Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Few December Things

I think for most people, December can be very stressful.  Lots of things to do.  Shopping, baking, visits with Santa, town tree lightings and caroling.  Our calendars are full and so many of us rush through the day.

I am way ahead of the game this year. I think, for the first time ever. Cards have already been sent, most gifts have been purchased and the ones that get mailed are on their way.  I am calm and very relaxed.

Today, I had just a couple errands to do and I added in a manicure.  I sat and relaxed and talked to the people around me.  It was a very enjoyable 45 minutes. Everyone around me got very pretty reds polished on their nails.  I went with black. I just like really dark colors and that one called to me today.  The name of the color is 4am by OPI.

Before that, I went and had my eye brows and bikini waxed.  I have been going to Faces by Gia for about five years now and she recently moved to a new location.  I was very impressed with her new spot at Bonnet Shears.  In just three weeks, she went in there and remolded and updated the space to a place you can really feel at peace at.  I am so happy for you Gia and know that you will have much success there.  If you are local, I highly suggest you check out the new digs.

You would think that being almost ready for Christmas, I would have more time to run. Well, I do, but I am not.  I am running don't get me wrong, but December is my "take it easy month".  I am finished with all my races for the year. I am starting to think about races for 2015 and basically, I just run when I feel like it.  And that hasn't been a lot.

I am not worried. Things will pick back up in January as I will be running a half marathon in March.  I will be ready but for the next couple weeks, I am just going to run when I want to and enjoy not having the pressure that training can sometimes put on you.

We have family coming in for the holiday and I am so excited I can't calm down. I love giving out presents and think I got some good ones this year for our family and friends.  Speaking of presents, I got to give my first one out today.  It was for Gia.  Just a little something to say, Thank you for making me look good throughout the year.  You just can't see someone every few weeks and not get to know and love them over five-plus years.

But presents is not what it is all about.  Being together, sharing stories, food and drinks is what makes me happiest.  Gracie will be in the pageant at our church on Christmas Eve.  I look forward to that every year.  I love the story and the music that comes along with celebrating Jesus's birth.  She is very excited!

And then of course, there is New Year's Eve. My favorite night of the year. I can't wait to have our little get together and count down to 2015.  I may or may not do the Pier Plunge this year. I think I will wait and see if George brings it up and just do it if he wants to.

So tell me, are you ready for the holidays?  Do you send cards?  Any traditions you want to share?  Are you feeling stressed or just dealing with it day by day?  Do you have running themed decorations?
My newest ornament.
One last thing, I saw this today which made me laugh out loud. I don't really do resolutions but if you do, I hope you stick with it.  Set your goal and go after it.  If there is anything I can do to help you reach your goal, please let me know.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Oh and I almost forgot! I got a sneak peek at the spring line at Skirt Sports.  Trust me when I tell you, you can't wait to see it!  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thanksgiving and a Turkey Trot

The last several years, I have had Thanksgiving at my house.  This year, my mom wanted to host it at her place so we headed to New Jersey early Thanksgiving morning.

When we knew we would be traveling for the holiday, I started to look for different races in the area since I would be missing the one I usually do here in Newport, RI.

The race I had my eye on was in Philadelphia's Fairmont Park.  The original plan was to drive the night before Thanksgiving and that would get us in about midnight or later.  I was pretty sure I would feel terrible having to get up so early and run a five mile race.

My friend Diane said she was running a 5k Turkey Trot on Saturday and invited me to run that one with her.  I jumped on it.  I was so happy to have found a race but most of all, I was going to run with Diane again.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. The food was delicious but most importantly, we were all together.  I ate so much, I didn't even have room for pie. No lie. I skipped the pie.  The next day, I had two pieces for lunch. Sorry, I am not sorry!
My sister and I.

My beautiful mom.

Mom and sis cooking.

Mr. RWM carving the turkey.


Me, Uncle Jerry and Mr. RWM.

Mom, kids, sister and Arrow the dog.

Pop-pop and kids.

After my pie, we took the kids to see the Penguins of Madagascar and there I ate way too much popcorn.  The movie was very funny.

That evening, Mr. RWM and I went out with my sister and her boyfriend.  I had beer, beef fries and Hawaiian nachos. Do you see where I am going yet?

I knew my stomach would give me problems once I started running.

Getting to the race was easy.  I was so happy to see Diane.  This was a very small race put on by her daughters school.  Very kid friendly.  I was sorry mine were not with me.  We stayed in the church hall as long as possible to stay warm.  It was a bit cooler than I thought it would be.  I was happy to have my hat, gloves and jacket.

Diane and I with the NESQUIK Bunny.

Us and the school mascot.

Ready to run.

I knew nothing about this course. Turns out it was full of hills and turns.  However, we ran though a neighborhood with some very beautiful homes.  It wasn't the hardest course I have run, but it wasn't the easiest either.  I think it was the perfect challenge for me.

We went out a little fast and ended up with a 9:50 mile.  I had no real goal for this race but figured I would finish at about 32:00.

By the end of mile one, my stomach was laughing at me.  My legs felt really good though. Diane was running great and I knew I was holding her back.  Miles two 10:39.

I pulled myself together in mile three.  Not feeling my best, but better. Diane started to pull ahead of me.  I stayed just a few seconds behind her.  She looked great! 10:08 for mile three.

Last turn and you can see the finish.  It ends on an uphill.  Not a huge hill but enough that I just had to laugh out loud.  Hill or not,  I knew I wanted to finish strong.  Final stretch, 9:59.

Not a PR for me.  The official time was 31:22 and I am happy with that.  Diane did have a PR and I was thrilled for her.
Diane finishing strong!

I am in the pink hat.


Mr. RWM and I stayed and watched the awards and enjoyed a little extra time with Diane and her family.  I would do this race again if I am able.  Nice course, well run, Philly pretzels at the end.  What more can you ask for?  Thanks for inviting me Diane!

This 5K is officially my last race of the year.  I ran seventeen races this year.  Still planning on running less races next year, but some are just so easy to say yes too.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Did you run a Turkey Day race?

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Skirt Sports Ambassador

It's no secret that I love running in skirts.  That wasn't always the case.

When I first stared running, I didn't even know there was such a thing. A skirt made for running didn't make sense to me.

As I was "becoming" a runner, I read books, blogs and random FB posts all about running.  I started seeing more and more women running in skirts. They all looked damn cute too!

My first skirts came from Marshall's.  They were cute but not really functional.  They are hanging in my closet waiting for a good home.

Then I ordered three skirts from a better known skirt company but found that the sizing was off and the pockets were too small.  They too are hanging in my closet waiting for a good home.

I don't know how I discovered Skirt Sports.  But once I did, I knew I found the skirt that would work for me.  Sizing was right on and the pockets fit more than what I needed.  And cute, well yeah, you have seen my pictures.

Now, I don't always run in a skirt. Today it was 33 degrees on my run. Luckily, Skirt Sports also makes pants, capris, tanks, short and long sleeve shirts, bras, and socks.  I have tried them all and have never been disappointed.  There is something for everyone.

I know there is a lot of controversy among the skirt lovers and the non skirt lovers.  But honestly who cares.  Run in what you love and just keep moving forward.

Now, the skirt is only as good as the shorts underneath. If the shorts move, ride up, then that will make for a miserable run.  My Skirt Sports stay put. I never have to adjust them. I have run numerous races and distances in them, including a marathon and never once was the skirt an issue.

I have been pretty vocal on their FB page and Instagram. I have helped promote some of their races and giveaways and now, I am excited to announce that I have been asked to be one of their Ambassadors.  What an honor!

I am now part of a team of women who will inspire and motivate runners everywhere.  Included in this group you will find Kathrine Switzer,  Jenny Hadfield, and Rachel Toor.  Yeah, I am just a little ecstatic here.

I am looking forward to getting to know all of them. I know for some it will just be virtually but I am sure there will be opportunities to meet and run with some of them in person.  That, I am really looking forward to.

You can read about each of the ambassadors here.

So what does being an ambassador mean? Well, I get to spread the love of the skirt to everyone I know. I get to help promote their awesome races and products.  And I have discounts to share with you!

If you are lucky enough to live close enough to do one of their actual races, well, I have to admit, I may be a little jealous.  However, for those of us who can't be there in person, we can still run together, virtually.  Here is the link to the races they have coming up.  I will be signing up for all of them.  I will keep you updated on all the events as they come up.

For those of you who are ready to sign up now and start training, you can us RWM25AMB to get 25% off your race entry.  Don't worry, you still get the full gift certificate even with the discount.  Can you say awesome deal!

Now for those of you who are just here for the pictures, this is for you.

Cutest little running girl ever in her Skirt Sports Dress!

Gym Girl

Vixen Capri

Tri Tank and Tri Shorts

Tri Tank and Tri Shorts

Gym Girl and Eclipse Tank for me and Beth is in a Gym Girl and Tri Tank.

Gym Girl

Gym Girl

Free Me Long Sleeve and Lotta Breeze Capri

Runners Dream long sleeve

Redemption Capri

Gym Girl and Eclipse Tank
So there you have it! These are a few of my favorites.  Are you a skirt lover? Share your pictures with me on my FaceBook page.  Let me know which races you will be doing so I can run "with" you.

If there is anything you want to know about Skirt Sports, please don't hesitate to ask. There are just a couple products I haven't tried yet, so if I don't know the answer, I will find out for you.

And just an FYI, I am officially registered the the Philadelphia Broad Street run. I have been eyeing this race for some time now and so excited to be doing it in 2015. I joined Andy's team and we are raising money for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team.  Happy to be fundraising again!  Anyone else planing on Broad Street?  I would love to meet you!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Who is running a Thanksgiving race? I will be running a 5k the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  It should be a really fun time!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's Just One More Race

Yeah, so you know how I said I was finished with races this year? Well, I am not.  I just registered for race number seventeen.  I know, I know, what the hell was I thinking?  Well, I wanted to do a fun race on Thanksgiving morning.  I couldn't make that work but my friend Diane said she was running a 5K at her daughters school the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I wanted to run and I wanted to see Diane.  So, that's it. I registered.

What is the definition of a race addict? I don't think I am addicted to racing, I just want to see my friends.  It seems that this is the easiest way.  I still plan on toning it down for next year, but I know I won't be able to say, "no", to these fun races with friends. Especially the friends I only get to see once a year.

Mr. RWM will come with me and the kids will be with my parents. Kids are psyched for that.  I can't really say what I plan to do, race it or not.  I think I will just see how I feel in the morning and take Diane's lead.  Plus, I know nothing about the course.

The last several runs have all been good.  No pressure runs.  Today, the fog was killer but it was fun to run in.  It got hot and I was dressed to warm. Hoping it stays warm the next couple days. I have new shorts from Skirt Sports that I want to try out.
You can't even see the Towers behind the the surfers.

So tell me, how many races do you typically run a year? How do you choose what ones you want to do?  

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Monday, November 3, 2014

Because Volunteering in a Nor'easter is Fun!

I belong to a running group that I really never run with.  It's not that I don't like them, in fact, there are a few that I would really like to get to know better.  It's a timing thing. I don't run very early in the morning, which most of them do, and my long runs are usually done on a Monday.  They have a fun run on Thursday night that I have been able to do in the past, but now it is filled with Gymnastics with Gracie.

When they announced that they will be organizing a half marathon in our town and were looking for help, I jumped on it.  I was able to attend most of the meetings and gather some of the gift cards for the prize table that we had for the people who placed in their age group.  Thank you to my friends who donated!

Knowing the race was going to be well run and on a beautiful course that I am more than familiar with, I had to decide if I wanted to run it or just help and volunteer that morning.  I really went back and fourth with this because I really did want to run it.  However, once I finished my sixteenth race of the year and fourth half marathon, five if you include the HIM, I just decided that I didn't need another race. I was good.

I was assigned water stop B. This was a stop on both sides of the street that ends up being mile four and mile 10.

The race had an 11 o'clock start and I had to check in by ten. I was early, so I helped point runners in the right direction to check in.  It was nice that we were able to do this in the hotel and there was plenty of room for everyone to stay in there to keep warm.  The weather was not good. So cold, rain and wind.

Once more volunteers showed up, I had one help me load my truck and we took the supplies to our water stop to start the set up.  Man it was cold. The wind was blowing cups all over the place.  My gloves got wet and my hands started to freeze. I was really mad that I didn't bring my warmer gloves.

One of the volunteers at my stop, had a pop-up tent in her car. With a little help, we got it up and found large rocks to hold it in place. It was so nice to stand under it and wait. Especially, when it started to rain and snow at the same time.
Under the tent and smiling.

Once we saw the first runner, and ultimately the winner of the race, the fun started!  I loved seeing everyone run by and cheer them on. This was not a good running day.  People had to really dig deep to keep moving forward.  The last runner was basically a walker, and once she passed mile four, the lead runners were hitting mile ten.  Some of them at this point, had pained looks on their faces.  This is tough under normal conditions, here they were battling wind, cold, rain and snow.  I was inspired by each and every one of them.  I was also amazed by my fellow volunteers. No complaints, we just did what we had to do and it was a wonderful experience.

One of the highlights, I have to admit, was when the race director arrived with hot chocolate for all of us.  Man, that really hit the spot!

People started cleaning up as we were nearing the end.  We had people driving the course and was told just about twenty more runners to go.  I actually started counting as they passed by.  I was also so happy to see that most of them still had smiles on their faces.  I am not so sure I would have.

I think for the most part, we are a tough and crazy bunch of people.  My thoughts went to my friends running NYC.  They also dealt with cold, rain and wind but for 26.2 miles.  They all had fantastic races!

Once the final runner passed us, we hopped in our warm cars and heading back to the hotel for a pasta lunch.  I was so happy to feel the heat.  I was pleasantly surprised that the food was still hot.  I ate a little and watch the end of the awards ceremony.  I was able to chat with a few friends and then couldn't stand my wet clothes anymore.  I headed home for a hot shower and my fire place.

There's no place like home...

For a first year race, this was a huge success.  There were over 600 people registered and 486 that showed up, braved the elements and finished.  I have been smiling from ear to ear reading all the great comments on the Gansett Half FB page.  I am sure this will just get better and better every year.

I hope I can be involved with this race again next year. I may even run it.

Did you run Gansett today?  Have you ever volunteered?  You should!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Monday, October 27, 2014

One Bridge and 3500 of my Closest Friends

The Citizen's Bank Pell Bridge Run has been on my calendar for the last four years.  I starting running in 2011 and that was also the first year of this race. I knew I had to do it.  I loved every minute of that first time and knew I would go back every year that I could. Sunday, I ran it for the fourth time.

You can read here about the first time I ran this race. I think I have come a long way as a runner and a blogger.

The race is early. I did not sleep great but got up with no trouble.  I had coffee and headed out the door to meet Elaine, KB and Tyra.  We carpooled over. As soon as we hit Newport, we were in a long line of traffic trying to park. We had plenty of time though and got a good space.

We got the first shuttle we saw. It was so nice and warm on the bus.  We got dropped off at the same spot we have the last four years but they had the coffee and PP's in an access road to the left.  We headed in there, saw some friends and then lined up.  They had signs posted for your pace, including walkers.

Once everyone was lined up, they had us walk out of the access road, to the main road and line up again, no signs there.  This, I feel did not work well. Once we finally got in what we thought was our pace group, we noticed that a women with a cane was in front of us.  Obviously, the line up to line up again method did not work.  Although I think it would have if they had us line up backwards in the first spot and had the walkers out of that area first, followed by the 12 minute mile pace people, then the 11, etc.  Or, just had us line up on the main road with the signs there.

We were running for fun and it was pretty crowded, so we decided to stay where we were and just work our way around everyone.  This took more work than we had anticipated.

It took us 2:19 to get to the mat and then we started running. Well, dodging walkers was more like it.  This happened until we were through the tolls and heading up the hill. The first year I ran this race, I think there were just under 1000 people. This year, there were 3500. I am happy to see that a race I love has succeeded year after year.

Tyra lined up ahead of us and was running at a faster pace.  Elaine, KB and I stayed together for the most part.  KB has been dealing with a hamstring issue and it made an appearance during the race.  It was fun to talk and laugh and watch the sun come up while we were running.  Once we got up and over we pulled to the side for pictures and waited for KB to catch up.  We got some great shots and started running again.

This is now a downhill followed by a pretty flat course.  As we started approaching the exit ramp, I looked at my watch.  My course PR for this race was 45:02. I wanted to get rid of that two seconds, but I was pretty sure I would be able to get more than that.  I had five minutes to do it and asked Elaine if she thought it was possible.  Not being able to see the finish, we had some doubts.  However, one turn and there it was. I knew I would get a new course PR and maybe even a new PR for the distance.

I ran into the finish smiling, Tyra taking pictures and Elaine doing a jump-up, spin move that was just awesome!

KB was right behind us.  We saw some friends and chatted. Got a bagel, snapped some more pictures and checked our times.  My official time was 43:09, just 8 second off my PR. It was, in fact a course PR.  Imagine what my time would have been if I did not stop on the bridge to take pictures!  It's all good tough, this is my fun race of the year and I was just so happy to be there again and with such good friends.

