoners to start coming through as I was parked facing the road right about a mile and a half from the finish.

I went to cheer on runners at mile 26 while waiting for my girls to come through. At about 10:50 I was hoping I was going see Jen soon as she was trying for a sub-4 and a few minutes later I spot her rocking neon-green skirt in the distance and starting cheering like a crazy person. I am so proud of her and her solid 4-minute PR. 

Stacy's husband and kids appeared in their car, so Stacy (running her first marathon) and Jill (her second) wouldn't be far behind. And at mile 26, they were still smiling!

I, on the other hand, really need to work on showing a happy face. Here is my one running photo from the race. 

Always so serious. I promise I was having a great time!

Here's what I loved about this race:

The route. Just beautiful. Rolling hills that add interest to the course and a challenge for your legs. It is also a straight shot from start to finish with just one turn before hitting the finishing chute.

The finisher's medal and shirt.

The marathoners received long sleeves and the 15K runner short sleeves. I do wish they were in women's sizes too, but I love the design on the sleeve!

The food tent had hot chicken soup, perfect for warming up on such a cold day. And they had homemade granola with Stonyfield yogurt. Oh my, it was so delicious!

Field size and route support. With 395 in the marathon and 455 in the 15K there was never any congestion, even at the start, but I was never running alone. Water stops were every two miles and while I didn't need to utilize them for the 15K, I can imagine it being convenient for the full.

I am definitely considering running Sugarloaf again and would definitely recommend it. Maybe I'll be able to train better through the winter as I'd love to run the marathon next year.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. The Sugarloaf Marathon and 15K is Sunday and I am in no way prepared. Oh well. But, like I've said before, it's an automatic PR and I'll be cheering on my fellow Rail Trail Chicks in the marathon who are currently reaching their breaking point with taper madness and stress. My poor girls. Hugs all's almost over, ladies!

2. So apparently I've been nominated to do a triathlon in August. There is a teeny tiny problem...actually two problems. The last time I was swimming (as in not just floating) was in college in the 90s and don't recall ever swimming a length of the pool. Fish, I am not. While I have a bicycle, it is of the mountain bike variety and I haven't ridden in over a decade. I did own a 10-speed once when I was around 10. Not sure this tri thing is really going to happen...sorry can keep trying though. Pun absolutely intended.

3. This week has been like vacation. For whatever reason I wasn't scheduled today and the weather was just gorgeous! The boys and I headed back to Popham for some time on the beach. I love that I live so close to a place so awesome. I'll leave you with some pictures from the day.

Yup, really sucks to live in such an ugly place, right?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Wrapup

What a wonderful weekend it has been. Actually, my weekend also consists of Monday so it is still going on.

Saturday I worked and had to open, but that just meant I was done by 2:30 PM. That night I had dinner with my running gals to celebrate Stacy's birthday. We always go to our favorite place, Slate's in Hallowell. We had our usual blood orange margaritas and the food was delicious, as always. And the company is the best. I've really missed these girls since they have been training for the Sugarloaf Marathon and I dropped down to the 15K. Hopefully we will hit the beach and the Rail Trail a lot this summer!

Once I got home, I realized that I hadn't done my plank for the day. I've challenged myself to do a #plankaday for a month. And of course I had a glass of wine with my husband (on top of two margaritas) and was still all dressed up, but I was pumped up to do this plank! All of a sudden the clock was well over the one minute mark and I knew I could get to two minutes! 

I guess I was at that buzzed stage when I have super-human strength or the alcohol just masks all discomfort and pain, not sure which.

And then yesterday I was treated to a wonderful Mother's Day. I woke up to some beautiful artwork from Zeke and we headed out to brunch with my mother-in-law.

I was then treated to my gift of shopping at Joann Fabrics without children (yes, this is what I asked for)! The sun came out and I got to go for a nice 5-mile run (even though my stomach was in knots from running later in the day), but still clocked an average 8:33 pace. 

We then visited with my parents and had dinner with them. What a great day! And yes, I got my plank in yesterday too, though I took it easy and only did 30 seconds. Oh, and someone offered to take my shift at work, so I'm treated to two whole days off in a row!

Today is Zeke's Kindergarten screening, and I frankly can't believe it is time for this! I'm not ready!!!

This week is race prep and taper time, which is quite laughable because I feel like I've been tapering since September. Looking back at my training log, I haven't run over five miles at a time since mid-March when I did a 14.4-miler and made the decision not to run the marathon. Next Sunday's 9.3 miles are going to be a sufferfest, but I am really looking forward to it all the same. 

Have a great Monday!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thirteen Things Thursday: What I Love

I had originally just wanted to post the typical Three Things Thursday to shout out the things I'm loving right now, but the list is longer than three. I've super-sized it and am going with thirteen!

In no particular order:

1. Garmin Forerunner 10

Since I've been running for fun and not following a training plan, it has been nice to just get out there without a specific route and just run. I still want/need to track my mileage for my shoes and frankly, I am still tied to recording the numbers for my running log. I just need to know! Not only is the Forerunner 10 a super cute color, it is easy to use and small enough to wear as my everyday watch. It's fun to pick out the runners who come up to my desk at work, because more often than not they'll ask me about it.

2. Mizuno Wave Precision 13

With just over 300 miles on my Precision 13s I have decided to retire them from running to become my work shoes. They are still in excellent shape with very little wear on the soles and have a decent amount of cushioning and could probably go another one to two hundred miles. But since I don't have very comfortable work shoes with one job having me run around for hours non-stop and the other standing on concrete floors, these leave my feet still feeling great after a long day. They will always have a special place in my heart as they are the shoes that carried me on my first 26.2.

3. iPhone 4

Wow! Love, love, love! I can do so much with this gadget! Believe it or not, I can see it simplifying my life. The fact that I'm blogging with it while I'm sitting on the couch is blowing my mind. I got her a pretty blue and white case yesterday that could probably be it's own "thing" for this list. It goes great with my Garmin. Yes, I'm a geek, but a fashionable one.

4. Springtime.

Finally, it has arrived in Maine. After a long, cold winter the last week or so has been beautiful. We had some rain overnight and some more in the forecast, but the sun has us spending a ton of time outside. And everything is getting so green and pretty. I love sitting in the yard and looking up at this tree against the blue of the sky. It goes so well with my Garmin and iPhone! Haha!

5. My orchid.

Ian got this for me for Valentine's Day this year and it seems to be thriving! Seven new blooms have opened since it has come into our care. I always thought orchids were hard to care for, but apparently it likes living here.

6. Creating signs.

Apparently, I am the go-to person for making the signage at Home Depot. Things are pretty good when you get to spend your time drawing, coloring, and painting. The only problem is the constant interruptions with customers coming up to the desk, it takes forever to get one done. Maybe I need to stop over achieving...
7. Exploring our neighborhood.

Now that the weather is more on the warmer side, it's great to get out and check out our surrounding area. The boys and I went for a walk the other day down a few streets we hadn't been down before. They both made it a full half mile on their little legs! 

8. Running with Ian.

I look forward to every Monday as that is the day we go on our family run. He's training for a local 5-miler on July 4th that we are both going to run together. Any bets on who will win?

9. Newman's Own Virgin Limeade.

To me, there is nothing more refreshing on a warm day.

10. This T-shirt.

Emily and the crew at sent me this shirt. Super comfy 100% cotton and the fit is great. Nothing like spreading a little blog love.

11. New work gloves.

My old gardening gloves were splitting at the seams and giving me blisters, so it was time for a new pair. These have nice padding on the palms and back of the hand and provide good grip. They were essential for tearing out 200 square feet of deck last week. Only $9.97 at Home Depot...and they match my phone. ;-)

12. Caramel deLites (aka Samoas, back in the day)

My favorite Girl Scout cookie...ever. Seriously, I have the hardest time not eating the whole box. I have to make these babies last a whole year. I even put the one in the photo back in the box. Pure will power, I tell ya.

13. These two boys.

I am so thankful that I am able to spend the days home with them. They are my whole world.

Well, that's it! Congrats on making it to the end! Tell me, what are some of your favorite things?