LOCAL RUNNERS: Race Entry giveaway

  
  I’m so excited to be telling you that I’m hosting a race entry giveaway for all of my local runners!
The Edna K 5k in Lowell, MA will take place on Saturday, April 2nd. This is formerly known as the “Jig and Jog”. The race is a part of the Irish Cultural week and it was pushed back from a March so that we will (hopefully) have a gorgeous day in April! This means you get to wear your green stuff again—that rocks! The first 100 entrants are guaranteed to get a free shirt.

Number pickup starts and registration will begin at Dudley’s at 8:30am, and the runners will take off at 10am from the Ayotte Parking Garage (beside the Tsongas Center). If you have run the “Good Times Course” before, than you are already familiar with the route. (Click here for a description)

Here is the good part: I’M GIVING AWAY A RACE ENTRY! One lucky winner will get a FREEEEEE entry into this awesome 5k!
Winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, March 29th. To enter: Leave a comment below! For an extra entry, follow me on Instagram and leave a separate comment telling me you did so!

Can’t wait to see if you win?  Use code “TGWRE” for a sweet discount!!
(Edited to add winner)And the winner is Jason Demers! I will be contacting you soon with instructions. Congratulations! 

 

A few of my favorite things!

Happy weekend everybody!!! Lately I have been using a few things ALL the time and I wanted to share their awesome-ness with you!!

BUT FIRST. This popped up in my memories -It’s from 2011. My husband built my little a snow fort in the backyard. She was only 4 in this picture and a tenny little thing! I just love this memory and I’m SO THANKFUL that it hasn’t been a bad winter!!!


1.) I would normally NEVER post pictures of underwear BUT I had to tell my runderwear loving friends about these. They are Under Armour and I love them! They’re one size fits all and I love how cozy the material is!

2.) I am OBSESSSSSSED with my Nike Vapor Flash Vest and Nike reflective running tights. They are REALLY expensive, but, in my opinion-totally worth the money (I got them for Christmas!). I will have them for years to come and I try to take really good care of them. This is the only pair of pants that I wear at night/during the morning for outside runs. They are very flattering and I am HIGHLY visible. I’ve been described as looking like I’m wearing “flashlights” while I’m out running!

The vest is fitted but I have found that I can still put a base layer on, comfortably, underneath it and not feel squished or like I’m suffocating. 🙂

I’ve read a lot of reviews on the pants and I was a little skeptical about getting them-A lot of people said that the reflective parts come off in the wash. I wash them inside out on gentle cycle, and I haven’t had any problems!

  Lights on!

Lights off! This is what a car sees when they drive by me. SO MANY LEVELS OF AWESOME!

 

3.) Nathan Firecatcher Hydration Vest. I bought this as an alternative to my Camelbak. I LOVE my camelback but I often get chafed by it in the summertime so I wanted to find an alternative. This vest came with two front bottles and I bought the bladder for the back of it. I’ve used the bottles before but I prefer the bladder. I think if I was an ultra runner, I would use the bottles too since it would be a piece of cake to refill them at stops.

I still love my camelback a lot, but this vest has yet to chafe me so it’s been the first thing I grab for all of my long runs this winter. I do like the way the Camelbak sits on my back slightly better than the Nathan vest, though.

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The vest also has pockets on both sides of the front straps: a pocket and a zippered which is pretty cool!

 

4.) The Night Runner 270’s. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE these. This was another purchase that I was extremely skeptical about. I didn’t know if they were worth the $60, plus there was no store that I could go and check them out at. I don’t like to spend money on a product that I’m not absolutely sure about! I thought the concept of them was really cool and my headlight was uncomfortable & not that bright. I was looking for a better solution for running in the dark and a runner I follow on IG had posted about these.

Whenever I post a picture of them, I get a LOT of questions.  I think the company needs to market themselves a little more & put more info out about their product by way of more videos. (I’ve posted videos on my Instagram before but I don’t have a YouTube channel so I didn’t post it here) Their website is nice, but I think it needs a bit more info about their rockin product because it seems that people are just as skeptical as I am.

But I bought them anyway and hoped for the best. I use them ALL the time. ..morning, night: it doesn’t matter. They are rechargeable (love that) and you plug them into a USB to do so. I’ve gone up to 3 weeks without charging them and typically use them 2/3 times a week.

The range of visibility is incredible. You can read more about it on their website but here is how I like to describe it: They are really bright flashlights for my feet that make me feel safe & well seen. I also don’t bring my headlight along anymore-but if I’m out running in the dark, there are also street lights that are on. So this means that the roads are not TOTALLY dark to begin with.

I HIGHLY recommend them to all my night and morning runner friends. I’ve even taken them along with me to the dark track in the wee hours and I love being able to see my feet!

 

Happy Weekend, Friends! Have you tried any of these things, or tried any excellent running products lately??

Lionness

Since the weather has been so delightful lately and spring is on its way-I thought I would give a shout out to my very favorite running skirt: The Lioness!!

It’s no secret that I love Skirt Sports and their Lioness Skirt. I’ve been an ambassador for this incredible company since the fall of 2014. I love everything about the company: the people who run it, their constant devotion to empowering women, and their products. 

I discovered Skirt Sports and the Lioness skirt by accident during a weekend away back in August 2014. My husband and I had taken an anniversary vacation to the gorgeous Wentworth by the Sea. 

Now, let me tell you, before I found Skirt Sports, I did not like running skirts and couldn’t picture myself in one. I thought it would make me less girly and like I was trying too hard to show that I’m a girl who is out there running.

I had been searching for a while for an awesome pair of shorts with a bunch of pockets. I wanted something to stuff my GUs in for long runs so I didn’t have to wear a wrist pocket or my flip belt. Less is more!!! On our travels, we stopped at Runners Alley in downtown Portsmouth Nh. I saw this cute little skirt, and I was floored when I lifted up the ‘skirt’ part and saw the two deep side pockets that looked like I could easily fit my phone and a couple GU in there. PLUS— the skirt had a zippered back pocket which i knew I would use to put my housekey/money/debit card. I should’ve just bought the skirt on the spot because zippered pockets actually make me a little too excited…but I didn’t. In my head I kept saying “You don’t like running skirts.”

