Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Timed Mile

This week I thought it would be fun to do a timed mile at the track as part of our weekly workout.  My hope was that it would serve to boost our confidence and also be another piece of data we could use to benchmark ourselves against ourselves.  To see how far we have come with all the hard training we have been doing this cycle.

It turns out that "FUN" is not exactly the best adjective for this kind of thing.  But still -- I am really happy that we did it.  And I think the honey badgers are, too.

I know that I talk all the time about how much I **love** the track.  And I do mean that honestly.  I love that what I do out there makes me a better overall runner.  I love that the workouts make me tough and that they teach me to NOT GIVE UP.  I love that they make me a stronger person, inside and out.  And yes,  I love that they make me faster.  But I don't necessarily always love the way that I feel while I'm doing them.  Track workouts make me squirm, they make me burn, they make me FIGHT.  There is nothing easy about them.

In designing our workout for the timed mile yesterday, I wanted to make sure that we warmed up enough - but not too much.  I contacted a coach who I think very highly of and he gave me some excellent advice.  He explained that since we are high mileage marathoners we would need to be careful of how much fast running we did before our mile - because we wouldn't want our legs to have too much lactic acid built up in them before we asked them to move as FAST as we could for 4 laps around the track.

Based on his advice, we ran 2 very easy miles to warm up and then did some dynamic stretching before running 4 laps with accelerations followed by jogs (we jogged 100m easy, accelerated for 150m, jogged 100m easy, accelerated 150m).

Right before I started my timed mile, as in mere seconds before, I all of a sudden got a huge rush of race-day nervousness and felt butterflies swooshing through my tummy and I was a jittery mess!  It hit me like a ton of bricks and I didn't expect that at all.  Up until that point I was calm cool and collected.  I wasn't scared of the timed mile.  Last year I did it in 6:39 and I knew without question that I would beat my time from a year ago.  It could only serve to boost my confidence and remind me that all my hard work has been paying off, right!?  So why in the world was I such a mess all of a sudden?  I didn't have time to think about it.  It was time to go.  So I went.

It was still dark out and I decided not to wear my head lamp which was a little freaky at times.  It was humid yet I opted to keep my tank on and during the first two laps I was a mental case wishing I had taken it off.  It was bugging me.  I couldn't get into a rhythm with my footsteps and felt like my form was off.  I was having a hard time checking in with myself.  Chris was running in lane 1 just ahead of me and I was very indecisive with where I wanted to be - in lane 1 just behind him, or in lane 2?  I kept switching from 1 to 2 and back again.  Finally for the last two laps I found a groove.  My lungs were burning and I wanted it to end.  But I was determined.  I stayed in my lane, locked it in and pushed as hard as I could.

And when I was done -- I am telling you -- I. WAS. DONE.

1.06 miles in 6:06.

My mile was 5:46.  The other .06 was run at a 5:21 pace.

I didn't really know I could do that.  Until it was done.

Running is teaching me so much about myself.  About my limits and how to expand them.  About how far passion and dreaming can take you - if only you dare to face your fears and put yourself out there.  And about how important these things are in my life and in making me the person that I am.

Marine Corps Marathon is in a little more than 4 weeks.  No matter what the outcome is on race day, when I cross that finish line I assure you my heart will be soaring.  I love this sport called running.  I love how it fills me up.  How it teaches me to keep dreaming and to fight for what I believe in.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Winner Winner - Sparkly Winner!

I'm so excited to announce the winner of my Team Sparkle skirt giveaway!

Jen from Mom's Gotta Run!

Jen, please email me at paceofme@gmail.com with your skirt size, color choice and mailing address and we will get your skirt to you ASAP!

Thanks so much to all who entered!

You can find Team Sparkle skirts on their web site at http://www.team-sparkle.com, on Facebook and on Twitter!


Monday, September 24, 2012


Some amazing things on my mind...

** My sister Jodi.  So beautiful, supportive and selfless.  She biked with me as I ran 20 miles early on Saturday morning when she could have been doing a million other things with her time.  She loves and supports my children with every ounce of her being.  My sister will dedicate her time and energy to help me - whenever I need it.  And I will do the same for her.  We are so blessed to have one another right here - to live just one street away from one another.  We have two other sisters who do not live close by and I SO wish that they did.  There is nothing like a sister.

** Two of the truest and most beautiful friends.  Friends who will add 2 more miles to their planned long run so that you can stick together.  Friends who will run at a pace faster than they ever have before for a long run, so that you can stay with one another for every step of the way and all meet your goals.  Friends who love you way beyond what happens on the trail.  We met because of running, but we are friends for LIFE.

the power of three
** Milestones.  Yesterday I crossed two major running milestones -- 2000 miles for the year and my first ever 80 mile week!  It was an awesome achievement but I know it would not have nearly been as amazing had I not had my friends and family to share it with.  Even if they think I'm crazy (which surely some of them do!), I am so blessed to have such supportive friends and family.  There was a time not long ago when both of these things would have been unthinkable for me, so this is pretty awesome.

** Getting to be with someone you LOVE as she accomplishes her own incredible milestone.  My sister Jodi ran 10 miles yesterday - the first time she has run in the double digits since she tore her ACL in April!  Sharing the trail with her, side-by-side, after so many months of running without one another, was just awesome.  I am so proud of my sister!

Dora, Jodi and me celebrating another awesome milestone!

** My husband.  I simply don't know where to start with this one.  To say that he is supportive is the understatement of the century.  He takes interest in what is important to me, even if he can't relate to it at all.  And I don't just mean with my running.  I am more grateful than I can possibly describe.  I am a dreamer and I tend to be a little bit all over the place with my thoughts and ambitions - he grounds me and helps me to believe in myself.  The seas are always calmer with him by my side.

love is real.  not fade away.
This weekend I was reminded of how important it is to have LOVE in your life, first and foremost.

Family and friends who love you, who believe in you, who support and encourage you and your crazy dreams.  People in your life who you would do anything for because you love them so very much.

Just as you are.  And just as they are.

Life is so quick - it is all moving so fast, and I am holding on tight to the ones I love.

There are blessings everywhere ... none are so sweet as the people we share our lives with - the ups the downs and the in-betweens.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

no limit

I am going to run the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

It's kind of fun to write that.  I think I'll do it again.

