Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goals, not Resolutions, for 2016

I read somewhere where someone said they don't make resolutions for the new year, because ultimately they fail.  Rather, they make goals, because it is something to strive towards. Sounds about right, don't you think??  So at my workout today, I wrote this entry in my head, and here are the goals I want to accomplish in 2016.

1. To complete the Whole30 diet once. We tried recently, but failed before the end of Day 2.  It sounds great, but I did a big shopping trip a week before starting, and that grocery trip was NOT preparing for the diet.  So we had sooooo many tempting foods in the house.  So rather Hubby and I decided to press pause, and restart the diet in a few more weeks.  At that time there will be no more pizza in the freezer, and fewer than 15 boxes of pasta in the house. 

2. To complete 1008 miles of cardio.  This is half of 2016, and while it is reachable, I am going to be pushing myself in this.  I ran or did elliptical for around 550 miles in 2015 (an increase from 470 in 2014). To diversify this goal, and to not bore myself out, I decided that I can do four exercises to complete the miles: running/walking; rowing; biking; elliptical machine.  Each of these much have the resistance increased from 1. So if I am on the elliptical machine, I usually set it to resistance 8. But not something that is easy and I can "phone in".  I can decrease the resistance for a few minutes, but I MUST be working and pushing myself.

3. To complete 5 more half-marathons in 5 different states. Pretty easy so far--I have New York, Maine and New Jersey already paid for and on the books! We are still not sure where we will end up after Hubby graduates from graduate school this spring.  We could stay in the New England area, we could venture to California.  We'll go wherever the job is, and because of that uncertainty I cannot book anything after May. :(

4. Lose 5 pounds.  Ok, this might be wishful thinking. :)  But I know that losing the weight will certainly help me get that elusive 2:29:59 in a half-marathon that I have been chasing for more than 3 years now.  Fingers crossed, right?!?!

So there ya go.  Short, sweet and to the point.  I'll have to remember to check back this time next year and let you know how I did!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Need your help!!

I feel that I am such an indecisive person.  If I make a decision, I will research it to death, until I am so overwhelmed with facts and figures that I just CAN'T make a decision. And so I am looking to others to help me figure out my medal holder as well.

I received a gift card to ETSY for Christmas, and I want to get this medal holder to display my medals from all 50 states. The elevation map I have already chosen (my hometown), but I need something at the top.  I have started a survey, can you help me out??

Click here to access it and let me know your favorite motivational quote! I'm going to be looking at this for a very long time, so I need something good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Looking ahead to 2016

Now that we only have 16 days until 2016, I felt the need to write about what I am going to do next.  Of course, I am continuing my #50in50before50 journey, and have three states on the calendar for next year: Asbury Park Half Marathon (NJ), Greater Bridge Half Marathon (NY), and Fort Edgecomb Half Marathon (ME).  And I have been so lucky to have so many friends support me in my journey.  After each race, they congratulate me and proceed to tell me they can host me when I come to their state. With sorority sisters and Army wives opening their homes and hearts, I feel so fortunate to have people who will have my back in their trying life journey.

Since our family does not know where we will be living after July, it is tough to plan for 2016, but by May I will have completed 10 states, or 20% of my journey, and still have 13 years to complete this endeavor.  That is 3 races a year, which is totally doable, so I am not too worried.....yet.

Another thing I need to figure out for 2016 is how to keep myself motivated.  Races on the calendar are ok, but this 2015 in 2015 Challenge has really pushed me to take my running to a new and consistent level.  The sad thing for 2016 is that the group I have been doing this with does not want to continue it into the next year.  Which is fine, I realize I can be very Type A on some things, and because I am such a "numbers person", it was a fit for me but not for others.  I have taken some time off after this last half marathon, but will end the year with about 525 miles, a 55 mile increase over 2014.  So what should I strive for next year?? Some months are good, some are bad, and I am not sure what I want to set a monthly goal (ie--run 50 miles per month), only to fail the second or third month. I might try to do 1008 in 2016, but increase the amount of things I can do.  This challenge was only running and elliptical machine, but to increase the mileage without killing myself I might add in rowing and biking.

Something to think about and ponder while running.....

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Race Recapping: Thompson Speedway Race (CT) Half-Marathon

So this race is the last one of the year, and it took me quite a while to register for it.  I had been eyeing it for some time, mostly because it was located in the eastern part of Connecticut, and only 1 hour from the house. Another race in CT, run by the same company, was being held in June but it was 3 hours away which means I would have to get a hotel room.  But once the weather forecast for December 6th was released, and I saw there was going to be nice weather, I signed up!  (December in CT could have meant 3' of snow, hence my initial hesitation.)

The race was the Thompson Speedway Race, and on the morning of, I awoke early, got dressed and got on the road by 0630, leaving three peacefully sleeping boys in their warm, toasty beds.  The temperature on the dashboard read 36*, but since there was a layer of frost on the car, I seriously doubt it.  I drove to the start, a very uneventful drive (thank goodness!), and the first big shock of the day was the temperature drop.  It was 27* when I got to Thompson. WHAT?!?!? This would be the coldest half marathon that I have run...well, at least the coldest when it starts. The thermometer read 50* when I got in the car to drive back home.  No wonder I was shedding clothes faster than an professional stripper once I got to my car....

This half-marathon offered me the chance to literally run a race track.  Our starting and finish line were both on this track, so we started by running 1.7 laps around it before we headed out into the community.  The race director said he ran it the day before, and while they were not shutting down the roads, the roads were not heavily traveled.  In the fours hours he was out there, he said maybe 30 cars passed him, and that seemed to be true on race day as well.

The majority of the race was held on roads, but there was a mile or two on a tail.  Thankfully it was better than the race two weeks before, as these "trails" were more of the dirt road kind of trail instead of woods/tree roots/pine needles type of trail. I can handle these trails, since I would still look ahead and zone out--rather than looking down for roots and leaves and rocks.  The course also had a few hills at the beginning.  Why is it they seem huge when running them, but when you are coming back, you don't really noticed the downhill portion?

Like other races, this was an out-and-back race.  While running it, I had several thoughts on it....because, you know, when you are running for 2+ hours, you have A LOT of thoughts.  So here they are in no particular order.
  1. Out and backs can be very encouraging, because as you are running, those already heading back are cheering you on to get there.  One guy told me "Great running form! Keep it up!" Seriously, no one has ever complimented me on my running FORM, but that was a small pick me up and helped me through the next few steps.
  2. But they can be discouraging as well. You are passing people who have already made it to the turn around (which is usually the half way point in the race).  That means they are more than half done, and you're not there yet! 
  3. And when you DO finally reach the turn around, as you are running back there is no one cheering you on on your way back.  I did pass several people, cheering THEM on, saying "you're almost there!". 
This was a very small race, probably only 200 people, and at some points in the race, I could look forward and backwards and see....nobody. There were a few times I thought "Am I lost???"

The final list of times can out, and I am proud to say I WAS NOT LAST! Seriously, after starting the race, and seeing how small it was, that was my goal---to not be last.  It was not my best race, but it certainly was not my worst as well.  I am happy to say at the finish line there was a nice size group (about 20 or so) that were cheering the last of us on, but I was disappointed to see 95% of the food gone.  I got a banana, and a few pretzels. Wishing they could have a few bagels or donuts left for those of us who finished at the end, but oh well. It is what it is, right?
See that TINY bit of green in the upper right?? Yeah, that is what I ran that day.

FINALLY crossing the finish line. 2: 42:46 was my official time.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Race Recapping: Wolf Hollow (NH) Half-Marathon

By now you've  figured out that I am a researcher.  I will scour the internet for all sorts of information, prices and locations of the races, how hilly the course it, is it a trail or road course (which I need to look at a little more finer), and before signing up I want to know about the bling. :)  So when I was decided on my New England races, I found a company that offers a variety of different races, from 5ks to Half Marathons in all the New England states plus New York.

3C Race Productions has a website that outlines all of the half marathons they coordinate, so I combed and coordinated with my calendar which ones I wanted to knock out with this company.  An added bonus was the cost--each race runs around$60 in their early registration period.  But they also offer packages, where you can sign up for 3 half marathons for a low cost of $140! You can also sign up for six half marathons, a variety of 5ks, or sign up for ALL the half marathons they coordinate.  I chose to sign up for three, and their Wolf Hollow Half Marathon was the first one on my list.

I am always super nervous the day before the race as to what to wear.  I don't want to be too warm, because then I have to shed clothing and carry it with me for the remainder of the course. (We donated a lot of clothes before our move, so I don't have any "throw away" clothes).  The Weather Channel said the temperature at the start time was going to be 40-degrees with a slight chance of rain.  And according to Runner's World "What to Wear" calculator, I should be wearing short sleeves, shorts, and no coat or gloves for these type of conditions.  Hmmm....short sleeves sounds a little too cold, so I made a final decision of long sleeves, gloves, and shorts. Wow, that was the worst decision I have ever made for race day.  At the starting time it was cold with 36-degrees and what I call "vegetable mist rain".  I even threw on the short sleeve shirt they gave me when I picked up my bib, so two layers on top, but legs were freezing the entire race.  I told hubby my legs finally warmed up 30 minutes into the trip home.  For my next race I think I'll just take my entire wardrobe in case I over or under dress.

I have always lived in either a city or suburb, so running on sidewalks, streets and tracks are my thing.  I ran on a trail ONCE, and hated every. single. minute. It was hell, I felt because I was constantly looking down, making sure that I was not going to trip over a rock or tree root, that the leaves that were slick from the rain were not going to make me lose my footing underneath and pull a groin muscle.  I like lacing up, hitting the sidewalks, and losing myself in my thoughts for the day.  But this was not that kind of race.  I looked at the pictures from last year's race and thought "Oh, that does not look bad".  And after a week of reflection, it really was not all that bad.  But the leaves, the tree roots....I just don't like it! And since this was a looped course, we could not get away from it.  We had to run this trail TWICE!  At least it was running on packed earth and pine needles, instead of gravel.

My overall impression of this race and the company was very favorable.  I thought the race was well organized, staffed with great volunteers and water stations, and it was a great size.  The final numbers showed that 512 people ran the course, and since it was a trail, each person had enough space that they could run and not be on top of other racers if you were at the same point.  Of course,  I finish near the back of the pack so of course most people are gone by then! I figured since it was a low cost race, the medal would be something plastic and cheap but I was wrong!  It was a nice, sturdy medal and at the finish line they had hot soup and clementines.  I do wish they had a little more variety of food but since it was such an inexpensive race I was not going to be too picky.

Next up.....Connecticut!

New Hampshire...DONE!

Crossing the finish line

Nice medal, right??

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Be careful what you say

On Monday as we were waiting to drop our eldest son off at school, my hubby and I were talking about my upcoming races. I have Connecticut next weekend, and New York and Maine in May.  The conversation proceeded as follows:

Me: "I so wish I knew where we are going to tend up. I am wanting to plan out my racing calendar for the next year."
Hubby: "I know. Me too.  Why don't you look at doing some races in New Jersey or Pennsylvania before we leave? They are not that far away, and we might be across the country this time next year."
Me: [jaw drops....wheels start turning trying to figure out how far it would be to travel]
Hubby: "Yeah, why not?" [said with an "um, duh" kind of tone]

So I go home and start poking around on Facebook and various websites that host calendars of hlaf marathons, some even having these calendars divided by states or months of the year.  I found one in Pennsylvania, but upon further research and chatting with the race director and other who have run the course, there are some hills in the middle of the course.  And apparently Philly can get pretty hot, even during the first week of June. Bummer.  I did not want to race the last two weekend in June, since our lease here ends 1 July, and most likely we will be moving.

But I did find a half marathon in New Jersey in April. It is called the Asbury Half Half Marathon in {wait for it...} Asbury Park! They website seems pretty basic, not a lot of frills, and for me that means a low registration fee! I was worried that April in Jersey would also mean cold and still snow on the ground.  And each year is different and that could be the case.  But the pictures that were posted showed the runners in shorts and tanks, so definitely not the leggings and gloves that I have been using for the past few weeks.

So sign me up!!!  In a 24 hour time period from Monday morning to late Tuesday morning, I had researched and signed up for a race AND booked the hotel room! New Jersey, I will see you in April!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The "L" word

I'm sure we've all been there.  We had a great race! A new PR! I AM AWESOME!!!!

And now I don't even want to look at my running shoes. I got lazy.

I knew that with a November race coming up I needed to keep going, but somewhere after I crossed that finish line in Lowell, my running mojo decided to lay down and take a nap. Racing up my shoes, even on a nice sunny day, just was not as appealing as before.  This happened to me last year as well. If I remember correctly, I diagnosed myself with Runner's Burnout.

Last year my goal was to complete a race every month.  At first, it was fun! Exciting! Let's see how many PRs I can set, look at all of the different mileages I am running. 5K. 10K. 15K. Half marathon. I did them all! But around November and December I was just done.  I ran the courses, but only because I did not want to quit on my goal.

And here it is again the end of the year, and again I seem to be getting burnt out.  Three half-marathons in four months is a lot, and I still had two more to go. But I know that these races advance my Bucket List goal, so I have been reluctantly getting out there to put in the mile.

Practice takes perfect. Even in the running world.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Race Recapping: Baystate (MA) Half-Marathon

This race was originally not on my calendar.  I was slated to run the Hartford (CT) Half Marathon in October, and then the Worcester (MA) Half Marathon in June of 2016.  But after my horrible summer of 2:45+ races, I re-evaluated my upcoming races.  Hartford had a time limit of 3 hours, and I just did not feel comfortable running that course.  I wanted a race that had a little larger cushion in case something went a surprise "Cry Hill" that I was not expecting.  So I started my Google search on local races, needing something for either Massachusetts or Connecticut.  And I somehow came upon the Baystate Half-Marathon.  The description that really hooked me was "fast, flat and great for PR". SOLD!!  I spoke with the hubby and put my father-in-law on babysitter alert and signed up before the price increase in September.

I drove up to Lowell on Friday night to the packet pick up/expo.  That weekend a cold front was moving through, meaning the high temperatures were going to be in the 40s instead of the 60s and 70s we had been experiencing that week.  Most of my time at the expo listening to the runners discuss what they were going to wear at the starting line.  Most talked about how they were going to start with a "throw away" shirt----great, we got rid of a ton of clothes before me moved! That morning I had run to Target to purchase a cheap pair of gloves (2 pairs for $3) so I could use those to keep my hands warm during the first couple of miles.

Sunday morning came, and Hubby was up early getting ready to head north for his monthly Army commitment, which mean my father in law was at our house at o'dark-thirty so we could all get out the door.  I arrived in Lowell around 6:30am for a 8am start, which normally is not a huge deal.  I just chill out at the starting line.  Except today I really COULD chill out because the temperature was in the mid-20s.  I parked a half-mile away from the start/finish line because I read that the street closer would be closed off.  Once I parked and got all of my gear together, I headed to the Paul Tsongas Center at the university there, it was the only place open to keep me warm!  Of course there was one last bathroom break (20 minute wait in the line), and then dropping off my jacket at the gear-check station.

I found my way to the correct corral, and shivered while waiting for the start.  I realized that while I was standing there in my long-sleeve shirt and carpis, with these wimpy little gloves, that not only was I shivering, but also sweating.  Yeah.....sweating because I was using energy shivering. Craziness!

After the national anthem and the staring gun going off, so were we!! The marathoner and half-marathons start at the same place, lining up on different sides of the street, and at one point we go right while they go left.  The course was not too hilly, there was several, the downside of it was there were not as many downhills and there were uphills.  For the half-marathon we ran the same 6 miles twice, so on the second go-around I knew exactly what to expect and when, which was calming.

As with most races, I started off at a pretty good speed.  I had my 2:30 goal pace bracelet on my left wrist, so that when I checked my watch I could determine who well (or poorly) I was doing in this race.  Here how the first loop panned out:

       Goal     Actual
Mile 111:2611:13
Mile 222:5322:31
Mile 334:1933:49
Mile 445:4645:08
Mile 557:1256:34
Mile 61:08:391:07:51
WOW!!  This was going great!! I'm all warmed up, and even my hands are a little warm, so I decided to take off my wimpy gloves.  However, what I did not realize at the time was that my goal pace bracelet also came off. :(  For me, running is a very mental experience, so this REALLY messed with my mind.  I knew where I took my gloves off, so on my second loop I knew where to be looking for my bracelet (Amazingly, I found it! Thank goodness it is bright yellow!)  I was able to keep on pace for the first 11 miles, and for miles 11-13 I slowed down to a pace between 11:57 to 12:14. Almost a full minute slower than what I needed to be at for a 2:30 time.

Once I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch, I looked at the final time. 2:34:15. A NEW PR!!!  My last PR was at the Nashville Country Music Half-Marathon in April, 2014. Having a PR broken after 18 months, and taking 11 minutes off my time from the race in September was so uplifting.  I was excited to FINALLY get under 2:35!  I really do think I could have broken that 2:30 time had my bracelet stayed on and I had not mentally lost my focus for those few miles.  

State #5 done!

Pretty, shiny medals

Proof that I made it!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


For some reason or other, I just did not get out to running last week like I should have.  I know I have a race coming up in three weeks, this time in New Hampshire, but getting your shoes on and out the door is half the battle of running.  So when I laced up my shoes on Saturday morning for an extra long run, I knew it would not be easy.

My husband needed to do a workout for a job application, so our plan was to meet at the Harvard track.  I told him to give me a 40 minute head start and we'll meet up.  So out the door I went, heading west in order to give me some additional distance that I needed.  I hate to say it, but I ran Cry Hill again. (That's my nickname for any huge hill that makes me want to cry). Running hills is like eating your veggies---not fun, but in the end you know it's good for you.  Lots of walking, but not as many stops as it was the weekend before when I tried to attack it. Progress, right?

