Thursday, May 30, 2013

what's up June

Warning: this post is filled with exclamation points and capital letters. BE PREPARED!

How the hell is it almost June?! I cannot believe how fast this year is flying by!!  Lots of exciting things on tap for the month of June though, so I say bring it on!

June 1 = MOVING DAY!

New house! 
Ok, so I'll only be living on the top floor of the house.  Yep, the one with the screened in porch that will be getting a LOT of use.  I'm not buying it, just renting...but that's ok.  The bf and I decided to take the plunge and get an apartment together.  We've been together almost 2 1/2 years and wanted to wait until the timing was absolutely right.  Well, the time is now!  I've been busting my butt trying to bring stuff over before Saturday so we don't have to do it all in one day.  Moving is probably one of my least favorite things to do.  After living with family/roommates for a while, I am VERY ready to have my own place filled with my own crap. I can't wait to get everything moved in and settled and be able to enjoy it.

June 15 & 16 = Going to see my very favorite band of all time, Dave Matthews Band!

This was taken at the concert I went to, we were 5 rows back.
I stopped counting how many times I have seen them play in concert.  30? 35?! who knows!  Probably a little ridiculous, but I don't care.  I just can't say no when they come around.  It's always a guaranteed good time filled with drinks, tailgating, and good music!  They're playing down in Mass, so we're getting a hotel and making a weekend out of it.  I also took the beginning of the week off from work.  It's been a long time since I've been able to take a vacation from work and get paid for it.  I guess being a "grown up" has some perks.  

The entire month of June = first full month with a running coach (the fabulous Stephanie Bruce)!

Oh hey there...maybe with your help,
I too can finish 9th at Bolder Boulder!
(picture stolen from Steph's instagram)
Ok, I probably definitely won't ever be the rockstar she is, but I am super excited to try to make some improvements.  I have completed my first full week of training, and am now on to the second.  My legs have been pretty tired and a little sore all week from the half marathon I ran on Sunday, so the workouts have been tough.  I love having the structure though and going to my calendar to see what I will be running that day.  It makes every run feel like more than just a run. 

As of right now I don't have any races on the calendar until the marathon I'm signed up for (my second) in October.  I've been searching for some other races to run in the mean time, but I haven't settled on anything yet.  I'm nervous about running a race in summer because I get EXTREMELY warm and sweaty.  But I'd like to find something that's maybe a shorter distance like a 10k or one that starts early in the morning.  Decisions...decisions. 
While I'm not thrilled about how fast the time is going, I am looking forward to everything planned during the month of June.  So, with that I say see ya later, May.  June, I am ready for you. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Boston's Run to Remember

On Sunday, May 26, I ran the Boston's Run to Remember half marathon.  This race was by far my favorite race I have ran.  I was so exited to run it, and I definitely wasn't disappointed!  I think this one may become a new yearly event.

I went down to Boston Saturday afternoon with my friends Monica and Kevin, who were also running the race.  We met our met our friend, Jill who was running the 5 mile race at her apartment in Boston.  We all went over to the expo at the Seaport Trade Center to pick up our race packets.  At the expo we met up with another friend, Mary, who was also running the race.

Mary, me, Monica
After the expo we all went back to Jill's apartment to relax and cook a (gluten free) pasta dinner.  There were 7 of us staying at Jill's small Boston apartment the night before the race.  Air mattresses and bags filled up most of the floor space.  It's a good thing we all like each other.

Sunday morning I was the first one up at 5am.  I need to give myself time before a race to wake up and have coffee.  I felt like a kid on Christmas and wanted to run around the apartment waking everyone up, but I refrained.  Around 6:30 we headed over to the start of the race, which started at 7:00.  

Such an amazing view to start the race!
Jill, Mary, me, Monica before the start
I didn't really have much of a plan except to try to hold a steady pace and not go out too fast at the start.  My goal was to finish under 1:50.  My friend Mary and I were hoping to finish around the same time, so I thought I would try to stick with her.  That plan quickly changed once we started and she immediately began weaving in and out of people and darting from side to side.  I kept up with her for about the first mile, and then she lost me.  I didn't want to waste all of my energy trying to get around everyone to catch up to her, so I let her go ahead and settled in on running my own race.  I worked too hard to blow it at the start.  

the course
The race began in the seaport and continued over the Longfellow Bridge to Memorial Drive.  The views were amazing and I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face for most of the race.  I love Boston, and this was definitely a run to remember.  I was so amazed and focused on the sites around me, and happy as a clam to be running around the streets of Boston, so I wasn't too focused on my times.  I was surprised to see I ran the first 3 miles under 8 minutes.  I was nervous that maybe I was starting out too fast, but I felt great so I went with it.

Most of the course was on Memorial Drive.  It went out and back, which was pretty cool.  We ran down one side of the street and back on the other.  It was fun, and a good distraction, to watch the people ahead and behind me run by on the other side of the street.  Around mile 6 or 7 my legs started to burn a little, but my breathing felt good, so I kept pushing on.  

It was around mile 8 that the Boston skyline came back in to view.  It was beautiful to look at across the river.  Despite the weather being pretty cool and drizzly, there were many people lined up along the course and standing on the overpass bridges.  The support was amazing.  

We crossed back over the Longfellow Bridge, turned on to Beacon St and went around the Public Garden.  The crowd was getting bigger as we got closer to the finish.  We turned down Commonwealth Ave for a few hundred yards and then turned around again to run back on the other side of the garden and back towards the seaport.  At this point my legs were really burning, but I felt like I still had more to give.  Only 2.1 miles to go.  I dug deep and just kept running.  

I ran over the last bridge and saw the finish.  There were people lined up on the sides all the way to the finish line even though we were told they weren't going to allow that.  It was a good thing they were there though, I really needed the extra cheers at the end.  I was really surprised to see the last two miles were under again under 8 minutes.  I forgot to stop my watch right at the end, but a few people had said they thought the course was a little over 13.1, and according to my watch it was!  

I'm in the green with the white socks.

Official time: 1:46:48!!  A new PR by over 8 minutes!

After the race it was obviously time to celebrate.  We went back to Jill's and had some celebratory drinks on her roof deck.

It was a truly an incredible weekend!  Time to go find some more races to sign up for :) 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

taper me crazy

Half marathon is 3 days away.  Since I have been training like never before, I am also feeling the effects of the taper like never before.  Tapering is FUN! Wait, no it's not really.  My legs feel like crap on every run, I can't stop stuffing my face with food, and I am feeling some serious anxiety about race day.  

race day worries:
1. For the first time I will be staying at someone else's house the night before the race.  Kind of crazy...time to branch out more.  BUT this is creating major virgin anxiety.
2. I have a very specific routine I do before I run a race.  It's nothing crazy, coffee, eat, read social media sites to clear my mind, etc.  Sorry if I wake everyone up super early to get all this in.  Race starts at 7!
3. I have a hard enough time sleeping in my own bed.  How the hell will I get sleep on an air mattress?
4. Small Boston apartment + 7 people = tight squeeze...oh and there's only 1 bathroom.
5. Not my own house/bathroom inability to poop.  This is wait, definitely is...the BIGGEST anxiety producing fact.  Stomach issues?! I got lots of them.  It's going to be a loooong 13.1 miles if I can't take care of business before hand.  Serious potential problem.

BUT with that being said, I am super excited to run this race on Sunday.

And I've been reassured that poo legs = race bring it on!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

these runs are changing me

On Sunday, May 26th I will be running Boston's Run to Remember.  This is a half marathon (there's also a 5 mile road race option) that is a tribute to law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty.  A race that started in 2005, now has even more meaning due to the horrible events that occurred at the Boston Marathon this year.  There will be a special tribute to those affected at the marathon and in the days following.

I had been wanting to run this race for a couple of years, and finally signed up to run it this year.  I love Boston, and had been wanting so badly to run a race in the city.  I never dreamed of qualifying for the Boston Marathon (until recently), so I kind of thought this race could be my "Boston (half) Marathon."  I signed up about 6 months ago and passed it along to a few of my friends who signed up as well.  Now, I can't believe it's only a little over a week away!

I am starting to get that nervous/excited/am I ready feeling already.  This will be the first half marathon that I plan to give it all I got and see what my body can do.  As far as I'm concerned, this is kind of a stepping stone to becoming the runner I would like to be.  The races I did before this year, I ran just to finish.  Now, I have something bigger and faster in mind.  I have thoughts of numbers and times and goals dancing around in my head.

sunshine makes me happy
Of course, having these thoughts changes a few things.  Well, a lot has changed really from the runner I used to be, to the runner I am now, and the runner I hope to become.  I think number one on that list is that I am no longer afraid to call myself a runner.  I run.  I feel like a runner.  I eat like a runner.  I have more running clothes than regular clothes.  Therefore, I am a runner damn it!

I am a runner.
Something else that has changed is the way I feel about races.  I feel like I used to feel before a big gymnastics meet, or softball game.  It's a feeling I never used to really get before races though.  I didn't have the emotion and the feeling behind the races...I just ran them.  Now I have that passion and the drive to do well and to improve as a runner and do the best that I can.  It's a powerful and exciting feeling.

And of course, the workouts and the training have changed as well.  I used to skip over the speed work.  I remember very well asking what does it mean when it says 4x400?  I didn't have a clue.  Well I still don't really, but I guess I'm becoming a little less clueless.  I'm learning to find the meaning behind each and every training run.  I am no longer running just to run, I am running to get somewhere.

Of course, sometimes you have to stop and take pictures along the way.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

big decision

Running this week has gone pretty well so far.

Sunday: 11 miles at 8:41/mi average pace.  I'll take it.  The weather was perfect and I genuinely enjoyed running every mile.

Monday: Rest.  My legs have been feeling tired/worn out lately, so as much I wanted to go for a run, I knew it was best to leave my Mizunos on the shelf.

Tuesday: 5.61 miles. Again it was a beautiful day for a run.  We have been very fortunate to have had a long stretch of nice weather in NH.  When I first started running, I was a little unsure of how it would go.  My legs felt a little tired from Sunday's long run and I felt like I as breathing heavier than I should be.  About half way through, I tried focusing more on how I felt and focusing less on my Garmin.  I settled in to a good pace and just ran.  It was magical.  (Yeah maybe that's a little over dramatic, but it was the kind of run I've been looking for).

Ok, if you have read my blog at all, you would know I am not afraid to admit that I really don't know much about running.  If someone asked me for advice, I wouldn't have much to offer, except from personal experience, which really isn't much.  I am also not very strong in the confidence department, and I often question my abilities.

I had been thinking a little bit about maybe looking for a running coach, or joining some sort of a group in the area so I could ask for help and try to figure this running thing out.  I've been feeling like I could really benefit from something like that so I'm not just running aimlessly.  When I started running longer distances and racing in 2007, I ran just to run.  It was fun.  But then I got bored.

Then, a few days ago Meggie posted this on twitter:

Because of the recent thoughts I had been having, I kind of jokingly asked where do I sign up?  To which she responded with an email address to contact Stephanie Rothstein Bruce.  She is obviously no stranger to running, and recently was the 3rd American finisher at the Boston Marathon!  So amazing! My initial thought was there's no way she would want to coach me, the girl who knows nothing about running.  I also figured she was probably just bombarded with emails after people saw the amazing results she helped Meggie achieve. 

I thought about it for a bit and decided I could either keep thinking about it, and possibly end up missing out due to the large number of requests she was probably receiving, OR I could just write the damn email and see what she said.  After all, Meggie assured me it was "easier than "add to cart" on Oiselle :)"  

So I wrote the email, hit send, and anxiously awaited a response.  Thankfully, I didn't have to cross my fingers and toes for too long before hearing back from her.  A few emails back and forth later, I made the exciting decision to have Stephanie be my coach.  Yay!  It's a big commitment, but one that I am SO ready to take on and fully commit to.  

I've never really been good at doing things just for me in the past.  I pretty much always have other people in the back of my head when I make a decision.  This time, I decided to say F it, I'm doing this for me and I don't care what anyone else thinks.

Who knows, maybe now I'll actually be able to say I know a thing or two about running.            

Thursday, May 2, 2013

random thoughts

I have had a lot of random thoughts going through my head lately with regards to running.  I have been trying to become a stronger and faster runner, although I'm not even sure I really know how to do that.  Sure, I read magazines and do research online, but that's really all I have to go by.  I never ran in school, and I've never had a running coach.  In fact, running was always my least favorite thing to do.  Until one day, about 6 years ago, when I decided to give running a fair shot, and proved myself wrong.  It was never about speed for me though, or race times.  I never did speed workouts, or tempo runs, or track workouts, or even knew what any of those things consisted of until recently.

my first trip around the track was only a month ago
Something recently has sparked in me, and suddenly I want to learn more about running, the different work outs, and what it takes to be faster.  So, over the past few weeks I have started to incorporate these types of workouts in to my training.  Sometimes I feel great, and other times I feel like I just can't do it, and I end up getting very frustrated.  I start to question my abilities.  My head starts to race as I'm walking down the street, instead of running.

Why is this run so hard?
Maybe my fast will always be slow...
Are some people just not able to run as fast?
Will it ever get easier?
Does everyone feel like this?
Why can't I find a comfortable pace?
What's wrong with me?

Just before I completely freak out I remember that when I started running, I was lucky if I could break a 10min mile.  And I remember why I love running.  Because it's a challenge.  It pushes me like no other sport has.  It keeps me coming back for more no matter how hard the last run was.

Since I started running, my mile times have improved by over 2 minutes, without even really trying.  So, maybe I should give myself a break.

After all, I just started trying to add speed workouts and I definitely can't expect to get faster over night.  I also think I started a little too ambitious.  My legs are tired and I need to give them more of a break than I have been.  Maybe I thought I was super human for a while there and could immediately start pushing my body to the limits.  News flash, that's not reality.

I'm going to keep working to figure this running thing out.  Thankfully I have found so many wonderfully talented and inspirational runners, who I follow on twitter and read their blogs, who help me see that I am not alone in this.

Pictures from my run today.  NH has finally had some gorgeous weather!

beautiful morning for a trail run

the path less traveled