March 31, 2015

Meb for Mortals, a book review

Disclosure:  I received a digital copy of Meb for Mortals by Meb Keflezighi and Scott Douglas through Runner's World Magazine.  No compensation was received and the opinions stated here are my own.

When I received the email from Runner's World that I was chosen to review the new book by Meb, I was thrilled.  His first book, Run to Overcome was under my Christmas tree and devoured within a couple of days.  An outstanding human being and runner, his latest book covers how he became a world class runner and what you can do to improve your own running.  There are very few who can claim they have won the NYC Marathon, Boston Marathon, and earned a silver medal at the Olympics.  Meb can, but he did so by being smart in the way he trains and handles his life.

Now to the meat of the book.  It is broken into nine chapters covering topics from thinking like Meb to recovering like Meb. The first one covers the mental mindset and how you can learn to think like Meb. The mental aspect of running is probably the least discussed with novice runners. In the chapter, Meb gives advice on how to establish specific goals and how to achieve them.  It is amazing how we can defeat ourselves or throw a wrench in our mental attitude by either limiting or inhibiting our growth potential.  Each chapter in the book covers something that is important to becoming as complete a runner as possible.  Of course this all comes with discipline and training.  One of my favorite parts of each chapter is the highlighted boxes that include specifics such as "Choices, not Sacrifices"   I am pretty sure I will refer to these many times before I toe the line in Hopkinton next month for the Boston Marathon.

As runners, we spend an inordinate amount of time training and Meb gives you the keys to making those workouts productive and the recovery time as well.  Diet is also a key to successful running, so why sabotage your training by eating unhealthy processed food? He even has a highlighted box "Fast food for fast runners." You will have to guess what he thinks about McDonald's and the like!  Again, this book covers all aspects of fueling your body with meals and during training.

"How to race" is one of my favorite chapters in the book. Figuring out race day strategy is something you do long before you step up to the starting line.  But how many recreational runners actually do that?  With the proper discipline, the tips Meb shares in this book should help everyone be more secure and prepared to run their best possible race. He even includes a highlighted box about how to handle late starts.  This is key for anyone running the Boston or NYC Marathons.

With nine chapters of valuable advice from one of the consumate professionals in the sport of running, this book will be a great addition to any runner's collection.

The book release date is April 7 and here is a link if you would like to reserve a copy for yourself.  You will not be disappointed with the content and depth of information in this book. I'm excited to hopefully meet Meb at the Boston Marathon expo in just a few weeks.


March 30, 2015

Running Bloggers & Training Plans

Mom and I have always discussed how much we enjoy reading about other runner’s training plans and results. We genuinely enjoy reading how people put together a plan, whether it’s working with a coach, evaluating notable plans like Galloway or Higden, or incorporating cross training and strength training. Honestly, I wish more bloggers talked about their training plans and how they picked them. Given all of this, you can imagine my sentiments when someone posted something on Twitter last week directly addressing bloggers and asking them not to write about training plans unless they held an exercise science degree or are a certified coach.

I sat back for a minute and thought about it…and then became really fired up. Just because I don’t have an exercise science degree or a personal training certification or a coaching certification does not mean that I shouldn’t discuss training. Furthermore, I don’t believe that I have ever portrayed myself as a coach or fitness professional so there shouldn’t really be any confusion in how I’m discussing my training. In the posts where we have talked about our training, we have discussed how and why we developed a plan. As you know, Mom now uses a coach from an extraordinarily reputable running club.  Basically I bow down and worship Sami, a twelve time Ironman finisher and Kona IM qualifier. We have both had great success using the Run Less, Run Faster plans so we’ve recommended that plan for consideration to other runners. And we’ve used Jeff Galloway’s plans for many of the runDisney challenge races.

Heck, I can write whatever I want on this page, but generally speaking we try to be coherent, honest, and transparent about running, racing, and everything else. More specifically, we both feel passionate about being transparent with our training. We hope it might be insightful to someone else. Maybe someone would realize that you can do speed work on a TM like I do when you don’t have access to a track. Maybe someone might consider adding pick-ups to a long run like Mom often does. Maybe someone would read my post about core work and provide recommendations for something that worked for them.

My Twitter buddy also seemed to say that personalized, custom plans were the only legitimate training plans. Obviously a plan that is tailored specifically for you has benefits and lots of them. I’m not in any way discounting the personalized coaching experience. However, I don’t believe that’s the only option and in some cases, that may not be the right option for everyone. Mom and I have discussed this several times. She has tried to encourage me to consider Sami or the rest of the WOL coaching crew for virtual coaching. When she recommended it to me earlier this year for Princess, I told her I wasn’t ready to commit to an intense training plan. My heart wasn’t in it so I used Jeff Galloway’s Glass Slipper Challenge plan instead. And guess what, I scored a sweet 10k PR?! Guess the plan worked, eh? When it comes to personalized coaching plans, some folks may not have the financial resources for this option or may not simply be interested in working with a coach. You can find a very solid training plan from highly reputable sources such as Galloway, Higden, or Runner’s World. And these are free online resources!

I generally subscribe to the philosophy that blogging is about community. Its a community of shared experiences and camaraderie. When it comes to training plans, there are many options for consideration and I’m of the mindset that there is no “right” option for everyone. Finances, schedules, family support, goals, and the like all play into what makes a training plan right. We greatly value from sharing our experiences with others and hearing your opinions and we hope that conversation continues.

How do you choose a training plan and what advice would you give to others about selecting a plan?

March 29, 2015

Weekly Roundup: March 29th

While this was the first full week of spring, but it sure did not feel like it.  Race day Sunday was far too humid and we only had one day in the 70's, but by late afternoon it was back in the 50's.  It snowed all day in the Boston area Saturday but luckily it did not stick on the roads.   Yesterday was my longest run of my marathon training cycle and it is so nice to know there are only 16 miles on my training plan for next weekend.  Reading and relaxing were part of my week, especially the day before my 22 miler.  This book has been such a fun read!

In between rain and poor weather , little Lulu got a few walks, but not every day since rain was part of our week!  She wanted play time on the other days!

My weekend has been wonderful so far including some exciting family news and then this arrived in my mailbox:

Here is a peak at what we did for training this week:

Sunday, March 22nd
Pam: Ran 10.26 miles with Lynda 11:59 average pace
Christine: Volunteered at Shamrock races for 5 hours!

Monday, March 23rd
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day, resistance bands for hips

Tuesday, March 24th
Pam: 5 mile run at 9:10 average pace
Christine: 3 mile TM run at 9:00 pace, Abs with medicine balls, push-ups

Wednesday, March 25th
Pam: 20 minutes stationary bike, 25 minutes elliptical machine, sit ups, plank
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, resistance bands for hips

Thursday, March 26th
Pam: Ran 5.4 miles (50 minutes) at 9:15 pace
Christine: 3.5 miles on TM at 8:55 pace, weights, stretching

Friday, March 27th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, squats, lunges, weights, stretching

Saturday, March 28th
Pam: Ran 22 miles at 10:00 pace and ate everything in sight afterwards
Christine: Long walk for Paddy, stretching

Did you have a good week?  Anything special happen?

March 27, 2015

Jeff Galloway running school coming to Connecticut!

Disclosure:  As Galloway bloggers we were sent this information to share with our readers.  No compensation was received.

If you are lucky enough to live in Connecticut or nearby, you will have a great running opportunity coming your way on April 11th!   Jeff Galloway, former Olympian, author, runner and running coach will be holding a workshop for runners.  Christine and I followed Jeff's training plans for several of our Disney challenge races, most recently Christine ran the Glass Slipper Challenge and got a huge PR during the 10k.  Our first encounter with Jeff was during the Wine and Dine Half Marathon runDisney meetup in November of 2012.  What an experience to be able to run with Jeff and then listen to him speak.  He is so encouraging to every runner whether you are a back of the pack runner or a sub 3 hour marathoner.

Jeff next to Mickey!
Please let us know if you sign up!  We will be most anxious to hear all about the program. Unfortunately, neither of us can attend this year because we will be in Boston the following weekend!

Jeff Galloway's Running School
Olympian Jeff Galloway is coming to our area to help you stay injury free, run faster, go farther, weigh less and enjoy running more.  Beginners, Boston Qualifiers, runners at all levels will learn the tools to gain control over the mental and physical challenges, using mind, body and spirit.   His energizing style and successful methods are based upon the feedback from over 300,000 runners.

See what others had to say about the running school experience!
“Extremely motivating”      
“I got all of my questions answered”  
“This was fun and energizing”                                          
“I learned more in Jeff's Running School than during my 15 years of marathoning”
This was easily the best value in time and/or money that I have ever spent on running”

Where: The Italian Society of Middletown, 72 Court Street, Middletown.  (located across from the CT Superior Court building). There is free parking in municipal lot adjacent to Court Street.
When: April 11, 10am-1pm
Cost: online ($99) or walk up ($129)

* Three hours of the information you need to reach your goals—injury free
* Ask all of your individualized questions
* Email access to Jeff afterwards
* Specific methods on nutrition, running form, setting up pace, running hills, breathing
* How to stay injury free, run long runs without being exhausted, run faster, stay motivated

Favorite spring foods and a confession

For the Friday linkup with the DC girls, Courtney, Mar and Cynthia this weeks topic is food, specifically your favorite spring foods.  Be sure to check out the other posts in the linkup!

My list will be a little different than others, because right now, with Boston looming on the horizon, I have given up some of my favorite things in order to be in optimal shape when race day arrives.  Yikes, only 24 days and I will be running the biggest race of my life.  Back to the topic at hand, here are some of the foods that make there way into our home in the springtime or that we will indulge in when we go out!

1.  Boombalati's Ice Cream This place, located less than 3 miles from my home has seriously the best homemade ice cream in town.  Refraining from nightly visits is a chore, but with warmer weather, the staff will be seeing me more frequently.

Tom had chocolate peanut butter and I had coffee and mocha chip

2.  Hand picked strawberries  We have a lovely farm nearby that has a gorgeous produce stand and pick your own strawberries and blueberries in the spring.  I usually pick at least once and sometimes twice to stock the freezer with fresh berries.  They are so sweet and of course we eat some while picking. This is allowed, but be careful, I had a stomach ache from eating so many my first time picking!

3.  Dinner at Bluewater Grill  Being lucky enough to live in a beach town, we have some fabulous seafood restaurants practically on our doorstep.  Last night we made a last minute decision to go to Bluewater, famous for their crabcakes.  I forgot to take a photo of my meal, but I did get a photo of the view from our table.

View from our table, pretty sweet!

4. Fresh vegetables from our garden We only have rosemary in our garden at the moment, but next week we will be planting red and green peppers, tomatoes , and more herbs.  There is nothing better than fresh produce you pick in your back yard.

5.  Christmas Candy  Hidden in the recesses of my kitchen pantry are all these goodies from Christmas.  After binging on sweets for a solid month, January was the time to step away from the candy.  However, on April 22nd, when I return from Boston, I plan to dig in and have a little feast!

What is your favorite indulgence?  Are you good at stepping away from the treats?

March 26, 2015

I'm running with the Marines!!

You probably think Pam is writing this post, right? Because I swore off marathons for 2015. Heck, I considered swearing them off FOREVER after Richmond Marathon. That race sucked. It sucked hard. And I wasn't sure I ever wanted to tempt that devil again. But I did. After chatting with my MCM running buddy, Danielle, I entered the lottery on Sunday.  I didn't really tell anyone. I figured I wouldn't get in and that would be that. But yesterday morning when I woke up and did my typical social media scrolling while brushing my teeth, I saw someone mention they had gotten their lottery notification on Twitter. And I quickly clicked over to my email. It started with "Congratulations..."

"I'm in." I literally said it out loud to myself. And then I grinned. I was going to run another marathon, one that means a lot to me and holds a special place in my heart. I texted Mom. And then Danielle. And I waited. A few hours later, my heart sank. Danielle didn't get in. I had already made plans for us to run together in my mind. I'm hopeful that there might be a charity bib or a transfer bib in her future (hint hint).

I can't wait to share more about my journey back to "Take the Iwo" this October. It's sure to be a busy summer with ramping up for marathon training!

March 25, 2015

A missed PR or goal time does not equal a bad race

As runners, we set our sights on certain goal races each year.  Trying to achieve a personal record (PR) in a race is both exciting and terrifying at the same time.  If you have trained hard and done all the work necessary to make the PR happen, good for you.  But, unfortunately there are things you can't control on race day.  I observed many runners on Sunday have both great races and disappointing ones.  But missing that PR does not mean that you had a bad race.  On the contrary, sometimes our best fought battles in adverse conditions will make the next PR attempt happen with ease. The conditions for racing on Sunday included warmer temps than normal and 90% humidity. Some runners thrive in these conditions and others wilt. Personally I find heat and humidity stifling when I run, so cold weather races are my favorites.

How you handle a missed PR or goal time after a race can be the most challenging thing a runner has to do. No one has a perfect racing year so there is bound to be a race or two that you would like to have as a "do over".  My do over race from last year is the Marine Corps Marathon.  I still look back on that race with some disappointment, but more due to my lack of pre race knowledge than my actual performance.  Making a tactical error where I lined up to race was a mistake. However, this was a great learning experience and I will now always research every aspect of a race so this hopefully will never happen again.

Most runners need a few weeks to get over a performance that did not meet their expectations.  The first few days you will deal with many highs, lows and a sore body which is not very helpful after a long training cycle for a half or full marathon. But here's the thing.  You probably need to spend this time resting your body and figuring out what race you want to run next as redemption.  Just last year, we saw a blogging friend Jen have a miserable day at the NYC Marathon and then crush her local marathon two weeks later.  I am not suggesting that is the right course of action for every runner, but she had trained really well for NYC and handled the nearly back to back marathons with ease. Her redemption race turned into a huge PR race and happiness all around!

One of the greatest things about running is that there is always another race and another chance.  Each race teaches us so many things and future goals can be met from those experiences.  Let's try to celebrate those less than perfect races for what they are, a way to learn from our mistakes.

Did you ever have a bad race?  Did you run another for redemption?

March 24, 2015

Volunteering at Shamrock Half & Full Marathon

Volunteering at a local race has been high on my list for a while. The only absent factor was an opportunity. Considering the (literally) thousands of people who have donated their time on my race mornings to make MY races happen, I have always felt that supporting a race on the other side was important. When I did some research on Shamrock race volunteer opportunities a few weeks before the race, I was surprised to see that there were still openings for the coveted finish line positions. I inquired with Adam if he was interested and he was, so I signed both of us up for finish line duties during the half and full marathon races.

In advance of race day, we received great communication with clear instructions on what to expect on race morning and where to park. We were easily able to find the parking area at the Convention Center in Virginia Beach and within a few minutes, hopped on the shuttle to the finish line area. We were easily able to find the volunteer tent and pick up our shirts. Mine more closely resembled a t-shirt dress but I wasn't really concerned about fashion at this part of the morning. We snapped some early morning photos of King Neptune, presiding over the finish line and then it was time to find our volunteer coordinator at the finish line.
I never get tired of seeing the King

Such a quiet place about 90 minutes before the runners arrived! 
Once we arrived at the finish line area, we were excited to learn that we would help with medal handouts! The first step, however, was unwrapping and organizing all of the half marathon medals onto tables. Considering there were 14,000 runners (I think that was the number they mentioned), there were A LOT of medals. The cool temps made it tough to open the small plastic bags in which each medal was wrapped but we all seemed to find a rhythm eventually. Every time we were working on our "last box" for our table, another 2 or 3 boxes of medals seemed to materialize out of nowhere. It took us a good hour to finish opening and organizing the medals.
Medals for days! 
Once we were done, it was time to wait on the half marathon runners. And luckily we didn't wait long since we heard that when the front runners hit the boardwalk, they were on pace for a course record (which is 1:02-something). There were no course records on Sunday, but the winner clocked a 1:03.40! Wowzers, that's fast! AND he won the 8k on the previous day. Speedy!

At first, the runners came through slowly and then all of a sudden (probably somewhere around 1:50 pace or so) it was as if flood gates opened. I handed out medals as fast as I could grab them off my arm, where we all had them staged. I tried to make a note to congratulate each runner by name, if it was on their bib. Now I understand why many races don't place medals around your takes a lot longer than simply handing out the medals.

Throughout the morning, I saw local friends, coworkers, blog friends, and Twitter friends. The finish line is simply an amazing place to see people. For the most part, we saw smiles, hugs, cheers, and high fives. We also saw wobbly legs and a few tears (and not the good kind of tears). I loved sharing hugs with buddies and squealing over new PRs. I'm so proud of everyone I saw - Preston, Kathryn, Mar, Sarah, Becca, and many others.

The volunteer experience was easily as rewarding as running and I appreciate the organization and great communications from J&A about the event. We even received a post-event follow-up email today asking for feedback for future races, and not just for volunteering. That impressed me! Ever volunteered at a race? What was the highlight?

I can't write this post without mentioning a really sad piece of news from Sunday morning. As we were sitting on the shuttle headed to the race finish line area, Adam received a call that his beloved aunt who had been battling stomach cancer passed away. He was a real trooper to stick out the morning and keep his commitment to volunteer at the finish line area. Aunt Cathy loved to volunteer and he felt it was an appropriate way to honor her memory on Sunday morning. 

March 23, 2015

Running with joy, a race day in pictures

Yesterday was a special day as several of the people in my running group ran their first marathon.  It was a weird morning for me as I got up and dressed in race day clothing without a bib to pin on my shirt.  My plan was to drive to the finish line area and then walk the two miles or so to my meeting spot with Lynda.  Running with Lynda to the finish line of her first marathon would be my long run for the weekend!  After parking my car in a very full parking lot, I gathered my gear and set off to meet Ryan to spectate for a couple hours.  After finding Ryan on a bike, we moved to the eleven mile marker for the half marathon group where we hoped to see many of our Without Limits group runners in the home stretch of their race.

As I pulled out my phone to snap photos of our friends, I realized that the joy of running is so prevalent on race day.  While not everyone had a smile, the toughness of character and the elation at the finish line are hard to describe in words.  There were so many moments of excitement, but as with any race there were tears of both joy and sadness.  Despite the temperature being perfect for running at 50 degrees, the humidity was at 90%, which is not great for runners. There were some disappointed marathoners who had the Boston qualifying goal on their mind.

Here are some snapshots of the day:

Lynda, mile 4 photo by Ryan
While cheering at the 11 mile marker for the half marathoners, Ryan and I saw many of the girls we had trained with during the long winter months, all for this race day with the hope of a new PR and a great race.  It was so much fun to see them pass by and there were quite a few who I could not capture by cell phone photo because I wasn't quick enough!

Lisa in the upper left gave us her shy smile as she motored by to a new PR!.  Holly, always stylish in her pink tights (upper right), Christie, the girl who helped me through fall marathon training and Shawn, another who helped with long runs this winter. Each of these girls had strong races!

Many more girls in the group came through after I moved from that spot to meet up with Lynda and I am sorry I missed so many of them.  With a 30 minute window for meeting Lynda, I did not want to take a chance that I would miss her at mile 16!

I soon spotted Lynda as she crossed the bridge, and she immediately said "I need you Pam,  I've slowed down a lot"  I told her not to worry, checked on her fuel and we kept moving.  I could tell she was struggling by the look on her face, but her training had been thorough and she had the strength to gut out the race.  Luckily we were approaching a road with lots of people cheering and I kept revving up the crowd introducing Lynda as a first time marathoner!  It was so exciting to watch someone become a marathon runner in the span of a couple hours.  The hardest part was probably the last loop through the Landfall neighborhood when Lynda had to dig deep with mental strength.  When we reached the final turn out of Landfall at mile 23, a smile of delight came across her face.  Ryan and Lori had kept us company on their bikes for most of the journey, circling back to bring us things, such as a refilled water bottle and bananas.   Soon we were met by two more Without Limits runners, Holly and Kelly and the four of us ran Lynda to the finish line from mile 25.  With her posse in toe, Lynda earned her marathon medal with courage and a hard fought race.  I am so incredibly proud of this girl!

March 22, 2015

Weekly Roundup: March 22nd

I've learned to take advantage of the weeks when I'm on a training hiatus. I enjoyed some really fun activities after work this week like having dinner with a friend, hearing Colin Powell speak, and cooked some nice dinners. And yesterday when the sun came out and we saw some nice spring weather, I enjoyed a laid back run around the neighborhood with a cloud-less blue sky. Sometimes it's nice to run just because you want to and not because you have to.

I'm excited to be volunteering at the Shamrock race finish line this morning. Best of luck to everyone racing! - C

While Christine is volunteering at Shamrock, I will be running the last ten miles of the Quintiles Marathon with Lynda, a girl from my running group who will become a first time marathoner!  The last couple days I volunteered at the expo handing out bibs to anxious runners.  There is so much nervousness and excitement at a race expo and it really is fun to be on the volunteer end sometimes.

Marathon signs, volunteer dinner and a race day inspiration shirt! (Lynda is bottom left brunette)

Here are our workouts for the week::

Sunday, March 15th
Pam: 20 mile run, average pace 10:08
Christine: Walked around DC, lots of stretching

Monday, March 16th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 35 min bike ride, 5 min abs, stretching

Tuesday, March 17th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 35 min bike ride, 5 min abs, stretching

Wednesday, March 18th
Pam: 45 minutes stationary bike, sit ups, plank
Christine: Enjoyed dinner out with a friend in lieu of a workout

Thursday, March 19th
Pam: 9 holes golf, stretching
Christine: 5 min abs, Went to see Colin Powell speak after work so no working out!

Friday, March 20th
Pam: 45 minute stationary bike, plank, sit ups
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, March 21st
Pam: 2.5 mile run, stretching
Christine: 4 miles at 8:30 pace, 2 hours yard work

How was your week?

March 20, 2015

Friday Five: I love VA in the springtime!

You know the words as "I love Paris in the springtime"...but today we're talking about spring won the Friday Five link-up with Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar. I talked about how I was excited about the early signs of spring a few weeks back and I’m eager for more warm weather. While the spring isn't my favorite season, I do love the energy that the warmer weather brings and the colors all around after the bleakness of winter. here are some great things about living in Virginia in the springtime so read on to hear what I'm excited about...


1. Putting in a new vegetable garden. I’ve always been a big fan of having a veggie garden at home and the original location I picked was that of an existing garden (read: I didn’t have to dig anything up and made my life easy) but it doesn’t get full sun. This year, I am moving it to a different section of the yard and greatly expanding it. I haven’t figured out exactly what I’ll be planting but I know it will include tomatoes, peppers (bell and hot varieties), squash and perhaps, lettuce.  Given that we have mild springs and falls, the produce growing season is long in Virginia and I'm hoping to take advantage this year. My dream would be to simply stop having to buy produce at the grocery store but I’m sure that’s a big stretch.

2. Last year I was elected to the board of a local nonprofit organization. It’s been a fantastic outlet for me to get engaged in the community and a way for me to provide some of my consulting expertise for this organization. I’m helping spearhead a big upcoming fundraising campaign called Give Local, where we will be participating in an event that focuses on donations for local nonprofits. In addition to helping with ideas, I’m also the blog writer for the initiative…old habits die hard!

3. One of my favorite aspects of springtime in Hampton Roads is strawberry season. The month of May is full of events and there are plenty of local farms where you can pick your own berries. This ushers in a world of delicious treats like smoothies, shortcakes, and simply enjoying them solo.

4. I’ll be spending lots of time with family this spring. Between visiting Adam’s family in Minnesota soon (although that probably won’t feel like spring since it will still be chilly there!), hopefully seeing my folks at Easter, cheering for my two running idols at the Boston Marathon in April, and enjoying Mother’s Day with Mom at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend, there will be some really fun family events this spring. It’s cheesy, but the older I get, the more I treasure family time. And especially since I don’t live near family, it’s always a treat to see them.

5. I simply love to eat dinner outside. Two years ago, I bought a new patio set and it’s definitely much more comfortable and inviting. I usually try to eat dinner out as much as possible during the warm months and I often enjoy weekend breakfasts outside (generally after a long run) with the newspaper and an iced coffee.
6. Okay, I know it's Friday FIVE, but I have one more thing....spring clothes! I am so sick of my winter clothes. My wool suits, pants, tights, etc. I am over them. I want to wear my coral capris, my new black and white polka dot crop pants, and dresses without tights. I want to wear COLOR again and have it be seasonally appropriate! And let's be honest here, I want to take a spin around the mall and add some new spring duds to my wardrobe.
Go check out what other people are talking about today...I bet it has a lot to do with warmth and color! What makes your heart go pitter patter for springtime?
To all my Shamrock racing buddies, I'll be volunteering at the finish line from 7:00-12:00 on Sunday. Come say hi! I'm not certain what my role will be (likely handing out food, hats, or medals), but I would love to see you and give a high five/hug!

March 19, 2015

Mental Stamina and some Tips from Jeff Galloway

We were chosen as Jeff Galloway bloggers and as such, we receive periodic tips to share with our readers.  

With many runners peaking for spring races, mental stamina is an issue that should concern anyone with a goal/PR race in mind.  Running fabulous paces during your speed work sessions and killing that tempo run week after week will not necessarily give you that huge PR you are working so hard to achieve.  The biggest road block for most recreational runners is their mental strength.  I've spent alot of time over the last few months going through my stack of old Runner's World magazines (three years worth) and reread some interesting articles about this very topic.  Most of us spend our time preparing for race day by obsessively checking the weather, planning our fuel/fluid intake and of course our play list of music.  What most of us, myself included, do not do is plan on how we are going to deal with the difficult parts of the race course when periods of doubt start to enter our minds.

Overcoming doubt can come from many different avenues, but the best way is to prepare on each and every run that you do.  What I mean by this is to make each run count and not just mindlessly run those miles.  Each workout can help you gain the mental capacity to push through those barriers on race day that have not happened in your past races.  Instead of deciding that your tempo workout could be cut short by a mile, make sure to finish the last one stronger than you started.  Having a kick at the end of a practice will help your body handle a kick at the end of that important race.  Being the over analyzer that I am, each and every workout is logged by hand into a little notebook.  Looking back, I can gain insight as to what worked before a big race and what did not. Find out if you need a short or long taper.  For me, a little longer rest  period/taper before a big race is important.  Last year, I basically did nothing except a couple short runs the week of my major marathon. This worked for me, so I will use this again. And no, I did not sit eating bon bons getting waited on , although that would have been nice!   Knowing what works for you will give you a much stronger mind on race day, and hopefully the success you have worked for.

Now for some more running/race tips from Jeff Galloway. Take note that the injury section is critical for long term running health! And best of all, I love that a Stanford study shows that runners had 25% less injuries after 20 years of running.  Guess I need to keep running for at least 15 1/2 more years!

From Jeff:
Most injuries experienced by my runners are due to 1) pacing long runs too fast, 2) increasing the weekly mileage too quickly, 3)lengthening stride and 4) stretching.

The principle in staying injury free is to balance gentle stress with the right recovery periods-allowing for rebuilding. 

Finding the right Run Walk Run strategy from the beginning of a run has been the best way I've found to stay injury free, come back from an injury and in some cases, continue to run while the injury heals.
  • Are you concerned that running will damage joints, and other body parts ? I was told this regularly, from my first week of running over 50 years ago but the research shows the opposite result: Runners have healthier joints, etc. than non runners as the decades go by.
  • It may surprise you to know that many studies show that runners have fewer orthopedic issues compared with non-runners as the years go by.
  • A respected and large population study out of Stanford following thousands of runners over 50 who had run for more than 20 years concluded that runners had less than 25% of orthopedic issues compared with non runners of the same ag
I've read several of Jeff's books and just sent one to a niece who has started to run. Yay Angela!  
Does anyone have a tip to share on mental strength?

March 17, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon Race Recap

For days leading up to the race, I stalked the weather forecast, willing it to change. We had warm, sunny days earlier in the week but alas a cool rain was inevitable on race day. I think I changed my race day outfit about a hundred times and ended up wearing compression shorts, calf sleeves, a short-sleeved top, half zip, and paper thin water-resistant jacket.
Don't let the smile fool you, my nerves were in full
force before heading to the starting line!
Race morning was a little chaotic as I was meeting Cyanne to pick-up my race bib since I wasn't able to get to DC in time for the expo on Friday. We met up at the hotel where her VIP breakfast was located and then Adam and I walked to the start. Thankfully, he had helped me fashion a poncho out of a trash bag so that helped keep me dry. Soon enough the national anthem was playing and I bid him goodbye to head into my corral. I noticed one girl was wearing the DC to MX bib so I was asking her about the race challenge and I found a few Hampton Roads runners and we chatted to pass the time. A few minutes before our corral started, I walked to the side to toss my garbage bag poncho and when I turned around, I saw Sue. What a coincidence! It was great to see her and chat for a minute before our corral started. I figured I would recap this post by section of the race (basically as my own log of the race and also because I don't have any on course photos!) so here we go...

Spotted the Washington Monument en route
to the starting line
Starting line: Full of energy and lots of American Flags everywhere. I couldn't figure out how many corrals started in each wave, but I'm guessing 2-3. I think there were about 2 minutes in between each group.

Miles 0-3: We ran along the mall and then over a bridge into Virginia where we looped back into DC. For some reason, I always like a short out-and-back stretch on the course because I simply love having other runners around me. It's motivating and I love feeling like I'm part of something bigger than just my race. I also love trying to see friends who are running but I didn't spot anyone.

Miles 4-6: During this stretch, we turned to run past the Kennedy Center (in the opposite direction of Marine Corps Marathon) and then out to Rock Creek Parkway. I knew we would start to encounter some rolling hills in this section, followed by the mac daddy hill at mile 6...and mac daddy hill it was! Sue told me that when she first ran this race, she cried when she saw the hill. I know why. It was very steep and long. There were volunteers holding American flags every few feet from Wear Blue to Remember and that kept me motivated. I kept telling myself to keep going...for all of those service members who fought the good fight but never came home. I also had the added incentive of Adam being somewhere along the course after the hill. I spotted him at the top of the hill and tossed my jacket to him. He ran with me for a moment and shared some encouraging words which made me feel good.

Miles 7-10: We headed out to Adams Morgan where there were more rolling hills. But thankfully the course was mostly flat for mile 7 which gave my legs a break after that miserable hill at mile 6. There were lots more spectators during this stretch and plenty of college students celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Most of them had great signs and were blasting some good tunes and made me smile. I regained my pace in this section and hoped to see Adam again at mile 9-ish. Unfortunately I didn't hear him as he called my name. The Clif shot stop was around mile 9 and was highly chaotic. There weren't any volunteers with gels when I ran by so I ran to a table and grabbed one myself (like lots of other runners around me).

Miles 11-12: The pain train begins. I'm soaking wet, my stomach is churning something fierce, and my pace slows. I gave myself a single walk break to settle my stomach and told myself to hang on and try to hit sub-2:00. My stomach never really settled. When I reached the turn off for the marathon around mile 12, I cheered to myself that I was nearing the finish and didn't have another soggy 14 miles ahead of me and I told myself to suck it up for one more mile. I realized that sub-2:00 was within reach but I was going to have to hoof it.

Mile 13: I picked up the pace to around 8:30. I could sense that the finish line was near as we made a turn onto an on-ramp (or at least it seemed like that at the time) and ran under the giant Rock 'n' Roll inflatable rocker man. I picked up my pace and was going as fast as my tired legs could go. I ignored the puddles and kept as straight of a path as possible to avoid extra time. I'm pretty sure I splashed some spectators or other runners around me but I really didn't care at this point. My sole focus was getting to the finish line as fast as possible.

Finish Line: In typical fashion, I smiled and threw my arms in my air as I crossed the finish line and then quickly clicked my Garmin to stop. 1:59.08. I did it! I finished under 2:00. My next order of business was to get through the finisher shoot quickly so I could find Adam and get some warm clothes. I found Sue again and we chatted about the race and our times. Soon enough, we were exiting the shoot and Adam was right there as I hoped he would be. I gave Sue a hug and we headed back to the metro, but not before a few finish line photos.
Happy Finisher!
As Adam and I were chatting about the race, he made a comment about 2:01 finish time and I looked at him with a confused look. He told me that was the time that came through on the runner tracking. I'm actively working with Rock 'n' Roll to have them review my final time and I know several others at the front of my corral have discrepancies as well. This was my second fastest half ever and it also eclipsed the first half of Richmond Marathon for that spot so this is an important one for me!

All in all, I enjoyed this race. The course had good support and was relatively scenic. The second half definitely takes you through a more residential area of DC that isn't as exciting as the mall and monuments. I'll be sharing some additional thoughts on racing in the rain in another post.
Taking my medal on a tour of DC
Disclaimer: As a Rock 'n' Blogger, I received my race entry into the DC half marathon as part of my complimentary tour pass. As always, all opinions are my own.


March 16, 2015

20 Mile training run thoughts, over 3 hours of brain drain!

So yesterday was my longest training run so far in this marathon cycle,  Twenty miles is no joke when you run it at 10:00-10:15 pace.  You have a very long time to pound pavement and think. Luckily, Roxanne from my Without Limits group agreed to meet me at 10:30am as our start time.  Since my Wave and Corral for Boston will be starting around 11:15, I figured 10:30 would be close enough and still allow her plenty of time with her family in the afternoon.  On the other hand, 10 more miles on the road solo gave me lots of opportunities to solve world problems, solve my own problems and mindlessly daydream!  Did I mention it was 20 miles and that would take me over 3 hours and 20 minutes?

Here are some of the wonderful things that passed through my brain as I chugged along like "The Little Engine that Could!"

* Where is the cloud cover? Blue sky is great when you are playing golf, at the beach, or sitting by the pool, not when you are running a gazillion training miles.

* It's hot, I need more water.

* When am I going to be done?

* Wow, we are so lucky to live at the beach

* Please please don't be this hot on Marathon Monday in Boston

* Why is the traffic so heavy at Wrightsville Beach today?  Oh yes, people actually want to go to the beach while I want need to spend my day running,

* How many more miles until I can eat my banana?

* When I am going to be finished?

* Why does my skirt keep drooping? Could it be the picnic in my pockets that include a banana and 4 GU gels?

* Having a friend makes a long run go by so much faster.

* What can I stuff in my mouth when I get home after burning 5 million calories?

* How is my cadence?  Yea, no this was not one of my thoughts. However, after passing the head coach of our running group, and him shouting out "pick up your cadence", Roxanne and I did just that.

* Why do some long runs seem so easy and some so hard?

* Am I getting enough to drink?

* When is this blasted run going to be over?

* I need to update my playlist

* Those burgers smell so good at Red Robin.  I wish I had money with me.

* Am I done yet?

Yes, my brain is sorta mushy when I run, but I am very grateful to have completed my 20 miles and feel better prepared with only 35 days until the Boston Marathon!

March 15, 2015

Weekly Roundup: Mar 15th

Yesterday Christine ran a soggy Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in DC and I spent the day resting in preparation for my long run today! Running in the rain is not easy, especially when it is on race day.  A full recap of the Rock 'n Roll race weekend will be coming next week, but for now, Christine is enjoying our nation's capital with lots of friends!

Post race smiles!
My weekend has consisted of a an easy day yesterday of exciting things like cleaning the attic following by some reading and food prep for today.  With my long run today as a simulation of race day in Boston, I am starting much later than normal. Trying to figure out food is my biggest dilemma so I decided to start today off with a turkey sandwich followed by my normal pre run food just before I run at 10:30.  If this does not work, I will have one more opportunity to figure out food before the big day. Do you have any recommendations for fueling a late start race?

Now here are our weekly workouts:  

Sunday, March 8th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 7.5 miles at 9:09 average pace, stretching

Monday, March 9th
Pam: 40 minute stationary bike, plank, wall sits, stretching, played 9 holes golf
Christine: 20 min bike ride, abs

Tuesday, March 10th
Pam: Ran 6.5 miles at 9:13 pace
Christine: 3.5 miles at 9:30 pace (my legs felt like lead!)

Wednesday, March 11th
Pam: easy 2 mile jog
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, March 12th
Pam: 9 holes golf, 45 minutes elliptical machine,
Christine: 30 min yoga, tons of stretching to try to ease my achy hip

Friday, March 13th
Pam: WOL workout, Yasso 800's X 8 @ 4:00 each 5 miles total
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, March 14th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon!

How was your week?  Did you have any big accomplishments?

March 13, 2015

Advice from Adam: Supporting your Runner on Race Day

We are in full race preparation mode here at Casa de C.A.P.s (our house) for the Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon this Saturday.  In an effort to help my fellow members of the “0.0 miles club” I have compiled a list of helpful tips and suggestions to maximize race spectating/significant other race support.

Location, Location, Location- If you’re driving to the race arrive early so you can get the best parking spot.  For those out-of-towners find a hotel close to the race start line.  For some reason race organizers find it to be more intense if the race starts at a ridiculously early time (seriously the only thing I want to do at 6am on the weekends is roll over and continue to check out the inside of my eyelids) so a hotel close to the start line will maximize your time practicing laying really still (read: sleeping) and ensure that you can quickly walk to the start line.

Print the Race Map- Would you start a cross country road trip without a map?  So why would you start race spectating with out one?  Ideally, if time allows try to identify potential lookout points and figure out the shortest point to get to them.

Have a Proper Packing List- Remember the six Ps: Proper Preparation Prevent Piss Poor Performance.  Pack a backpack with at minimum a fleece jacket (for yourself), water, Gatorade,  GU packets (ask your runner what this is if you're unsure) and something for post race.

Know the shortest distance back to your vehicle or hotel- After running a race your significant other is going to want to do nothing other than take a warm shower, stretch and relax so knowing the shortest distance back to your hotel or vehicle is clutch.  Trust me, it will earn you brownie points.  

Scout out the perfect post race meal location-  After running 13.1 or 26.2 miles your significant other will be hungry and not want to walk far if you're staying in a hotel.  For the out-of-towners check out Yelp or a similar app beforehand and ask yourself two questions: 1) Does the place serve awesome burgers and 2) does it have a great beer selection.  If you answer yes to both of these questions, then you're in business.  For the locals, stock your fridge with some good beer, meat and be prepared to fire up the grill or at least have the local take-out place on speed dial.

Hopefully that helps prepare for race spectating/significant other race support.  Just remember most races have free beer at the end and someone needs to drink it.

And from the ladies, don't forget that we have a great discount for anyone interested in signing up for a Rock 'n' Roll event. Note that you cannot use this code with any special offers. 

March 12, 2015

39 days and counting to my biggest race ever

Nearly a year has gone by since I qualified for the Boston Marathon and so it seems almost surreal that we are just 39 days away from Patriot's Day/Marathon Monday.  With the snow Boston and Massachusetts has received this winter, it will be an absolute miracle if we don't pass any snow piles while running from Hopkinton to Boston. However, this week the weather has been in the 50's, according to my mother who lives in MA, so I am hopeful that we will have clear sidewalks for all the people coming out to cheer on the runners.

Photo courtesy of Megan
On Tuesday, I was so excited to get a couple texts with photos of the race  merchandise from Megan.  After looking at the photos, I decided I probably needed two of everything, When Christine heard this comment she said , "oh, an heir and a spare."  This may be my one and only time to run Boston and I want all the gear!

Another photo from Megan

With less than 6 weeks until race day, my preparations besides logging miles have started. We will be flying to Boston, so a carry on bag will be holding all the items I need for race day.  My shoes have already been broken in and after yesterday's easy run, they now have just over 50 miles so they are ready for racing!

 Other things to plan are fueling for a late morning start.  This weekend I have a 20 mile run scheduled at 10:30am to test my food and water intake.  The weather forecast looks great for Sunday and hopefully I can figure out how to carry all the food and water I will need.  My only other marathons, the Mickey Marathon, Quintiles Marathon and Marine Corps have all started early in the day so this one will be very different.  My coach specifically scheduled late starts for two of my longer training runs so my body will get used to running late morning into the afternoon.

Last spring I actually bought my race day skirt from Sparkle Skirts just in case they decided to discontinue the one I wanted to wear.  The only missing part to my outfit is a shirt and Christine is helping me design shirts for my sister and me to wear.  Hopefully that little task will be completed by the end of next week. I will test the skirt this week and also my brand new Experia socks that are a perfect color blue!

I am reading  26.2 to Boston again in hopes that the mileage information will be helpful on race day.  This book has a detailed account of the course as well as some interesting stories mixed in about prior races.

My last way to prepare is to get enough rest.  Getting plenty of sleep and relaxing on days before my long runs is key to keeping healthy and injury free.  

Do you have any tips for race preparation?  Have I missed anything?

March 11, 2015

Running Makes a Difference!

A few weeks ago, one of our fellow Girls Gone Sporty Ambassadors mentioned that she was interested in starting a weekly post series called Make a Difference. Kelly (over at Miles to Go) had this great idea that running can really make a difference in your life. We talk about it often but she wanted to keep the discussion open so that we could explore the various ways it impacts people.

While running has impacted many aspects of my life, I wanted to highlight the impact on my relationship with Mom this week. It's hard to remember what our relationship was like before we both started running. We've always been close (at least since I grew out of the bitchy teenager phase), but running has changed our relationship, only for the better.

There's really nothing like having your Mom as a running buddy. The potential judgment, hesitations, and guarded-ness that can sometimes plague relationships of any kind simply aren't there. I can complain when I have a heinous run or celebrate an awesome one. It's an unguarded openness and candor that I value.

I have a built in cheerleader. I mean duh people, Mom came to all my swim meets, dance recitals and tee ball games. Now she attends my races (when she's able) with the same energy that she brought to the stands during my tee ball games when she and a friend taunted the other team. She's always on my side no matter what the score.

There's a kinship that comes with running. I have previously called it a fraternity of black toenails and hydration. It's a bit different when it's shared with a blood relative.  The ability to share this experience together has been incredible and it's difficult to specifically articulate the tangible impacts.

How has running changed your relationships?

March 10, 2015

Post run recovery, Oofos make me say ahhhh....

Disclaimer:  We were each provided a pair of sandals by Oofos.  No other compensation was received and as always, the opinions stated here are our own.

In late February, a package arrived with my thongs from Oofos and I was really excited to try them out.  After spending some time researching the product and company prior to arranging for a pair to test, I thought they would be perfect for post long run comfort.  What I did not realize was that they would become my footwear whenever I returned from errands, running, the gym.  When I first pulled them out of the package I was in the love with the color, but thought they would look awful on my big feet.  As soon as I put them on, the comfort exceeded any care about how fashionable they were or weren't.  And let's face it, these are not fashionable shoes.  They are however, a pair of highly functional and extremely comfortable pair that make my feet very happy. You could compare these to slippers, but honestly these are more comfy than my Ugg slippers.

Now for some specifics about the shoes and thongs:  Oofos brand are made from a proprietary material that is OOfoam, trademarked specifically for their footwear. The design of the foot bed has alot of arch support which is absolutely wonderful for anyone but especially for runners after a workout.  They provide great impact absorption, but best of all, your feet will feel fantastic while wearing these shoes.

Ugly runner feet still need comfy thongs!

Pricing for the thongs is cheaper than I have paid for a similar sandal providing extra arch support such as Olukai, At $39.95, Oofos are at a great price point for something that will not only provide you comfort but you will not want to take them off.  I'm ordering the white pair next, since that will be the perfect color to wear after I cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon next month! By the way, there are currently 11 color choices for the ladies to choose from on the website, but sorry men, there are only two for you. If you would like to try these shoes rather than order online, they are available at local running specialty stores.  

Have you tried Oofos?

March 9, 2015

Hope springs eternal

This weekend, daylight saving time began which is always an initial indicator that spring is on the way. While I never like "losing" an hour of sleep or anything, I do appreciate daylight when I leave work. The light in the evenings helps me make time for various outdoor activities whether it be running, walking the dog, or a little yard work.

Spring is a finicky season. In Virginia, we have crazy weather swings which always leave my body and home HVAC system feeling a little ragged. Last week, we had an afternoon with sun and 70 degrees, followed by snowfall the following evening. Who thought that was helpful?
Enjoying some momentary warmth after work in SHORTS!
Spring also ushers in racing season. For the last few years, I've had a few big races on my calendar where I hoped to PR. This year is an exception. While I have races on my calendar, I generally don't have any intention of making PR attempts. It's a strange feeling but one I'm embracing fully. I like that I don't *have* to hit certain mileage or paces. When I talked to Mom yesterday she asked what was on my plan for mileage. I was confused. I don't have a plan. I generally know how far I need to run to maintain half marathon base mileage and given I have a race this week, I figured I would probably hit 7-8 miles depending on how my hip and knee were feeling.

I know that one day there will be a big spring race on my schedule. For now, I'm just enjoying the new season, of running and life.

What gets you excited about spring?

March 8, 2015

Weekly Roundup: Mar 8th

This week seemed to be extra busy and extra chaotic for me. I started out the week exhausted and never regained my footing with quality sleep. My Fitbit has been telling me I'm averaging 6.5 hours or less of real sleep - ugh! Despite that, I actually managed to eat good meals in the evenings and had leftovers a few days for lunch. A true sign of a chaotic week was this at my desk on Thursday afternoon...

I rarely run down to the food court in the hospital for lunch for two reasons: 1) the options are crappy and 2) I don't like spending money on lunch unless it's a good lunch out!

It's been a fantastic weekend so far - just the right balance of productive and fun! I was able to knock out my car state inspection (never one of my favorite tasks) and enjoy a movie and dinner out. If you haven't seen it already, go see MacFarland, USA. It was fantastic and totally motivating!

Sunday, March 1st
Pam: 15 miles at 10:26 pace
Christine: Rest day

Monday, March 2nd
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 35 min elliptical, push-ups, abs with medicine ball

Tuesday, March 3rd
Pam: 6 miles, with 1 mile warm up, 5 miles at 9:25 pace
Christine: 4.5 miles on treadmill, hip exercises, abs

Wednesday, March 4th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day, 5 min ab workout

Thursday, March 5th
Pam: Without Limits track workout total 5.5 miles averaging 8:15 pace
Christine: 2.6 miles on treadmill at 9:00 pace (knee was hurting), 3.5 miles on elliptical, stretching

Friday, March 6th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Yoga with focus on hips

Saturday, March 7th
Pam: 17 miles at 10:00 pace
Christine: 30 min elliptical, stretching

What was the highlight of your weekend?

March 6, 2015

Five favorite race day memories

It's Friday and time to link up with the ladies of DC for a post on favorites.  Please be sure to check out the blogs of Courtney, Mar and Cynthia, our blog hostesses!  At the moment, while in the midst of marathon training and total exhaustion, I thought a post on my favorite race memories would give me the pick me up I need before a 17 mile training run on Saturday morning. Before I start my list, please note that there are two race memories listed as 1A and 1B.  These races were huge for me, each in their own way so I could not choose between the two.  I know, very wishy washy of me.

1A. Crossing the finish line with Christine after finishing the Dopey Challenge 2014 As we planned and trained for over 6 months to complete this four day challenge, it was with absolute delight that we finished the marathon smiling, and with PR's for both us.  The level of satisfaction we both felt that day, after training so hard and sacrificing alot of holiday drinks and food was amazing.  It was worth everything we did to share a weekend of races with the best running buddy ever!

1B. Quintiles Marathon 2014 and a BQ attempt  When I toed the starting line at the Wrightsville Beach marathon last year, my head and heart were all in as I tried to accomplish the goal of qualifying for Boston.  With a running partner at my side who would help to pace me, the race went better than my wildest (and my coach's) dreams, finishing 5 minutes faster than either she or I expected.  I don't know if I will have ever have another perfect race like this one, but the memories of running with Megan and that glorious finish are forever ingrained in my little running brain!

3. Jingle Bell 5k 2014  An unexpected guest on December 13th, meant that I would be running this race with my sidekick racing too.  Christine came to help me celebrate a milestone birthday and we had a blast running this race Saturday morning on my birthday.  Tons of runners arrived in holiday costumes and we celebrated afterwards with one of the peppermint shakes from Chick fil A!
Before we left the house!

4. Asheville Half Marathon 2014 This race was the hardest race I have ever run.  And if you asked me five minutes after I finished what I thought about it, the answer would have been, "It was awful." But that awful turned to appreciation the more time that passed after the race.  Being challenged is an important part of racing and learning to accept those challenges and learn from them make us better runners.  So, it moved from being the worst ever to being one of my favorites! I'm not going to lie though, it did help that I earned a first place finish in my AG! As you know, I am all about the prizes!

All smiles at the start

5.  Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2012  This race was a mix of highs and lows, but the high was amazing!  Christine and I were separated very early on in this race at a water station and obviously this made the race difficult for 7 miles. Miraculously we were reunited in Hollywood Studios, just prior to the Osborne Family lights display and this was the first time we would see the lights.  It was such a happy time and the last 3 miles of the race went by so quickly.

Pre race all smiles!

What is your very favorite race day memory? Have you ever been separated from your racing partner?

March 5, 2015

Princess Half Marathon Race Recap - Christine's version

Now that Mom shared her (PR-worthy!) version of the Princess Half Marathon, I wanted to share mine. I knew Mom wanted to run this race fast and I wasn't sure I was up to the challenge...mostly because I woke up on race morning feeling pretty sore after gunning it in the 10k and getting a nice new PR. My fear during that race was that I would push too hard and not be able to run the half with Mom....well more on that later...

As you can gather from Mom's race recap, we ran together until we separated at the Magic Kingdom exit. I was very fatigued from running hard in the 10k the day before and knew I didn't have the juice in my legs to sustain her PR pace. At around mile 4 or 5, I knew I didn't have it but I told myself to hang on through Magic Kingdom to enjoy running through the castle with her just like we did 4 years ago during our first half. I was really bummed to have to say goodbye, but I knew she had worked hard for a chance to PR the half marathon distance and I wasn't about to hold her back from that goal!

As she ran past me, I enjoyed a quick walk break at the water stop just after the Magic Kingdom exit and reevaluated my race plan.  Since my legs felt like bricks, I decided to drop to a 4:1 run:walk interval to get some rest. After about two miles of this, I was feeling much better! And also during that time, I decided to text Megan to see how she was feeling. She felt about like me - tired and lacking speed. On a whim over text message in the middle of a half marathon, we decided to try to finish the race together. Given that we had started in different corals, about a mile of road separated us. As she was catching up to me, I lolly-gagged on a race course like you cannot imagine - lots of walk breaks, a quick stop at the medical tent to get some bio freeze for my achy hamstrings, and lots of photos. But really, I was having a BLAST even though I was by myself!
The slipper almost fit! 
Is it vacation time again?  
Sun coming up over World Drive

My first pirate photo! How could I say no as there
was no line?

The critical mile for the WDW Half and Princess Half...
not only the mile 10 "wall' but the dreaded on-ramp!
At the on ramp to head to EPCOT just past mile 10, I got the good word that Megan was just steps behind me. I told her I was running ahead to do some push-ups with Sarge. After some push-ups and a salute, I saw my sweet friend running up the hill that can seriously suck the life out of you and it was a beautiful sight!
He only asked me to do 2 push-ups....I did 3 for good measure and then
was instructud to make up the 10 seconds I wasted doing push-ups
by passing 5 runners. Sarge was serious!

Hi Megan!!!
We ran-walked the last 3 miles together and it seemed like those miles went by in a nanosecond. We grabbed a photo with the Fairy Godmother in EPCOT and then headed to the finish, where we got a nice shout out from Carissa before we finished with high fives and hugs.

One of my favorite race photos! 
Once we collected our half marathon medal, it was time for the official challenge medal collection.  For this race, they took photos of you with your bib number at the expo and when you arrived in the Glass Slipper tent at the finish line area, they simply pulled up your photo and verified it was you.

We were easily able to meet up with Mom and my Aunt and I was thrilled to see Dani chatting with them...about what else but Boston marathon! Soon enough, we decided it was time to get back to the resort so we could enjoy our day in the park.

Celebrating in Magic Kingdom!
This will go down as one of the best races I've run - a fast 6 miles with Mom and a fun last half with a dear friend.  If given the choice, what would you prefer - running fast or running for fun with a friend? Clearly, I managed to choose both...well sorta!