Thursday, October 3, 2013

10K Across the Bay

This is the Cheseapeake Bay Bridge connecting Anne Arundel County to Queen Anne's County in Maryland. It is the major route connecting the DC-Baltimore Metro area to the Eastern Shore and the way the most of us take to go to Ocean City, Maryland and the nearby beaches in Delaware. I am absolutely TERRIFIED of this bridge. I have never driven over it and close my eyes whenever anyone else does. I am going to fight this fear on November 9, 2014.

How am I going to do that? I am going to run in the Inaugural 10K Across the Bay. The race will start at Sandy Point State Park, follow the eastbound span across the Chesapeake, and conclude on the other side. The views should be fabulous and the race promises to be lots of fun.

As an ambassador for the race, I can offer you a 10% discount on your race entry. Just follow THIS LINK. Select "Ambassador Referral Program" and use the code BRIDGEREP and use my referral code ABBALYSSAK. That will get you 10% off the race for the month of October.

I hope you can join me for this fun event!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ouchies and new kicks

The Monday after I ran the 14-miler, I went to a class at my gym. A class I normally love, but I came down off the step wrong and hurt my right calf muscle. I continued with my normal training routine on the sore calf. I must have done something to the other ankle. I did the scheduled 15-miler the following weekend and that went fine. Well, the next weekend, my left Achilles' tendon hurt every time I tried to start running. I managed 11 of the 13 miles on my training plan, but I've had a lazy lazy week otherwise. I did the Arc Trainer at my gym on Wednesday and Thursday and ran 2.1 miles with my almost-5-year old on Thursday as well. I decided that maybe the high mileage in the minimalist shoes was causing the problems, so I picked up some new kicks. I still wanted lightweight and a neutral shoe. Here are my new Saucony Catalysts. I'm going to take them for a spin tomorrow.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

More than a half marathon

As everyone knows by now, I'm training for the Marine Corps Marathon, my first full, on October 27th. I have only run two half marathons and a 10-miler. I have never run more than 13.1 miles. I learned a couple of weeks ago that my blood sugar has been all over the place lately and at that point, I switched to a walk-run format. I run for 4 minutes and walk for 1 minute. People say it makes you faster. I am inclined to agree on a good day.

Today was one of those good days. I had a 14-miler scheduled, but my parents were here last night to help us set up the boys' bunk beds they brought from Florida. I didn't know if I would get out and be able to do it at all. I figured I would get out the door at 6 and see how I felt. Well, I hit 7 miles and felt awesome. I figured I could get at least 10. When I hit 10, I knew I could do it. Unfortunately, when I hit 12, I was getting a little run down. I finished strong and actually did the 14 in less time than my personal record for the half marathon!

Next weekend, 15!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why I love going to an all-women gym

So, my regular readers know that I go to an all-women gym, Transformations Fitness for Women. I love the atmosphere of a single-sex environment. I went to the co-ed gym when I was in grad school and didn't want the same kind of thing as a married adult, so here's a little breakdown of why I enjoy it.

  1. We have a very diverse community. You will see a woman in a hijab kickboxing right next to a woman in a sports bra and booty shorts. You will see a 19-year old doing Zumba next to a woman in her 60s. You have the very thin woman lifting weights next to the overweight woman. You wouldn't get that same kind of environment in a co-ed gym. 
  2. My gym is small, but I love that about it. I couldn't go much for a month because of my teaching obligation. When I came back on Monday, I had lots of people ask me where I had been and what I had been doing. It made me feel missed. I feel like that kind of community doesn't exist in a larger co-ed gym. The person checking you in, doesn't usually know your name, but at a place like mine, they make an effort to know people. 
  3. Childcare is very important for me with a gym. I have two small boys and I need to feel safe dropping them for an hour or so while I exercise. Larger gyms have them, but in smaller women-only gyms, the people who work there learn your children's names. I can say that because I work in the childcare area. When I run into the moms and kids outside of the gym, I always say hello and talk to the kids. 
  4. I love that I'm not having to share equipment with men. I wipe down machines before and after I use them, but I remember trying to share equipment with men who didn't.
  5. It's less of a meat market. Most of the women I have met who go to the gym are married, moms, or both. We come in our old clothes, with our hair in ponytails, and no make-up. For the most part, we don't care about looking sexy or cute when we are sweating. This environment makes women more likely to work out harder. I'm not saying that women at a co-ed gym don't work hard or that we don't get our fair share of women in the full make-up who hop on a treadmill for 10 minutes at 1 mph. I own my fair share of cutesy running clothes that I wear, but I'm just as likely to show up in that as I am to go in sweats. I just think that an all-female environment is conducive to encouraging women to work harder.
  6. Women can be people... weird bodily functions and all.
I love my all-women gym, but I haven't done an all-women race. I prefer a co-ed race :) Do you prefer a single-sex environment for your exercise needs?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Goals for 35. Ack!

I will begrudgingly admit it... A little over a week ago, I turned 35. This one was easier than 30 because I was not miserable and pregnant.

I planned a couple of goals already for this year. I have signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon and committed to do the DC Ragnar again.

I want to successfully complete a couple of Coursera classes. I'm signed up for a Genetics class and an Evolution class. I think I can use information from those classes in the ones I teach for the Kids on Campus program.

Chip registered me for The 9/11 Heroes Run 5K in September. It's in the afternoon, but I'd like to shave off a little time from my previous race.

I might do the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler and Maryland Half Marathon again in the spring. I would love to run the Ragnar Trails Appalachian Relay in June to cap off my year.

