Monday, November 18, 2013

Running with the Amish - My Version!

     Have you ever had one of those magical experiences you know you'll never forget? Well, I certainly had one on October 18th, 2013!
      It was my second year attending the Runner's World Half in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I already felt that this was a wonderful, magical place. For this runner, being among the Runner's World staff, writers & editors was truly a dream come true! Talking to Bart Yasso & David Wiley like they were old friends and laughing at stories being told LIVE by Mark Remy are moments I will never forget! I felt very blessed to be there the inaugural year and here I was again, working the Run Donna booth at the expo.
The #SocialMediaButterfly manning the #RunDonna booth
     While perusing my twitter feed Friday afternoon, I came across a tweet from Bart Yasso announcing a Full Moon Run with the Amish for that evening! I immediately responded that I would definitely be there! I could not believe it!
The Tweet
     I would be able to live Bart's story, Running with the Amish. The article in Runner's World is what made me fall in love with this amazing community! I had briefly "met" the Amish runners Bart had brought to an event at the first year's festivities and was excited to spend more time with them this year!
Runner's World Half 2012 picture with Bart Yasso, Matt Long & the Amish!
     We met in the lobby of the ArtsQuest building around 8:15pm. I arrived a little early as did one of the Amish guys I had met earlier in the day, Jake. We chatted for a while about running and the upcoming races for the weekend. We talked about pace for the half on Sunday. I knew these guys were fast from reading Bart's article and when Jake mentioned he hoped to finish in 1:30, I laughed as I told him I could only hope to one day break 2:00 hours!
     Eventually a small group formed. Bart handed out head lamps to a few people and we headed outside.
Our little group ready to run
  It was a bit brisk! I was so happy that I had worn shoes and clothes I could run in to the expo that day! I added a quick long sleeve layer and I was ready to run! Not in my normal running attire but this was no ordinary run!
Classic bathroom selfie #classy but ready to run!
     As we first headed out, the lights from the town were lighting our way. I was near the back of the pack of 13 runners. All ages, male & female, were running in this little group. I felt very special! Bart wanted a small group and that is what he got. I was also alone, no friends to run with, so this made it easy to talk to everyone and meet new friends!
The start line for the 5k & 10k at the start of our Full Moon Run
     The Amish guys stayed way ahead of us for a while even though Bart was trying to rein them in! I remembered some of the path we ran from last year's race. Then suddenly we were headed down some steep steps that led under one of the bridges. This had NOT been part of the race! I found out that we were headed to the "tow path" that ran along the canal. The lights of town started to fade away as we headed deeper onto the path.The full moon was now very evident above us. I couldn't believe this was happening.
Entering the Tow Path under the full moon
      As we headed down the dark path, Bart explained the history of how the path came to be. He told stories of how it was used to transport coal many, many years ago. It was wonderful to have a right there history lesson! I wished he could run with me throughout the race and tell me all the little ins and outs of his town of Bethlehem! At this point the Amish guys had also spread out among the group & I was fortunate enough to get to talk more with them as we ran. It was truly a wonderful shared experience!
     As I ran in the dark with nothing to light my way but the light of the full moon and my new friend Tina's dim head lamp, I worried that I would step in or on something and get hurt. It was quite a feat for me to focus on my footing, strain to see the path ahead AND hold a conversation! I was feeling slightly stressed with the Marine Corps Marathon only a week away and the Runner's World Half in two days! I did not want to get hurt! But I survived. Didn't even so much as twist anything! And I would not trade the experience for anything!
Post run photo under the full moon
     Although I was able to experience my own "Full Moon Run" right there in Bethlehem, I still would love to actually run one in Lancaster County with the rest of the Amish running community! It would be really fabulous to meet some of the women and to truly experience their culture and way of life.
They run every full moon so I'm going to have to plan a trip! The community also has a half marathon that they put on every year called the Bird in Hand Half Marathon. I am already planning to participate in this very unique event! You should see the incredible hand-made horseshoe medals! So very cool!!!
The Medal!!!
     So if you ever get the chance to run in Pennsylvania, check out Amish country! They are a wonderful group of people who really know how to run!
Me & my new Amish friends! Can't wait to see them again!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy October!

     I have been waiting for this month to get here! I am so excited that it is finally October! I have such big plans for October! This month, I kick off my fundraising for the 2014 Donna marathon and finally begin official travel as Donna's Social Media Butterfly!
Donna Deegan & me earlier this year at The Players 5k with Donna
     I cannot wait to get started on this year's fundraising campaign! I have tried to give everyone a break since my last campaign finished up in March. I was so successful last year that I am upping the ante this year! I have made a new goal! And if I thought last year's goal was lofty, this one is SUPER lofty! Ready to find out? Okay – here goes… I want to raise $2000 this year! I know I can do it! With the amazing support from the social media community plus the support of my friends and family, I believe my goal will be reached! The most important message to get out to the people who are thinking of donating is this: 100% of all funds raised goes to breast cancer research here at the Mayo Clinic and to care for those dealing with breast cancer. 100%! This money will not fund my race, my travel, or anything like that! What other charity race can say that??
Representing #runDonna at The Great Candy Run September 28, 2013
     In addition to this years lofty goal for fundraising, I also have a new idea! I'm borrowing this idea from one of my customers I met while working at Athleta. She's running the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco through Team in Training and decided to add ribbons to her tutu for every certain dollar amount that was donated by her friends and family. I think it's a wonderful idea! And I'm going to do the same! So for every $50 you donate I will add a ribbon to my tutu that I will run in on February 23, 2014! The ribbon will be a white or light pink. For every $100 donation from my friends, family, and social media peeps, I will add a hot pink ribbon. That'll be a lot of ribbons on my tutu! Which, by the way, I've never run in a tutu! Also on each ribbon I will add either the name of the person who donated or you can have me add a name in honor of or in memory of. Remember, you don't have to have been directly touched by breast cancer to help finish this disease! I chose this philanthropy in college, never having known anyone who had breast cancer. I just felt a calling. And now, here I am many, many years later doing whatever I can to help finish this!
Me & my buddy, Jeff Galloway at the Peachtree Road Race Expo this summer
     As many of you know, part of my work in helping to finish breast cancer is to be a part of 26.2 with Donna. This month begins my official travel as Donna's Social Media Butterfly! And I couldn't be more excited! Each weekend in October I will be in a different race location representing #runDonna at race expo's and also being a part of many of the races as a runner. Stay tuned to my blog for recaps of the races and don't forget to follow 26.2 with Donna on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the #SocialMediaButterfly!! 
My first #SocialMediaButterfly expo, Jacksonville's Gate River Run, March 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

How my decision to run Marine Corps Marathon came to be...

    We are now one month from the Marine Corps Marathon. I wasn't planning on running the Marine Corps Marathon this year. It wasn't even assigned a date yet on my Bucket List of Races. But I am officially registered and running it with some of my favorite and best runner friends!
     So here's how the decision came to be: A rumor came out about runDisney making the undergraound "Dopey" race a reality. In the world of runDisney, you can earn an extra medal, a "Goofy" medal, by running the half marathon and then the full marathon the next day. You were considered "Dopey" by the fans of runDisney if you ran ALL of the races on Marathon Weekend which meant a 5k on Friday, the half  on Saturday, and then the full on Sunday. Well, runDisney decided to make Dopey a real thing but also added a fourth race to the mix, a 10k. So now in order to get an official Dopey medal you had to run all four races that weekend. The bling count would be a total of six - one "medal" for each race and then the Goofy and Dopey medals.
     My heart broke a little with these rumors and then the confirmation and pricing of the new runDisney Marathon Weekend. You could also say I woke up from the runDisney stupor I have been in for the last year or so. I had several issues with this official announcement. And yes, I am ready to let the world know how I feel and risk losing followers, readers, friends. I'm about honesty, so here goes. It bothered me that this lovely little "underground" movement was becoming official. But not only official, it was getting one-upped and being labeled with a very large price tag! Friends broke it down to "it's only $10 a mile" but that's not how I look at races. To run Disney is truly an experience. An experience I have enjoyed many times with many people over the last year and a half.
My 1st runDisney - Wine & Dine 2011

Expedition Everest 2012
Tower of Terror 10 Miler 2012
Wine & Dine 2012
WDW Marathon 2012
Princess 2013
     I do NOT consider runDisney events to be races. I do not go there to race. I go to play and have fun and take lots of pictures and make TONS of memories. I truly do not understand the thinking of people who would pay the amount of money these races cost and then just go run as fast as they can and don't stop to enjoy the "event." For that is what runDisney is to me, an event. I suppose if you have a lot of money to just spend on whatever you want, then it doesn't matter. But that is not me. I have to choose wisely every day how and what I spend my money on. Yay for being a teacher! When I choose a race to BQ on or run for a PR, it will NOT be any race where there are distractions (ie. characters) or even great scenes I just want to capture with my camera. It also won't be a race I've only run once. I learned that lesson at Sarasota this year! I'm also learning that I really love the experience of running, either alone or with friends and especially in new places!
     So, I fell out of love with runDisney and back into just like. I'm just not a runDisney girl. I'm a runner girl. More specifically a traveling runner girl. I want to see the world through my shoes! And not just Disney's World! So I made some tough decisions about my race calendar and then filled it with other dream races and dream activities! My plan was to get my Coast to Coast medal next year with runDisney. (When you run a race at Disney World and then at DisneyLand in the same calendar year, you get an absolutely beautiful medal for your efforts!) I was going to run the Donald Half at Marathon Weekend and then The Tinkerbell Half the following weekend in January 2014. That has all changed now! Now I may do my Coast to Coast in 2016, the 5th anniversary of Tinkerbell Half. Hopefully the medal will be spectacular!
     I also plan on doing the Goofy in 2015 for it's tenth anniversary. This leads me to my last bothersome point of the new runDisney announcement. Goofy scares me. Friends have continued to try to get me to do it and I just refuse! I know what my body is capable of right now and I know that this would be a big undertaking - even if I play through both races! I was scared to run back to back halves. I've trained and have now accomplished that feat. I was scared to run more than one marathon a year - I am now signed up for two within four months of each other. I will train and train hard so that my body is prepared. I think that serious training is essential if you plan to do something like a Goofy or a Dopey. Yet some people will not train as they should and will hurt, may not finish or suffer through it all. I won't ever do that to my body. I do NOT enjoy pain and suffering - not even to earn a medal. Never say never, but right now I'm saying I will never do the Dopey.
     I realize that some people budget only for runDisney events/races and that is all they do all year. But I truly love races and the atmopshere of a race weekend wherever it may be. I did not become a runner because of Disney. I want to run Boston, New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, Paris, Milan, London! I want to see places and run the towns and be with the people and eat their food! THIS is who I am. So I'm running my nation's capitol on October 27th in one of the most fabulous marathons on the planet! I'm running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Turtle vs Hare: Joy vs Defeat

     I've come to a realization lately that maybe I'll just always be a turtle. I always tell people who claim they are slower than me that speed is relative. I can hear them laughing now at the first line of this post. I have myself laughed at friends who complain that their 8:46 pace on their 6 mile run was sluggish - Haha! Really?!? I wish I could hold that pace for more than 1/2 a mile!
     Over the last nine months or so of racing & running I have found that the times I enjoyed the most were when I just ran - not for time, but just to feel the run as my idol, Kara Goucher, would say. When I ran the Sarasota Half this past March, my goal was to PR. It was a new-to-me race, in a city that I had been to many times but had never run through before. I should have enjoyed the moment. I should have taken in the sights and enjoyed running with my friends, so many of which were there. But instead, I tried to beat my 2:09 half time and ended up not enjoying the race and finishing in 2:12 - getting passed at the end by a friend! Ouch! That race has haunted me all year! So when I ran the Peachtree Road Race in July, I ran just to run it. It was a HUGE bucket list race for me, so just being there was amazing. I took in the sights, the crowds & the holy water sprinklings, felt great during & after the race & did not PR. But I had a GREAT RACE!

     When I think about what is best for me, I look back at my past and learn from those times. Experiences like Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World where we barely finished in under SEVEN HOURS! But we had the time of our lives!
Marathon Weekend 2013
     Or Princess Half Marathon where I ran and played all by myself and finished in a tad over THREE hours!
Princess Half 2013
     But then there was that Gate River Run in March where the third time was the charm and I PRed using consistent Galloway run/walk/run intervals AFTER working the expo all the previous day...
Gate River Run 2013
     I really wanted to PR the Boston 10k this year! I did everything right and skipped late night concerts AND drinking - but my "time" was the worst yet! But running with my friends Linzie & Adam made the time much more special. NOTE: I will NOT be skipping Buffett the night before in 2014! I had a much better "time" in 2012 after attending! ;-)
Boston's B.A.A. 10k
     Running with friends, running in new places, running to just experience the act of running - That is why I run. I really don't do it for the medals or the t-shirts. They are a nice side item and I used to be all about that. But running to me is so much more now. I really love running. If you don't love it, I'm not really sure what the point is! I even look forward to and love my speed work sessions I now attend every week! It's the atmosphere, the others who are like me, the challenge of what lies ahead and the beauty of the world that make me want to run it!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Uncertain Summer

     As the new season nears, I am thankful for the change, the newness, the hope of things to come. I have been absent too long from my writing. Absent too long from my sharing of stories of races, meals & friends. I look forward to reconnecting to my blogging world in the weeks to come. I feel so much has happened since May! Some good, some not so good and some really tough challenges have been a part of my new story.
     A few weeks before my summer break began, life entered a very uncertain phase. My job position was cut & I was suddenly a free agent grasping at ideas of where to go next. My grandmother was admitted to the hospital and she remained there for a full month, undergoing many tests and procedures. My family's life - my mom, dad & me - was suddenly very interupted! Traveling South, my family and I spent much of the next two months taking shifts to care for my grandmother and her home. After a month in the hospital, we had to get her back on her feet and moving around again. She is 89. Things were not easy for any of us but when it comes to family, you do what you need to to care for them! As I spent time in South Florida, I used whatever free time I could to send out resumes and schedule interviews. Whenever I could be home I would pop in for an interview here & there. I was offered jobs and then would lose them to budget cuts. It was a very unsettling time but also a time that presented many learning opportunities. 
     By August, I had a new job and grandma was doing well enough to be on her own for a bit. Change is never easy but I welcome it and try to adapt. The dream is still not a reality, but I am reaching toward it every day. In moments of sadness or frustration I took the advice of my friend Lee who suggested I find something to focus on that is happy. Fortunately for me, I was still able to take the two racecations I had planned for my summer - my annual pilgrimage to Boston for the BAA 10k and my bucket list race trip to Atlanta for the Peachtree Road Race! Race, food & travel recaps will be coming in the following weeks! Also during this time, I was blessed by my best friend in a way I could have never imagined. She called me from Germany to tell me that she was paying for my ticket to Paris so we can celebrate our 40th birthdays just like we had planned. All I have to do is by my ticket home... which I have not done yet! (Enter sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun here...)
     Fall will soon be here! It is my favorite time of year and I intend to get fully lost in it! Football, food, and fall smells! I love it all! My marathon training is really ramping up as I head toward Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October. My Social Media Butterfly duties for 26.2 with Donna go into full speed ahead the first weekend of October! Oh, and among all of the craziness this summer, I also started formal speed work sessions! (Even though I still think speed kills, I would like to get a little faster! #competitive)
     Then there's the best news of all to end this post on and begin my new story with: Athleta! Jacksonville is the lucky recipient of a brand new Athleta store and I am blessed to be one of the chosen few to be working there! To say that I am excited about this opportunity is a major understatement! I love my team, my management and I am over-the-moon excited to get into the new store to get it ready for all of our new customers, many of which will be my friends! I see this as one more door to opportunities leading to the achievement of my dreams and goals!

     So, from an uncertain Summer to an exciting Fall I go!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Exceeding My Goal!

     When I set my lofty goal to raise $1000 again this past year for The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, I had my doubts. My first year, 2011-2012, I only made it to $600. Yea, that's a lot, but I didn't hit my goal! The work that 26.2 with Donna does is amazing! I wanted to meet my goal because I knew that all of the money I raised would go directly to breast cancer research and care! Not a lot of charities can say that! I think it is absolutely incredible and I want to do whatever I can to help!
     So I set my goal. Nothing happened until February right before the race. A few donations started to trickle in. I really started hitting social media - Twitter, Facebook - hard! I had about $200 raised by the time I laced up my shoes to run the half marathon for The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer. It was a long way from the $1000 I wanted to raise but I kept asking and tweeting. I had until the end of March to meet my goal...

     I kept running. I kept tweeting. I ran two more half marathons and a 15k before the end of March. By March 20th, a little more than a month after the donations started to come in, I hit my goal! By March 31st, I exceeded my goal! I couldn't believe it! I had raised $1133 for the 26.2 with Donna! The last few days of fundraising I had even moved into placing in the top five fundraisers on my Galloway team! I made it all the way to #2 when out of nowhere someone got a large donation and I fell to my final placement at third. What a rush!

     Needless to say I will be upping the ante for this year's campaign! The campaign has already begun, but I am trying to give everyone a break before I start asking for money again! But this leads me directly to the amazing thing that occurred during my fundraising this past year... Only 14% of my donors were longtime friends and family! You read that right - 14%! Incredible! THIS is the power of social media! That means 86% of the donations I received, some of which were very large, came from people I hardly knew or, get this, didn't know at all! Yes! I had complete strangers donate to my fundraising efforts for the 26.2 with Donna! Here are the stats:

14% of donations from long time friends & family

62% of donations from friends I have met at least 
once, but maybe only once, in ONLY the last 6 months

24% of donations from people I have never met

     All of these donations were mainly driven by my tweets and came from my Twitter followers & friends. So I could technically start asking now (click the donate now button on the right over there -->) because my reach now is far beyond the 34 people who donated this past year!
     Social media has amazing power to do good! This is just one tiny example. But imagine what we could do to make the world a happier, healthier place! How are YOU using social media?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Branching out!

     While on Spring Break and visiting my grandma in Tampa, I decided to try some new workouts available in the area. She lives in one of the trendiest areas of town and after 39 years of NOT trying anything new in the area, I made up my mind that this time I would! I would add in some new adventures! Thanks to the wonderful running community that I am a part of and all of my friends on Twitter, I have learned about so many cool workouts that I may have never heard of in little ol' Jacksonville!
     For a couple of years now I have been wanting to explore hot yoga. I have been practicing yoga on my own for almost 15 years but only one type and style. There is a yoga studio, Evolation, located less than a mile from my grandmother's home that I have passed many times. This time I decided to try out a class! They have many classes offered but I chose their "Warm 60" class as an intro to the hot yoga scene. It is a 60 minute yoga class using the same sequences as hot yoga but in a shorter class and slightly cooler room - 90 degrees versus 105 degrees. It was a cold morning when I went for class so stepping into the warm room felt great!
     Within five minutes I was sweating - and I was just sitting there! The instructor made a point of learning my name AND saying it correctly! In fact, she did a better job than some of my long time friends at saying my name! The class was made up of about 40% male and the rest female. I was actually quite surprised at the number of men who walked in! They provided mats and towels if you did not have one, but I brought my own. You leave your shoes by the front door and can use their changing rooms if needed. There are no lockers but they do have cubbies to put your things in. The studio is locked during class. I felt very safe and wasn't worried about my stuff.
     I chose to wear as little clothing as possible - a Lululemon bra top and their boogie shorts, which are the second shortest they sell! I wanted to sweat but not be trapped in drenched clothing! People had on various different things and there were a few women dressed like me. I was dealing with self-conscious demons that day being in public dressed like I was going to the beach or something! It was a good thing for me to go through and actually proved to be quite a reassuring experience!
     Class began with breathing exercises and then you move in to the various postures. Since I have practiced yoga for so long I knew and had done many of the poses. Thankfully the instructor used both the yoga name and the English name for the moves or I may have been lost! I watched others a few times to get a move but for the most part watched myself in the mirror. This is the one drawback of workouts at home. I can never see myself to know if I am in correct alignment or position. This also goes back to the self-conscious part. Being able to see my strength in action and watch my body move gave me a new found appreciation for it!
     By the time I was about 15 minutes into class, the sweat was literally pouring off of me! It really felt great! The clothing choice also gave me freedom to move. I never felt too hot or even the least bit uncomfortable. I truly enjoyed the Warm 60 class and planned on returning again after my run Saturday morning.

Ready for Warm 60 Yoga!
     When I returned on Saturday, it was after a quick three miles on Bayshore. I had parked my car at the studio and walked to Bayshore for my run then walked back after. 
Running on Bayshore in Tampa is my favorite place to run!
My reflection in the window near the studio pre-run
     I changed out of my sweaty tee & shorts into my yoga outfit and was ready to hit the mat again! I was really excited to try the class after a run and see how I did. The class is a real workout! I think some people think yoga is not really a workout but the classes I take sure are! I wanted to see how my body held up after a run. I think I did pretty good! I was a little tired after though!
     This class was lead by a male instructor and was PACKED! I have never had a male instructor before. He was very different than the first instructor I had there but I loved it! He was great! Even funny! The class was literally wall to wall people and this time I'd say it was about half male and half female. At my last class I was in the back row but still could see myself in the mirror. This class I was right up front! There was no avoiding myself! The instructor lead us through a similar sequence but sometimes we held the pose longer or repeated it more. It was a tough but great workout! I cannot wait to go back the next time I am in Tampa!
     For my other Spring Break Adventure I decided to try out a Pure Barre class. We have a studio here in Jacksonville Beach but I had never been. This class uses a mix of weights, resistance and Pilates which sounded like a great replacement for my regular strength training and Pilates workout I do at home! Only I wouldn't have to haul all my weights and props down to Tampa with me! So I scheduled myself a class online at the Pure Barre website. It was just that easy!
     When you take a Pure Barre class there are a few things you need to know. Number one, be ready for a REAL workout! It was tough! But none of the moves were impossible and they offer variations if you need them. Some of the moves I could not hold or do as many reps, but I tried! Number two is clothing choices. You have to wear a top that covers your midriff and you need to wear socks. I forgot socks but they had some at the studio you could buy which was actually better. The socks they had have non-skid designs on the bottom which really helped on the carpet, so I was glad I forgot my socks!
Ready for my first Pure Barre Tampa experience!
     One of the other great things about this class is you don't need to bring anything! They provide you with the tools you will need for the class: dumbbells, resistance band & ball. We used a mat but only for a little while. The staff was so friendly and helpful and very welcoming for this newbie! The class was really fabulous! In contrast to my yoga class, this one was ALL women! It is a very sexy class with the moves that you do! It's fun and high energy and most of all a great, challenging workout! I could very easily become addicted to this class! I'm glad we have a studio in Jax for when I need something new to spice up my workouts!
     During my new adventures, it was also pretty nice to be complemented by both instructors on my ability. Specifically the instructor at Pure Barre told me I was in great shape! Wow! Thanks! That's always nice to hear especially from someone you don't know.
     Trying out new classes alone can be scary but overcoming that and just getting out there to see what's available is so worth it! I really enjoyed branching out and trying something new while in Tampa and I look forward to returning to both studios on future visits. I wonder what else I can try next time??

     Have you ever "branched out" and tried a new class on your own? Would you?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lessons Learned

     What a crazy two weeks! I'm just getting in to my Marine Corps Marathon training and suddenly everything comes to a screeching halt! But with all new challenges come lessons learned and I think I figured out some things this week!

     April 15th, 2013 started a bad week for me and by April 22nd, I was paying for my poor choices during this stressful, sad time. The week of April 15th started our state testing here in Florida. Even though I did not have a class of my own I was still a part of it as a proctor. Being a proctor for a test is not fun. I basically walked around (in circles, pacing back and forth and once in awhile tried a zig-zag between desks) in total silence for close to and sometimes over three hours! Not my idea of a fun day at the office! I truly wished I had a pedometer to count my steps each day!
     I was also anxiously watching the clock that day with the memorized start times of the women and then the main waves of the Boston Marathon. I kept silently praying in my head that these kids would finish before the runners so I could catch some of the winners. No such luck! I finally made it back to my computer and phone to get the results of the race and watch some of the later runners come in. Nothing like watching the whole race with my class last year and having them beg to eat in the classroom during lunch to keep watching!
     I was at car rider duty when the attack happened. I had no idea until I got to my car and checked my phone about 20 minutes after three o'clock. I was in shock. I raced home to get in front of a TV to find out what was going on. I sat there, glued, until I just couldn't take it anymore. Then I went for a run. Which really ended up not being much of a run. It's hard to run & cry at the same time. You get side stitches that hurt like crazy! I walked a lot and even sat down on a hill at our neighborhood golf course and just stared off into the distance trying to process the day.
     This was just the start of my week on Monday. Tuesday morning I met with my principal about the future of my position the next year. There is no future. My position will be cut. The week before I had found out I didn't make it into the teacher trainer job I had interviewed for and now this. I would be going back into the classroom unless I found something else to do. This isn't so bad but we are also supposed to be cutting teacher positions at my current school. With seniority in the district I am safe, but I would be pushing out some young teacher who had already established herself at that school. This was my first year there! I couldn't do that! So this gives me an opportunity to find something else at another school but with cuts across the district it is nerve-wracking! I like knowing what I am doing today, tomorrow, all the time! Not knowing where I'll be or what I'll be doing next school year is very scary for me!
     So as you can see, my week was not starting off on a very good note. I allowed the stress and sadness to get to me and really affect my life. This brings me to the point of my writing today, the lessons I learned!

1) My body really likes the healthy food I've been feeding it!
     I have been a very healthy eater for at least the last 4 or 5 years. But recently I have really ramped up the health quotient by working with a nutritionist, meal planning, weighing and measuring, and really paying attention to EVERYTHING that goes into my body. My mindset is "I am an athlete" and with that mindset comes the need to perform. In order to perform at my best I need to fuel my body properly at all times. Not just during the week, not just before a race, but all the time! I am in training, my body needs the right fuel.
     Well, I didn't plan for and then didn't even really try to fuel my body during that stressful week. I did what was easy and convenient. No, I didn't fill up on fast food, I just didn't plan healthy, satisfying meals. I ate bars and drank shakes - along with maybe an apple - because they were quick and easy. I came home tired and had not done meal prep over the weekend so I made a big bowl of comforting pasta. Not my usual healthy, portion controlled, veggie-filled dinners.

2) My body does not like alcohol like it used to.
     Before I became a "serious" runner, I was a serious foodie! I was in to all kinds of cooking. I bought all kinds of cookbooks and made great meals for whoever I happened to be dating or my parents. I also drank at every dinner. I always had a glass of wine nearby at night. I considered myself quite the connoisseur of wines and love talking about food and wine. Then I got into running and training for half marathons and marathons and all that drinking went out the window! Now, more than one drink does me in! I hardly ever have a drink unless it's a special occasion and even then, it's one.
     So it was a real shock to my body when most nights I came home during this week and I made myself a drink or had a beer. Funny thing looking back was Monday night was the only night I didn't have a drink!At the time, I didn't think much about it other than that it was unusual, but one drink wasn't going to hurt me - each night...But in the end, I know it did.

3) When you say you're healing your body, stick with the healing.
     I decided back in March that I was going to take April off from running and see if it helped my shin stop from hurting. It was never an unbearable pain, just an annoyance. I "felt" my shin when I shouldn't have even thought about it. I was doing really good, swimming three days a week instead of running, slowly upping my meters in the pool.
     Then the attacks on Boston. I needed to run, to get out, to be on the street Monday after all of this took place. Then the memorial runs started to be planned. Well I wasn't going to miss those! I ran again on Tuesday in solidarity with the rest of the running community I knew to get my 4.09 miles in for the time shown on the clock at the time of the first attack. I still had side stitch issues. I felt like I had forgotten how to run. I was scared. But I ran anyway. Then our local Galloway group had a Boston: Choosing Love Over Fear run on Saturday - four miles. I ran. In the rain. And then I went and swam 1500 meters! I "felt" my shin and some pain all week. Am I EVER going to heal? is what I wanted to scream but then the voice inside said, when you let me...

4) During stressful times, ramp up the healthy NOT the easy!
     So, I learned that I needed to do nothing but eat and be healthy when these times come around! Yes, it may be a little bit more time consumming or you may not feel like it, but trust me, it's not fun to feel sick after! My body rebelled in a big way! I got one of the worse sinus infections I have ever gotten! I went to the doctor right away but even that didn't stop it. I have spent this entire week home from work. I spent my days sleeping and laying on the couch. I had NO energy. But I did make sure I put the healthy back in my diet! I have been loading up on fruits and veggies at every meal. Yes, it took a little extra but I have to be well!

5) Stop making excuses and just do it!
     I haven't done a workout since my yoga last Sunday - not very good for marathon training! Great for resting shins I guess though! But I'm scared. Worried that my training is now behind and I won't be where I need to be. I've questioned, after the disastrous week of running, whether I should take another month off to heal. Luckily, Jeff Galloway did a tweet chat this week and I asked him that question. He said he didn't see much difference in runners who took the time off or ran 10 seconds, walked 50 seconds. So in other words, run less, walk more and build back up. I have the Players 5k with Donna on May 4th to test out the theory. But I am thinking I'll keep swimming in May and add elliptical training as well. I'll do my swim workouts then head to the gym and get my "miles" for the day on the elliptical. Then hopefully, if June, be ready to hit the streets again.
     Either way, once I am over this sickness, I will get the workouts in. Workouts relieve stress and help me stay healthy. I need to stick to the plan and go with it. Have faith in my training. I'll get there. Carefully. And injury free.

6) Mom was right when she told you not to play in the rain!
     Finally, I think that my little run in the rain last Saturday probably didn't help things with my immune system. Yea, mom was probably right! It was also a cold day and we all know wet and cold don't mix well. There's one other little thing I didn't tell you. After running in the rain, walking to the pool in the cold while I was wet and then swimming 1500 meters - well, then, in my shorts and jacket I stood in the rain for about 10-15 minutes cheering on the last of the Girls on the Run runners finishing their 5k! While I'm sure they appreciated it, it was not the smartest choice. Needless to say, my activities on Saturday were the nail in the coffin for my immune system and by Sunday I was down for the count!

     When you train your body to expect certain things from you - be it good or bad - it reacts when those things are taken away or altered. At least mine did! I'm well on my way to recovery and hope to start this coming Monday with renewed energy! I can't wait to get back to my workouts and get my body back in to training. It really likes to perform and be active. I certainly have no excuses now about needing rest! I've gotten more sleep and rest than ever before this week!So take a few lessons from me and don't let stress and sadness take over your life in a bad way. Deal with it in a healthy, active way and keep your body fueled for the challenge!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Dreams

     I was supposed to be there. This was the year. Boston Medley. The Boston 5k in April, 10K in June and Half in October. Run the Boston 5K and then spectate at the marathon. I'm pretty sure I would've been standing right in front of Marathon Sports. It's my favorite store in all of Boston. I probably would've still been at the finish line after the winners came though. Why not?
     I suppose that's why I had so many concerned friends. They were pretty sure I was in Boston Monday. Emails, Facebook messages, even a text from the ex-boyfriend to check on me! But I wasn't in Boston. I guess, thankfully, I decided I wouldn't have enough money to do three trips to Boston this year. But in my heart of hearts, I still wish I was there.

     I first fell in love with Boston the weekend of my best friend's wedding in April 2006. She was getting married in New Hampshire but the town was super close to Boston, so I drove in for a day trip. This was the first time I had ever been to Boston. And yes, I drove in Boston! Some would say that's craziness! But I survived and even found my way around easily. I went to the most popular, easy to find location that I knew of - The Boston Common & Public Gardens. And oh yea, I ate at Cheers too!
     Since then, I have been back every year starting in 2009. During the Summer of 2009, I was lucky enough to visit Boston for longer than a day during a business trip. I was traveling with a group of two work friends and was in charge of all the food and fun! It was a whirlwind trip blended with work and play, but I knew then I needed to see more! I returned in May of 2010 to just strictly play and explore. Oh yea, and to attend my first game in FENWAY PARK! And what better first game in Fenway than Red Sox - Yankees!
     That summer of 2010 I also started getting "serious" about running and again, Boston came to mind! Rumors started floating around about a Boston 10k and in the Spring of 2011 registration opened. I was so anxious! I remember trying over and over to get in to the site! Then when I finally got in, they said my application had to be approved! I freaked out when I got in - I was so happy!!!
     So in June of 2011 it was back to Boston - this time, to RUN! The thought of being able to run part of the Boston Marathon course was almost too much for me! Actually running it, was simply amazing! The Boston 10k course is beautiful! Running through the best parts of the city - Commonwealth Ave, BU campus, Fenway, Kenmore Square. Just awesome! Read more about my first year here in Dreaming of Boston.
Crossing the finish line, bag check bag, telling mom I finished & rounding the corner on Comm Ave.
Relaxing after the race in the Common, medal pics & random new friends!
     I knew after my first race that I would have to return every year! This would be my streaker race - a race run on the first year it's offered and then run every year forward! Also during this trip I decided to drive the Boston Marathon course. I wanted to see every part of it that I had heard about! Now, I should let you know that at this point I had yet to run any distace longer than 10 miles. I was starting training in July for my very first half and full marathons! And here I was driving the most historic marathon course in the US! I drove to Hopkinton, which seemed like such a long drive!! I followed a map similar to this one - Boston Marathon Course - and searched for all of the landmarks, wanting to take my own pictures of all of them! Here are a few...(I really should do a full post on this...)
The storied START line in Hopkinton...
       Spirit of the Marathon, Ashland Clock Tower, Framingham Train Depot (with a train!), signs to the screaming girls of Wellesley!
Johnny Kelley Statue, Boston College, Citgo Sign (Fenway), and finally the FINISH!
     I ran my first marathon in February of 2012. It took me 5 hours and 30 minutes to run my first marathon. Ironically, with the stops for pictures & wandering, it took me 5 hours and 30 minutes to drive the Boston Marathon course! Pretty cool, I thought!

     So I returned to Boston in 2012 for year two of the BAA Boston 10k...
Boston 10k 2012 - winner Kim Smith, top center
     And I will return this year for year three. This year, many of my friends will be running along with me, from Boston and from all over the country! It's sure to be EPIC! Registration opens May 1st. If you are able, it is a great race and a lovely little vacation for the summer! And if you need any suggestions on what to do in Boston, well, I can give you a week's worth - at least! - of fabulous places to see, eat and tour!
Freedom Trail Run - Run and learn the history!
4th of July 2011 - history, baseball & fireworks on the Charles with the Boston Pops
Pick one, I promise, you will be very happy!

     I fell in love with the history of Boston, learning and seeing more and more each year. The history of our country, our beginnings, started there. Those streets are where we fought to be independent. When Boston says they are strong and resilient, do not doubt them. I love this city. I love it's people. I cannot wait to get back to Boston this summer!
Boston Qualifying time...
     And oh yea, now, I'm planning on qualifying for the Boston Marathon! Before, I figured I'd just run for a charity and get in that way to run it one day. But now...Well, things are different. I also feel like maybe doing the charity thing is a way I am wimping out. Maybe I really can qualify! I have a lot of time to take off my marathon finishing time but if I train and stay focused and positive, I know I can do it. I also have an unbelievable support team here in my running community and virtually around the world via Twitter. It's absolutely amazing the friends I have!
     So, the goal: by age 50 (I'm 39), qualify to run Boston. I've got plenty of time!
     See you in Boston!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Team Little Black Dress Wines & the 26.2 with Donna Marathon Weekend

     What an honor it was to be a part of Team Little Black Dress Wines during the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer marathon weekend! It was so much fun! I entered a contest on their Facebook page just on a whim and I was chosen! A total of ten women were picked to represent the Team during the marathon. For each mile we ran during the races, Little Black Dress Wines donated $10 to 26.2 with Donna! We were even given running dresses to wear for the race! We were asked to pick a color - of course I picked black!!

My "Little Black Dress" with a splash of pink!
     Friday evening of race weekend I was also given the opportunity to attend the 26.2 with Donna VIP cocktail party held at One Ocean, a gorgeous resort and spa in Atlantic Beach, Florida.
The outdoor patio at One Ocean Resort & Spa
Beautiful view!
I was officially there to help "represent" Team Little Black Dress Wines and of course the brand, Little Black Dress Wines! I'm sure you can guess what I wore!

     Also attending that night from Little Black Dress Wines were Juan Perez-Vega, director, east division, and Nicholas Shoults, national retail director, to present Donna with a check! Juan has been involved with the race since the start, donating wines to events like this one, but he wanted to take it to the next level. This year they also wanted to help with the fundraising efforts! So beginning in October 2012, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and continuing through the end of February 2013, the month the race was held, $.26 from every bottle of Little Black Dress Wines sold was donated to 26.2 with Donna! Juan and Nicholas, with a little help from me, presented Donna with a check for money raised so far! What an exciting moment to be a part of!

Presenting the check to Donna and Dr. Edith Perez of Mayo Clinic
     The evening was filled with lovely food and of course, fantastic wines! Little Black Dress Wines is going through a revival of sorts and I must say it has been a while since I had enjoyed a glass of their wines. Since being chosen for the Team I have been buying and drinking their wines much more and have rekindled my love for the brand!
The food selection at the party was simply amazing! I was expecting light hors d'oeuvres, but there was so much more!

And then the desserts! I chose this lovely chocolate mousse and cherry cheescake bite to pair with my Pinot Noir. Perfection!

And of course, as seems to be the new thing with pictures of me lately, I was caught in the act once again!

Social Media Butterfly at work!
     What a way to kick off the Donna Marathon Weekend! Thanks for letting me be a part of the Team, Little Black Dress Wines! Looking forward to your continued support of our great cause for many years to come!