Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Week Two of Marathon Training

Hey all!

Well, I completed week two of training and it has some good and one really bad run.

My long run this week was twelve miles.  I have the choice of doing my long runs on Sunday or Monday.  Once the kids are back in school they will all be Monday but right now, most of them are Sunday.  So, instead of taking a step back after running the Blessing on Friday and doing my long run on Monday, I headed out early on Sunday.

As soon as I started running, I knew things were not good. My legs were tried and I considered just stopping at two or three miles.  I didn't.

The first six I was with a friend and the conversation was able to keep my mind occupied but it was still tough moving. At the car, for water and fuel, I went back and fourth with, "Should I stop or go on?"  I went on.

I was moving slow but moving.  BRF#1 was still running but we are training at different goal paces.  But because she is BRF#1 she would run ahead and circle back to see how I was doing.  It gave me something to look forward to.

When I hit mile nine, I looked at my watch and it read, two hours and two minutes. I just felt defeated at that point.  It had taken me longer to get to that point, then some of my ten and eleven mile runs.  I walked and ran the last three miles.  Mostly walked I think.  I finished but can't say I was happy about it. In fact, it is up there in my top three worst runs of all time.

Lesson learned. I needed an extra rest day after such a good race. I won't make that mistake again.

On Tuesday, I took a Total Sculpt class at the gym.  It has been a very long time since I stepped into an exercise class setting.  I enjoyed it but realize I am not in the shape I thought I was.  I have a lot of upper body work to do. I enjoyed the class and will add it in as part of my cross training each week.

Wednesday was my very first, track workout.  I have put some miles in on a track before but not something specific.  My workout called for 4 x 400 with a two mile warm up and two mile cool down.

I met BRF#1 at the track and we did our warm up on the bike path.  I have to say, I am really pleased with how my first track work out went. I might even say I enjoyed it.  I had target paces for each 400.  I only went over once but know I went too fast during my rest interval and that played a part.  It was not an easy workout but one that I had fun doing, I even did my two mile cool down on the track instead of the bike path.  I do think that track workouts will be something I look forward too when they show up in the plan.

My last run of the week, was four easy miles with five strides.  My friend KB met me and did them with me.  We had a nice run and I felt it was another successful workout.  Strides are not my favorite thing, especially because you are supposed to do them at the end on tired legs, but I do see how they will benefit me.

What made this run and day even more fun, was the fact that I was the guest Instagramer for Skirt Sports.  I will tell you more about that in a different blog, but KB got a few fun shots of me running.

This is one of my favorites.
I am already in week three and there is one workout that has me a little worried. Keep your fingers crossed for me and I let you know how it goes...

Sixteen weeks to Philly!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Blessing Recap 2015

Friday was the 44th Blessing of the Fleet, here in Narragansett.  The weekend kicks off with a ten mile road race.  This was my fourth year running it.

Pretty much every one of my friends runs this race and those that don't, are on the course cheering on the runners.  No better way to spend a Friday night than with 3900 of your closest friends.

We have friends that live on the course and they have a Blessing Party every year.  We got to their house about four and that is where my kids and Mr. RWM stayed while I ran.  Their house is also the last water stop on the course.

I had to walk to the start which was just under a mile away.  I picked Mary up on the way and we headed to the start.  My friend KB was waiting for me at the school and then we eventually saw all of our friends.  I wished my speedier friends a good race and then I lined up with Mary, Elaine, KB and her friend Jen.

The gun went off and it took about two minutes to get to the starting mat.  I felt good.  This part of the race is crazy crowded. I was focusing on not losing my friends. KB and her friend are pretty speedy and they were gone before we hit the first half mile.  I am so proud of how far she has come. She finished her first Blessing in a fantastic time of 1:37:31. Way to go KB!

Before we hit the first mile, I started to get a burning pain in my stomach.  I was also struggling to keep up with Mary and Elaine, I am pretty sure because of the pain I was feeling.  Around mile two I stopped for water but that didn't really help.

In mile three I really fell behind the girls but knew I was just not feeling good.  Off to the right, the clouds looked angry. I knew the rain was coming and soon.  We saw lighting and heard thunder.

Running up Knowlesway, a friend of mine said hi and ran with me a bit.  It was nice to see a friendly face.  We hit mile four and the rain started. I was actually happy about it. It cooled me off and about a half mile later, my stomach pain was gone.  Just like that. Gone.  I was finally running happy.

I checked my watch and was pretty sure my goal of 1:50 was still doable with a little work.  Once you turn off 108, we hit some of my favorite roads to run. I knew I could do well here.

Back on S. Pier Road with only about two miles to go, I slowed down to grab a water.  I heard a women yell out to me about following me on FB.  I caught up to her when she slowed to a walk and I asked if she was ok.  We chatted about marathons (she ran Boston) and ran together. She was very nice and I was thrilled to meet her in person.

A few minutes later, a spectator yelled out, "Nice skirt!".  I said thank you and so did the women next to me. We looked at each other and laughed. We were both, not only in skirts, but Skirt Sports skirts. Turns out it was Jess of The Silvah Lining. We had been following each other for a long time and finally, we met, by chance, in person. She was lovely. We talked about our families and running. She is now training for her first marathon, MCM, and I am excited for her.

Before I knew it, I saw my son holding two cups of water and running toward me.  I was so happy to see him.  He told me he was running with me and off we went.  I waved and said hi to all my friends as I ran by but there was no sign of Mr. RWM or Gracie.  That is, until I turned the corner. Mr. RWM was running to catch up to me. I pulled over and gave him a kiss.

As George and I were running, he told me about all the fun he was having at the party.  He was so excited telling me about how fast the winner, (Matt Pelletier), was when he went by the water stop.  He also told me how he got to hand water to BRF#1. He knew that would make me happy.  I was thrilled that he enjoyed handing out water to all the runners even in the rain.

I heard my name and saw my neighbors cheering me on. I see them in this spot every year and I look forward to that. The next thing I knew, I was running next to Beth. It was a surprise to see her knowing what her goal was. We chatted a few seconds but I had to pull away. I knew I could make my goal so George and I took off and headed straight to the finish line. When I stopped my watch, it read, 1:50:00.  My official time is 1:49:59! Goal met and my first really good race of the year!

I turned around to see Beth coming in behind me.  We chatted quickly and then George and I started to walk back up to the party.  At this time, he handed me a ring pop.  This race does not give medals, so that was my medal.  My heart melted.

We ran into KB and her family and I was so happy to see her and hear how awesome her race was.

Back at the party, I put on warm clothes and ate a fantastic cheeseburger. It was so nice to see the last runners rounding the corner for the last half mile and be with so many of my friends. It was a fantastic night and I can't wait until next year.  Well, easy to say that now, haahaaha.

I was disappointed that I did not see BRF#1 at the finish line to congratulate her.  She got herself a shiny new PR of 1:26;18! Way to go my friend!

The volunteers and spectators were once again fantastic.  It is much harder to stand in the rain then run in the rain and I give them a lot of credit for staying out there.  I may be a little partial, but the last water stop was my favorite with the cutest kids around.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Week One

The first week of marathon training is in the books!

Honestly, it flew by.

 Day one started off with a few friends and a five mile run. I did 5.1 to be exact.  I felt great after and was happy and excited to have started training.

As most of you know, I Run 4 Wyatt.  His mom posted picture of him in a Be Kind shirt. I have one and knew I just had to wear it for my first training run. Love that kid and his family. He is doing so well in therapy and is a true rock star!

My second day of running called for four easy miles with four to five strides.  This was going to be the first time I was doing strides.

I made my usual phone calls to the usual suspects, but no one was able to run with me.  I was bummed.  It got in my head a bit.

One of the things I have to get straight with is BRF#1, who I run almost every run with, has different goals than I have for Philly.  Our goal paces are different. Really, not even in the same ball park.  So even if we meet up to run, once our warm up is done, she will be ahead of me.

Now, yes, I know she is not the only person I run with, but I miss her on my runs.  She knows me the best and I think, knows exactly how I feel just by the way I run.  We work well together.  I am excited to be doing this with her, even if we can't do most of our training runs together.

Back to the strides. My alarm went off and I forced myself out of bed.  I got dressed and went right to the beach to do my run. I figured if I was going to be alone, might as well go to where I knew I would be around people.

It was warm, but not very humid.  I wasn't exactly sure when to do my strides. I should of called Michelle and talked to her about it.  I did chat with BRF#1 and she told me what she usually does so that helped a bit.

I ran one mile to warm up and then just thought, "Do one. See how it goes". So I did. It felt pretty good actually.  I caught my breath and did another.

I was enjoying the scenery but honestly, I couldn't wait to be done.  I did complete five strides and four miles exactly in 46:46.  I hit paces of, 7:46, 7:50 and 7:41.  Not sure how long I held it but I think it went well.

Michelle has me running three days a week, with cross training in between.  If I am being honest, there was no cross training this week. I can list all my excuses as to why I didn't even do a push up, but no one likes to hear excuses.  I will do better this week.

My third day running was actually a race.  I ran my fourth Blessing 10 Miler on Friday.  I will do a separate post for the race, but after a rocky start, I finished well and hit my goal.

Week two, kicks off tomorrow with twelve miles.  Organizing my crew as I type.

Hope you are all having a good weekend and great training runs.  Thanks for reading!

Seventeen weeks to Philly.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Marathon Training Begins

Here we go.

I am just a day away from starting marathon training.  Day one is July 19th to be exact.

This time around it is eighteen weeks.  I will have two twenty milers and five eighteen mile runs.  Did you just throw up a little?  I know I did.
Could it be that simple?

As most of you know, my first marathon did not go exactly as planned.  I had nearly perfect training but race day, I found myself not feeling as well and spent some time in porta potties which was as gross and horrible as it sounds.

 I finished that race in 5:23:23.  So, naturally, my goal for my second Philadelphia marathon is sub five hours.

Not just a PR of a few minutes, no, not me.  I am going for 4:59:59 or better.  Honestly, "or better", is what I want.

It's a big goal.

Big enough that I enlisted a little help.

Most of you know Michelle of For the Love of Running.  She is a runner who I look up to.  Someone who inspires me and someone who I trust.  She is a wife, mom of three, and Boston marathoner.  She has followed me and my blog for quite some time now and I know she "gets" me.  She is also a certified running coach.

My goal is big, and, I am pretty sure I never want to do this again.  So, I wanted help.  I needed a coach. Michelle was the first person I thought of.  We met and talked about what I wanted to achieve at Philly and what some of my concerns were. She listened and put a plan together for me that I feel is perfect.

My emotions are all over the place. I go from excited to nervous, happy to scared all in about a minute.  That is to be expected and normal, I get that.  Praying I don't make my family too crazy.

I will keep you all posted along the way with a weekly post.  Coming up on Friday is my fourth Blessing, and technically, my first long run of the plan.  I love this race even though it is tough and the weather is usually miserable.  I have a goal for that race too, but trying to not freak out about it since I missed my goal for the first four races I had this year.  I did say I was moving on from that so this will be the last time I mention it...

So tell me, are you training for a fall race? How is your training going?

Oh, and one more thing. I started running in July of 2011. I do not know the exact date but know that it is my Runiversary this month.  I am not even sure runiversary was even a thing in 2011?  Anyway, I am so proud of what I have accomplished since my first steps and am looking forward to what the next several years have in store for me.  Thanks for being here and continuing to inspire me.  Love all of you!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Our Run with the Iron Cowboy

Monday was an exceptionally fun night for George, myself and a few friends.

Thanks to our running buddy Diane, I learned about the Iron Cowboy.  The Iron Cowboy is James Lawrence.  He is doing 50 Ironman's, in 50 days, in 50 states.  He is raising awareness about childhood obesity and you can learn more about him here.

Rhode Island was day 31 and in the town I live in. In the middle of his marathon portion, he invites the locals to do 5k with him.  Actually, he invites whoever wants to swim, bike and/or run with him at anytime during the day.  The 5k is a great opportunity to meet and run with him and ask questions.  A really great thing to do with your family.

Monday was also going to be the last day Stephanie was in town. She could only run in the morning and I did not want to miss her so I decided to run twice that day.

I met Stephanie, KB, and BRF#1 at the beach for a four mile run. It was a nice morning.  We started off and we got to see some of the Iron Cowboy crew along the wall.  We cheered for them and told them we would be back later to run with them.  They laughed and said something about getting our warm up in early.  I do wish we actually stopped and taken a picture.

After we finished the run, Steph and I grabbed coffee and sat on the wall to watch the Iron Cowboy and crew swim. It was a very cool thing to see.  We stayed for the first half of the swim and then headed home to our families. I couldn't wait to tell George I got to see him swim.  He was pretty excited to run with him later that night.
Me and Steph. My new shirt. A beautiful sunrise.  And if you look closely enough, the IC swimming.

We got to the meeting place for the 5k with plenty of time to spare.  Diane, KB and Elaine and the kids were all joining us.

We snapped a few pictures and then the Iron Cowboy talked to the crowd for a couple minutes.  They took a group picture, (which I am dying to see and have not yet). We also sang happy birthday to his wingman, Casey.  Then we ran.

The kids.

The grown-ups.

The talk.

We stayed pretty close to the IC starting out. People were talking and snapping pictures with him so we did the same.
George and Diane with IC in front.

All good!

Diane, KB, George, myself and  IC in the background.

Mastering the art of running while selfieing. It's a thing. I just made it up.

George and Lucky

George picked it up and KB ended up running with him.  Little Elaine only made it about a half mile so Elaine took her back to the parking lot but her son, Lucky still wanted to run so I stayed with him.

Remember this was not a "real" 5k.  No cops or volunteers with orange flags. We had to pay attention and stay on the right side of the road.  Lucky is new to this and only nine years old.

I had water for George but he was no where to be seen so I shared it with Lucky who was hot and a little red in the face but smiling and talking to me.
Me and Lucky

It was cool at one point when members of our running club, who were having a meeting, came out to cheer us on.

Lucky wanted to walk a little, which was fine.  He was doing so well. He did keep looking behind him, I think for his mom.  Boy was he surprised and happy to see her coming up in front of us.  She waited for KB and George to get to the finish line and then left Little Elaine with them to run back out and run her son in. It was awesome!

I was so happy to see George. He and KB had a fantastic race.  KB did not have her GPS. But based on the time I came in with Lucky and how long they think they were waiting for us, we are pretty sure they ran a sub 30 5K.  He was psyched and I am so happy for him.

We got a few pictures with the Iron Cowboy and the kids got autographs.  George left smiling and has been wearing his new hat everyday since.  So far, he has shared the story of his night with everyone he talks to. Very cool!
George getting his hat signed.

Little Elaine and Lucky getting shirts signed.

KB getting an autograph and a good laugh.

All about the kids.

I was so proud to be able to be a part of this. I love the message that the Iron Cowboy is getting out to the world and I am very proud of where I live.  I hope Iron Cowboy James enjoyed his time in RI because we certainly loved having you here.

Have you seen the Iron Cowboy?  Were you able to join him on a swim, bike or run?

I officially have my marathon plan and will tell you more about that in my next post.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Skirt Sports Thirteener

Skirt Sports puts on a half marathon called the Thirteener.  I really wanted to go to Colorado and be part of this great Skirt Sports weekend, but with two destination races on the calendar already this year, I just couldn't make it work. Luckily, there is a virtual option and this was the second year I was running it.

Our friend Stephanie, who moved to the other side of the world last year, was in town. She ran it with us last year so we waited for her so she could run with us again.  This was going to be the first time we saw her since she moved.  I couldn't wait.

We planned our run for Father's Day morning.  The weather did not look good.

The usual suspects were running, however two of our buddies were doing eight and BRF#1, Stephanie and I were doing the Gansett Half Marathon course.

I left a few minutes early to drop water so we would have it on the course. It started to drizzle when I parked my car.

Everyone was there and pretty much as soon as we started to run, the rain came down.

We sloshed through puddles, but kept moving forward.  This lasted for the first four miles. Then it just stopped.

We hit our water stop and chatted with Bethany and KB before we split up.

The run up to the lighthouse was nice. It stopped raining and it was so great to hear about life in Mali, Africa from Stephanie.
Stopped at the lighthouse/turn around for this picture.

From the light house, we headed back to the water stop.  I dropped off my rain coat and fuel belt. Just three miles to go from that point.  As soon as we started to run, the sky opened up on us.  Big time.

All conversations ended. We just ran.  I laughed at myself when I tried to dodge a puddle. There was no point in that anymore. We were soaked through and through.  We finished at our cars and didn't even take a picture.  We did take a minute to compare Garmin's. I was pretty sure mine was messed up. It read the right miles but said we had done it in 2:35. I was pretty sure it was wrong.  Everyone else said 2:23 and  I was with them the whole time so that is what I am going with.

Not sure what happened to my Garmin but knew it was messed up when it read 13:00 minute pace around mile eight and we were actually running about a 10:15 pace.  It has been fine since...

I got in my car and the rain died down just a bit. I pulled into the beach and snapped a couple pictures then headed home.
So proud to wear this tank.

It was so nice to get in the warm shower.

I love doing this race virtually with all my friends. The swag is great and I can't ask for better company for a run. I do hope to actually get to Colorado at some point to run with all my Skirt Sisters.  I am sure it will be a blast.

The next real and virtual event hosted by Skirt Sports, that you can register for, is the the Boobie Run. You can find all the details here.

Did you run the Thirteener?  

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mystic Half Marathon Recap

I ran the Mystic Half Marathon almost two weeks ago.  Usually, I recap a race within a day or two, but I told myself that it was ok to just forget about this race and move on.

Well, it's not ok.  That is not who I am or what Running While Mommy is all about.  The good, the bad, and the beautiful.  It is all laid out right here.  And you, my loyal readers, deserve a recap.

I signed up for this race as part of the HMF Triple Challenge.  I was most excited about this one.  That is until about a week before the race.  That weekend blew up. I had the race, a going away party, and Gracie's gymnastic showcase.  There was no same day packet pick-up.  That meant I had to do the hour drive, each way, to Mystic, Saturday and Sunday.  For some reason, this really stressed me out.  More so then was really necessary.

Packet pickup was actually very nice. Easy and just enough to look at.  Plus, Mystic Aquarium was there with a few sea creatures and Gracie, who was with me, just loved that!
Gracie having a great time!

Another great race shirt!

Now, I know I have mentioned this before, but BRF#1, really is the Best Running Friend, EVER!  On our Thursday run, when I was telling her that I had no real desire to do this race, she offered to get up at 4 in the morning, pick me up, drive me and run some of the race with me.  Seriously, the best!

I, of course, was more than happy to have her do that, as long as her family was on board. They were.

A little after 5 am, she pulled into my driveway.  When I stepped outside, I knew I was in trouble when I had to take my jacket off.  It was already warm.  I also forgot to buy bananas, which is something I always eat right before a longer race.  I grabbed a pear instead, and we headed to Connecticut.

It was a beautiful morning and easy drive. No traffic that early. We got to the race and parked with plenty of time to spare.

I ate my pear, got to see Beth as she was getting her volunteer assignment and then we hooked up with Sarah and her friends.

We snapped a few pics and wished each other a good race.


Snarky Girl

My goal for this race was 2:25.  Not a PR, but it was what I thought I could do based on my last few races and the heat and hills.  I spoke with the 2:30 pacer about her plan and I decided to start out with them and eventually pull ahead.

When I found my spot in line, I realize I was next to my friend Danielle who came in from New York to run this race.  We had only met in person once before and I was so happy to see a friendly face.

We started chatting right away and started to run together.

Before I knew it, we were a couple miles in and I was asking her if I was keeping her from a goal.  She said no and seemed happy to keep me company. I was thrilled!

I also realized the 2:30 pacers were behind us and I couldn't see them.  Not my plan but going for it.

I told her it was my tenth half marathon and guess what? Danielle was running her fiftieth!  Wow, what an honor to run with her and celebrate that huge accomplishment.

The first half of the race, I ran ok. It got hot fast and there were hills but nothing to crazy.  Right around mile five, I had to stop and use the porta potty. This did not make me happy but I knew it was the right thing to do.

I also noticed that I started to get hungry. Clearly, the banana does make a difference.  I had my first GU about mile six.

Mile seven is where BRF#1 was waiting for me.  I was so happy to see her.  I introduced her to Danielle and the three of us ran together.
The three amigos!

I am not going to lie. I was struggling. Not so much physically, but definitely mentally.  In my head, I was telling BRF#1 that we should just walk to the car and head home.  But, I couldn't bring myself to do it, so onward we went.  I was hungry, hot and tired and my head was just not right.  I had my second GU at mile ten and a little while after that, Danielle gave me some of her Honey Stinger Chews.

In the last couple miles, I hear, "Hi Nicole!"  I look to my right and see Elizabeth Comeau of Zelle running right next to me.  So cool that she recognized me looking my worst.  We chatted a few minutes and I realized she was running with the 2:30 pacers.  Crap, they caught us.

I kind of knew my 2:25 was gone but seeing them really made it a reality.  So now my new goal was just sub 2:30.  And Damnit! Why did I stop at the porta potty at mile five?

No worries, new goal.  Sub 2:30. BRF#1 and Danielle were sure I could do it.  Danielle said she paces a lot of races and I knew I could trust her. I just had to get my head straight and keep moving forward.

BRF#1 jumped out as we were getting closer to the finish.  Danielle said to me, "Let's pick these last people off." And I told her to just go ahead. As I watched her go, I found the last of the strength I had, and ran after her trying to catch up. I saw Sarah cheering me in and then I finally crossed the finish line in 2:29:49.
Could that be a smile?  Maybe. Don't panic, I bought the picture.

Danielle and I
Me, with Sarah and Snarky Girl

Great medal

I was so happy to stop running.  I got my medal and we snapped a few pics.  They had, some nice food at the end of the race but I just grabbed a bagel.  I was so happy to eat.  Lesson learned. I know what works for me before a long run and I need to stick with that, always.

I said goodbye to Danielle.  I can't thank her enough for sticking with me and keeping me going.  She made the race bearable and I am forever grateful.  There is a chance she may run the Philadelphia Marathon and I really hope she does. I would love to run with her again.

BRF#1, myself, Sarah and her friend Snarky Girl who ran with me at the Middletown Half, headed over to the diner for breakfast.  We had a really nice time and it seems mimosas are becoming a tradition with this crew.  Before I knew it, I was home.

This was my fourth race this year.  Each race I had a goal and missed it.  But thinking about it, I have really put a lot of pressure on myself this year and I think that is hurting me. My main goal this year is the Philadelphia Marathon and that is where all my energy should be going.  Not that I don't want to do well. I do. And every time I run, that is a step closer to my goal for Philly. But sometimes, I just have to run because that is what I want to do, not what I have to do.  I will be honest and tell you, I have taken a little step back the last couple weeks.  Marathon training will be starting mid July and it is better to start that with a clear head and full heart and not burnt out.  I am still getting miles in and still maintaining a ten mile long run, but just trying to have a little more fun and going when I want to.

I love to run. I love to be social when I run. I do like to participate in races.  I want to do this a long as my body will let me. But it's important to take a step back and just breathe.

I do have The Blessing in July. I love this race. My town, my streets. I plan to run this race and enjoy every minute but on my own terms.

I am glad I finally wrote this post because we all have bad races. What I am learning is that every race, every run, every step needs to be celebrated because I am blessed that I get to do this. I get to wake up every morning and enjoy life, my family, my friends and each and every day that God has given me.  And for that, I am thankful.
I do love this shirt!

The first six months of this year are flying by but there are still some great things coming up on my schedule.  But starting today, no more pressure on myself for silly things.  My main goal for this year is a sub 5 hour marathon and every step I take, starting today, is with that in mind.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole