Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rest Day Thoughts

This morning I set no alarm, yet found myself wide awake just before 5:00 AM.  It took me a few minutes to realize that there was no need to crawl out of bed today.  No need to tiptoe across my room and sneak downstairs to make the baby his milk before heading out the door.  No clothes were laid out for my run.  No buddies were waiting to meet me at sunrise for early morning miles.  Today is my rest day.  The one and only rest day I take each week.  I don't always love the way I feel on my rest day, but in THAT moment - that moment when I realize I can stay in bed just a little bit longer - it is pure bliss.  I snuggled deeper into my covers and drifted back to sleep.

About an hour later my 5 year old son Will crept in bed next to me.  He had a new chapter book he wanted us to start together.  We cuddled up and read the first two chapters together before his sister and brother woke up.  Abby came in a little while later and remarked that she was so happy I was there.  We hugged and chatted about the day ahead of us.  I looked at the clock - 7:01 AM.  Most week day mornings this is when I am returning from my run, sweat soaked and happy and ready to get everyone going.  It seems that by the time I walk in the door the hustle and bustle is under way and I've missed the opportunity to snuggle quietly and have sweet talks with them.  By 7:00AM my big kids are demanding breakfast and craft supplies and they are arguing with one another (nothing drives me crazier than this) and talking back to me and telling me things aren't fair and losing their tempers...BEFORE I know it.

I knew by 8:00AM today that I was going to struggle a bit without my run.  I BELIEVE in the value of rest days and I am diligent about sticking to my plan of one rest day per week - at least - even if my body isn't asking for it.  But as the day goes on, it gets to me and I start to feel off balance.  I start to feel antsy for my outlet.

Rest days have so much purpose - they give my sore muscles a chance to recover from the week's hard workouts first and foremost.  And this week I have had some awesome workouts:

- Fastest 5K yet on Saturday plus warm up and cool down for a total of 5 miles.
- Super strong (and HOT) 14 miler on Sunday, average pace 8:05.  I killed it.
- Easy 7 mile recovery run on Monday, followed by 45 minutes of strength training.
- 10 mile run on Tuesday, followed by an awesome Pilates class.
- Killer track workout on Wednesday (10 x 400s - 1:35, 1:27, 1:34, 1:34, 1:35, 1:32, 1:30, 1:33, 1:32, 1:31) with a warm up and cool down on each end of course.  Followed up with 45 minutes of strength training.

Rest days also make me appreciate my running all that much more.  They make me CRAVE my run.  They make me feel hungry for it.  It's almost 3:00PM on my rest day and I will tell you this --tomorrow morning's run can't come soon enough!

How do you feel on your rest days?  Do you get antsy like me?  Or do you embrace them without any trouble?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Women's Distance Festival 5k 2012

Last year I ran the Women's Distance Festival 5k for the first time, setting a new PR (23:08) and placing first in my age group.  It was a very special race for me.  I wrote a race report about my experience and began the post with the following paragraph:

I learned a lot about myself today.  I learned that I am capable of so much more than I thought possible.  I learned that I need to trust in my abilities and let myself "go there" ... that I thrive on finding out what I'm made of and that I love sharing this feeling with other women who run and with my family.  

I ran this race again on Saturday, and I honestly feel as though one year later I could start this post with the exact same paragraph.  I feel like every race (and really, every run) teaches us something.  Maybe it's something about race strategy and pacing.  Or about how far we can push our limits.  Or about what we should or shouldn't eat or drink.  The list goes on and on and some lessons are bigger than others, but every single race is ripe with lessons.  Every single one.

My race on Saturday was no different.  I was surprised by what I learned and I am still soaking it all in and thinking it through.  I am HAPPY with the results.  I know that I did my best that day.  I also know that I am capable of better and that there is room for me to grow and learn from this.

My goal for this race was to PR, which meant running faster than a 21:18.  I also truly believed that I could break 21 minutes for the first time and I was going to GO for it.  I was familiar with this course having run it last year, and I knew that it was not an easy one to navigate or maintain lots of speed on consistently -- there are several sharp hairpin turns, two sections of trail with lots gravel and wood bridge crossings, lots of hills and sections with zero shade.

I got to the race start and warmed up for a little over two miles.  I ran easy and gradually picked up my pace during the warmup, finishing with some fast strides near where the finish line would be.  Before warming up, I commented to a friend that I felt nervous - I had butterflies in my tummy.  She said she felt the same way.  We both sort of laughed at ourselves - I mean, this is just a little local 5k after all - why does it matter so much???  But we both knew the answer to that question.  Even for endurance athletes who run four times as many miles as a 5k every weekend, it is NEVER really "just a 5k."  We were going to be testing our limits.  Giving it our very best.  We wanted to know what we are capable of and we did not want to disappoint ourselves.  Running MATTERS to us.  Believing in ourselves matters to us.  So this race was important.
ready in my fast shoes

I got to the start line feeling excited but a lot calmer.  My heart was grateful - my sister Jodi, my nephew Spencer, my buddy and training partner Chris, and my husband Robert and our three children were ALL there to support me.  They all believed in me and were there to cheer for me!!  I knew it could not be a bad day because I had them all there.  I would do my best.

As I stood at the start line, I recognized two girls I had seen at the track earlier in the week.  They asked me what my pace plan was for the race.  I told them that I was hoping to break 21 for the first time and that I was going to try to go out more conservatively than I usually do.  I have a hard time controlling my pace at the start of a 5k and I was not going to make that mistake again this time.  I knew the course was tough in miles 2 and 3 and I didn't want to burn all my energy in that first mile.  They said they were going for the same goal, and one of them remarked to the other that I should just pace them.  I laughed a little nervously and told them not to do that - that I didn't want them to count on me.  When the race started they stuck by me.  I went out and immediately told myself - RUN YOUR OWN RACE.  This was going to be a new kind of race for me, one in which I was racing others but really just racing myself.  I checked my watch early on in the first quarter mile and I was going too fast, just under a 6 minute pace.  I pulled back and reigned myself in.  I wanted to be steady at 6:35.  When I hit that, I was amazed that it actually felt EASY.  The girls (whose names are Kaileen and Theresa) were right there next to me, one on each side.

looks like I'm a pacer
The first quarter mile of the race is around a parking lot and then we head up onto the W&OD trail.  Here I heard my nephew Spencer call to me - "BREATHE & BELIEVE" - and I smiled.  He is 13 years old.  I am so proud to be his aunt, and so thankful for the person that he IS.  It was so awesome that he was there to cheer for me and support me.

The W&OD trail is my training ground.  My running HOME.  I have logged so many miles on this trail.  I love it and I know it.  Once up on the trail I saw Robert and my kids.  I felt so strong in that moment, so comfortable and happy and grateful.  Grateful for their support and for their love.  Grateful to be where I am in running and in life.

On the W&OD.  Happy and strong.

After a short time on the W&OD we took the first hairpin turn and were off the W&OD and onto another trail that looped up and around a pond.  Here we crossed the first mile marker - 6:35 - right on the NOSE.  Kaileen and Theresa were still right with me.  I said out loud to myself - perfect, this is right where I want to be.  We started looping back onto a trail after that and could see the other runners coming towards us as they headed off the W&OD.  I started cheering for them.  I knew I was spending energy doing so, but I decided I didn't care.  One thing that I love about this race is that it is an ALL women race (I am not sure how many women, maybe 300ish?).  I know a lot of these ladies and their stories are so very inspiring to me.  It was fun to cheer for them and be cheered on by them.  So I let out a "WOOOOO!" and a "lookin' good!" here or there along that stretch.  And I smiled.  Big.

The second mile was trickier.  It was during this mile that we ventured onto some trail - gravel, rocks and dirt.  It was beautiful - I love the woods of Reston - but it was definitely not something I'm used to.  I felt like I was holding strong though I knew that while on the actual rocks and dirt my pace had slowed a bit.  I stopped looking at my watch because I just wanted to maintain my effort and didn't want the numbers to discourage me.  Kaileen and Theresa were still right there with me.  When we were on the paved part again I felt my pace pick up with the same level of effort so I felt assured I was running a SMART race.

As we began the third mile we moved back onto another woodsy stretch - a loop - and then again onto more paved trail.  I was holding strong and feeling really good.  Theresa was right next to me at my left hip and Kaileen had dropped back slightly.  I could not hear or feel her breathing anymore but I knew she wasn't far behind.  We had passed a few women on our way through the woods, but I wasn't paying attention to how many women were still ahead of us at all.  I was so focused on running my own race, sticking to my own pace, going for my own goal, that I hadn't thought about placing or winning anything.

I am still mastering the psychology of racing myself.  I haven't really figured out the psychology or the strategy of racing others just yet.  I have a lot to learn in that area.

We came up out of the woods and made another sharp turn, back onto the W&OD trail.  As we turned I saw Jodi and Chris and they were cheering for me.  Telling me to GO and GET IT.  There was an overpass up ahead as the 3rd mile came to an end.  We had to go UP a hill and then down into the final stretch.  As we turned and started up the hill Theresa sort of tucked in behind me, hanging on at the hip.

She was SMART.  I have no idea whether or not she meant to do this since I don't really know her at all, but I am planning to ask her about it if and when I see her again at the track.  We ran up that hill and in this weird sort of way I felt like I was carrying her up!  Does that even make sense?  I thought to myself.  In retrospect it totally makes sense to me - this is a race!  If I were racing HER and not just myself, I would have eased up and let HER push the pace there, and then I would have gunned it down the hill and into the finish.  Because, you see, she passed me on that down hill and she wound up beating me by just a few seconds!  I crossed the finish line in 20:59 and was the FOURTH overall finisher.

I am not upset, in case you are wondering.  It was an incredible race for me!  A truly valuable experience on so many levels.  I am ecstatic that I broke 21 minutes, that I PR'd by 19 seconds and that I ran a smart race (against myself).  What I learned about racing others, however, is this -

Run your own race and do your very best, solely focused on you and where you are -- until you get close to that finish.  If you are neck and neck with someone, don't let them make you do all the work!  Save your energy to surge past them in that last stretch.  Every second counts!!  I also learned that I know very little about this side of racing and that if I want to compete locally for placings and age group placings, I have to do my homework.  The prize I lost on Sunday by coming in 4th was not a cash prize or gift card (it was a feather boa!) - but if it had been I would have been seriously bummed.

After crossing the finish line on Saturday I was showered with hugs from my family and my kids decorated me with medals they had made.  My heart was FULL.

Some of my favorite pictures ...

me and my babies
proud of my medals
me with two of my LOVES

oh sistah i LOVE you
My buddy Chris. This guy ROCKS - oh so much.
The finish line celebration was tons of fun.  I placed first in my age group and got a fun trophy to commemorate it.  I loved seeing so many of my friends as they finished the race - many of them surprised themselves with new PRs and strong races.  I love the atmosphere of this race.  I love this community of women runners!!!  I love that my family and dear friends were there to support me.

my prizes
This race was about SO MUCH MORE than a new PR or breaking a time goal.  I guess they all are, really.

It was full of celebrations beyond my running achievements.  Celebrations of my family, of my health, of my life, of my FAITH and of my relationships with my friends and my community.  It was also full of lessons and of reminders of what is MOST important to me.  Just as I did last year, I came away from this race feeling both proud of how far I have come and excited about all of the possibilities ahead.  And, of course, so very grateful for the LOVE that surrounds me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Bullets

This week has been jam-packed and I am finding my brain all over the place (this is normal for me, but whatever).  A bulleted list of what's on my mind is all I can muster at the moment so here we go!
  • One week ago today was the last day of school and summer has officially begun around here - in FULL force (temperatures shot up to close to 100 degrees!).  In an effort to balance it all and keep everyone happy (including myself), I've gotten up by 5am and done all of my running as early as possible in the mornings before my husband has to head to work.  It's left the rest of our days totally free to do whatever we feel like, which mostly means lots of time cooling off in the water, or the air conditioning.  We've gone to the pool, played in the outdoor fountain and went to the mall so Miss Abby could redeem a birthday gift card to one of her favorite stores for her 7th birthday.

  • Earlier this week I received truly awesome and much anticipated news - my runner assignment for the Hood to Coast Relay!!!  A couple of months ago when I was chosen to run with Nuun, I could not have been more excited or amazed about it.  It is a dream come true for me.  We are all part of the team AfterNuun Delight, but are divided into three teams of 12 runners (10 bloggers plus 2 Nuun employees each): Team Morning, Team Noon and Team Night.  I am Runner #11 for Team Noon.  Noon for Nuun!  This will be my very first ever relay and I cannot believe I am running Hood to Coast - with Nuun!  It all became very REAL when they announced our actual runs and van mates.  They had asked us for our preferences of legs and I really didn't have any to be honest - I wanted to be flexible and just soak it all in so I told them I will run WHATEVER.  I am in Van #2 with some really awesome women.  Here is a list of my team mates and you can also find the full announcement by clicking HERE.
Van 1
Kelly – According to Kelly: Legs 1, 13, 25
Laura – Nuun Employee: Legs 2, 14, 26
Laura– Camping Out In America: Legs 3, 15, 27
Jocelyn – Enthusiastic Runner: Legs 4, 16, 28
Sarah – Once Upon a (L)ime: Legs 5, 17, 29
Molly – Mollyberries’ Hodge Podge: Legs 6, 18, 30

Van 2
Tonia – Racing With Babes: Legs 7, 19, 31
Kim – Nuun Employee: Legs 8, 20, 32
Tiffany – Heavy Medal: Legs 9, 21, 33
Zoe – Nuun Employee: Legs 10, 22, 34
Jessica – Pace of Me: Legs 11, 23, 35
Lindsay – Lindsay On The Go: Legs 12, 24, 36

  • On a totally unrelated note, we are leaving for the beach in a week and I CANNOT WAIT.  Every summer we go visit my in laws in Virginia Beach around in early July.  It is without a doubt one of our very favorite times of the year.  I cannot wait to feel my toes in the sand, to cuddle with my baby in the hammock by the garden, to play with my kids in the waves, to eat fresh juicy peaches, to go for runs along the ocean .... the list goes on and on and on.  Heaven, here we come!
  • Tomorrow I am running a local 5k!  I am going to give it my all and try to break 21 minutes for the first time.  I KNOW I can do this.  Last year I ran this race in 23:08 and it was a huge accomplishment for me.  I won my age group for the first time ever in my life that day!  It is a special race to me and I can't wait to be there again tomorrow.  Robert is going to bring the kids too - this always makes a race extra wonderful.  My plan is to go out no faster than 6:35 and hang onto that pace until the last mile.  At that point all engines will go full throttle and I am going to lay it all out on the line til I get to the finish.  I have a tendency to lose control at the start of these shorter races and always positive split.  Tomorrow I am going to pay extra attention to this and really reign myself in at the get-go and save any extra energy for the second half of the race.  It is going to be a CHALLENGE.  But I'm up for it.
  • This weekend also marks the beginning of two new coaching adventures for me!  I am one of the assistant coaches for the =PR= Distance Training Program in Ashburn, VA this summer!  I cannot wait to work with head coach Meghan Ridgley and the other two assistant coaches (my sister Jodi is one of them!!!!).  The runners we are coaching are incredibly inspiring and I know I have as much to learn from them as they do from me.  I am so very honored to be a part of this program from the coaching perspective too.  My other coaching adventure is of a totally different nature - I am coaching 5-6 year old kids for the Reston Runners Youth In Motion program!  Both of my big kids are taking part in this amazing program this year also.  I cannot wait.
I have a little baby waking from a nap now and a 7 year old sweet girl who has been terribly under the weather (breaks my heart) who I will be taking to the doctor in about an hour - nothing like taking a kid to the doctor after 5pm on a Friday, just in time!!  I just need her to be seen before the weekend in case this is an ear or sinus infection.  I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend filled with lots of summer fun and sweaty runs!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


This morning marked the first track workout of the season.

I got up just before 5:00am and my house was absolutely quiet.  Everyone was sleeping silently in their own beds - they had all slept through the night.  This was a treat because it has not been the case for the last few nights.  Abby has been out of sorts with the new summer routine and Baby Gus has been very unsettled due to the four giant teeth he is getting all at once.  Having had a solid almost 7 hour stretch of sleep was like magic.  Sleep is golden.  Oh how I love sleep.

I walked outside and the air was thick and soupy.  Summertime has arrived in northern Virginia.  It was close to 80 degrees at sunrise this morning and I knew it was going to take a certain amount of resolve to not let it get to me.  I just kept telling myself to be thankful the sun wasn't beating down on us -THAT was a good thing for sure.

There was a small group of us at the track including my buddy Chris who was running his first ever track workout.  This made me so happy.  A year ago he wasn't even running at all yet - now he is 25 pounds lighter, a 3:47 marathoner, an ultra runner and has logged 1,000 miles in 2012 to date.  He is a rock star friend and training partner.  He inspires me every day.  He makes me laugh.  He supports me and doesn't let me whine or complain, though he listens to me patiently whenever I need to vent about something.  I am so excited to be training for another marathon with him and am totally geeked-out thrilled that he is coming to the track with me this season.  I hope he loves it there as much as I do.

We warmed up for an easy mile and then got to work right away.

I am aiming to train at the paces for a 3:20 marathon this cycle.  Based on my most recent race performances and how I have been feeling with my long run paces, I think this is an achievable goal.  It's not going to be easy and in many ways it totally scares me - but it is a DREAM for me and I am going for it.  I'm not going to let my fears stop me.

I surprised myself today.  I ran quite a bit faster than my goal paces and I felt GOOD and STRONG and CONSISTENT doing it.  It was an awesome way to start the season.  I love running around in circles.

Target: 6:48-6:57
Actual: 6:23

Target: 3:23-3:27
Actual: 3:09, 3:09

Target: 1:41-1:44

Actual: 1:33, 1:30, 1:28, 1:28

Normally I would be totally freaked out about running this much faster than my target paces at the track, but I was consistent and felt like I had more in me when all was said and done so I know this was solid training.  I went through this a lot over the course of the last year - and I am learning that as you get faster you have to adjust things in order to keep improving.  If I felt like I was only hanging on by a thread or if I felt as though I was dying between intervals then I would have slowed down.  I am going to listen to my body and pay careful attention to what it is telling me, always.  The time on the clock has a way of freaking me out and I am learning not to let it do that.  Especially when I am feeling so good.

The track is a happy place for me.  I feel strong and determined and free when I am on it.  I like the intervals - I work on my mental toughness as much as my speed when I am there.  It is a beautiful place and I especially love it on early summer mornings.  The day is new and the sun is rising.  I am filled with hope and happiness out there.  I love watching my friends push themselves around the track - they are so beautiful and so strong.  We are each our own unique selves, yet unified in our love for the sport and in our fight for our dreams.  I am so excited that summer is here and that I will be spending one morning a week running around and around in circles at this place I love so much!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012


This weekend marked the official start to marathon training!!  This fall I will be running my 10th marathon (my fourth MCM) and I will be training with the =PR= Distance Training Program in Reston for the third time.

I am BEYOND excited.

I started Saturday morning by meeting up with the training group at the Reston store, where Coach Caitlyn went over the logistics and gave us some great tips and advice before sending us on our way.  It was awesome to see such a great group of people come together to achieve their goals -- lots of new faces and of course lots of familiar ones too.

I hit the trail feeling strong and ready to tackle my first official long run of the season.  Last weekend I ran 14 and since I'm a little ahead of the schedule at the start, I decided to run another 14 and practice my long run pace for this cycle.  I want to average somewhere between an 8:00-8:20 pace for my long runs this cycle.  It went perfectly.

14 Miles ~ 8:04 average pace

Mile 1- 8:36
Mile 2 - 8:05
Mile 3 - 8:12
Mile 4 - 7:54
Mile 5 - 8:09
Mile 6 - 8:05
Mile 7 - 7:57
Mile 8 - 7:56
Mile 9 - 8:15
Mile 10 - 8:06
Mile 11 - 8:04
Mile 12 - 8:07
Mile 13 - 7:45
Mile 14 - 7:45

I'm feeling good at this pace.  It's about 30 seconds faster per mile than I was running long over the winter, but my spring races indicated that I'm fit enough for a 3:21 marathon so I'm training at the paces for a 3:20 right now -- as long as I am feeling good there my plan is to stick to that.  I'm trying not to be intimidated by the faster paces - they are fast but they are where my body is at!  So I am going for it.  One year ago all of my long run paces were a full minute slower than this and I was stretching for that and feeling proud of myself at the end of every run.  What's that quote say - "it doesn't get easier, you just get faster" - or something like that?  I am pretty much living that right now. 

When I finished up my run on Saturday I went straight home to my family.  I stayed in my stinky clothes and sweat-dreaded ponytail and we spent the rest of the day at the farmers market and then at the pool.  It was a perfect Saturday.

ready to hit the pool
On Sunday morning I laced up for my recovery run - 6 miles clocked in at a 9:20 pace.  I was reigning myself in, making sure to honor the purpose of the run.  I know that if I want to continue to make improvements this cycle I am going to have to run the recovery runs properly -- they have to feel SLOW and they are just as important as the hardest of workouts -- so that I can bounce back and feel ready for what's up next.  It was a beautiful run.

After that run I kept my stinky clothes on and switched my shoes so we could head out for a beautiful family hike to celebrate Father's Day.  Later in the afternoon we went back to the pool again.

My perfect Saturday was followed up with a perfect Sunday.

my world
I'm feeling grateful and hopeful at the start of my marathon training cycle.  My cup is FULL and there is so much going on, so much happening and on the brink of happening.  So much that I am excited about and thankful for.  The summer is RIPE with possibilities in nearly every area of my life.  I am going to be coaching a lot (more on this in another post this week, I promise!), running a lot and teaching a lot.  I am going to be spending as much quality time with my loved ones as humanly possible and I cannot wait for this the mostest.  Because it all MATTERS to me.  I know it is a lot to manage and balance and my strategy is this: ONE DAY - ONE MOMENT - ONE STEP at a time.

I am ready.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Clean Bottle Runner Handheld

It took me a long time to find a water bottle that works for me on a run.  To be honest, I don't really want to know how much money I have spent testing them out over the years.  I like to carry my water as opposed to wearing a belt or a Camel Back - those things just don't work for me - but not all hand held bottles are created equally and what works for one person just might not work for another.

About a year ago I finally found a bottle and carrier that I LOVE and that works great for me on the longest of runs and races (the Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Pocket).  The contoured shape of the bottle, the size of the pocket, the light weight feel, the way it stays secure in my hand as I run - it all works for me.  No complaints.  No more searching.  No more trial and error and wasted money.  Hooray!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a company representing Clean Bottle to test out and review their bottle and carrier called "The Runner."  At first I was inclined to say no, because I felt as though I had tried every other bottle known to man and all but one of them had worked for me so why bother really?  Chances were high that I was not going to like it.  But then when I took a closer look I was intrigued - this bottle is different because it opens on both ends so you can get it truly clean (hence the name Clean Bottle, of course) and it's carrier pocket is large enough to hold my iPhone.  These two features piqued my interest so I thought I would give it a try.  I don't ever run with a phone (unless I am pushing the stroller) because I don't like bulky arm bands and I don't wear a belt around my waist or a backpack large enough to hold it.  On runs when I am going out for a few hours all by myself, having my phone with me would be a SAFE and SMART idea.

The other morning I set out for my 14 mile long run with the Clean Bottle on hand.  I put one gel in the secure strap in the back (it stayed put until Mile 7 when I ate it) and I put my phone in the pocket of the carrier.  One thing I noticed right away was that it was heavier than I am used to, but that was to be expected because it was holding my phone which I don't usually carry with me.  It wasn't an issue though - thankfully I got used to the weight of it and it didn't bug me throughout my run.

I ran a strong and steady 8:00 average pace for the duration of my 14 miles, and it didn't leak or give me any trouble along the way.  I was happy to have my phone with me and my husband was grateful too.  I was running in the heat of the day for 2 hours on the trail by myself.  Having a way to reach him if I got into trouble or a way for him to reach me if he needed me, was just more than awesome.  I know both Robert and I were happy that I was running with my phone for a change.

Washing this bottle is a BREEZE - it's simple to disassemble just by unscrewing the top and the bottom.  It's dishwasher safe and since the bottom comes off too it dries on the inside completely and as a result is cleaner than any other bottle I own I'm sure.  I will definitely be using this bottle and carrier for all of my solo long runs moving forward.  It makes sense and works great for me.  I'm so glad that I decided to test it out and I would absolutely recommend it for anyone who wants to run with their iPhone but doesn't like to wear it!

More info about The Runner from Clean Bottle:
  • Only holder that lets you use your iPod and smartphone on the run
  • Fits iPhones, iPods and smartphones about the size of an iPhone (2.5 by 5 inches)
  • Innovative straps on handle for quick access to energy gels
  • Back pocket stores keys, cash and credit cards
  • Unique closing system prevents bottle from slipping out from holder
  • Guaranteed for life
  • 10% of profits donated to eco-friendly charities you vote for at Clean Bottle Charity

You can buy this bottle online right now and get a great deal - one Runner carrier and TWO Clean Bottles for less than $30 (my Amphipod bottle/carrier is about $20, for the sake of comparison).  Just click HERE for the link.

I'd love to know -- how do you carry your water on a run?  Do you run with your phone?  If so, how do you carry it with you?  Have you ever tried the Clean Bottle Runner?  What do you think?

Disclaimer: I was given a Clean Bottle and Runner to test out and review. All the thoughts and opinions in this post are mine.  Clean Bottle was not guaranteed a positive review.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

a liberating run

Summer is here and it's getting HOT outside.  The air is thick and steamy even early in the morning.  I step outside and am drenched from the humidity within minutes of running along the trail.

The other morning I set out for a 14 mile long run much later than I usually do.  I woke up with the kids around 6:00AM and let Robert sleep in for a little while longer, easing into our Saturday morning for a change, since tee ball season is finally over.  I liked the relaxed morning - it was so nice - but it meant that I would be running in the blazing sun on a 90 degree day.  Trade offs.

I hit the trail at just about 8:00am and was determined and ready to make it a solid run.  After my half marathon that *didn't happen* in Annapolis, I saw this as a sort of "redemption run" - a chance to really put that race behind me and run hard before my official marathon training starts up on June 16.  A chance to prove to myself that I am ready for the challenge ahead this summer.  That I've been smart this spring and have made gains in my fitness and my mental toughness too.

I have a lot of goals for my upcoming marathon.  I want to train smart and push myself.  I want to stick to my paces and be intelligent about my recovery and building my mileage.  I want to PR, which will mean running faster than a 3:34.  I believe it is realistic and achievable for me to break 3:30.  And what's more, I believe if all goes well and I accomplish all I am truly capable of this season, I could run even under 3:25 and closer to a 3:20.  My spring races, including my 10 miler in April, indicate that I'm fit enough for that if I train right and all goes well.  I'm not quite ready to etch a specific time goal in stone as I want to see how the next few months of training progress, but these are the thoughts that I'm having now and I hope to solidify them by Summer's end.

My long runs this cycle are going to be done somewhere between an 8:08-9:08 pace.  Last cycle I hit them all right around an 8:30 on average, so this time I'm going to try to run faster on average and come closer to an 8:15 ideally as long as it feels right.  Saturday, in the heat of the day, I nailed it.

Mile 1 - 8:05
Mile 2 - 7:58
Mile 3 - 8:12
Mile 4 - 8:09
Mile 5 - 8:07
Mile 6 - 8:13
Mile 7 - 7:55

The effort was comfortable despite the heat.  I wasn't breathing heavily.  My legs felt good.  This is a good long run pace for me.

As I approached the halfway point of my run I passed a woman who was running with no shirt - just a sports bra and shorts.  She looked happy and she looked free.  She didn't have rock hard abs or sun kissed tan skin.  She wasn't moving like a gazelle.  She wasn't in her 20s or even in her 30s.  But she looked happy.  She looked comfortable.  She looked confident.  And I envied her.  I didn't necessarily want to look like her.  But I wanted to FEEL the way she looked like she FELT.

It got me thinking about a goal I have had for a long, long time.  Every summer when the heat rises I see people out on the trails - men running shirtless and women running in bras - and I am jealous of them.  Not because I want to have their shape or their six-packs, but because I want to have their confidence.  I want to FREE myself from self-judgement.  I want to not care what other people think about my stretch marks or my "jiggly bits" as my friend Dora says.

I started thinking ... I have a STRONG body.  It has given me three healthy and beautiful babies.  It has endured long pregnancies and hard labors.  My body is beautiful -- stretch marks and jiggly bits and all.  Look what it can do!  My body allows me to carry my children up the stairs when they are tired, even when they are 6 and 7 years old and weigh over 50 pounds.  It has taken me across finish line after finish line, long run after long run, interval after interval.  It has fed and nurtured all three of my children through infancy.  My body is my home.  I should love it and care for it the same way I do all things I cherish and I should be proud of it.  My body is mine and I should celebrate all it is capable of.  I should not feel ashamed or embarrassed of any piece of it.

Why have I never taken my shirt off on the hottest and steamiest of runs?  Why don't I free myself from thoughts of judgement or fear of other people judging me?  How GOOD would it feel to let go of that fear and RUN in this weather with no shirt on?!?

In that moment I decided that I would give it a try.  I took my tank off and tucked it into the back of my shorts.  And I turned around and started to run home.  And you know what?  It felt amazing.  I didn't care what people thought as I ran past them - I felt too good to worry about that.  I smiled.  There was a breeze and I could feel it rush across my skin as I ran. 


Mile 8 - 7:55
Mile 9 - 8:04
Mile 10 - 7:46
Mile 11 - 7:47
Mile 12 - 7:55
Mile 13 - 8:05
Mile 14 - 8:06

Running without a shirt on was a major breakthrough for me.  A symbol of how much running has helped me grow into a strong and confident woman.  It took COURAGE to do that -- and a lot of it.  When I got home from my run I texted my friend Dora about it, because we have talked about this a lot and she truly understands where I am coming from.  She wrote me back that she was proud of me and said CONFIDENCE IS THE NEW BEAUTIFUL.  I think she is SO right.

I have struggled with self confidence for so much of my life.  I admire people who have it, and I strive to truly believe in myself every single day.  Running gives me so much joy - it helps me to appreciate my body for all it can do.  I am a work in progress on every single level of my life.  On Saturday, I made progress in ACCEPTING me for me, in LOVING me for me, in CELEBRATING me for me.  I was blissed out over my run - I executed it exactly as I hoped I would, nailing the paces and feeling great along the way.  But more than that, I was proud of myself for mustering up the courage to take my shirt off.  I know to some of you this may sound completely silly, but it was a big deal for me.  I totally went outside my comfort zone.  And I am so glad that I did.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

a golden birthday

Today my baby girl - the oldest of my three children - is 7 YEARS OLD.

And I can't believe it.

She is more wonderful than words can describe.  So beautiful and sweet and smart and caring and creative.  Seeing her smile, hearing her sing, watching her light up -- just brings immeasurable joy into my heart.

The day Abby was born changed my life forever.  In the most magnificent ways.  I remember holding her for the first time.  I will never forget it.  My baby girl ... she just fit into my arms so perfectly.  She was just so meant to be.  She just mattered SO VERY MUCH from the second she came into my life.

She simply took my breath away.  I could never have imagined a life so beautiful.  The world changed in every single possible way from that very moment.  And it just keeps getting better.

She was the cutest little baby.  Full of smiles and curiosity.  And the best company - chatty and silly and fun.

