October 31, 2014

It's Halloweeeeeeen, time for some runDisney costume fun!

Thanks Mar, Cynthia and Courtney for another fun topic this week for the Friday Five Linkup. It is no surprise that we love to dress up for races at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Since the topic of the week is Halloween, we are sharing our top 5 costumes for runDisney races in no particular order!

1.  The Jingle Jungle 5k during Wine and Dine last year was one of our favorite short distance races.  It is a holiday themed race, and we enjoyed dressing up as Mickey elves!

2.  We dressed up as Tweedle Mom and Tweedle daughter during the Disneyland half marathon in 2013.  This was part of the Dumbo Challenge and we had a blast making and wearing these costumes.

3.  Piglet and Tigger were the costume choices for the Walt Disney World 5k race last January.  This was the only race where I have worn a tutu for the entire race and I would probably only put up with one for a short distance like a 5k. 

4.  Our first Wine and Dine race, in 2012, we dressed up as Minnie and had shirts printed with "Run 13.1 now, Wine later!"

5.  Last of all, our outfits for Princess Half Marathon in 2012.  Dressed as the Rabbit and Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, we enjoyed wearing costumes since ladies seem to go all out for this race with tutus, tiaras and such.  We are not the princessy type, so we choose Disney characters instead. The back of Christine's shirt had a sign, "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date with my medal!

Putting a little pizazz into your race by dressing in costume can add a nice element of fun.  We usually are not trying for spectacular times at the Disney events, but even when we are trying to do well, our costumes are usually runner friendly. Continuing with the Halloween theme, here are a couple Disney Halloween costumes that I sewed for Christine when she was young! Time for a little embarrassment and yes, there will be payback!

Alice in Wonderland

Merryweather from Sleeping Beauty
How are you celebrating Halloween?  Are you dressing up?

October 30, 2014

Taper Time!

It's hard to believe that after several months of marathon training, I've arrived at the taper phase.  While some people loathe this part of the training, I love it!  I'm very familiar with the tapering concept since this was always part of my swimming training prior to any big meet.  After weekends of high mileage runs, I enjoy having the extra time...for sleeping, other hobbies, or being lazy.  With a big race on the horizon, I'm dedicated to making this a successful taper cycle. 

I'm trying really hard not to obsess over time goals for Richmond Marathon, but that's hard.  I ran both of my 20 mile runs at the exact same overall pace (9:31) which is more than 90 seconds faster than my last 20 mile training runs (prior to Marine Corps Marathon and Dopey Challenge).  I know I'm well-positioned for a PR and I'm hopeful that I might be able to reach my if-everything-goes-perfectly time goal.  Regardless, I know that I have trained hard and am ready for the miles.  I am conscious of the fact that a gazillion things can go wrong on race day so there are always wild cards to manage during the race.

Over the last few weeks, I've been feeling really run down.  I had sort of forgotten how the peak training weeks can leave you feeling fatigued and exhausted.  I've been working on getting to bed no later than 10:00 and taking naps on the weekend, if I can fit them in.  I generally don't sleep all that great right before a race so you better believe I will be focusing on getting quality sleep over the next 2+ weeks.

I'm so glad that Halloween is this weekend so the candy will be gone and I can start ridding my diet of a million fun-sized candy bars.  The office candy jar happens to be on my desk (yea, I realize it's not the best idea) and I will have that emptied until after race day so the temptations are minimal.  Other than avoiding superfluous candy (read: sugar and calories), I'll be focusing on eating quality lean proteins, produce, and whole grains.  My diet is normally pretty healthy so my challenge will be cutting out the extras - alcohol, diet soda, and sweets.  I have a pumpkin pasta bake that I'll be making on Sunday night and it will make great leftovers for the coming week.

And other than sleeping and eating well, I'll be trying to stay busy in the evenings and weekends when I normally would be spending time doing longer, more intense workouts.  I just bought a copy of the Spirit of the Marathon which is my go to motivational movie.  Thanksgiving is around the corner and I always love planning the menu.  And then there's that pesky issue of my house...it really could use a good deep cleaning.  But I mean I could risk injury with cleaning right?  Yea, I probably shouldn't mess with that until later...

Any tips for tapering?

October 29, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon - the highs and lows.

Sunday was a big day.  I was running the 39th Marine Corps Marathon, also known as the People's Marathon.  This was on my bucket list after Christine ran it last year as her first marathon. It is a hugely popular race and many runners try to gain entry every year.  I really wanted to be gushing with excitement as I wrote my race recap.  However, we try to give our totally honest opinions, so be prepared because this did not end up being a love affair. In fact, I plan to do some whining in this post so now may be the time to step away from the page if you don't want to read my complaints!

Waking before the alarm is nothing new for me on race day. At 2:30 I was up tweeting, went back to bed, slept off and on and then got up at 4:30.  After taking a shower and getting dressed, I ate my banana, had some Gatorade and double  triple checked my gear.  It was time to go!

With my bag ready and wearing a coat and throwaway, Tom and I made our way to the Metro for the trip to the Pentagon station.  After a very long walk to the Runner's Village, Tom and I said goodbye and I went through the security check and into the runners starting area.  I saw the UPS bag check trucks and headed in that direction to get rid of my bag.  A voice called to me and it was Sarah of Sparkly Runner. She was volunteering at bag check and I sat and chatted with her for about 30 minutes.  It was wonderful to see a familiar face and made the time go quickly!

Soon it was time to head to the start and this was my opportunity to use the VIP porta potty with the Brooks Running gang.  This was a seriously great benefit that included lighted, climate controlled toilets, a real sink with soap and water and tons of little items you might need like body glide, mints, lotion, band aids etc.  Locating a spot in the starting area should not be a big deal.  Marine Corps Marathon has an honor system, and you are supposed to line up with your expected finish time. Note that I said supposed. With this in mind, I found the spot for the 4:15-4:29 runners, with a goal of around 4:20- 4:23. Given my training, coach Sami and I thought that was conservative with how I have been running/training the last few months. The pre race festivities started and boy were they spectacular,  They had a super exciting fighter jet fly by, followed by several parachute groups, one with a huge American flag and followed by the National Anthem.   The Howitzer sounded and the first runners were off.  I crossed the start line with 8:50 on the clock.

Instead of giving a blow by blow, mile by mile recap, I am doing something a bit different.  Here are the highs and lows of my race day:

* Absolutely gorgeous race day weather.  Who could find fault with a perfect blue sky day and cool temperatures.

* The crowd support was amazing.  People cheered loud and with great enthusiasm and this helped me through some of the rough parts of the race.

* Having my family in attendance made the race very special for me.  They managed to see me 5 times, and at mile 26, Christine was in my face with the cow bell and I missed her.  That is focus and I feel really badly that I missed one last opportunity to see my special cheer squad!

Mile 19, big smile for my family (photo by Christine)

* The race course was fabulous.  Despite some early hills and a last hill to the finish, it was relatively flat and through very interesting parts of DC.  I loved passing the monuments and stately buildings and the Rock Creek area was especially nice too with the tree lined parkway that provided shade.

* The "Run to Honor" section of the course was so well done, but I must admit, it made me weak and caused a few tears.  The photos of fall servicemen was so moving, especially the ones I noticed holding their children. It also made me recall my brother in law who passed away over 33 years ago while on a training flight with the Marines. Thanks to all of them for making the ultimate sacrifice.

* The volunteers were so helpful. Marines were everywhere you turned and some additional volunteers were on the course to support the food stops. (Thanks Kathryn and Preston)

* This race runs like a well oiled machine.  The timing of the event went exactly according to plan.  This suits me, as any extra wait just cause lots and lots of anxiety!

* Having a medal presented to you by a US Marine is indescribable.  It was a wonderful moment that I will never forget.

Loved the special treatment by one of our fabulous Marines!


* You probably figured out already that I was disappointed in the corral system. When runners with a 5-6 plus hour marathon result start within minutes of the gun, there is a problem. I could not get into a groove and at mile 5, when my family saw me, they knew I was upset. My 5k pace was 10:23 which was the best I could manage while passing hundreds of runners, weaving around large groups with some already walking.  I have absolutely no problem with walkers or anyone trying to complete a marathon, but when a race has self seeding corrals, honestly is important, both for runner safety and for the benefit of everyone racing. Training for a marathon is hard work and my goal was to complete the race at or below my goal pace.  I am certain that if I had lined up with the 4 hour finishers or better, my time goal would have been met.  There was absolutely no way for me to know that I should "cheat" and stand where I really did not belong.  After a quick review of the results and some estimation, I am pretty sure I passed between 2-3,000 runners, maybe more.

* The water stops were disappointing.  While there were enough, they were always crowded and it was hard to get in to get either water or Gatorade. I am not sure if this was a course issue or a runner issue.

* I cried when I met my family after the race and it was not happy tears. When you work so hard and feel like you did everything right, it is difficult to accept a disappointing result. The frustration just leaked out of my body!

More than anything, I am so sad that I did not love the race. It was my sister's first marathon and Christine's first and they both enjoyed it immensely. While I have run a big marathon before, this was a new learning experience and I will be better equipped to handle a large race in the future.  Moving on, it is now time to focus on some other things like this, the next big race on my schedule!

October 28, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon by the numbers

First of all, thanks so much for the overwhelming support over the weekend.  The texts, tweets and Facebook messages were appreciated more than I can say. After a wonderful weekend in DC, my legs and sore body are trying to get back to normal.  Walking backwards down the stairs and struggling to get up after sitting makes me feel like a really old lady runner!

Yesterday, I finally upgraded my cell phone and my photos from the race are still in the i-cloud waiting to make it to the new phone. By the way, I have no idea what that means. Zero technology in my brain. Back to the race,  my post today will only include a couple photos and some fun statistics. I love numbers and analyzing my race splits is always something that amuses me and is helpful for future races.

Total Female Finishers  8578
Total Overall Finishers 19670
My final results:
Finish Time: 4:27.19
Clock Time: 4:36.09
Age Group, female 60-64  13 out of 121
Female Overall  2191
Overall  6835

Some statistics I don't know are:
How many gallons of water and Gatorade were served to the runners?
How many Clif gels were handed out and how many oranges were sliced and served?
What cumulative mileage was run to prepare for the race by the 19,670 finishers?  It has to be a bazillion.
And on that same topic, how many shoes were worn out training for the race?
This list could go on and on with stats about Body Glide, blisters etc.
What statistic would you most like to know about a big race?

Now it is time to go eat all the junk I avoided for several weeks prior to the race.  Hello Halloween candy from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and ice cream.  I am ready for the treats!

Do you treat yourself to lots of goodies after a big race?  What are your favorites?

October 24, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon: a different race day outfit

Choosing a running outfit that was appropriate for the Marine Corps Marathon was not a difficult task.  My red Sparkle Skirts running skirt was the first part of the outfit and adorning it with red, white and blue ribbon made it very patriotic.  You may remember that I wore this skirt for the Operation Homefront 5k in Virginia Beach in 2013.

 Wearing a shirt that had some kind of meaning was important for me.  There will be areas of the course to commemorate our fallen soldiers as well as many service men and women running the race. Honoring them with a specially designed shirt for the occasion seemed perfect. So my inspiration for this idea came from a chance meeting. This summer, a girl who I met in the corrals at a runDisney race was preparing to be deployed.  Rachel has a young family, with both a 9 month old daughter. and a 3 year old son.  Having to leave them behind while she serves our country was and is a huge sacrifice to both she, her husband, her children and extended family.  While there are many other soldiers doing the exact same thing, I became friendly with Rachel and wanted to honor her.  So here is the shirt that I designed with help from One More Mile.  I was thrilled when it arrived at my house.  It is perfect for race day.

Of course I need accessories too and those include gloves and a visor since the weather forecast looks perfect for race day, sunny and cool.

Love my new Brooks Ravenna shoes that match my outfit!

Now I just need to hurry up and get to DC for the Expo and race!  Who else will be there with me?

Disclosure: All parts of my race outfit were purchased by me.  I do love both Sparkle Skirts and One More Mile so I included links to their websites in this post. 

October 23, 2014

A visit to Brooks headquarters

If you have followed our blog for any length of time, you know that I am a huge fan of Brooks running shoes.  It is embarrassing how many pairs of Ravenna I have gone through in my short running career. When I realized that the brand new Brooks global headquarters building had just opened in Seattle, I was eager for a chance to visit.  We had a long weekend planned there to attend a wedding and this was my opportunity.  After trading a few tweets with @brooksrunning, Tom and I decided to pay a visit last Friday.  After getting a bus from our downtown Seattle hotel, we arrived at this spanking new building mid morning.  We were greeted by a friendly guard and sent up on the elevator to the 5th floor.  After speaking with a receptionist, we headed back downstairs to #trailhead, the name for the first and only Brooks store at the moment.  This place was beyond anything you could imagine. With enthusiastic staff and a fabulous layout, any runner would love to shop, stop to chat, or pick up a few supplies while out on a run.  With great planning this building location is adjacent to the Burke-Gilman Trail , a fantastic trail of 27 miles for runners and bikers.

So let's get started!

The entrance and reception area are very welcoming with loads of bright colors and of course shoes, lots of shoes

After chatting with Megan and her colleague at the trailhead store, soon Raffaela, the social media specialist, arrived to give us a tour of the headquarters building.  We started by learning about the building itself.  It was built with high energy efficiency and that spills over to the employees  While this building has five floors and elevators, it is rare to see an employee on the elevator.  The stairs are enclosed with glass and give you a birds eye view of the street and of course the opportunity to say hello to your fellow employees!  The windows are large and provide a great deal of natural light which saves on energy zapping light fixtures.  A special sculpture has been positioned in the lobby to show just how dedicated Brooks is to low energy consumption. This sculpture of brass flowers has the capability of revealing how well energy consumption is going at any given moment.  In a nutshell, if the flowers are in bloom, everything is going well.  Wilted flowers mean improvements are necessary!

One of the fun perks for employees is the Beastro, the lunch and snack place.  As expected, the chef makes great healthy food options and the atmosphere is even conducive for meetings,  In fact, a group of  eight was sitting around one of the tables when we visited so the only photo I took was this sign,

After rounding out the tour by seeing the rooftop deck that is used as a yoga studio during the warmer months, we headed back down to trailshead for photos and a look around the store. While this is a store and you can purchase shoes and clothing, it is really much much more.  The employees want to connect to with you as runners, not just as a potential sale that day.

lots of runner goodies

While out on a run, we all have moments when we wish we had an extra gel, some Body Glide on that spot we missed, or a tissue.  Brooks has this station set up in the store for those out running in the vicinity.  If you need anything, just check this box and you are most welcome to take what you need. I have a feeling you will get a little encouragement from the staff too, if you need to stop by for any of these items.

sunscreen, gels, bandaids, tissues, chapstick, Body Glide,gum and encouragement
And if you are in need of hydration, check this out.  How cool is the Nuun Hydration station?  There are numerous flavors to choose from and it is easy to make yourself a glass.  Perfect for hot summer days!

Thanks to Raffaela for showing us around and also to the staff at the store.  Next time I visit Seattle, I will definitely have to try running the Burke-Gilman Trail.  It sure beats the hotel treadmill!