Do you make plans and goals when you have a milestone birthday?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Free verse for a trail run

Down a trail
Past the chirping cardinals
Over the stream
Listening to the Wood thrushes and Towhees singing
Watching the rabbits nibble
Seeing a butterfly flit past
Avoiding the singing cicadas
Racing the Goldfinch
Praying the Red fox is somewhere else today
Graceful as a the Great Blue Heron landing in the pond
I went for a run

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My review of Drenched 5K

I won a free entry to Drenched 5K from Her Happy Balance. I'm glad I only paid for my son's t-shirt. I won a free entry and was highly disappointed in the race and the customer service prior to the race. My code didn't work twice and apparently 48 hours is a "reasonable response time" for an email. The race was not well-organized. The t-shirts are nowhere near as nice as the ones pictured in all of the ads. Parking was a nightmare for those who arrived within 30 minutes of the race. It started late because of the water trucks arriving late. The waves of people should have been more spread out to avoid bottlenecks. The mud and rocks didn't bother me, but I did expect more stations of water things. Where were the misters? We were in the second wave and waited over 30 minutes for the slip and slide, which is the event my son was most excited about. When we reached the finish line, it was chaos where the water balloon fight was supposed to take place. I'm glad we had decided not to participate. All of this being said, my son enjoyed himself a lot and that was the point. I would not recommend this race in the future unless the sponsors became more organized.

I will post pictures later.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Running in the rain

It's summer. In this area, it means we get lots of rain. I don't generally run in the afternoon because we get thunderstorms, but I have been known to run in the rain in the morning.

Saturday, I'm taking my oldest son to do his first race: Drenched. This is a water race, so we might as well be running in the rain. Here are a few of my favorite tips for wet conditions.

Wear the lightest, quickest drying running clothes you have. I refuse to run in anything other than light shorts and a light shirt in the rain. If I was skinny, I would wear just a sports bra. If I was a guy, I would probably just wear shorts.

This is the time to break out your widest-brimmed running hat. It'll keep the water from dripping in your eyes. Essential when you wear contact lenses like I do.

Vaseline on your feet under your socks. Puts a little bit of a barrier between you and the wet socks and shoes. Might make you a little more comfortable in the long run.

If your intention is to stay dry, wear a raincoat or cut holes for your arms and head in a garbage bag.

Body Glide is your best friend. You will chafe in places you didn't know existed if you are running in the rain.

Run "naked". Don't wear any electronic devices like your GPS watch or cell phone. If you absolutely MUST have them with you, put everything in Ziploc bags, stow them away, and don't bring them back out until you're done.

Be careful during the run. I have been known to trip and fall when it's dry out, so I have to be extra careful when it's wet or icy. Oh, those annoying yellow safety bumps they put in crosswalks, even more dangerous during the rain.

When you are done with the run, stuff your shoes with newspaper. This helps them maintain their structure and to dry faster. Nothing is worse than going out on your next run and finding that your shoes are still wet and feel really weird because the shape isn't the same as it was before.

Enjoy and feel like a hardcore runner! It rained at about mile 9 during my last half marathon. It was rather refreshing and enjoyable. I actually like running in the rain.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hold me to it...

I've been a total slacker lately. Today is the first day I have felt well in about 3 weeks. I still wouldn't race. I need to get back on track with my training for Ragnar DC and the Marine Corps Marathon, but I leave today for vacation.

I need y'all to hold me accountable. I intend on running 4 days while I'm at the beach. I also intend on adding a new state to my "I've run there" list. Remind me on here or Facebook or Twitter (@AlyKen78) that I need to run.

Do you have problems getting back on track after an illness?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Running Vacation. A Runcation?

Next week, I'm going on vacation with my family. Just to the beach for a week. Honestly, it isn't really a vacation for me since basically we pick up our household and move to another location for a week with extended family. Since I will hopefully be better by then, I plan on taking my running gear and get in some flat miles. No, this isn't what I mean by a "runcation."

What is a "runcation" you may ask? It is a trip you take with the purpose of running and seeing the sites or doing a new race. I've taken one "runcation" in my short running career. I did the DC Ragnar last September. It meant 2 nights away from my husband and kids and running part of a 200-mile relay. The team with which I ran did the Key West Ragnar in January, too.

In honor of the 10th Anniversary of the first Ragnar, I thought I'd ask what your dream running trip would be. Is it a big race in an exotic locale like the Iron Man Triathlon in Hawaii? Is it just doing a major race like the Boston Marathon? Is it a more fun but competitive race like a Disney Marathon? Is it a scenic relay race like the original Ragnar Wasatch Back in Utah?

Right now, the races on the top of my bucket list (aside from the Marine Corps Marathon in October) are The Pensacola Beach Half Marathon and one of the Outer Banks races, either the OBX Half or the Flying Pirate. I'm blessed with living close enough to DC that I can hit a race that runs by lots of interesting landmarks.

What would be your dream "runcation" race?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Cough, A 10K, and more Coughing

Those of you who know me outside of the blogging world know that I've had this terrible cough for what seems like about 10 years... Okay, it's really only been a little over 2 weeks. The little germ factories I call my beloved children decided to pick up a cold and share it with their mommy.

I probably shouldn't have done it, but I ran the Crofton Kiwanis 10K on June 8th. Aside from the fact that I couldn't breathe properly and had a coughing fit every 5 minutes after I hit 4 miles, this was a great race. There were only about 250 people. The scenery was nice, through a golf course neighborhood. There were a few hills, but nothing I can't handle. The post-race perks were great. They had Chick Fil A, Bruster's ice cream and sherbet, and Smoothie King smoothies, in addition to the normal bagels and bananas they usually have after races. The shirt was nice as was the goodie bag, which I won't really be able to use since it's for a competitor's gym.

When I got home, I crashed. I have been coughing like crazy since then. I can't go an hour without having a fit. Today is the first day I have felt a little better. Being sick has completely thrown off my training. I have only run once since the race. I did a 3-miler as opposed to the 7 miles I had scheduled.

Have you ever raced when you probably should have skipped it?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why does my nose think it's okay to run when my feet are?

You get up early in the morning and head out the door for your morning run. You can't leave without a pack of tissues in your pocket or sports bra because you know the second you get in your groove the dripping is going to start. You dread running in cold weather because that makes it worse, but then again so does allergy season. You may have even invested in a Handana so that you can keep your gloves and sleeves from being covered in snot. Why does my nose think it's okay to run when my feet are?

This is a condition called exercise-induced rhinitis and is more common in those with allergies than those without allergies according to a 2006 study. Unfortunately, many decongestants and steroids used to treat rhinorrhea are prohibited for use in competition. You might remember the 2000 Olympics in Sydney when a gymnast had her gold medal stripped because she basically took a Sudafed for a cold that was given to her by the team doctor. Basically, a common cold pill ruined the careers of two people.

Why exactly does this happen? Well, physical exercise is a vasoconstrictor. This means that when you exercise, the muscular walls of your blood vessels are contracting and your systemic blood pressure is increasing. Noradrenaline releases into the blood stream and your nasal resistance decreases.

Cold-weather athletes are more likely to experience this condition. Actually, winter athletes have a greater incidence of exercise-induced rhinitis and asthma than summer athletes. I can speak from personal experience in this matter. During my childhood, I was a competitive figure skater. I was at the rink 3 hours a day 4 days a week. By the time I decided to end my skating career, I could not make a lap around the rink without having a coughing fit.

Stock up on the tissues, buy a Handana (I wish I had one), learn how to use a Neti Pot, find an athlete-legal decongestant and head out the door. Runny nose or not, exercise is good for you. Since I have small kids, I will end with this silliness: when your nose is runny you may think it’s funny, but it’s snot J

Friday, May 31, 2013

Music while running and tempering your breathing

During my last running club meeting, we talked a little about breathing and running cadence. I've always found that I breathe best when I inhale for 3 steps and out for 3 steps on a long run during allergy season. For some reason, the extra exhale step just seems to prevent cramping for me. 

When I'm on a treadmill, I'm pretty good about being able to moderate my breathing, but when I get on the road sometimes I get distracted by my surroundings and have problems getting it correct. This was particularly evident during my most recent half marathon when my pace group took off a lot faster than I was hoping. I don't generally listen to music when I race, but I just couldn't get in the groove after the first water stop. I popped in an earbud (just one) and started the Nike+ app on my phone. I had put my music on shuffle and was pleasantly surprised when the first song was in a waltz time. Since then, I have taken my music off of shuffle and have Breathe (2 AM) by Anna Nalick as one of the earlier songs I play to get myself back on track if I'm having trouble focusing on my breathing.

Do you have a song that helps you concentrate on a certain aspect of running?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Running in Memory

Memorial Day: A day in the United States where we recognize those who gave their lives in service to our country. Although I do not personally know anyone who lost their life in combat, but my brother was in the Navy for a while and I know he lost comrades. I am very proud of his service to our country.

Runner's World is doing a challenge where you run at least a mile ever day between Memorial Day and Independence Day. I am sort of doing that challenge. I've decided that I will run or walk every day between those dates to honor and remember our military service personnel. Yesterday, we went on a hike with the boys and I ran one mile in the evening.

Will anyone join me in this challenge?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The mid-run bathroom break

Warning: My mother would find this post crude and inappropriate for discussion in a public forum

Admit it, please. Sometimes you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of your run. If it's a long run outside, you may run all over trying to find an open public bathroom or squat in the woods. I've definitely done the former and have considered the latter. Have you cut short a run just because you had to go? Did you go back out and resume said workout? Have you struggled to get back into compression wear or spandex because you are so sweaty?

I hopped off the treadmill mid-run today to take a potty break. I felt guilty doing it. I was only running a 3-mile tempo, but at 1.5 miles I just couldn't hold it anymore. I turned off the treadmill, ran to the bathroom, and came back and finished my workout. I know some people would just leave the thing on while they go, but my mind won't let me comp that 1/4 of a mile that I would miss.

Back in the fall, I spent 5 miles of a 7-mile run trying to find an open port-a-potty or calling friends who lived on my running route trying to find a place to go to the bathroom. I ended up getting all of the way back to my starting point and running into a community center to go.

I know you could just tell me "run faster and you'll be able to go sooner." That just makes the whole thing worse. I am not one of those people who feels comfortable squatting wherever to go. I actually stopped at a rest area on my way to my last half marathon so I could avoid a port-a-potty and warned my mother-in-law that I might drop by on my way home and use her toilet.

All of this potty talk has me worried about the potty situation for my upcoming marathon. I KNOW I cannot make it 5+ hours without going and am dreading it.

Any potty on the run advice from the peanut gallery?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ragnar and Marine Corps Marathon Training Starts Today!

So, I am now officially 20 weeks out from my second Ragnar and about 23 out from Marine Corps Marathon. Time to switch into training mode. This means, I need to figure out a plan that accomplishes both my need for extremely long runs and double/triple dipping for relaying. I hate *just* running. I know I need to cross-train so I can prevent burn out and make sure that I do not get injured.

I decided what I would do is follow a variation of the Ragnar intermediate plan, except instead of 6 days a week, I will schedule runs for 4 days a week. This does not take into account my running club at the gym. That will just have to be extra ;) My husband thinks I'm a little anal retentive about it and says "No one else follows a plan like that."

It's not THAT bad. Note: all measurements are in miles, not kilometers

I already did my 4 miles for today :)

How far out do you start a training plan? How good are you about following it?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Maryland Half Marathon 2013

Back on Valentine's Day, I decided to sign up for the Maryland Half Marathon in Fulton, Maryland (just west of Laurel). I wanted to raise money for the Greenebaum Cancer Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The added benefit of registering on that date, was I received a red Brooks running hat with the MD Half Marathon emblem on it.

I picked up my packet a week ago, the shirt was really cool for a race shirt. It is Under Armour tech material and in a light chartreuse color. My only complaint is that it's a little thin for someone busty like me.

I drove the course earlier in the week and realized it was full of rolling hills. My current PR for a half marathon is 2:19:10. I really wanted to beat that, but I knew it wasn't going to happen here. I figured I would give it a good try and started with the 2:10 pace group. They started out way too fast for me at 9:15 for a relatively steep uphill section. The pollen and pace got to me at about 2 miles, so I lost the pace group and just decided to go it on my own. This worked well for me because I started wheezing. When I finally caught my breath, I figured I would be okay. 

When I say the course was hilly, I mean it. Here is about the only flat section of the course.

I'm not complaining. Aside from the very beginning and very end of the course, we ran through some very beautiful terrain. We ran past farms. We ran past ponds. We ran through the woods. We ran through beautiful older communities. We ran through beautiful newer communities. There was a young boy dressed as a banana on the course and he made me giggle a bit.

The rain held off until somewhere between miles 9 and 10 for me. The little shower we got was more refreshing than annoying. I'm glad it wasn't a driving rain for the entire race. About 11 miles, my unsleeved calves could no longer handle the hills and started cramping like they did during the Annapolis Half. I had to switch to walk/run. That last cruel hill up to the finish line hurt.

I finished in 2:24:55. I can deal with that. It's not a new PR, but when I look at the results as a percentage of runners I beat, it is a significant improvement. Not to mention, the winner did it in 1:19, which is slow for a half marathon. I honestly think that it was hillier than my first leg of Ragnar DC last year. That being said, I plan on running it again next year. I raised $400 for the Greenebaum Cancer Center and would like to thank all of my donors. I ran the race in memory of a family friend who passed away from breast cancer a little over 3 years ago. Next time, I'm going to write her name on my arm. I saw lots of people who were doing that and I wish I had thought about it.

The medal was very cool. The V is for the 5th anniversary.

Oh, I also proved to myself that I could run a half in the morning and go to a wedding in the afternoon and not fall over asleep by 6pm. My calves and quads hurt for a couple of days after the race. Next time, calf sleeves are a must!

On to the next challenge: The Crofton Kiwanis 10K on June 8th.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Switch to Minimalist

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I wanted to make the switch to minimalist shoes. I couldn't decide between a couple of different brands. Well, I ended up going with the Merrell Barefoot Access Arc. I had tried them on at the Merrell outlet, but they didn't have the color I wanted in my size. I found them on Amazon for $10 cheaper than the outlet.

Here they are!

I've done a couple of runs in them so far. I started with 1 mile and have done up to 3 miles in a single run. I was a midfoot striker, so I thought the transition wouldn't be as noticeable. Boy was I wrong. My calves can definitely tell the difference. I have been wearing my compression socks after ever run because the zero drop from heel to toe is so different than I am used to wearing. Other than that, they are very comfortable. I looked at the strike pattern on my shoes and I seem to be running in them properly with no real demonstrated over- or underpronation. They are so comfortable and I haven't developed any blisters while wearing them, but I haven't put in any runs over 3 miles. I'm halfway tempted to wear them for the Maryland Half Marathon this weekend, but I won't give into the temptation because I'm running that for the Greenebaum Cancer Center and I am running in my Reebok Pink Ribbon shoes in memory of a family friend who passed away 3 years ago after a long battle with breast cancer.

Only time will tell if I really like the minimalist shoes, but so far so good.

Have you made the switch to a minimalist shoe?

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Garnier Olia Tour Experience

A couple of months ago I got an email from Garnier about their national tour to demonstrate their new Olia hair color. The website claims it's a different kind of hair color that is 60% natural flower oils. One of their last stops was about an hour away from where I live in Frederick, Maryland. I was looking for a new hair color. I'm kind of tired of the reddish shade I've been using, so I signed up for the free session.

They sent me a patch test a couple of weeks in advance. I received no less than 3 confirmation emails and 2 phone calls. When I arrived and checked in, they took a before picture of me. I hadn't colored my hair in a while and was overdue for a touch-up anyways. Then a consultant sat down and helped me pick a color from the strands they had on the table. The reds they had were just too red for me. I could never pull off those shades. I selected the "Darkest Violet" shade.

Next, they took me into the trailer where they were coloring, rinsing, and styling the participants. The stylist who eventually did my hair told me that they found stylists locally, but the colorists and shampoo people were under a contract with Garnier. The man who put the color on my hair. I wouldn't complain about getting my hair colored for free, but I didn't even see that the colorist left a ton of the emulsion on my face. They had a nice waiting area with iPads for us to use for the 30 minutes we had to wait. I watched other women getting their hair styled and was even more happy I didn't pick the "Darkest Auburn" shade. I didn't realize until last night what a terrible job the man who rinsed out my hair did. When I took a shower last night, I washed out almost as much hair color as I would when I first start rinsing my own hair. When I sat down in the stylist's chair, I commented "Wow! That's a lot of purple." She thought I was talking about my hair, but then realized I was talking about the huge blob of purple dye that neither my colorist or shampoo person had bothered to remove. She did her best to scrub it off, but couldn't get all of it. She did do a good job styling my hair and kept commenting on how cute my haircut was, even though I haven't had it trimmed since my childhood friend Tahlia who works at a Great Clips in Orlando cut my hair back in December. I planned to have her do it when we were down in April, but the whole "lost wallet" debacle prevented that :(

Anyways, here is a picture of my stylist and me. The color is much darker than I expected and I can't really tell that it's purple and not black. My 4.5-year-old says it looks blue. My hair is soft and shiny, which it hasn't been in a while. I would use the hair color again. It doesn't smell as badly as the ones I had been using.