Right around her 2nd birthday I had read an article in a parenting magazine that talked about fun ways to celebrate your kids birthdays.  One idea I absolutely LOVED - in the night while your child is sleeping, FILL her room with balloons.  When she wakes in the morning the magic will begin.  There was no question that this would become a tradition for my family.  Abby's excitement on her 2nd birthday was contagious and so special.  We have since done this for every single one of our kids birthdays every year.

birthday balloon magic, age 2
At the end of the day we set the balloons free in the sky (if they have enough helium in them), and watch them float away.  This makes me think of all the endless possibilities my child's life holds.


age 2, getting ready to release the balloons with Daddy
I LOVE birthdays.  I always have.  My own mother always made a big deal out of them when my sisters and I were growing up.  Birthdays are hands down my favorite days of the year.  When I became a mother - my passion for birthdays pretty much skyrocketed and I am so excited and happy and emotional and GRATEFUL on these days.  They are without a doubt the most special days of the year for me.  Have I told you I love birthdays?
We have a family breakfast on birthday morning - banana chocolate chip muffins are everyone's favorite (and perfect for a candle as luck would have it).  The birthday kid sits at the head of the table and has the special red plate all day.  I decorate the kitchen with birthday lights, banners, streamers and a glittered number I make out of cardboard and hang overhead.

This year Abby's birthday is extra special - because she is 7 on the 7th.  This means it is her GOLDEN BIRTHDAY - when her age is the same as the day of her birthday.  So I glittered the 7 gold, and wrapped all her presents in gold paper.

the birthday breakfast table
golden gifts
Seven is my number.  The number has always held significance for me even long before I ever had children.  My husband's birthday is the 7th, Abby's is the 7th, Will's is the 27th, my dad's is the 7th, my mom's is the 27th, my niece's is the 7th ... my name has 7 letters, Abby and Will's full names each have 7 letters (this was not planned), the list goes on and on.  So today as my daughter is turning 7 on the 7th I just can't help but feel an extra sense of joy.  It is just SO much fun.

seven - it suits her
Last night at bedtime she told me she was nervous to turn 7, that she wanted to stay 6 for at least a little while longer.  She was afraid it would feel really different and said that she doesn't feel ready to grow up, but also that she DOES.  She was excited to turn a year older, but also sad about it at the same time.

I really understand how she feels.  Sometimes I just want to freeze time, to slow it down.  The moments are passing by so quickly that it can be overwhelming at times.  But it amazes me that as much as we change, we also stay the same.

My baby girl at age 7 is truly just as sweet and sensitive and kind (if not more so) as she was when she was two.  I am enjoying her so very much and could not be more thankful to be so blessed to be her mother.

This morning when she woke up she came to me and crawled in bed beside me.  Her warm soft body still fitting perfectly into my arms.   I wished her a happy birthday and she snuggled up closer to me, silent.  I asked her what she was thinking and she replied "I'm just really happy Mama."  And then I thought my heart would expand right out of me.  As tears welled up in my eyes I hugged her and kissed her head and told her that I am too.  I am happy because she is.  That is all I ever want.  For my child to be happy.

Happy 7th Birthday, sweetest Abby Ann.  I love you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy Running Day and a Winner!!

This morning was the PERFECT morning for a run. Temps were in the mid 50s which was crisp and cool. I have decided that is my ideal temp for a run. In long sleeves I get hot after a few miles, but in a tank and skirt or shorts I feel completely comfortable once I get moving.

Today my running buddies met me at my house at 5:30am for a honey badger run of 7 miles to celebrate what is surely one of my favorite days of the year - National Running Day!

The trail was packed with runners - everyone looked happy to be out there and we were no exception. We saw runners we see almost every morning and instead of the usual silent smile as we passed them, we wished them "HaPpY RuNniNg DaY!!" and even became "woooo girls" and threw our arms up in the air in excitement on occasion. It felt GOOD to be out there with my girlfriends. Doing what we love. Celebrating our passion for the sport and the joy and friendships it has brought into our lives.

When the run was done, I think I can speak for all four of us when I say we were pretty much blissed out. Happy and grateful. Sweaty and ALL SMILES.

I happen to be one of those people who feels that every day is a great day for a run. I LOVE that our sport has a holiday and I love thinking that there are people all over everywhere who are making sure they lace up their shoes today for a run - whether they've been running for years or are new to the sport. Whether they are a sprinter or a long distance runner. Whether they're eight years old or eighty years old. I love National Running Day!

And I also love that I have a winner of my favorite things giveaway! I am so excited to announce that Jordan (@j_mosh) is the winner! Jordan, please email me at jessica.hofheimer@gmail.com in the next week so I can get you your awesome package! If I don't hear from you my next Wednesday, June 13th I will have to pick a new winner.

Thanks so much to everyone for participating! Remember you can use the coupon code bloggerslovenuun for 15% off your purchases at http://www.nuun.com.

Are you making sure to run today for National Running Day? Do you have any other fun plans to celebrate it?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

a wrong turn made right

The other day I took a wrong turn.  And I mean that literally.

I was running my goal race for the season.  Hitting every mile exactly as planned, on track for running a 1:35 in the half marathon just as I had hoped I would do.  It was a beautiful day in Annapolis.  The perfect morning for a race.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue, but the air was crisp and clean and there was a nice soft breeze.

I floated as I ran.  I was happy, enjoying the moment and soaking it in.   I was grateful to be there.  Grateful to feel so good and alive and to be doing what I loved.

The ZOOMA Annapolis race course is beautiful.  Yes, it is riddled with rolling hills, but none too scary or overwhelming in my opinion.  The bay views are breathtaking.  Running through town on brick covered streets is lovely and charming.  I was caught up in the moment, focused on my pacing and enjoying the new scenery.

Just after Mile 4 I approached "the bridge" - everyone says this is the toughest part of the race.  It is a long concrete bridge with a pretty steep hill at the start.  Once you come to the top of that hill you are on the bridge and then get to ride it out downwards gradually.  I came over that hill feeling strong and steady.  And then coasted down the hill.

But as I got towards the end of the bridge there was a sign with two arrows.  One arrow indicated a U-turn and the other pointed off to the left.  One said "10k", the other "half marathon."  But for some reason, it wasn't clear to me where I should go.  I wished it spelled it out for me.  I couldn't remember what to do.  I was on my own, no runners near me to ask.  No volunteer at the sign to help me.  I looked into my mind's eye to try to remember where the course map told me to go but my brain just froze.  I ran passed the sign thinking I should go straight.  But then I stopped and I turned around, unsure of myself.  Panicking.  I made the U-turn and saw spectators - someone to ask.  I didn't know what to do and I was losing time and feeling so worried.  I ran to the spectator and asked him - 

"I'm running the half marathon, am I doing the right thing?"

"Yes!" he said "GO GO!"

I was one of the top 10 at this point and the field was pretty scattered.  He reassured me and so I ran.  I felt good again and got back into pace.