I would like to thank the race directors and volunteers for putting together such a fantastic race once again. I will see you in 2015!

Now, for the first time in two years, I do not have a race on my calendar.  I have an idea of what next year might look like but I am not registered for anything yet.  I actually felt relived when I first realized this.  In 2013, I ran 19 races including a marathon. This year, I ran 16 including a half ironman.  My family is tired and I am tired.  I plan to approach the next year with a smarter schedule and learn the word, "No."

Don't worry, I will race but I don't need one every month.  I am going to think about what is most important to me and my family and put my schedule together based on that.

I am feeling confident that 2015 will be a fun and successful running year.

How far in advance do you plan out your races?

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

*most photos credited to Elaine

Friday, October 24, 2014

Newport Half Marathon and a Little PR

When I started to plan my race schedule for 2014, I had one major goal. To run the United Healthcare Triple Crown.  Three races in three Rhode Island cities, Providence, Jamestown and Newport.  Newport was going to be my 'big goal race."  However, you all know that all changed when I won the free entry into the Rhode Warrior Half Ironman Distance Triathlon.

For most of the year, I focused on swimming and biking with some running thrown in there.  My goal of a 2:20 half marathon had slipped away. That is, until I started to really think about the race. Could I actually still pull it off?  With every run, I kept thinking it was possible.

The Saturday before the half, I ran with Beth.  She was going to run the race with me and we talked about her pacing me.  After that run, I was pretty confident that I would give it my all and shoot for a new PR.

The morning of the race, Beth and I met and drove in together.  Traffic was a bit crazy and I was getting worried we wouldn't make it. Of course we did and since it was cold, it wasn't the worst thing in the world.  We were able to watch the full marathoners start and then we lined up.

I was doubting my choice of clothes and was wishing I had throw-a-way gloves.  Once we started, it did not take long to warm up.

To get my 2:20, we would have to stay under a 10:41 pace.  Pacing is not my strong point. I was happy to have Beth just tell me what I needed to do.  After each mile or so, she would tell me what we ran and if we needed to slow down or speed up. We had a couple fast miles which left a few seconds in the bank for the slower ones.  Beth was right on!

Things started to hurt at about mile nine.  Beth would not let me give up.  I am pretty sure if I was alone, I would of taken a walk break here.

I was so happy to hit mile ten, just 5K to go! I have to say though, I wasn't sure at this point I was going to make 2:20.  I did know that it would still be a PR though. My last PR was 2:24 which I also achieved with Beth, and I knew we would at least beat that.

To my surprise, I was able to hit negative splits for the last 3.1 miles: 10:52, 10:51, 10:00 and the last .1, 9:02.

I have never been so relived to stop running before.  We crossed that line and hugged and not only did I get my PR, I finished in 2:19:29!
Absolutely love Beth's smile in this picture!

I cannot thank Beth enough for all her help and encouraging words.  If you run with me, you know I am a talker. I can go on and on and on for miles.  I am pretty sure if we added up how much I talked to Beth during this race, it would be less than 15 minutes.  I know this really surprised Beth, but I was just so focus and all I could do was think about running, so, that is what I did.  I ran my heart out, fueled right, and just kept putting one foot in front of the other until we crossed the finish line.

We got our medals, and then found our way to the table that was giving out the Triple Crown shirt and extra medal.  I almost cried when I got it.

I was exhausted, Beth was tired too. We did not stay for the free beer. We just headed to the shuttles and drove home.

I felt high the rest of the day. So happy to have the best running friends and family.  When I got home, I was greeted with big hugs and a card that the kids made me.  There may have been tears again...

This is me running.

I can't really say that I trained for that PR, but I did train all year for different races and was pretty much half marathon ready the whole year.  With a little help and determination, I did it!  It was my eight half marathon and one of my favorites. I am not sure I will do the Triple Crown again, but I will at least run Newport.  The course is beautiful, and it is well run.

Coming up on Sunday, I will be running the Newport Bridge run for the fourth year in a row.  This is the fourth year for the race and it is just such a good time.  I plan to be there as many years as I can.

I have some really exciting things coming up and I can't wait to share them with you. I am still working out the details but will blog about everything soon.

I hope you are all having a great weekend!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole