Friday, May 15, 2015

Giveaway - $200 Cash + Relay Starter Kit!

In my last post I shared with you guys my wonderful experience running the American Odyssey Relay with Team Bloggin' & Joggin, an incredible group of women who are all DIY bloggers. It really was a fantastic experience and one I will never forget! I am so thankful to have been a part of it and cannot wait to do it again next year.
As a way to motivate our readers and give back to the running community, the 12 of us are so excited to be hosting the most amazing giveaway today - the prize is $200 cold hard cash AND an awesome "Relay Starter Kit" filled with some super-cool stuff that's perfect for a relay weekend!

Here is a list of all the items included in the starter kit:

  • Safety yellow running vest
  • Safety running lights (including a lighted arm band)
  • Safety amber light
  • Health Warrior chia bars
  • Milestone Pod that fits on your shoe to track your miles
  • Muscle cream
  • First aid kit
  • Generic Pepto-Bismol
  • Vaseline
  • Car window markers

To enter the giveaway, follow the prompts in the below link. The giveaway is open to continental US residents only, and will be open for one week. Best of luck!

Have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

beyond running

Once again life has been busy - it never really stops I guess, always whirling and swirling with all sorts of life and adventure! And lots of running, of course.

Four weekends ago Abby and I went to cheer on my sister and some friends at the North Face Endurance Challenge race series. Jodi ran the 50k and set an awesome PR, finishing in under 7 hours with a big smile on her face. Abby and I had a great time spectating and cheering in my sister.

Three weekends ago Abby and I did a local 5k together with the Girls Running Club I helped coached at her school. All of the girls did amazing, including my sweet Abby who ran her heart out and finished in her fastest time ever! I loved sharing this experience with her and could not be more proud of her. Running doesn't come easily to her, and she gave it everything she had. We laughed and chatted the whole way! I will always cherish times like this with my daughter.

Two weeks ago I ran the GW Classic 10 Miler. It was a strong and happy race for me. I finished right around where I expected I would (1:09 and change), ran steady and strong with no stomach issues. I set a course PR but was well off of my fastest time (a good 4 minutes) for that distance. This winter and spring were not about pushing myself for fitness gains, but rather about finding a healthier running/life balance and giving my body, mind and emotions a break from hard training. I loved being at this race and was happy with how it went. Placing 3rd in my age group was unexpected and a nice icing on the cake of a happy race. This race is one of my very favorites in the DC area! I was honestly just so grateful to show up to a start line and feel excited to run, regardless of what the time on the clock was. For the last several years I have been gunning for faster times at basically every race I signed up for, so this has been a great change of pace for me these last several months. It has been just what I needed, to feel like me again, to reset things for a healthier balance, and to help make me stronger moving forward in running and, more importantly, in life.

After the 10 miler I spent a week doing a lot less running, with much lower intensity and mileage. Coach Hadley called it a "regeneration week," really pulling back on things before I begin working towards my fall marathon and racing goals. I ran the American Odyssey Relay at the tail end of that week and it was truly the perfect thing for me, at the perfect time!

My team, "Bloggin' & Joggin'" was comprised of a bunch of female DIY bloggers from all over the country. Our team captain Cassie, who I met a few years ago when I was looking to have some furniture refinished for my home, asked me to be on this team a few months ago. I hadn't seen Cassie in years but I just adore her, and I was excited to meet more women like herself and share this relay adventure with them. Our team was sponsored by a slew of incredible companies who went above and beyond anything I could have imagined. This truly blew me away, and I really don't know how to properly thank them all for all they did for us!

The American Odyssey Relay itself is an amazing event. The race course is 200 miles from the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, PA all the way to the waterfront of Washington, DC. I was runner #1 in van 1, and it was a lot of fun to kick off the race - an experience I had never had before! It was a lot of fun!
I loved every second of this experience. My runs were GORGEOUS - the sceneries at sunrise and sunset were truly peaceful and breathtaking. I ran the first two nice and easy right around a 7:30 pace. My last run was nearly 9 miles in the dark along the C&O Canal towpath - it was a bit spooky for
sure, and I ran it slower (around an 8:15 average pace) but I made the most of it and was happy to have made a friend for the last few miles. Talking with her made the dark less scary!