I was not compensated by Garnier USA for this post other than free hair color and style, which was available to anyone who happened upon the website before all of the appointments filled. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I need new running shoes, but don't know where to start

I need new running shoes, but don't know where to start. I know I want to go minimalist, but there are so many brands and they are so expensive.

Do I go with the Merrell shoes I can get at my local mall for a really good price and get good reviews? Do I invest massive amounts of money in Newtons? They at least sell those at my closest running shoe store. Do I go for a more unusual brand like Altra? Do I go for the brand that interacts with me on Twitter like Skora, even if they aren't the most attractive shoes?

How do you pick your running shoes? Do you run in minimalist shoes? Do you want your running shoes to be "attractive"?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Can't snap out of the funk

I'm running a half marathon in 3 weeks. You want to know how many miles I logged this week? It's a grand total of zero. I can't snap out of this sad funk I entered after the Boston Marathon bombing. I'm afraid to race. I don't have any desire to train. I would rather sleep than hit the pavement.

Has anyone else experienced this? I need a good kick in the head or something to get myself out there to run. Come kick me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Reflections on the Boston Marathon Bombing

I am a runner. This is a recent occurrence. I only started running December 1, 2011. I can count the number of races I have run on one hand and none of them is a full marathon. I am planning the Marine Corps Marathon in October. It's one of the largest in the country and doesn't have an unattainable (for me) qualifying time. I will likely never qualify for Boston. I'm too fat and too slow. I am still a runner and we are a community.

I was at Disney with my family when my brother texted me to tell me the news. The first thing I did was text my mother-in-law to find out if she had heard if her friend who was running in the race was okay. He was, thank goodness. Then, I cried. I cried for the father of the 8-year old boy who passed away. I teared up EVERY time they showed the gentleman in his 70s fall down. To train so hard for something and not be able to cross the finish line must have been devastating.

Then my thoughts turned to fear. Are the terrorists going to do something during the Marine Corps Marathon? Do I need to worry for my own safety at a race or my family and friends if they come to cheer for me?

Today, I was hopeful. Milk Dud took off on me at the airport and ran into a gentleman wearing this year's Boston Marathon shirt. I asked if I could shake his hand and wished him a safe trip home. I hope he didn't think I was a weirdo. I did wear my Cherry Blossom 10-Miler shirt ;) I have a plan. I am going to train my butt off and lose weight. Maybe one day I will be fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

How are you feeling after the bombing? Are you hopeful? Scared? Ready to get out there and run?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Recap

I ran my 5th ever race yesterday, The Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. I know that it seems like I run all of the time, but I don't race all of the time. I try to pick a couple of events here and there and train for them. I did mostly a good job following the free intermediate training plan provided by the race. Unfortunately, I missed 2 weeks of runs over 4 miles because I hurt my back and then was having foot issues. I figured it was better to rest than to hurt myself more. I think my training showed those missed runs. I wasn't quite as well prepared as I hoped I would be. 

Anyways, so here's how it all went. Friday, I dropped my younger son with my mother-in-law (Thanks, Mom K!) and took my older son down with me to pick up my race bib at the National Building Museum and then we visited the National Museum of Natural History. If you live in the greater DC area, that is a great place to visit. My little guy couldn't get enough of the dinosaurs and other skeletons. I think he could have spent all day there. 

So, I was a little disappointed in my grouping for the race. I thought I should have been in the corral prior to mine. Although, my placing ended up being correct. I was excited to have a bib with my name on it! 

I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I had to get up at 4am and walk the dog before meeting at my friend Danielle's house at 5am. When I walked the dog, I thought "Yeah, shorts will be tolerable in this weather when I start running." Yeah, I was wrong. We drove and Metro-ed down to the National Mall. We were able to meet up with some people who traveled separately, which was lucky since this was a race with 17000 of your closest friends ;)

Somehow I only managed to get one picture of the group, and I was missing a couple of members, but here are most of the Running Divas that participated (Sorry, Chris and Melissa).

Danielle was in a faster corral than I was, but since she is recovering from a marathon 3 weeks ago, she said she would pace me for the race. I told her I wanted to stay under 10. I did pretty well with that for the first 6 miles, then we hit Hains Point. We were on the water most of the race and I never got warm. My calves hurt and my feet cramped up. If you've never run with cramped feet, it's nearly impossible. Then there is the "My 2-year old brought home a cold" factor. For those of you who race, you know the first few miles are spent trying to dodge runners and figure out your pace. We weren't able to do that. In fact, Danielle and I crossed the finish line at the exact same time as 4 other runners. That makes it tough to figure how to keep yourself steady. I finished in 1:42:29, two minutes and 30 seconds slower than my goal. I'm not unhappy. I beat about 1000 people in my division and over 6000 people overall. I can deal with that.

So, thank you Danielle for helping me get through this race pretty close to my goal. As you can see, they are working on the Washington Monument after the damage from the earthquake in 2011.

I don't get down to DC very often, so here is the Capitol Building. 

The medal was an additional cost, but it's pretty. I am building up my bling wall, so it is a beautiful new member. 

My knee hurt a little. Milk Dud was so amused by the ice pack that he decided to sing to it.

My much-deserved refreshment for the evening. 

I would totally do this race again next year, but I'm wearing pants and not shorts if it is under 50 degrees at start time. Lesson learned. Time to train for my half in 5 weeks. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Challenge to Myself

So, I've been running for about 16 months now. I've done a 5K, a 10K, an overnight relay race, and a half marathon. I have the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler next weekend and the Maryland Half Marathon in May. Yeah, there are lots of things on which I could work with all of these distances, but there is one goal I have always wanted to reach: the marathon.

When I was 10-years old, my mom gave me this novel she bought at a yard sale entitled The Girl Who Wanted to Run the Boston Marathon. It was kind of low-key teen-lit. They've since changed the name and republished it. When I was 10, that was my goal, too. Then middle school and high school hit. I didn't run at all after 9th grade. I wish I had kept it up and done cross country in high school instead of dance, but hindsight is 20/20.

When I was in grad school, I thought I would try to run a marathon, but I didn't even know how to get started running. Then I met my now-husband and focused more on school and him than my athletic goals. I don't regret it. I have a wonderful husband and two adorable, but crazy, sons.

Cut to a couple of months ago... I decided I wanted to do the Marine Corps Marathon 10K again. It was a great race and I truly enjoyed all of the people along the course cheering. There is something humbling about running in honor of our service personnel. My brother was in the Navy until last year, and I'm incredibly proud of him. A friend of mine and I were joking around about maybe doing a full marathon this coming year. I'm turning *gulp* 35 in July and it just seemed like a good idea as a goal for the year to run the Marine Corps Marathon in honor of my brother, my Army veteran father, and all of my other friends and family who have been in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Yesterday, I spent 2 hours in front of my computer to register myself and two friends who weren't able to access a computer. It was incredibly annoying and frustrating. I swear the two most annoying words on a website are "Service Unavailable." FINALLY, I was able to register.

I know many people who weren't able to get into the race. There is a terrific list of charity partners for whom you can fundraise and earn a bib. I've actually been thinking about joining the Hope for the Warriors team without the full fundraising commitment.

Any tips for running my first marathon? Have you ever run for a charity?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Of injuries and unplanned rest

I've really cut back on my training. I only ran 10 miles two weeks ago and only 4 last week. I'm usually a super trainer. I follow a plan as closely as I can and I have been doing the intermediate one for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. Then, we had a weekend with 2 birthday parties and a sore back for me.

I don't know what I was doing that hurt my back. I had problems standing for more than 20 minutes and spent an entire evening on and off of an ice pack. So, my back was better and then my foot started hurting. I have no idea what went wrong there. I could barely walk, let alone run. I did the 4 miler last week, knowing full well that I shouldn't have. I treated it by extra stretching and rolling it on a water bottle that I had frozen. I think I must have had the beginnings of plantar fasciitis, but it feels much better now, so I haven't been as concerned.

This week, it has felt fine. I've be very careful to wear my most comfy running shoes and I have been wearing sneakers most of the time, even at home. I have a 10-miler scheduled for tomorrow. I guess I will see how that goes.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tic Tac Turkey Bacon

Last week, I made this creation for my kids' weekend breakfast.

A friend of mine who has a food blog posted a picture of a woven slab of bacon on Facebook and I decided I could build on that and make it more fun for my boys.

1. Take out 3 pieces of bacon per person and slice them in half. I am making 2 of the final product, so I need 6 pieces. I use turkey bacon. My sons don't really seem to know the difference, yet.

2. I line up 3 of the half-pieces like this on my Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan. I'm sure you can do this on a regular cookie sheet or in a skillet, you would need to really reduce the baking time, though.

3. Then I begin to weave the pieces to form a mat. 

4. Then I put my bar pan in a cold oven and turn it on at 400F. My oven takes 10 minutes to reach that temperature. Once it reaches 400, I bake for an additional 20 minutes. 

5. While it is baking, I prepare the toast Xs. After toasting a piece of wheat bread, I remove the crusts and cut it into 12 squares. I then cut each of these squares into an X shape. My kids will eat the crusts and pieces, but you could easily food process the pieces for breadcrumbs.

Depending on the size of your piece of bread, you need 4-5 Xs per serving. I'm sure you could do this with cheese, if you don't eat bread. 

6. I then cut grape tomatoes into 4 slices. You need 4-5 slices per serving and I don't usually use the end pieces on the final product, but my 4-year old will eat them on the side.

7. I serve it on a slab of toast. 

8. I put the cooked bacon slab on top of the toast.

9. I then add the toast Xs and the tomato Os.

Yes, I know their plates are orange and blue. My Florida Gators have their last regular season basketball game at Kentucky this afternoon. Go Gators!

10. Serve to some very happy children with fruit.

Trapped Under a Former Milk Dud

Last night, I went to bed at 10 with plans to meet a friend for a 6-mile run this morning. My back has been bothering me and I wanted someone to look at my running form to see if I was doing something wrong. I feel like I've been hunching or something. It's worse after days when I run, so as I head into the meat and potatoes of my training for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler and the Maryland Half Marathon, I don't want to be in pain for days after I'm done.

At 1:45am, my door was slammed open. Milk Dud wanted to sleep in my bed. Sigh. Every time I would move, he would freak out and grab for me. At one point, he had both arms around my head. Finally, at about 4, he settled on my chest. Yeah, great for my back. OUCH! I haven't been physically trapped under him at night in a long time. My alarm was set for 6am. He started crying when I went to the bathroom. He didn't want anything to do with his daddy. He's such a mommy's boy. 

So, no running for me with my friend this morning. I guess I will have to have someone at the gym look at my running form and find some time to make up the missed miles. The joys of being loved ;)

Also, since I'm mentioning the race, please help me raise money for the University of Maryland Medical Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center! My goal is only $100 and I'm almost there!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Attack of the workout wear!

Chafing. Unless you are a size 00, you have probably experienced chafing. Heck, even if you are a 00, you might have some issues with it on your feet.

I've learned to cope with it by putting Body Glide in the areas I usually have problems. I try to avoid cotton because it holds in moisture. I wore a cotton shirt for my first half marathon in December on a foggy, wet day and I totally wished I hadn't come mile 7. The brace I wore for my IT band injury would rub my thigh raw from the Velcro and putting glide on it just made it slip down.

Wednesday, I went for a rare weekday outdoor morning run. It was drizzling when I started and just very wet. To psych myself up for it, I wore my BornFit running shirt I got as a premium for running the Annapolis Half. I love that shirt. It's soft and light. Also, I'm just proud of myself for earning the darn thing ;) Well, the run itself was sucky. It was the beginning of my cold, so I was slow and just didn't feel like running the 6 I was planning, so I did 5.

I got home and I had a lovely inch-long raw spot on my upper chest from the zipper on my top. My favorite shirt attacked me! I've run in this shirt before without incident. I've worn similarly-styled shirts without a problem, either. Heck, I wear necklaces that hit at that location and have never had so much as a dot of rawness.

Was it because my shirt didn't want to go running? Was my shirt upset that I woke it up at 5:30am? Did it not want to be out in the rain? Why would my favorite shirt attack me?!

I guess next time, I need to zip it all of the way up or put some glide on in that location before I run. :(

Friday, February 22, 2013

My love/hate relationship with cross training

I have a love/hate relationship with cross training. I have days when I would rather do ANYTHING but run. I have days when I would rather run and do nothing else. I know that to train properly sometimes you need to throw in another activity. Overtraining certain muscles can cause injuries in others. I neglected my quads after Ragnar and irritated my IT band. I ran my first half marathon wearing a knee brace to try and cut down on the pain.

I've been trying to integrate at least one other type of activity into my workout routine. It's tough when you have a training plan that suggests you run 5 days a week AND have small children and things to do most days of the week. This week, I managed to cross train TWICE. That never happens. I've been loving the trampoline class at my gym. I try to work it into my Monday schedule. I did half of a kickboxing class today. I only made it through half because I had errands to run.

How do you cross train?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Am I Crazy?

So, I know lots of people run races all the time, but I'm relatively new to the running world and have really only raced a handful of times. Right now, I'm scheduled for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler on April 7th and the Maryland Half Marathon on May 11th. To me, that's 2 very long races very close together. I will probably just have 1 or 2 long runs after the 10-miler and then taper again for the half. This isn't something I've done before, so it will all be new to me.

I'm hoping to do the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. It'll be my first. One of my friends is planning to run it, too. She's mararthoned before. I am going to rely upon this fact ;) That's at the end of October. We had been talking about doing this for months, so it's not the crazy factor. Here's the crazy factor, I am going to hopefully do the DC Ragnar again. It's at the beginning of October... the weekend I am supposed to have a 20-mile training run. My hope is that I can have a high-mileage runner number. I'd really like to be runner 11 or something similar. I honestly think I would be able to handle the high mileage and would work best with my training plan. Not to mention, I'm getting faster than I was :)

I limit my races because I like to actually train for each one individually and can't really afford to race as much as I would like.

What's the craziest race schedule you've planned?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Do you run for a cause?

How do you pick your races? I ran Ragnar because my husband's cousin asked if I wanted to do it and I thought it would be a fun adventure. I did my first half marathon because the timing was right for me with my training plans and it wasn't too far away, but sometimes I run for a good reason.

A little over a year ago when my running adventure began, a friend of mine said to pick a 5K and that she would do it with me. I wanted to do something in the Baltimore area, so that it wasn't far for anyone. I wanted something with a flat course. Most of all, I wanted it to be for a cause I supported. I picked The Red Shoe Shuffle which supports the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. I picked this one for a reason, one of my nieces had some strokes in utero and has had access to therapy where they live. Many kids don't have this luxury. Others are in need of more extensive therapies that they can receive at Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland Medical Center, or Kennedy-Krieger. The Ronald McDonald House provides a place for them to stay during these therapies. 

Yesterday, I registered for the Maryland Half Marathon. I knew at the time that it supported the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center and that 100% of the net proceeds go to the cause, which is unusual for a large race. I didn't know until after I registered that I have an acquaintance who's father is one of the researchers there. It is one of top rated cancer centers in the country.

If you would like to support me, you can make a donation here: My goal is to raise at least $100 for the center. Every little bit helps. Thank you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Things I love about running

I haven't been able to do as much running as I would like, but would like to share with my readers a few things I love about running on this Valentine's Day.

First of all, I'm a stay-at-home mom 95% of the time. I love being able to get some time alone and either listen to my music or enjoy nature.

Secondly, I like being able to run with a group of friends. I did the DC Ragnar back in September and had a lot of fun with a group of 13 other women. I've continued running with some of them and am running the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in April.

I love the community that running creates. I participate in #runchat on Twitter and it has helped me connect with lots of running friends who share my interests and encourage me to continue running.

I love that you can run almost anywhere. I ran on my vacation last August and when I was visiting my family in December. I only needed my shoes, some exercise clothes, and my water belt.

Lastly, I love that races are often done to support various causes. My first ever race was The Red Shoe Shuffle to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore. I had a lot of fun and raised about $200. I'm currently training for the Maryland Half Marathon which benefits the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. You can sponsor me HERE.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

That 4-7 mile run will have to wait...

It's week 3 of Cherry Blossom 10-miler Training. I cross-trained on the Monday rest day with a trampoline class at my gym. I did the minimum of 3 miles. My calves and quads hurt, but I did it.

Last night, I realized that the 4-7 miles of interval training were going to have to wait. My 4-year old popped a fever and has been acting lethargic. We went to the doctor. He doesn't have the flu. He passed the quick strep, so we just sit and wait. No gym for mommy or school for Squirty and I hate early morning runs in the dark.

I don't mind being a little off on my training, but I hate missing the two longer runs of the week. I'm really more upset because he's going to miss his Valentine's party at school.

Happy training!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's getting easier

I started running in December 2011. I used the very popular Couch to 5K program that many people I know had used with great success. On this date a year ago, I ran 2.54 miles in 30 minutes. I probably struggled through it as the slightly faster than 12 minutes per mile pace. I was just getting into the groove of running and thought I was awesome when I could handle that amount of time running. I had agreed to be on the Ragnar team, but our team pace had to be faster than 11 minutes per mile. I was dreading putting in the work to get there.

Today, I did a tempo run. That's where you do a mile of warm-up and then a few miles at your 5K pace and then a mile cool-down. My warm-up and easy run pace is 10:54. My tempo pace is 9:40 minutes per mile... or at least it has been. I breezed through the 2 miles at the increased speed. I think maybe I should start slowing increasing my tempo pace, especially since I've been doing some 9 minute mile runs around the neighborhood.

For me, the distances and speeds are definitely getting easier. I am scheduled to run 6-7 miles tomorrow. I think I can handle that ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Turkey, Greens and Hummus "Sushi Rolls"

For those of you who are aware of my children's strange eating habits, you know why I do this. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick recap. Squirty is 4.5. He will eat ANYTHING and everything. Milk Dud is 2.5 and eats very few things. Hummus is a favorite of both, so when I get the urge/time I like to make them hummus based "sushi rolls."

These are pretty easy to make. First I take a rolling pin and flatten out a piece of bread.

I roll it until the bread looks like this. If you want to cut off the crusts, this would be the point to do it.

Then I coat it with a fairly thick layer of hummus. You can use any kind, depending on the flavors you like.

Next, I add a couple of decently-sized pieces of salad greens. I use whatever I have on hand. Spinach is a favorite of my older son. You can probably add more, but my sons usually eat more than the 4 you get out of one piece of bread. You could also add cucumbers or carrot sticks. I just didn't have any on-hand.

Then I add one piece of turkey, or whatever deli meat or cheese I might have.

Then I roll it up very tightly starting at the end with the veggies and meat.

I cut it in quarters and serve it. I usually make 3-4 of these. Squirty will eat at least 8 pieces depending on what else he has for lunch.

My legs are too skinny

I have always had skinny legs. Even when I'm at my heaviest, my lower thighs, calves and ankles are about as big around as a 10-year old's might be. Normally, one might think this is cool. I don't, especially in dealing with running injuries.

Let's start with the most superficial reason. I have always wanted a cute pair of dress boots. On me, all styles look ridiculous, even when I wear them with leggings or skinny jeans. I've tried on $30 pairs. I've tried on $200 pairs. They all result in the same silliness.

Okay, on to issues that are actually worthy of complaint. If you'll recall, I hurt my IT band back in November right before my first half marathon. I had a heck of a time trying to find a brace that supported me. I bought a small Target brand knee brace. That would slip down until I got really sweaty and it stayed in place. Sometimes, I flip the bottom part up over the top of my knee and find that it stays better that way. When I realized it was actually my IT band bothering me, I ordered an Aylio IT Band Compression Wrap from Amazon. Well, I would put it on as tight as it could go and the darn thing would slide over my knee, when it wasn't rubbing me raw with the velcro. Luckily, my IT band hasn't been bothering me lately (knock wood).

I wanted a pair of compression socks and compression sleeves to help with my occasional shin splints. I put one of each on my Amazon wish list and received them for Christmas (Thanks Mom K and Aunt Linda!) They stay up and provide a little bit of compression, but don't provide as much support as I would like. They are smalls, too!

I know some people would love to have skinny legs like mine, but seriously they can be a pain in the knee or shin ;)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some days the magic just doesn't happen

I could have gotten up and run in the dark, but this Floridian living in Maryland is terrified of black ice and falling flat on her face. I could have gotten up and gone to the gym and run on the treadmill, but my 4-year old had a little accident about 3:30am. He woke up his baby brother and I had an impossible time trying to get Milk Dud back to sleep. Yeah, last night sucked.

Today is the day I teach at the community college, so I didn't get to go to the gym like I did last week. My husband had a lot to do for work and I now have a sleeping toddler on the couch.

I'm exhausted and want to eat my weight in fruit snacks. I know there are always other runs. I will probably run at the gym tomorrow and both days this weekend.

Some days, the magic doesn't happen.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cherry Blossom Week 2 Wednesday

My knee was a little sore, so yesterday I skipped the 2-4 miler in favor of 30 minutes on the exercise bike. Today, I put on the knee brace and hopped on the treadmill. Wednesdays are interval days. I stuck with my 5% grade hill intervals. Today called for 3-6 miles with 1-3 miles of intervals. I figured I'd get to 3 miles with the intervals and see how I felt. Well, I got to the 3 and felt fine. I continued with the intervals until I hit 4 miles and then just ran at a normal, slowish pace until I hit an hour of time. My total mileage was 5.52 miles. I kept my pace intentionally slow to watch my knee and to get in the miles. It was a good day. My knee feels okay, even though my back has hurt all day. 

Oh, Monday I decided to try the Bounce class at my gym again. I had a lot more fun this time. This is not why my knee hurts. My knee actually started bugging me after my Sunday run. I had more fun doing it this time. It was definitely a great low-impact workout. I'm not sure that their claim of 10 minutes of bouncing is equal to 20 minutes of running, but taking the class will certainly help my core strength.

Tomorrow is 2-5. I'm going to aim for 4. I might get my lazy butt up and do it in the morning. I teach on Thursdays, so normal gym times aren't available. My other option is to take my running clothes with me and run around the college campus. I can always go to the gym when I'm done, but I feel like I should take advantage of the hills and decent weather available to me on the campus.

Keep on chugging!