Running

The Word Hypocrite Springs To Mind

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If you arrived at this page through a shared link, I have to inform you that the post you were looking for is no longer published.

I am a woman of my word, and I did state that I would take it down if anyone involved regretted their actions and/or apologized.

If you are interested in the subject of bullying I would like to refer to this post instead to understand why I was offended enough to post in the first place.

Those of you who wish to help support Laura in her fundraising can find her GoFundMe site here.  You can also leave her some love in the comments below.

Anyone wishing to learn more about her can find her personal blog here.

To Laura (and everyone else dealing with haters today)

You keep being YOU!  Live your dreams, never apologize for being yourself,

And keep kicking ass.

We at The Running Thriver support you!

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Why I’m Not Ready to Give Up

“I’m going to succeed because I’m crazy enough to think I can.”

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I’m not sure where exactly the crazy idea started that I needed to do a Half IM or why it had to be the REV 3 at Quassy.  I think it likely had to do with the desire to one day complete the ultimate test of endurace: A Full Ironman.  The REV 3 at Quassy just happened to be close to home.  In fact, the course is only a few miles from our house.  What’s more, the tri club we joined just happens to ride the routes in that area and race there.  It was beyond convenient.  It was meant to be.

In my mind, there are no coincidences in life.  Everything happens for a reason.  Therefore, the fact that I am not yet pregnant and the REV 3 is almost here is a clear sign that I am meant to break into the sport of triathlon this year.  I had no idea how to swim or bike when I first set out to do this race.  I have spent over 9 months training.  I learned to swim, trained countless hours, and now am focused on spending every spare moment honing my cycling abilities.  I’m not looking to set any records.  I just want to finish.

That is why, despite my utter terror of cycling, I am not ready to give up on my dream of completing the REV 3 Half IM this year.  I can’t help but think that if it wasn’t meant to be that the registration would have closed or I would already be pregnant.  I just can’t let it go and accept defeat, even if I don’t feel completely comfortable on the bike yet.  Yes, 56 miles is more than I have ever biked in one day.  Yes, riding on hills still scares me out of my mind.  Yes, I will most likely get annihilated out there.  But, not one of those things has any bearing on whether I can finish.

ImageI know I can swim the 1.2 miles and not get tired.  I also know I can run 13.1 miles when I’m utterly exhausted.  I am pretty sure I can muddle through 56 miles on the bike in between.  I have done other races that have required me to be on my feet and moving for 8 to 12 hrs.  I can run over 30 miles.  One would think that should translate over to have the endurance to complete a Half Ironman.  While I realize its not exactly the same thing, and that cycling involves some skill; I do know that I have managed to bike over 30 miles of hills and then run while sick.  Plus, I’m at a point where I can handle my bike well enough not to be a danger to those around me… as far as not being a danger to myself, well I’m not sure that we’ll ever get there… unless they’ve invented a cure for general clumsiness that I don’t know about.  

Anyway, I am not rushing to go sign up this minute, but I did take the time to map out the bike course into Map My Ride so I can test it and see how long it takes me.  I think I owe it to myself to at least try the course out on my own and see if it is doable.  If it seems like something I can manage, then I’ll come home and sign up.  Well, that is if registration is still open at that point.  If not, then I’ll know it wasn’t meant to be this time around.  

SIDE NOTE: my other task pre-race will be to attempt open water swimming.  Luckily, they have a session this weekend with the tri club.  Hopefully the lake water will be warm enough to swim without inducing hypothermia… and my new wetsuit will get here in time!  In the meantime, I am going to keep practicing my cycling.  In fact, I am meeting up with some peeps from the tri club tonight for a ride near the REV 3 course.  Wish me luck!

Waterbury Duathlon Recap

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.

If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

-Dale Carnegie

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It’s the moment you have all been waiting for!  That’s right, it’s time for my Waterbury Duathlon Recap!  Spoiler Alert: I didn’t die or get maimed.  That means I am now officially someone who competes (and I use the term loosely) in more than one sport!  I am a duathlete!

To say I was nervous going into this event would be a gross understatement.  Absolutely TERRIFIED would be a more accurate Imagedescription.  Luckily, my uber supportive and encouraging hubs came along for backup.  I was a little surprised when he registered because he had signed up for the Five Boroughs Bike Tour the day after.  Have I mentioned recently how much I love him?

Anyway… he made sure our bikes were all prepped and ready to go the night before, so we were all set to go in the morning.  After finally settling on parking at the YMCA (after driving around in circles forever a few times) and taking a short walk to the start, we headed over to registration.  Can I just say that I have never raced in an event that required an ankle bracelet for a time chip.  There were also so many stickers and bib numbers!  It was just a little overwhelming… especially given that I didn’t even know how to rack my bike.  It made me very grateful to have the hubs there to show me how to set everything up.

I was also relieved to have my first race involving cycling with our YMCA family!  There were lots of familiar faces, which helped to put me slightly more at ease.  Everyone was so supportive and encouraging.  All I could think was if I could just get through the bike, I would be fine.  My motto for the day was “go slow, have fun,” and I repeated it over and over in my head.

The thing that frightened me most was that the bike course was in downtown Waterbury, and it wasn’t closed.  This meant not only did I have to contend with my general clumsiness on the bike, but do so while avoiding traffic.  Are you freaking kidding me?  As if I’m not challenged enough. lol  Had I only known what was coming!

I think you could have given me all the time in the world, and I still would not have felt ready at the start.  My bike was racked, my transition area set, but there is just no feeling prepared when you step outside your comfort zone.  As crazy as it sounds I think I was almost more afraid of the USAT official than the actual race.  Not that she wasn’t a nice person, but it was more than a little intimidating to go from just running to a race with rules and penalties.  I was so scared of accidentally drafting or doing something I could get disqualified for…  As if the race official was going to care about those of us in the middle or back of the pack.

The first leg of the race was a relatively flat 5K.  It went by fairly quickly despite the fact that my legs weren’t feeling great.  I tried to just relax and focus on my running form.  I reminded myself that just because I didn’t feel great at the start didn’t mean the whole race would be bad.  If ultra running has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t judge a race by the first three or even ten miles.  As long as you hang in there, chances are things will turn around… eventually.

I was actually surprised when I looked down at my watch at the end of the 5K and saw it had only been 22 minutes.  I made my way around the park into the transition area and caught a glimpse of the hubs on his way out.  I tried to take my time getting set up for the bike leg because it was my very first transition and I didn’t want to forget anything.

roadrashThankfully, I managed to mount my bike without too much difficulty; even though I did accidentally release the fastener on my shoe by hitting it on the pedal and had to fix it before I could get on.  Still, before I knew it, I was clipped in and on my way!  I was relieved to find they had officers at each intersection to direct the traffic.

I just was starting to relax and think it wouldn’t be so bad when the hills started…

It wasn’t that the uphills were particularly hard.  Sure some were steep and long, but it was anticipating all the downhill that had me spooked.  What goes up must come down, right?

I was probably the only person who dreaded those down hills more than the up.  As it turned out, it was with good reason!  When we did finally reach the top of all those hills, we were rewarded with an incredibly steep downhill.  Not just a downhill, but a downhill through traffic, with a sharp right turn at the bottom!  I kid you not, I thought it would be the end of me!  I couldn’t help but visualize myself wiping out on that turn.  It was not pretty!  All I could think was that I should have unclipped because I was going to eat it!  What’s worse is that it was still downhill after the turn!!!!  Even worse still, the course was a loop, so I had to do it all over again on the second lap!!!!

I sincerely thought of ditching my bike and quitting I was so shaken.  I almost cried.  In fact, I’m surprised my lip didn’t bleed from how hard I was biting it.  Despite my better self preserving instinct; however, I didn’t quit.  Instead I finished my first loop and headed out for the second.  I dreaded coming though the downhill again, but I was determined to get through it.  The second time through was even more awful because we had to navigate between a line a traffic and row of parked cars.  There was almost no margin for error.  I was SO glad I had practiced riding through all those lane dividers on the Cheshire bike path and managed to keep myself straight.  Thankfully, I made it all the way down and around the turn without crashing.  Once I got back to even ground, I knew I was in the home stretch.

I plowed through the rest of the course back to transition, and after being redirected to the appropriate exit (yes, I initially went the wrong way), I headed out for the final 5K run.  My legs felt heavy as I expected they would.  Again, I focused on form and tried to relax.  Despite the fact that I felt like I was barely moving, the miles were going by quickly so I knew I was moving at a good pace.  The sun and heat were killing me, but I had already survived the bike.  There was no way I was going to let a little warm weather take me out!  It kept telling myself “It’s only 5K, it’s only 5K “.  I chipped the miles off one by one, then before I knew it, I had the park in my sights!!!  One of my swim buddies was volunteering near the park directing runners, and I shouted his name because I was so happy to see him.  I think he was surprised to see me already so close to the finish because I had told him how terrified I was about this being my first event with a bike.  He told me I was “Rocking it!” and I continued on my way.

At that point there was only a short distance… including a ridiculous staircase (I mean really?  A staircase?  Sadists!) to the finish.  The hubs was there at the finish waiting for me.  I ran straight to him and I could see the time on the clock was 1:57!!!  I cannot even explain what it felt like to cross that line!  I had been so scared and worked so hard.  It is just indescribable what it meant to me to actually take the leap and do it.  Less than a year ago I bought my first real bike, and now I’m a duathlete.

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The hubs and I went to check the results and he was excited that he had one of the fastest times on the bike course.  (Woohoo! Go hubs!!!)  I was just happy to have finished.  I was ecstatic it was in under 2 hours, and in utter disbelief that I finished in the top 50.  As part of the race, we got bracelets that entitled us to a free beer and sandwich at one of the local pubs so we headed over to eat.  Instead of finishers medals, we were each awarded a pint glass.  I know, again with the pint glasses.  I’m going to have quite the collection!

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Actually, we left our glasses at the pub… Okay they took them, but we didn’t mind because they had the pub logo instead of the logo for the race anyway.

After we got home and cleaned up, we headed out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants followed by  ice cream at a local creamery.  Just in case you were wondering, I did not feel the least bit guilty about all the calories.  I especially didn’t feel guilty for the DELICIOUS  s’more martini I had with dinner to celebrate.

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Overall the hubs and I both had a great experience.  It was a very well organized event, and I was glad that my first tri event was on our home turf.  It definitely made it less intimidating and added some comfort level.  Plus, it was fun to see so many familiar faces out on the course.  I was really happy that the hubs was so pleased with his performance.  One of the guys from the bike shop we use had recommended he get into racing, and I think his performance might help encourage him.

When we finally got home from all our festivities, the hubs showed me how to clean the bikes and re-lube the chains.  I had told him that I want to get comfortable with the maintenance, so he has been introducing me to the basics.  His mom sent us a text while we were working to let us know she saw our race results and that we had done better than we originally thought.  Sure enough, I had placed second in my age group, 12th for the ladies, and 48th overall!  Not too bad for my first time.  The hubs had finished 26th overall and was well ahead of me with a time of 1:42.  For the record, though, I ran my second 5K faster than him. 😉

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It’s hard to imagine, even now, how much this journey to triathlete has changed my life.  It has forced me to face and conquer my fears on a regular basis.  I decided I wanted to someday finish an Ironman before I even knew how to swim or bike (properly).  Now, I am well on my way to achieving that dream.  I may not do a full Ironman in the next year, or even two, but now I have the foundation to get there.

In fact, the day after the duathlon I went to the pool and swam over 2 miles without even getting tired.  The last 1100m I swam continuously.  It’s a far cry from the girl who was terrified to even put her face in the water.  That’s how much stronger and more confident triathlon has made me.

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Moral of the story: Some of the most rewarding and worthwhile moments of your life will start with being scared to death.  Don’t be inhibited by fear.  Everything worthwhile in life is on the other side of it.

Getting Back in the Saddle

“One thing that cycling has taught me

is that if you can achieve something without a struggle

it’s not going to be satisfying.”

-Greg LeMond

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Hello Everyone!

I have more exciting news for you all!  Yesterday the hubs and I went out for my first official outdoor ride of the season, and I survived!  In fact, I did better than just survive.  I actually did well!  No one was more surprised by this than me.  I think the hubs was secretly impressed, but he hid it well.  I was so happy because I had been terrified of tipping over repeatedly and getting covered in road rash and chain bites.  However, as soon as I hopped on it all came back to me.  

I immediately remembered how to use my gears, which was a big fear of mine.  I also did MUCH BETTER at balancing than the last time I rode theImage bike path.  This was likely related to all the practice I have had in spin and on the trainer with relaxing- especially my shoulders, which I have a bad habit of keeping by my ears.  It’s amazing how much straighter and more smoothly the bike rides when you aren’t holding it with a death grip… go figure!  

I purposely picked the Cheshire Bike Path (as opposed Lake Waramaug which involves minimal dismounting) so that I would have LOTS of practice unclipping and riding through the lane dividers (aka THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE) at the intersections.  I also thought the good vibes from PR’ing on the bike path on Sunday might carry over and help calm my nerves.

The hubs spent some time with me teaching me how to coast while balancing on one foot.  He thought it would help me with dismounting at the intersections, which it did- thankfully!  Normally, I have a lot of trouble coming forward off my seat when I dismount, so instead I end up trying to balance on the toes of my unclipped foot.  This generally leads to toppling over at long lights… hence the reason I avoid city riding altogether.  Well that and being a general hazard on the road

That being said, now that I have conquered swimming, I REALLY want to learn to ride my bike like a big girl real cyclist.  Unfortunately, that means getting comfortable with stopping and starting.  I keep telling myself that if I was able to go from not being able to swim properly at all, and being completely anxious about even getting in the water, then I can conquer cycling too.  