BUT….After a delicious lunch…I made my husband turn around and buy the skirt that I could not get off of my mind!! I even tried it on back at our hotel in FULL running gear because I was way, way too excited to wear it on a run!

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Me in my first skirt!

 

I test drove the skirt the very next day. It was love at first run, and now I am eating all the words I ever said about running skirts being lame because the Lioness skirt freaking rocks.

Some of my favorite features:

-Comfort. This is very important to me. I love the material-It’s so soft and cozy. It does not chafe me at all. Being that I spend a ton of time in my running clothes, I need them to cause zero pain!! It also doesn’t ride up or need any adjusting. Once I pull the skirt on, it stays exactly where I put it.

-Style. I don’t like longer shorts or longer skirts. I’m a peanut and I like my bottoms to be short and sassy just like me. This skirt is irresistibly flirty. I never worry about it blowing up in the wind and showing my undies, because it has built in shorties underneath. BAM.

-POCKETS. This is my very favorite feature, by FAR. the shorties have two deep side pockets, and the skirt has a back zippered pocket.

This means THREE pockets to put ALL of your stuff in!!!!  Another thing I absolutely love about the pockets is that you can’t tell by looking at me HOW much stuff I actually have crammed inside of them:During the 2015 Boston Marathon, I stuffed 4 GU, my cell phone, portable cell phone charger, phone cord, a key, money, my debit card and some Imodium. (Because you never know). The skirt part is so sassy and bouncy that when you run, it kind of “flutters” around you and you don’t notice the bulging pockets.

 

I race almost exclusively in this skirt, and do all of my long runs in it. It has every single thing I need during a race/long runs: pockets to hold my endless amounts of stuff, cuteness, and functionality. I also have it in every single color. See below…

 

For the spring line-Skirt Sports has release 3 amazing new colors..I’ve bought 2/3 so far!

Free Love and Marine/Razz Stardust. I had to own them IMMEDIATELY…

To own your race-perfect skirt, RUN (haha) to the Skirt Sports website! Use code GWR20 for a 20% off discount!

 

Run Free, Run Strong….And race in Skirt Sports!!!!

xo I’ll be back for an update real soon! 

 

The Good Stuff.

I’m sitting down to write this and it’s 9:06 PM on Friday night. My family is out for the evening and the house is insanely quiet. I had to take advantage of this momentary lull to actually FINALLY do some writing.

Over the past month, I’ve started at least 6 posts, only to leave them in my draft inbox. I can’t even sum up motivation to write lately, it’s so weird! If I had published a post, it would go something like this:

Monday- I ran today. It was a good run

Tuesday- I ran today. Bad run.

Wednesday- Guess what? I ran.

Thursday- I’m going to blow your mind right now-I ran today!

Friday-A day off from running.

Saturday- I ran!

Sunday-Wouldn’t you know it, I ran today, and it was longer than all of my other runs!

Mileage total: Lots of running and tons of some whining along the way.

I couldn’t bring myself to post those obnoxiously boring details and figured that no one would want to read that drivel anyway. I can chalk my lack of motivation and inspiration up to the fact that I am TIRED. The kind of tired that starts in your brain and works its way down to your toes. This kind of tired is the stealer most of my time and all of my energy.

This has been a year of learning and of good changes for me and my family. You may remember that I became a full time mom to my stepdaughter this past summer. I’ve never been so tired, happy, worried, proud, run-down, laughed so hard, cried so much, or been as confused and concerned as I have been over the past few months. I can’t describe it any better than that. If I had to use a word to describe 2015, I would go with “LEARNING”  or “NEW”. HAHA…and maybe “TIRED”.

I don’t have any kids of my own, so obviously, this was a giant life change. When it happened, we were still on summer break–this made it an ever BIGGER life change- My summertime life was pretty much me, on my own, doing whatever I want all day for 3 months. But into my life entered a sassy 8 year old.

I’ve been in her life since she was just 2 years old and since she was so little, she doesn’t remember a time that I wasn’t. We would have our visits with her on weekends and try to cram family stuff/friend stuff into those 2 quick days. It still never felt like enough time with her, though.

This past summer, I never expected to become a full time mom, and I didn’t expect to learn all the things that go along with it.  I know that I thought that when I eventually became a mom- it would come naturally to me and I wouldn’t have so many NEW things to learn. HA. HAHAHAHAHA. 

There have been mom fails.. like the fact that I didn’t know I couldn’t send my daughter’s medicine to school with her and I didn’t know she needed a note for every new person who picked her up. And there have been struggles that keep me up all night, like the struggle to get my little one to sleep in her own bedroom. And the struggle to establish routines with little things like showering and lunches and homework. So many new things. (Homework-I’m looking at you!)

There is exasperation…I find my myself at a loss for words sometimes because I literally do not KNOW what to do in some situations because I’ve never dealt with certain things before. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the time I’ve gone to my SIL, Mom and MIL for parenting advice. This is all brand new and I might as well have gotten a baby instead of an 8 (now 9!) year old.

Through all the confusion and exasperation, I have found that I’m adjusting.  I’m even adjusting my running! I used to do every single long run on Saturdays and I’ve been consistently stubborn with this for YEARS..Seriously, I can’t remember otherwise. I truly never thought anything in the world would change my routine of long run Saturday. Now I have a little buddy with me on Saturdays (my husband works) so my long runs are always Sundays. Things change, and you have to adapt to those changes and roll with the punches.

Most people don’t like change. I’ve always been a fan of it.  I like new things because it shakes things up and helps me grow. Without a doubt-this has been the biggest year of change for me. My best friend is fond of saying “Everything happens for a reason”. And as much as I used to hate when she would tell me that (it mostly came on the heels of a breakup), it is actually a 100% true statement. I know this little one needs me. So all the change and growth and learning and sleepless nights is to help her.To see her is like my heart is walking around outside of me. Its so weird and awesome and awful all at once.  

And I’m learning. I’m learning that some of my favorite times come when I least expect it. Aly and I have fallen into a Saturday morning routine and we make a whole day of having fun and I LOVE IT. We are beginning to develop routines and have learned that showers work best with the music playing on her IPAD, and all meals are to be accompanied with milk..not juice. Warm cozy clothes are the fave and jeans have got to GO. Homework is best done RIGHT when we get home, and when listening to music, we are in agreement that it should always be blared LOUDLY (preferably Tay Tay Swifty)

Little things mean so much more now too. Like when she gets out of bed and immediately gives me that big bear hug. Or when she spontaneously tells me she loves me. And when she falls dead asleep in my arms and I have to carry that little beauty to bed. Man I love that. These little details trump all the confusion and the worry and make every single struggle worth it.

And along with that you learn that a new chapter in your life has begun: It’s making sacrifices and thinking about the future All. The. Time. Its giving up sleep and nights out and learning to deal with the parent swap off of responsibilities. In short: It’s a lot. (Kudos to you single parent families out there!)I have so many questions! Does it ever get easier? (I don’t think it does) Will I ever have all of the answers? As much as I would LOVE to ask Santa Claus for THAT for Christmas…I don’t think that I could ever actually get all the answers. I’m learning that parenting is kind of a learn-as-you-go thing. 

I once heard a quote somewhere that went like this: 

To adopt a child means that my child grew in my heart instead of my belly.

I love this message and it rings true for a stepparent too. Since I’m a step-mom: There is always going to be a struggle. I can’t imagine that ever going away. We stepparents have different challenges. And with those challenges come different rewards. I’m learning that I’m probably Aly’s stepmom for a reason because that kid is turning into my little mini me and I love it. I’m never goingto be her “real mom” and that is ok. I’m her “other mother” and that is in its very own class of amazing-ness.

I sat down to write about how un-motivated I was to write about running . I started typing and this is what ended up coming out! I guess I just wanted to get all this out and it  ended up being pretty therapeutic. I know that I’m blessed to lead this little bitty life of mine and everything that is happening now makes me a very lucky individual. This is all “The Good Stuff” in life and not everyone is as lucky as me! So thanks for reading and I hope I didn’t bore you with my non running babbling! Next time, I promise it will be running stuff! Sometimes, that little thing called LIFE gets in the way and changes us. And if you are luck enough, your own life will be filled with the good stuff, too!

 

Pro’s & Cons of racing a lot

Happy Monday my friends!

One thing that you might have noticed is that I really like to run races. During the fall, it feels like I’m running one every weekend. There are sooooo many good ones! I would race every Saturday and every Sunday if I could afford it, and, if I knew that it didn’t drive my family nuts!

Because I like to save the best for last, I”m going to give you my cons first. I like to give you the good stuff at the end…That’s just how I roll!

CONS:
1.) Racing a lot gets expensive. I sat down to do the math for 2015. I haven’t finished making the list yet but it is long so I’m a bit afraid… Between registration fees and potential traveling, you can spend a ton of dough!

2.) Racing “all out” on a consistent basis will indeed burn you out. I try to pick and choose when my racing efforts will be at my highest level of awesomeness. It doesn’t always go my way, but I do know there will always be a “next time.”

PROS:
1.) Races help you run your goal pace. Something about the race environment makes you ready to push yourself harder than you would on your normal Saturday/Sunday run. There is nowhere better than at a race for you to practice goal paces!

2.) Races are FUN. Whether it’s a themed race or a race in memory of someone: THEY ARE FUN!!! Last weekend was the “Stache Half” and it kicked off “Movember”. This silly theme cracked me up and the runners had fake stache’s in their goodie bags. Prizes were also awarded for Best Stache! Little touches like that go a long way!

3.) Racing is a great social activity! Most longer races that I run have shorter options, too. It’s very easy to get a friend to sign up for the shorter distance! And, a bonus to running the short races like 5k’s/10k’s-I can pretty much always convince someone to run it with me!

4.) You get to see new places and check out new areas that you normally wouldn’t go to if it weren’t for a race. I don’t do much traveling for races, BUT I think that is going to change for 2016. I have my eye on a few key races for next year and I’m really looking forward to it!

5.) Even a bad race teaches you something: No runner can have the perfect race every time. I feel like the stars need to align, my stomach has to be perfect, itunes playlist must be on point, and if I’m really lucky?? I ((ahem)) have used the bathroom before the race. I’ve had just as many bad races as I have good. From every race, I learn something new that I get to take with me and apply to my next race. From my last race, I learned that when there are hills at the end of the course and you aren’t a lover of hills: you may want to rethink registering for that particular race. Or just don’t set a time goal. Just saying, Nicole, just saying…

6.) Racing a lot teaches you where your strengths and your weaknesses lie. During every 5k, I’m challenging myself on so many levels. 5k’s are a weakness for me. The marathon distance shows me all kinds of crazy strengths: That I am highly motivated during distance runs, that I love the long course that is the marathon, that I’m really good at visualizing the finish line. It’s also taught me that I need to keep putting emphasis on fast finish long runs and pushing my speedwork. Do a few races and you will learn your own strengths and weaknesses, I will promise you that!

7.) I GET to race. I never, ever take that fact for granted. I get to run and that is a precious gift that I’ve been given. I’m fast, but not the fastest, but I am damn good at what I do. I GET to RACE. How lucky am I??

Do you like to race? Do you do it a lot?

2015 Baystate Marathon Recap 

Congrats to all of my fellow Baystate Marathoners who completed the half or full this past weekend! It was a very cold and windy day and we DID IT!! I’m sorry for the delay in the recap, but today was really the first day that the fog has lifted from my brain because I have been so very sick.

Before I launch into my recap, I want to say THANK YOU to the Baystate Marathon race director, Glenn Stewart and the Baystate staff. This is the second year that I have been their official race blogger and its an honor to represent this amazing race. It’s run by the Greater Lowell Road Runner’s (which I just proudly joined!) and they put on a terrific day for runners. Their tagline is “for runners/ by runners” and it really is. The expo is run by its members and always feels very home-y to me. I say it all the time-The Baystate Marathon is my favorite marathon. It’s well organized, staffed, and I always feel completely safe when I’m running it. The course itself is terrific and usually there are some gorgeous trees to help get your mind off the 26.2 miles. This past Sunday did not disappoint. If I wasn’t running a race, I would have stopped a whole bunch of times to take pics because the trees were STUNNING!! (Sidenote: I had the honor of being #10 this year because I was the very first person to register. This is how much I love this race:))

Let’s back up to taper week: Wednesday, I began to develop a slight cough but didn’t think much of it. Thursday, the cough progressed and I could feel it taking root in my lungs and couldn’t stop coughing. I asked my IG running community for help and was BLOWN away by their quick responses: Since last Thursday, I’ve been drinking Emergen-C and special teas, swallowing Zinc, downing Apple Cider Vinegar shots, making homemade concoctions, and sleeping/hydrating a TON. These things helped the congestion in my lungs a little bit but the cold still worsened. By Saturday, it was in my head, and by Sunday, I couldn’t even pop my ears due to massive head congestion.

I really weighed my options because lets face it– doing a marathon when you’re sick isn’t very fun. There are a few other full marathons that I’ve always been interested in so I thought about signing up for one of those with the hope that my cold would be gone by then. But my brain kept going back to these thoughts:
-I’m perfectly tapered for Baystate. What would happen if I pushed the race out 1,2, even 3 weeks??
-My family was ready to come to the race
-I trained all summer along the course
-ITS MY FAVORITE MARATHON!!!!!

So I told myself that even though I didn’t know if I could meet my goal for the race, I would still go out and try my very best. If I ended up feeling worse, I knew I could call my husband or my dad to come and pick me up. (I didn’t have a fever, and if I did? I definitely wouldn’t have done the race.)

The weather dawned bright and sunny…but COLD. I didn’t want to wear a lot of layers during the race, so I figured I’d just try to keep on the bulky layers until I got warm. I thought that I would be warm by the 2nd mile (that’s my typical mile that I throw my clothes away) I wore my original Lionness skirt, this sports bra, black arm warmers, black compression socks, pink tank top, cute new Chica bands headband I bought at the expo. 

It was a whole lot colder than what I’ve been used to lately. Before Sunday, the coldest run that I had done so far was 50 degrees. My Garmin says that it was 28 degrees and I think that feels right! I got to the start at 7:30. My dad got as close to the starting line as he possibly could and dropped me off. He told me to call him if I needed a pickup. I didn’t have long to stand and wait around and for THAT, I am so grateful!

I saw a few friends before the start, dropped off my bag, and lined up with the 3:15 pace group. My plan was to stay with them through the half and if I felt good, I could branch out on my own. If I wasn’t feeling like I could go any faster-I would try to stay with them, or, as close to them as possible. BUT… This was my plan pre-illness. I definitely felt that it was doable, but with a head/chest cold,  I had no idea what would happen.

I could barely even hear the National Anthem being sung because my ears were blocked. And I don’t remember a whole lot about standing in the starting corral-I think i was a little surprised that I was running a marathon and it felt a little surreal. I blame that on the cold meds…. BLAAA. I had a thick fleece on over my cute outfit, and underneath that-a throw away sweatshirt and gloves. I disposed of the fleece right as the anthem was finished being sung..seriously…it was SO DAMN COLD that I could hardly bear to part with it. I didn’t even realize until I sat down to write this post that I took no pictures of my race outfit, and no pictures of me at the starting line.. It really didn’t even occur to me. I was way too nervous about racing while being sick since it’s something I’ve never done before.

The gun went off promptly at 8 (I love that) and we were off!

  I tried to snap a good picture of my pace group leaders shirt but it was tough!

Miles 1-9.
I learned from my mistakes of running in a large group from last year: The orange cones lining the course  tripped me up…a lot. I didn’t want it to happen again, so I stayed at the back of the pace group. It was primarily men and just 2 other girls… If I fell….I would have gotten stomped on by really tall men!

I didn’t shed my gloves until mile 7…and even then I was really hesitant to do it. I was a little sweaty and it was either toss the gloves-or toss the sweatshirt. I didn’t want to get to a situation where I was suddenly walking and freezing and wishing I hadn’t thrown it away so the gloves were tossed. As soon as I tossed them, I immediately cooled. I’m now wondering if I should’ve kept the gloves and tossed the sweatshirt because I never warmed up again and kept that damn ugly, old sweathshirt on for 26.2 miles. (and it was an old zip up shirt that I think I got from high school!)) 

I stayed with the pace group this whole time. Everything still felt good, and I figured I had a good chance to hit the goal I wanted to hit.

Mile 10.
My cute running partner Kristina told me to look for her family  at mile 10 and I ALMOST MISSED HER and the GIANT AMAZING sign she made me!! I asked her how I was doing and she said GREAT and that the 3:15 pace group was right ahead of me and that my goal was going to happen. She told me she’d be there for the second loop and I’d see her at Mile 20.

Mile 11.
Tra la la la la! I get to see my friend again at mile 20! Yay!

Mile 12.
Rourke Bridge- See my friend Marli and I’m SO thriled that I face planted into her to give her a hug. She tells me to keep going and that I’m doing GREAT!

Mile 13.
I’m tired.