My favorite thing about this relay race though wasn't my running at all ... but was actually watching my teammates run, and being a part of something so much bigger than myself. These women are all just amazing and strong and beautiful - and so much fun! It was refreshing to me to be with them, and it reminded me of the simplest and purest joys of the sport and how women can truly lift one another up and have so much fun together doing it! I am so thankful that I had this opportunity, and really look forward to doing it with them again next year.

Later this week the 12 of us are hosting an awesome giveaway - we are actually giving away $200 and a super fun "relay starter kit" for one lucky winner! I am going to post it here on Friday and you can enter. It's pretty awesome, so check back here later this week for details on how to enter.

The morning after I returned home from my relay, my family and I volunteered for and manned the water stop at our elementary school's 5k! It was tons of fun to do this with my family.

I have been continually reminded lately of all the things that I love about running that actually have nothing at all to do with my own personal running or pursuits related to the sport ... and what makes this even more beautiful to me is that it refreshes and rejuvenates my spirit in ways within me but also so far beyond myself. I know now that my passion for the sport has got to be fueled by more than just a fire within me to be my best, and that my definition of my best self as a runner and as a person, goes well beyond my own times or distances or accomplishments ... it transcends me in ways I never imagined before and I am so grateful to be realizing this now.

I do have dreams and goals on a personal level - to break 3 hours in the marathon, to race ultra distances, to be a competitive masters runner - but they will not have meaning to me if they are not shared with my family and with the running community. I'm really looking forward to training for my fall races with all of this in my heart. Without a doubt, I am seeing and experiencing running in a whole new way now.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My 26 Strong Cadet

The response to my request for a cadet for 26 Strong was way more than I ever imagined it would be. I feel so grateful to have heard from so many of you, and am just so very amazed by the response I received.

Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to write to me, to share so honestly and bravely your stories and your reasons for wanting to run your first marathon with me and 26 Strong. I received nearly 200 comments and emails from some of the most incredible and remarkable women.

Making this decision was very hard for me.

By this morning I had narrowed my list down to 4 amazing women. With the help of my husband and a few dear friends who listened to me work through my thoughts and considerations, I have chosen Kristi to be my cadet.

Kristi's email to me touched my heart from the moment I read it. Here is what she wrote to me on Thursday morning ...

My Story is really pretty long. Most people say I should write a book, but most of what my recent life has been like most people would think were fiction. 

I started running 4 years ago this May. I had my daughter, Kaylin in January and having struggled with weight a lot in my life, I wanted to be fit for her. So I started running. I couldn't make it a mile with K in a stroller! But I stuck with it. I found MRTT after my running partner PCS to Hawaii. Kaylin and I even ran our first race together- Arlington 9/11 memorial when she was 8 months old. Then my world started to change. 2 weeks before her first birthday a simple eye exam changed my life forever. Two weeks later after being rushed into specialists for neuro and genetics I got a diagnosis of Sandhoff disease. Incredibly rare, degenerative disorder and fatal usually by age 3. No treatment, no cure. We continued running. I needed the stress relief and to stay in shape knowing that my daughter my never walk, crawl, and she never did speak but her facial expressions spoke volumes. I went through a nasty divorce while managing Apnea coupled with Epileptic seizures, feeding tubes and years of almost no sleep and hardly any support (except from my running family who literly kept my spirits high through the roughest moments). 

I started back to school when she was 2 divorce on the horizon. This time I was going to be a nurse. I saw how much more my already great attentive skills and meticulous work with Dr and nurses could help K and meant I could do more to help others. 

It wasn't easy but I knew it was something I had to do. 

After she passed away last year, two weeks before her third birthday. I had a lot of scrambling to find my footing in life. I kept running. I signed up for my first half marathon. k and I had run a 10k together as our farthest distance. I knew that no matter the distance or even if I felt like giving up, it was nothing compared to what I went through to keep her happy, living life, and comfortable. I mean let's face it we would do anything for our kids. 

So last year I ran MCM historic half- glad I love hills! Every race I run I have a necklace with some of her ashes. It reminds me when things get tough that we are always together and gives me motivation to keep going. 

This fall I want to run a marathon, probably a huge challenge for me with FT nursing school in an accelerated program and a crazy work schedule, but I know I can do the training needed. I managed 5 days of running a week this winter and it showed in me taking 11 min off my PR from last year. And I know I can still sneak under that this year. Why a marathon? Because it's a feat that I know I can do with proper training. Pushing the limit and honoring K's memory and our love for running couldn't bring me a greater joy. 

I love healthy eating and am a huge foodie! I enjoy kick boxing, swimming and work as a pet care professional (dog walking all day!). The strangest thing I've done to fit in a long run is have my text book read to me as I embarked on a 2 hour treadmill run at night while on call.

I read her email jaw-dropped and with tears in my eyes, my heart filled with amazement at what she has been through and how running has helped her along the way. I simply cannot imagine enduring the pain and loss that she has experienced over the last few years. And, more than that, I was just completely struck by the vibrance of her spirit that shined through in her email ... she just seemed to me to be so strong and determined, so honest and real despite, how unreal and tragic her story was.

I will admit though that I also had questions about her running, and how she would be able to manage the rigors of training while also working and going to school full time. I wrote to her this morning and asked her about it, and she replied right away ...

Thanks for writing! Like I said my story is rather long but I'm glad that I am able to look back at my challenges in a positive way. 

My last half was RnR Dc (can you say burrr but an amazing 11 min PR for me!) Then followed up with CB 10 miler. And I'm running the Fredrick nut job and half May 2-3

I actually have been training on time over miles but consistently put in 20-25 hrs of running plus strength training a week. Worked out to 4-5 runs a week and about 20 mi.  I'm running for maintenance right now (3-5 mi runs) with all my back to back races I've found well rested legs give great results. 

My longest weekly runs are currently 12 miles, but it varies between 8-12 depending on my half plan for the day. With my recovery getting easier and seeing the benefits of weight training and doing what "garmin says" (yeah 220 training plan input!) I know I can add the distance. 

I also hail from the Midwest so it would be pretty neat to run my first Full in Chicago. Lived in WI for years and my family and boy friend are there. Let's face it having your own cheering section would help that last push to the end!

I feel confident that Kristi is ready to embark on the journey to her first ever marathon, and I could not be more honored or grateful to be a part of it!!

I am so excited for her, and look forward to sharing our experience with all of you along the way.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart to all of you who contacted me. I hope that each one of you will run a marathon this fall, I really really do! I am so inspired and touched by you all!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Saucony 26 Strong - Looking for my cadet!

There is nothing quite like training for and running your first ever marathon.

There is also nothing quite like being by a friend's side, guiding and helping her, celebrating her ups and staying by her through her downs- every step of the way - for her first marathon.

Last year I had the honor and the privilege to be a coach for the Saucony 26 Strong program. Saucony and Competitor Group chose 13 experienced marathoners to coach 13 women (of their choosing) for their first marathons - making up an incredible team of 26 strong and inspiring women to support one another and share the journey of a lifetime. It was honestly a magical experience for all of us, and one I will most surely never forget.

When I was selected last year, I had it in my heart to ask my dear friend and Pilates mentor Kathryn to be my 'cadet' for the program. Kathryn had done so much for me and had shared with me that she had found running to be very healing for her after the sudden death of her father that winter. We talked about it and both believed that training for and running a marathon, and this incredible program, would be wonderful for her. So I put a training plan together for her and in December we ran the Honolulu Marathon together along with several amazing women from some of the other 26 Strong teams. Kathryn's mother and her aunt and uncle were all there to support her as well. 
It was such a beautiful and fun experience!

I honestly never imagined getting to have this sort of experience in my life again, so when Saucony contacted me recently to ask if I would be a coach for this year's program, I felt like I had won the lottery! This time it feels even more exciting to me in a way, I guess because after last year I truly know how special it is. I just can't wait to share the experience with my cadet.