With Raffaela and of course I am holding the Ravenna 5

October 22, 2014

It's Marine Corps Marathon week - getting ready

Last year Christine ran Marine Corps as her first marathon. After hearing many accolades and stories about the race, it seemed a perfect race for me to try this fall.  I can't wait to get to the starting line on Sunday, but in the meantime, have started to get ready. My goals for this week include lots of sleep, staying healthy and just a few short runs!

While resting up for race day, I have started to obsess over all the little details.  Packing for a race should be easy, but each time I seem to panic a bit about making sure everything is included in my bag.  Does anyone else have this problem?

Yes, I am that runner that starts the packing process way ahead of time! Since I have not added any new music to my shuffle over the last few months, it is time.  I found this iTunes card in my desk and plan to add a few new songs to my play list.

Figuring out where to dine in the DC metropolitan area should be easy.  The hotel has a nice restaurant and since it is located in Crystal City, we will have no trouble finding local places for healthy choices pre race.  Today I will try to make some reservations and hope it is not too late!

My outfit is complete thanks to these two packages arriving yesterday when we returned from our weekend in Seattle.  You can get a little idea of what I am wearing from the photo below.  It seemed the perfect race to honor our service men and women so yes, it is a red white a blue themed race outfit!

Last but not least, I am trying to get mentally in the zone for my 4th marathon.  Some night this week, I will watch "Spirit of the Marathon" for the 5th or 6th time.  It is the perfect movie to watch before a marathon.  "Spirit of the Marathon 2" is also very good!

Do you have any great tips for getting yourself ready for a marathon?  All advice is greatly appreciated!

October 21, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon Course: 11 Tips From Someone Who Has Been There

Without a doubt the Marine Corps Marathon has been one of my all-time favorite races.  Sure it was my first marathon so it has that going for it but I truly believe there's something really special about this race.  I'm really excited for Mom to experience it this weekend and I have a feeling she (and all of you) will love it!  I remember being a sponge for course information at this time last year and wanted to soak in every major moment so I figured I would share some insights from my experience on the course last year!

The Starting Line: No corrals here folks, you self-seed.  There will be large banners with estimated finish time so you can properly line up.  It's a zoo but it's truly organized, trust me on this one.  And it took us about 10-12 minutes to get across the starting line after the Howitzer was fired.

Roslyn (miles 1-3): This is where the big hills are, people.  Let them help you reign in your speed.  Roslyn will be packed with tons of spectators which is fun and I remember seeing some great signs last year.

Georgetown (miles 4.5-5.5): I remember some hills in here and lots of spectators.  What I actually remember most is that the road was really wet from a water station.  That's random, I know!

Rock Creek Parkway (miles 6-9.5): This part of the course was very crowded, but also very scenic.  You're running on a tree-lined road and there's little else to see except for runners on all sides of you.  Turn off your music and soak in the sounds of the thumping feet.  And be cautious of the hand cyclists.  Because of the hills in here, they definitely had challenges navigating the major crowds.

Kennedy Center (mile 10.5): We passed the Kennedy Center last year right after the orange slices stop and I remember this point well.  I anticipated seeing a friend spectating here, but she turned out to be elsewhere on the course.  There's great spectators in here.

Haines Point (miles 11-15): People warned me that this could be a tough area of the course.  If it's windy, you're likely to feel it because you're more exposed.  I really loved this section for a few reasons.  The Mile to Remember (mile 12) is incredible.  Do yourself (and your fellow Americans) a favor and turn off your music.  Take in the photos of the fallen service men and women.  Take in the line of American flags.  It's really moving. 

The Monuments and the Mall (miles 16-19): This was the most awesome section of the course for me.  I loved seeing the heart of DC and I also had some wonderful spectators on the mall.  The spectators are wall-to-wall on the course through this section so enjoy it.  You may laugh but you will need that crowd energy as you turn to head over the bridge.  Speaking of the bridge...

The 14th Street Bridge (mile 20): This may feel like the longest mile of the race.  The bridge can break you.  It is quiet.  There are no spectators and you have a 10k to go.  I tried to take in the views of Crystal City and stay upbeat.  When you come off the ramp off the bridge, don't look right....the finish line is that direction and it's too soon to start daydreaming about the finish. 

Crystal City (miles 22-24): You will get another small taste of hills through here.  Despite the crowds here, I found this section of the course to be very quiet.  In fact, I threw my hands in the air at one point and yelled at the crowd to cheer for us!  The best part of Crystal City is the munchkin station as you head back toward the Pentagon.  I wasn't feeling this last year but I know tons of people loved this aid station!

The Pentagon (mile 24.5): You'll exit Crystal City under the 395 overpass an run toward the Pentagon.  I remember this stretch from last year.  Feeling so close that I could almost taste the finish line Gatorade.  There's a great DJ set up in front of the Pentagon and a fabulous Marine who told us 1.2 miles to go when we got back on the onramp to the finish.

The finish (mile 26.2...duh!): I was warned about the final hill up to the finish line.  In my head, it was Everest and in reality, it wasn't that bad.  The crowds approaching the finish were INSANE and they were encroaching on the road quite a bit so be prepared for it to feel a bit narrow all of a sudden. 