I am going to run the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

I know that I qualified back in March at the Rock n'  Roll USA Marathon with a 3:34:46, but if I'm being honest here, the truth is I'm still awe-struck by the fact that I did that.  I do not know how many times I have said this sentence: Maybe, when I'm in my 60s or 70s, if I don't slow down, I can qualify for Boston.  It was a pie-in-the-sky thing for me.  A dream, yes, but it was sort of almost a dream I laughed at myself for having.  It was a dream I didn't believe in.  Something I didn't realistically even see myself trying to achieve.  But a little over a year ago that changed for me.  I got curious about the depths of my capabilities.  I found courage and I became determined.  I broke out of the box I'd been putting myself in and I decided to test my limits.  I decided to DREAM and to believe in the beauty of my own dreams.  And I decided to work hard for them.  And now, here I am, all signed up for this race and just oh-so, ever-so grateful for this opportunity.  I will run my heart out on that day.


When I ran my qualifying time in March, I was elated.  So happy because I had done this thing that at one point I truly never thought I COULD do.  It wasn't really **about Boston** so much as it was about the dream that Boston represented, and all it took to get there.  I knew that my time might not even be fast enough to get me accepted in the race (the registration system works in such a way that people with the faster qualifying times are given entry first).  But I told myself not to worry about that.  I had done my very best and I had qualified, and if I was meant to run Boston in 2013 then I would.  And if I wasn't, well, then I would still be so proud.  And I would be running it 2014.  Because my dreams didn't stop at 3:34 or BQ'ing for the first time.  That was truthfully only the beginning.  It was a defining moment for me because it showed me that I should never set limits on my dreams or on what I think I'm capable of.  I would keep an open heart and I would work hard and I would be smart and dedicated.

And now here I am, a little more than 5 weeks away from my 10th marathon with my sights set on a new personal record and plans for my 11th marathon already lined up.  Boston, here I come.

I'm dreaming bigger - and working harder - than ever before.  And I'm having the time of my life.


1st Marathon. Philly 2000. 5:21:20.
9th Marathon. RnR USA 2012. 3:34:46

Monday, September 17, 2012

6 weeks to go ...

6 weeks left until Marine Corps Marathon on October 28th.  6 weeks.  I kind of can't believe it.  In some ways, I feel like I have been training for this race for forever and in other ways I feel like it is just still so very far away.  6 weeks feels like a long time but I know it will be here so soon.

Yesterday I set out for another long run.  The goal was to feel comfortable the whole time, to try to negative split it if I could (I am working on starting slower and easing into a faster yet still comfortable pace) and hopefully come in with my average pace somewhere around an 8:00/mile.

Here are my splits for my 21 mile long run yesterday:

Mile 1 - 8:42
Mile 2 - 8:26
Mile 3 - 8:00
Mile 4 - 8:05
Mile 5 - 8:07
Mile 6 - 8:05
Mile 7 - 7:57
Mile 8 - 8:18
Mile 9 - 7:54
Mile 10 - 7:52
Mile 11 - 7:44
Mile 12 - 7:59
Mile 13 -7:57
Mile 14 - 7:54
Mile 15 - 7:49
Mile 16 - 7:29
Mile 17 - 7:51
Mile 18 - 8:05
Mile 19 - 8:08
Mile 20 - 8:16
Mile 21 - 7:50

Average pace - 8:01.  Second half for sure faster than the first.  I did what I set out to do.

I'm at this point in my training where every week I reach a new mileage high.  Not by much - I am inching upwards very conservatively by just a few miles more each week and also take a step back every few weeks - but nevertheless I have never run so many miles in my life.  And I have never felt better or stronger.

78.98 miles total last week.  And this week I am going to hit 80 for the first time in my life if all goes according to plan.  I am getting really close to hitting the peak of my training and then it will be time to taper.

MCM, I am coming for you!!  6 weeks til go time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

And we have a winner!

THANK YOU so much to all of you who entered my giveaway for an Endorphin Warrior Training Bracelet.

This product - and the company that makes it - is truly at the top of my favorite things list.

I used the Random.org True Number Generator to pick a winner and the lucky person is ...

Lora from the blog Crazy Running Girl!

Congratulations, Lora!  Please email me at paceofme@gmail.com and I will get you all the info you need so you can get your bracelet ASAP.

Also, I have another really amazing giveaway happening right now - check out my review of the Team Sparkle skirt and enter to win one of your own by clicking HERE!!

10 Mother Runner Questions

I am a BIG fan of the Run Like a Mother community - the blog, the books, the badass mother runner authors Sarah and Dimity ... all of it completely rocks.  Earlier this week I was so excited to be tagged in one of their posts to answer 10 running-related personal questions.  Below are my answers!

10 Running Related Personal Questions:

1. Best run ever: I can't possibly pick one run as the best EVER.  Some of the most awesome recent runs I've had though: My 22 miler last weekend - I felt so strong from start to finish, ran a lot of goal race pace miles and averaged under an 8:00/mile pace.  All three of my runs during the Hood to Coast Relay with Nuun a couple of weeks ago were totally MAGICAL and amazing.  I was so keenly aware of how blessed I was to be there, and my runs were more than I ever could have dreamed.  I will never ever forget how awesome that experience was.

2. Three words that describe my running: Dedicated.  Determined.  Grateful.

3. My go-to running outfit is:  In the summer, lululemon speed shorts or shorty shorts with a tank or even just a bra.  In the winter, I love my lululemon crops with a tank, arm sleeves and a hat.  If it's chilly I adore the lulu swiftly long sleeve shirt layered on top.

4. Quirky habit while running:  I have so many quirky habits - in running in and in life!  One thing I do for every run is try to tune into my cadence and the sound of my feet.  I will sometimes count over and over in my head as my feet hit the ground (1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4...) or repeat a word or phrase over and over again in my head along with my footsteps (some favorite words/mantras are: Breathe and Believe, Be Here. Be Now, I think I can. I know I can., This is Who I Am ...) 

5. Morning, midday, evening: Morning!  Sunrise runs are my very favorite.  I love how beautiful the world is at that time of day, and I feel such a heightened sense of awareness - so blessed and grateful to be alive and to be running.

6. I won’t run outside when it’s:  Icy.  I will deal with any other weather condition except for ice.  Last winter we had one icy morning and I had to get 20 miles done, so I did it on the treadmill (if that doesn't tell you how much I hate ice, I don't know what will!).

20 miles on the treadmill on an icy day.
7. Worst injury—and how I got over it:  When I was training for my first marathon in 2000, I developed IT Band Syndrome.  I had to take a full 2 weeks off from running and spent that time doing yoga and riding a spin bike.  I have been really lucky in the injury department!  Being dedicated to pilates and strength training, taking rest days, listening to my body and building my mileage conservatively has all really helped me with this.

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when: I was marathon training last winter.  My buddies and I would show up at the track in the dark and the freezing cold temperatures.  We ran in the snow and in the rain and against some of the strongest winds I have ever felt.  And we ran HARD.  I knew that if I could do that - I could accomplish my goal.  It was awesome.

it's cold. it's wet. it's dark.  but i'm running!
9. Next race is:  Marine Corps Marathon on October 28th.  It will be my 10th marathon!!

10. Potential running goal for 2013:  My first Boston (fingers crossed I get in - I can sign up today at 10am!)  Staying injury free.  Keeping the passion alive - running is like a relationship and I want to remain in love with and dedicated to the sport!  I want to run my first 50k in 2013, and have my sights set on the Seashore Nature Trail 50k in Virginia Beach.  I'd like to run another relay too!

How would you answer these questions??  If you have a blog, write a post and leave a link to it here or on the RLAM blog.  If you're not a blogger, just leave a comment with some of your answers!  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Team Sparkle Skirt: Review and Giveaway!

When I found out that I would be wearing a Team Sparkle skirt for the Hood to Coast Relay with Nuun, I will admit that I was REALLY excited about it.  I wasn't new to the idea of rocking one of these skirts - last year I won one in a blog giveaway and wore it for a New Year's Day race.  I set a 5k PR in my skirt that day and had SO much fun wearing it.  I was a fan from the get-go.

sparkling on 1/1/12
There are a lot of things that I love about racing in a Team Sparkle skirt ...

* I feel feminine, but I also feel like a complete badass.  It is really the perfect combination.  Completely girly + strong = AWESOME, if you ask me.  I love rocking this skirt and have never run so fast as I did when wearing it.

* Passing someone, especially a man (no offense, guys) while running in a sparkly skirt is pretty much one of the best feelings ever.  I will never forget the feeling I had when I sparkled passed my first roadkill (a man) at Hood to Coast.  He didn't know what hit him.

* I can wear my own bottoms with it, and I don't feel the skirt at all.  I am extremely picky about what I wear when I run, especially when I race.  I LOVE this skirt because I can wear my own shorts (always the lululemon run: shorty shorts) under them and be confident that I won't have any chafing.  Plus, the material of the skirt is SO light that I don't even notice it's there.

* I am easy to spot.  If I'm running at night, the sparkles are reflective.  If I'm running during the day, they shine and glimmer in the sun so my family and friends can easily see me coming.

* There is a rainbow of colors to choose from.  The toughest thing about this skirt is picking which color you want!  I have two (a golden yellow and a royal blue) but I want to get one in every color (next up for me is PINK!).  They go great with a black or white top or it's also fun to make yourself completely colorful by wearing a brightly colored top with it.  Also, if you are someone who likes to make running costumes (like for a Disney race) then this is pretty much an essential part of your outfit and you will be sure to find the color you need when shopping their assortment.

* I love the company.  I cannot say this enough.  The girls of Team Sparkle are strong, creative, intelligent and inspiring.  Kelly, Carrie and Elyse are best friends and are all mothers who balance their passions and their dreams with their families and careers.  These women shine as brightly as their skirts do and I am so truly proud to represent them when I wear my sparkle skirt.

I am SO excited to be hosting a giveaway of a Team Sparkle skirt here on my blog!  If you have never tried one before - now is your chance to win your first one just like I did!  And if you already have one and love it (which I'm sure you do) then here's your chance to get one in another color!

There are four simple ways to enter, and here's how: (please leave a separate comment here for EACH entry):
** The winner will receive one sparkle skirt in the size and color of their choice.  Must be a US resident to enter.  Contest ends on Thursday, 9/20 at midnight EST and the winner will be announced via blog post shortly thereafter.  The winner has one week to claim their prize before a back up winner is chosen. **

field tripping to the track

I feel so lucky to have a local high school track so close to where I live.  I LOVE the track.  As hard as the workouts are and as intimidated as I may be each and every time I show up, I am always buzzing with energy when I go there.  Completing my track workouts consistently are without a doubt one of the reasons I have been able to improve as a runner so much over the past year.  I believe in them and am dedicated to them and I will absolutely commit myself to showing up there every week to get it done.

But I have never, not even once, had to go to the track alone.  All thanks to the most amazing friends and running buddies - the honey badgers.

There are just some things I know I would not do by myself.  And running to the track at 5:15 in the morning, in the pitch black dark, is one of those things.

Now that school has started we can't park in the high school parking lot for our morning track workouts - the buses and students arrive before 7am and it is COMPLETE chaos.  So instead, Team Honey Badger meets at our local Starbucks just about a mile from the school.  We put on our head lamps and our back packs and take a field trip to the track.  It feels like an adventure.  It feels totally badass to me.  We run along the lake and through the woods (somewhat creepy) and then descend upon the high school track.  It is a really awesome feeling.

head lampin' at the track
Yesterday morning we had a beast of a workout to tackle.  Just like every week, I was nervous about it. The workouts are getting longer and harder as I near the peak of my training (race day is just over 6 weeks away).  The workouts have so much purpose though - building endurance at faster paces.  Teaching me to control my speed and push through and turn it ON when I am my most tired and mentally drained.  They are working.

Here is how things went yesterday after we warmed up for 2 miles (one mile on the way to the track, the other mile around the track). I took 2 minutes rest between each set, drinking some water and walking a little bit before starting up again:

1 x 3200 (8 laps around the track, or 2 miles)
For this workout I was supposed to start at marathon goal pace (7:40) and build to lactic acid threshold pace (6:45ish).  Mile 1 clocked in at 7:12, Mile 2 was a faster 6:47.  I think I ran too fast for the first mile (I never saw a 7:40 on my watch) and possibly too slow for the second mile ... but I felt really good about how I ran it.

1 x 1600 (4 laps around the track, or 1 mile)
This interval was to be run the same way as the 3200 - starting at race pace and building to threshold.  I clocked in at a 6:43.  I think I ran it right.  It felt good.

4 x 800 (each set was 2 laps around the track, or 1/2 mile)
My goal for these was to nail them somewhere between 3:04-3:12, the paces McMillan suggests for a 3:20 marathon.  I hit them with the following times: 3:10, 3:05, 3:04, 3:07.

