May 30, 2014

Friday Five: Things in my gym bag

This week, the lovely ladies of DC, Courtney, Mar and Cynthia are hosting a Friday Linkup of "What's in your Gym Bag?".  This is a fun topic and since I use a gym regularly this should be easy. But, since I don't work outside the home, my bag is pretty empty!  However, I will share my small list and the things that are most important for me to take when I go to my gym!

1.  A great attitude  Having a good workout depends on a good mental state of mind.  If you have a positive attitude, you can make great strides each and every time you workout.  Here are a few of the things that I like to see just before I head out the door:

Signs by my computer!

2.  A good pair of workout shoes  I believe in taking good care of my feet and having a comfortable pair of shoes makes all the difference.  Rotating your shoes is helpful too in keeping your shoes fresh for your workout.  I usually wear my shoes to the gym, but sometimes they are in my bag!

3. Reading material  When using the elliptical machine, stationary bike or treadmill, I need something to keep me occupied.  This form of exercise is not my favorite, but especially during the cold winter months, it is necessary.  So what do I bring to read?  My favorite reading material at the gym is magazines, and I just discovered this magazine a few months ago and I love it!

4.  Water bottle  I hardly ever leave home without a water bottle and heading to the gym, I am never without my bottle.  Maybe it should be a baby bottle I am so attached to it!  Because my family is familiar with my water bottle obsession, my collection is quite large!

A few of my favorites!

5.  I-Pod Shuffle  Sad but true, I need music when I am at the gym.  They do have music playing, but I like to groove to my own tunes while getting sweaty. Listening to the current hits help me get in a better workout, or at least I think it does!

So there's a peak at what I carry to the gym! What unusual item (s) do you have in your gym bag?

May 29, 2014

Getting (and staying) back on track

The last few weeks have been great for me in terms of getting back on track with consistent running and cross-training workouts.  I've been consistently running 3 days per week and slowly upping my mileage.  In fact, last Sunday I had my longest run since Shamrock.  It was 8.3 miles and came one day after I ran 5 miles.  My legs were certainly tired by the end but it was a good tired.  And to be totally honest, it was a tired that I haven't felt in a while.  That tired reminded me what marathon training will be like, how PRs are earned, and that I like the mental and physical challenge of pushing through those walls.  With my summer and fall race schedule looming on the horizon, I've been anxious to get back on track.  I need to maintain some consistency and focus until mid-November when I run the Richmond marathon.

So how have I been getting back in the groove, you ask?  Well ask and ye shall receive!

1. Don't stress.  There have been plenty of days when my workouts (primarily runs) haven't gone as well as I'd like.  Take last Saturday for example when I planned to run my long run (8-9 miles) for the week.  I left later than I should have and my stomach was feeling a little rumbly from too many cocktails the previous night.  5 miles in I cut myself a break and went home, vowing to try again the next day.  And on Tuesday night when I planned 5 miles on the treadmill, my legs felt heavy so I eased up on the pace and cut back to 4 miles.  No sense pushing hard and getting injured now.
My old stomping grounds from the days when I was in the Junior League
2. Back off the speed work.  As I've been getting back on track, I haven't been focused on speed work.  Every once in a while, I'll do some pick-ups, but I'm mainly focusing on mileage and consistency right now.  Once I write my training plan, I'll start working in more pace-based workouts.

3. Find new places.  I've been diligently trying new running routes both in anticipation of boredom with my normal route when I'm running big miles and because it's been fun!  I've run a few times in Norfolk recently and it's been a fantastic change of pace!  I even paid a visit to my rubber ducky friend a few times.  How can this guy not make you smile?!

4. Watch my weight.  I know this one sounds crazy.  But after coming off several intense training cycles, I've had to adjust my diet a bit.  I'm not burning as many calories and when I haven't been as focused on training, it's a lot easier to enjoy happy hour and/or dinner rather than a workout.  The last few weeks, I've been working really hard to keep junk out of the house and snack on lots of fresh fruit and veggies.  It doesn't hurt that I just brought home a huge bucket of freshly picked strawberries from a local farm. Yum!

What are your best tips for staying on track while you're in between training cycles?

May 28, 2014

Gymboss Review and a Giveaway

Disclaimer:  I was given a Gymboss to review on our blog.  No compensation was received for this post and as always, the opinions stated here are my own.

My goal race for 2014 was the Quintiles Wrightsville BeachMarathon that took place on March 16, 2014.  I wrote a full recap of the race and honestly it was one of my favorite races ever.  One of the reasons for that was the fact that I never had to worry about my intervals during the race.  Megan, my pacer had purchased a Gymboss interval timer and it was a brilliant thing to do.  I never got to see the intervals, but I am pretty sure it was set for 4:02 minutes running and :58 seconds walking.  We did one practice run of 20 miles, but since I kept track of the intervals, they were not exact since I used my Garmin and just estimated the times.

I was excited to receive this in the mail and finally had a chance to test it out on Saturday morning during my ten mile long run.  Setting up the Gymboss was very easy and I attached the clip so I could hook it right onto my running belt.  The instructions online are very clear and within minutes I was set to hit the road and try out my new gadget. The size, and weight make this a winner since you hardly notice that you are wearing it.

Gymboss did not disappoint once out on the road.  Having the option of either vibration or a little beep, I chose the beep and found it was very a very effective way to manage my run/walk intervals for a long run.  More often than not, I try to save my legs by running the longer runs with intervals. This worked perfectly and will be in my pile of running gear in the future.  I am also excited to use it as a stopwatch when I swim laps at the pool, do planks in the gym, and also for intervals when I do cross training.  It has many uses and is a great addition to my workout tools.

Now for some fun.  Not only was Gymboss kind enough to give one of their interval timer/stopwatch devices for me to try, they are also allowing us to give one away of your color choice.  Enter the contest below using the Rafflecopter link.  Please be advised that the contest is open to those people living in the continental US.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

Today is a reason to celebrate all those who give us the ability to live freely in our great country.  Take a moment to thank a service member or veteran today and say a prayer for those who are serving us here and overseas. Enjoy your family and friends while most of you have the day off.

American Cemetery at Normandy

May 25, 2014

Weekly Roundup - May 25th

Summer has arrived here in North Carolina and that long cold and dreary spring seems like it was such a long time ago.  This week included some hot runs followed by some pool time which is always nice.  Our holiday weekend has included picking strawberries, meeting up with a fellow blogger (Lacey from Fairytales and Fitness) and unfortunately we had a big fail by not taking a photo. Insert sad face here!  One of the most fun things I did this week was my solo run on Saturday when I started the #SummerRunHunt, a scavenger hunt for runners, a little game Lacey and Meranda created on their blog.  Finding twenty different items (listed on their blog) on your run, snapping a photo of that item and then posting it online either on Facebook or Twitter is how it is done..  Ten miles gave me lots of opportunities to spy these items and I checked off 9 on the list.  It made the run pass quickly and gave me brief stops to take the photos with my telephone.

Wild animal was one of the first items on the list and seeing a bunny about five miles into my run was a total surprise.  He did not want to cooperate and pose for the picture, but I did get a shot of his cute white tail!  As for our workouts, I would say it was a successful week. My big mistake was not enough stretching and rolling, but the rest of my workouts were pretty good. I think I need to start doing some push ups after reading Christine's weekly workouts!

Sunday, May 18th
Pam: Ran 8 miles, average pace 9:38
Christine: 5 mile trail walk, abs, 100 push-ups

Monday, May 19th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 7 miles at 8:40 pace

Tuesday, May 20th
Pam: 6.2 miles 57.05 Without Limits workout
Christine: Unplanned rest day (wasn't feeling well)

Wednesday, May 21st
Pam: 20 minutes stationary bike, 1000 meters rowing machine, weights
Christine: 3 miles at 8:38 pace; 5x: 20 push-ups, 50 crunches

Thursday, May 22nd
Pam: track workout total 5.1 miles 10x200 @ 50 seconds.
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, lunges, squats

Friday, May 23rd
Pam: rest day
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, May 24th
Pam: 10 miles 9:41 pace
Christine: 5 miles at 8:35 pace, 100 push-ups, abs

How was your week?  Are you doing anything fun this weekend?

May 23, 2014

Friday Five: 5 Places I want to Run

The lovely ladies of Eat Pray Run DC, Mar on the Run, and You Signed up for What picked a topic that is very near and dear to our hearts for this week's Friday Five linkup - running in cool places!  My list of dream locations to run is a mile long so picking only 5 spots was challenging, but I made it work!

1. Paris. My favorite city (of those I have visited) on earth, bar none. I would love to run along the Seine, down quiet cobble-stoned streets, and of course make a quick stop for some refueling at a local patisserie...probably for a chaussons aux pommes, my favorite breakfast pastry. And of course, there would be some cafe (French for coffee, but really it's espresso) involved.

2. Bermuda.  This small island in the Atlantic is simply beautiful and I have had the good fortune to spend some time vacationing in this beautiful place.  The beautiful water, pink sands, moon gates and longtails make this a place that any runner would enjoy.

3. African Serengeti.  This is probably the least feasible option but I've always been fascinated with the idea of going on safari.  It would be pretty fantastic to be able to run in the African plains and see some cool animals.  I only hope a cheetah wouldn't mistake me for a gazelle!

4. Boston.  As crazy as it seems, I've never run through Beantown.  Of course I'd love to qualify for the Boston Marathon someday, but for now I would settle with running through the Common, along the Charles and through Back Bay.  Despite never being a Boston resident, I've spent tons of time in this fabulous city and would love to experience it on foot.

5. Some pretty mountain town.  There are lots of areas of the U.S. that would qualify - the Smokies, Blue Ridge, Rockies, Tetons etc.  I have always envied the photos of beautiful mountain-side runs that you often see in the "Rave Run" column of Runner's World.  Maybe someday, I'll get the chance to have my own spectacularly beautiful run.

What's your dream running destination?

May 22, 2014

Who's got your back?

After living through my own private terror of being attacked by a dog several months ago,  my running habits have changed. I would like to think that I am a smarter runner now, and have more awareness of the space around me.  This is important for all runners, because honestly we need to have each other's back.

If you Google female runner attacks, you will understand exactly why we all need to have each other's backs. There are many stories that have been told, and sadly there will many more in the future.  So let's try to avoid being one of those runners and prepare in the best way possible.

For as long as I have been running, Road ID, Halt and my phone are items I bring on every run.  While telling someone where I am going is theoretically a great idea, it is not always an option, since Tom and I have different schedules.  And let's face it, there are many single runners who lace up there shoes and no one knows they are out. My mother was a walker for as long as I can remember and she carried Halt spray from the time I was a teenager and that is alot of years! Changing my route is not always an option, but I definitely vary my running times now so there is no set pattern.  Clearly that is not an option for everyone, especially during the work week.

 Here are some of my strategies and certainly many have recommended similar advice.

1. Always carry a cell phone for emergencies

2. Wear Road ID for easy identification

3. If you need music, wear only one earpiece so you are aware of your surroundings.

4. Carry  Halt spray or pepper spray.  Another tip is that your elbow is your strongest body part to fend off an attack. Don't be afraid to use it.

5. Let someone know where and how long you plan to run.  Better yet, download the app to your phone from Road ID that tracks you as you run.  There are probably other apps available that do the same thing.

6. Be alert.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Despite being aware of the charging dog several months ago, I still managed to get a terrible injury that is still not totally healed.  Having easy access to a repellent keeps you safe. Of course this is not convenient, but neither is an attack by a human or animal. I now have a little holder for my spray so it fits loosely around my hand and is always ready for any situation.

7. Run with a friend (s).  Ever since my dog bite, I have been much more eager to find someone to share my runs.  While I do occasionally go out on my own, I am finding that the group runs make me happier and of course that old phrase, "safety in numbers" comes to mind.  A sole person is less likely to attack a group of runners versus a solo runner wearing headphones.

Do you have any other suggestions for staying safe while running outside?

May 21, 2014

Racing with Lucas, a 5k recap

On Saturday morning, the Stride and Girls on the Run Programs in Wilmington had their 5k race as the culmination of the twelve week spring program.  As I mentioned several weeks ago, my race day buddy would be Lucas.  We had made plans to run with his friend Hayes and his mother DeLisa since both boys ran a similar pace during their practice 5k.  Arriving quite early on Saturday, the race location was bustling with activity and my first order of business was picking up my "buddy bib".  My bib did not have a chip in it and Megan, Lucas' mother kindly provided my race entry.

Local businesses were very generous in donating many things for the race.  In the swag bag we received coupons for a Chick Filet chicken sandwich, (I gave mine to Megan), a Pure Protein bar, local race information, a race sticker and a Subway coupon. The race shirt is really nice, made out of a soft cotton and something I will wear.

Back to race morning. I met up with the Eaton Elementary school group and found Lucas and our little group.  With over an hour until the race would start, this group of boys had way too much energy.  After a few group photos, we found several of them, behind these bushes, goofing around as boys will do!

They did pose for this photo, sort of, and then it was back to playtime. With about 15 minutes to go until the race would start, the Girls on the Run coach from Eaton put the girls through their paces with some warm up drills.  Several of the boys joined in and that gave them something to focus on.

Finally it was time to line up.  I took a pre-race photo of DeLisa and Hayes and soon we were walking to the start. 

The sun was really bright!

The boys were put in the first corral and soon we were off with the plan of staying with a reasonable pace for the first couple miles and to kick it home with half a mile to go.  The boys had run their practice 5k at 11 minute mile pace, so we were definitely hoping to go a bit better than that.

I stopped at around 1.5 miles to take this photo!

The boys enjoyed running together and everyone seemed comfortable with the pace.  By the time we reached 2.5 miles, both Hayes and Lucas were ready to pick up the pace and managed to pass several runners on the way to the finish line.  

With a few hundred yards to go

Both DeLisa and I are so proud of these two boys.  They had a strong finish and their time was 31:40.  And best of all, they got medals after crossing the finish line.

Two happy runners!

It was an absolute pleasure being able to run with Lucas and share his first 5k.  Hopefully he and Hayes will rejoin the program next year for more running fun!

Have you ever been involved with Girls on the Run or Stride?

May 20, 2014

Red, White, and Blue 5k Race Recap

Last Saturday, I ran the Red, White and Blue 5k which was at the Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown, VA.  Given that this was my first race in two months, I had (mostly) managed expectations for my performance.  I hoped to run strong and see where I was from a pace and fitness standpoint.  And let me tell you, something happened in the last two months since I pinned on a race bib...I was NERVOUS!
First race in 2 months = nerve city!
I arrived at the base with plenty of time to spare and was easily able to pick up my packet.  I was pretty impressed with their organization - each packet was in a large envelope and included a t-shirt, race bib, pins and raffle ticket.  Leave it to the military to be so organized!  I went back to the car to drop off the shirt and spend a few extra minutes staying warm.  It was a beautiful clear morning but a bit cool - high 50s.  At a few minutes to 8:00, they announced the 1 mile race start.  I took this as my queue to start warming up for my 5k, which had an 8:30 start time.  I did some dynamic stretching, took a short, easy jog and then tried to loosen up my ever-problematic tight hips.  I finally started to warm up, temperature speaking.  At around 8:20, I started making my way to the starting line and scoped out the competition.  It was a gun start, so I was closer to the front of the pack than I normally would be.  Hey, I wanted my final time to reflect my real time!

Mile 1 (7:11): Felt pretty strong and loose.  I kept my eye on a few girls around me, noting that they might be AG competitors.  A short, but steep hill was not welcome!

Mile 2 (7:24): The crowd started to thin and I was keeping pace with several men.  I passed a few and overheard one comment on my skirt.  I grinned as I went past him.  My legs really started to start tightening up around the halfway mark.

Mile 3 (7:31): Oh dear God, is this over yet?!  I was really hurting.  Once we turned down the back stretch, I was able to pick up the pace (I was pacing 7:47 through most of this mile) which made me happy.  I only wished I had looked at my overall time as I might have had enough kick to get a PR.

Final time: 22.59, which is a mere 7/100 off my PR.  Not bad for my first race back.

I would be lying if I didn't tell you that I was pretty spent after the race.  As I made my way through the chute, the guy behind me commented that he paced off of me most of the race and was glad I had a crazy skirt.  Go team sparkle!  I followed the crowd to the post-race refreshments area which was in a park shelter on the lake.  It was a beautiful setting. 

I milled around for a bit waiting on the awards ceremony.  I was hoping that my time might have been good enough for an age group placement and much to my surprise, my age group was the fastest, save the overall race winner who was in the 20-24 group!  I managed to place third which was a nice treat...and a good motivator for my upcoming summer and fall races.

This was a really nice race and I'm glad I made the trek up to Yorktown.  This race was just what I needed to find my mojo and while it would have been nice to PR, I'm happy with my results.


May 19, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Entry Giveaway!

Remember when I told you to keep your eyes on the blog if you're interested in running the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach half marathon this summer?  Well guess what?  We are giving away an entry to run FOR FREE! 

So let's talk details, shall we?

When: The race occurs over labor day weekend on Sunday, August 31st at 7:00 AM

Where: The entire race course takes place at the Virginia Beach oceanfront area.  It starts at the Virginia Beach convention center, takes you over the Rudee Inlet bridge past the Marine Science Museum, takes you out to Camp Pendleton for the turn around and then you head back to the beach for a finish on the Boardwalk.

Race Perks: With your entry, you'll receive a short sleeve Brooks tech shirt (love these!), a gear bag, finisher's medal and of course all of the fabulous course support.

Expo: The expo takes place at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Friday, August 29th from 1-7pm and Saturday, August 30th from 10am-5pm.  This expo is huge and there's tons of great swag!

Entering this giveaway is really simple.  Leave a comment on this post telling us why you'd like to rock Virginia Beach this summer with the We Run Disney girls.  And of course enter your information in Rafflecopter.  That's it.  Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's the fine print:
- Giveaway is good for one race entry in the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach half marathon only.  Travel accommodations are NOT included.
- You will receive a code for your race entry which must be redeemed by August 24, 2013.
- You're in no way obligated to run the race with us, but if you'd like to, that would be fun!

Disclaimer: As a Rock 'n' Blogger, we were provided with a race entry to giveaway to one of our readers.  As always, all opinions are our own.

May 18, 2014

Weekly Roundup: May 18th

This was a fantastic week for both of us.  The sun was shining most of the time, and with spring fully in bloom everyone seemed happier.  I finally got a chance to test the hills of Needham with a run and let me tell you, it was tough.  But I am optimistic that it will be easier the more times I do them!  Cross training has been on the back burner for me, especially my sculpt class.  Returning on Friday, the day before a race was not such a hot idea.  I managed the class and then woke up very sore for the 5k I was running with Lucas.  Both Christine and I will recap our races from Saturday later this week.  Both of us had alot of fun and there will be plenty of photos and stories to tell!

In the meantime, our vegetable garden has popped and spinach leaves are already being harvested for salad.  Each day it is fun to see if anything else is ready to gather and bring inside.  Caprese salad will be on the menu this week once I buy some fresh mozzarella and tomatoes since the basil is ready to pick.

And the mailman brought a special envelope this week! Our trip to Disney World is in just over 4 months so plans are in place for the Tower of Terror race weekend.

Tickets for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

And my trip to Fresh Market yesterday included an overloaded shopping cart with this summer treat!

Salt Water taffy

They had all my favorite flavors so of course I had to buy not one, but two bags filled with watermelon, cinnamon, blue raspberry treats!

Now to our week of workouts.  Both of us seem to be getting our speed back after winter time and a series of longer races. Of course that is making us happy runners.

Sunday, May 11th
Pam: Ran 4 miles, hills in Needham
Christine: Rest day

Monday, May 12th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 5.5 miles at 9:05 pace (very hot and humid!)

Tuesday, May 13th
Pam: Without Limits practice 4.25 miles average pace 9:10
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, core work, push ups, lunges, squats

Wednesday, May 14th
Pam: 30 minutes elliptical machine, weights
Christine: 4 mile progression run (8:48, 8:38, 8:21, 8:03)

Thursday, May 15th
Pam: Without Limits practice 5 miles total (temp followed by track sprints)
Christine: 35 min yoga

Friday, May 916h
Pam: Sculpt class
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, May 17th
Pam: Ortho Wilmington 5k with Lucas
Christine: Run for Red, White and Blue 5k

How was your week?  Did you race over the weekend?

May 16, 2014

Friday Five - Some fun questions and my answers!

The Liebster award seems to make it's way around the internet about once a year, and after several nominations, I decided to answer a few of the questions that I thought were interesting and fun.  Thanks everyone who nominated us, and here are a few tidbits that you might not know about me!

1.  What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
Some might not consider this an accomplishment, but I have been married for nearly 39 years to my best friend.  I am a very lucky girl!

On safari in Africa!

2.  What is at the top of your race bucket list?
This is an easy one.  The Boston Marathon has been at the top of my list since I ran my first full marathon in January 2013.  It was then that I thought I had a chance to qualify and starting working very hard to make it happen.  I will running Boston in 2015 with my sister and I cannot wait!

On my way to a BQ!

3.  What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
My father taught us to always finish what you start.  It's okay to not rejoin or decline an invitation, but if you make a commitment, follow it through. Never ever quit!

4.  What is your favorite song on your music playlist?
Sad but true, Katy Perry's Roar.  It got me through my March marathon and I think I may have played that song at least 15 times during the race!

5.  Other than running, what are some of my hobbies?
I love to swim, walk Lulu, sew, read and attempt to play golf.

Now it's your turn.  Pick one of the questions above and answer it in the comments below!

May 15, 2014

Thoughts from Wednesday's Run

The alarm went off at 4:44.  I immediately grabbed my phone, swatting at the screen aimlessly to make the incessant ringing stop.  At least for another 9 minutes.  It rang again.  And then once more.  At 5:12, I mustered the energy to roll over and sit up in bed, clumsily turning on the lamp on my bedside table.  My training called and I was reminded of my PR attempt later this fall.  I'm not officially in marathon training yet, but I have been slacking lately and I'm trying to get back in a groove.

20 minutes later I was out the door, clad in green shorts, my 2011 Princess Half Marathon shirt, my Garmin, New Balance 860s, and other accessories.  My legs felt tired and I could tell hunger would strike soon.  I didn't feel like eating anything before I left so I snagged a few sips of nuun to try to stave off the rumbles as long as possible. 

The first half mile was rough.  My legs were tired, both of my knees were making me aware of their (achy) presence, and I was wondering if I would be able to get the progression (each mile descending in pace) that I had planned.

A half mile later, I felt my watch vibrate and I checked the pace.  8:48.  Not bad for my "warm up" mile and for a moment, I was nervous that I would be able to bring down the pace for 3 more miles while my legs were fatigued.

And then I thought about Dopey training.  And Marine Corps training.  And every other tough training cycle I've endured.  And suddenly the fatigue and aches in my legs started to dissipate. 

I thought about paces for this weekend's upcoming 5k.  I worked out my outfit for the race.  And then, like many runs, my thoughts drifted to the marathon (aka Marine Corps).  I have recently found myself thinking about that day more frequently.  Part of it is due to the fact that I genuinely miss my MCM buddies, Danielle and Lisa.  Part of it is my impending marathon training for Richmond this fall.  Part of it is the simple fact that that day still fills my mind with overwhelming happy thoughts.  I have talked at length (here, here, and here) about the race and the emotions surrounding it.  That day forever changed me.  In the best way imaginable.  I still remember many of the moments clearly and I hope that never changes. 

When I can zone out and daydream about Marine Corps, the miles tick by, my pace increases, and I find myself wearing a goofy grin.  I know there will never be another race like Marine Corps but the excitement and triumph of that day forever motivate me to get back on the horse, err training cycle, and try for another magical marathon.  After all, Richmond could bring the tally to three.


May 14, 2014

Preparing for Boston

Now that the elusive goal of qualifying for Boston is behind me, what is next?  I thought about this while up in Boston for a brief visit last week.  There are so many details to work out, and first and foremost is figuring out what training will be necessary to help get me to the finish line!  Where I live in Wilmington, NC, there are very few hills.  In fact, unless I run the golf course in my neighborhood, I need to get on a treadmill to find an incline of any significance.  The same goes for declines, and the first half of the Boston Marathon has a net decrease in elevation.  Sunday afternoon, my first training run on some hills in Massachusetts was completed.  And it was not pretty on a hot and sunny afternoon.  These photos don't do the hills justice as they are much steeper than they appear.  I've already discussed this with Sami, one of my running coaches and she said we will start hill training in the fall.  Maybe that will include a treadmill or maybe she has other plans.

My bookshelf has grown since my recent qualification.  Books are being devoured each week and I enjoy reading everything related to the big race!  Yes, I have been seriously studying/reading books to figure out my game plan despite the race being 11 months away!   26.2 Miles to Boston  by Michael Connelly gives great insight into the course mile by mile.  It also includes some interesting stories about what happened with various runners as they passed different mile markers along the way to the finish.  My favorite chapter talks about mile 14, when the runners pass through the town of Wellesley, the place where I grew up!  It will be so much fun to run past the spot where I cheered the runners as a child and of course the place where Mom and I cheered during the 2013 race at the corner of Forest Street and Central Ave.  In 2015, Tom, my mother and Christine will be at this very same spot to give Alison and me a few words of encouragement and hugs.  I also hope to pick up a banana and some extra GU as well!

Some of my recent reads!
Logistics for a race like Boston include hotel planning and of course a race day outfit!  My hotel has been booked for the first few nights for easy Expo accessibility and then I plan to stay with my sister the night before the race.  Guess I better clue her in on that plan!

A great race day outfit is always a fun thing to plan and today I ordered this skirt from Sparkle Skirts.   The comfort and convenience of the Sparkle skirts with their wonderful pockets make them a perfect choice for a long distance race, or any race for that matter.  This model is absolutely perfect with the color and ribbon combination. Christine will be helping to design our race day shirts.  Alison and I will have our names and something clever about being sisters on the back.

Sparkle Skirts
Do you make plans far in advance of a big race?  Any suggestions of how to prepare for Boston?

May 13, 2014

Zensah Giveaway Winner

Congratulations are in order....

to Sarah Jordan!  Please email us ( to claim your prize.

Thanks for entering!

May 12, 2014

My Racing Drought is Over

It's been a long time coming but I'm finally signed up to run another race.  After Shamrock, my body was pretty fatigued so I took a break.  And that break lasted a lot longer than I anticipated but I'm mostly ok with it.  It gave me time to focus on other things and eventually (and just like everyone said), my legs have finally recovered.  After seeing lots of friends racing over the last few weeks, I was itching to race again.  My endurance isn't great right now so a distance race was out and lucky for me, 5ks and 10ks are pretty common in the springtime in Virginia. 

I did a little research and found 3 options for 5ks this coming weekend.  After looking through the race websites and associated information, I settled on the Red, White and Blue 5k that is in Yorktown, VA.  It's a little further from my house than my ideal race location, but I love that it's a military-focused race and is patriotic.  It's also been running for a while so I know it will be relatively organized.

I'm still undecided on race goals.  Of course, I'd love to PR but I'm not sure if my legs are ready for speed yet.  We'll see how it goes!  But regardless of the outcome, I'm looking forward to pinning a bib on my shirt and seeing where the (time) chip falls.

Do you have an inclination to races that benefit a specific organization?

May 11, 2014

Weekly Roundup - May 11th

We are fortunate enough to be spending this Mother's Day together celebrating the graduation of Pam's niece / Christine's cousin. It's been a great weekend of family time but our workouts have definitely suffered! To all the mom's out there, we hope you have a wonderful day! 

Sunday, May 4th

Pam: rest day
Christine: 6 miles at 8:50 pace

Monday, May 5th
Pam: Ran 6 miles average pace 9:20
Christine: 35 min stationary bike, leg workout, core work

Tuesday, May 6th
Pam: Played 9 holes golf, walked and carried my bag
Christine: 4 miles at 8:10, 7:56, 7:51, 7:50

Wednesday, May 7th
Pam: Ran 5.5 miles total, 4 miles with average pace 9.13, 1.5 miles with Strides
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, May 8th
Pam: Travel day 
Christine: 8x400 at average 1:47 with 0.5 mile warm up and cool down for total 4.5 miles

Friday, May 9th
Pam: Travel day
Christine: Travel day

Saturday, May 10th
Pam: 1 hour walk
Christine: 1 hour walk 

May 9, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach: Bling Bling!

After perusing all of the medals on the Rock 'n' Roll website, it occurred to me that I should try to figure out a way to get the Rock Encore medal that you receive when you complete two Rock 'n' Roll events.  And then I realized that I could get another medal - the World Rocker - since I'm planning to complete Dublin.  And then I was invited to be a Rock 'n' Blogger for the race that's in my backyard, the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach half marathon.  So the decision was easy!  I'll be running the Virginia Beach race in my backyard! 

I love that we have a race from a big series that's local.  A few years ago, Mom and I ran it as a relay but I have never completed the half marathon.  It's hard to believe that this was one of our first races and I used my segment of the race as a corral placement time for Wine and Dine later that fall.  Mom will be joining me and she's planning to run the relay.  I'm hopeful that a certain friend (ahem, Megan, cough cough) will be joining her to complete the relay team.

Yesterday, Rock 'n' Roll released the medals for the Virginia Beach race events and I about died when I saw the photos.  I simply ADORE the beachy theme and the preppy vibe of the rope noting the race distance.  I will definitely wear this medal proudly on August 31st after I conquer 13.1 miles at the beach!

Are you rocking Virginia Beach?  If you're considering it, you may want to keep an eye on the blog next week - wink wink!  There's also a discount code for $10 off race registration using code NEWMEDAL.

Note that as a Rock 'n' Blogger, I have been provided with a free race entry into the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon.  I am encouraged to support the race through social media and our blog, but am not required to do so nor are we compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.  I can't wait to share more about my training and race prep as this race gets closer!

Happy Friday!

May 8, 2014

Product Review: POPSUGAR Must Have Snacks by NatureBox

Disclaimer: POPSUGAR and NatureBox provided me with a complimentary POPSUGAR Must Have Snacks by NatureBox box. The opinions I have shared about the box are my own, and POPSUGAR and NatureBox did not tell me what to say or how to say it.

I'm a snacker.  I usually have a variety of crunchy treats in my pantry - pretzels, nuts, bars and the occasional bag of tortilla chips.  When I heard about an opportunity to try out some NatureBox snacks through the POPSUGAR Select program, I was psyched.  Snacking is probably my nutrition downfall so I was eager to try some healthy treats. 

I was pretty excited when the box arrived on my doorstep and I found 5 bags of yummy treats.  They included some snacks that I would consider breakfasty snacks and others for later in the day.  I immediately tossed several of the bags in my work bag to test during the work week. 
Clockwise from top left: Dried California Peaches, Lemon Pucker Pistachios,
POPSUGAR Must Have Mix, Blueberry Almond Bites, and Seaweed Rice Pops
Dried California Peaches: I'm not a huge peach person so I wasn't sure what to expect with these.  Contrary to other dried fruit I've had, these didn't have a super sweet taste.  In all honesty, I'll leave these at work for anyone looking for a snack.  They're not my favorite.

Lemon Pucker Pistachios: I love pistachios so these were right up my alley.  They weren't overly seasoned and I enjoyed the extra bite to these.  Definitely my favorite in the box.

POPSUGAR Must Have Mix: I loved this trail mix!  I'm a sucker for a salty and sweet snack and this hit the spot.  I also love that it has some protein with the nuts and soybeans.  I would definitely buy this again.

Blueberry Almond Bites: I was excited to see these since I had tried a very similar snack in a post-race snack box.  These are perfect for a mid-morning snack when I can't (err shouldn't) eat lunch at 11:00AM!

Seaweed Rice Pops: These were pretty tasty but they have an odd aftertaste.  Maybe it was just a stronger seaweed flavor than I anticipated.  They reminded me of some of the crunchy, salty treats in an Asian trail mix. 

Considering that I loved 3 out of 5 of the snacks, I feel like this box was a huge success!  I enjoyed the opportunity to test out some new treats and I'll definitely keep these in mind when I'm at the grocery store.  If you're interested in trying these snacks for yourself, there's a special offer to get 50% off your NatureBox order!

What are your favorite snacks?

May 7, 2014

Today I meet Lucas

About a year or so ago, I expressed my interest in getting involved with the Girls on the Run program, a wonderful way to get elementary school age girls introduced to running. I contacted the program organizer at the local YMCA and unfortunately, they wanted me to be in charge and since I frequently travel, it was not an option.  However, many more opportunities have become available since I joined Without Limits last fall.  These have included a wonderful girls trip to North Myrtle Beach to run the Divas Half Marathon and this June we have plans for another race trip.  This summer, I am hopeful that several girls on the team will also join me to learn stand up paddle boarding, an item on my fitness bucket list!

Now to my latest news and excitement.  In late March, Kristy and I were running together at one of our track practices and she mentioned that her triplets sons were involved in the Strides program, the elementary school age boys equivalent to Girls on the Run.  I told her the story of how I had wanted to be a volunteer for the girls program and she immediately asked if I would like to help out with the boys.

This would be the perfect fit since they just needed volunteers and not a program director!   She even told me that at the last practice a mom had asked if someone could run the 5k with her son at the May 17th 5k race. I can't wait to be a race buddy at the Ortho 5k in Wilmington!  The school is year round, so today is my first opportunity to help out at practice.  And today I will meet Lucas!  Normally a parent runs with their child, but unfortunately, this was not an option for Lucas, so he gets me!  Kristy gave me a warning last night by text that the boys are wild and to expect total chaos.  Since the practice 5k, all these little guys want to do is play games and run free.  Stay tuned!

Have you volunteered for the Girls on the Run or Strides Program?

May 6, 2014

Giveaway: Zensah DeZign Compression Sleeves

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you probably have noticed that I typically wear calf sleeves for longer races.  A while back, I was having some trouble with a calf muscle and found that the "hug" feeling that compression sleeves provide really helped.  And in the age old debate on compression sleeves vs. compression socks, I'm a sleeve girl.  I like the flexibility to wear my preferred socks with the sleeves. 

I am a loyal Zensah compression sleeve wearer.  They've gotten me through half and full marathons with happy legs!  The awesome people at Zensah are providing a pair of their brand new DeZign Compression Sleeves for a We Run Disney reader.  Aren't they adorable?!?!  I love the polka dot design and can envision lots of cute costumes for an upcoming runDisney race. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

May 5, 2014

Two sisters run Boston!

Yesterday was a huge day for me.  I did not race, I did not run, in fact, it was a rest day for me.  However, my sister did run and did she ever run!   Let me back up a little.....after qualifying for Boston in March, I had researched the time that my sister would need to run to qualify in her age group.  With a 4:40 time goal, it seemed likely that she could meet this time, based on a recent half marathon.  However, a marathon is a whole other beast and anything can happen during this long difficult race.

In late March, I researched local races for Alison and found the Cox Providence Marathon scheduled for May 4th.  This was perfect since it was about an hour drive from her home in Massachusetts.  I sent her the link to register via email and decided that was as pushy as I could be.  Secretly, I wanted to register for her and also travel to Providence and cheer her along! However, Alison was the one who needed to decide to register, not me.  She does not train for any race longer than a half and usually she does that by perhaps running a long run of eight miles prior to race day. She inherited bad feet from our sweet mother and this was a decision only she could make.

Christine and I both checked for a bib number yesterday and with nothing listed on the race page, we both figured she had decided against it. Selfishly I was disappointed, but felt she made the best decision for her.....little did I know that she had a plan up her sleeve.  Thankfully, she was sneaky and only registered on Saturday, in person to avoid us knowing she was racing!

My phone rang mid afternoon yesterday and I saw on caller ID that it was Alison.  She started the conversation with small talk and then I asked if she had raced that day. She admitted she had and told me what she thought her time was. (4:30, she was off by 7 minutes!) The first half went well, but the last half was quite difficult with very strong headwinds. After telling me all about the race, she happened to mention that she had qualified for Boston. Shrieks could be heard far and wide as I jumped up and down and screamed.  Having a buddy to run the 2015 Boston Marathon is so exciting.  We will be making lots of plans over the coming months and also doing some training runs when I am in Massachusetts visiting our mom.

So excited and happy for both Alison and myself.  Thanks again big sis for doing this for us!

May 4, 2014

Weekly Roundup - May 4th

What a fun week starting out with the Divas Half Marathon on Sunday, finishing up with a great run yesterday. Pacing Mitzie was a blast and I plan to recap what I can do better the next time I pace someone.  I had fun placing my two new medals on my medal rack and realize that I probably will be adding another bar sometime this year.

2 additions for my shrine!

One of my best friends, Susan called me yesterday to tell me about a little accident she had which resulted in a total hip replacement....stinks for sure, but she was doing something she loves, jumping horses.  She is highly competitive and loves the prizes just like yours truly.  So imagine my surprise when she tells me she won a "prize" for doing the most steps in rehab post hip replacement.  I laughed so hard people were staring at me in the store. (I was grocery shopping when she called)  If you have been following our blog, you know she was my tennis partner when we both were playing competitive tennis.  And we hated to lose then, and surprise surprise, we are both still anxious to get our hands on a prize. Sad but true statement!

As for workouts this week, I was thrilled with my speedier long run yesterday and overall, felt it was a great week.  My healthy diet needs an adjustment though. I have been dipping into candy far too often lately!

Here's what we did this week:

Sunday, April 27th
Pam: Divas Half Marathon 13.15 miles to be exact!
Christine: 8 miles at 8:41 pace

Monday, April 28th
Pam: 15 minutes stationary bike, lots of stretching and rolling
Christine: Boot camp

Tuesday, April 29th
Pam: 9 holes golf, walked and carried my bag
Christine: 4 miles at 9:05 pace

Wednesday, April 30th
Pam: 25 minutes elliptical machine, weights
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, May 1st
Pam: WOL track practice; total 3.5  miles  3x800 @7:55 pace  4x200 moderate hard
Christine: Rest day

Friday, May 2nd
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 3 mile progression (8:27; 8:05; 7:53)

Saturday, May 3rd
Pam: 5 miles at 8:46 pace
Christine: Rest day

May 3, 2014

A little R&R this weekend

This week has been strangely long.  It definitely hasn't been a bad week but it's been dragging on an on.  I am so relieved the weekend is here and there are 5 big reasons why!

1. Sleeping in this weekend.  I haven't been sleeping all that great and am hoping to get some rest this weekend.  And yes, I know that you can't really "catch up" on sleep.

2. Spring baseball.  We may not have professional teams in our area, but we have a AAA team that has a gorgeous stadium right on the Norfolk Harbor.  I'm planning to hit up a game this weekend with friends and nothing signals summer more than baseball!

3. Marathon training plan.  This weekend, I plan to get my act together and start thinking about my Richmond marathon training plan.  One major thing standing in my way is my MIA copy of Run Less, Run Faster.  That book is my crutch for all training plans and the fact that I can't find it is making me twitch a bit!

4. Follow Expedition Everest.  I can't wait to see all the photos and hear about EE this weekend!  Are you racing??

5. Daydream about Paris.  A friend from work is headed to the City of Lights in a few weeks so I've been giving her tons of recommendations for where to go.  So it means that I can start daydreaming about my (yet unplanned) next trip.
One of my "musts" in Paris
What are you most excited about this weekend?

May 2, 2014

Five things I love about racecations!

This week, the topic for the Friday five linkup with Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney is five things I love about: (fill in the blank) and I chose racecations.  Yup, that is not really a word, but since racing and vacations are two of my favorite things, it seemed the perfect word for this Friday topic!

Here is my list of why I love to take a trip for a race.

1.  Being with running friends  I love to travel with Christine, my sister and my new running friends from my Without Limits training group.  It is so much fun to be with people who love to run and race, and their company make the trips such a great experience.

2.  Going to new places It is no secret that I have the travel bug.  Tom and I became avid travelers while living in England for nearly five years.  There are so many places we have had the opportunity to see, but many more where I would love to run a race.....hello London, Berlin, Tokyo, Athens, Rome.  You get the picture!  

Pretty sweet photo by Tom of the jeep next to us!

Of course the Big Five marathon could be a fun addition to my race calendar!

3. Running  Another thing that is not a secret.  I love running and what better way to enjoy it than on a vacation.  It doesn't hurt to be running in cool places either, like the time I got to run with  a Kenyan while vacationing in Nairobi!  

4. Traveling with Family  Almost all of my race trips have been taken with family members.  Tom has been a great sport and gone along for a few race only trips, but I have also added a race here and there when one was available at a destination we had planned to visit for a regular trip.  Can you imagine planning a trip without a race?  Well, I usually check just in case there might be a race in a city we will be stopping at!

Superheroes 5k charity race at Regents Park London
5. Planning  I am a huge planner.  I love to spend time planning every detail of trips, from the airline tickets, best hotel location, dining options and of course sight seeing spots.  A huge part of trips for me is getting everything organized in advance to make sure our days go smoothly.  Of course, you need to have some flexibility in case your plane is delayed or your hotel is oversold.  

Do you enjoy racecations?  What is your favorite place to race besides Walt Disney World or Disneyland?