If you're running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend, I wish you the best day on earth!  This was one of the best days of my life and I hope it lives up to (my) hype!

Interested in reading more?  Here are a few of my posts from last year.
2013 Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap
My Top 5 Marine Corps Marathon Moments
Marine Corps Marathon by the Numbers
My Taper Plan

Are you running Marine Corps?  Getting excited??

October 19, 2014

Weekly Roundup - October 19th

I'm sitting here enjoying a homemade pumpkin spice latte, reveling in a fabulous run.  It was really the perfect fall day this morning - very cool to start, clear, blue skies, and signs of the season everywhere.  I saw many pumpkins, leaves dancing in the street, and acorns crunching underfoot.  It was one of those runs that reminds you why you love running.  It was effortless and a nice change of pace from the very forced long runs I've been doing in preparation for Richmond marathon.
View of the Battleship Wisconsin from my run today
We both had good weeks in terms of workouts.  Mom is counting down the days until Marine Corps Marathon (I really can't believe it's next weekend!) and I'm one long run away from taper town heading into Richmond.  Definitely an exciting few weeks ahead of racing for these girls!

Sunday October 12th
Pam:  travel day
Christine: 20 miles at 9:31 pace

Monday, October 13th
Pam:  Ran 4.25 miles, average pace 9:30
Christine: 15 min yoga sequence, lots of stretching (mostly a rest day)

Tuesday, October 14th
Pam:  30 minutes elliptical, weights
Christine: Ran 6 miles with hill repeats mixed in, average pace 8:53

Wednesday, October 15th
Pam: 8 mile long run (last before Marine Corps Marathon, average pace 9:45
Christine: 30 min tabata workout

Thursday, October 16th
Pam:  travel day
Christine: 4 miles at 9:05 pace

Friday, October 17th
Pam: 30 min hotel gym workout
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, October 18th
Pam: 30 min hotel gym workout
Christine: 2 hours yard work

October 17, 2014

Friday Five - Marathon Jams

I am always looking for new music so I was excited to see that the gals of the DC trifecta chose running songs as this week's Friday Five topic. Since I'm less than a month away from my next marathon, I figured I would share the songs that were my anthems for my past races and one that is a new jam.

1. Thinking about You, by Calvin Harris featuring Ayah Marar: This was my anthem for Marine Corps Marathon.  I listened to it on repeat for the last few miles...or at least I think I did...I'm not sure if there were many coherent thoughts over those last few miles!

2. Beautiful techno remix by Christina Aguilera: This was my training jam for Marine Corps.  I never really liked the original version of this song, but I could get on board with the techno version.  It's a good beat and a good message for running!

3. Call on Me, Ministry of Sound Remix by Eric Prydz: I first heard this song on the streets of London (literally) in the mid-2000s.  And ever since, it's been on my workout playlist.  It was the song that got me across the finish line for my first half marathon and became one of my jams during the final leg of the Dopey Challenge during last year's Walt Disney World Marathon.

4. Panama by Van Halen: Like my girl Kathryn, this one is a staple on my playlist.  I vividly remember hearing it around mile 6 or 7 during Marine Corps and feeling SO GOOD at that moment.  Whenever this song comes on, I'm able to channel that moment.  Music really is a powerful thing I tell ya!

5. Alive by Krewella: This has become my Richmond Marathon training song.  My buddy Kass originally recommended this song a while back when I was looking for some new music.  Not only do I love this song, but every time I hear it, I think of her and her speediness.  So that's some pretty good motivation if you ask me!

Thanks again for hosting another awesome Friday Five, Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney!  As I'm looking to complete my Richmond playlist, I would love some song suggestions that get you pumped!

October 16, 2014

Long Run Successes

On Sunday, I ran my longest run since last December - 20 miles.  I was a bit anxious about this run, mostly due to the distance but I was also curious to see how I would manage it from a pace standpoint.  I was really excited with my results.  It was my strongest run to date and I believe there are a few reasons that I felt pretty strong.  But let's be real here, it started with a temper tantrum because my Garmin wasn't tracking pace and then I realized I forgot my phone and had also locked myself out of the house...more on that another time...

Pretty happy with a successful 20 mile run!
I am guilty of not always fueling very well the night before a long run.  This weekend, I paid better attention.  I cooked a hearty (and also delicious!) gnocchi dish the night before and hydrated with Gatorade and water.  No beer for this girl! 

I'm learning how to zone out in the beginning of long runs.  Over my last few runs, I'm learning to turn on my brain and take my attention off my watch for the early miles.  I find that I'm usually surprised when I've already covered a substantial amount of the run without exerting much mental energy.  I'm hoping that this mental "training" will help me during the race.

I love nothing more than seeing other runners out while I'm on a run.  I saw at least a dozen on Sunday and most exchanged friendly smiles, a wave, or a hello.  I saw another woman who was clearly out for some miles (the Bondiband, Garmin, and hydration belt were dead giveaways...) and we exchanged a smile and a wave that seemed to say "you got it girl, keep going."  Every time I saw another runner, I got a mental boost.

