Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Best of 2012

This morning I ran for the last time in 2012. I was thinking over this year and how much I accomplished. My yearly mileage wasn't all that impressive, but I went from two consecutive zero months (Dec '11/Jan '12) to running 2 half marathons in the Fall and a few new PR's. I'm pretty proud of 2012, so I thought it would be fun to round out the year with Miss Zippy's 2012 Q &A.

Best Race Experience:
This would definitely be a tie between my two big races this year. I set a Half Marathon PR at the Ramblin Rose Half in October on a pretty challenging course.

Best day ever!

Three weeks later I was on the Outer Banks toeing the line at another 13.1. This time it was part of a girls weekend getaway with some good friends! While there was no PR involved, there was plenty of eating and drinking and napping on the beach.

Best Run:
Again, it is a toss up between two 10 milers I ran. Both of them were out of town. One when I was home in Philadelphia. I ran a couple loops of a state park. The trail was crowded with people. The scenery was awesome. I felt great through the run. It was just all around fun.

The second was in Vermont at the peak of leaf peeping season. Vermont is one of my favorite places ever. I loved being able to get in a long run while we were visiting my brother and his family.

Oh Vermont, I love you!

Best New Piece of Gear:
Hands down, without a doubt, my Garmin 110. I was using the Nike + watch before that and it was wildly inaccurate. I super love my Garmin and could not imagine being without it.

Best Piece of Running Advice Received:
"Don't think, just go."  I tend to get bogged down in my own head. Self doubt often stops me in my tracks before actual fatigue. I am trying to listen more to my body instead of the negative thoughts that can creep in during the harder workouts.

Most Inspirational Runner?
Honestly I can not chose just one. Since starting this blog and becoming active on Twitter I have come across so many inspirations: the ultra marathoners, the speedy runners, the slow runners who are just as proud (as they should be!), the runners who juggle families, careers and their own fitness, runners who have lost weight and work to keep it off. I would not be the same without the online running community that I have found.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Educational and motivating. I am so excited to see what happens in 2013!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Mother's Love

As an American and as a parent of a 1st grader and a pre-schooler, the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, CT is unimaginable. My heart goes out to all of the families of the victims. The pictures and the news coming out of CT consumed my thoughts and heart all weekend, as they will for a long time to come. I wish I could be more eloquent, but I need some sort of outlet for my thoughts. I hope they will not be perceived as selfish. What I am is a parent who looks at her own children differently after this weekend.


I couldn't sleep much last night. The words of what I wanted to write here kept flowing through my head. To be honest, I would have been better off writing them down last night because in those moments of silence everything I wanted to say was flowing freely and easily in my mind. Not so much right now.

Like the rest of the nation, I have been consumed by the news from Connecticut. The event, as gruesome as it is, was all the more heart wrenching for me because those children whose lives were lost were the same age as my son. They were probably doing the same things he was when their lives were torn apart from them. My heart aches for the parents of the victims, because I know if it were me I would not be able to go on.

President Obama mentioned a saying about parenthood that I have heard before: that being a parent is like having a piece of your heart living and breathing outside of your body. It is completely true. People obviously know that the bond between a parent, a mother, and their child is unique. But I do not think that you can fully comprehend that unless you have a child of your own. I don't think the intensity of those feelings can be adequately put into words. I struggle to find the words to describe my love for them.

This weekend I was more lenient with them than I normally am, I let them stay up a little later than I normally do and, to be honest, was more patient with them than I normally am. What I realized from Friday's events were that no matter how trying these two little people can be at times, no matter how messy, how obnoxious, how loud and how tiring, I am so incredibly lucky to have them in my life. I don't know if I deserve so much joy and I realize now that I can lose it in an instant.

The joy of parenthood is only equaled by the burden. Every decision I make affects not only me but also them. My responsibilities are heavier because of them. I make personal sacrifices on their behalf. I have the overwhelming responsibility to prepare them to become citizens of the world. It is my job to teach them how to be kind, considerate, active members of society. It is something I don't take lightly, and while I may have been more lenient with them this weekend in particular, I know that can not last long. By setting rules and setting consequences for not following them, I am doing my job as a parent. I am showing them that I love them enough to prepare them for this world.

President Obama also mentioned that from their first step, and every step after that, our children are taking steps away from us. This is true. I sent them both out into the world today when every fiber of my being wants me to keep them with me. But the world keeps moving despite how much we want it to stay still. And I still have an important job to do with these children.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Catching up

Greetings from my sick bed. Today marks day #3 that I have been confined to my bed with the stomach flu. Today I feel well enough to move to the couch, which is a big improvement.

Today, as my symptoms subside, I am relishing the opportunity to slow down a little bit. Life as been moving pretty steadily all Fall and I feel like I am just along for the ride. Since I am able to actually stay awake today it is nice to catch up on some of the little things, like watching everything on my tivo and finally updating my little blog.

I had a whole Thanksgiving post all planned out. What I didn't have was the time to do it. We traveled to South Carolina and I ran a 5mile race on Thanksgiving morning. I PRed and my brother-in-law came in 25th place out of over 1000 people! It was quite a morning. Followed by a lot of eating.