Running those 800s as fast as I did after 3 miles of controlled fast running was TOUGH.  But it made me feel strong.  And I was SO HAPPY when I was finished.  I was in an amazing mood, excited that I got it done and that I did what I came to do.  I put my back pack on and the honey badgers began our cool down mile back to the Starbucks...

ready to head back!
The run back to our cars was so beautiful.  Early morning sunrise running is hands down my favorite time of day to run.  I feel so blessed to see the world waking up ...  It's just beautiful and magical and so full of promise.

Lake Audubon
Arriving at Starbucks after 8.25 miles of running with 5 fast miles in the middle ... well that is just the absolute perfect place to end a run in my opinion.  My favorite thing to get after a workout like that is a soy white mocha.  So yummy.

I love our Wednesday morning field trips to the track, and I am so thankful for my friends for doing this with me.  We are making amazing memories together, and words just don't do the job in expressing to each of them how awesome I think they are - how grateful I am for their friendship.  In running fast or slow, long or short - and more importantly, in life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

long run reflections - I know I can...

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
- Thomas Edison

I'm pretty sure I've started a blog post with this quote before.  It's one of my favorite quotes and has been in my head on repeat over and over again this summer, and really over so much of the past year.  It's been a theme of sorts for me.

One of the reasons I love to run is because it shows me I am capable of so much more than I ever dreamed possible.  In the past year I have had to dig DEEP to muster up the courage to push myself farther than ever before - to follow my heart and chase my dreams.  I have been running for more than 12 years but it wasn't until this past year that I REALLY began to go outside my comfort zone, to take that leap of faith and go to my edges to see what I am truly made of.  This journey, this endeavor, has been full of ups and downs and scary places - and the most incredible JOYS and triumphs.  It has been worth every bead of sweat, every sacrifice.  Every moment when I thought I couldn't do it, but did anyway.  And then some.

This time last year I was working hard to improve my marathon time.  My PR was 4:35 and I believed I could run a 4 hour marathon if I trained smart and stuck with it.  I surprised myself when my long runs were consistently right around a 9:00/mile average pace and I was able to run some marathon goal pace miles in all of them.  When I arrived at the start line of Marine Corps Marathon I felt so ready to set a new huge personal best - I was going to blow 4 hours out of the water if all went well.  And it did.  3:41:52 - almost a full hour better than my previous PR and two minutes shy of a BQ time.

In the winter I tried again.  I upped my mileage (conservatively and carefully), pushed harder on the track, and aimed for my long runs to be right around an 8:30 pace.  I practiced goal race pace miles in many of those long runs and was able to nail them.  It was not easy, but I was dedicated and determined and it paid off.  I crossed the finish of the RnR DC marathon with a time of 3:34:46.

This summer the weather has been hot and humid but I've been working harder and learning to be smarter and tougher than ever before.  My spring race times and the times I've been clocking at the track have indicated to me that I am capable of more.  That it is possible for me to run in the ballpark of a 3:20 marathon this time around if all goes well.  It scares me some days - this big hairy giant audacious goal of mine - but I decided to give it a shot.  I'm listening to my body and striving for this new goal.  Truth be told, I'm not sure what will happen on race day (that is the heartbreak of the marathon, right!?), but my training has taught me to BELIEVE in myself.  I know that I am capable of something more.  Whatever it is.  I am going for it.

My target pace for my long runs this cycle has been anywhere from an 8:00-8:20 average (McMillan says for a 3:20 marathon the range for my long runs should be anywhere from a 7:36-9:04 pace, I just set this goal for myself based on what I did last cycle and where I want to be this time around).  With the exception of the hottest, most humid days (especially in early July when temps were over 100 degrees!) I have nailed it every time.  I pulled out my training logs and data and it has been so motivating to see how well I have been running my long runs this cycle:

6/16 - 14 Miles - 8:04 average
6/24 - 14 Miles - 8:05 average

7/1 - 16 Miles - 8:50 average
7/7 - 16 Miles - 8:56 average
7/14 - 14 Miles - 8:05 average
7/22 - 16 Miles - 8:01 average
7/28 - 18 Miles - 8:20 average

8/4 - 20 Miles - 8:15 average
8/11 - 20 Miles - 8:09 average
8/18 - 20 Miles - 8:03 average
*there is one less long run here because of Hood to Coast*

9/1 - 20 Miles - 8:06 average 
9/9 - 22 Miles - 7:59 average
Sometimes I doubt myself.  "Sometimes" ... as in pretty much every single day of the week.  But deep down inside, I KNOW I can do this.  I know I can do what I am setting out to do!  I am not pulling this out of thin air.  I'm not setting my goals willy-nilly or basing them off of someone else's standards.  I am striving for this because I sincerely BELIEVE I can do it.  I don't want to limit myself, to be closed-minded about what I am capable of.  I want to astound myself!  To keep my heart and my mind open to all of the possibilities that await me.  This is one of the reasons I love running so much - it symbolizes so much of what I value in life.  It keeps me moving and open and FREE to explore my own possibilities.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Running a Double

Mileage is an individual thing.  I am a strong believer that you should not compare yourself to others or judge what others are doing, and I even think comparing yourself to your own self can be dangerous at times (like when you are coming back from injury or from a long break from running).  There are a lot of ways that we can improve as runners, and one of those ways CAN be to run more miles -- if our bodies respond well to the increases and if we can realistically fit the extra miles into our busy schedules.

Last year when I was training for my fall marathon, I peaked at just under 50 miles.  In the winter when training for my spring marathon, I increased that and built up to 64 miles.  This summer/fall I have already had several weeks at right around 70 miles and my plan has me reaching 80 miles before I start my taper.  It is always changing though, and I will only go that high if my body continues to respond well to it.  And if I'm able to fit it in while balancing the other priorities in my life.

In the spring when I peaked at 64 miles, I remember thinking about this summer and wondering how I could possibly run more miles than that.  It seemed so overwhelming to me and I wasn't sure I would even try to pull it off because I knew what I would have to do - I would have to start incorporating one or two double days into my routine.  I love running with the honey badgers in the early morning, but I have to be home in time for my husband to get to work and for me to get myself and three small children ready for the day, which means really the most miles I can fit in a weekday morning run is right around 10.  Now that I am running more than 70 miles a week I have to put one or two doubles on my schedule.  I wasn't sure how I would pull it off, but I decided to take it nice and slow, and ease into it.  I've been doing it for a while now and I've come to realize that I actually really love my double days.

Here are some things I have learned about running doubles:

** Think of the second run of the day as a recovery run.  Keep the mileage lower and the pace slower.  The second run is a chance to flush the lactic acid out of your legs and to keep yourself loose.  If you PUSH on that second run you will wake up the next day feeling tight and unable to continue with solid training.  Remember that every run has a purpose and it needs to be honored - do not treat this second run of the day like "junk miles" - this run has a purpose beyond just the numbers and can help to make you a stronger, smarter runner.  That being said, if you decide to make your first run of the day easy, that doesn't mean you can't push for your second run -- a good rule of thumb is to just make sure that you are not doing two hard runs back-to-back.

first run of the day - with the honey badgers!
** Find someone to run with.  Maybe it is someone you don't usually get to run with - a good friend you want to catch up with or someone you don't usually get to run with.  Yesterday I had so much fun running my second run of the day with a dear friend of mine who I rarely get to spend time with these days.  It was beyond wonderful to catch up with her as we ran an easy, conversational pace while I pushed baby Gus.

sweaty time with a bestie
Or maybe you can find a group to run with in the evening for that second run.  This week on Monday I ran 10 miles early in the morning with the honey badgers and then in the evening I ran an easy 3.5 miles with run club.  A lot of local groups have week night runs and some are even followed by happy hours!  Here in and around my town of Reston there are SO many groups!  The Reston Runners, Potomac River Running Store, Eastern Mountain Sports and of course my lululemon/Reston Pilates run club are just some that come to mind -- there is a run almost every single night of the week!  It's a great chance to get those miles in while also making new friends in the process.

** Make plans, but be prepared to change them.  At the beginning of this training cycle I mapped out a plan for myself, knowing that I wanted to increase my mileage to a new personal high and that I would need to do so safely and realistically.  Each week though, I tweak the plan.  Every. single. week.  Usually on Sunday night I take a look at the week ahead and at my family's schedule - and I sketch out a plan of attack.  I almost always have to move things around a little even as the week progresses though.  For example this week I was not initially planning to run a double on Friday, but when my friend asked if I would run a few miles with her I didn't want to pass that up!  So I took a few miles off of Saturday and added them to Friday instead.  This way I was sure to keep my weekly mileage according to plan while not missing out on a run with my good friend.

** Always remember the big picture, and why you are doing this in the first place!  Running more miles is most likely NOT the most important thing, and you may find that when you add miles to a day, you need to take them out of a planned run for later in the week in order to keep yourself feeling fresh and ready for what's next (like I decided to do this week).  Do not increase your mileage too much in one week or you could risk getting injured or feeling too fatigued to keep up with your training.  The big picture should always be the most important thing - and in my opinion one run or race is never worth sacrificing your overall health.  If my body is telling me to ease up, I WILL.  That's all there is to it.  Running makes me happy and helps me feel balanced - I want to be able to keep it a regular part of the way I live my life!

one of my goals - keep my feet moving in my shoes -- FOR LIFE
Do you or have you ever run doubles as part of your training plan?  Have any tips for us on the best ways to fit them in and make them an effective training tool?

Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway for an Endorphin Warrior Training Bracelet!  Contest ends in less than a week!  Click here to enter.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

An awesome giveaway - Endorphin Warrior Training Bracelet!!

I cannot say enough about how much I LOVE Endorphin Warrior Training Bracelets.  When I was first introduced to this product I knew that I simply HAD to have one.  I wrote a review and hosted a giveaway almost exactly one year ago -- you can read that post by clicking HERE.

At the time, I was working so hard to set a new giant PR in the marathon.  I wanted to improve my time by an hour or more and I wanted to qualify for Boston for the first time ever.  It took a lot of hard work and dedication.  It took a lot of courage.  It took a tremendous amount of sacrifice and patience.  More than anything though, it took BELIEVING in myself.  I had no hope of accomplishing my goal if I did not have faith in myself.  If I did not BELIEVE I could do it.  When I ordered my first bracelet, I knew right away which word would speak to me the most ...

I wore my bracelet for every training run and for every race.  It took three marathons and goodness knows how many training runs and track workouts, but finally last spring at RnR DC I ran a 3:34:46 and accomplished my goal.  A PR of more than an hour and my first ever Boston qualifying time.

When I was getting ready for Hood to Coast with Nuun this year, I was beyond excited that Endorphin Warrior would be sending us each a bracelet for this epic adventure.  Once again I knew exactly what word I would need.  This time, I picked BREATHE.  It is a simple thing but so easy to forget to control when I am running.  One of my favorite and most powerful personal mantras has always been BREATHE, BELIEVE.  So I brought my old bracelet with me and wore both of them together, the entire time.

I admit I am really into arm candy.  I love bracelets and especially bracelets that I can sweat in (just ask my running buddies and my friends from HTC).  I am also really into mantras - running is like meditation in motion for me.  I know that the mind is a powerful thing.  When I am struggling on a run whether at the track, on the trail or in a race, I find that a simple word or phrase can do wonders for helping me push through the toughest moments.  My Endorphin Warrior bracelets are a quick and cool reminder to get myself together when I start losing focus.  I love them.

I am so excited to be hosting another giveaway of this awesome product!  To enter, all you have to do is go to the Endorphin Warrior web site HERE and leave me a comment telling me which bracelet key word you would choose if you win.  It's as simple as that!!

For EXTRA entries, you can do the following.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry, otherwise you will not get as many entries!

** Follow @EndorphnWarrior on Twitter and tweet: I want to win the @EndorphnWarrior bracelet giveaway from @paceofme

** Follow Endorphin Warrior on Facebook

** Follow Pace of Me on Twitter

** Follow Pace of Me on Facebook

I will accept entries until next Thursday, 9/13 and will announce the winner on Friday 9/14.  I should tell you I was not paid to do this - I love the bracelet that Endorphin Warrior gave me and I'm excited to spread the word about them and to facilitate giving one to a lucky reader of my blog!!

getting back into my groove

The craziness of the last few weeks has been, well ... CRAZY.

First, Robert and I went away for a long weekend without the kids.  It was amazing and fun and romantic and relaxing - like a second honeymoon!  We were celebrating our 10th anniversary in the Outer Banks, just the two of us.  I loved every second of our time together and am so thankful that we got to do that.

10 years together
We came home and two days later we were packing up again.  I was leaving for my adventure to run Hood to Coast with Nuun, and Robert was taking the kids to his parents' house for one last trip before summer's end.  It was a whirlwind and I think all of us felt jarred by it, though we were surely excited.  Routine was thrown out the window and we just went with it, holding on for dear life and praying it would all go smoothly.

I had the time of my life in the Pacific Northwest.  It really did feel like a dream.  I was completely swept off of my feet by Nuun and all of the wonderful people who work there and by the truly beautiful and inspiring women who shared this adventure with me.

me and some of my amazing team
When I came home, reality hit me HARD.  I love routine, predictability.  I like having a plan - I pretty rarely adhere to it completely but I am always making plans and mapping things out for me and my family.  When I came home it felt like everything had exploded and was all still up in the air, just floating up there, getting ready to crash down on me at any moment.  I didn't know how the pieces would all fall back into place, or what the proper places for everything should even wind up being.  Because in just one week we would be adapting to the new school year and trying to find a whole new rhythm.

Coming home after so much time away from my family made me realize how much I truly missed them while I was away.  It made me appreciate the little things so much more.  It made me not want to waste a second of my time with them.  Last week I was overwhelmed, trying to restore balance and settle back into life at home with the ones I love most in this world.  I didn't care about much else other than finding a way to get grounded and be PRESENT with my family.  To let my little people and my husband know that I am here and that I love them so so very much, and that there is really truly no place I would rather be than right here, with them.

This week we started school and are getting into our groove again as a family.  We have a second grader and a kindergartner and I simply can't believe it!!

first day of school!
Baby Gus and I are getting a lot of solid time together.  At 19 months old, he is a true companion.  He is always making me laugh and surprising me with his curiosity and his (strong) opinions.  I love his sweet disposition and his playful spirit.  I cannot imagine what I would be doing right now if he were not around to keep me company...as much as I crave my "me time," I know that I am not ready to be on my own without any little people to share my day with!

Last year I pushed both boys in the double stroller on my runs a few days a week so I could get the miles in while Abby was at school all day.  This year things will be different.  This year I'm logging most of my weekly miles with the Honey Badgers (my running buddies) well before the sun comes up so I can be home in time to get everyone ready for school.  This means I have time to do special things with Baby Gus in the mornings and I am so excited about it.  Since he was born I haven't ever made plans that are centered around something for HIM.  I can tell that he misses his big sister and brother a lot, but I can also tell he is REALLY enjoying being the focus of my attention.

I'm embracing this new schedule and am excited about all it holds for me and for my family.  We're falling into our rhythm and are starting to make sense of what our routine will look like, at least for a while.  Change is hard - especially when it is forced upon us - but it can also be so very good.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hood to Coast with Nuun

It's been a full week since I returned home from living a DREAM in the Pacific Northwest.  I'm not totally sure why I haven't sat down to write about my adventures running the Hood to Coast Relay with Nuun - it is nearly all I have been able to think about between diaper changes and trips to the playground, back to school open houses and neighborhood bike rides.  From a logistical standpoint, finding the time - the solitude - I would need to sit down quietly with my thoughts and reflections has been a huge challenge this week.  But more than that, I have been emotionally flabbergasted all week and it's been hard to get myself feeling grounded and focused enough to write about something that was just so incredibly magical.

How am I going to do it justice? How do I tell this story?  How do I take all that is in my heart and put it into words?  Words which often feel so in adequate and puny compared to what I am trying to describe.  How in the world am I going capture the gigantic, ridiculous happiness and gratitude that is in my heart and overwhelms me each and every time I think about the people (oh, especially the PEOPLE!), the places and the moments that touched me - and quite honestly changed me - over the course of a few short days on the other side of the country?

Well, I've decided enough is enough and I have to accept the fact that the best I can do is the best I can do.  Just like with running and with so many other things in life, I can't worry about whether or not it's good enough.  My best is MY best, so really how can that be a disappointment?  And I will write about it from the heart, telling my story and doing my best to convey here how truly THANKFUL I am for one of the most INCREDIBLE experiences of my life.  It was profound for me in every respect.

And I mean that (and everything I say here) from the very bottom of my heart.

When I got off the plane last week in Seattle, I felt like I was stepping into a dream world.  Some alternate universe I never knew existed.  I was nervous, yet totally at peace.  I was excited, yet completely calm and comfortable.  I was grateful and aware in each and every moment of how blessed and lucky I was to be there.  And it just kept getting better.  More amazing all the time.

The first two days in Seattle were way beyond what I could have ever expected (the whole thing was, really).  We were all treated with such incredible love, kindness and support from the second we were chosen for this epic team.  The people at Nuun are AMAZING.  I don't know how many times I said phrases like "Oh my gosh, is this really happening?" or "I'm so excited!" or "This is so much fun!" - I wanted to savor every moment and bottle it up - and I felt that way well before we even left Seattle to go to the race!  In Seattle we went for an 8 mile run along the waterfront, went to a Mariners baseball game, visited the Oiselle headquarters (this will deserve its own post FOR SURE) and ran around the beautiful Green Lake, had a totally adventurous and hilarious scavenger hunt (#nuunhunt) across the city of Seattle, ate delicious food and drank awesome local beers, decorated our vans and just had the most FUN together you could imagine.  And this was all with people who I had never actually met before.  People who I bonded with instantly.  People who impacted me in so many ways in such a short period of time.  People who I will be forever grateful to know.

the "fab five" - taking seattle by storm in the #nuunhunt
in my element ... markers and a big white van!
By the time we were packing our bags to hop in our vans for the actual race, I just didn't want the journey to end.  If our time in Seattle was so beyond my dreams, how was I going to handle the amazingness of my first ever Hood to Coast Relay with these wonderful people?!?  I just couldn't fathom it.  And here I was living it.

~ Team Noon for Nuun - Van 2!! ~
We drove to Oregon on Friday and got to the first major exchange some time in the late afternoon.  I was Runner #11 in Van 2, which meant that my first leg wouldn't be until close to midnight that night.  All day long I was in my running clothes, anxious and excited for the race to start.  We had so much fun driving to Oregon and hanging out in the Safeway parking lot while we waited for our last runner in Van 1 to come through.  We made the most of this time by tattooing ourselves and others and just generally spreading the Nuun love!  I can't even tell you how excited I was.  Just thinking about it now makes me smile.  None of it was lost on me, not a second of it - it was just so much fun!

Inked in Nuun.  I was sad when this started to fade...
watching the runners come into the first major exchange

Kim and T ... SO MUCH LOVE for these ladies!!!
Tiffany, me, Harmony, Elizabeth & Katie all in our awesome Maui Jim shades!
Finally, not long before the sun set, runner #6 from our Van 1 - the completely beautiful and wonderful in every way Molly - came through at a blazing speed and handed off to T who would begin the first leg for our van!
the first major hand off
And then things just really got REAL.

I had never run a relay before, much less THIS relay - the "Mother of ALL Relays."  I had never even been to the state of Oregon.  I had been hoping and wishing and dreaming for this opportunity for so long and here I was actually DOING it.  When it was time for our van to get going I just was so all of a sudden overcome - the excitement that this was really happening and the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific Northwest just completely won me over and my heart was so FULL.  Even as I write this my eyes fill with tears because that feeling of just being so completely happy, so blissfully aware and so truly grateful for this gift of life and of running and of feeling passionate about something and sharing it with others who totally one hundred percent felt it all too and wanted the best for you and for one another -- it was just so amazing to me.  I was a part of something so much bigger than myself, sharing this adventure with some of the most wonderful people, and it was just the most incredible feeling I have ever had as a runner.

The first two legs for our van were run at about sunset.  The beauty was everywhere - gorgeous fields with old barns and wildflowers, crisp cool air, warm sunshine, blue skies, lush green trees and rolling hills and pastures.  Everything looked like it came out of a painting.  Everything.

As Tonia ran the first leg I watched her approach us - so strong and beautiful and free and happy.  We cheered our hearts our for her, supported her and believed in her.  She was rocking it and my eyes filled with tears of the most joyful kind as I watched her run.  I was just so proud of my friend.  So proud of my team.
Tonia -- Inspirational. Beautiful. Strong.
We all had agreed before the running started, that we were going to commit to a few things:  We were going to give it our very best (whatever that may be!), we were going to have a ton of fun, and we were going to be there for one another no matter what.  I knew I was with the right group when we had that conversation.  Because the relay is not about just one person - it is about a TEAM.  Not one of us was going to be able to do this on our own - 200+ miles from Mt. Hood to the coast of Oregon in close to 30 hours is not a one woman job.  We were in it together and we needed to take care of one another and never lose sight of the big picture.

When it was my turn to run the first of my three runs, it was getting close to midnight.  It was darker than dark and the portion I was running was 4.85 miles on a paved trail just outside the city of Portland.  There would be no van support for my run.  I would be on my own.  In the black of night.  I was nervous, but so excited to take it on.  I put on my headlamp and my reflective vest and T walked me to the exchange point with our other van mates close behind.  We expected to have a few minutes but Zoe was killing her run and she came through much faster than we expected so before I knew it, it was my turn and I just WENT.

ready as I'll ever be
I took off and it was a minute or two before I realized I never put my race bib on and I hadn't turned on my flashing red tail light on the back of my vest - which could actually lead to us being disqualified from the race!  That would be bad.  It was really tricky for me to reach behind myself to turn it on while running, but I pressed the button and as I passed a man running I asked him if I was blinking because there was no way for me to really tell whether or not I had been successful in turning it on otherwise.  He replied "yes" and then said "You are also sparkling!  And running really fast!" at which point a huge smile spread across my face and I felt my legs move even faster.  It was the first time I chicked someone in my yellow sparkly skirt (made by the one and only Team Sparkle) and I have to tell you - it was an AWESOME feeling.  I quickly passed one other man and that was it for other runners on the trail for quite a few miles.

The trail was spooky at this point.  I saw shady characters out there - people dressed in all black, walking.  Who does that!?  Someone coming out from the side on a bike with no lights.  Creepy.  I was alone in the dark and I was running as fast as I could, but I had no idea how fast that actually was because the only light I brought for myself was my headlamp.  And it just wasn't very bright.  I started to have scary thoughts out on that trail and was operating on fear mode and I didn't like it.  I had no race number on.  I had no phone with me.  What was I thinking!?  There were sketchy people out there and I didn't see a single safety patrol biker for the first few miles.  I had to stop at two street crossings and wait.  I was scared.  And then a bike patrol guy came up close to me and told me he was going to bike with me as I ran for a while.  I was SO grateful.  No need to be scared for my safety anymore.  He tried to leave me with about a half mile to go but I wouldn't let him.  I told him I wanted him to stay with me if that was okay.  He was a total gentleman and said that was what he was here for.  I saw some flashing red lights up ahead (other runners) with about a half mile to go and I asked my biker guy if he thought I could get them.  He laughed and said he wasn't sure - there wasn't much further to go, but he said I was running "at a pretty good clip" so he thought there was a chance.  I picked up my pace and I caught them! - and then I ran as fast as I could to the finish.  I was so exhilarated!  So happy to be done with my first Hood to Coast run!!  But when I came into the exchange my team wasn't there yet - I had apparently run faster than my predicted time.  It wasn't long though before Lindsay came running up and took the slap bracelet from me and then the rest of my team arrived.  I saw Kim first and completely fell into her arms and started crying.  Kim works for Nuun and is just one of the most beautiful and strong woman I have ever ever EVER met.  I can't tell you how happy I was to see her and the rest of my team when my first run was over!  In that moment - being in Kim's arms after running such an incredible run, being so scared and so excited all at the same time - I just knew what this relay was all about.  It was about so much MORE than I ever could have imagined.  It was about the people and the power of a team.  It was about being your very best and overcoming your fears and your worries and trusting in something so much bigger than myself.

Somehow I made it to Hood to Coast to run on this amazing team sponsored by this amazing company - and I was not alone.  Our passions and our dreams and our courage is what brought each every one of us here to this moment.  And we were doing it together.  And it was just AMAZING.  I know I am capable of so much more than I ever could have imagined when I believe in my purpose being BEYOND just ME.  This was one of the most profound lessons of the relay for me.  The big picture is a truly incredible thing to be aware of.

I ran my first leg of the race, 4.85 miles, at an average speed of 6:32.  My first mile was a 6:11.  I have never run so fast for so long in all of my life.  Some people might think I ran that fast because I was scared out of my mind for much of it (which is true).  Some might say it was because that portion of the trail was basically flat with a slight downhill (also true).  But I believe that I ran that fast because of the magic and the power of my TEAM.  Because when you are running for something bigger than yourself, you are capable of incredible things.  Things you may never have even dared to dream.

When Lindsay came through at the finish of her first run we were all so grateful - she had taken a wrong turn along the way and we were very concerned - but she was just fine thank goodness!  She passed the bracelet off to the first runner in our Van 1 (Kelly!) and then we drove ahead to the next major exchange so we could rest for a few hours.  Along the way I realized that my stomach was in bad shape.  I had been eating bananas and KIND bars all afternoon/evening because they were all my stomach seemed to approve of.  But now, after a tough run and in the middle of the night, it was starting to protest.  I said a little prayer and curled up in a seat of the van, hoping to sleep it off.  But when I woke at 4am it was even worse.  The folks at Nuun know how to prepare for a relay though and I was in good hands.  Kim passed me the bottle of Pepto and told me to take a swig.  I was nervous but desperate, so I listened to and trusted her and hoped for the best.  Two more swigs and a couple of hours later and I was in good shape again, THANK GOODNESS.

T got started for us again just before 5am.  A sunrise run for her and for Kim!  They were tough runs - very hilly and long.  But those girls completely rocked it and we were all so proud.  Then it was time for Tiffany to do her second run.  Tiffany's run would be hilly and dusty and she would actually have to wear a bandana around her nose and mouth to keep herself protected from all the dust!  She was one tough and totally chill chick and I loved being on her team.
me & Tiffany in the early morn, before her dirty run!
When it was time for my second run, my stomach was much calmer but I was feeling nervous about it.  Running in the morning at home I always have to bring toilet paper with me for emergencies, and I almost always use it.  I felt prepared but really just did not want to have to deal with it.  As I stood there waiting for the beautiful Zoe to come in with the slap bracelet I looked up and saw a man wearing the number 44 on his bib.  This number has a lot of significance and meaning to me in my life.  I looked at T and I told her - I knew it was going to be a good run - because I saw 44.  It is hard for me to explain and is a story for another day (this post is long enough!) but that number gives me so much comfort in my life.  Zoe handed me the bracelet and I was off.  SO excited to be running in the daylight this time!  So excited to get to do this AGAIN!

and I'm off ...
The morning was breathtaking.  There were hills - and the views were spectacular.  I soaked it all in and just smiled the whole way I am pretty sure.  I was wearing my watch, but never looked at it once.  I actually debated even taking it off and running without it.  Because it wasn't about that - it was 4.2 miles of BEAUTY.  I ran as fast as I could and poured all of myself into that moment.  And had so much fun, even when I was going UP.

finishing my second run!
I could see the exchange ahead of me - my team was waiting for me!  I wanted to come in as strong as I could and pass the bracelet off to Lindsay and hug my team mates.  It was exhilarating.  I ran my second run, 4.2 miles of gorgeous rolling hills, in an average pace of 6:45.  I loved every second of it.

That was one of my favorite runs I have ever experienced.  I felt so alive and so aware of how blessed I was.  I was giving it my all but had no care for how fast or how slow that actually was.  I was just being ME and being in the moment and savoring it as best I could.  It really was magical.

After Lindsay finished up we got another long break and drove up ahead to the next big exchange.  My stomach got angry again and I tried to eat something other than granola bars and bananas.  I got a plain veggie burger with no bun and gave that a shot and hoped for the best.  It was a risk I was willing to take though, because I just felt like I needed more food.  Thank goodness it didn't cause any major problems for me.  When it was time for T to start on her last run I felt such a strange mix of emotions.  I was happy and excited beyond belief because we were that much closer to accomplishing this amazing race and getting to the finish line on the beach in Seaside.  But I was also SAD - sad because I knew that would mean it was almost over.  And I did not want it to be over.

My final run was my hardest one - over 7 miles of hills and mostly on a lonely gravel road.  I thought I was going to have some van support but I was mistaken - no van access for my entire leg.  I was wearing my Kinvara 3 shoes (which I love and wore for all three of my runs) but I found myself wishing I had trail shoes on.  I could feel every single rock as I ran.  I remember thinking about this run - hearing that it was brutal and that I would hate it.  I could see why it had this reputation - the terrain was TOUGH and the hills were BIG, especially in the first couple of miles.  But the scenery was really cool and I knew that once I passed the bracelet off to Lindsay my first ever Hood to Coast runs would be over.  As I came closer to the end of my run I started to get really emotional and tears filled my eyes and a lump settled into my throat.  I thought about how amazing this journey had been, how much dreaming went in to getting me - and all of the women running Hood to Coast for Nuun - to this very moment.  How we had all gone out on a limb in one way or another - making movies, pouring our hearts out, taking chances ... and here we were.  HERE.  In Oregon.  Together.  Running this epic relay as a TEAM.  The awesomeness just completely overwhelmed me and I ran with all of my heart.
sparkling my way to the finish of my final run
I loved coming into that final stretch to see my team there, cheering for me and supporting me and believing in me.  It was just an incredible feeling.  A feeling I will never forget.  I passed the bracelet to Lindsay and told her I would see her at the beach!  She was going to run the final leg for our team and bring us into the finish.  HOW COOL IS THAT!?!?  It was cooler than cool.

We all hopped in the van and drove to Seaside so we could meet Lindsay there.  When we arrived we were united with our Van 1 and with the Van 1s from the other two Nuun teams.  The party was about to begin!  I can't even put into words how incredibly exciting this was.  Lindsay came through and we cheered our hearts out for her and then all of us got to cross the finish line together!

Lindsay bringing us in!
It was one of the coolest moments of my life, crossing the finish line with my team.  I will never forget it!!

The party got going from there and we had a blast eating good food, drinking delicious beer and laughing about our adventures.  And just when I didn't think it could get ANY more amazing, the fireworks started!  I seriously could not believe that they topped this epic event off with FIREWORKS!  But of course they did.  How else are you going to end something like this!?  It was so exciting and I was more than grateful to experience that part of it, too.

Coming home to my family - my husband who has been so supportive, my children who love me so unconditionally - was very emotional for me.  In the first few days after being home I felt SAD, depressed.  I didn't want the journey to end.  But as my dear friend Molly told me ... the adventure is only beginning.  And I believe her.

Hood to Coast with Nuun taught me so much about myself and about the power and beauty of the human spirit.  It taught me to dream bigger and to never give up on hope.  It taught me to trust in my heart and to let myself soar.

I am forever grateful to Nuun for this life changing experience.  I will never forget all that I witnessed and experienced both within myself and all around me in my teammates.  The kindness, beauty, courage, faith, love, support, strength and grace was just more than I ever could have expected or dreamed.

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