Wednesday, April 15, 2015

#261Fearless

Monday is the 119th Boston Marathon.

I have friends running, some for the first time. They are all women.  

I wonder where we would be if Kathrine Switzer never donned her bib, number 261, and challenged the "men only" rule of the Boston Marathon.

That was 1967 and the race directors tried to pull her off the course. She still finished in 4:20.  

Fearless.

Kathrine Switzer toed the starting line fearless and did what she knew she had to do. We can all learn from that.

As part of being a Skirt Sports Ambassador, I get to run in the #261fearless Virtual Race this Saturday, April 18.

By doing so, we are celebrating everything it means to be a runner but more importantly a woman.  Many incredible women paved the way for us and it is our duty to keep the truth alive and raise our little girls to be strong, independent and fearless women.

I plan to run this one with my my daughter and my son if he wants to.  I will make it fun and not worry about how fast we go or if we take a break to smell the flowers. We will be outside with one another living the life I know we were meant to live.  Happy, healthy, strong and fearless.

Will you be running with me? 

As I said in my last post, I will actually get to meet Kathrine Switzer on Sunday at the Boston Expo. I can't wait to tell all of you about the experience which, I am sure, I will never forget.

So tell me, what does fearless mean to you?

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole


Middletown Half Marathon Recap

The Middletown Half Marathon is the first race in the HMF Triple Challenge. It was also my first race of the year.

BRF#1 and I trained all through the winter, outside, and I felt ready for this race. One of the highlights was that Middletown is where Sarah, aka Professor Badass lives and I was going to spend the day with her.

My last run before the race the temperature hit 40.  The day of my race it was going to be 70. I knew this would bother me, but it is what it is.

The race was at 11:30, so no super early wake up which is nice.  I didn't have to leave my house until 8:00 and I was at Sarah's by 9:30 am.

We were just a few minutes away from the race and we got primo parking.  We got our numbers and shirts and watched the kids races.  It was very cool to see the littles have such a good time. They were given capes instead of shirts and a good bit of the kids raced in them. It was super cute.

Sarah was running the four miler and her friend Snarky Girl, (Sarah's name for her) was running the half and said she would run with me.  Both races started at the same time and I was thrilled to hear that because it meant I would run those first few miles with Sarah.
Sarah and I with a picture of our good friend Chris.

Both, Sarah and Snarky Girl are speedy runners but are coming off an injury. I wanted to maintain a 10:30 pace and they said they were good with that.  I know they both could of gone faster but appreciate the company.

The race start was crowded but spaced out quickly and nicely.  We hit a hill right away.  The beauty of running with locals is they know every inch of the road. They told me what was coming up and I also saw their town with two lovely tour guides.

My first six miles I felt ok but was a little over my goal pace.  Mile seven I hit a 12:07 pace, not good.

Snarky Girl and I are running and chatting when just before mile eight she saw a friend standing on the side of the road and then realized another one of her friends was sitting down.  She was crying and in pain complaining of stomach cramps.  We stayed with her until her husband came to pick her up.  She is ok and we got to see her later that day.

The break of standing was good and bad.  It was nice to have a break but hard to get going again.  Mile eight was 12:09.

Most of mile ten was a dirt road that was very rocky. Little rocks that you felt with every step. I couldn't wait to get off that stretch and feel the ground again.

My pace stayed in the low 11's here until I picked it up in the final mile.  It was hot and the sun was beating down on us.  My only goal was keep going forward. I was happy to have Snarky Girl with me. She kept talking and kept me focused. I was not my normal talkative self and I feel bad about that.

When we turned onto Main Street, it wasn't long until Snarky Girl saw her husband and kids. Her kids ran out to run in with her and I gave them space.  Right before the finish line, I saw Sarah and she snapped a picture.  I was so very happy to stop running.  My official time was 2:32:32 but my Garmin time was 2:27. I was hoping for a 2:25 or better so I guess I was not too far off. And, of course, we stopped for 5 minutes to help a friend.
I am in the purple waving coming into the finish.  SG is right behind with her two cuties.

The post race food was fantastic, and the medal was really nice.  We hung out just a bit to eat and then we went back to Sarah's house for a little get together.

It was nice to just sit and talk with Sarah's friends who were all so very nice.  I had a great time and would do it again.

I love, love this shirt! Which is better than just one love.

BRF#1 also ran a half on Sunday.  She had a fantastic race with a new PR, 2:00:43. There is a sub 2 half marathon in her future for sure. Way to go Jenn!

I have a  pretty exciting weekend coming up. I will be running the #261Fearless Virtual race and also working the Skirt Sports booth at the Boston Marathon Expo.

The virtual race is inspired by Katherine Switzer who was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.  I am thrilled that on Sunday, I will get to meet her at the Skirt Sports booth.

Are you running Boston?  I will be working the expo on Sunday from 9 to 2.  Please come on by and say hello!

So there we go. First race of the year and half marathon number nine complete.  And still, so much cool stuff to come.  Glad you are here with me.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole





Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bye Bye, Bia

I am guessing most of you know by now, that Bia Sport is going out of business.  As of April 1, my watch will no longer work.

I have been with them from the beginning. Backing them on Kickstarter and then patiently waiting for the watch to be delivered to me. Since the day it has arrived, I have used it for every single run.  My Garmin, has not even been charged since it's arrival.

My heart is broken. It was easy to use and tracked my runs, bike rides and open water swims.  It never died on me or froze up. The main reason why I chose a Bia was for the SOS feature.  Thankfully, I never had to use it but felt comfort knowing it was there.

I was worried about the GPS being right, but it was always right on with the girls I ran with who use a Garmin or other product.

And the customer service! These women were wonderful. I had two small issues and they fixed them right away. And lets not forget the messages that would appear on the screen to celebrate each and every workout.









Reading their email made me so sad. I know how hard they worked to get this product up and running. Plenty of hours, sweat and tears. This was their baby.  Just trying to keep it going, people have worked without a pay check. Now that is dedication!

Who really knows what the further holds for Bia? Maybe a bigger company will pick them up.  Either way, I wish nothing but the best for Cheryl Kellond and her team.  And maybe, just maybe, this isn't goodbye.

So, tell me, what is your go to watch?  I plan to take my time so that I get the watch that is right for me. I will mostly be running but there are more tri's in my future, including a second half iron man.  What would you recommend?

Thanks everyone!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In Black and White

When I started running in 2011,  I was clueless.  As we all know now, there is a little bit more to it then just putting on the sneakers that have been sitting in your closet.  I started reading everything I could on the internet and then discovered people actually wrote books about the sport.

The first one I picked up was about a women who went from her couch to a full marathon. It was good but a little too much for me.  I was not even finished with the Couch to 5K plan yet. Plus, she was  a little too serious for me.

Then I found a pretty little yellow book called, Run Like a Mother.  The title alone got my attention but when I stared to read it, I was hooked. This book made me laugh and cry and realize everything I was experiencing was normal.

The authors, Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea made me feel like I was their friend and running buddy with every word.  I started every morning by first, looking at their FaceBook page.  I started to get friendly with some of the other mother runners that posted there. I found a community and a home all about running.

Book number two, Train Like a Mother, came out and it did not disappoint.  Training plans galore and advice with the same witty dialogue that hooked me in the first book.

Along the way, I continued to post on their page and talk with the other women.  After my first ten mile run, they made my comment their status update to start their Pile Of Miles for that weekend.  Some time after that, I was invited to fill out a quick questionnaire and became one of their, Follow This Mother posts.  Man, that just thrilled me.

When they announced their house party tour for 2013,  I immediately signed up to join them in Connecticut.  

This past summer, I joined Michelle and our friend Erica in Cape Cod to help man their booth at the Zooma Expo.

When they announced that a third book was in the works and posted an online survey to fill out, I jumped on it.  It took some time to really put my thoughts together, but I was proud of the finished product that I sent them.  Tales From Another Mother Runner was in the works and along with thousands of other mother runners, I patiently waited.

Well friends, Tales From Another Mother Runner is here and SBS and Dimity are currently on a book tour.  I was able to go to their party in Boston and what a good time it was.

BRF#1 and Connie joined me.  The party was at the Greater Boston Running Company, about two hours away.  Once inside, we found Michelle, Deb, Erica and Jessica.  There was wine and cookies.  The place was packed!  Dimity, SBS and Adrienne Martini all read from the book and in between readings they gave some pretty awesome stuff away.  I did not win anything.

After the readings, I purchased a book and a shirt and then got in line to talk and have them sign my book.  In line I perused the book looking to see if they used anything from the survey I filled out.  There were so many great stories in the book, but I didn't see my name.

I was chatting with Connie and BRF#1 was reading from the book when all of a sudden she says, "Nicole, this is you!  5:23. I know that number."  And there it was, in black and white, page 139 in the, "What's The Hardest You Pushed Yourself in a Race" section.  My words.