Furthermore, I don’t want to settle for just being competent at it, I want to get proficient at it.  Of all the legs of triathlon, you spend the most time on the bike.  It only makes sense to put energy into becoming the best cyclist I can be.  Getting over my fear of seriously maiming myself riding is a necessary evil.  When I took on swimming, I knew it was essential to achieving my goal of one day finishing an Ironman.  As much as I was absolutely terrified, I was also determined.  

Start by doing what’s necessary;

then do what’s possible;

and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

Francis of Assisi

I have never been one to give up on something simply out of fear.  To me, that’s just not a good enough reason.  I don’t ever want to say I didn’t go after something I truly wanted because I was too scared to give my all.  I would rather try and fail.  That is what got Imageme through the swimming.  I was convinced if I could just stick with it that I could do it.  I HAD to do it.  I didn’t consider the fact that I still wasn’t comfortable on my bike.  All I focused on was the task at hand.

Now I am approaching my bike with the same determination.  There is no room for fear.  It is now or never.  I have a roughly 6 week window to get really comfortable on my bike before the REV 3 Half Ironman, and I want to be there.  I know in my heart I can cover the distance.  I have it in me to do it.  If I don’t do it now, I don’t know when I will have another chance.  I have already invested over 6 months of training.  I have learned to swim and spent countless hours running, spinning, cycling, swimming, and cross training in preparation.

That is why I know I will get the hang of this bike, and why I am so thrilled to have survived my first ride unscathed.  I am lucky to have the hubs to back me up.  He loves cycling the way I love running, so if anyone can help me get to where I need to be it’s him.  

Oh and since our ride went so well (we did close to 20 miles at a “good pace”- according to the hubs) I signed up for a duathlon this weekend.  I figured it may be my only chance to practice transition before June.  Plus, it will give me a feel for riding my bike in an actual race.  The hubs says I am ready, so I am going to trust him.  It’s only a 14 mile bike ride, but it’s in downtown Waterbury.  I’m a little nervous about the city riding; but I have been doing well with dismounting so I should be ok.  

Good thing I’ll have my Tough Chik gear!  I swear it gives me super powers that keep me upright!  Maybe it’s just the extra boost of confidence that comes with wearing the logo “This is what Tough Looks Like”.

What adventures are you all taking on this week? 

 

 

Life as a Whirlwind

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.

We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”

-Frederick Douglass

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Holy Chaos!  It has been a SUPER busy week over here!  I thought it was about time to update you on all the exciting things this very busy Chik has been up to!  FYI: You may want to grab a snack before you start reading.  This is going to be a looong post… but don’t worry, I added lots of pictures to keep you entertained.  You’re welcome!

I figured last week would be EPIC given that I ended the previous one with an Ultra, and it started with the Boston Marathon!  I also expected it to be busy, but I never could have guessed how much I’d get accomplished.

For starters, I only worked two shifts because I have been working like a slave helping my parents move.  My brother and I loaded and unloaded THREE moving trucks of furniture, boxes, tools, and household items.  It took a full two days (of working almost 18 hours a day) to get the trucks filled and unloaded.  Then another whole day to get the house unpacked enough to be livable… Plus, that’s not even mentioning how many car loads I have brought over and by car I actually mean my Subaru Crosstrek and my husband’s truck.  Why yes, I do have other siblings.  Um no, they didn’t help.  My younger sister is a teenager, so her idea of helping consisted of inviting a friend over and throwing her stuff all over her new room… mostly on the floor.  My older sister is contending with my niece who just learned to walk… and by walk I mean run (her daughter takes after me more than her… she is in sooo much trouble…)  So it was basically my brother and I with some help from the hubs when he wasn’t working.

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That being said, my mom is super thrilled with their new place, and that is all that matters!

So obviously given that I had just done a 50K and spent three days hauling boxes and moving furniture, it seemed like a really good idea to sign up for a half marathon.  Okay, it actually seemed like a really bad idea, even to me, but I have run the Cheshire Half it’s first two years.  I really love that race!  I want to be one of those 80 year old ladies who they announce has run it every year since it started.  Besides, I figured if I didn’t run it, I would just be super cranky when all my friends were posting pictures about what a great day they had.  So really, I did it for the hubs so he wouldn’t have a crabby wife.  I’m selfless like that.