But the biggest boost of all came when I turned into my last neighborhood that I would hit before I headed back to my own neighborhood.  I had already run through this neighborhood once and now I was in the home stretch - probably around mile 16 or so.  I noticed a man in his driveway getting out of his car.  As I approached his house, he said to me "you've been running at least 2 hours and I can only assume it's on purpose."  I responded, "Yes, sir.  I'm on a 20 mile run and I'm training for a marathon."  His response "You go girl."  Those 3 words propelled me the last 3-4 miles and I haven't ever felt better.  I don't know if he runs or if he just appreciated that I was pushing my physical limits for fun on a Sunday morning.  Either way, it meant the world to me. 

What motivates you when you're out on a long run?

October 15, 2014

An open letter to Stonyfield, a Boston Marathon Sponsor

Dear Stonyfield Corporation,

On Monday evening there was a firestorm of activity on twitter and Facebook following a blog post that was on your home page.   As a sponsor of the Boston Marathon 2015, you were given some race entries and someone at your company made the decision to choose eight female bloggers to run the race in April.  How you chose these bloggers and why you made the choice to field this team is somewhat of a mystery to those of us who are not employed by the company.  It would be very interesting to hear how and why the decisions were made.

 From the information I could gather from a very quick Internet search, only three of the bloggers listed have qualified for Boston during their running careers with one of them having to miss the event due to a pregnancy.  That leaves five individuals who will be running the race, without a prior Boston Qualifying time.  While that may seem like no big deal to people who do not run, that is not so in the running community.  Boston is the pinnacle of marathon races and most people work very hard for years to earn a qualifying standard for the race.  And if they did not earn a qualifying standard, they work hard to raise a substantial amount of money for a Boston approved charity to "earn" that spot at the starting line. For the 2015 race, 1,947 qualified runners were turned away due to field size limits.

With further Internet research, I discovered that you were also the sponsor of the 2014 Boston Marathon and offered ten spots to runners who had qualified for the race but were unable to get a spot.  From the press release from January 2014, "Runners in the 118th Boston Marathon will have new fuel powering their strides as Stonyfield, the world's leading organic yogurt maker, takes its place as an official sponsor. As part of its sponsorship, the New England company is forming Team Stonyfield, allowing qualified runners who missed the entry cutoff for the historic race to participate. Runners looking to join Team Stonyfield can enter for the chance to win a spot at www.stonyfield.com/teamstonyfield."  You can read the full story here.

What a thoughtful and perfect way to give those runners an opportunity to run the most prestigious marathon in the world.  Their stories are remarkable and it is wonderful that they had the chance to realize their dream. 

It is extremely disappointing to see that you have "sold" your spots to those bloggers who you hope will benefit your company.  I hold no animosity towards these individual mothers/runners/bloggers, but cannot understand how you would not consider the mother bloggers who have met the qualifying standards, or perhaps repeat last year's gesture and open spots to runners who qualified but were unable to get a spot due to the field size cut off.  Besides the three BQ mamas that you chose, here are some additional runners that quickly came to mind: Kass from The Lone Runner, Kristin from StuftMama, and Dorothy from MilePosts. There are plenty of fast mother runners out there who balance family, work, and running.  I bet any of those that make up the 1,947 runners who were shut out during Boston registration would kill for a spot to toe the line in Hopkinton next April.

Pamela Keenan
Boston Marathon Qualifier for 2015 and on the Entrant List of the B.A.A.  

October 14, 2014

Training Tuesday: Are pacers / support runners legit?

She trained for weeks.  She ran a 21 miler as her longest run and then began to taper.  But this wasn’t her race.  She wasn’t training for a marathon or an ultra.  She was training to run the last 20 miles of a 100 mile ultra race with a friend.  She ran in the middle of the night on trails through serious hills - a race that meant nothing to her but everything for her friend.   This is the story of a friend of mine at work, who recently completed the last 20 miles of a 100 mile ultra race in the mountains with her friend. 

In this week's Training Tuesday post, I wanted to chat about the idea of "running someone in" at the end of a race.  It's been a topic of discussion with my mom and I.  At one point , we talked about me running her in for the last 10k on her BQ attempt marathon last spring.  It turned out that she was running a race the same day as me so that was out of the question.  And to be honest, I’m not sure I was ready for that kind of pressure!  I’m so happy that she found a wonderful pacer (and race buddy) with Meghan who ran stride for stride with her to help her reach her goal. 

As I’m looking at a lofty goal for my Richmond Marathon in 5 weeks, I've been considering the idea of having someone run me in the last 6 miles.  Since it’s a smaller race, I think it would be logistically feasible to have someone join me but that’s still up in the air.  And of course, my pacer buddy would not cross the finish line or consume any of the race course snacks/water.  Knowing that those last 6.2 miles will be the toughest, I think the company and moral support would be very welcome.  I'm hopeful that it also might help give me some motivation and an emotional boost to finish strong!  

When I was out running the other night, it occurred to me that this might be a gray area.  Would my time still mean the same if I pulled myself across the finish line, solo?  What did this mean for my experience at the Shamrock half marathon in March when I ran with a pacer for the first 10 miles?  It really made me think.  I mean Shalane has them for her major races, so they must be legit right? And a pacer doesn't physically aid you, they just simply run a pace for you to maintain with them.  There are tons of benefits of having a pacer, as we've previously discussed. As far as I'm concerned it's totally legit.

What are your thoughts on pacers and support runners?

October 13, 2014

Win Detergent Review and Giveaway

Disclosure:  I was given the opportunity to test Win detergent through my affiliation with FitApproach in exchange for a blog review. I received no other compensation.  As always, the opinions stated here my own.  

Our household produces enough stinky athletic clothing every week for a family of six.  Tom and I both participate in numerous activities including running, golf, tennis and visits to the gym.  An active lifestyle is great, but even better is the proper detergent to get your work out clothing smelling clean and fresh.  Sometimes I can be a cheapskate and I never want to pay alot of money for detergent.  I have one type that I use, due to skin allergies, and add white vinegar when the wash load is rather fragrant in a not so good way. This helps a little, but is certainly not the perfect solution.   When I was offered the chance to try a sports specific detergent, I jumped at the chance.  I wanted to confirm that yes, they were worth the money, or no, just keep buying gallons of vinegar and save a little money.

Over the last 10 days, I have tried both the original Win high performance sports detergent and the Win green high performance sports detergent that is fragrance and dye free.  To say I was surprised by the results is an understatement.  Some of our tech performance wear had smells that just could not be removed with our regular detergent.  I tested a few older tops and was pleased that they smelled fresh after washing.  I have already bookmarked the Amazon link to purchase this product.  It is definitely a winner (no pun intended) and will be stocked in my laundry room.

Heaping pile of dirty running clothing before Win

Here are some details from the Win Detergent press release: "Both versions of WIN are made in the USA, with a bottle made from 25% post consumer recycled plastics. WIN is septic safe, phosphate free, and can be used in high efficiency washers. WIN does not do any animal testing."  

Both types of the detergent are sold in 32 ounce bottles with a cost of $10.95 per bottle. You can also buy a 4 pack with a slight discount at $37.95. At approximately 45 cents per wash load, this seems very reasonable. The detergent can be used in the high efficiency front load machines and each bottle capacity is 21 wash loads. This is available through Amazon and if you are a Prime Member, good news because you get free shipping! Best of all, we have a giveaway for one lucky reader. Follow the rules on our Rafflecopter link below. Please be advised that this contest is available to US residents in the lower 48 states.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 12, 2014

Weekly Roundup: October 12th

Thank goodness for fall weather and race season.  We have missed you so much while dealing with the heat and humidity during a very long summer! This morning I am flying back to Wilmington and Christine will be out running her 20 mile marathon training run. Many of our friends will be racing at the Chicago Marathon, the BAA Half Marathon, and the Army 10 miler in DC.  If you're racing today, let us know how it went! As for our week, we raced last Saturday night at Walt Disney World and now we are back to marathon training and tapering.
Hard to believe we were in warm Disney a week ago!
Not every run is fast…sometimes you just have to get it done!
Sunday, September 28th
Pam: 9 holes golf
Christine: 18 miles at 9:49 pace

Monday, September 29th
Pam: 18 holes golf
Christine: Rest day

Tuesday, September 30th
Pam: 4 mile run
Christine: 4 mile run at 8:40 pace

Wednesday, October 1st 
Pam: 15 minutes elliptical, 15 stationary bike, weights, Abs
Christine: 30 min bike ride, abs, weights

Thursday, October 2nd
Pam: 3 mile run average pace 9:17
Christine: 5.7 mile run at 8:50 pace

Friday, October 3rd
Pam:  Travel day
Christine: Travel day

Saturday, October 4th
Pam: raced Tower of Terror 10 miler at WDW, average pace 9:06
Christine:  raced Tower of Terror 10 miler at WDW, average pace 9:06

Sunday, October 5th
Pam: walked 5 mile around Epcot
Christine: walked 5 miles around Epcot

Monday, October 6th
Pam: rode stationary bike 20 minutes, weights, stretching
Christine: 35 min bike ride, push-ups, abs, stretching

Tuesday, October 7th
Pam: Ran 4 miles easy, average pace 9:30
Christine: 6.2 miles at 9:15 pace

Wednesday, October, 8th
Pam:  Elliptical 30 minutes, weights, stretching
Christine: 1 hour yard work, stretching 

Thursday, October 9th
Pam: Ran 5 miles, 1 mile warm up followed by 4 mile hill workout, average pace 9:40
Christine: Rest day

Friday, October 10th
Pam: stationary bike 30 minutes, weights
Christine: 5.5 miles, 1 mile warm-up, 3.5 miles hills, 1 mile cool down

Saturday, October 11th
Pam:  16 mile long run, average pace 10:16
Christine: 1 hour walk, push-ups

October 10, 2014

Friday Five: Weekend Preview

I don’t know about you, but I am glad it’s Friday!  The week after a vacation (even a short one) always seems so long!  Add to that the fact that I got home on Sunday night, well Monday morning at 12:30 AM.  I’ve been really tired this week and am so happy to have the weekend ahead of me, especially since it’s a long weekend for me!  While I still have the workday between me and a three day weekend, I’m all about the weekend today!  Here's a little preview of what I have planned for my weekend.
This  was the scene quite a few evenings this week...Paddy and I lounging
on the sofa together!
1. I have my first 20 mile training run this weekend in preparation for Richmond Marathon.  I’m planning to run it on Sunday morning and the daytime high is 66 degrees.  Yay for cooler weather!  And we got another email this week with info on the Richmond Marathon which always makes me excited! 

2. I scheduled a bunch of house projects on Monday morning.  Nothing major but it’s the pesky things that are difficult to juggle during the work week, like having the annual furnace check-up.

3. Go Karting!  Adam and I have a date tonight at the go kart track.  There was a Groupon a while back and we decided it would be fun and something different…and another opportunity for me to get my trash talking game on!

4. The Chicago Marathon is this weekend and I’m excited to cheer on many of our running friends.  

5. My Fantasy Football team is 5-0 so far and I'm looking for another win this week.  This is the first year that I've been dominating early in the season so I'm excited to see how it pans out!

What are your weekend plans?  Long runs?  Races?

October 9, 2014

2014 Tower of Terror 10 Miler Race Recap

The Tower of Terror 10 mile race lived up to all of our expectations…and then some!  There were many aspects of it that made it "just another race" for us, but there were others that made it a fun and unique experience.  I loved getting to celebrate a Birthday at this race weekend and a new race is always a fun time!  So since most race recaps have a similar flavor, I wanted to focus on the key points of the race, so here we go!
Heading out for the race!
Transportation: We got on a bus at around 7:15 and were excited to run into three of the lovely DisBroads, Suzanne, Kristen, and Julie.  They were dressed up in GhostBusters attire and looked fabulous!!  It's always fun to have friends to connect with at these race weekends and seeing these ladies made the bus ride really fun!  We waited a bit until the bus left (probably to fill it) and we got over to the starting line area around 7:45 or so.
With DisBroad Julie, err GhostBuster Ray
Pre-race: The pre-race area was just outside of Hollywood Studios in a parking lot and was very similar to other races.  The DJ kept the crowd going and of course announcers, Rudy and Carissa, were entertaining as always.  One disappointment was at the fact that there weren't any characters out for pre-race photos.  There was a giant Hollywood Hotel registry that you could sign and there were ToT race themed backdrops for photos.  The lines were long for both so we didn't hang around for either.
Waiting to head to the corrals
Starting Line: Like all Disney races, the race started with fireworks which were fantastic!  The first corral even had some fire that was shooting up from the starting line banner - now that was cool!  We started in corral C and didn't have any issues with crowding.  Since we wanted to run a strong race, we started at the front of the corral, a first for us!
The announcer area was outfitted with a front desk…not the
best photo but the lighting was tough!
Getting ready to enter the fifth dimension!
The Course: We had heard a lot of negative things about the course going into the race so our expectations were managed.  While you only hit one park, Hollywood Studios, and that's very close to the finish, I wasn't disappointed by the course.  While you were on Osceola Parkway, there was lots of entertainment from characters to DJs to cool projection lights to some spooks (like a spider hanging from an overpass).  There was one section that included a double back on the same roads (which included a curvy on/off ramp) and while I didn't love this, I didn't realize it was the same section of road until after it was almost over. We didn't have any issues with course crowding but we noticed that the course was significantly more crowded behind us, when we were on the home stretch on Osceola Parkway.

The Trail: The trail into the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex was definitely a fun diversion and we didn't have any issues with the terrain or the lighting.  Granted it had recently rained, so there weren't any issues with dust. In fact, we thought it was a great break for our legs and the fog, villains, and lighting effects added to the "spook factor" of the race!

The Characters: Since Tower of Terror is a villains-themed race, they dominate the race course.  We didn't stop for any but they were certainly fun to see as we ran by!  Along the way, we saw the following: Jafar, Captain Hook, Queen of Hearts, Jack Skeleton, Hyenas from The Lion King, Wicked Witch from Snow White, Grave Diggers, Ghosts from Haunted Mansion, and Facilier.

The Swag: Like all Disney races, there was some swag involved.  Of course, we got a participant tech shirt and we loved this year's design!  Not only did they have women's cut shirts (winning!), but the shirt glows in the dark.  In our bags, we also received Clif Shot Bloks, which made me very excited since I enjoy those!  And of course after the race, there was the normal snack box and we actually thought this one was pretty good!

Post-race snack box with Goldfish crackers, mini peanut butter Clif bar,
fruit snacks tortilla chips and veggie cheese, and chocolate covered cranberries
Results: We both finished in 1:30.55 and considering we spent lots of time in the parks leading up to the race, we were thrilled with this time.

Final Thoughts: We really loved this race!  The unique distance and fun theming made it fabulous.  And we have some very positive thoughts on the after party that we'll share in a future post.  One of the main drawbacks to this race is that it doesn't count toward the Coast to Coast Challenge.  Overall, the smaller size and nighttime start made this race very different from other runDisney events.  Given the chance, we would certainly go back and run it again!

Did you run ToT this year? What did you think?