Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A DAY OF FIRSTS

"I stay swaggerific you don’t need to ask why"
~ Will.I.Am, 'Check It Out'


This past Monday was a day of many firsts.  Want to know what they were?  Of course you do.

It was the first day of the week.  I know, lame.  But I had to throw it in there.
It was my first run since the marathon.  An easy 4 mile cruiser.  Awesome.
It was the first time it dipped below 40℉ this fall.
It was the first time I've had a legitimate reason to sport my new Oiselle 'Off the Grid' knickers.
It was the first time I've run without tracking my pace and/or mileage since the summer.
It was the first time I've broken out in dance mid-run simply because I was so fired up to be on the road again.
It was the first time I went to Target for a shower curtain and ended up buying the majority of my groceries.  Man, they sell a LOT of stuff.
It was the first time I have stared down stared down multiple bags of candy corn (literally, like, everywhere I turned, there they were) and not purchased them.  
It was the first time I've listened to the Caribou's new album 'Our Love' from start to finish.  Just, wow.
And, last but certainly not least, it was the first time I've heard this song 'Echo' by VÉRITÉ.  Double wow.

Not a bad Monday.  Not bad at all.

Listen to this:
Echo - VÉRITÉ 

Monday, October 20, 2014

THE SAME, JUST BETTER

"And the world spins madly on."


It's Monday morning at 6:53am.  I have been up since 5:52 with our puppy who has more energy than a 3 year old at a birthday party.  I am enjoying my second cup of coffee while also making sure that she doesn't eat the legs of the dining room table or an entire roll of toilet paper.  A week ago, yesterday, I ran my marathon PR at the Mohawk Hudson marathon in Albany, NY.  It was a freakin' incredible day.  But since then, not much has changed.  My "to-do" list for last week looked something like this:
  • take Rosie to the doctor for new allergy meds
  • grocery shop
  • prep for board meeting at school
  • prep for away XC meet on Tuesday
  • get car washed and serviced
  • pick up a new trash can at the hardware store
  • refill ink cartridges at Costco
  • cancel gym membership
  • call plumber
I know, super exciting, right?  Some people cook, some paint, some watch football.  Me?  I run.  It's not on my "to-do" list.  It's just a given.  And, if I didn't do it, I can only guess how painfully tedious these tasks might feel as I trudged through them each week.  I haven't run at all since the marathon. One week off sounds minimal if you're not a runner, but to me it's huge.  When I'm training, particularly for a marathon, I can be out on the road for up to 3 hours a day.  Tack on some time to cool down, shower and eat a meal and there is not much time left to get stuff done before I have to head off to my job.  Last week I had a lot of extra time to do all the other things on my list.  And due to my lasting elation from my race, when I woke up on Monday morning, I was borderline thrilled to get crackin'.  I floated through that grocery store like a superhero on a mission.  I high-fived the guys at the car wash before I went through.  I chatted with Mike down at the hardware store for a solid 10 minutes about nothing in particular before I headed out with my new trash can which I was stupidly excited about.  When I race, life doesn't change much.  But do I change?  You bet I do.  I tend to feel stronger, happier, more alive, more badass and more ready to deal with anything; even if it's calling the plumber.  If this isn't reason to keep at it, I don't know what is.  My life as a mom/wife/coach is great.  Running makes it better.  Racing makes it awesome.  Enough said.

Listen to this:
Heavy Metal Heart - Sky Ferreira  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

RACE REVIEW: MOHAWK HUDSON

I am a marathon runner
And my legs are sore
And I'm anxious to see
What I'm running for
~ Yellow Ostrich, 'Marathon Runner'


Back in 2007 I ran the Baystate Marathon, my first, in Lowell, MA.  My goal was to qualify for Boston and then, assuming I could do this, run it right afterwords so I could cross it off of my bucket list.  And then, I would be done with marathons.  Ah ha ha ha.  Go ahead, you can laugh along with me here.  After successfully qualifying for Boston, by a hair (I needed a 3:40 and I ran a 3:39:55), I did end up running it a year later.  I was happy with my time, 3:31 and a solid PR, but I felt I could do better.  So, I ran it again.  Unfortunately, I crashed and burned, which really pissed me off.  So, I definitely wasn't done.  And, then, yes, I ran it a 3rd time because I had something to prove to myself.  I came in at 3:29 and as you can imagine, I was overjoyed.  As you can also imagine, I wasn't done.  Enough Boston, I decided.  It was time for something new.  Fast forward to my 6th marathon down in Albany, GA.  I had ramped up my training, using a plan designed for me by coach Greg McMillan.  I was going for broke.  And I nailed it.  I ran a 3:16 which was above and beyond what I thought I could do.  I remember thinking on the flight home that I just might be done with marathons all together.  But, I had a bad taste in my mouth after Albany, because while I did well, I didn't feel truly happy about it.  Many months and several bad races later, I came to the realization that I was just going through the motions and that, somewhere along the way, I had lost the simple joy in running.  So, after much thought and a reevaluation of my agenda, I hired a coach to help me re-set my goals with the understanding that I would be running and racing, first and foremost, for fun and whatever else happened along the way would just be icing on the cake.  I ran 4 marathons after Albany and they were all pretty good.  Not awesome, not terrible.  No PRs but no disasters.  Times aside, though, I had some really rewarding experiences.  And I was loving the whole training process from day one through the race itself.  So, I knew I was doing it for the right reasons again.  After my 9th, I sent my coach a note asking him to be honest with me as to whether he thought besting my 3:16 was ever realistically doable.  I wanted the straight up truth and if he thought it was too big of a pipedream, I would accept it and move on.  But, he seemed to think I still had it in me if I really focused and put the time in.  Fast forward to 2014.  I am 39 years old and I'm getting ready to run my 10th marathon.  I'm going for the PR one last time and hoping for the best while also reminding myself to be okay with it if my best was behind me.  Here we go.


On Saturday, I headed out to Albany, NY to run the Mohawk Hudson Marathon which I'd heard through the running grapevine was fast, flat and beautiful.  A few weeks prior to the race, I reached out to a couple of my Oiselle teammates who I knew would also be racing and asked if I could tag along with them the night before so I didn't have to dine alone.  They graciously took me under their wings (pun intended) and we met at the expo before heading off to dinner together.

w/ Steph Viloria & Mollie Turner 
#birdfamily

I was really fired up to hang with these gals.  I'd met them the previous spring down in VA at the Shamrock races with the Oiselle crew, but had not gotten to spend much time with them there.  Dinner was great.  We just had to deal with a few minor issues along the way including a major spill on Steph (my fault), some antsyness and a few tears from Steph and Mollie's little girls (ages 1 and 3) who were beyond tired and wanted to go home (which I totally understood) and a falling window frame (not our fault).  Needless to say, Steph will probably wait a while before she goes back there again as we made a lasting impression on the staff.  I headed back to the hotel and settled in for the night, turning my light off at 9:00.  At 5:45am, I rolled out of bed and headed downstairs for a coffee (bless you, Starbucks).  I had to drive to the race finish in order to catch a bus to the start as it was a point to point race.  I had a lovely chat with a runner from Washington state on the way over which was so nice because it pleasantly distracted me for the entire 30 minute ride.  We arrived at 7:30 and we all bee-lined it for the port-o-pottys, which I visited about 5 times because it was 35 degrees out and there was nothing else to do between then and 8:30 when the race would begin.  Longest.  Hour.  Ever.  We started right on time and headed out in maybe the most perfect race conditions possible.  Sunny, clear, crisp, cool with the added bonus of peak foliage to admire along the way.  The route was along a bike path the entire way and the views were stunning.  I settled into a 7:30 pace, keeping the 3:15 pace group in front of me, but doing my best not to go out too fast.  About halfway in, I started to feel tired and felt the group sliding ahead of me.  So, I pulled out a GU (new root beer flavor - awesome) and gave myself a talking to.  It was time to dig in.  I had trained for four months on tired legs.  I could handle this.  I turned up the volume on my iPod and tried to zone out for the next few miles.  At around mile 15, I caught up with the 3:15 group again which was being led by a spritely young colt named Jamie, who could run a 7:25 pace while chatting comfortably, non-stop.  WTF??  I stuck with him for a few miles and then I let go.  Literally.  My mind was up for the challenge and my legs were going along with it so I switched gears and picked it up.  With each mile I felt confident that I could hold on as long as I just stopped thinking about it.  Ha!