Shocked, I opened my book, read it and tears formed in my eyes.  I texted Mr. RWM who wrote back,  "Your 15 minutes."  Ha, whatever, I will take it!


Connie got to Dimity first and then it was my turn. I thanked her for putting me in the book and we talked about tackling Philly again this year. She signed my page!  Yes, my page.  We talked a little about bike training for tri's and she generally was interested in my questions and what I had to say.

When I got to SBS, we also chatted about Philly and how great a race it is. She signed my book and told me she loved my boots.  Then we snapped a few pictures.  My heart was full and my smile was wide.

We were all pretty excited getting in the car for our two hour trek home.  But it was worth it!

The girls checked out the swag bag which included socks, GU and NUUN among other things.

It was a great night!  Thank you SBS and Dimity for leading this tribe of BAMR's!


Have you picked up Tales From Another Mother Runner yet?  Are you getting to one of their party/book signings?  I highly recommend both!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole





Friday, March 6, 2015

Finally! A Plan!

I think, after much back and forth, I finally have my plan for the year.

The last two years, I tackled two big races and while doing that, I planned my training around races.  Nineteen races in 2013 and seventeen in 2014.  I still want to run, but run less races this year.  There are so many good ones, especially local, so organizing this calendar was not easy.  Keeping myself and my family sane was the number one goal.  Not sure how sane this is but it is better than the last two years.

To kick the year off, I am volunteering at The Ocean's Run.  I have run this race the last three years but did not feel as ready this year, even with all the running I have been doing.  I have friends running it, so this gives me an opportunity to cheer them on and still be involved with this cool race.  It also gives me a free entry to any one of TriMom's races. I will most likely use it for one of her triathlons.

Road Races

The Middletown Half Marathon on April 12, will be my first race of the year.  This race is part of the HMF Triple Challenge.  I chose this series for a couple reasons. First, it mixes things up a bit. I have not run in Connecticut yet. That is a new state to cross off my list.  I have only heard good things about HMF and their races.  But secondly, and most important, this race is run in the home town of Sarah, aka, Professor Badass.  I will get to run with her, meet her friends and enjoy some time at her home after.  I am going into this race with a have fun attitude and just enjoy the day. (registered)

The Philadelphia Broad Street Run on May 3. This race just looks like a fantastic time!  I have signed up to run it with The American Cancer Society and Team DetermiNation.  I have worked hard to raise money to secure my spot.  My team is made up of fifty amazing people with all different skill levels.  Some I have met and some I will meet that weekend.  I go back and forth with a goal for this race. Not sure if I will shoot for a PR or not. Either way, it will be a hell of a good time! (registered)

Narrow River 5k, May 9.  I love this race and have had a course PR every year.  This year I am shooting not only for a course PR but an all time 5K PR.  (not registered)

The Mystic Half Marathon, May 31.  This is the second race in the HMF series. We love Mystic and I am hoping we can make this a family weekend so we can enjoy the seaport and the aquarium, as well as the race.  This is the first year for this race and I know nothing about the course.  Not sure what my plan will be for this one, but think I will be in good shape and can come close to my PR. (registered)

The Blessing, July 24.  This is a fantastic ten mile race in my hometown.  I get to run this with all my running buddies and our families are there to cheer us on.  This race tends to be hot and humid but lots of fun.  I will have a goal for this one but want to see how my summer running is going before I put it in writing. (not registered)

Hartford Half Marathon, October 10.  Last race in the HMF series.  I will be training for my "big" race of the year so not sure what my goals for this race will be. Might need to just use it as a training run and add a couple miles. Either way, I should be in pretty good shape leading up to this race and will enjoy it. (registered)

Citizens Bank Pell Bridge Run, October 25. I have run this race since it's first year and plan to be there this year for the fifth time.  This has always been a fun run for me and each year I have improved on that uphill.  Maybe I might even try for a PR this year.  We will see...  (not registered)

The Philadelphia Marathon, November 22. This is my big race of the year.  My finishing time never sat well with me in 2013 and I feel like I can do better.  Like, 24 minutes better.  Still working out the details on how to get that PR and I will share them with you when they are finalized.  (not registered)

Maybe Mr. RWM can help with my training?


Triatlons

This year I am looking at The Crabman and maybe one other triathlon.  Still working that out.  Not registerd for any yet.

Virtual Races

The Kiss My Shamrocks Virtual Race, anytime between March 14-17.  This is one of Andy's races and it will help with our fundraising for Broad Street. There is still time to sign up and you can do so here.  This race has a great medal and some fantastic prizes.  (not registered, but just reminded myself to do so)

Skirt Sports has three virtual races this year that coincide with their IRL races. All fun, all with great swag.  I will be doing all three.

