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

Saturday, May 9, 2015


I don't want to write this post.

I don't want to relive the disappointment.

In fact, I wanted to call this post, 5K's Suck, but I just can't be that negative.

I am not one who is usually hard on herself, but today put me over the edge.

The Narrow River 5K is a local race, just a few miles away from where I live.  Part of this course I run daily.

This was my fourth year running.  Every year, I have had a course PR, but a sub 30 has alluded me at this race every year.

2012, 35:04

2013, 31:32

2014, 30:13

I was sure this was my year.  I woke up feeling good, but knew my allergies and asthma have been bothering me.  I got to the race early enough to do a 1.5 mile warm up.  I had about fifteen minutes before the race started and I still felt good.

My very good friend KB was running today.  I was happy to be with her but she has really improved on her running the last year and I knew she would be faster than me.  We wished each other well and the horn blew.
Right before the start.

I started out a little fast but was able to get it under control.  The weather was nice too. Not overly warm and cloudy. Nice to not have the sun beating down on me.  First mile, 9:29.

The second mile is where you hit the first hill but it's not really that bad. They also make you cross the street to the other side and there is a water stop. I didn't really need it but grabbed a cup and took a couple sips.  I felt like I was running well, but looked at my watch and saw a 10:xx so I sped up but it was too late. Second mile, 10:05.

I was sure I could still save this race.  I was running strong. There is a good down hill in the third mile that leads to an uphill but not a long one.  There was a water stop and I started fighting in my head about whether or not I need a sip.  Looking back, I didn't but I grabbed a cup, had one sip and tossed it.

Soon, I could see the finish.  I picked it up. when the clock started to come into sight, I saw a two but couldn't make out if it was attached to a 28 or 29 so I just ran.

As I got closer, I saw 29:xx and ran as fast as I could.  I finally made out the full clock and it said 29:56.  I literally started yelling, out loud, "Please, don't change!  "Please, don't change!"  It did.  My official time is 30:04. I crossed the finish line in tears. Gracie came out to run me in and I didn't even really notice.  I was so focused on the damn clock.  I missed a small opportunity to run with my girl.

My family and friends were at the finish.  My parents and kids came over to congratulate me, but I just started to cry more.  Mom hugged me till I calmed down.  It was so good that she was there.
How can I not be happy with these two cuties!

Fifth in my AG and twelfth female overall.

I have so many thoughts going through my head. So many emotions.   My last three races did not go as planed. But what I keep coming back to is the Skirt Sports new campaign, #REALwomenmove.  As an ambassador, I am supposed to blog about it but wasn't sure where to take it.  It became clear to me that this is the perfect blog post to mention it.  I am not the perfect size. I am not super fast. Sometimes I am hard on myself but I am real.  What you see is what you get.

This campaign is to celebrate all types of women no matter their age, size or speed.  Moms and grandmas.  Wives, daughters and grand-daughters.  Aunts and sisters.  Women who get out there and get it done and smile while doing it.

Here is the thing. I missed my goal.  No matter how much I go back and retrace every step, I still missed it and cannot change today.  But look at my track record. I have had a course PR at this race for four years in a row.  My 5K PR is 29:42.  I know it can be done, but for this race, it will have to be next year.

It's ok to be disappointed.  Cry, yell and throw things if you have to, but when you are done crying, pick yourself up and get back to it.  It's good to have goals and sometimes we reach them and sometimes it just takes a little more time, but we do eventually reach them.  Never, ever give up!

Be proud of you who are. Celebrate your accomplishments and learn from your mistakes.  Make every step count and enjoy your life.  Lift up your friends. Motivate and encourage them.  See, you never know who you are inspiring.

KB had a fantastic race. She placed third female overall and third in her age group. Tyra, another friend who raced today, place second female overall and second in her age group. I am so happy for both of them.  When I got home, I got a text from KB that brought me to tears, but her words touched me so that I could not let this one race ruin my day. She wrote:

"Nicole, I know you are dissapointed today but in the wake of my feeling great about my run today, you need to know that first and foremost I acknowledge you as my inspiration for even running at all.  Your journey as a runner (from couch to marathon) is truly amazing and I admire you so much! I think of you and your positive attitude and support of your friends every time I get out there and push myself.  You made me realize it is possible. You may not have beat 30 at this race, but you are my #1 inspiration all the time."

I had a similar message from Tyra.

"I thought of you all day! I completely get why you were upset.  I would have been exactly the same way.  I want you to know how amazing I think you are in all that you have accomplished and I was telling all my friends today at the race.  To do the half ironman and not even really being able to swim just blows me away. Your perseverance is over the top!"

Tyra missed her goal today too, so we have a date for next year to kick the you know what of the Narrow River 5K!

I have surrounded myself with some pretty amazing women and runners.  They are all a true example of #REALwomenmove and I learn from them every day.

Bottom line, I had a goal, I raced, I did my best and missed it.  I won't quit, I will just get better.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

P.S. How can you be involve in the #REALwomenmove campaign?  Post photos of you and your friends being active and include #REALwomenmove and #SkirtSports.  For every 5,000 hashtages, Skirt Sports will donate a Get Started Scholarship to a women who exhibits the traits I mentioned above.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Broad Street, Part Two

The alarm went off at five.  I had slept well and woke up excited.  I made coffee, got dressed and packed food to go because I found that I really couldn't eat yet.  Thankfully, one of our teammates, Stephanie, made goodie bags for those us that came in on Friday.  She included, fruit, water, homemade granola and an itinerary for our weekend.  This was a huge help and I can't thank her enough!

Therese, my roomie, and I were ready and headed down to the lobby to meet our group.  The subway was free for everyone that morning.  Runners were everywhere, but I got a seat.  From our stop, we only had a few blocks to get to the starting line and our Determination tent.  The tent was great! Our own porta potties and food and our own gear check. It was really nice to have all that, especially when you are at a race with 40,000 runners.
See how close our tent is to the starting line. Really nice!
Random fun teammates.

Co-Captain, Larry!

We had an hour before race time.  Mostly we hung around and chatted and snapped pictures.  About 7:30, a teammate and I got in line to use the porta potty. It was a long line.  Someone told us that there were real bathrooms in the church across the street so we headed there. I thought we had fifteen minutes until our team picture.  Remember the itinerary that was in my bag? Yeah, well, I should have read it.  Picture was at 7:30 and we missed it!  We got there in time for the D-Nation photo but I really am upset that I am not in the LAST photo.  I am currently looking for a photo shop expert...
Oh, where are Linda and Nicole. They are in a church, you know,  praying.

The next decision I made, I go back an forth with wondering if it was the right one.  See, our D-Nation tent was at the starting line. I was in the last wave.  I could of stayed in our tent till my wave was approaching and then just hopped in and ran.  A few of my teammates decided to line up and I followed them.  I am pretty sure the walk was a quarter mile.  We found a nice spot and really had a good time waiting for our time to run.  That BTW was about 30 minutes.
My starting line crew. So happy to get to know each of them.

Crazy crowded start line.

Can't even see the start of the race

None of them ran at my pace. Once we started to run, I was alone.  Fifty two teammates and not a one of them around me.  So, I just ran and hoped that I would eventually run into someone I knew.

It was a pretty crowded start. I stayed to the left pretty much the whole way.  I also needed to use the bathroom before I finished the first mile, but I did not stop because they all had lines.  It was a last minute decision but I was hoping to get close to my PR, if not a new one. That is 1:45.

The crowds that came out to cheer us on were fantastic.  The energy of this race just lifted you up.  In mile two, I high-fived a kid and a man behind me did the same. He came up next to me and was all smiles and just so happy to be there.  We started chatting. He had not been a runner very long and this was only the second time he was running ten miles.  He told me he ran the first ten after only three hours sleep in preparation for the fight party (Mayweather vs. Pacquiao) he was having the night before Broad Street.  I thought that was a good idea actually.

His name was Maurice. We talked about our families and why we were running. We talked about TV and even Bill Cosby.  He was local and was looking forward to seeing his family a few miles away.  We were together for two miles and then I lost him at a water stop.  Insert sad face here.

Somewhere around mile four, kids from Shriners Hospital were on the sidewalk cheering on the runners.  My I Run 4 buddy, Wyatt, has spent a lot of time there.  In fact, he was just there a week before the race.  This just warmed my heart because I knew he was with me.

I ran strong until mile five but I still really needed to find a bathroom.  Finally at 5.6 miles, I see some without a line.  I have to cross the street which could of gotten me trampled but I was getting desperate.  Looking at my watch at this time, I knew a PR was pretty much gone and that I might not even come close.

Once I realized that, I embraced it.  I high-fived every kid and adult that had their hand out. I read every single sign I passed, and boy, some of you were very creative.  I thanked every volunteer and police officer for being there and I said good job to every person I passed.  Yeah, I actually passed people.

In mile eight I began to look around for any familiar face.  I was so surprised that not one of my teammates was near me.  To be fair, it was a super crowded race but I was bumming.  Here are some random photos of my team running.
Linda killed it in 1:16:49. And this is after running Boston two weeks ago!

Andy and Laurie just having a damn good time!

Lindsay because she is just too cute!

And this! I saw this sign and really wish now I stopped to take a pic.

Because, yes, this is fun!

Just too much fun in this picture!

In mile nine, I passed the neighborhoods that my parents grew up in.  The homes my grandparents lived in until they died.  Just after that, if I made a right, I could of run to my old neighborhood and the house I spent the first twelve years of my life.  Memories just came flooding into my head and my emotions just exploded. I got teary but was happy.  I also had more energy than I usually have after a long race. I decided to pick it up and run as fast as I could for the last mile.  However, to my disappointment, that did not last long.  People were everywhere, I started to zig and zag but felt like I wan't getting anywhere.  I had to slow down to get around people and knew that this might be one of my slowest miles.

I got frazzled.  I took a deep breath and just moved with the traffic.  I entered the Navy yard and knew I just had .25 to go.  Someone yelled to look up because there was a photographer up there. We all cheered and raised our hands in the air.
Can you see me? I am in the blue with my arms up.

I made my way over to the left and found I could run better there and then I saw my teammates yelling for me and cheering me on.  I was thrilled to finally see familiar faces.  There was a break and I sprinted to the finish.

I crossed the finish line, walked a few feet and then BAM! Dead stop. I am not even kidding. We were stopped and not moving. I chatted with the girl who was next to me and she said water is up ahead, then food and then medal.  But there was no real line.  It was crazy.

Right before the dead stop. Kind of looks like a smile.  Could be pain. Can't really be sure.

Dead stop at the finish. This is in front of me.

This is behind me.

I took my phone out for pictures and it was ringing.  It was my dad asking where I was. He had come down to cheer me on as a surprise but he missed me!  This is definitely a race that needs planning for family and friends.  I told him where I was and where I thought I was going and he started his way to meet me. Then a text message came in from Mr. RWM with a congrats on my 1:55:09 finish.  Way off the time I thought I could do it in, but will know what to expect next time and think I can do better.

Finally I got my bottle of water and then we were shuffled over to where the food bags were. I chose a line, yes, finally a real line, and made my way into the tent to find that my line has run out of bags.  Really loud screams in my head.  They were very good about it and a volunteer jumped over tables and came back with food bags for us.  There was a lot of stuff in there too. They did a good job with that.

From there it was chaos trying to find where to get your medal. I worked my way into a group of runners to find a tiny volunteer in the middle handing out medals.  I grabbed one, walked a few steps and found a teammate.  She was waiting for one of our friends and I waited with her.  Eventually we started towards our D-Nation tent.

The finish area was huge and apparently, I missed a bunch of stuff.  Free ice cream, sunglasses and coffee to name a few.

Once we got to the tent, I was able to give my dad a better idea of where I was.  I congratulated a bunch of our teammates, grabbed my checked bag and then a cheesesteak.
No one does finish line food like Philly. Yum!

The food in our tent was fantastic. A huge bonus for being part of the team.
Just a bunch of awesome smiles here.

With Stephanie who I will now refer to as Julie from the Love Boat.  Best cruise director ever!

I chatted with my dad, snapped a few pictures and then we started the mile walk to the subway.  It was really hot by then too.  The subway was still free.  No seats on the train but happy to be on it.  Hundreds of runners, packed like sardines in a subway car.  Close your eyes. Can you smell it?  Yeah, not pretty at all!

Once back in the room, I showered and finished packing.  Therese and I left together and I said good bye to the friends that were in the lobby and made my way to the train station.
One last selfie we before we head out.

I grabbed lunch at the train station and when I was eating I saw Sherri, a teammate, and yelled out her name.  We were able to have our lunch together before we both had to leave.  It was a very nice way to spend my last hour in Philadelphia.

The train ride home was just as peaceful as the ride coming in. I was so happy to see Mr. RWM and the kids.  They were very happy that I was home.

A little gift from Andy to each team member.

Over the next several days, tons of pictures started popping up from the race. So many were of my teammates running together.  It started to bum me out a bit, but honestly, I really did have a good race.  I will do things a little differently next time, and yes, there will be a next time. Despite the crazy finish line, this was one of the best races I have ever run.  A nice flat and straight course, plenty of support, fantastic crowds, pretty awesome medal and food at the finish.  Do it if you have the chance.

Andy worked his ass off getting this group together and taking it from a three man team to a team of fifty two.  I am pretty sure I only know about half the stuff he really had to do and can only imagine how much time it cost him.  Thank you my friend! Not just for this weekend but for three years of friendship and support.  Especially today.  Pretty sure this post would still be sitting in limbo without your encouragement.

Larry was Andy's co-captain. He had a few struggles/injuries leading up to the race.  He killed it race day and got himself a five minute PR. Thank you Larry for helping make this team rock awesomeness! Is that a word?  You can read his recap here.

To the friends I made this weekend. You all were so much fun and I can't wait to do it again.  I know I will see a few in you in Philly for the marathon and I am really looking forward to that.

And to all of you who supported and donated and helped me reach my goal. I had to raise $500 and with your support, my total was $705.  And as a team, over $31,000.  I am so proud of what we accomplished together and I can't thank you enough for sticking with me all these years.  You all are the best!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Broad Street Run, Part One

In 2013, Andy asked me to be part of his DetermiNation team and run the Philadelphia Broad Street Run.  I can't remember why,  but I couldn't make that happen. I told him I would be there the following year. His team that year consisted of three people.

When 2014 rolled around, I had signed up for the RI Triple Crown without checking any dates.  The first race of the triple crown, fell on the same weekend as Broad Street.  I was disappointed and so was Andy.  I promised, nothing will keep me away in 2015. His team that year consisted of fifteen people.

As soon as Andy started to put his 2015 team together, I was ready and registered right away.  I had to raise $500 for the American Cancer Society and I started fundraising on day one.  This years team name was, The Low and Slow Team, which spelled out LAST.  Fun name.

He recruited friends and family, but a big chuck of our team came from the Sub 30 Club.  This year's team consisted of fifty two people!

Together, we raised more than $31,000 dollars for the American Cancer Society.  I am very proud of what we have done as a team and hope that I can make this an annual event.

Ok, so on to the weekend!

I took the train from Rhode Island to Philadelphia on Friday. Just me. No kids, no Mr. RWM. The train was was peaceful.  I read almost the whole time. It was glorious!

Once in Philly, it was a quick ride to the hotel and an easy check in.  I was sharing the room but my roommate was not coming until Saturday.  A hotel room all to myself for one night.  Seriously, this is a mother's dream!
Really high up!
Only a few of us came in on Friday. We met in the hotel bar for a couple drinks then headed to the Marathon Grill for Dinner.  We had a really nice night.
Having a drink with my friends who wanted to be there but couldn't make it.

Fun group for diner at the Marathon Grill.

(photo courtesy of LSJ)

(photo courtesy of LSJ)

Saturday morning, I met a small group for a little shake out run.  This was super fun! We ran to the Rocky steps and statue, then to Love park.  From there one of my teammates and I had heard about a doughnut place that we had to try. One of two actually, so we headed there, ate a pretty fantastic doughnut, and then ran back to the hotel.
Because Rocky!
Love Park

Check out my big brain!

At Federal Doughnuts.  I swear, the Flatties ate it...

I had a little down time, ALL BY MYSELF before I had to meet the group for lunch.  We met in the lobby and two of our teammates, that said they couldn't make it, showed up.  It was fantastic to meet them in person.
Mr. Neon in the flesh!

Lunch was at the Reading Terminal Market. Seriously, if you are in Philadelphia you must go there.  I really had a struggle in my head about what I should eat and what I wanted to eat.  I decided it was worth the risk and went to DiNic's for a pork sandwich with roasted peppers and the best provolone cheese, ever!  Yeah, I ate the whole thing.  Then, well, I had to taste the "other" donut.  The line for Bieler's was crazy long. When I looked at the cabinet I got confused.  I chose one of their simpler donuts, Coconut Frosted.  Guys, when I bit into it, my eyes rolled back into my head and I got hot flashes.  BEST DONUT EVER! I was so sad when it was gone.  I know I shouldn't feel that way about food, and I usually don't, but it will be one of my first stops next time I am in the city.

Seriously, go there!
I'll just leave this here.

The expo was our next stop.  We got our numbers, looked around a bit and my only purchase was a Stick.  I have been looking at those for awhile and when I was at Sarah's house after Middletown, I used hers and knew I needed to have one.  Very happy with my purchase so far, and my kids think they have a new toy. I am currently looking for a hiding place for it...

Hurts so good.
I stopped back in the room for a bit to get off my feet and unwind and look at the stuff I got from the expo. Some of the group headed to the bar but I had to pace myself and I knew the donuts were bad enough.  Again, I enjoyed my quiet time and then met friends in the lobby to head over to the Determination Team Dinner.

They had a cocktail hour first, but I spent most of that time putting the In Memory and In Honor names on my shirt. Way too many.

Dinner was very nice. The speakers and the presentation was motivating and heartwarming.  About a month ago, we were asked why we run. I had emailed D-Nation and told them a little about Haley.  The first time I ran for Charity, it was to remember and celebrate her life.  I never heard back from them and didn't think anything about it after that.  I know they were getting way to many stories.
Money is still coming in! Pretty fantastic!
The first picture was of our teammate Linda and her family surrounding her dad who is battling cancer as I type.  Immediately, tears were in my eyes. I looked over to her to see her crying and I was done.  I knew the video was going to push me over the edge.  I had to stay strong.

About half way in, Haley's face popped up.  I had no idea it was coming. I never even talked to Shawna (Haley's mom)  about it.  I was crying so much, I couldn't read what was with her picture. I was really taken off guard.  A teammate who was still hugging Linda, came over and hugged me. She sat with me till the end of the video.  I have emailed D-Nation to try and get a copy so I can see it again and share it with Shawna. Still waiting but think they will come through for me.

When you run for charity, it is so much more than the race.  We raised over $31,000  in hopes that every person, adult and child, will celebrate their next birthday.  No parent, ever, should have to lose their son or daughter.  I hope what we did this weekend makes a difference.  And, I will continue to be part of this team to make sure that it does.

Most of the team met at a pub across the street from our hotel after the dinner. It was nice to just sit and talk to everyone. There were 52 of us and it was hard to really get to know everyone.  I knew I was getting to bed later than I normally would before a race, but it was worth it.
Love this one of Andy and I!
Some of the group.
Another one of my favorites with Therese, Andy, Jeremy and Laurie.
With Laurie and Jim.
(courtesy of JV)
(courtesy of JV)
(courtesy of JV)
Back at the room, I laid everything out for the morning. I was getting a 5 am wake up.  I actually slept really well, which was good with the later bed time.  I woke up happy and ready to go!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole