Friday, August 23, 2013

Bucket List

Lately I've been thinking a lot about things I have always wanted to do or currently want to do and what I need to do to make those things happen.  I'm not happy watching others take advantage of life and great opportunities, while I sit still and twiddle my thumbs.  Life is meant to be lived.  I kind of missed that memo for the first 30 years, but I've got a hold of it now and I'm not letting go.

So, with that I give bucket list.  Some of these things I'd like to do sooner rather than later, and others I'd just like to do as some point in my life.

1.  Travel, live, play in the Pacific Northwest.  I have seen way too many breathtaking pictures, and have read way too many amazing things to not make this happen.  I'd love to visit Washington (Seattle especially...and the Gorge) and then make my way down to Oregon, where I'd like to stay for a while.  Portland, Bend, and Eugene are high on my well as any other place along the coast.

Beautiful Seattle

The Gorge Amphitheater, WA

Portland, OR

Bend, OR

2.  Hot air balloon ride.  This is something I have wanted to do since I was a little kid.  I'm sure I would be scared shitless, but it would be amazing I'm sure.

This flew over my house recently
Someday I'll be in one

3.  Road trip across the country.  I've never sat in a car longer than 8hrs.  I didn't exactly consider it a good time, but I do think driving across the country, with multiple pit stops, would be pretty incredible.  I feel like it's one of the best ways to see as much as you can of the country in one trip.  The biggest question would be, what route to take?

4.  Run the Boston Marathon.  I realize there's no explanation really needed for this one.  But, I have always held the city of Boston close to my heart.  I lived there for a few years, and have never lived more than an hour away from the city.  The Boston Marathon was kind of always a pipe dream of mine.  An accomplishment I didn't think I was capable of achieving.  Now that I am running and racing more, I am starting to believe that elusive qualifying time is within reach.   

5.  Run a race outside of New England.  Every race I have even run has been in NH, MA, or RI.  I guess I don't get out much.  At least as far as racing is concerned.  I've seen a few lists recently of "must do marathons/half marathons," which has made me even more painfully aware of what I'm missing out on.  A few that have caught my eye... (recommendations/reviews are welcome!!)

Chicago Marathon, Chicago IL
Portland Marathon, Portland OR
Missoula Marathon/Half Marathon, Missoula, MT
Eugene Marathon, Eugene OR
Big Sur Marathon, Big Sur CA
Twin Cities Marathon, Minneapolis, MN

6.  Travel outside of the US.  I've been to a few places like Mexico, Aruba, Bermuda.  By outside the US I mean, over an ocean.  There are so many places I would like to go.  A few places I'd REALLY like to travel are Spain, beaches of Thailand, Australia, Italy, Greece, and Ireland.


Side note, next year I will be traveling to South Korea.  My brother was adopted from South Korea and is ready to go visit.  It's an opportunity I could not pass up and am so excited to go.  So, technically I will be able to cross travel outside of the US off the bucket list...but I would also like to visit a few of the places listed above someday.    

7.  Go to Hawaii.  Need I saw more? 


8.  Fly a plane.  Another one that would probably scare me shitless, but I think it would probably be one of the coolest things ever.

9.  Go skydiving.  Again, see above. 

10.  See the Red Sox play in Camden Yards.  I thought I was going to get to cross this one off this year, but it didn't end up working out.  I love the Red Sox and I love Fenway Park, but I'd love to see them play somewhere else as well and I've heard nothing but great things about Camden.

There's so many more things that I would love to see and do...but I'd say this is a good start.  Time to start working on it I'd say!

What's on your bucket list?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Moose on the Loose 10 Miler

Yesterday I ran the Moose on the Loose 10 Miler.  It is a 10 mile trail race through Mine Falls in Nashua, NH.  It was my very first trail race and it did not disappoint one bit.  The course was four 2.5 mile loops through some of the trails in Mine Falls.  The race also had a 2 and 4 person relay option, which is why the course was done that way.  There are so many trails throughout Mine Falls.  It would have been nice to be able to run through more of them, but the four loops had its perks too.  The weather was warm and humid, but the trails offered some welcomed shade for most of the race.

on my way to the race
race day hair done the same way every time!
I guess we were supposed to be moose
I missed the memo

My friends Monica and Kevin were also running the race.  They are currently training for the New York City Marathon after missing out on it last year.  They had 12 miles on their schedule for yesterday and I had 16.  So we all went out for 2 miles together before the start of the race.  I felt good during those 2 miles and was ready for the race to start.

The race was relatively small.  We lined up at the starting line around 9am and were ready to go...or so I thought.  We started out on to the course.  Almost immediately I could tell this was not going to be a good race for me.  The first mile was ok and I ran it at a good pace, although in hind site, probably a little too fast.  After that mile everything began to quickly fall apart.  I just felt off.  I was breathing heavy, sweating a lot, and over all felt crappy.  I kept running, but slowed way down.  I'm pretty sure each mile grew increasingly slower.  I refused to look at my Garmin.  I was approaching the end of the first 2.5 mile loop and for the first time ever considered not going back out on the course and finishing the race.  There was a water stop at the end of loop, so I walked, grabbed a couple of cups, slowly drank them and tried to gather myself.  Then I slowly started back out on to the course.  I switched the screen of my Garmin so I couldn't see my pace, and decided to run at an easy pace and just try my best to finish the race.  

SPOTTED: a moose (or two) on the course!

I continued on for the second loop.  I tried to focus on the river that was along the trail, and the other people running, walking, biking through the trails, while also not looking too far from the ground for fear of falling.  My one goal for this race was not to fall multiple times.  At least I could still try to make that happen.  I shuffled along slowly and got through the second 2.5 miles.

still smiling.
how could you not, with views like that?

As I began the decent back on the trail for the third loop, I saw my friends running towards me who were just finishing the second.  I decided to slow way down and let them catch up to me.  I needed the support and decided if I was going to get through this, I wasn't going to do it alone.  The third and fourth loops were rough.  I continued to walk through both water stops in the course, double fisting at each one.  The race itself was beautiful, but my personal race was very ugly.  However, I made the choice to finish it, no matter how slowly, and that's what I did.  I don't know my time, I turned off my Garmin, and refused to look at the clock when I finished.  I didn't care.  Some how I got through it, and that's all that mattered to me.  

We hung out after the race for a bit.  I lost count of how many bottles of water I drank.  I tried to eat a banana, but it was hard to stomach.  I began to feel much better though after drinking as much water as I could.  Dehydration is a bitch.  I had planned to run 4 miles after the race to make 16 for the day.  However, immediately after the race I wasn't sure that was going to happen.  After hanging out for a bit and rehydrating, I decided to give it a try.  I changed my sweaty shirt, grabbed some Gu from my car and a full water bottle and ventured back out on to the trails.  I didn't run fast, and I stopped at one point to stretch on a rock and enjoy the views.  

16 dirty miles for the day done.  Most of them were a struggle, but I loved every one of them.  

dirty hokas as a result

...and a nice pint glass to take home

Another race.  Another learning experience.  I know very well what went wrong with this race.  This time it wasn't anything I did on the day of the race, it was what I did the days leading up to it, which I fully understand now are just as important.  I'm not going to go in to it, because I don't like to make excuses.  What happened, happened, and I will become a stronger runner and much smarter runner because of it.  I think that's what is most important, and really what this is all about.  I am learning, growing, improving, and enjoying every step along the way.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

two seconds

Motivation can come from many different places.  It can come from internal motivation, or it can come from external motivation like a race goal, a personal PR, teammates, a team you hope to be a part of, motivational words from the always incredible Lauren Fleshman, or watching speedster Kate Grace achieve PR's.   What motivates a person one day, could be very different from the next.

After running my second 5k last week, I was motivated by two seconds.


That is the time I finished the 5k in on Thursday night.  It was almost a minute faster than my previous 5k PR.  It is 2 seconds away from being under 23 minutes.

Going in to the race on Thursday my goal was to run faster than my previous time of 23:58. Based on how I felt after that race, and the way my training was going, I new I was capable of that.  I didn't have any other time goal, except to run faster than 23:58.

I washed this shirt just so I could wear it for the race
Race day attire is very important.

Ready to run!
The race was really big, by my standards.  There were around 5500 people running or walking the course.  My friends and I worked out way through the crowd to find our way to where the runners were lining up.  There were still a bunch of people in front of us.  When the gun went off, it took almost 2 min to get to the starting line.  When I crossed over the timing mat, I took off and began weaving my way around as many people as I could.  It was tough to get around everyone.  I found myself up on the sidewalk many times, and running from one side of the street to another. Apparently some people missed the memo that walkers should line up in the back.  The street was filled with sweaty runners all working towards the same goal of getting to the finish line as quickly as possible.

With the added challenge of dodging thousands of runners, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my pace after the first mile.

Mile 1: 7:23

I was determined not to slow down.  I've become very good at starting out too quickly and crashing at the end.  I was looking for a different result during this race.  

Mile 2: 7:21

When I saw the split after the second mile I started to do some quick math in head figuring out what my finish time could potentially be.  I was pleasantly surprise when I realized I could finish the race right around 23min if I could hold my pace.

The last mile was tough.  My chest felt like it was on fire, but my legs still felt strong.  I still had to dodge runners left and right, which made it much more difficult.  I kept pushing.  We made a left hand turn, and climbed a steep hill to the finish.  I felt strong on the hill, and worked my way around a few men who were slowing down.  I think my aggressive passing skills could use some work.  I gave it all I had when I saw the finish.

Mile 3: 7:30
Official Time: 23:01

I am very excited that I ran almost a minute faster than my previous 5k time.  I achieved my goal for the race and set a new PR.  I am certainly not going to take anything away from that accomplishment.  I can honestly say I never thought I'd be running an average pace of 7:25.  But I did.  I can also honestly say I never thought I'd be affected by a couple of seconds on my finish time.  But I am.

Those two seconds lit a another fire inside of me.  Those two seconds made me want to run another 5k.  Those two seconds are my motivation to keep working hard to achieve my goals.      

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

take me to the races

**First of all, I really want to sincerely thank everyone for their support and encouragement following my last post.  It really means so much to me and has given me extra motivation to keep training and believing.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.**

As I've said in a couple of my previous posts, my love for racing has grown tremendously this year.  I'm not sure what took me so long to catch the bug, but I'm glad I finally caught it.  I've been a competitive person my whole life.  I competed for 13 years in gymnastics, played softball throughout middle school and high school, played soccer, and even swam for a couple of summers.  I am a competitive person by nature wether it be in a sporting event, or a yard game while enjoying some cold beverages.  For some reason though, when I began running a few years ago, I never fully embraced the competitive aspect.  I enjoyed running a marathon, and a few half marathons, but that was about it.  I never ran races to prove anything.  I ran them just to run them.

Enter 2013.  I caught the bug.  Completely and totally 100%.  I love running races.  So far this year I have completed 4: the Merrimack Sparkler 5K , the Nashua Soup Kitchen 10KBoston's Run to Remember Half Marathon, and the Jamestown Half Marathon.  I learned so much about what I am capable of (and not) from each one.  There were many ups and downs, but I left each one wanting more.  As of right now I have 4 more on the schedule for this year, but I have a feeling more will be added.

Thursday, August 8th, I am running my second 5K in Manchester, NH.  I'm not sure yet how I feel about the 5K.  I think I like it, but that opinion is based on only one 5K.  I finished the one I ran this year thinking I could run faster than 23:58.  On Thursday, my goal is a new PR.

August 18th I am going to test out my trail legs.  I am running my first trail race in Nashua, NH.  It's a 10 mile race on a trail I have casually run on a few times.  I am super excited to give this one a try.  My goal for this race is to make it to the finish without falling on my face, or in the water, multiple times.  Pretty high expectations, I think. 

September 8th I am running another half marathon in North Hampton, NH.  This will be my third half marathon of the year to bring the grand total to 8.  My most recent half last month was a bit of a disaster.  My goal is to not go out too fast, so I don't crash and burn at the end.

On October 13th I am running my second marathon in Newport, RI.  I am both nervous and extremely excited about this.  For a while I said I probably wouldn't run another full marathon.  When I ran the first one it was shortly after I began running and it was brutal.  It took a long time to forget the pain, and I happily settled on running half marathons.  I always said the half distance was enough to be a challenge, but not enough to kill you.  Well, I am now ready for the killer challenge again.  Ultimately my big goal is to BQ.  However, I think that might be a little ambitious for this year, which means I will be running more marathons in the future.  My goal for this marathon is to break 4 hrs.  Based on my training so far, I believe I can do it.    

So, that's what my race calendar looks like as of now for the rest of the year.  I'm looking forward to running each race, and seeing what happens!   

What races are on your schedule? 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

take chances

I'm going to start this post by stating how horrendously bad I used to be at dealing with things that didn't go the way I had hoped they would.  I was great at having high hopes and wanting great things.  But if those things didn't happen, or happen just the way I had hoped, I would become very upset, cry, scream, and be unable to handle the so called disappointment.  My days were often emotional roller coasters, filled with highs and extreme lows.  It's not a very fun way to live.  Trust me.  I stumbled through life this way for almost 30 years.

It wasn't really until this past fall that my attitude and view on life and events made a drastic change for the better.  It was then that I rediscovered my love for running through reading blogs, following inspirational runners on twitter, watching one of my best friends cross the finish line of a marathon, and finding this amazing running company, and community, called Oiselle.  Oiselle produces the most amazing running clothes.  It is also a group of insanely talented women runners who support and understand one another.  It is a sisterhood like no other.  At the time I didn't know I was looking for something.  I didn't know I needed to find something.  But I was, and I did.

What I found was women who share the same love for running that I do.  I found women who understand when I talk about running.  Women who don't look at me like I have 10 heads when I say I'm going to run a half marathon.  Women who encourage me (even if they don't know it) to achieve great things and believe in myself.  I found women who have a passion for health and enjoying life.  Women who I always wanted to be like, but didn't believe I could.  Turns out, I can!

this hangs in my room and reminds me every day to believe.

I applied to be a member of the Oiselle team after stalking their website for months, buying all the awesome running clothes, and following their athletes.  Applying to be a part of this team is something I never would have done in the past.  Before, I never would have believed I was good enough, that I'd have a shot.  So why put myself out there? Something big changed inside of me about 8 months ago and suddenly I found confidence in myself that I never thought would have been possible.  So, I said F it.  This is something I want to be a part of so badly.  Really, the only time things aren't possible, is if you don't try.  One of Oiselle's many inspiring mantras is "go fast, take chances."  So I took a chance and applied.

Yesterday, I received an email informing me that I was not going to be offered a spot on the team this year.  My first reaction?  I wanted to put my head in my hands and cry.  I was at work when I saw the email though.  It's not really ok to cry at work.  Since I couldn't cry, I thought a lot about it.  I was obviously very sad that I wasn't going to be a member of the team, but I understood.

The email said they had over 500 women apply!  That's truly incredible, and I am so happy that so many other women have been positively effected by what Oiselle represents.  I owe much of this "new me" to what I've gained since finding this wonderful company in the fall, and don't regret applying for a minute.  Not being a member of the team is certainly not going to change anything.  For as long as they continue to do what they are doing, I will continue to stand behind them, and be motivated by them daily.  Yep, they're that fabulous.  If anything, I am even more motivated to keep working, racing, and believing in myself.  You can be certain I will be applying again next year!

The Rolling Stones said, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need."  This year I absolutely got what I needed, and I am so so grateful for that.  Next year, I will try again for what I want!