I went into the race not really expecting much of myself.  I knew I had logged some serious mileage at the Ultra and my IT bands were still wound up tight.  Plus, it was super windy, so I expected that to really slow me down.  Much to my pleasure, I found my friend Lu, who had also ducked inside to escape the cold, before the start. We both considered this a stroke of luck given the number of runners and took it as a positive sign for the day.  We chatted a bit, mostly about running- big surprise there!  He said his goal was a sub 1:50, and I told him I would be happy to break 2 hours.  We both agreed that given the conditions, we didn’t have high expectations.  Like me, though, Lu loves the Cheshire Half and didn’t want to miss it.  Also like me, Lu runs for the joy of running.  He’s not out there to compete with anyone but himself.  He is really just a kind soul and a joy to be around.

Not long after running into each other, we found the rest of the boot camp crew.  Seeing all of them made me seriously consider rejoining!  They are such a great bunch of people.  They were also super excited about the Half, and many of them were doing it for the first time.  I felt very blessed to have found all my friends before the race!  It was a definite boost because they are all so positive and inspiring.

In another stroke of luck, the sun came out and warmed us up a little at the start.  The weather actually turned out to be PERFECT.  It was overcast, cool, and there was a nice breeze instead of the strong winds when we arrived.  Lu and I began together after losing the rest of the group walking to the start, and he left me in the dust in no time!  My first few miles were a little rocky.  I mentally prepared myself for a grueling 2 hours.  However, after the first 5K I started settling in and felt okay.  By mile 6, I was even feeling strong!  Strangely, the longer the race went on, the better I felt.

The course, for the most part, is a flat one; and most of it runs through a tree lined bike path (part of the reason I like it, I am all about the trees).  For the first several miles of the race I had to fight the urge to push myself harder as everyone passed me.  Instead, I spent the entire race focusing on my form and zoning out with my ipod.  The hubs had picked and loaded all the music for my first Ultra, so it made me smile to listen to his selections.  He even put our wedding song on it!  Who knew he could be so romantic?

Conserving my energy paid off because the few hills on the course came up between miles 8 and 10.  All those people who passed me on the flats started to drop behind me when we hit them.  My legs were tired, but they still felt good.  I figured my pace was steady because the miles were still going by quickly, and I was passing people instead of getting passed.  I also knew where the worst hill on the course was, and once I was over it I told myself I was in the home stretch.  I was excited because I knew I would have a strong finish.  I had also been running at a good pace the whole way and felt so good that I thought I might PR.

I hadn’t looked at my watch once.  I didn’t want to psych myself out or get over confident.  Instead I wanted to focus on running at a comfortable pace.  I didn’t want to push my body to the point of feeling sick.  I also didn’t want to push too hard after having just done an ultra.  Mostly, I was just in awe of how strong I felt after what I had put my body through last weekend.  I silently thanked my body and reveled in how far it exceeded my wildest expectations.

I ran those last few miles hard because I knew I could.  I felt great!  Yes I was tired, but I also knew deep down that this was the best I had ever done running a Half Marathon.  I wasn’t sick or hurting or hating life.  I enjoyed almost the entire thing!  When I hit mile 12, the clock read 1:45!!!  My first thought was that if I was at this time at mile 12, then Lu must be finished.  He absolutely must have met his goal!  I did a little happy dance for him in my head.  Then I realized “HOLY $HIT! I AM GOING TO PR!”  I knew there was a possibility that the clock was wrong, but I just felt too good for that to be the case.

Despite the fact that it was still cold out, I stripped off my long sleeve shirt, so I could sport my Team Tough Chik jersey that last mile. I wanted to represent my fellow Toughies out there!  They are all so inspiring, and I am beyond proud (and BLESSED!) to be one of them.  I wanted to have that shirt visible when I crossed the line.  It was a magical moment.  I almost cried.  The clock read 1:55.  It was the fastest Half Marathon I have ever run, and I did it one week after running an Ultra (and two weeks after my first #1 in my age group).  Holy-Freaking-Epic!   I still can’t believe it!

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The funny thing is, my last PR for a half was at the Hartford Half Marathon 2 weeks after my DNF at the Ultra Beast.  Apparently Ultras agree with me.  Perhaps I should do one before every half…

Oh and as if that were not enough #EPIC news, I also got this email:

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That’s right!  I am now an official Sweat Pink Ambassador!!!!  Take that Fitfuential!  At least someone appreciates my awesomeness.  Just wait until I’m famous and the AWESOME-train has left the station without you.  lol

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But wait!  There’s more!  I also had a CT-ALIVE board meeting, and our program director Susan Omilian (the woman who changed my life after the abuse)  has asked me whether I would be willing to become co-vice president of the board.  Pretty exciting stuff!  Either she appreciates all my enthusiasm, or she has not actually read this blog and doesn’t realize what a raving lunatic I am.