261 Fearless, April 18.  (not registered)
The 13er, June 14. (registered)
The Boobie Run, September 12 (not registered)

You can find info for the Skirt Sport race series here.

As we all know, anything can change, but with smart training I think I can make this happen without any crazy race burnout.

One thing I didn't mention yet.  I may be able to work the Skirt Sport booth at the Boston Marathon. I really want to do this but have to wait and see what Mr. RWM's flight schedule brings for April.  I may have to bring mom in to stay with the kids if he can't be here. I missed it last year and really want to try and make it work for me this year.

So there you have it! Nine to ten real life races which is really all I count. The virutals will be fun or used as training.  I am pretty sure this is doable and look forward to many happy miles.

Is your year planned? What is your "big" race for the year?  Will I see you at any of these races?

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole








Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter, It's Not Me, It's You

It finally hit me.

Winter.

Really!

I have been fine. I have been bundling up, wearing my Yaktrak, smiling and taking pictures and averaging fourteen miles a week.

That is, until this week.


I don't know what happened.  Kids are on vacation from school this week and Mr. RWM is home. We have no real plans and I have no excuse for not running.  I did have a run planned on Monday with BRF#1 but Gracie got sick and wanted me.  That will always come first, but that was MONDAY!  And on Wednesday, it hit 30 degrees. A freaking heat wave here in Rhode Island and I still didn't run!


I have been rethinking my racing schedule for the year too. Mostly, because I just don't feel like I will ever be able to run over ten miles again.  Yeah, I know that isn't true, but that is where I am.  The only race that I am actually registered for is the Philadelphia Broad Street Run on May 3. Luckily, it only goes up to 10.

I have be eyeing a half marathon in April, but if I don't get some decent long runs in, it just won't happen.  Maybe I should just pull the plug and register?

I am sure this rut will be short lived and I know I will come out of it.  I think I am just over, -10 wind chill runs.  Maybe a few good ones on the treadmill will help. Oh wait, is that such a thing? You're right, I still would rather run outside.


What are you giving up?

Ok, lets do this! Lets finish out the winter strong. Who's with me?!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Champagne Saturday

Mr. RWM and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day. I think before kids, we went out to dinner if we weren't flying somewhere. No cards, no flowers, sometimes chocolate but not really as a gift.  It is just who we are.

We certainly love each other and when he is not on a trip, we are usually together.  We like to be with each other.  All. The. Time.

This brings me to New Year's Eve. We have a get together every year and people usually come with food, and champagne.  We get enough champagne that we have some left over after the New Year is rung in.

This year we decided to drink some on the first weekend after New Year's Eve.  Then we decided to do it again the weekend after that.

And then, a third weekend.

I had said that I loved that we did this the last several weeks and that we should keep it going.  Mr. RWM agreed.  We decided to call it Champagne Saturday.  Although, depending on the weekend, we have had it on a Friday and a Sunday and once on a Monday, thank you snow day.  Sometimes we have snacks, sometimes we don't.  Sometimes we watch a movie and sometimes we don't.  You get the picture.

On a run with BRF#1 I told her about Champagne Saturday. I told her how much I loved it but I guess it is silly since we aren't really celebrating anything.  BRF#1 was quick to say that we were celebrating.  We were celebrating the life that we have made together. The beautiful children we have. Our wonderful family and friends.  The love and support that we give each other.

Bam! Those words hit me hard. Yes, we have a lot to celebrate so why not do it every week.

So our plan, 52 weeks of Champagne Saturday.  And this year, Valentines Day happens to fall on a Saturday. So I guess we will celebrate Valentines Day after all.

Tell me, do you celebrate Valentine's Day?  Any traditions that you want to share with us?  

On the running front, man is it cold! I am still getting out there and have had some pretty decent runs.  The eight miles on Tuesday was tough.  BRF#1 was with me and I was very thankful for that.  My four miles yesterday made my face hurt.  And more snow is coming!  It's all good though, I do prefer running in the colder temps which is something I never imagined me saying.
After a cold, tough 8 miler. Maybe we are smiling.  Maybe.

Ice queen pants by Skirt Sports! My new favorite.  Warm and cozy! 

The Downhill in my neighborhood.  I thought I would die going up.  It was very slow but I will admit, this run made me really feel like a BAMR!

What are your favorite running conditions? Are you still getting snow and running outside?  Or have you been hitting the treadmill?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole