the marathon in the middle

I would be lying if I said that I couldn’t wait to get a race recap up onto the blog, and to be honest I’m still not, so for now, I’m sharing just a little bit of my “marathon in the middle” story.

I ran my first NYC Marathon last year, and officially became a marathoner, afterwards, I was legitimately on top of the world for what seemed like weeks on end.  I rode that marathon high for every ounce of what it was worth; capitalizing on the feel good vibes, and pushing myself to run back to back 5k PRs just 2 short weeks after the marathon. But here’s the (potentially) dangerous thing about a first-time-marathon runner’s high, it can trick you into overlooking the importance of recovery…as it tempts you with its splendour.

Those weeks directly after a marathon, are a super important time to allow your body to rest and recover.  This certainly doesn’t mean you need to set up camp on the couch for good; but a nice 1-2 week hiatus from running is probably a (very) good idea.  Last year, I pushed myself to run again too soon, I own that; I was back running just 4 short days after NYC.  Running that soon (for me) wasn’t smart, and set me up for a 2018 fraught with injury after injury.  However, while that marathon running high last year, pushed me to do some silly things, also ignited a fire deep inside of me, that crushed my “one and done” marathon theory.  January rolled around quickly, and I literally threw my name into the lottery pool for 2018 as soon as it opened.  I then, as everyone who enters to pool does, crossed my fingers and toes until drawing day in February.  Alas, I didn’t get in (Adjusting the sails) but since the desire to run again was so strong, I quickly set my sights on fundraising for Team Answer the Call.

Fast forward to this past Sunday, November 4, 2018, when I ran my second NYC marathon in 4:29:33 (5 minutes slower than my 2017 time…no worries, I’m ok with it, mostly, I’m mostly ok with it).  My training for this year was very similar to last, both had me running about 450 miles total in 16 weeks time…but this year I had all those pesky injuries to contend with, and also had my sights on running 9+1 (run 9 runs with New York Road Runners and volunteer for 1 event) to gain entry to the 2019 marathon.  Insert craziness here, and again, I own it, all of it.  The running bug has got it’s hold on me GOOD.

But enough about the how I got into races, and how I set myself up to run 3 back to back NYC Marathons…let’s get to this past Sunday, and my marathon in the middle.  Sunday’s race didn’t have the splendour of my very first marathon,  and it may not have the gusto (fingers crossed 2019) of my last, what it had was the simplicity of being smack dab in the middle of a first chance and a last hoorah.  It was my place holder marathon, but of course being the freaking NYC MARATHON – it was an EPIC place holder!

Now to be fair and honest, I went into Sunday with hopes of a time (yes, of course a time faster than my 4:24 in 2017) in which I would cross the finish line…and for a lot of the race, that time seemed to be an actual, plausible possibility.  But then around mile 18, 19 or 20, I honestly can’t remember, it slipped away, and, I was ok with it, like actually 100% fine.  The end of the marathon is always the hardest part, no matter who you are, and on Sunday, I was let that pain slow me down instead of propel me forward.  I allowed my physical to trump my mental game, and felt a significant sense of relief wash over me as I did.

I started to slow my pace even more, and took several walking breaks.  I put on a brave smile for a photographer stationed on the damn floor of mile 25 **really NYRR –  a low photographer at mile 25…OUCH!** IMG_3109 I hydrated more, and then finally, texted my husband “I’m fading”…with love he responded: “YOU GOT THIS BABE!!!! LAST MILE…ALMOST HOME!!!”  So close.  It hit then, the reality of it sunk in, I didn’t have the finish I hoped for, but, amazingly I was completely OK with it.   I still had 2019 in my back pocket as my moonshot for NYC, and so when I crossed that line I smiled one big, fat, I did it (again) smile and snapped a selfie, cause it tasted SO DAMN GOOD!IMG_3029

I’ll be back again next year NY, injury free, and READY…and then, you’re MINE!

 

 

believe. achieve. be proud.

Someone asked me just the other day, if I was nervous about the marathon coming up in 19 days, and without pause I said no. Oddly enough, last year standing at gate waiting for my corral to open, my youngest brother called and asked the same question; I said no then too.

In the last day or two I’ve begun to think about why I’m not nervous. I can say without pause, that a great deal of credit must be given to working the plan, and the roughly 400 miles I’ve logged during the last several weeks. But I think the real reason I’m not nervous as the final countdown ticks on, is because of the confidence in myself that running has gifted me.

Nerves used to have a very large portion of my head wrapped up in doubt. Nerves kept me from doing a lot of things over the years, that perhaps I ought not to have avoided. I know I’m not nervous, because where nervous used to live…is READY, doubt has gone off to die.

Will I ace this marathon and achieve the goal time I have set internally, maybe, but also, maybe not. Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day I had the confidence in myself to believe I could run 26.2 consecutive miles…again, and that is achievement in and of itself for me.

Believe. Achieve. Be proud.

you can have both

For years, I’d lost sight of how important having something to call my own was. I forgot what it meant to achieve a personal goal, because I was so consumed worrying about, and helping my children meet or achieve theirs. Being a mother is often selfless and all consuming; those early years are fraught with things like teething, walking, preschools, play dates, and let’s be honest; survival.

While motherhood is the most amazing gift, having children should NOT enable you to lose sight of yourself. Furthermore, and this is something I’ve only recently discovered, when your children watch you accomplish your own goals, it ignites a passion in them to develop their own, no matter their age. My boys have proudly begun to set goals for themselves (running a 5k, running 1 mile, riding a two-wheeler, reading a new book, wiping their own butt), because they’ve watched their dad and me achieve many of our own.

So, when was the last time you set a goal for yourself? Can’t remember, or maybe you can, but it’s been a while. Here’s something to think about, you owe it to yourself to set a new one; today…right now. (big or small)

As a parent the biggest blessing CAN be BOTH, watching your children achieve their goals…AND nailing your own!

thank you, Andy

Three years ago when I started running, I used to run in the dark, a lot.  I ran before the birds came up with the sun, and then again well after the sun went to bed behind the horizon.  I ran with a flashlight, with reflectors, and with a very nervous husband sitting at home waiting for my safe return.  I was a selfish runner in those early months, only caring that I got the run in, and not that there was a chance I might not.  I didn’t let the voice inside me saying “this doesn’t feel safe” get too loud, I ran though it.

My husband started to send me articles about other women who went out for a run and didn’t come home (honestly, a few non-runner friends sent articles too).  I asked him to stop.  I told him that reading those kinds of stories would prevent me from running.  I told him that if I let myself think about the what-ifs all the time, I wouldn’t be mentally strong enough to continue running.  I was wrong. 

I needed to read those articles, I needed to hear about how other women, young and old, didn’t get come home, sometimes.  I needed his persistent insistence in my ear, reminding me that NOT coming home was NOT an option.  But, what I needed more, was  time to adjust to the reality that being a woman runner, meant I had to worry about things bigger than cars, and roots, and obstacles in the roadway…I needed to worry about bigger, scarier things like crazy people who do crazy things for no reason.  I needed to worry about them, and take steps to ensure I was at least equipped to handle them. 

I took a self defense class last year, and learned all about strong bones, and soft spots; I often find myself repeating “bee-sting, elbow, knee” on runs when that unsettling feeling creeps in.  I never run alone in the dark anymore, and when I do run alone, it’s with the rising sun, and mace in my hand…it’s with the garbage trucks, and the dog walkers in my neighborhood.  I run with friends, a lot…there really is safety in numbers.  I always tell my husband where I will be running, and when I should be back.  The last thing I hear before stepping out the door every single time is “Be safe, I love you.”

To the people who read this and say, I won’t let the crazies dictate how I run (literally) my life…I implore you to take at least one additional precautionary step before you run out the door alone next time.  Buy the mace, take the self defense class, limit your followers on route tracking apps, bring the cell phone with you, run where you’re likely to be seen by other people…tell someone where you will be and when you WILL be back.

Do it for Mollie Tibbetts.  Do it for Karina Vetrano.  Do it for Alexandra Brueger.  Do it for Vanessa Marcotte.  Do it for YOU.  Do it for those who love YOU. 

Some safety items I use

  1. Nathan Zephyr Fire 100 Hand Torch, Black/Sulfur Spring https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LPDUOJ8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_Ee2FBbHCDQMXZ
  2. SABRE RED Kuros! Pepper Spray—Police Strength—Aqua Key Case with Quick Release Key Ring, 25 Bursts & 10-Foot (3 m) Range https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YG0H0WG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_Yf2FBbE4CREHA
  3. Reflective Vest for High Visibility Day Night. Running Cycling Dog Walking Car Safety Highway Viz Motorcycling Horse Riding Gear. Biking & Runners Safety Accessories Sports Lover Gift Yellow L XL XXL https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LW48D8E/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_Yg2FBbHFY658Z
  4. https://goguarded.com

fuel

I learned something new about my kids last week, I learned, that my kids are like cars. My kids, run on fuel from entertainment provided to them by me, my husband, their friends, camp, school, etc., and much like cars, my kids will happily chug along until the fuel starts to get low. Now, because I’m kind of a risk taker 😉 (or because it’s summer and it’s hot and I’m tired) I tend to let the fuel gauge get dangerously low before I address the problem…

Note to self: STOP doing that.

You wouldn’t be wrong to liken me to a car as well, as I too need fuel to “survive”, especially this month of August and Camp Mommy (town camp ends 8/2…school starts 9/6!). My fuel comes in many different forms (coffee, running, barre, running, coffee, coffee, coffee), and obviously, as an adult, I’ve learned (unlike my kids) how to function mostly on fumes. But, here’s the common denominator between us – we each need just enough fuel, to get us through to the next pit stop.

What does this mean? It means all you stay at home folks trying to entertain your kids from sun-up til sun-down until school starts again (damn, teachers ARE amazing humans!), shift your focus to just one day a week. One super fun, different, exciting adventure each week, is just about all you need to keep everyone’s cars humming along the summertime highway smoothly.

Last week for us it was a magical day at a rarely attended park. This week, we ventured into NYC for a ride on The Beast & a visit to the Intrepid. If you notice, week one didn’t have a special adventure…after week one, the cars nearly ended up in a ditch 🙈.

Summer can be hard, but it doesn’t need to be. Having that one special day a week (or, hey if you can, more than one) to draw strength from really helps power through the days when, the only time you leave the house is to go to the grocery store.

Power to all you rocking Camp Mommy this summer, school will be here before you know it, and once again, you’ll wish you had just one more week of summer…

5 tips to make marathon training easier

You’re already thinking no, no you cannot possibly string together a sentence where easy and marathon appear together…but trust me, you can.  You know what else you can do?  You CAN do hard things, hard things like train for a marathon with a smile on your face.

The following are 5 things that I found helpful while training for my first (and now second) marathon:

  1. Pick a marathon you connect to, or at the very least have a strong desire to run.
    • NYC was my big dream, mainly because I am a native New Yorker, but also because well…it’s the freaking NYC MARATHON!  IMG_9295
  2. Pick a training plan that speaks to you.
    • Would you be able to print out a plan, post it on the fridge and follow it?  Are you someone who needs a coach consistently talking you through the process, checking in and creating a plan specific to you?  Perhaps you want a mix of both, and think a virtual trainer would work best (https://www.nyrr.org/train-with-us/training-programs).  There is a plan for everyone out there, do some research and find one that you connect to, you will be spending between 12-20 weeks working the plan you pick.
  3. Make the plan your OWN (but only if this appeals to you…I understand it’s not for everyone).
    • I adopted bullet journaling last spring and have become an avid lover of the organization, clarity, and accountability it provides me.  If you’re not particularly crafty, or think it’s too time consuming to create your own journal, there are plenty of options where the creative work is done already, and you just fill in the blanks. (https://www.believeiam.com/products/believe-journal) But, no matter what you decide, making the plan your own on some level (just a little bit) higher than magnets on the fridge, cements the journey deeper inside.  Bottom line, anything that helps grow the mind-body connection to race day is your friend.  Add some color, maybe some stickers, give your plan a little love.  IMG_8770
  4. Find some running buddies – ASAP!  These running buddies DO NOT need to be training for a marathon, they don’t even have to run at the same pace you do…they just need to love running.  Having someone to run the first 4 miles of a 10 mile run with at 6am is life changing (unless you are a total solo run lover…and that’s totally cool – you do you!).  Having a running buddy to chat with makes the miles go faster, and provides just a little bit of extra safety too, it’s win win. IMG_8949
  5. Make your training runs fun!  Whether that means picking a new route every once in a while, or adding in a race (perhaps in a new place) to spice things up – go for it!  In addition to being a fun way to explore new places, it’s also a great (smaller scale) way to get used to race day jitters or running places unknown.
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West Side Highway – New Route
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Newburyport, MA 1/2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will leave you with this final bit of advice to remember during your journey to 26.2 (or any other distance you’ve got your eye on) Believe YOU can and YOU will…we can ALL DO HARD THINGS!!

go. for. it.

Last July, I was just 2 years into my running, and was rapidly becoming more and more impressed by the community that was unfolding before me. I’d met several other like-minded running friends locally, and was thrilled to find others like myself who shared the passion…but, this running community…it’s bigger than I’d ever imagined. This running community, specifically the women’s running community, it’s HUGE!

I still considered myself a mostly new runner last July (even after having completed several races and hundreds of miles), and thus, was still hesitant with exactly how much I put out into this HUGE community of women runners. I’d become quite fond of Instagram, and had a handful of larger handles that I followed for inspiration and motivation…one of my all time faves was (IS!) @inspiringwomenrunners.  I watched countless women share their inspiring stories and transformations, but wasn’t quite sure I was ready to do the same.

For most (read: ALL) of my adult life I was super content hanging out smack dab in the middle of introvert and extrovert…some might have called me an “ambivert.” I wasn’t overly shy or overly outgoing, but when given a chance to stand out in a crowd or sink back, I was absolutely back against the wall material.

Then, one Saturday morning last July, I thought to myself “go for it – put yourself out there”…and I did!

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I took a leap last year, and instead of thinking  “why would they pick me”…or…”why would I do that,” for the first time I thought “why wouldn’t they?!”  That July morning I stepped WAY outside of my comfort zone.

At first it was a no…but then, Inspiriting Women Runners had a cancellation; a spot opened up and I was in.  I would be taking over their IG handle to share my 5k experience with a MUCH larger crowd, and although I said my goal was a big fat PR (personal record), my real goal, the internal one, had simply been to take that first step outside my comfort zone.  I didn’t quite nail a super fast time that night, but I did walk away with another kind of PR…one way more important.

Life really does begin at the END of your comfort zone…so go take a peek, see what’s waiting out there!

NYC Marathon
My most recent takeover and the result of stepping WAY WAY WAY outside my comfort zone!

body back

For 30 years the rights to my body were solely my own, I did not however, always take the best care of it. I wasn’t supremely overweight, but, I absolutely didn’t work out regularly, I smoked cigarettes for a few years, I didn’t eat the healthiest of foods (in fact, for close to 25 😬 years – I existed on not much other than pasta), and I certainly didn’t realize what not taking care of my body would look like down the road. I wouldn’t say I was wholly unhealthy, I just took a worry about it later approach on self-care.

Then at 31 I got pregnant with Grayden; and I lost the rights to calling my body my own. I had a tenant, I happily (so happily) shared. Shortly thereafter at 32, way before I’d gotten back to my pre-baby weight, I was pregnant again with Brody. Grayden and Brody are twenty-one months apart, and were both c-sections. My heart doubled in size with each of my boys, and it was the most magical feeling; what wasn’t so magical though; how my stomach grew, and grew, and then didn’t magically shrink back after the boys were born. It stayed…and again, I said to myself, I’ll worry about it later.  I was a mom with two supremely active boys. Who had time for running, and barre and working out??  Not me.

Years went by, and it wasn’t until both of my kids were in pre-school at the same time for a couple of hours a day that I finally decided to TAKE MY BODY BACK.

It took a lot of work and a great deal of discipline (meal plans, runs, barre classes, changed habits) to start to see any changes, but it was worth it. Being honest again, this body I reside in currently is entirely new for me. At 38 years old, I’m in better shape and healthier than I’ve ever been before. It feels amazing. The best part? Feeling good about myself and MY body has made me a better wife, mom, runner, instructor, and woman. Healthy does indeed equate to happy…and, it provides with me lots more energy for those two, still, very busy boys…my husband, and MYSELF.

Carve out a small bit of time each day where you can do YOU…you are worth it!

permission

The month of July encompasses both a celebration of life and death for my family.  Today, July 11th marks what would have been my little brother’s 36th Birthday…but he’s not here to blow out 36 candles, because, July 28th marks the day he died.

It’s been 16 years (almost) since Greg’s life was cut tragically short one fateful Sunday afternoon while riding his treasured Suzuki GSXR, but on days like today, it feels more like yesterday, than 16 years.  For those who have experienced the loss of an immediate  family member, you know how funny time can be…for those who haven’t; always remember to count your blessings.

On days like today, although I have learned coping mechanisms for my grief, and am used to carrying it around with me, I give myself permission to feel all the feels.  I invite people into my memories and encourage Greg’s name to be shared amongst not only family and friends, but strangers too.  In giving myself permission to grieve outwardly rather than inwardly today, I encourage others who weren’t blessed to have known Greg, to get to know him a little better.

There are many things about my brother that I loved, but perhaps the thing I loved most was the way his smile could light up a room.  I’m beyond blessed to have not only two amazing surviving brothers who carry that same devilish smile, but two sons who carry it proudly as well.  My boys know their Uncle Greg, because in a culture where we are so afraid to talk about death, I have always given myself permission to feel the feels and share the stories to help keep the memory of my brother alive.

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While today is my little brother’s birthday not mine, I’m borrowing his wish to share with you (I’m pretty sure he won’t mind…he still owes me a gift or two): my wish is that you give yourself permission more often, to feel the feels and share the memories that keep your loved ones alive down here…until we meet again.  xo

walking

I was reminded of an important lesson yesterday, while teaching my kids the very same one.  Walking isn’t quitting.

Yesterday was my third time running the Putnam County Fourth Of July 8 Miler.  The event is sponsored by a local road runners club, and billed as: “1 x 8 miles of hills, heat and 1 x 300m on the track.” There is no hiding what can’t be hidden, those of us who have run it before know all about the heat and the hills…but, the third H yesterday sent me (and many others) over the edge – HUMIDITY.  Us runners know that there are few things worse than running in the humidity, I may have mentioned my thoughts on this once or twice…

Yesterday, it was clear around mile 3.5/4, that in order to make it to the finish line upright, there were going to be walk breaks, and lots of them.  No way around it.  I would not have been able to finish that “race” (note: I am using this term loosely, as it was much more of a run than a race) without walking, and drinking.  Walking and drinking all the water I could get my hands on…and dumping any extra water atop my head.

For a long time (read: all of my running career) I had this crazy notion that on some level walking (for me personally) meant giving up.  I ran NYC in November, all 26.2 without a single pause.  Nearly all of my training miles were run the same way, I forced myself to run without a pause, even when I got tired.  At the time it worked (albeit barely) for me, and I stuck it.  Occasionally during training runs when I would allow myself to pause or take a break, I found starting again to be too difficult.  So breaks weren’t allowed.

Looking back, I know that had I allowed myself walk breaks or small pauses, I would certainly have prevented at least some of the more recent injuries I have encountered.  I even tell people today who come to me for advice on how to “start running” that the best way to begin is with a run/walk ratio.  Yet, it really and truly wasn’t until I was giving my 4-year-old son running advice yesterday, that I actually allowed myself to take stock in the message.  Walking is ok.  It doesn’t mean giving up.  It means allowing yourself to recuperate so that you can run, again.

Yesterday, I told Brody and Grayden, that if they needed to walk to make it though, it was ok, more than ok in fact…just as long as they crossed the finish line running 😉

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Run Walk Run – Jeff Galloway

This 17-Time Marathoner Tried Run-Walking a Race. Here’s What Happened