High-five?  Anyone?  Hello?

For miles 23 and 24 I was solo on the bike path (see above) which was both strange and tricky.  I was dog tired and I had no one pushing or pulling me along so I could have easily dropped off.  But, then I started to see people up ahead and I knew the end was near.  I had no idea what pace I was running because I had stopped looking at my watch, but I knew it was going to be a PR and I was fired up.  As I turned onto the final strip, I saw my husband and kids cheering for me at the finish line.  Oh my Lord, what a feeling.  I high-fived my daughter (she later told me that I forgot to let go and pulled her a long with me for a bit) and then fist pumped my way through the finish line rolling in at 3:11:05 with a huge smile on my face.  

Wiped and hurting. But smiling.

I was tired.  I was weak.  I was kind of nauseous.  But I was so freakin' happy and that was all that mattered.  I had done it.  And done it well.  And I could not have asked for anything more.  I found my family and cried as I hugged them all.  And then I let my kids eat Doritos, lollipops, Gatorade and granola bars (don't judge) as I tried to gather enough strength to walk back to the hotel.


I have had a lot of amazing days in my life and this one was definitely up there.  Not because I PR'd.  That was fantastic.  But, because I had finished the race with so much joy and with such a love for this sport and all that it offers me.  It was a welcome and gentle reminder to never take it for granted.  What's next?  Who knows.  It doesn't matter right now.  All that matters is that I am still smiling.

Listen to this:
Tidal Wave - Snowmine  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

THANKS & TBT


It is usually about now, a couple days before my marathon, that I tend to get sentimental and feel the overwhelming desire to hug anyone I see.  It happens every time.  And this is my 10th marathon.  So, that's a lot of hugging.  Maybe it's the taper messing with my head.  Maybe it's due to the fact that I have poured so much time and effort into the months leading up to the race itself that I am craving the emotional release.  Or maybe, it's just that I like to hug people.  And that's okay, too.  It is also usually about this time when I want to thank those who have supported me on my latest running journey.  As you all know, marathon training is a beast, and anyone who is willingly along for the ride, a very long ride, mind you, should get a shout out for their total awesomeness.  This Sunday, I'll be heading to Albany, NY to do it, yet again.  Since I started RWM, I have written several "Thank You" posts.  Rather than go into detail again, I will save us all some time and keep it short and sweet.  The list is pretty much the same as it was last time.  And the time before that.  And, well, you know.  To my family (especially my husband), my friends, my coach, my running partner, the companies who support me and my crazy running habits (Oiselle, NUUN, Runnerbox, Feetures, & Yurbuds) and you, the readers, for listening to me talk/complain/worry about it non-stop for another four months - THANK YOU.  I am a really lucky duck to have such an incredible support network.  And I'm 100% positive that none of it would be worth a dime or anywhere near as fun without it; without you.  People say 3 times a charm.  I say, why stop there?



Now, in honor of THROWBACK THURSDAY (we seriously have a name for everything these days) I'm gonna take you back in the music department.  Okay, fine, the truth is, I am purposely starving myself of my favorite songs so that I get that much more fired up when I hear them this Sunday.  Whatever works, right?  I have been going back, way back, to my oldies but goodies this week.  Timeless gems that may not always be on my current list but nonetheless put a smile on my face and a skip in my step.  Back in college, a mere 17 years ago, I ran cross country.  These songs were on my pre-race playlist.  And in my opinion, they are still awesome.  Not as awesome as this photo of me running in my briefs with a really strange expression on my face, but close.  Yes, it's a terrible shot.  I had to dig deep to find it.  And then dig a little deeper to find the courage to post it.  Happy Thursday.  Rock on.

TBT: COLGATE XC 1997

I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred 
Impression That I Get - Mighty Mighty Bosstones 
Like a Prayer - Madonna
Whip Smart - Liz Phair 
Grace - Jeff Buckley 
You're So Cool - Hans Zimmer
Cry Love - John Hiatt 
Walking On Broken Glass - Annie Lenox 
She Drives Me Crazy - Fine Young Cannibals
Deeper Shade Of Soul - Urban Dance Squad