Good running! Now let's eat!
Since then I have been really enjoying not being on a training plan. Two half marathons this Fall were fun, but I definitely am enjoying the break from having to run. So far I run when I want for however long I want. I really like the freedom of that.

I have big plans for the Spring, including 2 half marathons and a 10 mile race. Training for that officially starts in January. Until then, I am taking a much more relaxed approach to running and attempting to get back into weight training.  I am hoping that this stomach flu has not set me back too much. Hopefully by the weekend I will be abe to slowly get moving again.

But for now, it is back to the couch for another nap...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

OBX Half Marathon Race Recap

I had been looking forward to this past weekend for a long time. It was a weekend away from responsibilities. A weekend with my best friend. A weekend making new friends. Sun. Beach. Running.

Exactly what I needed.

I entered this weekend really nervous about the race. I really wanted to run my best race, but I kept thinking in my head "you get out what you put in". My life has not been exactly calm in the past three weeks since my last half marathon. Work has been unusually busy. My husband has been working practically non-stop on a project. My daughter has been recovering from an injury. She hurt her tongue and until recently it has not been healing properly which has made each meal time a particular struggle. We were meeting with ENT doctors and plastic surgeons. Needless to say, there has been a lot on my plate and my training suffered. I didn't put into my training exactly what I wanted to get out of it, a fact of which I was most keenly aware.

So I was nervous. However, right before I left for the weekend I read a fantastic blog post by Beth over at Shut Up and Run about how not every race needs to be a PR. Honestly, it was exactly what I needed to read going into this weekend.  I was about to leave for a much needed weekend off of basically every responsibility I have. I could not let the nagging doubt of PRing ruin the entire weekend for me.  Once I let that sink in, I was much more relaxed about everything.

Every year since I moved from Boston, my best friend's husband sends the two of us away for a weekend near her birthday. I, for one, love this tradition!  This year, I somehow finagled Kari to come down to NC and drive with me to the Outer Banks so I could drag her to one of my races. She's such a good sport. She said as long as I didn't make her get up early with me then she'd be happy to tag along. Now that's friendship right there, people.

Best friend, beach and good old Pennsylvania beer.
What more could I want?

We drove east to the Outer Banks on Saturday morning. After making a stop at the expo to pick up my packet we found the first bar so I could properly begin my carbo loading. We checked in at the hotel then met up with Jenni and some of her running friends for a proper carb-fest.

When I woke up bright and early I had no idea what to expect from my legs. I was hopeful because the course was mostly straight and very flat. I was optimistic, but told myself to just have fun and to enjoy the experience.

It was pretty cold at the start and I tried as much as I could to loosen up while I was waiting in my corral for the race to begin. The first 3 miles were pretty good. We started on a highway and made the first of several turns into some neighborhoods right on the water. The majority of the race was run in the right-most lane of a 4 lane road, so it was nice to actually move away from that and venture into the residential areas.

At mile 4.5(ish) we again turned off of the highway and entered another neighborhood and golf course. It was much more scenic and interesting than the highway. These were definitely my favorite miles of the race.

Around mile 6 my right quad started hurting in a way I have not experienced before - just really cramping up. I tried my best to run through it, but had to walk several times to calm it down. I really just wanted to be done at this point.

At mile 7 we got back on the highway and I knew we had several straight miles on this road. In some ways it was good because I could just zone out and go. At other times it was pretty boring. I tried to run strong between miles 7-9 because I knew the bridge into the town of Manteo was coming.

The Washington Baum bridge was our only point of elevation for the race. Located between miles 9.5-10.5, the race website warned us about it: "The bridge is tall (stats: 1.05mi long, 82' high, with a 650' climb to the top at 4% grade)." I tried not to, but eventually I started to walk up the hill. I walked a bit, ran a bit and finally walked the rest of the way to the top. After we crested it I cruised to the bottom knowing that it was only a little ways further to the turn into Manteo.

But mile 10 was my breaking point. I did the math over and over in my head. I knew 2:30 was gone, but if I ran 12 minute miles I could make it maybe a little faster than the Ramblin Rose. But I just couldn't. Physically and mentally I was just done. The last 3 miles were a struggle for every step. I was tired. There was a pretty painful blister on one of my toes. And I was wallowing in disappointment for watching my A and B goals slip away. I ran/walked the rest of the way in.

I was so happy to make the final turn and finally see the finish line.

Done and done!

I finished in 2:37:??. I have to say that I was disappointed for like a minute. Very soon after finishing I remembered Beth's post and my struggles these past few weeks. I decided to just let myself enjoy what I just accomplished. It was not my best race. But it wasn't my worst either. The weather was spot-on perfect. I pulled up my big girls pants and got happy real quick.

That's the spirit!

Kari was waiting for me right at the finish line. I stopped at the med tent for some band-aids for my poor little toe and went to meet Jenni to watch her friends come it. Eventually Kari and I took off in search for a well deserved burger and hot shower.

Since we weren't leaving until the next day, we had the whole rest of Sunday afternoon to relax. The weather was gorgeous so we spent an hour or two down on the beach reading and napping before meeting up with everyone for dinner and drinks.

In the end, this weekend was exactly what I needed in the wake of some of the most demanding weeks of my life. It was the perfect mixture of running, relaxing and having fun.

A photo essay of my weekend. In related news,
I love my new photo collage app. Also, why
do I take pictures of my feet?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Weekend of Running

Work has been crazy for both me and Brent lately so I was really looking forward to this weekend because there was a lot of run stuff happening.

On a whim, I emailed the volunteer coordinator of the City of Oaks Marathon to see if there was any need for an additional course monitor for the race. I wasn't sure what he would say since this position usually fills up fast (thanks in part to an awesome hoodie that the course monitors receive!). Much to my surprise he wrote back and said he had 1 last spot. I was pretty excited about it. I am running the Outer Banks Half next week, so actually running this race was out of the question for me. I figured why not volunteer and watch the race as well.

So on Saturday I headed out to the expo to pick up my race crew shirt, my sexy reflective vest and flag, and of course the hoodie. (Note: I see now why everyone want to be a course monitor now. This hoodie is fleecy goodness that I have not taken off since yesterday.)

Since I was already in Raleigh I decided to take this opportunity to run somewhere new. I had 10 miles planned as my last long run before next week's race. Raleigh has a pretty decent greenway system so I headed a couple of blocks away from the expo to the House Creek trail.

It was nice to go somewhere new. The trails were very clearly marked so it was easy to navigate. Some nice scenery and perfect Fall weather made this a great run.

At least for the first 5 miles. But on my way back my legs did not want to move and I just wanted to be done. As nice at the first 5 miles was, the last 5 were equal parts crap. I hate how running can be like that sometimes.

Another issue about this run: My new running skirt. I just bought the Skirt Sports Lotta Breeze Capris this week. I wanted something a little special for my race next week. Luckily they arrived in time for me to test them out on a long run before I wore them in the actual race.

The Verdict: Es no bueno.

In the first half mile of my run I had to stop three times to hike the skirt up. There is no adjustable waistband to make the skirt any tighter so they just kept falling down. I mean, I had some serious plumber crack at one point. While I think a smaller size might be too small in the capri area, this skirt just would not stay put around my waist. It was super disappointing because I spent a lot of time looking at skirts with capris, and I just don't have the running budget for another brand. I was thinking of using my crafty sewing skills to put in my own waistband that I can tie, but we'll see. After a while though everything started staying where it was supposed to. I will give them another try this week because I want so much to like them.


This morning I woke up super early to go back out to Raleigh to volunteer at the marathon. I was stationed at mile 6, which meant that I got to see all of the racers since there was also a 10k and a 13.1 happening as well.

It was COLD and my vest was SEXY
It was a really good time and I had fun cheering on the runners (especially Bang, who was rocking the purple!). I was hoping to be able to finish up at my post then run a bit of the course with Melanie, but Brent called just as I was finishing to tell me he was called into work, so I had to go home earlier  than I had planned. It was still a great morning to watch a race.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Recovery Week?

First and foremost, I want to say a big Thank You to all of the kind emails and comments and tweets about my race last week.

After running what was for me a pretty solid race, I allowed myself a few days' worth of recovery before jumping right back into running. I have the OBX Half in 2 weeks and can not afford to take too much time off. The fact of the matter is that my legs did not want to even think about my Brooks until sometime Wednesday morning. The plan was to lace up bright and early Thursday.

At least, that was the plan.

On Wednesday I got a call every mother dreads. Hannah was in an accident on the playground at school and needed to go to the ER. She fell off the balance beam and bit nearly through her tongue. She was bleeding profusely and needed to be seen. Brent got the message before I did so he went to pick her up and  I met them at the ER.

By the time I got to her, the bleeding had slowed quite a bit, but she had a pretty gnarly gash on the top of her tongue. So we waited.

And waited.

We waited for 5 hours to be seen. It was terrible. She was in so much pain. And so hungry. And there was nothing I could do. Don't get me wrong, she could have been hurt much much worse, but seeing your child in any kind of pain is heart breaking.

We found ways to entertain ourselves.

Finally they had a bed for her and we saw a couple of doctors. We discussed whether to sedate her and put sutures on her tongue. After a lengthy conversation we decided it would be best to let it be. The tongue has a very significant blood supply and heals itself very quickly. The edges of the wound were touching, so the doctor felt strongly that the wound would heal itself in time. After 6 and a half hours were were sent home with a prescription for pain killers.

I stayed home with her on Thursday. She was on a liquid diet and had to be fed with a syringe.

Feed me!
She spent Friday sleeping most of the day away and began to eat more. Today she is back to her normal self. As I type this she is jumping on the couch and giving me a heart attack. She is still on a liquid diet since she can't really put her tongue in her mouth. But she is talking and eating more, so I know she is feeling better.

This morning I had to go into work for a couple of hours to try to catch up from missing so much time this week. Afterwards I decided on a 3 mile run.

I hated every. single. step. It was terrible. I was so excited to be running again and wanted so much to be happy, but my legs felt like lead. Despite the great Fall weather and the beautiful trees I just couldn't get into it. I am planning to get out tomorrow morning and my legs better be on board with that plan.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ramblin Rose Half Marathon Race Recap

Cliff notes: Today was one of the best days of my running life where I ran a challenging course and set a half marathon PR since taking some years away from running to have a couple of babies. Today was the reason I love running.

Full story: I woke up this morning and couldn't stop thinking about my favorite high school teacher. Strange. But Mr. Powell once pulled me aside after hearing me complain about not being good enough to do well in a certain class. He talked to me about self confidence and how I should have more of it. He told me I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for. His words have remained with me and I often remember them.

I was so nervous going into this race. I worried that my training was not enough. That I hadn't put in the amount of effort I needed to get what I wanted out of it. I knew the course was hilly and hard.

I was also excited. What if I set out to do what I wanted to do? It would feel so amazing. 

Basically I was a basket case. Par for the course. 

After waking up super early and getting all of my pre-race stuff done I headed downtown to the race which was only a few minutes from my house.  After a last stop at the port-o-potties I headed to the start. Already it was exciting because I got to meet a few local bloggers. First were Bang and Melanie, two ladies who I just love talking to over Twitter. Next I recognized Jolene, whose blog I love. It was great fun to meet them!

My plans for the race were to start out conservatively because I knew the second half had some major hills and a lot of twists and turns. Take some nutrition every 40 minutes or so. And to run my own race. 

Miles 1-6: These were relatively easy for me because they are part of my normal running route. I have run this part of the course numerous times. I knew where the hills were and how bad they would be. I knew where the flat and down hill sections were. I knew where the turns where. Basically, I knew exactly what to expect - where to speed up and where to rein it in. To keep myself from starting out too fast I had some Bob Marley on the ipod. By mile 5 or so it was full on booty music. It is amazing what the combination of a down hill and Britney Spears can do for one's pace!

Miles 7-10: The real hills, in my opinion, started around mile 7. My basic strategy was to start each hill at a run but not be afraid to walk some if I had to. I basically spent these miles walking some steeper hills and then speeding up on the down hill and flats to stay near my target pace. Mile 8 was the toughest for me and ended up being a full minute over my goal pace. Luckily, I had some time banked from the beginning of the race.

Clever signs like this one where
posted on some of the hills.

Miles 11-13: Some mental math told me I had to run these miles at 12 min pace to get to the finish line at my goal time of 2:35. Sounds easy enough but we weren't done with the hills yet and I was fading. Brent and the kids were at mile 11, which was awesome because I wasn't expecting them until the finish line. Luckily they were on one of the steeper hills so they walked with me for a little bit. A kiss from each of them and I was on my way again. Mile 11 was  the slowest of the day, but I did the math over and over again and knew that I had a good amount of time in the bank. Once we got within a mile of the finish I dug deep and got it done. It was great to have Brent and the kids at the finish line too!

Goal time: 2:35

Final time: 2:34:33

A half marathon PR for my post-baby running life!

Let me just say that in general I do not consider myself a sappy person, but when I crossed the finish line I burst into tears. I was so freaking proud of taking over 5 minutes off of my time from last year. I felt so much stronger than I thought I would. And for the first time since I started running again 2 years ago I achieved a race goal I set for myself. It was (and still is) the most amazing feeling!

We spent some time hanging around after the race to enjoy the fantastic weather and atmosphere. Also the kids liked the bouncy house. And Hannah used me to get the cups of pretzels and jelly beans they had out for the finishers.

Honestly, this was one of the best days of my running life.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Three Things Thursday

I thought all day on how to make the title of this post more creative. No such luck

We are on day 2 of shifting work schedules around to accommodate a sick kiddo. Today was my day to go into work and figure out how to jam two days worth of work into one.

Anyhow, I've already mentioned that it is race week and my stomach is all aflutter with excitement and nerves. I've decided to take a more fun approach to my half this weekend and since then my emotions have been more Let's-Do-This and less I-Wanna-Throw-Up.

But thanks to my pre-race jitters, I am feeling a bit chatty, so here are a few (three to be exact) things about today.

1. My new favorite breakfast ever.

I am late to the greek yogurt party, but I've just discovered the Dannon Oikos honey flavored greek yogurt and I love love love it. I am mixing it with some honey oats. I have eaten this for breakfast every day for the past two weeks.

2. I spent some time last night mapping out my running plans for the Spring. I've picked out 2 half marathons and a 10 miler. I've decided to try the Hal Higdon's Intermediate training plan. Since I have built my base up this Fall, I am hoping to keep it up and use the Winter for working on speed. I am pretty excited about it. 

3. My house smells OMGSoGood right now. Hannah has resurrected from the living room floor, where she has been camped for two oh-so-pathetic days, and helped me make chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I can not wait to try them! I tried a different recipe last week and they were terrible. I need to redeem myself.

What's your current favorite food obsession?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


It's race week!

How did that happen?

Back in July, when I started training for my 2 Fall half marathons, October seemed so far away. Now my first of 2 half marathons is staring me in the face.

And the anxiety has set in. And her bitchy little friends, self-doubt and nervousness, came too.

In thinking over this training cycle I can firmly say that it was far from perfect. There were runs that were missed and long runs that blew up in my face. My overall mileage through this cycle is a bit less than last year. I didn't do nearly the amount of strength training that I said I was going to do. I put in a decent amount of effort, but in hindsight, I feel like I could have done so much more.