Mile 14.
I think the pity party started right around then. I didn’t want to be there, I wanted to go back to bed, I wanted to be warm…I wanted a lot of things. I think this was also when I realized the 3:15 pace group was a little farther ahead of me than what I’d planned. I thought to myself “It’s ok! The 3:25 group hasn’t passed me yet! I’m good.”

Mile 15/16/17.
My breathing started to feel really laborious (that’s what happens when you run IN the cold WITH a cold, duh), and I saw the 3:25 pacer’s shadow over my shoulder as they slowly passed from behind me.(((SIGH))) #Sadness. It’s really hard to remember a lot of details from around that time besides hitting the WALL. I WANTED to go home with Kristina when I saw her. Or call my Dad. I just didn’t want to be there anymore and marathons are dumb, and running when you’re sick is dumb and I probably was even thinking that running itself is dumb. Sniffle sniffle, cough cough, and cue the Waaaahhmbulance!!

30k:
I hit the 30k in 2:24 and I remembered that when I did Stu’s 30k back in March, I ran that in 2:45. I realized things might not be that bad after all.

Mile 19.
I GET TO SEE MY FRIEND IN A MILE AND IF I WANT, SHE WILL TAKE ME HOME. 

Mile 20/21
I see my beautiful friend, running towards me! I tell her how sad I am about the 3:25 group passing, and she lets me continue to cry and moan to her. Then she tells me she’s going to run with me for a little while. (company is amazing during a marathon, FYI) She starts telling me funny stories of her day of spectating. She gets me out of my own head. Along mile 20, I also saw my beautiful running partner S! I almost missed her TOO because I was looking down at the road! She brought her kids to cheer me on and it was amazing! I only wish I could’ve stopped to hug her, but I’m not sure I would have finished if I did that!!!

Kristina and I hit mile 21 and she told me that she has to turn around and get back to her husband and cute little baby. She said that she KNEW I was going to finish and at that moment? I knew it too. I am 100% positive that I would’ve given up if it weren’t for her words of encouragement. She was really sore from her tempo workout the day before, but she still pushed me to get my pace faster because she knew exactly what I needed at that exact moment. I’m forever grateful for what she did for me! Never underestimate the healing power of friendship!!

Mile 22
4 miles left? I can do 4 miles in my sleep! I picked up the pace a little because I was almost done!

Mile 23.
I felt so strong mile 23! I started to pass people and dream of a martini and French fries!

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but my stepdaughter was going to be at the finish line with my SIL, my MIL, and my niece. I said “my family is at the finish line” over and over in my head and it became my mantra. I was so excited to see my little’s face!!

Mile 24
This was my slowest mile, and I don’t know why. My legs felt like they were moving fast but my split ended up being an 8:58.

Mile 25…almost there…Mile 26…yay! I happened to look down at my watch at exactly 26.2 miles and it read 3:25:50. I guess it’s a PR from my 3:28:07… But it’s not official so I have a hard time considering it an actual PR.

I crossed the finish line, officially, with a 3:28:33. 26 seconds off of my “official PR”, and pretty far away from the time goal I had set.

Over the first few days of being sick, I think I went through the denial stages and I definitely struggled the most with “anger.” Of all the times to get sick (and I’m NEVER sick): its the week of my big race. What dumb bad luck. But you can’t plan everything, and I definitely trained like a bad-ass for 4 months and did the hard work. “It is what it is” and I DO know that I had a terrific time-whether I was sick or not. A 3:28 is fantastic: It’s a BQ with lots of cushion . I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I usually do during a race. I just love this course and to be sick while running it…well. It just wasn’t as fun as it normally is for me!

Some fun pictures from the day…

This is right where my family is standing. I’m waving both hands because they were on BOTH sides of the street, haha.



I was immediately a popsicle after the finish and I regretted not packing a blanket in my bag. SO freaking COLD outside!!

  This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. You can’t really tell, but that’s my little one bundled up in this coat. SHe was hugging me for so long telling me she was proud of me. It meant the world to me that SIL captured it 🙂


This is my girlfriend Kaey who volunteered that day. She had a bunch of friends who were running and thought it would be fun to volunteer. I LOVE her. Anyway, someone snapped this pic of us and I know for a fact that I was feeling like I was going to pass out right here and Kaey walked with me for a while until I got my feet back! Thanks girlfriend!

  Kaey made us some signs 🙂

Family hugs 🙂


After the race, it was off to our local watering hole! (We go to the same place every year.) Every year-> my niece and I take a picture together. I love that she comes to all my finish lines, too because she’s the funniest/sweetest thing!


Being silly with the hubs 🙂


The SILS and our photo bombers!


Me with my little ladies 🙂

 

And some of the professional pictures:

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See?? I told you I kept the sweatshirt on ALL DAY!

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This pic above?? THIS is my very favorite racing photo of ALL TIME. And I run a whole lot of races so THAT is saying something my friends!


This years medal were STUNNING. They are red to signify the LAST of the bridges that the runners cross (it’s red :))

 

I didn’t get the time I wanted, but you know what? It was still a very good day. I ran my favorite race and was blown away by all the support I received. I felt the love all around me! That’s the most important thing. I had my family there for me, my friends, and all of YOU in my corner..so THANK YOU.

I have to say that running is a lifetime sport for me. That’s always in the back of my mind. And, I’m learning that PR’s and official times don’t define me. You are great even without the “great” times. That being said… I will get my goal someday and I’m not worried about it 🙂

And oooone more picture:

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This is a “throwback” to my very first Baystate Marathon. You can see how little Aly is! She was only 5 here 🙂 I will never forget this race, as long as I live: This was the first time I was ever able to break the 5 hour mark with a time of 4:17-I think it was a PR of about 45 minutes for me. Knowing that I could do something so amazing gave me a LOT of hope. I’ve kind of taken that hope and run with it over the years. I will never ever give up on my dreams, and neither should you. It’s ok to miss a time goal you set for yourself because it just gives us more inspiration to go out and knock it out of the park next time.

 

Thank you for reading this really obnoxiously long post 🙂 And as always, Run Free, Run Strong my friends!

xoxo

Since we last spoke…

What a busy few weeks!!! I’m so sorry I haven’t been blogging! I have to say, it feels really weird not to be on a regular posting schedule. I wish there were more hours in the day and that I could have solid hour to put towards blogging. (((SIGH)))

But the good news is–> There is a lot of great life stuff happening lately. That is the most important thing!

Two weeks ago, my little buddy said she wanted to come for a run with me. So we laced up, and out into the world we went! She did really well and made it about half a mile before stopping/dying of thirst/complaining. I told her we HAD to do an entire mile though and we walked/ran the rest of the way. I have NO doubts in her athletic abilities…check out girlfriends stride- She’s a natural!

I also ran a race- Surf Town Half Marathon in Rhode Island. I should really get around to doing a recap for it, but time is not my friend. So I’ll sum it up in just a few bullet point sentences:

-I loved the course-It was really pretty, along the ocean, and very flat (until Mile 11)

-I ended up cancelling my hotel and driving down the morning of the race.. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive. Highways make me nervous and so do long solo drives-This definitely contributed to me not doing as well as I had hoped. Live and learn!

-It was PERFECT racing weather: overcast and slightly misty.

-Official time: 1:37, 16th/1004 females

-I was ok with my time.. I had originally set my sights on a PR for this race. BUT..I know long drives slow my legs down. Anything over an hour and I can really kiss any goals I have goodbye. It ended up being a great tempo run for me. When I was all done-I had a ton of gas left in the tank, and I felt that I could’ve done another 13.1 miles at that speed.

A reader sent me this pic…As you can see-I zoomed it in a little 🙂 So cool!

Had some big confidence boosting workouts including a solid ladder workout, all faster than the goals I had set. BOOM.

Registered for Boston….

Ran the longest, slowest long run EVER. This was an exercise in building my mental game for my marathon as well as getting time on my feet: I ran the two double loops of my upcoming marathon (Baystate Marathon). The first loop was fantastic. The 2nd looped dragged on and on and i HATED IT. But I did it & I know that on October 18th: I will be running my race and reflecting back on this particular run while dominating Baystate. 🙂

Oh, and back to Boston-I have been accepted…Yay!

I also said goodbye to my beloved Garmin. RIP, 610. We had many good runs together! There were many tears & a 12 step program towards my acceptance of its passing. (moment of silence for Garmin 610)

Another confidence building workout: Mile repeats, old school and with a stopwatch! I felt so hardcore..

My husband is an angel and surprised me with a new Garmin. His reasoning for purchasing this model? “It is better so we are getting this one.” Love him.

 

Family Outing: My buddy did a 2 mile walk with SIL & my niece while I ran the 5k. It was a Superhero themed race to honor the late son of my friend Scott. It was an awesome day and we dressed as matching Wonder Women! I won 2nd place overall female. (Got outkicked in the 2nd mile-my legs were tired from the mile repeats 2 days before!) Official time 21:02, my Garmin read 20:50.

I got to run into an old friend there too and it made me so happy! She heard my name being called at the podium and ran over to find me. I love good surprises like that!

Aw. Love him.
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This run made me SO happy. I set a goal for myself a year ago to break 2:40 in a 20 mile run. This thought never left my brain. To me: 15-18 mile runs are a lot easier to run faster. There’s something about 19/20/22 mile runs that make me slow down. So this run made me very excited!

 

OH yeah–I don’t know that I’ve ever said this on the blog-but Dave McGillivray is my personal hero. He is the race director of the Boston Marathon but SO much more than that. He has run across the country twice, done many Ironmans, and there has even been some swimming across the English Channel. He is the pioneer of raising money for charities and his first trip across the country started with him raising money for the Jimmy Fund. He is a stand up dude. I met him once before and have a picture with him too. He has a book called “The Last Pick.” I highly reccommend it–> I reread his book every year in the taper weeks before Boston. I think Dave is the only other person on the planet who loves the Boston Marathon as much as I do. Anyway–MEGA RUNNING GEEK MOMENT—He was running the Superhero race. AND I MET HIM. I put away my shy, quiet girl, channeled some bravery, walked right up to him, shook his hand and told him he is my hero. I didn’t even ask him to take a pic with me because I was too nervous. THis one is from my friend Scott so I’m including it here for you to see! Dave is 2nd from the left  and my friend Scott is on the right:)

You might also recognize another well known man in this pic-Team Hoyt was there as well! They are equally as amazing!

Last long run before Baystate-first 8 @ 8:13 pace, 2nd half 7:35 pace. Feeling real good about those race goals. It was chilly-50 when I started. It felt sooo good to do a long run in this kind of weather! I love this watch and how the VO2Max predicts your race times 🙂 The watch knows me so well! 😉

TODAY is my buddy’s 9th birthday! We have big plans for her big day!

And this is where I leave you! Happy Hump Day! I hope you have a great long weekend and get Monday off too!

Mileage 8/24-8/30, 8/31-9/6

Well. There’s nothing like a weekly check in…on a Friday. This back to school/wife/mom/runner combo is really testing me! Thanks to all of you who are hanging in there as my life tries to get itself into a routine!

Mileage Recap, August 24-August 30th: 

Monday, August 24th: 5 easy miles
Tuesday, August 25th: 1 Mile
Wednesday, August 26th: 13 miles with my running partner S!
Thursday, August 27th: 9 mile tempo run, 7:26 avg pace (and I broke out my last pair of Pure Connect 3s. I love this shoe!)

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Friday, August 28th: 4 easy miles
Saturday, August 29th: NO RUNNING. I broke a 25 day running streak because I could barely get off of the couch! (too much fun at Kenny Chesney! #worthit)

Sunday, August 30th: 20 miles, 2:44, 8:12 avg pace

Mileage total for Aug 24-August 30th: 52 miles 8:00 avg pace 

August 31st-Sept 6

Monday, August 31st: 5 easy miles before starting the school year!
Tuesday, September 1st: 4 easy miles.
Wednesday, September 2nd: 8 miles, 59:35—>This was  supposed to be a progression run with the last 2 miles at a sub 7:00 pace. It was not. I wouldn’t call it a “fail”, but I was a little disappointed in myself. (more on that later…)
  Sporting a sweet headlight on my morning runs….don’t be jealous!!

Thursday, September 3rd: 5 easy miles
Friday, September 4th: 20 miles, 2:43, 8:12 avg pace
Saturday, September 5th: 6 easy miles

Sunday, September 7th: 9 miles of 800s! I’m not gonna lie, its been hard to hit the track lately. And I love the track, so that’s really saying something!! It wasn’t ideal to push my 2nd speed day off until Sunday, but I was SO glad that I was able to get it in. I was able to negative split ALL of my 800s: 3:21, 3:12, 3:09, 3:09, 3:07, 3:01, 3:01, 3:00. I felt VERY badass after this run!  Mileage total for August 31st-September 6th:

 

So. I said this already, but I have to say it again: Thanks so much for hanging in. I hate not responding to comments and trust me-I’m still reading them ALL and I love every one of them…but it’s been hard to keep up with LIFE never mind blogging. I’m doing a lot of adjusting lately! September is always a ride on the struggle bus. Getting back into a routine is hard. Life is Hard. Being a new mom is Hard. Getting up everyday and remembering to All The Things is Hard. I’m learning that “Mom Brain” is actually a real thing. I can’t believe that I never thought it was. I’m trying to get myself and my little buddy into a routine. We’re not there yet..but we’re working on it. Life is always a work in progress though, isn’t it?

I am trying to squish everything into my days and it just isn’t easy. But I’m learning to adapt and I think THAT is the most important thing. BBG (bikini body guides) has taken a little backseat: I’m still doing it-but not the 3 workouts per a week. It’s been more a cram-it-in-while-I-can type thing. Making time for running has been easier. In the back of my mind-I’ve always known that when I have children, running will be a challenge. I was right! I get up early to do it before work, but some days I’m just too tired and don’t end up going until my husband is home from work.

Running/life…this is a balancing act. It tests my patience and wears me out, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a little bit proud of myself for the amount of multitasking that I’ve been doing. I haven’t had too many mental breakdowns yet. I’ve been very lucky that my SIL has been there to be my sounding board and teach me all these mom things I never knew anything about!

ANYWAY. This weekend is exciting because I’m RACING!!! This race has been my “goal half” race and I have it in my head that I’m going to nail it. Although, I have to tell you-I’ve been pretty nervous about actually hitting my goal time. Over the past month, I haven’t been pushing myself as much with my tempo run times. So we’ll see what happens. I’m not giving myself an “out” to fail, and I am going to try my hardest!!!

 

And just because we all know I’m random…Here are a few fun pictures from LIFE.

 

Kenny Chesney concert! I love my cowboy boots! And I wore these at my wedding…my beautiful bridesmaids bought them for me as my shower gift….I’m one lucky girl!

 

The Chesney crew….Man that was a good day! Take me back! It’s been two weeks since this concert and I’m STILL thinking about how much fun we had!

My little beauty swimming at the lake on Labor Day Weekend!

We like Moscow mules and just wanted to tell you!

This sums up our Labor Day Monday. It was the first time playing for my little buddy! We loved it!

Tell me something good! 🙂 Happy weekend everyone!

Seacoast Running Festival- Northshore Half Marathon Race Recap

I ran this race on 8/23, however I haven’t had any time to finish my recap!

This race was awesome. I always appreciate running a race course in an area that is familiar to me and this did not disappoint. While I didn’t know every twist and turn along the course, I knew where to go, park, and even the secret spots to pee in. #score.

The race started at 7:30, in Salisbury Center. The race website boasts :

Our grand finale will be the Northshore Half Marathon. Weʼve created a beautiful, flat and fast course that will take you through the streets of Salisbury, Rail Trail and portions of our state reservation. Following the race, come back to the Shock Top Beach Bar for a rewarding after party that includes great music and awesome prizes.

This description was right on the money! I’ve run my fair share of races that say “flat and fast” but they are instead, hilly or rolling hills. The course was also very pretty- I love the Salisbury Beach area! There were so many times that I wanted to stop and take a picture!

Runners had a choice of 4 separate events they could run: A 1 mile race, 5k, 10k, and the half. You could do one or all four if you wanted because the other 3 took place on Friday (5k @7pm) or Saturday (10k @8am, 1 mile at 12). After running this race, I thought it would be fun to do ALL FOUR next year (or am I just crazy?!)

I know a lot of people like to read these details so I will include them here, bullet-style:
Alarm: 5:00 am
Ate: Breakfast sandwich of pastrami, egg, tomato, swiss cheese, english muffin.(Pastrami is my newest obsession. Just go with it)
Drank: 1 water
Commute: 40 minutes
Left at: 6:15 (would’ve left earlier but I had a little personal matter to attend to first)
Wore: Skirt Sports Lionness skirt in “Safari” print, a plain blue tank that I purchased from TJ Maxx 150 years ago, Skirts sports Kelly Sports Bra, Reebok “Runderwear“, and my Brooks Ghost 7’s.

I jammed out to some tunes the whole way there and thought about my goals for the race. Most races that I do-I “run” into them with a set goal in mind. I thought about the fact that I was just coming home from a week of being away on vacation. My nutrition was not my typical 19 servings of fruit and veggies a day, and my sleep patterns had been lacking for the whole week (as in-I got hardly any). I made the decision to just head out and have FUN with the race. I didn’t care what time I finished in. I had wanted to do a “longer tempo run”, and a half marathon setting is the most perfect environment to do that in.

I was SO stress free for this race. I didn’t question my outfit, breakfast, shoes…I even grabbed my oldest pair of Ghost’s to run in…And I didn’t grab them until the morning of the race! For a goal race-I typically run in new-ish shoes that have less than 20 miles on them. Stress free probably equalled a better race day for me, which rocks.

I got to the start of the race at about 7:00. I grabbed my number and a few freebies (heating pad and sunglasses!) and headed back to my car real quick to pin the number on. I hit a secret spot to pee- The bathroom house on a side street, and then warmed up for about .50 miles. I had wanted a longer warmup and had originally planned on running 2 miles. With the bathroom stop- I just didn’t have enough time though …and the bathroom stop *NEEDED* to happen.

The race started right on time with the race director wishing everyone good luck & to have a good race: THANK YOU to the police and the race director who made this happen: I hate when starts are delayed, it drives me CRAZY. I feel that runners (or maybe its just me?) like to time everything perfectly, right down to when you take your last bite of food before you race and the time you hit the bathroom. A delayed start wrecks everything and more than once, I have started a race feeling like I could pee AGAIN (nerves!) or randomly get hungry and it drives me nuts.

The weather was PERFECT for a race: raining slightly, but still warm enough that a tank and skirt were fine. There was NO hot sun shining down on me and I love not being overheated in the summertime!!

I fell into 3rd place within the first 2 minutes of the race. I kept that lead and continued to pass people as I went. I held my goal half marathon paces (HMP) for 4 miles, and my goal marathon pace (GMP) for 1 mile. During the 6th mile, a nice man & lady wished me good luck and passed me by. I kept 4th place until mile 11 when 2 other females passed me by. For me, the toughest section of the course was between miles 8-12: You went through a chute but MAN it felt LONG. Heading into it, I had a feeling it was going to be long because the leading man & 2nd place man passed me on their way out of the chute and then I passed NO ONE else. I kept thinking “when will this freaking end?” And then it got super windy, and I let the Waaaaambulance come in and I slipped to an 8 minute mile. 11/12/13 felt really sluggish and slow. I really didn’t care if I got passed or not and Just. Wanted. To. Be. Done. I really think it was the chute that dragged me down. PLUS, the fact that it wasn’t a “goal race” for me-it left me with no pressure to myself at all and I didn’t feel the need to “push it.”

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My final finishing time was a 1:37. This put me in 6th place for the females, and winner of my age group 🙂 I was really happy with this!! I loved the pancake flat course, the perfect weather, and the fact that I was running along the oceanfront…it was great.

There was a beer tent and live music for runners to enjoy post-race. I couldn’t stick around though and the super sweet race director gave me my prize early: a gift card to a running store! SCHWWWEEEEET!!!!

All smiles after the race…and wearing my new free sunglasses that have since become my go to running glasses!!

The reason I had to rush off after the race is because I was heading to my cousin and his wife’s gender reveal party!! He is one of my favorite people on the planet (and his wife is great too!) I was sooooooo excited!!!!!!

And…Its going to be a boy! YAY! There is nothing like a new baby in the family to keep life really fun and exciting!

I will be back at some point this week with a recap of last week’s running!

Ever run a race along a beach?

Does race scenery make a difference to you?

Recap Part 1. LIFE

Wow, this being a FT mom stuff is TOUGH and time consuming (How do all of you full time mommy/runner’s do it all?? Mommies, give me the tips. I need them!  I am learning so much! And being full time in the mom department leaves little time for blogging!

August has been INSANE. I don’t think I’ve ever had a busier month than August 2015.  Last I left you, I think it was Aly’s 2nd week here. I’ve wanted to blog over the past couple of weeks but I haven’t had any time! This now leaves me feeling like I want to photo/info dump all of these LIFE HAPPENINGS on you! In August–>I have run TWO races (a 5k and a half marathon), run a whole lot, had a 3 year anniversary, started a running streak, had a lot of fun, became a FT Smom and CAT MOM, and went on vacation. This little thing we call LIFE has been adventurous and busy and all the best kinds of things lately! I think I’ll break it up into a few different posts for you!

Last week was family vacation! We took a road trip to St. Albans, Maine. We rented a gigantic house – My in laws, my brother/sister in law and all our children! It was a BLAST. This house was gorgeous, huge, and right on the water. We had so many awesome things to do! There was a pontoon boat, tubes, kayak’s, a canoe, pool table, and three bathrooms. . I realize that putting “three bathrooms” next to “pool table” on the list of  “awesome things to do” is weird—> But when you’re staying in a house with 9 people, having 3 bathrooms actually IS an AMAZING thing.

Anyway.

We had a great trip! We basically lived in the lake for an entire week and it was fantastic!

A few photos for you!

This was my favorite sunset, and ironically-the only one that was picture-worthy. It was our very first night! 

Me and my gals 🙂

SIL Love.

My little family!

True or false? Sometimes I catch fish, and sometimes I kiss them.  (this pic may or may not be an illusion…someone else may have caught the fish and i might not have kissed it..you be the judge. 😉

My favorites!

I was skippered around by a handsome fella!

I love the silhouette style of this picture!

Learning to use a selfie stick!

Family! 
sittin pretty on the pontoon! (sidenote? I went “au natural” with my hair the whole week. IT WAS SO FREAKING HOT)

Laying in the hammock…

Swimming in the lake…every day! 

Hitting up a Maine Fair….
 

Family at the fair!

SILS!

We are standing next to the Clydesdale Horses…Someone didn’t like the smell?!?
View of our house from the water! 
And one with the Pontoon! 🙂

As far as the running goes (because this IS a running blog, right?!?): I have done a LOT of that! Tomorrow’s post will be a mileage recap of my last two weeks of running…105.6 miles total! One huge week and one cut back (ish) week!

This is the LAST WEEK of summer vacation….WAHHHHHHHHHHH Me and my little are starting back to school next week! I can’t even believe it’s already over!!
Who else goes back to school next week?