Anyway, I was telling her about my mad graphic designing skillz (that is an intentional typo btw, because I’m all ghetto with my mad skillzzzz) now that I have discovered picmonkey.com.  She was so impressed that she gave me my first job as a graphic designer… minus the getting paid and it actually being a job part.  Actually, I’m just doing her a favor and making uber cool graphics with some of her quotes.  I already sent her a bunch, and she was pretty pleased.  I consider this high praise because Susan is an even bigger perfectionist than I am.  Here is one of my favorites:

 

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If you are interested at all in the concept of thriving, you should totally check out her website.  I cannot say enough about how wonderful and helpful her workshops were!   Plus, if you don’t live in the area, she has a Thriver Workbook that you can do on your own at home.  I know it sounds a little cheesy to do a self help workbook as an adult, but I have bought one for my mom, and she loves it.  In fact, I have actually bought a few for other women as well, because I really believe not only in her book, but in empowering other women to live happy, fulfilling lives.

That is all for now my lovelies!  I hope you are all off to a great week!  What did you all accomplish this weekend?  I would love to hear about it!

Boston Strong

“Every serious marathoner should do Boston,

to experience the close to a million spectators,

the three generations of families out cheering,

the little kids handing you water or orange slices.

The whole city really appreciates the runners.”
-Neil Weygandt

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I am not sure what being a “serious” marathoner entails, but I do know that I am seriously into running!  Perhaps that is why I was glued to my twitter feed all morning (in between entering orders and caring for patients) drinking up every ounce of information as if I had been stranded on a dessert island with no other source of sustenance.  Truthfully, I was rooting for Shalane Flanagan more than any other runner out there.  It was clear how badly she wanted it… Plus, I am a sucker for a hometown hero.  Add to that the fact that she is no taller than I am and a totally bad ass lady; and you can start to understand why this women has won my support.

If not, watch this:

Hello! She is wearing a polka dot jacket and she compared running to church… clearly we were separated at birth and I just happened to miss out on the super athletic genes.

Okay, now that we are on the same page… Let’s talk about why I am obsessed with the Boston Marathon.  For starters, Boston is the brass ring of the marathon and distance running community.  It’s a goal that so many people dream about.  The amount of blood, sweat, tears, and months to years of preparation and training it takes is unlike any other marathon.  The time qualifiers are so competitive that I will easily be in my 60s before I qualify by their standard, and that is only if that don’t up the qualifiers by then!

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Boston is not a race you run on a whim.  It’s a race you pine and dream about.  Every runner in that race has earned a spot there; and before you point out that there are plenty of people who get in by fundraising for charity- I would like to just invite you to take a look at the minimal fundraising requirements to get in.  When you find a cheap one, you let me know.  Point being every runner out there deserves every bit of support from the crowd.

I have always been a fan of Boston; however, after last year’s marathon it has become even more significant.  The tragedy that happened last year shined a national spotlight on the marathon and running community.  It carried marathon running into the mainstream more than it ever had been.  It inspired more people than ever to want to run a marathon and to want to run Boston.  It brought the spectators and runners together.  It drew people who never had interest in running into the sport (yes, it is a sport).  The Boston bombing didn’t scare anyone away from the Boston Marathon, rather it attracted them in droves.

Why?  Because it was a tremendous display of community and indomitable strength.  The aftermath of the explosion was filled the city with terror, but even more so it was filled with courage, selflessness, charity, goodwill, empathy, and compassion.  All the best parts of human character showed through more luminous than any damage those terrorists could have inflicted.  People risked their lives to help complete strangers. Runners continued (after running the full marathon) to the hospitals to donate blood.  Finishers gave up their medals to those individuals who were stopped short of their goal.  The whole nation rallied in support.

The Boston Marathon was not defeated, rather it became an even greater symbol of resilience.  It brought Patriots Day from a little know local holiday into national consciousness.  Perhaps, the next step should be to declare it a National Holiday, and we could all celebrate the Marathon together…  Should anyone decide to start that petition please let me know!

