Monday, July 27, 2015

The Blessing Recap 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Week One

The first week of marathon training is in the books!

Honestly, it flew by.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seventeen weeks to Philly.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Marathon Training Begins

Here we go.

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

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

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

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

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

It's a big goal.

Big enough that I enlisted a little help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Our Run with the Iron Cowboy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The kids.

The grown-ups.

The talk.

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

All good!

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

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

George and Lucky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Elaine and Lucky getting shirts signed.

KB getting an autograph and a good laugh.

All about the kids.

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

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

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

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Skirt Sports Thirteener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was so nice to get in the warm shower.

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

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

Did you run the Thirteener?  

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole