Monday, September 30, 2013

9, 10, 11, Whatever!

So for starters, I titled last weeks post, Week Nine Recap, when it fact it was week number 10!  It is fixed.  It is no secret that numbers are not my thing.

Ok, so how did week 11 go?  Well, pretty amazing actually!

My first run of the week was eight miles.  I was able to run this with my friend Mary.  I like running with Mary.  She runs at my pace and I love talking with her.  She has now changed her work schedule a bit and said she would be able to do most Monday's with me.  Yay!

The run itself was nice.  My legs felt good, which surprised me, and I was happy to be out there.

On Tuesday, I ran four.  My legs were tired and I was slow. I just took it easy and did the best I could.  I was happy to take Wednesday off.

My long run days have been Thursdays.  This week, I had to conquer 16 miles. Just one more mile from last weeks long run.

I did not expect it to be as fantastic as last weeks, but I hoped.  I set up Lori again as my water and refill help and I had Jenn and MB to do some of the miles with me.

MB got dropped off at my house and the plan was to run to her car, 6 miles away.  We started out nice and slow and I was feeling pretty good.  We hit Jenn at 2.5 miles and the three of us ran together.  I love these girls and there was not a dull moment.

The first 6 miles were really good.  Jenn and I headed back the way we came.  I was starting to feel it a bit and then Lori was there. I got to stop for a minute and refill my bottles of water.  Once we were running again, Jenn pointed out that the course we were running was not an easy one.  She is right, lots of hills in the direction we were going. We are going to try something a little different next week.

I was getting tired, but Jenn was keeping me strong.  I got a little quiet and apologized for not being my talkative self.  I think Jenn found that a little funny.  When we were getting close to her car, she started to do math again.

She wanted to go farther than planned and I was ok with that.  The longer she was with me, the shorter my alone miles became.

We went an extra mile and then she wanted to add another .25 to that.  We turned around, got to her car, and she didn't stop.  Not being a math expert, I said, "we just passed you car."  She knew that, obviously, but wanted to make it nine miles.  She told me that at some point, but I don't speak numbers.

When we said good by, I had finished 11.5 miles.  I just had 4.5 miles to tackle on my own.

I took a Cliff Shot here, some water and turned on my iPod.  I took two steps and my earbuds went quiet.  I turned up the volume, took two steps and the sound was gone again.  The third time, I turned the volume up and watched the little white line go down to zero!  I just wanted to cry.

It sounds silly,  but I was feeling defeated.  At that moment, Lori pulled up.  She asked how I felt and I told her that I just wanted to get in her car and cry.  She told me I was doing great and not to give up.  As I was telling her about my iPod, I realized my phone was attached to my arm. I have Pandora on my phone.  Yay, happy dance!

Even with my music, I struggled in mile twelve and thirteen.  13:43 for mile twelve and 13:25 for mile thirteen.  My two slowest miles of the day.  There may have been a little walking.

Despite that, I picked up my pace for the last three miles and even though they weren't fast, I had negative splits. 13:09. 12:40 and 12:06.

Lori was exactly where I hit mile16 and drove me home. I was feeling a little beat up but so very happy.  I do not have that, "this is impossible" feeling anymore. It's not easy, but I know I can get it done.

When I plugged my miles in, I realized I was only 15 miles away from 100 for the month of September.  I have never had a 100 mile month. I had three runs left to do that.  Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.

Oh, Tuesday is not part of September you say?  Seriously, how is it October 1!?

This would leave me three miles short of 100.   As I was sitting there looking at my calendar in disbelief, I actually considered not doing them.  This was Friday and I posted my dilemma on FB.  The wonderful and encouraging runners that you all are, chimed in and told me to go for it!  I laced up right then and there and headed out for three.

I have to tell you, as soon as my feet hit the ground, I felt fantastic.  Once I was through mile one, things were really coming together.  At 2.5 miles,  I knew I could go longer.  I ended up with a nice four miles in my book.

What are your thoughts on recovery runs?  This was the first time I ran the day after a long run and I am just so surprised at how good I felt.  Just some weird coincidence?

My last run of the week, was also a four miler.  Beautiful day and I switched up my route just a bit.

Again, when I plugged in my miles, I was surprised to see that I hit my highest week ever.  Thirty six miles!  Another first and I am just so thrilled!

We scale down the miles a bit this coming week and my long run is twelve miles, which I will still do on Thursday.

As good as my week was, I am tired and so are my legs.  I welcome this coming week.  I am getting that feeling now that I just want the marathon to be here.

How is your training going?  Do you add recovery runs into your training?

In some fun news, I got an email with some of the latest news and reminders from the Philadelphia Marathon.  There was a link to the 2013 merchandise and I did a little shopping.  More happy dancing!

Since I didn't take any running pictures this week, I will just leave you with this one.

7 weeks to the Philadelphia Marathon!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week Ten Recap

Just a quick recap about my training week.

It really was a great week.

My first run of the week should of been four miles, but I ran in a 3.5 mile race.  I did not add the half mile.  Didn't really think about it until we were finished and home.  It would of been easy for me to do, just an oversight.

Tuesday called for 7 miles.  I was not feeling it.  I did not want to run or even bike.  I just didn't.  I got the kids off to school, had a second cup of coffee and putzed around on the computer.  I was making the decision to just go out for five mils and be happy.  Then, I saw this post from Keeping Mommy Sane.

It struck a cord with me.  I left her a comment and then put my shoes on and walked out the door.  It was a beautiful day.  I took a deep breath and hit the road.

I can't say for sure what changed in me, but from the first step, I loved my run.  There was not a bad moment.  I even snapped this picture.

I got home feeling fantastic.  It was the best thing I did that day and my motivation was back. Well, back until Wednesday morning.

I won't bore you with the details a second time.  Most of you read about my totally incredible 15 mile run.  Here is the link in case you missed it.

I did nothing on Friday. I felt it a little in my legs and just wanted to rest them.

Saturday, we had two soccer games, 9 and 10 am.  Mr. RWM was home, so I got everyone ready and sent them on their way.  Training called for four miles and I was going to bang it out on the way to the soccer field.

I missed most of Gracie's game, but I have plenty of games ahead of me.  My legs were still tired, but I ran well.  I didn't hate it but felt very tired the rest of the day.  I also felt hungry.  Obviously, the more I run the hungrier I get. That really hit me this week.

Once the kids games were over, we headed to our first Fall fair of the season.  It was so much fun.  I will just leave you with some pictures.

So love this shot!

The entrance to the corn maze. It was shaped like an Angry Bird!

Looking for frogs.

Up an down these steps four times.  My legs hated me!

And, one last thing.  Do you all remember this post?  Well, I saw Agnes the other night and she had the most wonderful gift for me.  She gave me an Alex and Ani bracelet as a thank you for staying with her during The Blessing.  It was my pleasure Agnes! Honestly, I was just so thrilled to have someone to run with and you made the race very special for me also.

I get to run with her again at the Women Run Sanity Chase, coming up in October.  I have an awesome team of friends that I will be doing this with and I am very excited about it.  There is still time to register if you want to join us.  Just message me and I will give you the details.

Ok, so here we go.  8 weeks to the Philadelphia Marathon!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fifteen Miles, Baby!

Yeah, that's right, 15 miles!

This run had me really nervous.  If you follow me on FB, then you know that I started to freak out when I woke up yesterday.  You all came through with so many kind words of encouragement and advice.  Thank you!

One of my worries, was how I would stay hydrated and fueled on my long run.  Remember, I am running almost 3 hours.  I knew I couldn't carry enough with me nor did I really want to.  I also didn't want to spend that much time running alone.

My first goal was to ask a friend to meet me at various spots with water, gatorade and gels.  I asked my friend Lori because she doesn't live that far from where I would be running.  Yesterday, I packed a bag with everything I wanted and dropped it off to her. This was huge to me.  Now I could just carry my fuel belt and refill it when I saw her.  First worry solved!

Next, running alone.  I put it out there on FB that I was looking for someone to run with me. Any distance, but my pace.  I got two takers.

My friend Jenn said she would meet me and run about 3 miles with me.  My friend Kathy was heading to the beach for her first surfing lesson and was going to meet me after for a few miles.  I felt so good about this.

By the time I went to bed, I was feeling very confident. I slept well and woke up ready to go, but first, I had to get the kids off to school.

Once they were on the bus, I grabbed my stuff and hit the road.

It was a beautiful morning.  Mid 60's and sunny.  I decided to save my music and podcast's for later, so I just ran and took in all the sights and sounds.  I was meeting Jenn 2.5 miles from my house.

When I saw her, I was so happy.  We started running right away.  She is just getting back to running after a foot injury and said she would be good for 2, maybe 3 miles.  I was good with whatever she wanted.

Conversation was great and we were running a pretty good pace.  I felt good and so did Jenn. In fact, when we hit 1.5 miles and I suggested we turn around to get back to her car, she said she wanted to keep going. Great!

We headed straight to the beach where we thought we would see Kathy getting ready for her surf lesson.  When we got there, we didn't see her car or anyone that looked like they were getting ready to surf.  We hung there just for a minute or two, but I had to keep going so we headed back to Jenn's car.

When we headed back we saw Lori for the first time.  I downed a small Gatorade and refilled one of my water bottles.  We thank Lori and moved on.

The run was getting a little tougher and I started to feel it.  It was also a little warmer, but not killer temps.  I still felt good though.

We were getting close to Jenn's car when she asked how many miles. We were at 8.63. She said that when I hit 9, that would be 60% of my run.  This made me smile, one, because she was doing math and I could barely think and two, because, yay, I was more than half way there!

Jenn ended up going 6 miles and she felt great!  I am so happy that she is better and running again.  We said our goodbyes with a big hug and she said she would join me again next week for my 16 miler.  More smiling!

From here, I headed back to the beach to meet Kathy.  I decided I needed some music now and turned on my iPod.  Starting to run alone, I was thinking about all my friends, those who run and those who don't.  I have truly been blessed with some very special people in my life.

I run because I love it. It makes me happy and I am healthier than I have ever been in my life.  It keeps me foucused and sets a good example for my kids.  But if you know me, you know I am all about the social activity in my life and when I found running, I found another outlet to have fun with my friends and my family.  Yeah, I was smiling as I wrote that.

I was about 1.5 from the beach when my phone buzzed.  Thinking it was Kathy wondering where I was, I looked at it and to my horror I read, "Couldn't finish.  I busted my nose. Don't think it is broken but need ice on it ASAP. Sorry I can't run you to the end."

Holy cow, I was so upset and there was nothing I could do to help her. I worried about her and when I got to the beach, I looked for her car in case she was sitting in it and not able to drive.  I was happy to see it wasn't parked there and thought she must of made it home.

When my Garmin beeped for 12 miles I looked at it and it read 2:18.  OMG, I can make my 2:30 goal for 13 miles.

I am not sure why, maybe all the training, maybe because I got my fuel and hydration down, but I have never felt this good at this distance before.  I was even able to pick up my speed.

As I rounded the corner of the sea wall, I saw Michelle of For the Love of Running.  Michelle has been a huge inspiration in my life for some time now and she has been there for me to answer any questions I  throw at her.

I truly believe that things happen for a reason and seeing her at the moment was perfect!  I am not sure what she asked me. Either how are you feeling or what mile are you in, either way, my answer was, "this is mile 13 and I feel great!"  She said I looked good and wished me well.  I ran away with a huge smile and a goal in mind.

This was my fastest mile.  I kept looking at my Garmin, then looking ahead, and so on.  I hit 13.1 miles in 2:30:15!  Seriously, I was flying high!

I turned around, had a Cliff Shot and water and went on my way.  Back down the seawall with the most beautiful view and back through the parking lot.  It was at the end of the lot that my Garmin hit 14 miles.  I know you have all been waiting for this...

I got tears in my eyes.

I pulled it together quickly but I was really feeling my legs and I wanted to stop.  I was slow here and I was going up hill. Despite that, I made it and as soon as my Garmin beeped for 15 miles, Lori was parked just up ahead of me.  I was so happy to see her!

She drove me home and took my pic.  I thanked her again. Without Lori and Jenn, I would still be out there, LOL.

Once I was home, I did what every mommy, running, blogger does and told the world!  I couldn't help myself.  I felt high and I could not calm down.  I did something I thought was impossible and it was one of the greatest feelings in the world.
This is what 15 miles looks like!

I am not so worried about my 16 miles next week.  I will enlist the help of my friends again. Jenn already said she is up for it.  I know it may not be as good as today, but I don't have the fear of not finishing that I did with today's run.  Fifteen miles is quite the confidence builder.

I also called Kathy but got her answering machine.  I was worried about her and wanted to know how she felt.

Once I was out of the shower, in my compression socks, with my feet up, she called.  It's not good friends.  She has multiple non-displaced fractures to her nasal cavity, anterior maxillary and below her right eye.  (hope I am saying all that right)  Crazy!

She is to rest for two weeks with no heavy lifting or surfing.  She made me smile though, because she was telling me how she hoped they would be able to reschedule her lesson.  Way to get back on the horse Kathy!  Send her some good thoughts for a quick recovery, please and thank you.

I had a couple hours before the kids came home, which was really nice.  I was well rested when they got off the bus.  We had a busy night ahead of us.

We went to dinner, the school book fair and then open house in each of their classrooms.  This was really nice.  They were both so excited to show me their art work, desk, reading and writing journals.  I loved it!  What I really loved was that I was standing and walking without any trouble.  I don't think that would of happened last year.  I am so thankful that this training is going well and I am in such good shape.  Let's hope it continues.

This is not an easy sport that I got myself into and, well, 26.2 miles is crazy.  But here I am and I have never been happier.  Bring on crazy, I am ready for you!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Harvest Wine Run Recap

When I got the email, about the first ever, Harvest Wine Run in Newport, I thought it looked cool, but I deleted the message.  This race was a 3.5 mile trail run through the Newport Vineyard.  At the finish, you get a wine glass that you then used for a wine tasting and dinner.  I had another race on my radar which I was sure I would be doing.

After a few days, I got an email from a friend who wanted to do it and was trying to get our little group together. Before the day was over, there were seven of us running and two coming just for the wine and the food.  Perfect ladies night out!

The race was supposed to start at 3pm.  We planned on a meeting spot and just took two cars.

This race was not cheap.  A VIP registration, which got you the race, wine tasting, food, on site parking, wine glass and a shirt, was $70!  Did I mention it was just 3.5 miles?  Two of us purchased the VIP pass so that we could park on site.

Just an FYI, I ran a half marathon that was less money, $45, and my full marathon coming up was only $15 more than the Harvest Wine Run.  Just saying...

The on site parking was nice because there wasn't a gear check.  I personally think if you can't park on site and have to be shuttled to a race, which has an after party, you should have a gear check.  It got a little chilly after the race and it was nice to be able to get our sweatshirts.

We did packet pick up the day of the race.  The line wasn't so bad when we got in it and we moved at an ok pace, however, that would of went much faster if they had more than two people working the tent.  Once 2:15 hit the line was so long and barely moving.  Yes, the race started just a little late as they waited for everyone to be checked in.

So what did we get in our swag bag?  Nothing, no bag, not even coupons or advertisements for upcoming races.  I like the shirt though, which you only got with the VIP.  Great design, nice colors and it fits well. You could of purchased one for an extra $25.  Oh wait, I am sorry. We got one coupon in our wine glass for $5 off $100 in their store.  Really!?

Once we pinned on our numbers, we headed to the port-a-potties.  Guess what? They only had two. Yes, two potties for 369 runners, not to mention the people there just for the wine tasting and food.

The upside, was that is was a beautiful day and the vineyard is very pretty.  I was with some of my best friends, and that is what matters most.

We lined up and the gun went off.

As I mentioned above, this was a trail race.  Grass, dirt, potholes, rocks, etc., I knew I had to be careful.

I stayed with MB, Bridget, Kathy and Tara for the beginning of the race.  Bethany and MB's mom who we loving call Gemo, took off.

I loved running and chatting with the girls.  It is one of my favorite things about running.  We laughed so much and I was smiling the whole time.  Well, smiling until I stepped into my first pothole.  Yeah, I did that twice.

My calves were hurting a bit and I realized my shoes were not tied tight enough. Why that was, I will never know, but I did have to take a minute and retie then. Once I did that, my race changed for the better.

Even though I felt better after fixing my laces, I have decided that trail racing is not for me.  I didn't like the unevenness of the trail and the grass just slows you down.  In the last half mile, I just wanted to be done. I ran my fastest here.

I crossed the line in 40:57 and was a little disappointed that I was over 40 minutes.  Looking at my Garmin though, it shows my moving time as 39:31.  That is what retying your shoe laces will get ya!

Once we were all at the finish, we got our wine glasses and headed to the wine tables.  There was a white table, red table and I am guessing the middle table was Blush and Zinfandel wines.  I went to the red.

We each got the smallest amount of wine that the girl could of possibly poured.  You barely tasted it!  Instead of getting right back into the wine line, we headed to the food line which was moving nicely.  The platters looked fantastic and I was hungry.  Once we found a seat, we all enjoyed a very nice meal.

Tara with the band behind her.
Bethany and Jenn

Kathy, me and Tara

Kathy and I with some strange guy behind us.

They had a cash bar, where you could get a real glass of wine for $6.  Some of us did that and some of us went back to the tables to taste a little of everything. During that time, they started to announce the overall and age group winners.

I am excited to say that Gemo placed second in her age group, 60-69.  The first place winner only beat her by 28 seconds!  How cool is that!

So the bad points, no gear check, too expensive, not enough wine.  Plus, at 5pm, they closed up the wine tasting tables.  The party went to 6, or so I thought. The band continued to play and you could buy wine, but we decided to move on.  Only two port a potties, and not enough people checking you in.  Not a fan of trail running.

The good, well, the course was pretty cool. Running through the vineyard was neat.  The weather was beautiful. I love my wine glass and my shirt.  The on site parking almost made up for the expensive price.  The food was delicious and the band was good.  There was one water stop at just the right place.  And, of course, I was with all the right people.

Would I do this race again?  Probably not, unless my girls convince me otherwise. I'd hate to leave them hanging.
At Plum Point Bistro

My training this week, was pretty good.  It is this coming week that has me a little freaked out.  For the first time, ever, I will run over 13 miles.  I will be running 15 miles on Thursday.  15 miles!  For some reason, this has me more nervous than the thought of 18 miles.  Weird, right?

I was a little worried about how to fuel and hydrate on my run.  After deciding that I can't carry enough to get me by, (remember, my PR for 13.1 is 2:36, so I will be running up to 3 hours) I enlisted a friend to help. She is going to meet me at various spots with all the stuff I need to make it to the end.  She is also my contact in case the school calls or I need a ride home.  It's all good! I can do this!

9 weeks to the Philadelphia Marathon!!!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Race Weekend Part Two

George and I were up at 6am on Saturday, and we were exhausted by the afternoon.  However, we were invited to a birthday party for our friends son who was turning 5.  Mr. RWM and Gracie were already there, and we thought about skipping it, but in the end we went.  It was fun, but we were the first to leave.

Once we got home and finally showered, we sat a little bit, had dinner and he was asleep before his head hit the pillow.  Me, thinking it was 9pm announced to Mr. RWM that I was going to bed as I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.  It was only 8:30 but I didn't care.  I slept great!

I did not have to be at the Firm Man until 10am.  Judy, our swimmer was hoping to finish in 30 minutes and Alan, our cyclist, was hoping to finish in about 3 hours.  He thought he would be in by 11am.

Because this was a local race, and not too early in the morning, I had the family drop me off.  They had planned to be at the finish anyway.  No sense in having two cars at the same spot or making the lady who just ran 13 miles drive herself home.
Leaving the house and ready to go!

I was a little nervous about the transition and where I needed to be.  All was settled when I got there and saw just how small this race was.  No cyclists were in yet but other relay runners were there and ready to go.  I talked to a couple of them who were all pretty energized.  The music and excitement was fantastic and the crowd was pretty good at this area.

It was so cool to see the first guy ride on in.  There was no one even near him and I am pretty sure he took the whole thing.  I also got to see the first women, which was just as cool.  The first couple relays started to come in and this is what I really wanted to see.

I was unsure how the hand off of our timing chip would go, and as easy as it all was, I was still happy to see it go down before it was my turn.

While waiting, the sun was beating down on us.  It was hot and not much of a breeze.  I was really hoping for cooler conditions, but it was not meant to be.

I saw Alan waving at me and bam he was here!  I grabbed the timing chip and took off.  I was feeling pretty good.  I was well rested and nothing was hurting me.

In the first two miles, people who had swam and biked passed me.  I felt a little discourage by that.  I know I shouldn't be. They trained hard to get to where they were.  I am sure, way more than me, but I was the one who slept in and got a ride there.  No swim, no bike, just a nice 13.1 mile run.

It was easy for negative thoughts to creep into my head and so early on, because the FirmMan has a strict no head phones policy.  Now, I don't always run with music, in fact, I ran the Nike Half Marathon without any music at all.  But there were a few difference.

First, I had my music with me at Nike, just didn't use it.  There were 25,000 runners, bands, a choir, DJ, a chocolate mile, etc.  Never a dull moment!

With less than 400 participants, I knew I would be running alone for most of this race.

Somewhere between the end of mile two and the beginning of mile three, I was approaching a flagger showing us where to turn.  What caught my attention was the fact that he did not have a flag.  He was directing us with a tennis racket. This cracked me up!

As I got closer, I realize I knew him.  His name is Herb and he is about 85 years old.  I know him from my gym but have not seen him the whole summer, as I just kept my workouts to outside.

I stopped, of course, and said, "I know you!" and he said, "Luxe Gym!" He asked if I was doing the whole thing and I said, for the first time of the day, "No, I am JUST running,"  He pointed out that I wasn't "just" doing anything.  I so enjoyed seeing him and I am pretty sure I smiled for at least the next mile.  I also lost about 2 minutes there.

This race as really well supported.  Which is one of the reasons I decided to sign up for a race as opposed to doing my 13 miles on my own.  Plus, when you run that far, it is nice to walk away with a shirt or medal.  Right?  I plan to map out some races to go along with my long runs.  I am sure that will be better for me.

So, around mile 4, there was a turn around.  At this spot, the woman who directed us, was hula hooping!  It was so cool to see.  I don't know how long she was able to keep it up, but as far as I could tell, she was doing it for every person that passed by.  I told her thanks because I really needed that pick me up.  I was questioning my 2:30 goal at this point.

In mile five, a man came up to me and asked why I was so dressed up?  What?  Really?  He liked my skirt but especially liked my earrings. He made me laugh.  I told him that I wasn't going to win anything so I might as well look cute coming across the finish line.  He said I looked good and moved on.  I'll take it!

Now, I don't think my earrings were too big.  They certainty weren't heavy, but he was not the only one to make a comment.  I was definitely being entertained.  Who needs music?

From here the route took us to Middle Bridge Road.  There was a nice down hill.  This was also, to me, the longest stretch of road.  It seemed to go on forever and at some point there would be a turn around and we would have to come back the same way.

It was also the most crowded.  I even saw people I knew.  The first was Kyra the owner of Women Run.  You know, based on my pictures, I love this company. We said hi to each other but we were going in opposite directions and she looked great!  No time to talk.
My and Kyra!  Wish I was standing up straight but still love this picture.

I also ran into Dave from my running club.  He was doing the whole tri.  Amazing.  I am guessing he is late 50's.  He encouraged me, which I loved and then he moved on. Passed again!

Right before I saw Kyra, I noticed my arm was hurting.  I was chafing for the first time ever!  I tried to ignore it, but that didn't work. I had chap stick with me and tried to turn that into body glide, but no, it did not work.  I went back to ignoring it.
Yeah, that's my arm. Gross, I know.

From across the road, coming up the other direction, I heard, "Hey Earrings! Looking good!"  Same guy I saw in mile five.  Made me smile again.

At the turn around, finally, there were two women working this water stop.  They were full of energy and smiles.  As I was approaching, they were yelling out what they had to offer.  I was ecstatic when they said vaseline!  I stopped put some on my arm, they handed me a tissue to wipe my hands and M and M's. Best water stop ever!

Back up was much faster, or so it seemed.  I was way past the half way point now and the last 3 miles I just ran, were shady.  Not cool, but no sun beating down on me.

However, once I hit the last 5k point, the sun was back out.  Looking at my watch, which I started late in all the excitement, I wasn't sure if I was going to make my 2:30 goal.  I ran on.

For all the issues I had with my back leading up to this race, I have to say, I felt great.  I knew I was going to finish and when I crossed over 1A, I was smiling.

Now the end of this race was less than a quarter mile run on the beach.  I was not happy about this, as I knew it would be hard. I just didn't know how hard.

Once my feet hit the sand, I was unsteady. I kept running at what had to be my slowest pace in the whole race.  This was disappointing as I usually like to run in strong.  I definitely lost a minute or two here.

The crowd was good on the beach and as I ran by everyone, I was looking for Mr. RWM and the kids. I told them I would be in at 1:30 and, well, it was 1:30.  I never saw them.  I did see, my team though and that was awesome.  They hung around, basically all day to see me in and congratulate each other.  They held out their hands for high-fives and I ran into the finish.

The clock showed total time, including the swim and the bike, so I wasn't sure if I met my goal or hit a PR.  Did I mention my Garmin froze up and it was stuck on the real time.  Yeah, that happened.

I sat and talked to Alan and Judy for a while. They had good races. Judy finished in 36:12 and Alan in 3:05:04.  They had fun and will do it again.  I thanked them for hanging around and seeing me in.  Judy, swam in the morning and then volunteered and Alan was there early, saw Judy swim, then he biked 56 miles and then waited for me. They had a very long day and I really appreciated seeing them.

After about 10 minutes, Mr. RWM and the kids were there.  You could tell, Mr. RWM was surprised to see me.  When I told him 1:30, he thought a few minutes here or there would be fine. It wasn't and you could tell he felt really bad.  No worries, this won't be the last race.

I said my good-by's to my team and headed to the food. It was an awesome spread.  From there, I had a quick 10 minute massage.  Nice!

Before leaving, I checked my time.  I didn't even come close to 2:30 but I did get a one minute PR. My finish time was 2:36:39.  Not only did I not hit my goal, but if I am reading the results right, I was the last runner of a relay to come in.  Let me clarify, I was not the last to leave the transition area, just the last to come into the finish.   I'm not gonna lie.  I am disappointed, still am.

I have said a million times since talking with new runners and runners who call themselves slow, that the odds of you being last are pretty slim. There is always someone slower.  Well, on Sunday, that someone was me.  It's not my last race so I will just learn from it and move on. And, I am not discounting my PR. I am proud of it and it is a step in the right direction.  I will get that 2:30!

I felt good. I was happy that I was able to do this and I would love to be part of a relay team again. I also had a nice compliment from Mr. RWM.  He said I didn't look as bad as he thought I would. Ahh, honey, you say the sweetest things.

All in all, it was a great weekend.  I loved both of my races and the people I ran them with.  I saw some amazing people on Sunday that truly inspired me.  Anyone who can swim, bike and run that distance is a rock star to me.  Especially the ones who passed me on the run course.

I am about to embark on miles over 13.  A first for me.  I am not gonna lie, I am a little freaked out but I will do it!

I hope you are enjoying your week. Any advice for really long runs and how you stayed fueled and hydrated?

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Race Weekend Part One

For the first time in my running journey, I registered for two races in one weekend.  Don't worry, I am doing it again in October, says the crazy lady.

As most of you know, Connie and I met on the Couch to 5k FB page.  We have been friends ever since and she has been a blessing in my life.

A while back, she had the idea of planning a get together/race with people we had met on the site, plus our friends and family.  I thought this was a great idea.  She went to work right away to find the race that would work for us.  She found the Shawn Nassaney Memorial 5k.

I liked the idea of this race for a couple of reasons.  I was going to run in a new place and it wasn't on the road.  Something new to me.  Plus, Shawn died on 9/11 on United Flight 175.  A day that has changed all our lives.  It changed Mr. RWM and my career path and I sadly wrote sympathies cards for 33 fellow pilots and fight attendants.  I was going to honor all of those victims by running in this race and I was going to do it with my friends and my son.

Connie thought it would be a good idea to meet at her house for a light breakfast and to take some time to talk and get to know each other.  George and I picked up bagels and a Box of Joe and met Beth at the park and ride.

Our breakfast was lovely and I enjoyed every minute.  It was a great idea to meet there instead of trying to find everyone at the race.  From there, we caravanned over to the race.

It was a sunny and beautiful day, but it was hot. I had dropped the ball and did not bring bottles of water with me.  I just assumed there would be a water fountain or bottles for us at the race site. I was wrong.

We had an hour to spare before we ran and I knew I was in trouble.

We lined up all together and I though we would stay together, but once the gun went off, George and Connie were off!  I did not kill myself trying to catch up with George but I was sure I was going to find him on the side of the road waiting for me.  I was wrong again.

The course was a loop that we had to go around twice and on the third loop, you went right, instead of left at one of the turns and that brought you into the finish.

Since it was a loop, I was able to see Connie and George every so often across the field. I was so thrilled to see both of them holding their own and on their way to 5k PR's, both of them.

When I was coming around to start the third loop, I saw Connie on the sidelines.  I stopped as I was so surprised and excited she had finished.  Unfortunately, she went right instead of left and only ran 2.17 miles.  You could see the disappointment on her face, and I felt bad, but she was having a killer race and I know she will have that PR at the next one!

As I ran on and it opened up, I thought for sure I would see George but I didn't.  I ran on, I was so hot and more thirsty than I had ever been running.  Yes, no water stop.  I didn't really expect one, but I hoped...

I turned into the finish and saw Beth cheering me on and then George, who ran out to me and cheered me in.  I gave him a huge hug as I was so proud of him for finishing and beating his mama.  I was guessing his pace brought him in at about 30 to 31 minutes.

Once all of our group was in, we headed over to the bar b que for a little food.  We found a nice place in the shade and sat and talked for a bit.  Beth took a walk and found our times. She said she found mine but not Georges?  Hmmmm....

I went over to check it out.  I finished in 34:45, pretty average for me.  Then I looked for George.  I hit every page and then looked at the first one.  It read 21:58!  Oh, no!!! I realized here that he did the same thing as Connie and finished too early!  My first thought was of disappointment, but then I realized he had a great race despite that and he is only 7 years old.  We have a local 5k coming up on the 22nd that benefits his school.  I think I will sign both of us up again and see what he can do for all three miles.

(side note, Connie has a message into the race director so we can correct the times so the right people get the right placement)

Once we were finished eating and chatting, we snapped a few pics and said our goodbyes.  I loved being with everyone and I truly hope that we can do it again!

Once I dropped Beth off at her car, I had to drag George to the FirmMan registration.  I was meeting my team at 2 pm.

I was a little nervous meeting everyone, but once we found each other and registered, I was feeling more comfortable.  Our number was 319 and I got a really great long sleeve tech shirt.

We went over our times.  Judy, our swimmer was hoping to finish in 30 minutes and Alan our cyclist thought he would finish in three hours. From that I knew what time I had to show up and I was thrilled that I didn't have to wake up in the dark.  I took advantage and slept in a bit longer than usual.

My A goal was 2:30.  My B goal was under 2:37 which is my current half PR.  My hope was cool temps.

Tune in tomorrow for part two.

10 weeks to the Philadelphia Marathon!  OMG, TEN WEEKS!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Marathon Training Week Seven

Marathon training this week was really good, until, my long run.

On Monday, I went out for three miles and felt so good I ran four.  It was hot and humid, but the sun was not beating down on me and I think that saved me a bit.

I also had a quick bike ride with George, 1. 7 miles.  Not fast, but we got some quality together time in and I loved every minute.

On Tuesday, I went out for seven.  Mr. RWM was home with the kids, so the plan was to just run straight for seven miles and they would pick me up, instead of coming back around.

This is usually a better run for me as my surroundings change.  I like that, plus, it was a nice day and I ended at the beach.

It was a good run, but by the time I was finished, my IT band was screaming at me.  Once home, I stretched and foam rolled.  This IT band is new to me and I am not happy. When I went to check off my miles on my plan, I realized I was only supposed to run six miles.  Oops...

I rested on Wednesday and most of Thursday.

Thursday night, I met Beth for a five mile run.  We met a the beach and it was cool and windy.  It has been a few weeks since we have run together and I was so happy to see her.  We had tons of stuff to catch up on and I starting chatting right away.

We talked non-stop for five miles.  I didn't walk, my asthma didn't bother me, and, in fact, it was the best five mile run I have had since April.

Normally, we grab a drink after our Thursday runs, but since school started, I promised the kids I would be home for bed time.  I couldn't break that promise.

This brings me to my long run Saturday, 12 miles.  I have not run this long since last year.  Plus, the night before my run, we went out to celebrate our anniversary. I may have made a couple of bad choices as far as food and drink were concerned, but you only hit ten years once.

I headed out 30 minutes later than I had planned.  It was cloudy, with a nice breeze but humid.  The first five miles were great!  Really they were.  I was right where I wanted to be as far as pace and I felt good.

When I hit six, I turned back.  This is where I ate some sport beans (too sweet) and stopped at a water fountain to fill up my bottles.  I started to run and the sun was coming up.  It got hot fast.

I started to fall apart in mile seven.  Miles eight and nine, I was just focused on getting home.  I also started to walk here and there.  Negative thoughts started to creep into my mind and they never left.

My pace slowed.  I tried to be positive when I hit mile ten.  Just two more miles to go.  I knew I could do it but had a hard time pulling it together.  I am pretty sure I walked most of or all of mile eleven.  It took me 15:49!

My feet hurt and it took all my strength to just keep my head up.  In the winter, I spent a lot of time in the gym.  I took classes, lifted weights, did all my PT exercises, used all the machines.  I was strong.  I felt good.  During the summer, I did all my runs outside with a little biking.  No real cross training.  I am paying for it now.  I am so mad at myself for losing the strength that took me so long to build up.  I realized here, that had to change.  Back to the gym this week and back into a regular cross training regiment.

Mile twelve, I ran/walked.  I finished, walked into my house and cried.  I cried partly because I hurt and I was tired but mostly because I felt bad that I had done such a terrible job at running twelve miles.  I know I sound ridiculous but in that moment, I felt like a failure and I was doubting my ability to go 26.2 miles.

After my shower, stretching and foam rolling, I started to feel normal again.  I posted on FB how horrible my run was and you all came though with some very positive words and good advice.  The bottom line is, I ran and walked twelve miles today. TWELVE miles!  That is nothing to feel bad about.  I never said that I was going to run this marathon in record time, I just want to finish.  I've said it before and I will say it again, there is no shame in walking.  If I didn't have that walk, I would not of finished, period.  It is what my body needed at that time and I am better off for it.

I took some time to look at my training plan today, particularly next week.  The long run next week is 13 miles.  I usually run better in a race and if I am going that far, then I want a medal when I cross the finish line.  It's the little things.

Sunday, is the Firm Man right here in my town.  It is a half ironman distance.  I had an email form the race director looking for five runners and five cyclists who would make up a relay team for some swimmers he had trained.  The email was a week old, but I took a chance and told him I was available to run.  Two hours later, I was in.

I don't have all the details yet.  The course looks beautiful and well supported.  He is going to link me up with a swimmer and cyclist and we will go from there.  I am equally excited and nervous.  Other people will be counting on me to finish.  People I won't even meet in person until next weekend.

My plan is to stay at my slow and steady pace.  Not go too long without fuel and listen to my body.  Walk if I need to and hopefully finish in 2:30.  I have no idea what kind of weather we are suppose to have and that will probably make a difference.

I know what I need to do differently while training for this marathon and adding cross training is number one on the list.  I can do this, I will do this, but I need to get mentally and physically tough starting right now!

Do you consider yourself mentally tough?  Any advice on that?

11 weeks to the Philadelphia Marathon.  (watching Rocky as I type this)

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole