New Year…New Races…New Goals

New Year…New Races…New Goals must mean that it’s January!

I’ve been very lucky over the last few years to accomplish things I NEVER would have thought possible. It all started with 13.1 miles at Disney and a medal that looked like a crown. I never thought I’d make the friends I’ve made or been to the place that started it all in Greece. 2016 was an amazing year for me!

So what will 2017 bring? 2017 will bring the Chicago Marathon in October with several of my real friends that I’ve met through social media! Kristin will be running with me again in Chicago and Dani will be there too! Those are 2 that I’ve been lucky enough to meet in real life! There will also be many people who I know on social media but have yet to meet in real life and I can’t wait to meet them!

2017 will also bring another marathon yet to be announced. 🙂 I promise it will be a good one!

2017 will bring many training runs with my friends here in Virginia. And man, I’ve missed that over these last 8 weeks that I’ve been “lazy” as my foot has been healing from a stress fracture.

2017 will bring a half marathon in Roanoke, Virginia in April. I can’t wait to travel for that one!

2017 will be a challenge. 2017 will bring new friends. 2017 will be amazing! And most importantly, 2017 will be an ADVENTURE!!!

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Marine Corps Marathon Weekend

Well it’s been almost a month since my first fall marathon! It’s hard to believe that it was that long ago. I have to say that this was one of the most awful experiences of my life but also one of the best.

Let me start off by saying that it was absolutely awesome FINALLY meeting @stlrunnergirl aka Kristin in person (you call follow her adventures here and here). We clicked right away and we set off to have a blast for the entire weekend. We were able to have lots of fun and enjoy getting ready for the race while she was here.

We both ended up taking over an Instagram account, Inspiring Women Runners, and we enjoyed every bit of showing our weekend for everyone to see. We got a lot of comments on our behind the scenes photo of our flat runners.

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Anyways, race morning was like perfect weather. mid 50s with a high that day being in the 80s, yuck! Kristin and I got to the start line no problem. We were waiting around with everyone else and all the anxiety. We both were injured during our training, so we knew that this marathon would be tough but we could trudge through.

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The race started and I was in charge of our run/walk intervals. We were set up to run 3 minutes and walk 2. We were feeling great and we made it through mile 4, the hill up Spout Run, ugh that hill. We continued on and Kristin was being a champ! I in the mean time, not so much. I started to cramp up in my legs and by this time in the day it started to get warm. We hit the blue mile which is always emotional. After that I was walking more than running. Luckily Kristin was there to help me and when we would try to run, my calves just weren’t having it. We were on the Mall by now, and every medical tent I saw, I wanted to stop and have them take me to the end. I was almost crying, and so ready to give up. Kristin was there and telling me that I couldn’t. But I so wanted to, every step was agony.

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At one point, I stopped by the medical tent and asked for salt. I ended up eating every bit of salt that was left in the bottom of a pretzel bag along with the pretzels. Kristin was being such a trooper with my negative Nelly attitude. We ended up walking the rest of the way and I have to say that she was right, the out and backs were insane. I was filling up my water bottle at most of the stops because I was going through water like crazy. We were literally counting down the miles and we made some new friends along the way.

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We finished the marathon, but it definitely wasn’t pretty! It was more like a survival. We both were like, never freaking again. I’m done with marathons and that’s it. But I still had one 2 weeks later. Are you kidding me….who’s bright idea was that?! We made it back to our hotel and I was texting with a few others that ran and found out that they came across the same difficulty. It was mind boggling that others had the same issues and hit the same troubles around mile 10. I was definitely glad to hear that I was not the only one.

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It wasn’t long after the race was over, that I started talking about a redemption race and having to run the Marine Corps Marathon again to redeem this last marathon I had with them. I could not let that marathon be the end all be all. True runner fashion!

So, what did I do, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon lottery. I told a friend of mine that I had signed for the lottery and he goes, “I thought you swore of the 26.2 mile distance.” Yeah well, never trust what a marathoner says after the most horrendous 26.2 miles. 🙂

Saturday Morning Training Runs

I don’t know about you, but my sleep schedule has been messed up for the last week due to the Olympics. I absolutely love watching the Summer Olympics. I like Winter too, but being a former swimmer and now a runner and swim coach, there’s just something about the Summer ones that gets me every time. So as a result, my body is screaming at me for even attempting to get up at 5am to go workout.

But this past Friday night, I stayed up to watch the swimming events at night and with the heat that was taking place the next morning combined with the humidity, I just was NOT looking forward to a long run on Saturday Morning. It was the last thing I wanted to do. My running buddy on my Saturday mornings, texted and asked if we were running. Again I desperately wanted to so NO, I’m running inside. But I didn’t. I said sure and we set up a time to meet and get rolling.

Saturday morning came, and my alarm went off at 4:57am. I KNOW! It’s earlier than my weekday alarm, but I was up and ready to go in no time. I was excited to get out there with my new shoes and planned my outfit around the Olympics. I know what you’re thinking, who plans a training run outfit? Well this girl does, especially for long runs because why not?

Durning my Saturday run, my friend and I were talking about how easy it is for us to get up on a Saturday earlier than we should have to but have such a hard time during the week to get up. As we continued talking about it, we went on to say how we both enjoyed the early morning time to get our run in and to enjoy each other’s company all while talking about what happened during the week. It’s funny how the conversation goes from one topic to another and it lets the miles fly by. I’m so grateful for that.

And how perfect is this?!?! Another awesome friend of mine just texted this to me.IMG_2482

Marathon Training – Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

I’m the first to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with running. I use to cry when I would have to run for swimming. It was the DEATH of me. Somewhere I started to hate running a little less and starting to find the beauty of it. I don’t know when that changed but it did.

3 Years ago when a coworker asked if I would consider signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon, I didn’t hesitate. I said “Yes” right away. It was only after that I signed up that I began to think “Oh biscuits, what did I get myself into?”.  The reality set in that I was going to run a marathon. Who was I? Who was this person that hated running and yet she signed up for a marathon?

There were lots of trials that went with that training. The wrong shoes were a big part of it. I was dealing with a lot of knee pain and didn’t know if I wanted to go through with what I had said “YES” to. I can, still to this day, remember my longest training run of 2013. 20 miles. 6.9 miles more than I had ever gone in a race. I had diligently mapped out my route and knew where these 20 miles were going to take me. I had chosen to run alone in 2013 because I was “slow” and because who else wants to spend 4-5 hours running on a Saturday morning. I walked in from that 20 miles, and my poor mother got the brunt of my tears and frustration. I walked the last 8 miles home. I still got those 20 miles, but in the process got blisters on my feet. I was maybe 3 weeks away from my race and I didn’t know how I was going to conquer these 26.2 miles. Luckily, the people that came out to spectate and my coworker helped get me through the first 10 miles. The last 16 were on my own since I started walking more. I would cry every time I saw my Mom and Sister along the course. I ended up walking the last 6 miles and still finished. I got that coveted medal.

Fast forward 3 years to 2016 and yet again I find myself training for a marathon (or 2). I am now looking for people who will run with me to help keep me accountable. I have my mainstays and definitely look forward to running with them. I’m slower than I was before, but you know what I’m still running. I’ve been laid up this past week with a hurt foot but hope to get back out there soon. I have races to run. I have my moments where I’m ok with my runs and other times, I’m thinking to myself, why am I doing this yet again. 13.1 or less is just fine. HAHA. I got new shoes, so I’m hoping that that was the issue that caused my foot to hurt and cause me to not walk all of Saturday after I came home from my 8 miles. And yes, I did everything you hear not to do and run injured. I totally knew my foot was acting different and ran anyways. OOPS!

So I’m planning to get back on track this weekend after a few days off. I know I’ve been struggling with staying up late watching the Olympics and then shutting off my alarms to get up early to sleep a bit more. Anyone else having that issue? Once swimming is over, I’ll try to be better about going to bed around my normal time so I can get up to go run.

Things Happen For a Reason

I’ve had quite the last few interesting months. At one point I was working 3 jobs a day, planning a weekend for my sister and her friends to celebrate her upcoming wedding, and not to mention trying to find the time to run or even just workout.

Coaching ended so I got some of my nights back, but I was still getting up early to work at the fitness studio 3 days a week so I could have my Sunday back. That was amazing. To have one of my weekend days back, YES! I could attempt to get things done after Church. But then I did the crazy (and some may even say stupid) thing of signing up for 2 marathons that are 14 days apart. Um, say what? Yes, I signed up for 2 marathons that are 14 days apart. You can read about that craziness here. So I knew that I had to really reign in my training knowing that I didn’t want to slack and have the possibility of getting injured so that I then couldn’t participate in the second marathon. I want my Marathon Maniac status!

So I did the only sensible thing, and turned in my resignation to the fitness studio. It was a sad day, I didn’t want to do it but knew that it had to be done. But I gave them a month to find someone to take my shifts. Lucky me, they found someone sooner and so I’ve been able to start running again in the mornings. It’s been a wonderful thing.

I also think that me signing up for these 2 marathons were telling me to stop and to slow down a little. I was packing my days so full that I didn’t have time to breathe. With me now training properly, I am able to sleep, eat, talk to friends and relax when I need to.

Everything happens for a reason, even those difficult decisions to take a leap of faith and know that everything will be fine on the other side.

Whole New Level of Crazy

I know it’s been a few weeks, months, maybe years (kidding) since I’ve written. My life has been pretty crazy so I needed to take a step back and work through the stress and then jump  back here to fill you all in. So don’t hate me too bad! 😀

You all know that I’m having this awesome adventure this November and running the Original Marathon in Athens, Greece. You can read all about that here. I can’t wait for that and to be over there and running. I know I’m going to get tears when I finish because the finish line is in the 1896 Olympic Stadium. How cool is that?!

Well this is where the crazy comes in. I was talking with my friend K who had signed up for the NYC Marathon lottery. She was looking for a fall marathon that was a stand alone event to see what she could do without having other races around that day. So we waited and waited and sadly she did not get into NYC. Big Bummer! As we were texting back and forth she came to the decision to register for the Marine Corps Marathon lottery. I kept telling her to try because even if she did not get in, then there was the bib transfer process (Love this about the Marine Corps Marathon!). So she should just decide to come on out and stay with me and run the Marine Corps Marathon!

After much decision, she decided to do it. So that got me thinking. I have Athens on 13 November. Awesome right? Well Marine Corps Marathon is 30 October. Ok perfect, no problem. Never done a marathon 2 weeks apart. No problem, new challenge, Great. Well that would also qualify me for Marathon Maniacs! So yes, I totally entered the Marine Corps Marathon lottery too! Luckily the lottery is only open for a week and they let us know on 31 March if we were going to be running with the Marines or not. Whoop Whoop…I made it. I was selected to run with the Marines!! My friend K was also selected! Double Whoop!

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I qualified for half fanatics last year. Go me! So if I complete this years challenge and run the 2 marathons 2 weeks apart, I’ll get my Marathon Maniacs AND Double Agent status. Now I’m not winning any races, I just want to finish! get those medals and have awesome experiences.

So here’s to the training, and entering a new level of crazy!

2016 Goals

Have you ever stared off the new year with big goals? And I mean REALLY BIG GOALS?!

This year I have and the biggest one has been to train for my 3rd marathon which happens to be outside of the US and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s the original marathon, the one that started it all. The Athens, Greece Marathon! The one that ends in the 1896 Olympic stadium!

As a former swimmer and collegiate swimmer this is bigger than you realize! Just running in that stadium will be a fan-freaking-tastic memory but the fact that I will be there with my sister, cousin, and uncle will be an unmemorable memory!!

I can’t wait to make this happen and this will definitely be one of the highlights of 2016! I can’t wait to show you pictures and to make it happen! This is going be one fantastic year!

NYC Marathon Recap

I can’t believe that the marathon is over! It’s hard to find me saying that. (Sorry for the long post, but it’s worth it, I promise😀)

I was kind of dreading the marathon. It’s 26.2 miles. Who in their right mind would run 26.2 miles at one time. I was crazy enough to run 26.2 miles before, but heck this was a lottery so my chances were very low that I was going to get a chance to run NYC. I mean 50,000 people are running, some with a charity and then the elites. Some qualified through the 9+1 program and then some were just plain fast enough. I thought why not, because chances are, I won’t get it. Well I was plain wrong. I got in through the lottery. (insert shocked emoji here). When I was first notified, it was a moment of shock and then the oh no moment took over. Then the well I need to find a hotel stat! I looked at a bunch of information and decided to stay at one of the official marathon hotels since it was .5 miles from the finish line. It would be easy for my Mom to see me finish and then meet me back by where we had determined a spot.

I made train reservations. We had never traveled by train but I was not paying $300+ per person for plane tickets when the train was just over $100. And the train was such a great choice. It was so relaxed and so neat. I would definitely go by train again given the chance. It was definitely worth it.

My Mom and I arrived Friday around 1pm and made our way to the hotel. Walking through NYC with luggage, yeah good luck. HAHA. After we checked in, we made our way to the Expo to get my bib and I was getting anxious and nervous.

NYC Marathon Expo

NYC Marathon Expo

I knew my training could have been better, so I didn’t even know what to expect. I had expectations but I also knew that I had to keep them in check knowing that my training could have been better. I would do the same thing when I swam competitively. I would have, and still do have a hard time eating when I get anxious/nervous about a race.

We went to a local Irish pub for dinner and I had this marvelous mushroom ravioli. It was delicious. After dinner, we were both exhausted and went back to the hotel to relax and lounge and try to figure out where and what we were going to be doing on Saturday. It wasn’t much before 8:30 and we were done. HAHA.

Saturday morning came and we walked up to the finish line and to scope out the grand stand seating so Mom could see where she was going to be able to see me at the finish, after 26 grueling miles. I was getting more nervous and as we walked in Central Park back towards our hotel, we were making small talk and admiring the enormity of what was going to take place the next day.

Me at the finish line, the day before the actual race.

Me at the finish line, the day before the actual race.

At least I was. I dropped my mom off at the hotel and kept walking. I walked down to the Empire State building and past the New York Public Library. I needed to catch the bus there the following morning. Then I walked up to Rockefeller Center. I didn’t realize it was that small. I guess when I was there briefly before, it was so much bigger or so it seemed. Then I made my way back to the hotel to take a nap before getting all of my stuff together for the next morning. Pizza was in order for that night and then we were watching TV while I got my race outfit together.

It was starting to feel real by this point. The oh my gosh was settling in and the I can’t believe I’m doing this tomorrow. I got my outfit together and made sure I had everything I needed.

Flat Runner! Race Tradition!

Flat Runner! Race Tradition!

I was use to running with my camelbak but those weren’t allowed on the NYC Marathon course. SO, I had to make alternate plans for my GU and phone and music. Lots to think about for sure. I definitely had to take the obligatory flat runner picture the night before and moved all my stuff to a pile so I could find it the next morning.

One good thing about this race, is that daylight savings was ending so we got an extra hour of sleep. But that was one more worry. I had to make sure that I woke up at the correct time so that I could get to the bus. Never fear, I did wake up on time and got ready in no time before heading to the bus. Our hotel had fresh fruit in the lobby for us, so I grabbed an orange and headed towards the New York Public Library. It was a great weather morning. Just some minor sprinkles, and it was a decent temperature. I got to the line for the bus and it was snaked around and we quickly made our way to the front and loaded up for our way to Staten Island.

It wasn’t a bad bus ride, it took maybe an hour. I wasn’t due in my corral until 10:20 so I definitely had some time before heading there. I made it through security, stopped at the line for the portapotty and then headed to my green staging area for my bagel and coffee and to see what else they had. I made my way back to the big screen to watch the other wave starts and sat down. No need in standing if I didn’t need to. I was able to watch the wheelchair and the pro women start as well as wave 1. It really started to settle in by that point, that I was, in fact, going to run these 26.2 miles through New York City.

My covered Garmin to keep my mind off the time.

My covered Garmin to keep my mind off the time.

Eventually, I made my way to the corral and made another pit stop. They had the bathrooms in the corrals! Never had that before. We made our way to the bridge and before we knew it, we were started! Holy crap..I was running this. The first few miles seemed to fly by rather quickly. I had covered my garmin watch with a piece of KT Tape so I wasn’t looking at it. I had set it up to run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute. It was set to vibrate when I needed to walk or run. The race started and I tried to not go out fast like everyone does. And  before I knew it we were over the bridge and through mile 4. Then in a blink of an eye mile 10 was right there. I was feeling incredible and not too tired. With my watch covered, I was able to keep a pretty even pace which was good.

20k hit and well, I had to make a stop. Wasn’t banking on that happening and it was a several minute stop. But I picked myself back up and kept right on trucking. I hit the half mark and was starting to wain a bit, but I kept up with my 4 min run/1 min walk except for the hills. Mile 16 coming across the Queensboro Bridge was awesome!

Mile 16

Mile 16

The people were lined up along 1st Avenue waiting for all of us to get there and cheer us on no matter what. 16-19 something were in Manhattan. I was looking at my phone every so often and saw a lot of texts and photos from people that were following me. And not to mention the Facebook posts and comments. I was surprised and in awe that, that many people were watching my progress throughout the day. Things started to get a little tough along this stretch and I still ran when I could but started walking a little bit more.

Mile 20-21 were in the Bronx. It was so fun to see the different parts of the city and before I new it there was the sign that said “This is the last bridge” while we were running back into Manhattan on 5th Avenue. You would see the trees of Central Park up ahead. By this time, my mom had gotten to the grandstands for the finish and she told me where she was waiting for me. Getting to Central Park seemed to take forever! But knowing that I only had so many miles left was what kept me going as well as the people there cheering for all of us. We turned into Central Park and I had 2.2 miles left to go. There were lots of people in Central Park and they were cheering for everyone.

Mile 26!

Mile 26!

I came around the last curve, and saw mile 26. I texted my mom that I hit 26 and I could see the grandstands just up ahead. She was on the east side, standing up at the top. I saw her right away in her pink top. She didn’t see me right away, and I could see her scanning the runners looking for me. I got to an open section and starting jumping up and down to grab her attention and I certainly did. I don’t know how I was able to jump up and down either at that point, I don’t know if my feet left the ground. But after we saw each other, I continued on down the stretch to the finish.

I crossed the finish line in 5 hours, 29 minutes and 58 seconds. I did it! I just ran the TCS NYC Marathon! This wasn’t about a PR for me, I just wanted to finish and have fun. I am still in shock that I was able to cross the finish line close to my PR, so maybe there is hope in the future to get under 5 hours.

Meeting @Matsui_Runs and  @pastrychef_Dani

Meeting @Matsui_Runs and @pastrychef_Dani

I got my medal, and 2 awesome ladies on Instagram were there at the medal station and they found me. We had sent comments back and forth a few times but now we got to meet in person! It just makes the day that much more special! They both will be running the NYC Marathon next year and I can’t wait to follow their journey!

After my obligatory medal picture, I even took a selfie to send to everyone I knew, I got my heat shield and one of the volunteers taped it for me so I didn’t have to hold it. Then I made the long trek to get the bag of food and make my way to get my poncho! The lovely poncho! It’s like the supreme poncho of ponchos. HAHA. It’s fleece lined and velcro closure. It definitely kept me warm as I walked back to 62nd Street to meet my Mom. I gave her this huge hug and started to get teary eyed.

The NYC Marathon was a fantastic experience! I would not hesitate one second to go back and run it again. The people that lined the streets, the bands and DJ’s, the volunteers that made it all possible! It was huge accomplishment for me and everyone else that ran it. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be apart of the 2015 NYC Marathon!

My medal! It's beautiful!

My medal! It’s beautiful!

I did it! I conquered my 2nd 26.2 Miles!

This weekend was a whirlwind blast. I can’t believe that I conquered another 26.2 miles. After my first marathon 2 years ago, I made it to 20 miles and cursing every step after that. I was thinking, WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I GET MYSELF INTO. I’m so not doing this again. HAHA. Well we all know to never say never.

Earlier this year, I signed up for the TCS NYC Marathon lottery. I was one of the lucky few to get in. And again, I thought, What in the world did I get myself into. But then again NYC Marathon is a HUGE race. I had plenty of time to train and get in the right mental attitude. And boy did this marathon creep up on me before I knew it.

I trained, I got lazy, I got back in my running shoes, and started training again. I ended up feeling less than confident in myself and had to keep reminding myself that I will be ok. My longest run was 17 miles. I wanted to finish between 5-6 hours. I didn’t know what was going to happen to be honest. There was lots of wishful thinking and hoping that I would be just fine. I’m not out there to win the race or break any records. I am out there to enjoy the crowd and have fun with it.

I finished the race (I’ll have a race recap in a few days). I got my medal! I got my NYC Marathon Medal! It was a fantastic experience! Now to rest, get through next week and then start working towards the next goal. I placed my medal up on my special medal rack last night and it was a glorious moment. A sense of accomplishment.

My Disney and Marathon Medals

My Disney and Marathon Medals

My 2 Marathon Accomplishments

My 2 Marathon Accomplishments

What are you working towards next?

NYC Marathon Week!

I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I’m scared. I have moments where I think “I so have this” and then I definitely have those moments where I think, “Oh crap, what did I get myself into”.

2 years ago, I set out to run and finish the 28th Marine Corps Marathon. I never thought I would finish. I walked the last 6 gosh darn miles just to get to the finish line. I told myself never again. (Doesn’t everyone say never again, but then never say never) And here I am 2 years later gearing up for my second marathon. Whew. I never thought this weekend would get here and I always thought it was lightyears away. But there’s still 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and still time got away from me. Or at least so it seemed.

I haven’t made a dent in packing. I’m still working on that. I do have my list made! And I have definitely added to that. I’m like any other runner, carefully watching the weathering and adjusting my precious race day outfit. Do I wear long sleeves or a tank top. I still haven’t picked out which sparkle skirt to wear and then what visor goes with that.I’ve heard rumors that you should dress for 20° over what the weather will actually be. And if it stays true to what it’s saying now, I’m going to be HOT! But then how do I carry everything that I’d like to have with me. My phone (music and picture/selfie taking, hello!) and gels, and my license and credit cards. Oh and I can’t forget the chapstick. I’ll definitely be using that on race day. Where does this all go?!

When I first made my list, it was suppose to be cooler than what is on the 10 day map, that we are now down to 5 days…eeek! Luckily I start at around 10:40am, but I’ll still be sitting for awhile playing the waiting game. That’s ok, I’m sure this won’t be the last time that happens. I’ve been patiently trying to get my music squared away, still working on that piece. So much fun to go back through my playlist to see what I’ve bought over the years and what could surprise me on race day again. It might just be he 26 songs I currently have on my playlist to keep me entertained. That could get boring though, I’ll be out there for 5+ hours.

I leave Friday morning for NYC and can’t wait. So many new opportunities and adventures. I’m thrilled to be running NYC Marathon and there may be a few tears as well, that’s ok. I’ll be overwhelmed sure, but I’ll be so happy to accomplish another 26.2 miles. It’s all about finding joy in the journey and believing in yourself enough to get this done!

Now, where’s my list to keep working on it?