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!