March 31, 2014

Pam and Christine's Favorite Things Giveaway!

You know we love to host giveaways, especially when it includes many of our favorite running items.  After reaching 2000 Facebook likes, we wanted to do something special for all of you.  So we thought about it and brainstormed.  Remember that time Oprah gave away a car to everyone in her studio audience?  That now famous episode with the "You get a car, you get a car, you get a car...everybody gets a car!" craziness?  Yes, that was awesome.  We talked about giving away cars, but we couldn't get a line of credit for 2,000 new cars.

And then we tried to get Oprah to sponsor our giveaway so we could give prizes to everyone, but sadly she declined.  And like Oprah, we want to give away some of our favorite things!  Several companies have graciously agreed to give away some of our favorite products to you, our readers and Facebook friends, in honor of this special occasion.  So read on to find out what goodies could be making their way to your house!

1. We love to stay hydrated with Nuun. Christine keeps a few tubes stashed in her desk at work for a break from traditional H2O. You can win a 4 pack of nuun hydration and a water bottle! One winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. We are both all about fun flats and are loving our fun springy shoes from Luv. They're comfy and perfect for getting around town.  You can win a pair of your own flats from Luv Footwear. One winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

3. As you know, Thorlo Experia socks are the only ones that we run in. They are just that good! Win a 3 pack of micro mini-crew socks in size small (fits women's shoe size 7-9).  Two winners.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

4. The Flipbelt is a unique take on a fitness belt and holds everything you could need for your long run or race! Win a Flipbelt in your choice of size and color. One winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

5. Sparkly Soul Headbands are one of Christine's staples for every workout. They truly are the best headbands on the market and they are always coming out with fabulous new colors and patterns.  Win a headband of your choice, color and width. Two winners.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

6. Christine is always looking for a better way to ice her knee and she's loving the quickness and ease of use of the Dr. Cool Compression Wrap.  You can win a small wrap to try out too. One winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Rules: Only one prize per person. Open to U.S. Residents only.

Thanks to all of you for supporting our blog and Facebook page and we wish you all good luck with the giveaway!

Runner love,
Pam and Christine

March 30, 2014

Weekly Roundup - March 30th

This was definitely not one of my better workout weeks!  Between spending time with friends on a few weeknights and an unexpected day at the hospital with a friend (she's fine!), my gym shoes stayed safely tucked in the closet.  I truly enjoyed the guilt-free workout break and time with some friends.  I tried two new restaurants and enjoyed a happy hour with coworkers that I don't often see much these days.  I'm reminded that sometimes laughter and a good meal can be as good for your soul as a good workout.  But don't worry, I'll be getting back on track this week!

Here's a visual look at my week, moving clockwise from top left.  I tried chia seeds (finally!) in my fruit, granola and yogurt and decided that wasn't for me.  I'm hoping to try it in some baked goods.  And if all else fails, I'll start a garden at my desk!  But I did make some amazing cookies and cream cookies that made some coworkers smile.  I'm finally learning the magic of an arm party especially when it includes neon pink on a dreary day.  And of course, the Friday that didn't go as planned, but was filled with some laughs, good snacks, and stories, even if it occurred in a hospital room over the course of 8+ hours (everyone is ok!).

Sunday, March 23rd
Pam: 30 minutes elliptical machine, stretching
Christine: 4.5 mile run, stretching

Monday, March 24th
Pam: rest day
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, abs, lower body

Tuesday, March 25th
Pam: 30 minutes elliptical machine, weights
Christine: Planned rest day

Wednesday, March 26th
Pam: 25 minutes stationary bike, rowing and Bosu ball
Christine: Planned rest day

Thursday, March 27th
Pam: track workout 4.25 miles run
Christine: Planned rest day

Friday, March 28th
Pam: 30 minutes stationary bike, weights
Christine: Unplanned rest day

Saturday, March 29th
Pam: rest day
Christine: Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Kick Off Night Virtual 5k, 15 min stationary bike, abs, stretching

How do you get back on track after a less than stellar workout week?

March 28, 2014

Friday Five: Core Values of the Running Community

This week, there has been a lot of hubbub in the online running community.  A girl bandited a race, bragged about it and posted an obnoxious blog post. There have been two lottery drawings for major marathons that have resulted in smiles and disappointments.  A big women's "healthy living" magazine posted a photo demeaning female runners for running in tutus.  To be completely honest, I’ve turned off social media for chunks of time because it’s simply been too much chaos for me to absorb when I’m trying to manage my work week and enjoy some time with friends.  I’ve reflected on all of this at great length and I wanted to use today’s Friday Five to share some of my thoughts on what the running community embodies (or should embody!).

1. Health: It’s a well-known fact that running provides endless physical and mental benefits.  I know I run for the opportunity to stay fit, to challenge myself physically, and to stay sane.  Health is the absolute number one reason that I run. 

2. Fun: There’s an old adage that goes something like “if it’s not fun why do it?” and I think this is spot on for running.  I enjoy running…or at least most of the time.  I have made countless friends and enjoy the thrill of experiencing new places on foot.

3. Achievement: Most (if not all) runners have achieved something at one point that they never believed possible.  A 5k, half marathon, BQ, sub-2:00 half marathon, new PRs, 26.2, and the list could go on and on.  Let’s celebrate other’s achievements and be proud of them (and ourselves).  As we all know, it’s no easy feat to set a goal and achieve it.  

4. Humility: On the heels of achievement, this may come as a surprise.  My grandfather used to stress this to me frequently and I try hard to remember his words.  At times I’ve felt this trait can be a bit absent from the running community but it’s one I want to emphasize.  We all work hard to get out the door and run and with that, we can all use a little dose of humility every now and then.  Social media just makes it more challenging.  It can be easy to get caught up in the madness of new time goals, new races or new PRs.  We don’t always need to post our training splits, our new expensive workout equipment, our latest running gear purchase or the free thing someone decided to give us.  I’m guilty of all of these things and I think it’s worth remembering that 99% of these things don’t define us as runners.  I’m working hard to adhere to my Grampy’s guidance. 

5. Encouragement: You can’t have enough encouragement nor can you give enough encouragement.  It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been running, where you race or what your pace is to know this important tidbit.  A little pick me up can help get you out the door and sending some good vibes to a friend might help them through a challenging training run or race.  Above all else, let’s encourage each other and remember that no running journey is the same.

No matter your speed, size, age, distance PR, race budget or what you choose to wear, we’re all brought together by our love of pounding the pavement.  Let’s use our community to embrace these values and make people want to join us, shall we?

Happy Friday and lots of runner love!

March 27, 2014

Flipbelt review and spoiler alert...I love this belt!

Disclosure:  I was provided a Flipbelt for review.  There was no other compensation received for this post.  As always, the opinions stated here are my own.

I recently was given the opportunity to try out the Flipbelt.  I wear a running belt almost every time I run around my neighborhood and sometimes I need to carry alot of stuff.  Cue the Flipbelt!  This belt has multiple openings to store your gear, and it can hold a phone and tons of gels.  I need 6 gels during a marathon, and this belt has the capacity to carry all them plus my phone!  Best of all, it has the option of wearing with the openings on the outside for easy access, or you can flip the belt over and your items are locked in place. With multiple colors and sizes, it is easy to find the one that has the perfect fit and color to match your running attire.

I chose black (I know, very boring) but it will match anything I wear! However, in retrospect, a color would have been fun, because the belt fits right next to your body and it can easily be covered up by a shirt or jacket.  Unlike other belts with just one pocket, this one never looks bulky and keeps very streamlined in terms of fit.

Wearing my belt with 4 GU gels and my I phone!

 I took this for two test runs before writing the review and I must say, within minutes of running, I forgot I was wearing the belt.  It does not move and I had no chaffing whatsoever.  Next month, I plan to wear this for the Divas Half Marathon in North Myrtle Beach when my skirt does not have ample pockets.  It is the perfect running accessory for anyone who carries supplies on the run! This belt would also be great for bike rides, or when traveling to secure valuables such as a Passport and money.

If you would like to try Flipbelt, you can use the coupon code WRD and receive 10% off your order!

Have you tried Flipbelt?


March 26, 2014

Racing with a pacer!

If you have been following our blog and read my marathon recap from earlier this month, you know I ran my race with a pacer.  Meghan, a speedy runner from my group, Without Limits agreed to pace me for the Quintiles Marathon on March 16th.  It was both thrilling and scary to think about running a race completely in the hands of someone who was trying to get you to a specific goal.

Meghan and I had the pleasure of meeting several times before race day for long runs.  The first, at 10 miles, was to be a straight run at goal pace, with some pickups (a few minutes at a quicker pace) 6 times.  This run gave us a chance to chat and get acquainted with each other. Not only did we chat about running, but everything else too. But what I did learn that day was that Meghan did not race in the same way as me.  She normally races with equal splits.  I, on the other hand, practically always negative split my half marathons and both of my prior marathons had large negative splits. I had to trust my coach Sami and Meghan that I could race this way too. Our second run together was two weeks prior to the race and was a 20 mile run with the first 10 at race pace doing run/walk.  We completed the run, and were nearly at goal pace the entire way!  Both of us were ready for race day.

Some of the huge benefits you get from running with a pacer include the following:

1.  No need to keep checking your Garmin Meghan set her Garmin to change colors if we got below my goal race pace (10 minute mile, although I think she used 9:58) I hardly looked at my watch except at the half way point when she stopped to use the porta potty.  I took a quick peak to see our time which was below goal pace!

2.  Encouragement from your pacer  I was so lucky to have my own personal pacer, and she was amazing about keeping me upbeat throughout the race, chatting and keeping me entertained by talking with the other runners around us!

3.  Fueling  Navigating the water stops was so easy during this race with Meghan in the lead. And at times I felt like a celebrity when she grabbed water for both of us!

4.  Confidence  This is an intangible, but I certainly felt a higher level of confidence running with a very strong runner who knew how to pace and keep her runner comfortable.  With her encouragement of both myself and those around us, she kept the race light and fun which can be very challenging over 26.2 miles.

In lockstep with Meghan on race day!

Christine also ran her Shamrock half marathon the same day with a pace group and found it hugely helpful.  You can read about it here! Next month, I will have the privilege of pacing one of the girls from our Without Limits group during her first half marathon.  It will be so exciting to help Mitzie reach her goal at the Divas Half in North Myrtle Beach.

Have you ever run with a pacer, or been a pacer? Tell us about your experience.

March 25, 2014

Training Tuesday: What am I training for?

Ever since Shamrock ended, I've gotten a barrage of questions about my next race, my next goal and my next marathon (ok, this really started after Dopey but it's still real).

Which fall marathon are you running? 

Did you put your name in the lottery for Marine Corps/NYC/Chicago?

What other spring halfs are you running?

Quite frankly, it's making me crazy and I'm partially to blame. My thoughts are slightly of a schizophrenic nature where one minute I want to be lazy and the next, sign up for 100 more races. Can't a girl run a (fast) race and take some time to regroup and recover?! 

In January, I talked about the pressure to race and I believe it's real.  Don't get me wrong, goals are great, but there's a difference between goals and racing and I think this line is often blurred. I tend to race with a goal in mind, so for me the two aren't mutually exclusive. And sure, I'll race for fun every now and then but generally speaking, I'm all business when I race. Usually I've trained with a level of intensity and I'm looking for a new PR. That's me and that's my preference…doesn't make it right or wrong.

After my 1:51.17 finish at Shamrock, I immediately started thinking about getting under 1:50.  And I started looking for local half marathons in April and May.  The only one that would likely be PR-worthy is the Dismal Swamp Stomp half in mid-April.  I ran this race last year and it's definitely a fast and flat course but I'm not sure I want to run it again.  It's a very nice race but it's on a closed (paved) trail, so it's very quiet.  I know that I feed off the crowds during a race, so this might not be ideal for another PR attempt.  I haven't decided if I want to commit yet.

And umm hello, do I want to jump back into grueling pace-based workouts for another 4 weeks?!  Nope, not really.  I ran on Friday afternoon after work.  My pace was pretty quick - 8:35ish but I wasn't really into it.  My left calf felt tight so I ended up walking the last 3/4 mile home.  Normally I would have felt defeated and frustrated but it didn't bother me.  I would attribute my ability to shake it off to the fact that I'm not on a specific training plan and I wasn't endangering a time goal by cutting a run short.  And it hit me - I can still run and enjoy running even though I don't have a training schedule.  Heck, I might enjoy it more!

So until I find the fire to race again with a new goal, you can find me running around the neighborhood with Paddy by my side and fiddling with my new Garmin.

What are you training for?

March 24, 2014

Shamrock non-racing fun: 8k, Shake out run with Bart & Expo

One of the things I was most looking forward to at Shamrock was the chance to see some friends, both local and non-local.  Big race weekends seem to be a good chance to catch up with other runners and bloggers that I've met through the inter webs.  Let me tell you - this race weekend lived up to all the hype in my head!

Saturday morning I decided to head down to the Oceanfront in the morning to join Bart Yasso and a group of other runners for a shakeout run.  With the 8k running that morning, I knew it would be challenging to find parking so I headed down a bit early.  I got to the beach around 8:15 and miraculously found a parking spot at 36th street, which was really close to the turn in the course where runners head to the Boardwalk.  It was a gorgeous morning and I loved getting to cheer on the 8k runners!
A sea of green!
My cheering spot was obviously in the shade and there was a decent wind coming off the ocean so I slowly meandered my way down to the Boardwalk area to get in the sun.  I also figured I should start heading down to the Hilton on 31st street where I would be meeting Bart and the group for the shakeout run.  Once I got to the Boardwalk, I was treated to some gorgeous beachy views.  It was a truly beautiful morning - what a treat for the runners!  As I was passing one of the large cheering stations, I was handed an orange pom pom for more effective cheering!
8k runners heading south to the finish line
King Neptune had the best view of the finish line
 At last it was time for the main event (at least for me!) of the morning  - the shakeout run with Bart.  The group was meeting in the lobby of the Hilton at 9 and then planned to do an easy 2 miles or so.  As always, Bart was gracious and snapped photos with the runners.

There were about 20 runners or so.  The funny thing about runners is we're all basically instant friends.  There's an unspoken bond that comes from consuming gelatinous fuel, early wake-up calls and Yasso 800s.  I enjoyed chatting with a few people and debating what we would all wear the next day (the temps and wind were challenging for race day!).

And before I knew it, we were back to the Hilton where we reconvened for a group photo and then headed across the street to a local joint for coffee.
Shake out runners - photo courtesy of Bart Yasso
We chatted about race goals, heard some funny stories from Bart (a typical staple of interacting with him) and exchanged social media info.  I made plans to cheer for the marathoners that I met and around 10:30, we called it a morning.  I headed home to get cleaned up and relax a bit before I was headed back to the beach to the expo.  I had plans to meet up with Lacey and Sarah around 3:00ish.

The expo wasn't too crowded when I got there (it closed at 5 on Saturday) so I was easily able to grab my bib and get my race shirt.  After last year's giant shirt experience, I sized down to an xs this year and it fit just fine.  Lacey had mentioned some of the cute race gear but sadly it was mostly picked over by the time I got there.  The one thing I wanted that I wasn't able to get was the Shamrock Half magnet and unfortunately they only had the 26.2 magnets left.  No matter, I snagged a sticker instead.  We wandered the booths for a bit and I was able to replenish my nuun supply.  And then a few minutes later while we were watching Bart speak, we ran into Sarah and Matthew.  It was so fun to see them and we enjoyed chatting for a bit.
Yay runner girlfriends!
Lacey and I headed over to meet Lelseyanne, Sue and some other runners.  I loved getting to meet these ladies and hear about their race day goals….there were lots of PR aspirations which always motivates me!  By this point, it was after 4:30 so we were all pretty tired and eager to get organized for race day.  We snapped a quick photo and agreed we would try to meet up in the party tent post-race.
Sue, Lesleyanne, me and Lacey
Expo swag
When I got home on Saturday evening, I was able to reflect on the awesomeness of that day and I hadn't even raced!  I just love the way a race weekend can bring people together….makes me feel all warm and happy inside!

March 23, 2014

Weekly Roundup - March 23rd

It probably won't come as a surprise to you that this week was a recovery week for both of us.  I know that after I chase a big race goal, I let my body chill out a bit.  I workout based on how I feel.  One strange realization that I had this week was that it was challenging to figure out my workout each day.  After being on a pretty regimented training schedule for the last 2 months, I found myself feeling a little helpless.  But fear not, I figured something out!  The other realization I had was that I am grateful I'm not racing this weekend.  After a physically and mentally draining race last weekend, I'm glad I didn't have to try to get my body and mind 'up' for another race.  Instead, I've been enjoying the nice weather (well, sadly it's gone now!) and the company of friends.
Paddy played in the yard on Saturday afternoon while I did yard work
and then lunched on the deck
And then we both got new toys!

Sunday, March 16th
Pam: Quintiles Marathon
Christine: Shamrock Half Marathon

Monday, March 17th
Pam: 15 minutes easy on stationary bike, stretching, rolling
Christine: Rest day, aka laze-fest post race!

Tuesday, March 18th
Pam: Rest day, stretching and rolling
Christine: 30 min elliptical, stretching

Wednesday, March 19th
Pam: 30 minutes easy bike, stretching, rolling
Christine: 1 mile running (legs weren't feeling it!), 30 min stationary bike, core work

Thursday, March 20th
Pam: Rest day, stretching and rolling
Christine: Rest day

Friday, March 21st
Pam: 25 minutes stationary bike, rolling, stretching
Christine: 4 miles running

Saturday, March 22nd
Pam: 30 minutes stationary bike, rolling, stretching
Christine: 35 min elliptical, squats, lunges, calf raises

What have you been up to this weekend?

March 21, 2014

I went sub-2:00 and you can too!

After hitting my sub-2:00 half marathon goal on Sunday, I’ve received a few questions about how I trained, how I did it and advice I could share. While I am not a running coach, nor any sort of trainer, I know what worked for me so I’ll share that with you today. 

1. Commit. If you really want to go for a sub-2:00 half marathon, or any big goal for that matter, commit to it 100%. I picked a race that gave me 7 weeks to train and it was the right amount of time for me to dedicate myself to the goal. It also wasn't enough time for me to get burned out.

2. Pick the right race. I selected a race that I had run previously and that is also local, meaning I was familiar with the course and could avoid the added hassle/headache of traveling for race day. There is nothing like sleeping in your own bed the night before a big race!  Find a race that gives you the best chance of achieving your goal, based on your race preferences.

3. Pick a plan. I used the training plan from Run Less, Run Faster that was based on a 5k PR time that I ran in December 2013. Using the pace charts in the book, I was able to figure workout paces for speed work of varying distances, tempo and long runs. Note that based on my 5k time, my estimated half marathon finish is 1:45.  The paces I trained with were for that time, which I knew wasn’t a realistic goal but I decided to stick with them. I found the plan easy to follow and liked the specificity of it. It didn’t require me to think about workouts – just try to do them the best that I was able.  But let me be clear...those workouts kicked my booty on many nights!  

4. Take care of your body. I stretched and foam rolled religiously. I also did balance (something new for my finicky piriformis/hip issues) and core exercises to keep my body healthy and strong. Even though my running workouts were hard, I tried to stay very diligent in other aspects of my training as well. And don’t underestimate the importance of eating and hydrating properly. I paid extra attention to my diet throughout this training cycle and worked hard to keep it healthy and balanced.

5. Be consistent. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. I definitely didn’t have every workout go perfectly, but I kept after it. I didn’t skip workouts unless my body told me I needed a break. And let’s be honest, we all know the difference between laziness, rationalizing that our body needs a break (when it doesn’t), and really truly needing a break due to excessive fatigue, illness or injury. Know the difference and don’t let yourself slack!

6. Keep tabs on your weight. I am by no means recommending that you go on a crash diet prior to a race, but keeping your weight in check helps. I was diligent to make sure I didn’t gain weight during training as I wanted to be as light as possible on race day. This is hard for me because I notice that my appetite increases significantly when I’m training for 13.1, whereas with 26.2 training, my appetite decreases significantly.

7. Change up your workouts. I mixed up my long runs between road runs and trail runs. I pushed the pace on roads and embraced the challenge of hilly trails. This helped keep me interested in my runs since the scenery changed and I also think the trails helped keep my legs strong since I was working different muscles than on the road.

 8. Find a training partner(s) with the same goal. I was lucky to have a good friend training for the same goal over the same general time frame. It was nice to share successful runs and disastrous ones, training woes, and nerves as my race day got closer. I found this to be tremendously helpful throughout the training cycle and I can't wait to cheer on my buddy when she races in a few weeks!

Have you ever tackled a major time goal?  How did you approach it?

March 20, 2014

What not to do after a marathon!

So after the excitement of my marathon finish on Sunday I have a little confession to make......I did not make the best choices for race recovery at all!

1.  I had only one bottle of water and quite a few small cups of beer at the finish....why not?  I just completed the race of my life.  I did restrain myself and did not go for the option of having my growler filled with beer at Lighthouse Bar and Grill. (that was part of the AG prize!)

2.  I ate one slice of pizza in the few hours after the race.....not a great way to treat your body post run, but I was just too excited to eat.

3.  I managed to stretch for a few minutes, but not nearly the amount for that type of race. I paid for it on Monday when I was hobbling around like someone 100 years old.

A  little stretching is better than none, right?

4. I skipped my post race massage appointment to cheer for the last marathoners to finish the race.  (this race had massage therapists in the tent and offered 20 minute massages, a really nice perk!) After all the support I received during the race, I wanted to be out there supporting other runners. This was not a bad choice, but it certainly did not help my physical recovery!

Tom took this photo on our way to cheer!
5. Instead of hydrating properly, I had more adult beverages at dinner in celebration.  Let's just say all the hydrating I did leading up to the race was my reason to let loose and skip the normal post race rituals!

6. I did not work the lactic acid out of my legs by walking afterwards. It was rainy and that was my excuse.

7. I forgot to wear my compression socks...a very dumb mistake.

Have you ever raced and done a poor job of race recovery?

March 19, 2014

Quintiles Marathon and a BQ!

Sunday morning, I woke up early and that was no surprise.....however, I did not jump out of bed and exclaim "It's race day", like I have done on other race mornings.  This was a serious morning for me with a big goal at stake. I was nervous and needed to get into race day mode. With some extra time to spare, I checked my twitter feed, looked at Facebook and then got a banana and some water.  By now it was close to 5:00am and we had planned to leave the house by 5:15 for the short drive to the race shuttles. I quickly got on my race outfit, ate my English muffin with peanut butter and we headed out the door.

Soon I was on the shuttle to the beach, riding with a college student who was running her first half.  We made small chit chat until it was time to depart the bus and we wished each other a good race.  Luckily, I immediately found some people from my running group Without Limits who kept me company during the nearly hour long wait until the race would start.

Anthony (2nd from right) shared this photo with me.
Around 6:15 I met up with Meghan and we finalized our race plans.  I ditched my throwaway clothes and then it was time for the national anthem. And we were off....time to get serious and get those miles in, one at a time.

The fun part
The first few miles at the beach were fabulous. While there was a bit of a crowd, we managed to run our pace with no problem and completed those miles very comfortably.  Soon, we were crossing the bridge to head to the Mayfaire section of the course and the long run through the Landfall subdivision, a beautiful gated community.  We saw Tom just as we crossed the bridge and he offered bananas which we did not need....yet! We were keeping a very consistent pace and after the mile four marker on Military Cutoff, I turned to Meghan and said I was having alot of fun. Her response was something like, "you need to say that on our last pass through this section of the course at mile 25!"  Clearly that was a comment for me to keep my emotions in check and to keep on running. After completing miles 5-10, we were headed back to the beach for loop 2 of the course.  After crossing the bridge, we continued along the way and Meghan seemed to know every volunteer along the route. Our pace stayed consistent, yet there were times when I glanced at my watch and saw 9:09 pace or even 8:45 pace, clearly too fast for the run portion of our marathon.  Did I mention that we were following Jeff Galloway's run walk method doing 4 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking?  Meghan bought a Gymboss timer so she was in charge of our intervals.  This was strange for me, being a control freak and all! After our second loop of the beach we approached and crossed the bridge again at mile 15.5  It was here that Tom stood in the road, with a banana in each hand for Meghan and me to grab as we passed. He also reported that Christine had completed her half with an amazing PR....and so I took off! Meghan calmed me down on our next walk break since our pace got ridiculously fast after I heard the PR news! I was one proud mama!

The Grind  
Rounding the bend onto Military Cutoff, we knew that the hard part of the race was coming.  We entered Landfall again at mile 18.5 and now we had to finish out those last miles.  Meghan was so cheerful, and chatting with any other runners that we came across.  Several joined our little group for a short period of time and that was fun for her since there was little talking going on from me.  Prior to the race, we had agreed that I was to conserve all my energy for running.  As we worked our way through Landfall yet again, we had to do a little loop to obtain a wrist band to prove that you had run through twice.  The miles were ticking by a bit more slowly for me, yet I was still comfortable.  While I wore a Garmin, Meghan was in charge of our race and I just kept running and really did not know what our time would be at the finish.  My head was too mushy to work out the math.  The only moment I paid any attention to our time was at the 13.1 mile marker and we ran 2:10 for the first half.....definitely quick! Most of this race went without a hitch until mile 22.5.
I have read about the wall.  I have had nightmares about the wall and was convinced the wall would never get me. Sometime between mile 22 and 23, I had a really strange sensation come over my entire body.  I felt a little sick, clammy and very uncomfortable.  At the time, Meghan was slightly ahead of me and had no idea that I had a slight (or possibly large) issue going on.  My head starting spinning as to what could be going on and then I got pi**ed off.  I told myself, "you did not work your butt off for a bad finish, now put on your big girl pants and get it together. Oh, and get running better too." As quickly as this came, it left me, but I know how easily a marathon can get derailed after that brief period.  This was scary of course, but thankfully I was able to work through it. Miles 23-24 went reasonably well. Oh and I also started was Katy Perry "Roar" time and this champion was singing very badly to get to the finish line!  Meghan had been forewarned and this will give her a funny story to share with her friends about that crazy old lady that she paced for a marathon!

The Glorious Finish
As we exited the subdivision onto Military cutoff for the final time, the excitement from both Meghan and me was palpable.  The crowds were doing an amazing job of cheering for us, and running along that stretch was just plain fun! I even heard someone yell, "go We Run Disney," cool was that?  Soon we were passing the mile 25 marker and heading into the Mayfaire area for the finish line.  We talked about running straight through but I still needed walk breaks.  Several Without Limits team members were at the final aide station at mile 25.5 and were so encouraging....thanks Paige and others! Now, I could barely contain myself....this was the race of my life and I knew that the BQ was there for the taking.  We rounded the bend after weaving behind the shopping center and headed to that beautiful finish line.  As soon as I saw it, I lost total control of my emotions and started to cry.  Tom managed to get a photo of us as we were approaching the line.

It's blurry, but it captures the moment perfectly!

This photo may be blurry, but it is one of my most favorite race photos. The culmination of alot of hard work is captured in my face, and the joy on Meghan's face is gorgeous!

Finish line photo courtesy of Meghan!

I received a growler for my first place AG prize!
It is always fun winning an AG prize, but not only was I first place, I also took last place in the age matter, the biggest prize was my BQ!

This won't be the last post on the race, since there are so many other thoughts running through my head. But I will spare you any more for today!

FEMALE AGE GROUP: 60 - 64 (300)
PlaceBibNameageCITY/STATEMILE 3_5PaceMile 11_3PaceMile 16PaceMile 24_1PaceTagTimeTagPaceGunTime

1.420PAMELA KEENAN60WILMINGTON NC35:2610:081:52:059:562:39:189:583:57:289:524:18:289:524:19:46

March 18, 2014

A support team and gratitude!

Sunday was a big day for the girls of We Run Disney.  Christine and I both enjoyed our races and had happy results, but that is not really the story I want to tell today.  Yes, I will do a full race recap of my marathon later this week, but for now I want to show gratitude.  There are so many people in our lives that helped us achieve our goals yesterday.

First of all, I want to thank my husband Tom. He was up before the birds to drive me to the Mayfaire shopping center to catch the shuttle to the race start on Wrightsville Beach. He walked with me from our car to the shuttle and then wished me a great race. Then he got to wait over 2 hours before he would see me again....and that was at 5:30am!  He managed to see me on the race course 3 times and took some photos at the finish line.  And he served bananas to Meghan and me by standing on the course with one in each hand for us to grab at mile 15.5! And he was there to give me a huge hug after spending over 6 hours hanging around on a damp Sunday morning!

My pacer Meghan, another member of Without Limits, was just fabulous. There is no way that I could express in words what a tremendous help she was to me during the race.  She encouraged me every step of the way, and when I wanted to share some thoughts around mile twenty, she told me to "save it for the finish line". She ran without headphones, yet kept herself entertained the whole way.  She made friends on the course with some of the other runners and even gave advice to the half marathoners as we split for our second loop of the course. She is a true champion of our sport and has such a positive and encouraging attitude.  I only wish everyone could have the pleasure of spending time with this fantastic girl, and awesome runner.

Christine of course has been a rock during training both good and bad.  We are able to feed off of each other during those bad runs and even shared texts to offer encouragement when the other was struggling. Again, it would be hard to express the sentiment I feel from her constant support and help.  Running is very special to us since she started us on this mad adventure in late 2010!

My Mom and siblings are all super supportive of my running addiction.  They show interest in my races, and Alison of course comes to Disney with us once a year to claim a prize at the Princess Half Marathon!  I only hope that she does try to qualify for Boston before the cut off date....she is speedier than me and definitely has the time in her little legs. And hopefully you are reading this big sis and will take on the challenge!

Coach Sami and all the Without Limits coaches have been fantastic.  They are such an encouraging bunch and never make you feel inadequate if you don't make a time goal or have a bad practice.  Sami helped me believe in myself that I could qualify for Boston and that was so helpful.  Mental toughness is half of running and having a bad a** coach really kicks you in the behind and makes you get tough fast!

There are many of you reading this (and you know who you are) that have been consistent in your kindness and well wishes.  We do our best to encourage other runners and feel so thankful for all the wonderful people we have met along the way. Just a few on my mind include Danielle, who helped Christine to a very successful first marathon, Megan, who kept us company during the Dopey Challenge endurance contest,  Lisa who has helped me pass time in race corrals and Krissy, who paced Christine in Virginia Beach several years ago for a 14k! There are many many others and we appreciate your support as well. Thank you  is just two words, but I mean it sincerely that I (and Christine) feel so blessed to have made so many wonderful running pals.

March 17, 2014

Shamrock Anthem Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Shamrock race morning started like most - an early wake up call and my standard pre-race breakfast of bagel (or English muffin) with peanut butter and a banana.  I headed down to the beach a bit early, knowing that parking is always a challenge and I'm glad I did.  Because the 25th street lot was closed, the 31st street area (which is near the finish) was a mess so I headed further south and easily found a spot at the 19th street lot.  Being that the starting line is at 42nd street, I had a pretty decent walk but I figured it would help get me warm and get my muscles moving.  I found out that Sarah and Matthew were taking refuge in a hotel lobby and joined them for a moment before we headed to the starting line.
We rock race morning throwaways like Gucci
We made our way to the starting area and went our separate ways to the corrals. 
The iconic Cavalier Hotel - it's gorgeous!
 I elected to drop back to corral 3 to run with the 1:52 pacer, who was supposed to be at the front of the corral.  I did a lap at the front of the corral and still couldn't find any sight of the pacer and started to get worried.  Alas, a few minutes later, they both showed up and the pace group formed.  We started a few minutes after 7 at the very front of corral 3.
Atlantic Avenue is completely closed for race morning so runners start on
both sides of the street - it really is a parade!
I settled into the pace pretty easily for the first few miles and tried to soak up all of the local cheerleaders at the North End.  The perk of running with a pacer is you really don't have to think about how fast you're running and I tried to not expend too much mental energy early on.  As always, when I passed 72nd street, I thought of my dear friend from middle and high school and her parents who still live there.  It was a nice emotional boost, even if I didn't see any of them - thinking of them made me feel joy.

The first 5 miles ticked away very easily and at mile 6 or so, we made the turn into Fort Story.  Immediately, we faced a significant head wind which was worrisome.  I felt myself working much harder to maintain the pace.  As we approached the gel stop at the halfway point, I found myself in the middle of the road and quickly tried to get to the side to grab water and a gel.  It was a disaster - I had to walk for a bit to avoid other runners to get water and ended up grabbing a gel out of a box because the volunteers had just given theirs to other runners.  I panicked a bit as I watched the pacers' orange singlets fade from my view.  I immediately picked up the pace to catch them but it was really tough.  I was running a 8:10-8:15 pace just to slowly close the gap...and that was with the headwind.  I kept reminding myself that I needed to give myself a mile to catch them and it took me just about that long!  I heard other runners with the group complain of the same problem after the gel stop.  The next few miles were very challenging and I found myself wondering if I could stay on pace for the next 6 miles.  

Once we made it through Fort Story, it was much less windy.  We made the turn back to the North End at around mile 10 or so and I felt a second wind...the caffeinated gel I had just taken didn't hurt.  I decided to go with it and pulled away from the pacers.  A few other girls started to pull away as well and I tried to pace with them.  A mile later, I found myself feeling a bit fatigued and I couldn't hang with them but I told myself to keep grinding.  I was having a hard time not counting down the streets or constantly looking at my Garmin for the mileage.  Clearly I was tired! 

At last we made the turn onto the Boardwalk and we were less than a mile from the finish.  The wind picked up but I didn't let it get to me.  I worked hard to get my legs moving, but quite frankly I didn't have much left.  I managed to knock down the last 0.16 to 8:04 pace and that was all I had!  As soon as I looked down at my watch, I was shocked!  I had a 1:50-something on my Garmin and my official time ended up being 1:51.17, which was a 12 minute improvement on my half time and a 17 minute improvement off last year's Shamrock Half. 
Pure joy!
I immediately called Dad to let him know and enjoyed some post-race snacks as I made my way through the chute.  I headed to retrieve my bag and found masses of people everywhere.  I soon learned that my bag check truck (the one for people in corrals 1 and 2, aka all the recent finishers) had a 40-ish minute wait.  Note this was my one major complaint from the race - it was total chaos!  I was so cold that I decided to go into the post-race tent to get warm and see some friends. 

 I was thrilled to run into Jess of Run with Jess almost immediately after entering the tent.  She is very friendly and I enjoyed meeting her!  I saw Sue from This Mama Runs for Cupcakes and we celebrated our PRs before I caught up with some local friends and celebrated more PRs!  I swear almost everyone I know PR'ed in this race.  I had a little mishap where I thought I lost my car key so I left the tent to try to retrace my steps and ran into Kristina and Joe.  It's hard to believe we live in the same town and the last time I saw them was at Dopey.  We must change that!  They both had fantastic races - more PRs!  Luckily I found my car key a little while later...chalk that snafu into post-race mushy brain and me forgetting I'd moved it to a different pocket in my skirt. 

Kristina and I
I headed back into the tent to get warm again and enjoyed my post-race Yuengling beers and slowly started eating my snacks...I always have a little trouble eating post-race.  Before long, I saw Sarah (of Sparkly Runner) and Matthew and learned that Sarah earned a PR and Matthew ran a really strong race.  So much awesomeness, it was hard to process.  At some point, Mom called me and told me that she BQ'ed and I screamed "we're going to Boston" on the phone.  A lot of people looked at me funny but I didn't care.  I was SO very proud of her!  She worked tremendously hard for that accomplishment and I'm looking forward to reading her race recap and seeing a few photos.

Despite trying to meet up all weekend, I finally met Colleen of Live Free and Run.  We had a blast chatting and enjoying the band and our post-race beer.  I also ran into a few local friends and shared laughs, hugs and a few toasts to race day.  I'm convinced that everyone I know was at Shamrock yesterday! 
Post-race party tent selfie!
Before long, it was time to go check on my marathoning friends and I timed it pretty well.  As I made my way toward the finish, I asked a few runners their finish time and they ranged from 3:37-3:40 which was perfect since I was waiting on the 3:45 pace group.  I overheard several runners tell their family and friends they BQ'ed which was magic.  I congratulated everyone I saw and could see the fatigue on their faces.  The major difference between the half and full marathon finishers was the noticeable hobble of most of the marathoners and the salt caked on their faces.  Before long, I saw both of my marathoners and learned that my new friend, M, who I met during our shakeout run with Bart hit her BQ and Lacey ran a really strong race despite not feeling fully trained.
Proud of my marathoning friend, Lacey
Lacey and I were both pretty tired so we didn't stay at the post-race party much longer.  We shared a celebratory hug and parted ways.  I made the long walk back to my car and reflected on the day.  It's hard to believe I ran a 2:08 PR last year at this race and in the course of a year, dropped 17 minutes off my time and about 1:20 or so per mile.  Hard work definitely pays off!  I truly love this race weekend and can't wait to come back for more next year...perhaps I'll tackle the full!

Until next year, keep on shamrockin!

March 16, 2014

Weekly Roundup - March 16th

It was a quiet exercise week for both of us as we both raced this morning!  I picked up my packet on Friday night and went back to the small expo Saturday morning for the course talk.  It is always helpful for me to know the exact location of the aid stations.  With 19 water/Gatorade stations, there should not be any problem getting what I need on the race course for hydration.  My Gu packets will fit in my skirt pockets and Tom will be bringing some bananas for me!  No stress now worrying about food/fuel.  The weather forecast is not great, but I have planned for rain and will embrace it!
Race day outfit!

Sunday, March 9th
Pam: Ran 7 miles average pace 9:26
Christine: 6 easy miles plus walked the boardwalk, which was about 5.5 to 6 miles

Monday, March 10th
Pam: Rest day - lots of rolling and stretching
Christine: Rest day

Tuesday, March 11th
Pam: 4.9 miles running with my WOL group
Christine: 3 miles at 8:20 pace

Wednesday, March 12th
Pam: rest day - lots of rolling and stretching
Christine: 30 min elliptical, stretching

Thursday, March 13th
Pam: 3.19 miles easy
Christine: 3 miles easy

Friday, March 14th
Pam: rest day - more stretching and rolling
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, March 15th
Pam: 1 mile shake out run
Christine: 2 mile shakeout run

Did you race this weekend?

March 13, 2014

Shamrock Goals

I really can't believe race weekend is just around the corner.  This weekend is my big spring race so I've been diligently preparing for this event.  I've been relatively calm and haven't been obsessing about the weather too much as it seems to change daily.  I've seen mild temps, rain, cool temps and sun...go figure!  I'm just praying for no wind.  I can handle a little rain, but please mother nature, no strong winds off the ocean.

I have lots of goals and ideas for what I'd like to get out of this weekend.  Between seeing some local running buddies, representing my corporate team and racing hard, I have high hopes for this weekend.  Hopefully it lives up to the hype in my mind!

Race Weekend Goals
1. See lots of buddies!
2. Meet new friends!
3. Hang out with Bart Yasso.

Race Expo Goals
1. Get some nuun - my stockpile is low!
2. Maybe sign up for some races if there are any expo discounts.
3. See some speakers.
4. Meet and see friends!

Race Day Goals
1. Run with the 1:52 pacer for a PR. Plain and simple, people.  I've trained hard and I'm ready to see what I can do on race day.
2. Contribute to the formal scoring for my team.  I'm running as a member of my corporate team and we are defending a half marathon team victory (also a marathon victory!) from last year.  To be counted in the scoring process, you must be one of the top 5 finishers on your team.  Last year I believe I was 6th or 7th on our team.
3. Have a boat load of fun! I love the Shamrock race weekend.  It's in my backyard, the swag is amazing and I love spending time at the oceanfront.
4. Live the mantra on my hand..."Feeling strong and looking gorgeous!"  Yes, I know it's a touch ridiculous but after hearing that my Mom's coach writes "Feeling good and looking gorgeous" on her hand during her Ironmans, I was hooked on these words.  I usually gravitate to the use of the word strong, hence the substitution.  And I love the idea of looking gorgeous during a race...during moments that I associate with sweat, grit and triumph.  But I love it.  And I'm going to own it this weekend.

Ever written anything on your hand for motivation during a race?

March 12, 2014

It's time to confess...

If you want to avoid pitiful Pam today, skip my post! While trying to stay positive on our blog, we also feel it is important to share hard times too, because let's face it, we all have them.  We have talked about bad training runs, injuries and other things that have not quite gone our way. Now it's time to let you know that I am  nervous for my race this weekend. The reason is not poor training, or getting everything in order for race day.  As Christine has pointed out more than once, I am laser focused when I have a goal in my head! However, there are certain things beyond our control and the sickness that I brought back from Florida will not go away.  With a visit to the doctor last week, she put me on Augumentin, a powerful antibiotic that has done absolutely nothing to help me get better.  Yesterday, out of frustration and Tom's suggestion that I might have an allergy issue, I took a Zyrtec, the medicine that always makes me much better if I have that problem.  Strike number two.  So after several calls back and forth with the nurse, I am now waiting until after race day to take anything.

Tonight's training run with my group was fair.....but everyone was complaining of lead legs and feeling sluggish. Of course, misery loves company so I left feeling better about my run. And, my pace was good for the 3 miles at easy pace (9:45) and then 400's at 8:35 pace (just a couple).  So now I have all my fingers and toes crossed in hopes that my cold/cough are miraculously gone by Sunday.  Actually, I hope they are gone by the time you are reading this post.  Kleenex, fluids and resting have been the focus of my week, oh and some eating too! I'm trying hard to focus on positive things and keep my mind occupied instead of worrying about something I really can't control.

What do you do when you are out of sorts race week?

March 11, 2014

Luv footwear!

Disclosure: Christine and I were given the opportunity to try out a pair of Luv brand footwear.  The shoes were provided to us, but no other compensation was given.  As always, the opinions here are my own.

Imagine my delight as I opened up a package that had these cute flats inside!  Christine and I both got to chose our pattern and I opted for a fun pair of the Fiesta mint green. Luv footwear has a wonderful selection of colors and patterns available on their website here.  You can find a list of retailers on their website or if you are like me, you will just order off their webpage. They run true to size, at least for me anyway!  And best of all ladies, they are very reasonably priced and feel like you are wearing slippers, except with some support!

Fiesta mint green and Blossom silver
As any woman would, I immediately ripped open the package to try out the shoes.  They are so cute and very lightweight which would make them ideal for travel as well as at home.  With a rubber sole, they are perfect for many activities including bicycling! I needed to deliver a plant to a neighbor and hopped on my Schwinn to make the delivery. Wearing my Luv flats, I wanted to see how they would perform and they were great.  The best part is they protect your feet unlike sandals and I ride my bike alot in the summer.  This option over heavy sneakers will be wonderful when it is very warm.

My favorite option will be my check bag for races.  When you finish a long race and just want to take off your sweaty socks and running shoes, it will be great to put these comfy shoes on your feet.  I have a feeling that there will be several jealous runners this weekend when I put these on after my marathon!


March 10, 2014

Newspaper interview

About three weeks ago, Sami, one of the coaches from Without Limits, contacted me about being featured in the sports section of our local newspaper. Because Sami is a nine time Ironman triathlete and sometimes scary individual, you don't say no to her!  Her reason for asking me, had everything to do with the Dopey Challenge and our We Run Disney blog.

Wednesday afternoon, I drove over to Port City Java to meet with Vince, a sports reporter for our local newspaper the Star News here in Wilmington, NC.  It seemed simple enough, to talk about running, how the We Run Disney blog started (thanks, Christine) and about the upcoming race weekend in Wilmington.  While this is a fairly small place, approximately 110,000 in our city, it has big things that happen.  Those of you who love television and movies, we have filming going on constantly including past series such as Dawson's Creek and now Revolution and Dome.  Stephen King was here for the kickoff of season two just yesterday! I digress...…back to race weekend,  Quintiles half marathon and marathon races are always scheduled close to St. Patrick's day and last year I ran the half marathon. This race weekend is filled with fun including a pasta dinner that includes guest speaker, Frank Shorter, Eli's 1 mile fun run, 5k, half and full marathons!

The Stars News wanted to follow several runners throughout the race weekend, both before and during the race. I answered questions such as how my running started (thanks, Christine) why I ran my first big race at Disney (thanks, Christine) and what I have for goals at the race. Christine was also interviewed last week and the article was in the Sunday sports section.  It was fun talking about running, but I still don't understand why we were chosen.  And since photos were requested, I included the one above and the one below as we close in to the finish line of the Mickey Marathon!

The article is called "Keenans' first brush with Disney has created new tradition" and is online here.

Have you ever been interviewed for a newspaper?

March 9, 2014

Weekly Roundup - March 9th

After our last long runs last weekend, we have arrived in taper town for our races next weekend!  Taper town is one of my favorite places to be even though I know some people really hate it.  This weekend also ushered in some fantastic spring-like weather with sun and warmth.  It does wonders for my mood!    The other thing that does wonders for my mood is having a place to hang my Dopey Challenge medals!    Yesterday, I received my new bib and medal hanger and I promptly hung it up with all my Dopey paraphernalia.
Celebrating all 48.6 miles!
I couldn't be happier with how it came out.  If you're interested, I purchased this on etsy from York Sign Shop.  Their service was top notch and I love that this hanger is real wood and it's beautifully made.  And now for our workouts...

Sunday, March 2nd
Pam: 20 mile run at average pace 10:08
Christine: 2 hours yard work, long walk with Paddy

Monday, March 3rd
Pam: 15 minutes stationary bike, weights and tons of stretching
Christine: 30 min circuit in living room, 15 min yoga and stretching

Tuesday, March 4th
Pam: Ran 4 miles - 1 warm up wile, followed by 9:30, 9:10, 8:56 cool down
Christine: Speed work - 2 x 1200 at 5:31, 5:12; 4 x 800 at 3:51, 3:38, 3:41, 3:27 with 1 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool down

Wednesday, March 5th
Pam: 15 minutes bike, weights, plank, sit ups, stretching
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, March 6th
Pam: Yoga, Jillian Michael's DVD
Christine: 2 miles easy, 2 miles at 7:45 pace, 1 mile easy, 1/2 mile walk cool down

Friday, March 7th
Pam: Without Limits workout: 4.25 miles total 1 warm up, 10:15, 10:00, 8:59 cooldown
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, March 8th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 30 min elliptical, squats, lunges, abs and lots of stretching


March 7, 2014

Friday Five

I am so unbelievably happy it's Friday.  I don't know if it's a full moon or there's something in the water, but this week has been full of chaos and some stressful moments.  I also have been guilty of not focusing on getting enough sleep which is certainly exacerbating my general feelings of stress and fatigue.  I'm really looking forward to spending some time with friends this weekend and getting caught up around the house! Here are a few odds and ends from the week.
1. After finally trying my maple glazed pecan and sea salt Kind bar, I was hooked and needed more.  I did a little research and determined Amazon has the best prices on Kind bars so I ordered a box.  To avoid paying a shipping charge, I also added a box of Tropical Punch Cliff Shot Bloks.  These will be perfect fuel for upcoming races and training runs.

2. My sweet friend Megan sent me these darling bracelets.  I pair them with my Road ID when I run and they remind me of our #sub2orbust goal.  She's been an amazing virtual training partner and I'm so excited to cheer her on in her spring half marathon next month.

3. I ordered some mint green calf sleeves to match my new Lulu skirt.  I'm hopeful that the weather may be warm enough to debut my new spring running outfit at Shamrock!

4. I haven't used as much KT Tape during this training cycle as past cycles.  I think part of that is my heavy focus on strength training and I've been really diligent about stretching.  But I'm sharing the KT Tape magic with a colleague who's struggling with a knee injury.  I hope she likes it!

5. Can you believe that we had snow this week?!  Nutty!  And not only did it snow, but we've had frigid (for VA) temperatures most of the week.  The groundhog and I aren't exactly on good terms.  Luckily most of the snow has melted and we are expecting much warmer temperatures this weekend.

What's on your agenda for the weekend?