As I passed the runners who were on their way up the bridge running towards the sign, they cheered for me.  I smiled and told them "pay attention to the signs!  It's confusing!" hoping I could save someone from the anxiety I had just experienced.  I passed a friend and seeing her made me smile.  She looked strong and happy.  She was really unsure of how this race was going to pan out for her earlier that morning, but when I saw her I just knew she was rocking it.  That was such a good feeling.  It lightened my heart and gave me some ooomph, helped me forget about the time I had lost and how I "almost" went the wrong way.  I was feeling incredibly strong - the endorphins had kicked in, my race pace felt easy and I was cruising along.

And then I saw the sign for Mile 11.  And then the sign for Mile 6.

WHAT?  Are you kidding me?  Is this really happening?

I didn't want to think about it.  I kept running, refusing to believe that I had screwed up so majorly.

And then I approached the stadium, where the start and finish lines were.

I neared the chute and people were cheering for me.  I stopped along the side where this incredibly nice lady was cheering her lungs off for me.  I told her thank you, and then explained I didn't want to cross the finish yet!  I wanted to run the half marathon, not the 10k.  I had a lump in my throat.  I was fighting tears.  She looked at me confused and said "Oh, sweetie.  I'm sorry."

I turned and looked at the finish again.  I did not want to cross it.  Runners started coming through behind me.  I didn't care that they were placing ahead of me.  I wanted to go back in time.  I walked over to the announcer and said "Sir, is there any way I can please still run the half marathon and not the 10k?"  He looked at me like I was a complete idiot.  I felt like a complete idiot.  He just shook his head.

I walked across the finish line, feeling like a big dummy.  Feeling so so sad.  Feeling incredibly defeated.  So disappointed in myself.  In the situation.  Unable to understand how this happened.

I found my friends, one of them who works for ZOOMA.  I told her what happened.  She gave me a hug and then looked at me and said "Wait, there is no volunteer there?!"  She got right on it and made sure a volunteer was at the turn right away so this would not happen to anyone else.  I went to my car, because I was sure I was going to lose it and cry like a big baby.  I had so much emotion to release.  I called Robert and he was shocked - worried - right away he knew something was wrong because there is no way I am running a half marathon in less than an hour.  I wept, and explained what happened.

I'm sorry this happened.  We all make wrong turns in life.  But you will find your way.  You will learn from it and grow from it.  There will be other races.

I gave myself permission to be sad.  To be angry.  I tried to find humor in it, because who does that?  It is pretty funny when you think about it.  But every time I let it go, the sad/mad feelings would come back like a fierce wave and knock me down.

All day long I felt like a big dumdum.  I was disappointed in myself.  In the situation.  I wanted to make it different - to change the reality, but I knew I couldn't.  I was helpless and the lump in my throat stuck with me for most of the day.

Then that afternoon my sister Jodi texted me.  She was heading back to the Emergency Room because her thigh was turning purple and was very painful.  Her breathing felt heavy.  They did an ultrasound at the hospital and could not find the blood clots that had been in her legs since her ACL surgery last month.  We waited as she went in for a CT scan, to see if the clots had traveled to her lungs.  To see if she was dealing with a pulmonary embolism (a life threatening condition when a blood clot travels to the lungs).  They were not able to find the clots and this was good - because it meant they were not in her lungs - but it was also confusing because there was no explanation for her symptoms at all.  They sent her home and told her to see her doctor again on Monday.

The next morning I woke up early and headed back to Maryland for a two day retreat.  I would be spending time at "lululemon ambassador camp" - I had no idea really what to expect but I knew it would be good for me.  I was nervous to go, to leave my sister and my family.  I honestly felt so drained from the day before and so much of me wanted to back out and just stay home.  But my heart told me to go - I needed this.

I pulled up to Camp Letts and it was just so beautiful.  A tree-lined gravel road welcomed me.  I could immediately tell I was about to experience something very special.

This sign made me think and I stopped the car and sat there.

I need to slow down.  Like, really.  I have been going going going - so distracted so busy - I am missing some good stuff that is all around me.  Maybe my mistake at the race had meaning in it.  I decided it did.  I need to pay attention to my life.  To my actions.  I need to not take things for granted.  I need to slow down.  I am hurrying through my life.

I took a deep breath.  I decided to let go.  To trust that my sister would be okay while I was gone.  To trust that what happened yesterday was really just a blip.  That I would grow and learn from it.  And I smiled.  I had given myself permission to be okay with how I felt.  I had decided to embrace it and move through it.

The retreat was more than I ever could have imagined.  I went into it without any real expectations.  I met amazing - no, INCREDIBLE - people.  Some who I feel just so connected to, as though I have known them my whole life.  We were fast old friends.

We spent the weekend talking about being OPEN to possibility.  Being the creators of the life we love.  So much was shared, so much was released.  So much filled my heart with hope and tingly excitement and gratitude.

I TOOK MYSELF ON over the last two days.  I faced my fears, wrestled with self doubt, and overpowered my negative thought demons.  I restored my spirit and my faith in myself and in the bigger picture.  I connected with what truly matters most to me and re-centered myself.  It could not have come at a better time.  It was just what I needed right now.

On Friday and Saturday I felt like I was on some sort of crazy roller coaster ride, in an alternate universe where everything was working against me.  It took me three hours to get to Annapolis Friday night (it should have taken closer to one hour).  I drove through an insane set of storms with tornado watches and all sorts of freaky thunder and lightening.  Then my race happened (or...didn't happen, however you want to look at it).  Then my sister had her health scare.  It was all sorts of nuts!  But Sunday and Monday were like a reset button for me.  The world stopped spinning all crazy and I was able to see what was in my heart so much more clearly.  I feel at peace now.  And I feel excited and hopeful and thankful.  Good things are brewing in this life of mine.

Friday, June 1, 2012

a crazy (but GOOD) day, and my ZOOMA half marathon race goals

I usually feel "off" and out of balance on rest days, especially rest days right before a big race.  Running provides equilibrium for me on nearly every level - body, mind, spirit.  During this half marathon taper my body is not screaming for rest at all, but I am resisting the urge to run anyway, so that I can save my legs for tomorrow and run my best race at the ZOOMA Annapolis half.  Yesterday and today are BOTH rest days.  And I feel absolutely kooky.

Yesterday was totally bizarre and fantastic all jumbled together.

From the minute the day started I was feeling like I couldn't keep up with myself and all the things I had to get done.  I had all my ducks in a row but things that were out of my control just kept throwing me off.  Something I thought would take 20 minutes in the morning took 2 HOURS.  I guess that is just what life with three kids is like, but honestly some days are just crazier than others and yesterday was without a doubt one of those days.

In the afternoon on the way home from school Abby and Will discovered a puddle that had tadpoles in it.  All the neighborhood children were using plastic containers from their lunch boxes to collect the tadpoles and their water so they could bring them home and watch them grow into frogs and toads.  My kids were no exception - they begged me to let them try it and I just could not say no.  I'm not really one of those moms that gets all excited about having reptiles in the house - as much as I love nature, I love to keep it at a distance when it comes to bugs and frogs and other creatures.  I told the kids that we could bring them home but that once they turn into frogs we would have to let them go in the creek in our backyard.  They agreed and so now we are the proud caretakers of 6 tadpoles (all named "Bubbles" - in case you were wondering).  My kids couldn't be more excited and I have to admit I am a little proud of myself for being the kind of mom that is cool with it.  I think I surprised my kids when I said it was ok.  What wasn't good about this nature experiment was that it ate up an extra half hour of our busy schedule and so I was once again trying to catch up with myself.  It was worth it though.  I love seeing my kids so happy and curious about something like this.

After setting up the tadpoles in their new home it was time to get Will ready for tee ball practice.  Robert is the coach so he came home early to get Will and they were out the door just a little before 5:30PM.  I had an hour to feed Abby and Gus and get myself ready for the Another Mother Runner party.  The plan was to meet my sister and our friends at Jodi's house at 6:30 so that we would have plenty of time to get to Maryland by 7:30.  Jodi's husband Simon would watch Abby and Gus for me until Robert could get there to pick them up after practice.  It was a little crazy, but just how we had to do things.  While Abby and Gus were finishing up their dinner I quickly ran upstairs to change and as I was leaving my bedroom to go back downstairs, I caught something out of the corner of my eye that caused me to freeze.  Was that something was flying around in Will's room?  What the...??  I just stood there and stared, unable to believe what I was looking at.  It was something alive.  With wings.  And it was definitely not a bird.  It was a BAT.  There was seriously a BAT flying around in my house - in my son's room!

Is this really happening?  What do I do?  I don't know what to do ....

So I closed the door and I called Robert.  Who was in the middle of tee ball practice.

"Honey, there is a bat in Will's room."

"A what?  A BAT?"

"Yes.  A BAT!  In his room!  I don't know what to do.  I closed the door.  It is just flying around in circles.  It is big and brown and it is a BAT. In our house!"

"Ok.  Go back up there and see if you can open the window."

"Are you kidding?  No way.  I am not going in there again."

(laughter) "Ok. Don't worry about it.  Just leave the door closed and I'll deal with it when I get home."

So as if I am not feeling badly enough about leaving my husband alone for the night with three kids - now I am leaving him home alone with three kids AND A BAT.  Awesome.  All I could think was that I wished I was brave enough to deal with the bat on my own and that I just could not believe this was really happening.

I put Abby and Gus in the car and we went to my sister's house, making it there just on time.  Robert and Will actually showed up not long after and Jodi's husband Simon went home with them to help Robert with the bat while the girls went to the party.

In the car on the way to the party Robert and Simon called to say that they could not find the bat.  It was not in Will's room any longer.  Are you kidding me?  I insisted it had to be in there.  Check the closet.  Check the pillows.  Check under the dresser.  I swear I did not imagine that thing!  About 15 minutes later they called again - they found the bat downstairs in the family room.  It must have crawled under the door or maybe flown out unnoticed when they opened the door.  They trapped it with a blanket and put it outside.  Will videotaped the whole thing and I watched it this morning.  It's hilarious though you can't really see the bat at all.  Will's commentary is what is funny about it - my favorite line was " What on EARTH does he think he's doing!?"  So funny.  I'm just really grateful that I saw the bat when I did and that they got rid of it.  The "what ifs??" that cross my mind are pretty much awful.  That was definitely too up close and personal with a wild creature for me - I'll stick to the tadpoles please!

Anyway, we had a lot of laughs about the bat on the way to the RLAM event and by the time we got there I was ready to just enjoy the evening - so excited to be there with my sister and good friends and to get to meet Sarah and Dimity for the first time!

the welcome sign!
It was so cool to be there.  The event was classy and casual and perfect.  I am certain I did not take the smile off of my face the whole time.  It was beyond wonderful to get to meet Sarah and Dimity and just so much fun to share the experience with my sister and some of my best running friends.

chatting with Sarah Bowen Shea
We ate amazing good-for-you food.  We talked about running and Pilates and getting it all done as moms.  We laughed and we mingled and we savored every minute of it.  Jodi and I had some solid sister time, which we haven't had in a LONG time.

hey sistah, soul/sole sistah
Dimity and Sarah read some excepts from their awesome new book Train Like a Mother.  They were hilarious and heart warming and completely relate-able.  Hearing them read from their book was truly awesome.  I will never forget it.

They also did some awesome giveaway prizes including a Mountain Buggy stroller, some Champion bras, Nuun, Body Glide and more.  My friend Lisa won one of the bras!

As the evening came to a close Sarah and Dimity signed some books and gave us all really fun swag bags to bring home.  I bought a super cute tee shirt that I'm wearing to the ZOOMA expo later today.  It was such a fun night and I am beyond thankful for the experience!

fuzzy picture :( but i don't care - awesome memory!
Later this afternoon I am heading to Annapolis for the ZOOMA half marathon tomorrow.  I am going to get to see Sarah and Dimity again - so am going to try to get a less fuzzy pic with them if I can!  I'm working the expo for a while and then will stay in Annapolis for the night so that I can be ready to race tomorrow morning.

Now, about that race ....

I've been looking forward to this race for a WHILE.  It's been about 9 months since my last half marathon which was in Virginia Beach at the end of last summer.  At that race I set a 13 minute PR in the distance, crossing the finish line in 1:43:02.  I've worked hard and I've trained smart for this race.  I believe I am capable of a much faster time and I know that I have put in the work to accomplish that.  Over the last 7 weeks I've run long runs anywhere from 10-16 miles.  I've tested out my race pace.  I've done the speed work.  I've raced a 10 miler, a 10k and a 5k that all predict (according to McMillan) that I should be fit enough to run a half marathon in about 1:35, which would be around a 7:15-7:20 pace per mile.  This would be almost 30 seconds faster per mile than I ran my last half marathon in.  It sounds so fast to me and it IS.  And it scares me.  But now is the time to trust in my training.  To trust in my fitness.  To believe in myself.  To go get it.

So that's the plan and that's the goal.

Get out there and do my best and run the race I believe I can run!!

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