On the other hand, I also feel like I gave my training my best effort under the circumstances. This year, unlike the last, I have a full time job. And a husband who works 60+ hours a week. I am proud that between my responsibilities at work and the demands of being the primary care giver to my to monsters children, I was able to put in a lot of running.

Don't be fooled by cuteness. These
people are little beasts!

As runners, are we every truly satisfied with a training cycle?

Is this just the nerves talking?

Could be.

I've re-evaluated my goals. My first Half, the Ramblin Rose, is a local, hilly race. I'd like to do better than I did last year, which means sub 2:40. In three weeks I have the OBX half and I'd like to do better in that race than I do in the Ramblin Rose.  I believe my goals are with in my reach. At least I hope they are.

As I set out this weekend I really needed a personal victory. I needed a strong run to boost my confidence a bit. I probably should have been tapering a little, but since I feel like I am using the 1st race as a training run for my second race, I talked myself into running long.

I hit 14 miles, which is a personal distance record for me. They were slow, for sure, but overall it was a good run. It was a true mental workout. I found myself in trouble around mile 8, not because I was necessarily tired from running, but I couldn't stop thinking about the 6 miles I still had ahead of me.  The last 3 miles were tough physically and mentally, but when my Garmin beeped 14 I was elated.

I was also tired.

I plan on taking it pretty easy this week so I can go out strong on Sunday.

Question: How do you calm your pre-race jitters?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In Which I Proclaim My Undying Love for Vermont

Fact: I LOVE New England. In particular, I LOVE VERMONT.

My husband and I spent 10 wonderful years in Boston and in that time I came to love everything about New England. Even though I was born and raised in Philadelphia and have since moved to North Carolina, New England still feels like home in my heart.

So when my brother called and invited us to spend the weekend at his vacation house in Stowe, VT I was all in.  I picked the kids up from school and Brent up from work on Friday afternoon, and we flew up to Boston and made the drive up to VT.

We woke up to pouring rain on Saturday but I really didn't care. We spent the day running a few quick errands with my brother, going out to lunch and finally sitting by the fireplace all afternoon while my 2 kids played with my niece and nephew.

On Sunday I was able to get out for a nice 10 mile run along a bike path right in the middle of Stowe. Where I am normally trying to ward off the boredom that comes with running long distances solo, I got to spend my time admiring peak foliage and the new scenery.

The 5 mile long path followed a small river. In my out-and-back trek I crossed the river 18 times.

I wasn't quite prepared for running in the low 40's but managed to piece together some items of clothing to keep warm. (Note: Capris paired with compression socks is a sexy look.)

The whole family met me at the end of the path so we could hang out by the river and walk around the village.

Taking turns drinking from my Camelback. It amazes me
the simple things that entertain these children.

We spent Monday in Boston where I was able to spend most of the day visiting with my dearest friend and her boys. It was so hard to pack my stuff up and head back to NC. But we are here now recovering from an amazing weekend!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Danger on my Favorite Running Trail

Last year when I was training for my half marathon I ran the majority of my long runs on the American Tobacco Trail,  a 22+ mile rail trail that starts in Durham and heads down towards Raleigh. Currently the ATT is divided between a 7 mile northern section in Durham that will soon be connected to the southern end of the trail.


Last year I found the trail to be a great place to lay down some long run miles. It is flat and with relatively few road crossings, it was convenient to drive down to the trail head in downtown Durham and just run.

It turns out that I was living in state of ignorant training bliss. I either wasn't paying attention to the local news or it wasn't being widely reported that in 2011 there were 13 reported crimes on the northern portion of the ATT, mostly involving assaults and robberies on runners and walkers.

By the beginning of October of this year the amount of reported crimes on the ATT had equaled that of the entire year of 2011 and most occurring throughout the Summer months. Because of the number and the concentration of crimes in the past few months, safety on the trail is a major local news story. It seems as though every 2 weeks another crime is reported. Assaults, robberies, attempted sexual assaults. Most on runners running alone.

These crimes have truly struck at the heart of the community. Citizens are outraged. Rallies have been organized, and citizen bike patrols set up. Police are promising more man power, more frequent patrols, the possibility of emergency call boxes.

I have read numerous articles and blogs posts on safety precautions to take while running. We all know the drill - don't run alone, run during the day, be aware of your surroundings. But these crimes are all taking place in broad daylight. And I don't have the privilege of running with a running group. For better or worse I am a solo runner.

So I am left angry and disappointed that this local resource has been essentially taken away from me. I no longer feel safe running alone on the trail and have not done so in months. I have spent hours mapping out street level long runs in the hopes that by avoiding isolated areas like the ATT I am being a safer runner. Even with increased police presence I am not tempted to return. Recently a woman was nearly sexually assaulted while the police patrol was  1/4 mile away. They can not be everywhere at all times.

I pray that sometime soon I might be lucky enough to find a running partner. Or perhaps during my next training cycle I will join a training group through my local running store. But until that happens I most likely will not be returning to the ATT. And that is just sad.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Let's just call last week a....ummmm.....step back week. Mmmkay?

Seriously, it was ridiculous. It was the perfect storm of work and home responsibilities that resulted in my weekly mileage being in the single digits.  Three weeks out from a half marathon, this is less than ideal.

Last week I had a pretty good hilly 11 mile long run and was feeling pretty confident about the 2 half marathons that are quickly approaching. This week I could barely finish 6 miles. It was disappointing to say the very least. But sulking about it isn't going to do me any good. This is a new week and I have that much more motivation to get some pretty decent runs in.

I have one more double digit run before my first race. This weekend we are packing the kids and heading north to my most favorite place  - Vermont. I have a run all mapped out on a running path in Stowe and I couldn't be more excited about it.

The pictures look beyond amazing and according to the map it is steps away from the Trapp Family Lodge. It's a pretty safe bet that there will be some show tunes (and maybe some dancing) on this run.

When I was growing up I totally used to pretend to be Leisl
dancing around the gazebo with Rolf before he turned into a Nazi.
But I digress. (Source)

In other news I am contemplating running my first trail race the week after my half marathon. 

It is a local 6 miler. I wouldn't race it necessarily as it is a week after my first half and 2 weeks before my second. But I think it would be a fun little jaunt through the woods. We'll see. The jury is still out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

That's what I'm Talking About!

Finally! Dailymile isn't lying to me!

You're darn right it was fantastic!  I set out to do everything I said I was going to do.

  • 4 days of running.  Check
  • 1 5-6 miler: Check
  • 1 Hill run. Check.
  • 1 Easy run. Check
  • 1 Long run. Freaking check plus!


I know that these miles aren't breaking any records, but I am so freaking proud of them.

Let's talk about that 10 miler, shall we?  I was so nervous about my long run this week. Last week's long run was an epic fail and I was pretty sure that my fragile mindset was not going to be able to handle another dismal outing.

I spent the weekend visiting my family back home in Philadelphia. A few days beforehand I spent about an hour mapping out the perfect downtown route only to find out that my route was also about most of the Rock and Roll Philly Half Marathon route, which was the same day. I spent about a day wondering if I should just register for the race even though I am not fully prepared. However, I could not justify spending the insane about of money that it would have cost to register at the expo.  It freaking sucks being a grown up and having to make mature financial decisions. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty bummed.

However, after I had a good little whine about it and picked myself up off of the floor I set out to find a new route. I picked Ridley Creek State Park, just outside of the city. I read some good reviews about  a 4.3 mile multi-use trail loop and it sounded good to me. I planned to run the loop twice and add a little extra at the end to get up to 10 miles.

I could not have picked a better day. It was sunny and in the 60's at the start.

The trail was awesome. There were tons of people out and lots to look at to pass the time. It was also great to run in a place where I didn't know every last detail about the route. I know most of my routes to the last inch and sometimes I find it hard when I am telling myself, "Ok, there is a steep hill in 0.3 miles" or "2 more miles of hills and then I can get a break". It was a welcome change to not know what was coming up.

 At the beginning of the loop was a seriously steep hill that lasted for over half a mile. I let myself walk up that one, but the rest of the loop was smooth sailing. My second time around I found some off shoots to explore so I could make up the miles. I had absolutely no desire to tackle that hill for a third time. 

By the time my Garmin chirped 10 miles I was smiling. It was a great run and exactly what this girl needed.

I found a nice little water fall to do some stretching afterwards. 

My photography skills are astounding.

This was a perfect ending to what I truly think was the best week yet of this training cycle. Exactly what I needed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Another Mother Runner's 10 Running Related Personal Questions

It is no secret that I love Dimity and SBS and the entire Another Mother Runner community. I have been a proud member of the tribe for quite some time now. So when they threw out a request for mother runners/bloggers to answer a few running related questions I was happy to oblige.

Here it goes....

1. Best run ever: The run that comes to mind when people ask me to name my most favorite run was a 10 miler I ran in preparation for the 2005 Run to Remember half marathon in Boston. The race was in the early Spring so I ran throughout the Winter. Throughout the New England Winter. My running pal and I headed to the Charles River path after a particularly heavy storm. The path was just inches of snow and slush. We had to take turns leading on the single lane path that other runners had made it the snow. We were soaked. At one point we came across a few fishermen who had found one spot of the river that wasn't iced over and were just pulling fish after fish out of the river. We stopped to talk to them and the told us they were fishing for carp. I mentioned that my dad was also a carp fisher. It turned out this random carp fisherman in Boston knew my dad, who lived it Philadelphia. They met at a fishing tournament. Such a small world. My pal and I continued on and finished our sloshy run. We rewarded ourselves with post-run beer and burgers. (Note: This answer will make no sense once you get to my answer for  question #6)

2. Three words that describe my running: Effective antidepressant substitute.

3. My go-to running outfit is: Running skirt, top, sports bra (all usually from Target), Brooks Adrenalines, Garmin, RoadID and ipod. And Body Glide. Lots of Body Glide.

4. Quirky habit while running:  I listen to catchy pop tunes that I would never normally admit to.


5. Morning, midday or evening: Most definitely a morning runner. Every run I have tried to do after 9am has been disastrous. I like getting it over with. It is a great way to start the day. Plus if I have to run later in the day, I spend the entire day stressing over what and when I eat to make sure everything is all settled come run time.

6. I won't run outside when it's: Too cold. Yeah, I know I just said my favorite run ever was in the Winter in Boston. I have since moved to North Carolina and my hearty New England blood has thinned considerably. When I told Dimity (from Denver) and Sarah (from Portland) that I found the winter in North Carolina to be "too cold", they let me have it.

Sarah made sure I would never forget to stop being a wimp
about Southern Winters.

7. Worst injury - and how I got over it: I really super don't want to jinx myself, but I have been pretty lucky on the injury front. But there was the time I was running along and face planted for no good reason in front of a couple of passing cars. I limped home and stayed off of my swollen ankle for a week.

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when: I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon after taking several years off of running. (2011 Ramblin Rose)

You can't see it but I am wearing
my BAMR shirt. How appropriate!

9. My next race is: Ramblin Rose Half Marathon - October 21

10. Potential running goal for 2013: I have several lofty goals for next year including working on speed through the winter for a 5k PR, a Spring half marathon and the Tar Heel 10 Miler (wearing a Duke shirt of course!).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Running Blues

All over my Google Reader are posts about peak training fatigue. While I hate to see other runners on the verge of burnout or low self confidence, it is oddly comforting that I am not alone.  In my case, burnout is not my issue. It's my self confidence.

It's been a couple of weeks since a stellar 10 mile run and I feel like I have not had a good run since then. Last week was a real downer of a week, despite was dailymile says.


I did hills and some speed work. But my long run was an epic fail. It was supposed to be 11 miles on my actual half marathon course. I ended up doing 8. I just didn't have it in me. I haven't even uploaded it from my Garmin yet because I just don't want to look at it. It will be full of walking breaks, paused stops and other such crappiness. I was devastated after this run. I think it was made worse by the fact that it was on my actual half marathon course. I mean, if I can barely do it now, what is it going to be like 6 weeks from now?

After a few minutes of whining about my first world runner problems I decided that there was no way I was going to quit. I have a very clear goal of beating last year's time and I have six more weeks to do it. (Ok, 5 1/2 weeks now because I am a blogging slacker.)  Here's a quick overview of my plan:

  • At least 4 days of running per week.
  • One mid-distance run per week: I only have time for 5-6 miles before work if I leave the house pretty early. But I need at least one mid-week run longer than 3-4 miles.
  • Hills: My first half marathon course is *&$%-ing hilly. I am running a very hilly 3 mile loop once a week
  • One easy run.
  • Long runs: I want to get in at least 3 more double digit runs before my first half this fall. My mental game needs a serious workout on the long runs though. This is where being a solo runner is the hardest.

In my opinion the only way out of my funk is to work harder. There is no way I am not going to do these races.

So far this week I have a 5 miler and a hill run down already. I'm going home to Philadelphia this weekend and looking forward to laying down 10ish miles in my hometown.

How do you build up your confidence in the middle of a training cycle?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

My very dear friend Carrie gave me a gchat beat down today for neglecting my blog.

I apologize. Sincerely.

Life has been....crazy.

First and foremost has been my job. In my real life I work in a lab that develops vaccines for infectious diseases. Lately I've been working on developing a vaccine for tuberculosis. Clearly, that is a valid reason for my lack of blogging. No?  Maybe one day I will get a picture of me in my space suit-like protective gear I have to wear in the lab. That should be good for a few laughs.

Secondly, my grandmother has been ill.

Man, I love her!

She was admitted to the hospital with kidney troubles and it was pretty touch and go for a while. But she's a tough one and pulled through and made it home surprisingly fast. Her 87th birthday is next week so my mom and I are planning to make the trip from NC to Philadelphia to be with her.

There was the first day of first grade!

We celebrated Brent's sister's wedding over Labor Day weekend! The weekend was so much fun. There were a lot of events leading up to the big day and family and friends came from all over. It was one of the best weekends I have had. So much eating, drinking, dancing and overall shenanigans.

And finally, there has been quite a bit of running. Including the first of several double digit runs leading up to my two half marathons this fall.

Now that life appears to be calming down, I hope to get back to my routine.

Friday, August 17, 2012

This Week's Training Fail

First of all, I want to thank everyone for the kind messages and tweets I received about my last post. I certainly was a tough one to write for me. You guys were kind!

On to this week....


This pile of running clothes has been sitting on my dresser since Monday night. It is now Friday morning and they sit there still.


I wish I could tell you that this week has been filled with epic mid-distance runs and speed intervals. But if I did, I would be a big, fat liar.  The truth is I have no laced up my Brooks since Sunday. Instead of listing my daily mileage, the following is a list of excuses as to why this week was such a failure!

Monday: Planned rest day. I rocked this like a champ.

Tuesday: I was up sick all Monday night and there was no way I could make it out.

Wednesday: Brent had to leave super early for work which meant I was solo on trying to get the kids to camp and preschool on time.

Thursday: Again up ALL night. Not sick this time. Just could not for the life of me fall asleep. The last time I looked at the clock it was 5am and I was about to give up and just go running. Next thing I knew it was 7:15. D'oh.

Friday: Two things. I was not home before the kids got to bed last night and felt guilty leaving them before they woke up. Secondly, my grandmother is ill in Philadelphia and I was trying to coordinate with my mom whether or not we were going to drive up there today.

Since evening running is not an option for me, my weekly mileage remains a big old goose egg.

I am wise enough to know that missing all of this running is not the end of the world, but still not mature enough to not whine about it...

Sunday, August 12, 2012


My half marathon training program called for 8 miles this morning. I haven't run since Thursday so my legs were fresh. My mind? Ehhh, not so much.

This morning I stalled in a way that would make my four year old at bedtime proud. There was the snooze button about three times. There was the Olympic marathon. The Kardashians needed to be kept up with (don't judge me). Eventually enough was enough and I had to get out the door and lay down some miles.

I was barely into my first mile when my motivation came to me in a couple of different ways.  At first it was Meb. What US runner is not so proud of his 4th place finish this morning?


As I set out for my super slow long run this morning, I was keenly aware that Meb and the rest of the guys were running nearly three times faster than me and not making it look very hard. It was a good mental image to hold on to.

Not much later into my run today's date popped into my head. August 12. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Today marks 11 years since my grandfather passed away.  Unless you knew him, I imagine it is difficult for me to accurately describe this man and what he meant to me and my family.

My favorite photo of Pop. My wedding day
and the last day I ever knew him as a healthy man.
My oldest brothers were born to teen parents and my next brother and I weren't far behind. While my parents were (and continue to be) amazing parents, my brothers and I always considered my maternal grandparents to be more like a second set of parents. They lived across the street from us and were always around.

He was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before my wedding in the Summer of 2000. He swore my family to secrecy so that my wedding day would not be tainted by the sadness of his illness. I was told when I came home from my honeymoon. The fact that he loved me so much to do that still brings tears to my eyes. For the next year he fought bravely. The night that he passed, he called us all into his room one by one and said his goodbyes. It is a conversation I will never forget. After saying a final goodnight to my grandmother, he was gone.

My biggest sadness is that he never got to meet my children or know that my son bears his name. But perhaps he is looking down on us. If he is, I hope he is proud.

I thought about Pop during my run today. Not sad thoughts, just happy memories - because there are so many.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Seven Things About Me! Beautiful Blogger Award

I started this tiny little blog a year ago as a way to track my training for my first (post-kids) half marathon. At first it was private. It was mainly a way to journal my training and my general running thoughts in a way that I could come back to as time went on. As I started reading (and gaining massive amounts of inspiration from) other running blogs I decided to come out of hiding and share my own running thoughts with the interwebs.

It is still very much a work in progress. I am loving sharing my journey even if nobody even reads my posts.

I'm not the fastest runner. Nor is my weekly mileage about to break any records. But I love running and I love this virtual running community I have found through other running blogs.

That's why I was pretty excited that Jina over at Behold the Turtle nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger award!

Here are the rules:
1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo and post it in your post.
2. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
3. Tell all of us seven things about yourself.
4. Nominate seven other bloggers and comment on their page to let them know.

I am going to take this chance to shake some things up around here share seven non-running related things all about me!

1. I love to ski but haven't been since before I became pregnant with my oldest child. Having married a man from New England and moving to Boston after college it was inevitable that I would have to learn how to do it. Brent was a great teacher and I picked it up pretty fast. We went almost every weekend for a few years until I found out I was pregnant. Now that we have moved to North Carolina, we rarely get the chance to go anymore and I miss it.

My happy place

2. Inside of me is an inner hippie just dying to get out. Some days I long to move to a self sustaining farm and live off the land. I will make all of our food from scratch and can our summer harvest. I will spend my free time bare foot and playing guitar.

I used to take guitar lessons. I was *really* bad.

3. I think cake should be its own food group. Cakes and cupcakes will always be an acceptable form of nourishment.

It is a proven scientific fact that love for baked goods is indeed genetic.

4. We relocated from New England to North Carolina in 2008 and I still don't feel like I have found my niche here. If given the chance I would move to Colorado in a heartbeat. Brent and I love the outdoor lifestyle and would love to be able to play in the Western mountains any time we want. Trail running, hiking, skiing, snow shoeing.  If Colorado weren't an option, Vermont is a close runner-up.

I big fat heart Vermont.

5.  For the past 2 weeks I have cheered on Team USA with heartfelt vigor, but there are two facts about me that are very much un-American....1) I have never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (they completely gross me out) and 2) I have never been to Disney World and I have no desire to go (*gasp!*).

6. I wish I had enough guts to dye my hair purple.

7.  I am an extremely forgetful person. I have a notebook that goes with me almost everywhere to help me not only keep organized to remember things. Case in point: I forgot that I was in the middle of boiling water for pasta while I was writing this post. Ooops!

Here are my seven nominees!
Life Imperfectly
Journey of a Canuck Mom on the Run
Prior Fat Girl
Run, Bang, Run 
One Run at a Time
The Wannabe Athlete
Am I There Yet?

That was a fun little exercise! Thanks, Jina for helping me to come out of my blogging shell a little. In the meantime, I have to go set another pot to boil....