In the meantime, I showed my support in the best way I knew how.  I started by joining the 118 For Boston Movement and logging all my mileage with the tag #118ForBoston in RunKeeper.  If I can’t run Boston in person, then at least I can run miles for Boston!  In case you were wondering, I included the #118ForBoston tag on my Ultra mileage on Saturday as well.  It was my last official contribution before the race this morning.  I also wore my race shirt and sneakers in support of Marathon Monday as well!  My newest shirt addition from the Traprock Ultra just happens to be Boston Marathon colors, and super awesome to boot.  I think it may be my favorite race shirt yet!  I am pretty sure I am the only person who dressed in support of the marathon today at work, but I just assume that’s because everyone is living under a rock…

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Luckily for me, my coworkers were pretty tolerant of my exuberance about the race.  They even humored me with feigned interest when I rattled off the standings every 15-20 minutes.  I was sad that Shalane didn’t win, but happy for her that she ran the first half faster than the course record and got a PR.  I was also pumped that Rita broke the course record with a time of 2:18:57.  The women totally rocked that race!!!!   Way to represent ladies!!!! I think I even heard that Rita ran a 4:47 split at mile 24 which was one of the fastest splits for any of the racers- male or female.  By the time they announced Meb as the male winner, I think I was ready to jump out of my skin with excitement…. luckily this coincided with my lunch break.

So after spending my morning finally fully recognizing just how useful (and what a God-send for those of us stuck at work with no TV!) twitter can be, I texted the hubs to share my enthusiasm about the results.  Can you believe he didn’t know what I was talking about?  And he is a runner?  Before questioning how we are married, I decided that he must have just woken up.  Obviously, if he had been awake, he would have been equally as captivated by the days events… like every other runner on the planet… hello!

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Poor hubs… He had no idea what he was getting himself into when he met me.  And to think he once made a comment about his ex-fiance not being a “real” runner because she “only ran half marathons” (Pfff as if there were such a thing as fake runners… At the time we weren’t even officially dating and I don’t think I had ever run more than 8 or 10 miles).  Oh hubs, how many times have you had to eat those words in the past 3+ years…

What did you all do to show your support for the Boston Marathon today?

Just a little more inspiration for you…

You can also see her dance again and learn about the technology here

Congrats to all the Boston Marathon Finishers!!!!!

I EAT MILES FOR BREAKFAST (TRAPROCK RECAP)

“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.”
-Julie Isphording

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“I eat miles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”  That was my race mantra for the 7 hours and 30ish minutes it took me to complete the Traprock Ultra 50K yesterday.  That is a full 1.5 hours faster than my last ultra finish at Bimbler’s Bluff by the way… just in case you were curious. 😉  While I would like to say the faster time was related to my veteran status as an ultra runner (with one whole 50K under my belt…), the truth is it is much more likely related to the fact that this run was shorter (um, yes they were both 50K but this one was actually 50K… as opposed to the 50K-ish course at Bimbler’s Bluff which was closer to 34 miles… if you didn’t get lost, which I did… repeatedly) and really well marked.

One thing it was not was EASIER.  There were two ridiculously steep climbs within the first couple miles, including one right at the start.  Since the course consisted of 3 loops, we had to do both 3 times!!!  … And thats not even counting having to run the first one (which was by far the worst) in reverse 3 times as well!  So the people who designed Traprock were sadists as well, but then what trail runners and trail race organizers aren’t?  I mean honestly, when have you ever done a trail race that wasn’t filled with ridiculous hills? Or finished a race thinking “gosh that course was easier than I expected?”…. Never? Yeah, me either.  Of course, the hills on this course were steep and technical even by trail running standards.

The good news is, after the quad-busting climbs in the few first miles, there was a nice descent (not so nice going in reverse) followed by a very friendly and supportive aid station and the Lollipop section of the course.  This was the first out and back and it was super fun to cheer on all the runners who were already on their way back.  I think this was my favorite section because it was dirt (minimal rocks!) and consisted of a gradual uphill which became a fast, easy down on the way back.  From there it was anotherImage aid station cheer section and back up (literally up… sadists I tell you) into the woods on a lengthy stretch of up and down.  This felt like the longest section of the course to me.   I think partly because after picking up speed in the lollipop section, the steep parts of the hills made me feel like I was grinding to a stop.

After several fake outs (as in “nope, not leveling out yet”), there was yet another aid station at the top of the ridge.  BTW I will say there were some spectacular views along the way, and a nice breeze at the top.  The volunteers at this aid station were also AWESOME.

I just can’t say enough about how wonderful each station was!  They cheered, they played music, they asked how I was feeling and what I needed.  They even filled my hydration pack for me so I didn’t have to take it off.  It was definite pick me up each time I saw them.  This last aid station was roughly 3 miles from the finish and led to a (longer than I would have liked) paved section consisting of a gradual up and down.  The thing I hated about this section (aside from my obvious dislike for running on pavement) was that there was not much shade, and I felt like the sun was roasting me.  By the time it finished I was happy to get back on the trail, even if it meant repeating that merciless hill from the start.  Thankfully, it was slightly less awful in reverse.  Plus, it was a another loop part of the course so I got to cheer for all the runners coming out on there second loop.

Finishing the first loop meant running through the finish and then turning around and heading back up the way we came (yes, up the evil hill again).  It was slightly cruel, but not as emotionally damaging as getting lost and backtracking through the entire Bimbler’s Bluff course.  Unfortunately, during my second loop I started to feel sick.  Anytime I tried to eat anything resembling solid food, it just didn’t agree with me.  I had stomach cramps and a headache, and I was worried I might have to drop out.  It was much warmer than it has been recently, so I was not acclimated to running in the heat.  I tried to increase my fluid intake and see if that helped.  Luckily I had added a protein mixture to my water and was able to keep down the cliff bloks I brought.  It was frustrating because my legs and joints felt good.  I decided just to slow down and not push myself.  After all, it was a gorgeous day and beautiful course.  I Imageam a trail runner first and foremost.  There is truly nothing that makes me feel happier or more at peace than being on the trails.

My main goal for this race was to finish.  The time cut off was 9 hrs, which is just about what it took to run my last 50K.  I figured I should be able to make that as long as I didn’t get lost.  My secondary goal was to finish in 8 hrs.  Given that I was running over 30 miles, I thought shaving a full hour off my previous time was a reasonable aim.  When I finished my first loop in just over 2 hours (well behind most of the field btw… Ultra Runners are beasts!  And possibly part mountain goat…) I knew I had the time to slow down, and give my body a chance to recover.

My plan worked, and by the start of loop 3 I was feeling great.  I still did not push hard for fear of causing more GI distress; so instead I socialized with the runners nearby and walked the hills. YES! I walked.  I walked any reasonable looking hill.  I am no dummy.  I ran almost the entire Bimbler’s Bluff 50K, and the only thing I accomplished by doing so was burning out my legs on the hills.  This time I had nothing to prove, and I wasn’t about to mess with the heat.  Guess what?  I went faster!  I figured it was better to walk and run than crawl… which is what I would have been doing had I not walked some of those inclines!  It was so much more enjoyable too!  Because my legs weren’t super fatigued, I was able to actually run the flats and downhills, which is so much more fun than poking along at injured pace.

My whole goal for loop 3 was really just to enjoy it, and honestly I did.  Once I got through the hills on that first section I was so pumped to have “the worst” of it behind me.  The aid station volunteers commented on what a big smile I was wearing as I came into view.  I hollered back “The hard part is over! Just the fun stuff left now!” and I truly meant it.  I sailed through the entire lollipop section as if my legs weren’t tired at all (ok, well my version of sailed).  In fact, I felt strong right up until I ran out of cliff bloks.  Then I, again, got into trouble with the cramping.  This was unfortunate because I was heading into the sun-scorching paved section again.  The last 5K was the longest 5K I have ever run in my life.  Most likely because I was barely moving in spite of my best efforts.  I had given everything I had and left it on the course.  There was simply nothing left in me.  That is until I had the finish within my sight.  Then I came down that hill and hurled myself at it as fast as my legs would carry me!

ImageEven being one of the last finishers, there were still plenty of people cheering at the finish.  I was just happy that I had finished before they shut the course down!

I am no expert in Ultra running by any means, but I would definitely recommend this course to any one considering running one.  Normally I am not a fan of any kind of repeats in a race.  However, in this case, it was one of my favorite parts.

First, the fact that the course was a loop meant it was well marked with frequent aid stations (ie. cheer sections).  It also meant by the second and third loop that I knew where I was going, which made it easier to watch my footing (and not face plant).  Furthermore, it was helpful in terms running more efficiently due to knowing where to push hard and where to coast.  Finally, it was a great way to interact with the other runners!  Ultra running can be such a lonely sport when you sign up by yourself.  It’s nice to see a friendly face every once in a while when you spend hours of your day running in the woods.

While I loved my experience at Bimbler’s Bluff, I cannot say I enjoyed the course as much as I did in this ultra.  I had put so much pressure on myself last time to run well and finish.  This time around I really wanted to just embrace the experience.  That is exactly what I did.  Sure plenty of (ok most) people may finished ahead of me, but I doubt any of them enjoyed the experience as much as I did.  For me, trail running is pure bliss.  Even when I’m tired and it hurts, I still love it.  That being said, Traprock has earned a special place in my heart.