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.