This year all 13 teams will be running the Chicago Marathon on October 11. I have run Chicago before and it is one of my favorite marathons. It is big and exciting and the energy there is just beyond awesome! I'm so happy that all 26 of us will be there together, really united as a TEAM and that we will have the chance to spend time with one another, to get ready together and to celebrate together after the race.

This year I am choosing my cadet differently than I did last year. I want to put it out there to all my readers, to my friends and family, and select someone through my blog! 

So here are the details ...

To be considered (no exceptions):

  • You must have completed a half marathon already.
  • You must be female.
  • You must be a first-time marathoner.
  • You must be willing to commit to training for a full marathon with me (either virtually or in person)
  • You must live in the US or Canada.
  • You must be okay with sharing your journey and inspiring others via social media (no need to have a blog of your own, but be cool with sharing (and me sharing) our story here, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and via Competitor and Saucony media channels).
  • You must be able to travel to Chicago for the race on October 11, 2015 (tentative trip dates are from October 8-12 - race registration, travel and accommodations will be covered!).
  • You must be able to commit to all of this by this Friday, April 24th!
To enter, please leave a comment here or send me an email directly at paceofme@gmail.com by this Thursday, April 23rd at 4:00PM EST. I know it's a quick turn around, and I apologize for that! I am going to have a lot to read through and consider in a short amount of time. My plan is to select and notify everyone by this Friday the 24th at 4:00PM.

What do I want to know? About you! How do you FIND YOUR STRONG? Why do you want to run a marathon? What does running mean to you? Share whatever you think would be helpful in expressing why you would be the perfect person for our 26 Strong team!

Thank you so much! I can't wait to hear from those of you who are interested in sharing this experience with me. Please spread the word and pass this along to any friends or family who you think would be great for this, too. I just know the perfect person is out there. I will be so honored to help her every step of the way to her first 26.2!

Friday, March 27, 2015

halfway through Friday

I'm pretty sure it was some time around 2:00AM that my daughter woke me up. She was hot and asked me to turn on her ceiling fan for her. I crept out of bed and took care of it, half asleep, and then crawled back into my bed for a little while longer. Abby is almost 10 years old, but this is the second night this week I have gotten up in the middle of the night with her (nightmares the other night had me curled up with her for an hour or two, sweet girl). Even though she is a 'tween' she will always be my baby.

I'm not sure when these kinds of nights will dwindle away, but I do know that it's been a while since I have been able to completely sleep through the night. The night before that it was the dog - she was crying under our bed because she was thirsty, poor puppy. She is old (almost 14) and doesn't make it up and down the stairs on her own very well these days. It breaks my heart! I brought her downstairs and gave her some water and after that I had such trouble falling back asleep that I wound up just starting my day earlier than normal.

With three young kids and an aging doggy, sleep just isn't very consistent for me right now, and hasn't been for a decade. I guess us mommas just get used to it, right?!

When my alarm went off just before 5AM today I could hear the raindrops falling outside. I looked at my phone and already had texts from both of my running partners telling me they were not going to be me meeting me this morning, they would be taking their workouts indoors today. I went back to sleep and finally motivated myself to get out of bed a little after 5:30. As I tiptoed across the hall I heard Will call for me. He was up and really excited about a project he is working on, making me flashcards with instructions and diagrams about how to play chess. I better learn because this kid is serious about teaching me!

The two of us went downstairs and he sat at the kitchen table working on it while I made my coffee and slugged around, trying to talk myself into running outside alone on a cold wet morning. Just as I was about to go upstairs to put my running clothes on, Abby came downstairs. By now it was getting close to 6am. I looked at the clock and felt a little stressed. How was I going to get myself out the door for 8-10 rainy miles and be home by 7:45 to get to Girls Running Club just before 8:00? I would probably have to shorten my run, and that would have to be okay. Abby and Will wanted breakfast so I took care of making it for them before heading up the stairs.

As I approached the top of the stairs I heard Gus - "Mommy?" - his sweet voice asking for me. I peaked my head into his room and he said "YES!" pulling his fists into his waist like he had just hit the jackpot. He was sitting up in his bed with the cutest, biggest smile on his face. Gus is the best snuggler ever, and it is pretty much something he wants to do 24/7. He asked me if I had run yet and I said "no Buddy, not yet" and climbed into bed with him for 5 minutes of cuddles. His warm body wrapped around me felt so good and made it really hard for me to get out of bed! I had a busy morning ahead though, and wanted to get my run in ... but losing a mile or two to have time like this with him was really worth it for both of us. I finally made it out the door for my run at a little after 6:30 - enough time for 7 miles. The weather was actually perfect - a light drizzly rain and around 40 degrees. It was peaceful and the air felt clean and clear to me. I was glad I was out there.

As soon as I got home I quickly changed my clothes and Abby and I were out the door for Girls Running Club! I am coaching Abby and about 20 other girls from her elementary school for a local 5k race at the end of April. I coach the girls every Friday, and my friend Karen coaches them on Mondays. Robert goes to work a little later than usual on Fridays and takes the boys to school for me so that I can coach the girls. I am so thankful that he does this, and so many other things, to support me and our family. We are a good team.

Today my plan was to have the girls do some hill repeats. They did an amazing job and I was so proud of each one of them! We ran about a half mile to the base of a hill on our trail and then I had them do 4-6 repeats. We talked about how to run the hill, about form, effort and breathing. The 5k course they are running next month is hilly and Karen and I really want the girls to feel prepared for that. It was a great day to do this because the trail was pretty quiet with the weather being so icky. I am so in awe of these girls and have so much fun coaching them!

We finished up just before 9AM and I quickly ran home to change and get Will's school project for him (he forgot to bring it to school with him!). I zipped by the school (it is down the street from my house, thank goodness) and then rushed to work to teach at 9:30AM. I threw my hair up in a messy bun and hoped I didn't smell too bad :) I taught Pilates until noon (two classes and a private session with a wonderful client) and then picked Gus up from school. We got home, I inhaled my lunch and then - finally - took a shower. I got some chores done around the house and now Gus and I are cuddling in bed watching a movie as I write this. I'm so thankful to have reached this point in the day. We have a couple of hours together just the two of us before we get the big kids from school.

Halfway through Friday and I feel like I've really packed it in. Tonight my awesome nephew is babysitting for us (the kids are SO excited!) so that Robert and I can go to "Yoga on Tap" - an evening of vinyasa flow yoga and beer! - with some friends at our gym. I can't wait for our date, and am looking forward to the weekend ahead.

One step at a time, I know that my little family and I will pack it all in just like we always do. We will make room for all of our responsibilities, our activities, and our passions.

And most of all, we will always make room for snuggles with one another.

I hope everyone is having a great Friday!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

back to the track

On Tuesday I met my dear amazing friend Dora before sunrise at a local high school track. We are pretty sure it had been close to an entire year since we'd met for a workout there. The track used to be a weekly occurrence for us and our running tribe of incredible friends, and we have so many fond memories of sweating it out and working hard there, cheering one another on and suffering through it all together.

back at the track!
As hard as it was to get the work done, it felt really good to be back.

Tuesdays are my speed day each week lately. I usually get my long run done on Saturday or Sunday (depending on my kids' sports schedules and what my husband's running plans are), have an easy run Monday, work hard Tuesday, recovery run Wednesday, do light speed or an easy run Thursday (depending on how my legs feel and if I am fully recovered from Tuesday) and run easy again on Friday before my long run over the weekend.

This week my hard workout was a huge set of 400s which are really great to do on the track in my opinion. I arrived there late because I realized after leaving the house that I had forgotten my watch. I went back home to get it and couldn't find it (turns out it fell out of my coat pocket on the living room floor - doh!) and this made me late. I was a little frustrated and frazzled to be late and not have my watch for the workout, but was also determined to not let this completely derail me or ruin my morning. Dora was running easy laps to stay warm and loosen up when I got there so I hopped right on the track with her and we ran a few miles together just talking and catching up and enjoying the stillness of the morning together. It was wonderful. She was not planning to do a workout that day, so when it was time for me to motivate my tushie to crush some 400s, she ran easy and cheered me on - even timing me for several of them and doing my recovery jogs with me.

What kind of friend does that at sunrise on a freezing cold morning!? The best kind. Dora.

me and my honey b!
I hadn't run fast like that outside, much less on a track, in a long time. Coach told me to try to run them right around 88 seconds each. My times were all between 87-90 seconds so I felt good about that. I was supposed to get 16 in but because I was late I only had time to get 10 done. Still, it felt like a lot of work (I'm not really sure I had 6 more in me!) and I was happy with how it went and just so grateful to share the morning with my amazing friend. We are going to make it a weekly "date" and I'm definitely excited about this and will love it once the weather warms up and the sun rises earlier. Good times, warmer temps and hard work ahead :)

Tuesdays I also make my hardest strength work day, and this week I joined a new boot camp class at Lifetime that is really going to whip me into shape! Lots of squats, lunges, pushups, etc. I like doing my hard strength day on the same day as my speed, so that I am recovering from it all at once. My legs - especially my glutes and inner thighs! - were really sore yesterday when I woke up, so I did a very easy recovery-paced 8 miles yesterday morning along with a Pilates class later in the day that felt oh so good for my body. I wasn't ready to push anything again today and ran an easy 8 with my friend Karen a little faster than yesterday but didn't push myself at all. This weekend I'm planning on a 15 miler with the last three miles at marathon goal pace (6:45-6:50), and I want my legs to feel fresh and ready for that!

Getting back to the track feels so good, and I'm excited to return it to my routine again. I love a good hard day and as long as I honor the post-work recovery I really think it will benefit me physically and mentally to dedicate myself to that once a week. My 10 mile race is in one month from today and I'm feeling excited about that!

So here are some questions for you guys - do you like to do speed work at the track? Do you fit a hard strength routine into your training, and if so where do you put it in and how often?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

he rocked it.

Let me rephrase that. He totally rocked it.

Going into this race, I told Robert with complete confidence that I believed he would have no trouble running around an 8:20 average pace over 13.1 miles. In all sincerity I felt he could run even a bit faster than that, and when we talked about it for the most part I think he did also. The logical part of him believed it. He had done the work. His fitness was stellar. He was healthy and injury free. His paces for his runs were spot-on to accomplish this. Even still, that was a big number for him to think about and as we all know -- racing is a mental game, no matter how fit you are or how well your training has gone. And no matter how far you have come or how much you have already astounded yourself, trusting yourself and having the courage to push even farther can be a scary thing.

I am so proud of my husband.

Robert executed his race perfectly. He was brave and courageous and strong. He stretched himself and he never gave up.

Because that is who he is.

He finished in 1:47:38. An 8:13 average pace. A whole fifteen minutes faster than his personal best prior to this race. I would call that a big deal day.

I loved being out there on the course with the kids, cheering for him and my friend Karen. My in-laws' house is right at the end of a street along the course so I took the kids (all six of them - my three plus Karen's three!) and we literally grabbed our signs and cowbells and walked to the end of the road a few minutes before I was expecting them to run by. It was just around Mile 11 of the half, so a really great time to give our runners some extra motivation to finish strong. After they passed us we cheered a little more and then went back to the house to play and wait for them to return.

Both Robert and Karen ran such strong races and it was so much fun to be there for them! The kids were awesome cheerleaders and it honestly could not have been easier for me as a solo-flying parent with 6 kids at a race. I loved seeing other familiar faces along the course that day - including one of my clients who is training for Boston and ran a PR that day! What an awesome thing to see her run this race. It was a really fantastic day.

Being at Shamrock as a spectator for my husband and friends and so many other runners filled up my heart and had me feeling those "race day butterflies" in a new and very blessed way.

Running is the best sport ever -- no matter where you are in the pack, what your pace is, what your form looks like, how long you have been doing it, which side of the finish or start line you are on ... we can all come together and lift one another up. I love it! I am so proud to be a runner  - and to be the wife of a runner! Here's to our incredible sport and the human spirit that makes it as magical as it is. 

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