I made it to the track, but Slow Poke was still not there, so I told him I would run laps of the track until he got there.  Only took me another 1.29 miles for me to run until he showed up.  We did his test, and while he was running, I logged another 1.54, which included distance to the Dunkin Donuts. 

So yeah, 8.83 miles on Saturday after 7 days off.  The next day, I was more sore than the day after running a half-marathon.  I think several factors went into this soreness.  First, after a race, I know to stretch, and to take a colder shower than normal.  Did not do that this week. Second, I am pretty much convinced that I need new insoles for my shoes.  I have two pairs that I rotate and the inside of my arches seem to aching during my run.  This really happens when I use them while on the treadmill at the gym.  So my plan is to get to a running store this week so I can replace these insoles.

And hopefully the aches and pains will disappear.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Race Recapping: Maple Leaf (VT) Half-Marathon

When I was looking for my Vermont race, my main criteria were as follows:
1) Flat (or at least not a lot of hills)
2) Close by--you can go 6 hours away from Boston, but I knew I would be going alone the day before, so that was out of the question
3) Big, but not too big.  I was looking for a race where the time limit was higher, but also did not want to race with 35,000 other people.
Look at all those people! (Photo credit: Maple Leaf HM Facebook page)

So I came upon the Maple Leaf Half Marathon in Manchester, Vermont.  It was several hours away (I think it took me at least three hours to get there from Boston), but still doable for little ol' me.  The website made the race sound and look appealing, and the registration was only $60 which is pretty reasonable for a long distance race. SIGN ME UP!!!

The day before the race, I picked the kiddos up from school and quickly drove them to Grandpa's house and dropped them off until their Daddy got home (which was only 20 minutes later).  I punched in the address for the packet pick up, and got on the road by 3:30.  Since the expo is three hours away, and it was only open until 7pm, I felt so rushed!! Once I finally made it out of Boston traffic, I thought "Oh, this drive will be a breeze". How wrong I was horrible!! I'm a Southern girl, who is used to getting to places on interstates with speeds of 70 miles per hour.  The GPS put me on state roads that were slower (around 50 mph) as well as twisty and curvy.  Driving westward, I was also driving into the setting sun, so couple that with not knowing where I was going, I was certainly taking my time to get there!The direction the GPS took me was northward through New Hampshire and then westward into Vermont.  Since there is also a Manchester, New Hampshire I had a moment of panic thinking I had input the wrong state!!!

I made it to the "expo", which is in quotes because it was three tables. Seriously, there was a table for the VT Health Insurance Exchange, another one handing out Eddie Bower bags, and one for the Lions Club, which was the primary beneficiary of the race. So I picked up my race bib, safety pins, verified that I did not order the extra shirt, and away I was....back to Massachusetts.  All of the hotels near the race where too expensive for me, which blew my mind once looking at them.  This was a very rural state, so I did not see how they could be over $100. Oh well.

I found my way to Williamsburg, MA and my motel. And that is certainly an experience.  I got there after dark, and the front office was closed.  There was a sign saying to go to another door, which looked like the owner lived.  I knocked, no answer.  Knocked again, and again no answer.  There were some guy hanging out in the truck and drinking beer, they knew what my problem was and told me to check the door of the front office.  I would find my key in an envelope taped to the front door. Ummm, ok.  Sure enough there it was! Wow, this place is country.  I knew I needed to eat, but the thought of getting on these winding roads in the dark was not appealing, so I brought everything I had in the car into the hotel, and ate what I had originally packed for breakfast.   I was going to make coffee with their in-room coffee maker, but the water that came out of the pipes was cloudy.  Thanks, but no thanks.

I slept fitfully that night, being in a strange place, in a strange bed, with a dying cell phone, and having to get up for another 1 hour drive in the morning.  The morning came and I was able to get dressed quickly, and got in the car to get out of Dodge! When I munched on the store-brand English muffins that I had brought (never getting that brand again! YUCK!), and made my way on those twisty roads up to Manchester. I got there about 85 minutes before the race, so I bought a large cup of coffee at the McDonald's, and then made my way to the starting line.  When I got there, the temperature was in the lower 40s, the coldest it had been so far since moving here. But it was perfect for the race--mid 50's with only a light wind.

I started the race, and ran solidly for 8 minutes.  I MADE myself walk a minute at that point, because I knew that I did not want to go out too fast.  I was able to slow down the second mile, a little too slow, and tried to pick up the pace for mile 3. I had some success, until I got to mile 4 where the first big hill was located. It had an elevation gain of 137 feet, and kept going for another mile. So those two miles slowed down, but I was able to pick up speed with a couple of downhill miles.

Of the entire course I ran, miles 8 and 9 are probably the only parts that I will remember.  Why?? Because of what I was labeling as "Cry Hill".  Those two miles combined had an elevation gain of 340 feet, and my pace slowed. I felt like I was crawling. And I had to walk myself through this part---This is not a training run.  You cannot stop your watch and you CANNOT STOP. You HAVE to keep going.  My pace for each mile was around 14:50, and once I made it through that part, my speed picked up....a bit.

How was it?? Well, it's over. Finished. State #4 marked off the list.  I'm not sure I would recommend it, because there are so many races you can choose from.  I would probably advocate for someone to run something flatter, and maybe a month later so you can enjoy the fall foliage of the area. 


Another state filled in

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Weight on Wednesday--10/15/2015

A day late on the weight in, and several weeks late on an entry on this topic.  Blogging seems like such an EASY thing to do, but somehow everything else pushes it aside. And before you realize it, it has been one day...two days...three weeks since your last entry.  And in a way, if you let it, this can easily happen to your exercise routine.  I have been offered a part time job substituting at my children's school,and while I LOVED the experience of it last year, I feel that if I take it, my running will suffer for it. It is totally selfish on my part, it's not like I am a professional runner who needs hours and hours of training a day. But I know everything and everyone else will take precedence over it.

Anyway, back to my weigh in for the week.

                        9/30/2015          10/15/2015
Weight            148.0                   147.2
Fat                   36.2                     36.3
BMI                23.9                      23.8

So it seems that I am continuing on the path of losing water weight and gaining fat percentage.  I have started a new nutritional supplement so I am hoping that will help keep my weight in check and assist in the fat burning portion of my weight loss. I'll let you know how it goes at the end of the month. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Race Recapping: Narraganett Bay (RI) Half Marathon

When I decided to start my "50 in 50 Before 50" Challenge, I knew I better get a move on!! And with moving to Boston, and so many states sooooo close together, this was a great opportunity to get a lot of them done. I could drive 3 hours and be in a number of states in any direction.  We've lived in Texas where you joke that you can drive 8 hours and still be in the same state. Sad...because it's true.

I started scouting out races in the New England area, and found several different websites that offered a variety of races in the states I was looking to check off my list.  One of the first ones I placed on my calendar was The Narragansett Bay Half Marathon in Rhode Island. I knew I needed to run several races during the summer season, since winter (November through April) can be brutal up here in Boston.  Not knowing the summer weather, thinking it would be mild and enjoyable, I registered the race and marked in on the calendar.  I called my in-laws and asked if they could watch the kiddos an extra week, and that would make this trip a little more enjoyable.  Traveling with my husband without kid? YEA PLEASE!

Having not lived in the Northeastern part of the country, I truly did not know what to expect for summertime weather.  But I have lived in deep South Texas, where temperatures can to 110-degrees in the summer, and we wore shorts 10 months out of the year.  I was not prepared in the slightest for 90-degree temperatures in an area that does not have central air conditioning. So on this particular Sunday, the temperatures were already at 72-degrees when the race started 7am.  Looking at the race course elevation online, I was prepared to walk the BIG HILL after the first mile. Ugh, it was pretty big, but sadly, I have experience worse. And I did experience worse in this race.

The race was actually very nice (I can say that since it has been almost three months--HA!), as we ran through neighborhoods and along walking trails.  Though I do have say that the "musicians" the race director advertised were, at time, lame.  And that would be a generous term to describe them.  Don't get me wrong, I love listening to bands along race courses, but when a garage band comes out to entertain runners for several hours, please do something other than just playing cords.  Music gets a lot of us motivated and pumped up to run, and it is so depressing to see three guys sitting on milk crates using this time to get their name out and not doing their best.  OK--rant over.

As we were running along the course, it came. It was huge.  And I had to remind myself, "This is a race. This is not a training run.  You cannot stop and you cannot stop your watch."  It was....THE HILL. Looking on the map, it shoots straight up, and it was just as brutal in person as you see on the map.  But you talk to yourself, encouraging yourself to get through it, and I was relieved when I completed it.  I rounded the corner, and do you know how depressing it is to pass your car?? Seriously, I ran past the parking lot and saw our car! It was so tempeting to cross the street to get to it, climb in, and leave. And then I remembered that Joel had the keys! HA!  So no luck for me.

The runners kept trucking on along, and then we ran down a steep hill....only to turn around and run right back up it.  Who thought that having hills at mil markers 10 and 11 was a good idea? Seriously, people!

My May half-marathon in Kentucky was my worst one (2:45:28), and on this hot and humid day in July, I thought had I done better than that one.  But once again I was wrong.  My final time was 2:48:40. Disappointing, but with moving 1200 miles, my training the few weeks before was also disappointing.  It was a lesson that you reap what you sow....or now.

Rhode Island is marked off my bucket list.  Three states down, forty-seven more to go.

See that tiny piece of red? Well, I ran that state!

Nice piece of bling!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Joining the gym

I admit it---I am a fair weather runner. During the spring and fall, running outside is awesome. Back in Kentucky, March and April were my favorite months, because the weather was PERFECT for outdoor running.  Especially after being cooped up all winter.  Running in the cold or running on the treadmill is just not exciting.  The clean, spring air. The beautiful blue sky. The mild wind instead of the harsh winter blows. Yes, running in the spring is definitely my favorite time of year.

Now, after moving to Boston, I KNEW I was going to join a gym.  Boston got over 100" of snow last year, and since I have never lived in an area with such harsh winters, I started scouting out places to join. I did not have to look long, since GymIt is literally within a short walking distance of the house. (Though when the snow starts falling, I will start driving there. No need to slip on ice to get my exercise on!).

While the weather has been decent the first few months here, the winter is still several months away, I decided the last day of September was the perfect time to join, for several reason. 1) In an effort to lose weight, I need to add strength training to my workout routine, and I was itching to get started on that regiment. 2) It was my birthday this week, so I had some extra month to help pay for it. The good thing about GymIt is that their monthly fee is only $20, so it is perfect for those of us on a budget. 3) The weather was turning into nasty weather. It went from 80 degrees to 50 degrees almost overnight.

I walked into the gym and asked about working out as a "try it before you buy it", and they agreed!  Wow, loving this place already!  I entered my information into their system, and away I went into their facility. I was really, really blown away by the place! There were at least 20 televisions in front of the 100+ cardio machines.  They have treadmills, rowing machines, a variety of different styles of elliptical machines, arc machines.  You name it, they probably have it. There is a weight section with free weights, TRX machine, as well as weight machines.  They also have a large area of free space so you can lay out a yoga mat to stretch, or just create your own little space to complete your workout. They have a locker room, complete with showers, and (of course) lockers, which can either be rented on a monthly basis, or used on a daily basis, as long as you take your lock off each day.

One thing that I was TRULY impressed with (on top of everything that I mentioned above) was how CLEAN the place was!! For $20 a month, you expect some run-down place that has three working machines and maybe 10 free weights, with dirt and grime all over the place. But this place was spin and span, not a single spec of dirt in sight! Wow, I almost want to say it was cleaner than my house. But I have two small boys living there, a ballpark would be cleaner than my house right now.

Overall, I am really satisfied with my choice, and am very excited to see how my weight will drop (hopefully) and to diversify my workout routine.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Weight on Wednesday--09/30/0215

Up. Up. Up.

Seems like the story of my life.  Just when you think something is going right, it goes wrong. Normally we like things to go up. Our bank account. Our credit score. But weight and dress size is something we all try to keep in check, if not wanting to go down.  So here are my numbers for this week.

                        9/23/2015          9/30/2015
Weight            148.0                   148.0
Fat                   35.8                     36.2
BMI                23.9                      23.9

So same weight, but more fat.  Hmmm....why is it when I casually weigh myself throughout the week, the numbers are lower.  I was down to 146 on Monday. Of course, I was having a medical scare, so my appetite was minimal that day as well.

The good news for this week is that I have spent my birthday money to join the gym down the street.  It was POURING rain this morning, and after a week off of exercising, I HAD to get something done about it.  So I tried out the gym, and not only had the energy for 3 miles on the elliptical, but also a weight workout.  I cooled down with 0.6 miles on the treadmill.

Fingers crossed and prayers said that adding some strength workouts will help melt the fat off!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Race Recapping: Paducah (KY) Iron Mom Half-Marathon

In planning my spring race schedule, there were several factors that went into my planning process.  First, I did NOT want to run St. Jude's Country Music Marathon (or Half-Marathon, in my case). Again. Nope.  Been there, done that, have the t-shirt and medal to prove it.  Because my first half marathon was also along that same course, I knew the hills that I would be facing, and I was still having nightmares from them!  Ok, not really.  But I did not want to do the same course....again.

Second, I was looking for something flat. Flat should equal fast, right?

Third, it had to be close.  I was working as a substitute teacher, and while I can take time off without being punished, I really enjoyed my job and we kind of need the money for our upcoming move to Boston.  So nothing TOO terribly far. The closer the better.

I searched the internet and found Paducah's Iron Mom Half-Marathon. It fit all of the criteria, as well as falling after the CMM (which Joel was running) and the yard sale that we were having the first weekend in May.  Even though I am in my mid-30s, my parents still don't like me driving by myself, so my Mom volunteered herself to drive me there and stay the night with me.  The bonus was I would have someone to drive me home after running for over two and half hours.

I registered for the race, made the hotel reservation, and had my mom join me for the trip after our day at school. (Fitting, right, since the race was held the day before Mother's Day?)  But it was not a race that I would like to remember. At.all.  At the start of the race, it was already 72-degrees with what felt like a gazillion percent humidity. Seriously, at one point, probably around mile marker 9, I wanted to cry.  I was alone, no one to cheer me on, and felt defeated by this race.  Why, oh why, should I continue with this race? Oh....right.  I PAID to do this.  So I drank some water, sucked it up, and a runner reminded me at the ten mile marker, "Only a 5K left!!"  Running is such a mental game, I kept reminding myself that surely I can run 3.1 miles.  I do longer runs during the week than a little ol' 5K.

My first half marathon was also my worst up to this point. At 2:44:01, I set that as the "I don't want to see a time larger than that" barrier.  Bummer, because I broke it on this race.  The 2:44 rolled past on my watch, and I thought "Ok, make it within this minute, and it will be ok".  But then 2:45 popped up. At that point, I strive to beat the time within 15 second increments. But I FINALLY made it over that finish line at 2:45:28. I was not happy at all, but my mom was there at the finish line cheering me on like all mom's tend to do.  She stayed with me while I downed chocolate milk, bananas and a hot dog.  She didn't laugh as I soaked my feet in a ice filled cooler on the way home. And she reminded me that I finished about half way in the pack of racers.  Definitely what I needed to hear.

No pictures from any point in this race.  At that time, it was certainly not something I wanted to remember. But I marked "Kentucky" off the list of states to run.  Two states done, forty eight more to do.

Cute medal for finishing

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weight on Wednesday--09/23/2015

My WOW entry...on a Friday. You ever get that feeling like you are swimming towards the edge of a pool, but the edge keeps getting further and further away??? Yeah.....that is the story of my life around here.

I DID weigh myself on Wednesday, so here are the numbers.

                        9/09/2015          9/23/2015
Weight            147.6                    148.0
Fat                   36.00                    35.8
BMI                23.8                       23.9

So weight and BMI are up, but my body fat is down.  I am hoping that the weight gain was just muscle being added. :)  At one point this week I was down to 146 pounds. But then I decided to have a second bowl of ice cream, and then umber went back up.  Lesson learned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My favorite day to run

Recently I wrote about my least favorite day to run, and today I though I would bookend that entry with my favorite day to run.

Since we moved to a "suburb" of Boston, the traffic is heavier than the suburb we were used to in Tennessee.  Watertown has plenty of traffic going in and out of the surrounding towns, and I have a fear of getting hit by the crazy drivers around here.  So I try to stick to the sidewalks and side roads. But it makes for some boring runs, or having to turn every quarter mile. I find myself having to stop my watch while waiting for the traffic lights to change....grrrrr!

Which brings me to my favorite day to run...the Weekends! With the current temperatures, I don't mind starting at 7am and running into Cambridge.  That city during the week is all hustle and bustle.  The many cars, bikes, buses, and pedestrians make it difficult to drive in that city, and running is nearly impossible. At least for me.  But early on the weekend mornings, it is a ghost town.  There might be a few delivery trucks coming into make their deliveries to the local restaurants; a few early morning walkers with their dogs on the leash in one hand, coffee from the local coffee shop in another; maybe one or two buses running their route.  

There is one particular corner in Cambridge, where I am turning right onto Mt Auburn Avenue from Brattle Square that is constantly jammed with traffic.  The MBTA buses have to turn left into the station and there is also construction happening on the opposite side of the street.  The construction trucks take up space, which in turn makes the buses move over the line of traffic. It is a tight squeeze in my mini-van, and I find myself either needing an aspirin or a shot of liquor after making it through that particular intersection.  But on weekend mornings, all is quiet.  There is no construction. There a fewer buses. The rhythm of my feet pounding the pavement, my breathing going in and and out....the sounds of everyday living is still sleeping, while I can enjoy the peacefulness of the city before it awakes for the business of the week.

Favorite route for my weekend run