November 30, 2015

Mickey Marathon - what to expect and training update

In less than six weeks, it will be time for the Walt Disney World Marathon race weekend.  For many, this will be the start of their 2016 race calendar whether they are running the 5k, 10k, half or full marathon or all of them.  This year, I am going solo to run the Mickey Marathon on Sunday, January 10th.  This will be my third time to run this marathon, and my first time to run it without races on the prior days.  It's hard to believe now that my first marathon was part of the Goofy Challenge back in 2013.  Alot has happened in my running world since then and this will be an opportunity to enjoy marathon weekend without back to back races. This equals more sleep which is a win!

November 25, 2015

That pesky knee

Most of you know or probably have observed that I've had some issues with my left knee for a while. I had a pretty serious knee injury in high school while I was swimming that resulted in surgery.  Basically the outcome was keep cross training and keep your quads strong. There were days that it bothered me and days that I forgot it had ever been an issue. Even throughout the training for my first half marathon, it stayed under the radar. Generally speaking, my knee wasn't really an issue until I started running more consistently.

Most of the time, it's simply been an inconvenience when I run. I would occasionally use kinesiology tape during a run and ice it after a run. I focused on staying strong and that was that. I've noticed that with both Richmond Marathon and my most recent Marine Corps Marathon, my knee started acting up close to race day and then hurt during the race. And after both races, it still seemed quite inflamed and took me some time to be able to run on it. 
My trusty old KT tape application

November 24, 2015

New York City Marathon, why it was not a one and done

When I registered for the NYC Marathon last January 15th as a time qualifier, it was to check off a box on my bucket list of races.  To be specific, it was to check off a marathon major.  Now that I have spent the race weekend in New York City and run the marathon, my thoughts have changed entirely on the whole experience.  My prior opinion of NYC was just so so.  It was another large city, one where I had only spent small periods of time.  So this trip would be just another one of those long weekend adventures that included a little marathon race.

November 20, 2015

Friday 5: Favorite Fall Drinks

I love anything seasonal so I can totally get on board with festive drinks. I have never been a devotee of the PSL...I know, I know, that totally voids any vision you had of me drinking a latte in my jeans, boots and vest didn't it? Well fear not, because there's another warm drink that I enjoy and especially like drinking when I'm wearing my monogrammed vest, so read on!

1. Coffee drink: Skinny Vanilla Latte with cinnamon. The cinnamon makes all the difference. Try it! You'll love it!

November 17, 2015

Running with Team Fisher House

As you all know, I ran my fourth marathon as a member of Team Fisher House. I was eager to run a marathon with a charity team and Team Fisher House was a great fit for me.  While I recapped my experience at the Marine Corps Marathon race itself, I wanted to spend some time talking more specifically about my experience with Team Fisher House.

November 16, 2015

London Marathon and the National Osteoporosis Society

Back in September, the plan was hatched for me to run the London Marathon April 26, 2016.  This would be my first time to be a fundraiser for a running race.  As I searched the list of charities that support runners with a bib for the London Marathon, one charity in particular caught my eye. While I love animals and could easily have chosen to apply for one of the many charity spots for organizations that support pets, and animals, the National Osteoporosis Society seemed like the perfect one for me.

                                Pamela, Welcome to the team!  

I was delighted to receive this acceptance in my email inbox after having an email interview with Claire who is in charge of the charity runners.  She was so encouraging to me and of course, I want to do everything possible to make a great contribution to the charity.

For the past 10 years, I have been dealing with first a diagnosis of Osteopenia and then Osteoporosis.  If you do not know what these ailments are, here is a simple explanation.  Osteopenia is the first diagnosis you can receive for loss of bone strength.  When I received this diagnosis, I was urged to do things such as weight bearing activity (I already did), healthy eating and little caffeine.  Okay, so I do eat a bit too much ice cream, but isn't calcium good for your bones?  A few years later as my bone density tests continued to deteriorate, I was given the diagnosis of Osteoporosis.  This was not at all unexpected according to my doctor and she and I made the decision together for me to not medicate for my situation.  Certain people are more likely to get Osteoporosis than others.  Here are some of the risk factors to consider:

  • Being a woman: Approximately 80% of those with Osteoporosis are women.
  • Having a small, thin build- While size does not exclude anyone, you are at much higher risk if you are a small person.
  • White, Asian or Latino people are more at risk, but as with the other risks, everyone is susceptible to the problem.
  • Aging: Most bone loss occurs as you age, but that does not mean if you are old you have Osteoporosis.  
  • Family History:  If you have family members with Osteoporosis you are at a higher risk to develop the problem.
My mother and sister both have Osteoporosis and so far none of us have suffered any broken bones. However, we are all conscious of our situation and try our best without medication to keep our bones at the strength they currently are with no more thinning.

Now here's the fun part.  Wouldn't you like to donate to my fundraising?  While I know this may seem selfish since I really want to run the race, I also plan to make a donation, or rather Tom will, so that I can be a strong fundraiser for the cause.  No amount is too small and I appreciate any support you can offer.

You can click on the link to my page here

Thanks for all the support! 

November 13, 2015

Friday Five: A potpourri of running stuff

Many thanks to Cynthia  at You signed up for what, Courtney at Eat, Pray Run DC and Mar at Mar on the Run for the Friday Five linkup.  The topic for the week is how to stay healthy during the holidays.

My favorite tips for how to stay on track during the holidays include signing up for a January Marathon, talking a local running friend into the same marathon and making sure you eat plenty of cookies and peppermint chocolate holiday candy to fuel your runs. Except I really don't mean the last one....okay, maybe I do just a little bit.  A few years ago, while training for the Goofy Challenge, I ate cookies during the middle of a long run and you know what?  They tasted great and made me smile as I completed the 22 mile run. This was a spur of the moment decision when I stopped at home to refill my water bottle and saw a big tin of cookies on the counter, and it was December 22nd and I thought I deserved a cookie or three!

This week, I was pretty inactive on social media since I was out of town and then came home from Florida with a really bad cold.  Yesterday, while spending the day in my pajamas, I came across a few things that really hit a nerve in a good way.

The last few weeks were big ones for the runners who qualified and earned a spot in the April 2016 Boston Marathon.  They received one of these cards in the mail, which is very exciting for any runner no matter how many times they have qualified and run Boston.  I remember fondly last year when I got this card and I danced around the kitchen!

There are plenty of runners who do not get the card, despite meeting the qualifying standard. This year, those with a time of less than 2.27 seconds under their qualifying time would not be lucky and get that precious card in the mail. Two people from my running team including one of the coaches did not get a spot.  Due to the vast number of runners vying for spots, not everyone is fortunate to make the cut.   Some of these runners will choose to run for a charity and if accepted, will be a fundraiser for between $5000 and $7000 for the charity.  Others will hope for a miracle spot from either a Boston Marathon Sponsor or a chance winning entry through a contest. While I have my opinion about these options for entry, they are what they are and no runner (s) will change the mind of the B.A.A. who puts on the race.

This week I read a blog post by Jesica from Runladylike.  Both Christine and I enjoy her blog because she is a straight shooter and she only writes about products that she uses and loves. She was offered a spot through a sponsor, but turned it down.  It was wonderful to read that a runner like Jesica who had qualified, but missed the cut, would not promote a product that she does not use and accept a free entry into the race.  While it would have been so easy for her to say yes, she showed integrity and self control by saying no thank you.  You can read her post here.

While reading the December issue of Runners World magazine, I was delighted to see that Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank fame is a serious runner. He  was interviewed for the back page column and here is a quote: "I want to qualify for Boston- I don't want to buy my way in (as in a charity runner).  I'll do that one of two ways, get faster, or just stay the same speed and get older so the standards get slower."  This impressed me so much since he could easily get a bib without making the effort to qualify.

This weekend I will hit the pavement for the first time since the NYC Marathon on November 1.  It will feel great to put on my running shoes and pound the pavement for a little while.  My next big race is on January 10th and it is time to get training again. Do you have fun plans for the weekend?

November 6, 2015

New York City Marathon Race Recap

November 1st was a good day, in fact a very good day in New York City for those runners participating in the marathon.  While the weather would not be considered ideal for running, it was not uncomfortably hot and we would not freeze in the athlete's village.

My morning started with a 4:30 am alarm followed by my usual jumping out of my bed saying "It's race day!". Mind you I had woken up at 3:30 and never quite gotten back to sleep due to race day excitement.  It was nice to have the extra hour from Daylight Savings so I still managed to get close to 7 hours of sleep.  After quickly getting dressed and eating my first breakfast of banana and an English Muffin with peanut butter, my roomie Joanne and I met our teammate Sam in the lobby of the hotel and went outside to hail a taxi or Uber car.  We got an Uber car quickly and proceeded to the first stop which was at the library where Sam and I would take the bus to Staten Island.  Joanne had chosen the ferry as her mode of transportation so she stayed in the car for the second drop off point.

After arrival at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, Sam and I made our way to the Runner's Village with 49, 998 other runners. After about a 1/2 mile walk, we entered the Blue wave area.  It was well organized with tents filled with volunteers serving bagels, Power Bars, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and water. Both of us brought our own food, but in hindsight, we would have been fine with the offerings at the village. At about 8:30 am, I ate my second breakfast of another banana and English Muffin with peanut butter with some Gatorade. There also were volunteers from Dunkin' Donuts handing out these really cute knit hats with the NYC 2015 logo.

Ebay image
Porta potties were plentiful and we found a tree to lean against for the next 3 hours.  Yes, you read that right, after arriving by bus at 6:15 am, we had more than 3 hours to wait until we would move into our corral.  With people watching and trying to stay warm, the time did go quickly and soon our Wave 2 start group was entering the corral area.  After a few minutes, the corral was closed and we started our walk to the start.  After passing the toll booths, we knew it was go time.

Miles 1-6:  Splits 10:43, 9:29, 10:11, 10:11, 10:08, 10:06  The race starts with a huge uphill climb for the first mile on the Verrazano Bridge.  I knew what to expect and told Sam goodbye as he sped up the hill and I kept an easy pace.  This was a long race and I knew conserving energy on this first challenge of the course was important.  As soon as we hit the top of the bridge, the downhill came and by my splits you can see how much faster I ran the second mile which was all downhill.  Going with my legs and staying comfortable we soon were in Brooklyn with crowds that were not only enthusiastic, but deafening at times.  One of my goals for this race was to smile alot and I don't think a smile left my face for the first 6-7 miles.  It was amazing to have so much crowd support going through so many different neighborhoods which started with Bay Ridge moving into Sunset Park. One of the things that stood out to me were the places of worship mixed in with stores and restaurants, with many spectators offering their hands in support of all the runners.

Miles 7-12: 9:58, 9:58, 9:59, 9:46, 10:16, 9:49  During this next neighborhood called Park Slope, there were some lovely Victorian homes with numerous families cheering with cowbells and their voices. Many times during this race I turned my music off so I could soak in the crowd and atmosphere.  These miles seemed to go by quickly with a slight downward slope and bands and spectators keeping the runners entertained.  One thing that bothered me during the race was the number of runners who seemed oblivious to the other runners on the course.  Between miles 7 and 8, I was given a "flat tire" by a foreign runner. She stepped hard on my heal removing my shoe and I was very fortunate not to take a header into the pavement.  Turning around quickly, a tall man was right behind me, but he was alert and missed me and I was able to grab my shoe and put it back on.  While I did receive an apology, she never stopped and continued to be consumed with the crowd and totally unaware of those around her, with the exception of her posse of 5 other runners.  Let's just say I was not pleased!  After mile 9, there seemed to be alot of turns on the course and this definitely reduces your speed.

Mile 13:  9:58  This mile marker was the one I was most excited about because I knew my niece Erica planned to be spectating here. I spotted her running along the road barrier and screamed as soon as I saw her.  I quickly turned around and she took this photo.  It is the only candid race photo I have other than those taken my Marathon Foto.
Big smile for Erica!
Halfway: 2:13.18 A marker on the Pulaski Bridge marked the middle of the course and I was very happy with the time on my watch.  I had conserved energy, but was still giving a strong effort.  I knew the hardest part of the course was coming, and the most challenging would be mile 16 that included another bridge, this time the Queensboro that takes you from Queens into Manhattan.

Miles 14-19: 10:11, 10:20, 11:03, 9:57, 10:20, 9:59  For some reason I struggled during this part of the marathon, and this was the area that Coach Sami said would be difficult.  The bridge was long and it seemed like we had a fair bit of wind.  I tried my best, but I knew my paces were lagging.  In every marathon most everyone experiences highs and lows and I think this was one of the times I was fighting those negative thoughts in my head. One huge surprise was after exiting the bridge onto 1st Street in Manhattan, I expected huge crowds and noise.  It was eerily quiet despite many people lining the streets.  This was quite strange and perhaps they were sick of cheering after being out there for many hours.  I kept raising my arms asking for some noise to get me going again!

Miles 19-24: 10:17, 10:07, 10:19, 10:10, 10:37  During these miles we covered two more bridges as we moved from Manhattan, to the Bronx and back to Manhattan.  When we crossed the 138th street bridge and moved back into Manhattan, I knew we were getting closer and I was excited to be arriving at 5th Avenue.  This street was the beginning of the end and despite the incline, I tried to pick it up a notch.  Fifth Avenue is on an incline and it has one section where you feel like you are climbing a mountain between miles 23 and 24. By the time I got to 24, I really wanted to walk the rest of the way.  I mean I really really wanted to walk.  But I kept myself focused and stayed with my planned intervals and finally got out of my mental hell.  At around mile 23, I was calculating in my head what I needed to run to finish under 4:30. Let me tell you that after running for nearly 4 hours, my brain took a very long time to figure out what I needed to do!

Miles 25-26.2:  10:08, 9:57, last .2 at 9:11 pace The last two miles included East Drive and the final turn into Central Park for the finish line. There were tons of runners in this congested area, but I kept on trucking and passed many during this last stretch.  When I turned into Central Park for the last time, I was so emotional that tears started to form in my eyes.  After getting food poisoning and finishing the Boston Marathon last April under not the best circumstances, I needed this race to get my marathon confidence restored.  As I crossed the finish line, tears brimmed from my eyes as my goal had been met.  This race gave me back the marathon!

Tears of joy
Other details just in case you are interested:  I ate a half banana that was given out around mile 15 on the course. (That could be incorrect mileage, but I am still suffering from marathon brain post race.)  My GU supply was ample and I took one starting at mile 4, but then ended up taking them a little closer together after mile 13. In all, I took 6 gels during the race, some with caffeine and some without. Water and Gatorade stops were plentiful, in fact more so than any other marathon I have run.  Due to the humidity, I took a drink at every station except one, when I missed the Gatorade and did not want water.

Official Results:
Time: 4:28:27
22875/49460 Overall
7052/20674 Female
67/409 Age Group Female 60-64

November 5, 2015

Healthy Meals: Savory Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Ever since I started developing my love for cooking, I've embraced seasonal flavors. Once the weather starts to turn cool and the leaves change color, you can bet that my kitchen will be awake with savory herbs, squash, meats and veggies roasting in the oven, and lots of pumpkin baked goods. Last weekend, we hit the farmer's market for one of the last times of the season and picked up some white sweet potatoes. The farmer told us that they're a little more mild than traditional sweet potatoes and since we love trying obscure produce that you can't find in our local grocery store, we gave them a shot!

I have been craving some fall flavors so I came up with a quick dish made with turkey, sweet potatoes, and savory herbs. It was the perfect weeknight meal since it only took about 30 minutes! Winning! It was also very flavorful without added fat or calories. I used fresh oregano and rosemary from our herb garden. There is really something magical about fresh herbs and how they can transform a dish. Even if I never have another vegetable garden again, I'll always try to keep fresh herbs around because they simply are lightyears ahead of dried herbs in the jars at the store.

Savory Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
* 1 Tbsp olive oil
* 1 lb. ground turkey
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 tsp thyme
* 1/2 tsp oregano (I used fresh and chopped very fine)
* 1 Tbsp rosemary (I used fresh and chopped very fine)
* 2 sweet potatoes, diced (I used 1 regular sweet potato and 1 white sweet potato)
* 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
* 1 carrot, roughly chopped
* 1/4 C water or chicken broth
* 2 Tbsp high quality balsamic vinegar
* 2-3 Tbsp red wine
* salt and pepper, to taste

1. In large nonstick skillet, heat up 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add ground turkey, garlic, thyme, oregano, 1/2 tsp. rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 8-10 minutes until meat is cooked through. Remove from skillet and put in bowl. Set aside.
2. In same skillet, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and add potatoes. Add water or broth and cover pan. Cook about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover pan and allow moisture to cook off. Add onions and carrots. Cook 3-4 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
3. Add turkey to pain to heat. Stir with veggies and cook 1-2 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and wine and stir. Add remaining 3/4 Tbsp rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste and cook 1-2 minutes.

* This dish would be perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers! Just dice up 2-3 C of turkey meat and use any leftover veggies like onions, carrots, celery, squash and potatoes. I always have tons of herbs and whatnot in my fridge after the big feast so this would be a great dish to use them in a slightly reformatted version!
* Feel free to add other veggies like bell peppers or squash or even add a diced apple! I love making a skillet hash because you can really add anything that you have laying around the fridge or pantry.

The results were amazing! We'll definitely keep this recipe in our repertoire for a while!

What are your favorite fall flavors or favorite fall dish to prepare?

November 4, 2015

New York City Marathon Expo

The TCS New York City Marathon expo was one of the events I was really looking forward to as Joanne and I traveled to the city Friday morning.  After dropping our luggage at the hotel and organizing our tote bags, we took an Uber car to the Jacob Javits Convention Center where the race expo was held.

Our first stop was to procure our race bibs and shirts and the lines were tiny.  I waited for two people and Joanne walked right up to the volunteer for her bib number.  
Joanne was camera shy so you just get yours truly!
We were advised to check the sticker on our bib carefully because it included not only your race number and Wave/Corral, but also your transportation information and post race choice of either baggage check or poncho.  Several friends with prior NYC Marathon experience had told me to choose poncho and I was so happy I did. (More on that in my race recap) One great feature was the opportunity to try on shirts prior to choosing your size.

Next we moved into the official merchandise area.  It was here that we noticed it was crowded.  The merchandise however, was plentiful and spread nicely over a very large area.  If you saw an item you wanted on one rack and your size wasn't available, you just needed to turn around and there would be another rack nearby with the same style and more sizes.  There were loads of shirts, jackets, hats, visors and all sorts of merchandise to purchase with the NYC Marathon logo.  Joanne and I had not planned on buying anything until we spotted these beauties.

We both tried on jackets and chose the same color and style.  Then we got in line to pay and the fun began!  What we did not realize was the line snaked around a massive area, only to continue after going past a wall. It probably took 45 minutes for us to pay for the jackets and yes, I bought hers and she bought mine, We are both superstitious.
A glimpse of the lines
After such a long wait, we decided to look for a couple vendors that were of interest.  I wanted the logo Nuun Hydration bottle and she needed some nutrition for race day.

After spending a few hours shopping and paying for things it was time to have lunch. Considering the number of runners and the size of the space, we both thought the expo was well done and very organized.  The volunteers from the time you entered the building to exiting were professional and courteous. Large race expos can be overwhelming, but this one was manageable and fun.  I already have plans to return and hopefully arrive at the expo when it opens next time!


November 2, 2015

Funemployment in a nutshell

Well folks, it's been a month since I walked away from my consulting job in corporate America. I would be lying if I didn't say that it's been a strange transition. I've definitely had moments of excitement, loneliness, frustration, contentment, and everything in between. I can say without a single ounce of doubt or regret that I made the right decision. I am cognizant of the fact that this break is truly a gift - a gift of time, a gift of headspace, a gift of openness in thought.

When I tell people that I'm taking an extended leave of absence, aka working my SAHW (stay at home wife) / funemployed spouse game, I usually get a lot of blank stares or "Oh, ok...." type of responses. It's weird but I'm getting used to it. I get that what I'm doing isn't the norm and a lot of people have asked how I fill my days.

- I still get up at the same time in the morning (usually 6 AM) to get ready for the day.
- Make Adam's lunch and breakfast...previously Adam made and/or put our workday meals in our lunch boxes before work. Now I do this for him...if he's lucky, he gets a cheesy note with some stick figures drawn on it!
- Clean up the kitchen. I swear that dishes are a vicious, never ending cycle! I try to put away anything that's dry and clean up anything still in the sink from the previous night.
- Tidy up the house...put things away, run the vacuum, start on some laundry, etc.
- Read blogs. Write blog posts. Try not to waste too much time on the book of faces.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays, I volunteer at a local preschool so I spend my mornings there. I love it! It's been a great way for me to use my time in a productive manner and also structure my days.
- Do all of the stuff that I didn't do everyday with Paddy dog...take her on a walk, brush her, run around the backyard, etc.
- Workout, unless Adam and I have plans to run, bike or hit the gym together after he gets home from work.
- I make sure to get dressed everyday and am enjoying the challenge of trying to style my professional wardrobe for everyday! Sidebar - I promised myself that I would not buy an entirely new fall wardrobe of casual clothes for my funemployment.

PS See that icky linoluem? We ripped it out yesterday and it's being replaced
by pretty new wood floors this week! 
- I usually set aside afternoons for painting our baseboards, putting together our wedding album, yard work, cleaning out closets, major cleaning projects, etc.
- Start prepping dinner so that we eat at a more reasonable hour (like 7:30) instead of 9:00 like we did when we were both working.
- Run errands. I make it a point to try to grocery shop during the week...and do all the other errands that seemed to take up most of our time on the weekends. My goal is simply to create some ways for us to enjoy the weekends more.

This break has enabled me to focus on things that just didn't happen when I was also working really long work weeks, like Adam. I've been able to....
- send my car in for a repair that was long overdue;
- hit every doctor's appointment during the workday and haven't stressed about it (!!!);
- obtain estimates for having new floors put in our home, an improvement/upgrade that I've considered for about 2 years and now finally have the time to do it;
- go to the post office during the week, a feat that I didn't think was ever possible;
- talk to my grandmother on the phone once a week;
- write letters to family and friends;
- handle a lot of random household things like transferring from cable to fios (which is saving us lots of $$), etc.

This time has truly been a gift, and in some ways a luxury. I know that and appreciate it completely. Somedays, I think about all the jokes I've made with friends about sitting down to watch the Today Show and then starting to day drink with Hoda and Kathy Lee....and then proceeding to eat bon bons and watch the soaps. But really, I simply don't want to do that! I've enjoyed the ability to be productive around the house and enhance our life. I'm enjoying the time to read (so far, I've read #Girlboss, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, and 3 issues of Garden and Gun that were sitting on our coffee table..). I'll be enjoying an impromptu girls' trip to Disney to see the Christmas decor next week and will have ample time to prepare for the holidays. This is a really good time in my life and I feel happy, rested, and well!

What's a big thing you've accomplished in your non-fitness life lately? I'm SO SO SO excited for our new wood floors to be installed this week!