Thursday, January 7, 2016

Goals, Sort Of

It's a new year.

I have been reading blogs with 2015 recaps and 2016 goals.  I have been on the fence about what I want to write about.  BTW, you all kicked butt last year!

A yearly recap sounds nice but I would write a few words and then just link you back to the original post. Not that I don't think you are interested. I know you are, that is why you are reading right now.  So maybe just a few links to the highlights....

I had one goal for 2015. Run a sub five hour marathon.  I registered for Philly, hired a coach, got a fantastic plan and I actually pulled it off.  I am very proud of that race and smile every time I think about it.
And that, pretty much, covers 2015.

Goals are good to have. Most of you reading this have a goal for 2016 already. I am struggling with that right now.  If you run with me, and know how much I ramble, then you have heard me talk about a bunch of different things that I want to do this year. They range from a 28 minute 5K to an ultra marathon.  All things I will do eventually, but what will it be this year?

I don't know.  And I am ok with that.

I am registered for a half marathon in March. That will keep me motivated and in shape during the long, cold winter months. Not sure if I will go for a PR there. That will depend on the quality of training I pull off this winter.

I am also signed up for the Philadelphia Broad Street Run, May 1.  I absolutely loved this race last year and am really looking forward to this one again. I am fundraising as part of Team Last. They are just a fabulous group of people and I can't wait to see them all again. This race I will run to have fun, but I am looking for a course PR for this one. I know I could have run better last year and now that I am familiar with the race, I think I can do that too.

The Narrow River 5K is the week after Broad Street. This is the race that brought me to tears last year.  It is not an easy course and if I PR at Broad Street, I am guessing my legs will still be tired but I am still aiming for a Sub 30 there.  I will just do my best and try not to cry...

After that I have nothing planned.  And again, I am ok with that. Things like Marine Corps, Vermont, and the RI Six Hour have been talked about during the runs with the girls.  BRF#1 is running Boston this year and we are all really excited for her. What will I actually do is still on the table and I will let you know as soon as I figure it out.

Till then, I would love to hear about your 2016 goals? Maybe you will inspire me to try something new.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Here are a few highlights from 2015. Thanks for joining me for another year!

Speaks for itself.
These ladies! All of them inspire me.

Yes, I am quoted in Tales From Another Mother Runner!

I think I can say, I got it!


My I Run 4 buddy Wyatt. He is with me every step I take.

Me and BRF#3 before the Narrow River sufferfest.

Because, fun!

Professor Badass

Where we run. #soblessed

The Blessing

My best boy!

Because, fun outfit!

So much rain!

A little bike ride. 
Our wall.

The Iron Cowboy!

Be kind!

Love this one!

Run Philly Gang

Didn't scare us!


Our tradition. Mimosa's after races.

Happy finishers!

The very incredible Emily

My savior.
Before the Newport Bridge Run

Dinner the night before Philly


Eight marathons between the five of us.

Yeah, that.

Two thumbs up!

Best way to start the morning!

Final total, 1054.7

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Buttonwoods 5K Recap

When I signed up for the Buttonwoods 5K, it seemed like good idea at the time.

The race was scheduled for 10 am on New Years Day. We have a party the night before, which is always a good time and this year did not disappoint.  In fact, I wasn't in bed till after two. I had three glasses of champagne at midnight. My alarm was set for 7:30.
Happy New Year from me and Mr. RWM!

I woke up in a fog.  I got dressed and headed down for coffee.  Food, ugh, I just did not want to eat.

I decided to take breakfast with me and headed out to meet BRF#1 who was, thankfully, doing the driving.

Getting to Warwick City Park was easy. We parked, grabbed our numbers and shirts and went back to the warm car for awhile.
I love this shirt. It is a short sleeved T-shirt and so very comfy cozy.
BRF#1 wanted to do two warm-up miles. I wanted to go back to bed.

I sucked it up and ran one mile with her. At that point, I felt like I could eat and once I did, the shakes went away.

There were 101 runners. I do love a nice, small race.  I had no idea what the course was like and was pleasantly surprised to learn it was all on a bike path.  It was a loop and well marked, with rolling hills.

I had no real goal for this race. Basically, I felt horrible and thought finish upright would be a big accomplishment.  That became my A and only goal.

We lined up, got a few instructions and the horn went off.

My first thought was take it easy and just get comfortable.  I also thought, that should always be how I start a race.

I was surprised when it didn't take long to feel comfortable and when I looked at my watch, I was running a 9:45 pace.  I finished the mile in 9:39.

The second mile was the toughest part of the course. This was where most of the rolling hills were. We just kept going up and down.  I surprised myself again when I passed two people on two different hills. I may have smiled when I did that.  Mile two, 10:01.

Mile three is where I started to confuse myself with math. Could I sub 30 this race? What does this mile need to be?  I was sure it had to be under 10:00, duh, so that is what I aimed for.  I ran that third mile in 9:27.
Smiling and two thumbs up! Who would have guessed!

With just point one mile to go, I took off and passed a man who I basically followed the whole race. I saw BRF#1 cheering me on and then Mike who said something along the lines of you will sub 30.  I saw the clock read 29:56 and crossed the line.  My official time was 29:57 and I could not be happier.  It's not a PR but it is one of my best 5k's of all time.

BRF#1 ran a cool down mile and I decided to just walk and check out the snacks.  I placed 6/9 in my AG and BRF#1 placed third with a time of 25:21.  Our friend Mike place 4/12 with a time of 21:41. I say it was a good day for everyone!
Me and of course, BRF#1

And my buddy Mike!

Overall, I loved the course. It was run well and I would do it again. I will have to give it some careful consideration as our yearly New Years Eve party gets bigger, however, this may have to be a new tradition.

How I went from waking up feeling like crap to having a pretty decent race, is a mystery to me.  Too much champagne and not enough sleep should have done me in.  Hmmm... Maybe I need more champagne in my life?

Hope your new year is off to a great start!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nooseneck 18K Recap

I am not really sure what the history of the Nooseneck 18K is.  All I know is it's about seven years old and organized by members of my running group, The Narragansett Running Association. NRA for short.  It also is full of crazy hills that go on for 11.18 miles.

When you hear stories from this race, it does not sound fun.  In fact, I never thought twice about it.  That is, until this year.

BRF#1 and BRF#2 were planning on doing it. They convinced me that it would be fun.  Of course when we are together, we always have fun so what the heck. I'll do it!

The race is held the day after Christmas at 1pm.  You pay $10, which is a donation that becomes prize money and you can participate in a gift exchange if you want also.

There were 100 people running and we knew we would be very close to coming in last.  We asked if we could start about ten minutes early and got the OK.  It just gave us a little piece of mind that we would not be out there at midnight still running and more time at the pub and party after the race.

We walked to the start, hit our Garmin's at the exact same time, and were on our way down a very big hill. The girls informed me that we had to come back up this hill to finish.  Awesome...

The weather was really great for this time of year and I was in a skirt with a short sleeve shirt and light jacket. I knew pretty early on, I would not be needing the jacket for too long.

About a mile in, we saw a man and women with shot guns heading into the woods to go hunting.  They asked if there were more runners coming and we gave the the scoop. That didn't scare me at all... Should have worn neon.

About fifteen minutes after we started running, the lead man passed us. It was Matt Pelletier who would continue to lead and finish in 59:09.

BRF#2 joked with everyone who passed us saying we were in an elite wave.  It was cool to see the leaders for that split second.
Before the start.

We knew mile five was the toughest part of the race. It was up hill a little more than half a mile, on dirt, rocks, roots, basically trail. Not my favorite.

Before we got to that hill, one of us said, "Remember, this is fun!", so I sang, "The hills are alive with the sound of music!"  Of course, that is the only part I know but said we would have to sing it at the top.
Mastering the art of Selfie While Running.

BRF#2 and I ran and walked a bit. BRF#1 ran up the whole way but waited for us at the top.  We sang in our best voices and twirled our running skirts just like Julie Andrews did in the movie.  I wish I had it on video.
Going up...

And up...

Whew, half way!

Once up that hill, it flattened out a bit and it was the easiest part of the race.  People were still coming up behind us and we chatted with each one until they moved on.  Most of the people we knew and that is always nice.

Coming out of the loop and back to the road we started on, I braced myself for the uphill finish.  I have to say, I was tired and sorta felt good in a I know I can finish but when will this misery be over kind of way.  I did feel a little bad because BRF#1 could have been finished already, but we decided to run it together, for fun and that is exactly what we did.

We finished together in 2:06:40. That is an 11:19 pace and we weren't last. I am pretty happy with my splits. You can see where the hills were and the one water stop.

Once back to the car, we freshened up a bit and headed into the pub for some food and a couple drinks.  My Yankee Swap gift is something I will never use and may bring it back next year.

This was one of the toughest races I have ever run but honestly, the girls and I had fun and I am pretty sure I would run anywhere with them.  The next couple days, my legs hurt like hell. Felt like I ran another marathon. Took a few days off while we visited my family in New Jersey.

It was a great way to end the year, although I will get one more run in.  I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year! I look forward to hearing what you have planned for 2016. I am still working on my goals but will share them once I get it all figured out.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Legs, Mind, Heart

November 22, 2015.  Marathon number two. Something I said I would never do again, after I finished the first one.  We should all be careful what we say.

Once I decided to run a second one, I knew, without question, it would be Philadelphia again.  It's a great race. Nice expo, wonderful course and fantastic spectators and support.

This time, I had a goal. A big one.  While out on a couple of runs with BRF#1, we talked about hiring a coach and there was only one clear choice. We called Michelle of For the Love of Running.  She is an amazing athlete, mom who gets it, and a friend.

The training plan scared me.  Is it supposed too? Can't really answer that, but just went with what she thought was best for me. She knew me and took the time to hear me out about what I wanted to get out of this marathon.  My goal was a sub five hour marathon. The time to beat was 5:23:10.  You can do the math. That is a huge PR.

Training for the most part went well.  I struggled the most with the tempos runs. Speed work was something I have never done before. I enjoyed the track workouts better than I thought I would and the longs run, well they were really long and there was a lot of them.  Four eighteen milers and two twenty, not counting the seventeens, sixteens, well you get it.

I had moments where I thought my goal was going to be impossible. When October came around, things really started to fall into place. I was hitting my goal pace for most of my runs and I started to get more excited that I would not only reach my goal, but kill it.

My last eighteen miler, I finished in 3:15. I couldn't let that go. I wanted to repeat that on race day. I had a pace band that would get me to a 4:49 finish.

The week leading up to the race, I couldn't sleep. At all. I was a walking zombie just getting through the day.  I just wanted to get there and start running.  I couldn't wait anymore.

I ran my two mile shake out run the morning before we left.  My legs were heavy.  It wasn't a horrible run, but it wasn't a great one either. TMI coming up for all of you Running While Daddies.  My period was late.  And the week leading up to it, my legs always feel that way. I usually have my worst runs that week.  I knew this couldn't be good.

Getting to Philadelphia was slow, but we arrived at the same time as BRF#1 and Sarah and her crew.  It was so great to see them. We pretty much dropped off our bags and headed to the expo.  We got there later than I would have liked. Not much left but still excited to get our shirts and bibs.

From there we enjoyed a great dinner at the Marathon Grill.  Andy came down to eat with us and that was such a thrill for me.  I was so happy to see him!

I was in bed by 8:30 but found it very hard to fall asleep.  At 2 AM, I woke up with a splitting headache and nausea.  I never fell back to sleep.

I was out of bed at 4:45, made my breakfast which I forced down and had a cup of coffee and some water.  Got dressed and grabbed my stuff. I was down in the lobby earlier then the girls.  I was panicking waiting for them. When they finally arrived, we walked out to find a super long line to get through security.  It was cold too but I knew it would be perfect running weather.

Once through security, I walked as close to my corral as possible and got in line for the potties there.  The race started a few minutes late due to a car accident somewhere on the course. The waiting was killing me.

I got as close to the front of my corral as I could.  I was behind the five hour pacer. I wanted to be in front of him but could not get up there. It was packed! I started to worry about that.

The National Anthem was beautiful and I cried.  This would not be the last time I cried that day.

As each corral moved up, it seemed the five hour pacers were getting further ahead of me.  I was really stressed.

Finally, at 7:39, I crossed the starting line.  I easily made my way to the five hour pace group but was running faster than I should be.  I heard one woman say she wanted a 4:59:59.  The pacer said, "You got it. Stick with me."  I wanted better than that.

I eventually passed him but he was close.  My head and stomach was getting worse with every step.  I was in trouble.

I got rid of my throwaway sweatshirt but the wind made it so I wanted to keep my gloves.  I knew I was going to see my friend Diane at mile 6 or so. I was going over in my head how I would tell her I was stopping and could she help me back to my hotel. Yeah, it was that bad.

However, when I saw her, I just started crying. Crying so hard, I found it hard to form my words. She just hugged me. I said my legs are so heavy and I feel sick. She hugged me some more and said I could do it.  At that point the five hour pace group passed us. I think I said, I have to catch that guy. Thanked her, got one more hug and took off.

Approaching mile seven, I saw my friend Therese running toward me. She had come down to cheer on all the Sub 30 members.  She started to run next to me and asked how I was. I was not good. I was crying again. I remember her saying, "No crying until the finish line."  Yeah, that was not happening!

Before I knew it, she was still with me after a mile. We were talking, not sure what about really. I know at one point I was saying, "All this hard work and I won't even finish."  She just kept running next to me.  She even grabbed water for me at the aide stations!

I remember saying, I can't do this hill and we started to walk but then the five hour pace group passed us. I was determined to catch him again.  At some point, my stomach started to feel better.  My goal for the half was 2:22/24. It was slipping away.

My friend Therese stayed with me until mile thirteen. Mile thirteen! She said she came prepared to run but I am pretty sure she did not expect to run that much.  I did not see Mr. RWM and the kids at mile thirteen and that teared me up again. Turns out they got hung up at security too. Mr. RWM had extra fuel for me, luckily, so did Therese.  We hugged and I said thank you and went on my way.

Therese snapped this in mile twelve. Finally feeling better and I even managed to smile.
A much needed hug from fellow Subber, D-Nation/LAST runner and friend, Linda.

I hit mile thirteen at 2:29:28. Missed my goal.

At this point, I had to reevaluate. What was possible and how did I feel?  I was with the five hour pace group. I decided to run with them for awhile.  It was a pace that I could run and still think and figure things out.  It was a decent group, but I kept to myself. If you know me, you know how strange that is.

Between miles eighteen and nineteen, there was a big water stop. It was a mess. Empty cups and Boom packs all over the place. The ground was gross and sticky. I pulled over too early to get water and got hung up trying to move forward. Once I got my water, the pace group was way ahead of me.  I panicked and started to sprint for them. I could not let them get away.  I caught them and realized how fast I had run. Friends, it was a 9:47 pace.  I knew I had more in me and I could still reach my goal.  I had to reevaluate again. I knew the pace group would probably come in sub five but not by much.  I wanted more than 4:59:59.

I stayed with them for awhile. I didn't want to use too much too soon and my legs were telling me they were done. But my heart wasn't.

The week leading up to the marathon, Michelle sent us motivation each day. I tried to remember each message and picture she sent. I thought about my kids and family and how much it would kill me if I let them down. They never once said I couldn't do it even when they were missing me. I thought about my friends, who were with me every step of the way. They all had a wonderful running year. I trained with them. There was no reason why I shouldn't reach my goal. I thought about Wyatt, my I Run 4 Buddy. I could not let him down. I had to keep moving forward and make him proud. I wanted to be able to send him a medal and say, yes,we did it together.

I can't remember if it was before or after mile twenty one, but the pace leader said we were forty seconds ahead of schedule. For whatever reason, that was my sign.  I made the decision to leave the group and not look back.

I ran.

I ran with my heart.

I tried not to listen to my legs. I ran for Michelle, who trained me to run on tired legs.  I ran for my kids and Mr. RWM, who supported me every single day always saying I could "win" it.  I ran for all my running buddies who encouraged me and never once let me down. I certainly wasn't going to let them down. I ran for Wyatt and thought of the picture of him sitting in his wheelchair at the bottom of the Rocky steps pointing up.  Nothing is impossible, we can do this!

In mile twenty five, Therese was running toward me again! I was so thrilled to see her. She said I was doing great and almost there. She gave me info on some of the other Sub 30 members who were finished or still running. Then she said, "Look how many people you are passing!"  There was no stopping me.

The people at the finish were loud and I loved it! Bon Jovi was blasting through the speakers on the course. I could see the finish and I felt like I was flying. I saw my family and crossed the finish line in 4:57:05.  My friends, that is a PR of 26:05.

My favorite picture of the day. My kids cheering me into the finish. Mr. RWM didn't even realize the kids were in the picture until we looked that night. Makes my heart melt.

My incredible family.

BRF#1 and me at the finish.

I know I cried tears of joy. My family was yelling at me from the fence. I got my medal. Oh man, the medal! It is by far, the best medal I have ever gotten and I am not person who is bling crazy.  This medal beats all medals.  I got my space blanket. I got cold real quick. I got some food and heard my name and saw BRF#1.  She finished within a minute of her PR which she got just four weeks ago in Hartford. Amazing.

Yes, it really rings.

Leaving the finish shoot, Stephanie from Sub 30 grabbed me. She was the one who told me my official time and guess what, I cried again.

Finally, I was reunited with my family. Hugs and tears all around. Well, tears just from me.  The rest of the day was fantastic. I felt better than I ever dreamed. My parents took the kids for an overnight and Mr. RWM and I got to spend some good, quality time with our friends, talking and laughing until I passed out that night at 7:30, watching the Wizard of Oz.

The Sub 30 crew celebrating.

Now that I had some time to think, I am certain that I sabotaged my own race with being so nervous. I was on edge for a week. I didn't sleep for a week. I stressed over every detail and made myself sick. I wish I had better control over that. It has never happened before.  Having said that, all of my training came together at the end. I never dreamed that I could run that fast after twenty miles. The strength and determination is hard to explain. My mind went somewhere else. I forgot about my legs. My heart took over. I finished the last mile with a 9:23 pace.

I am looking forward to getting back to my runs with my friends just because we want to. I know we will all pick a new goal eventually and get back to training but for now, nice and easy we go.  I started out the year thinking I would hit 750 miles. I am at 967.6. I think my last goal of the year will be 1000 miles.  I am sure I can do it.

Marathon number one and two. Both awesome!

Thank you, Kim!

Thanks for being with me on this crazy running journey. I don't know where we are going next, but it is sure to be a good time wherever it is.

Run Strong, Think Big!  And have a wonderful Thanksgiving! ~ Nicole