Five Favorite Stability Ball Workouts

As much as I love to just run, I know my aging body needs a balance of running and core strength work.  Right now, I am enjoying some easy miles a few times a week and adding in more core and strength workouts before I start rebuilding my base mileage for early spring 10ks and half marathons. Honestly, it is a mental challenge at times to commit to consistent, daily and weekly workouts that strengthen my core, improve my balance and my flexibility.  However, I know how important all those pieces are to my continued running success.

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Stability Ball-Perfect for Balance and Strength

Lately, the stability ball has kept me focused, engaged and motivated to incorporate core strength workouts into my weekly running schedule.  I have a few “Go-to” Stability Ball Exercises that I rounded up from this SITE

  1. Wall Squat-Great for strengthening back and quads- 5 Reps, 1 minute each
  2. Bridge-Focus on the Hips- 5 Reps, 1 minute each
  3. Pike-Love this SITE for proper form and technique
  4. Ball Leg Lifts- Great video HERE
  5. Reverse Lunge- Check out this VIDEO  for proper form and technique

Finally, this is a good set of exercises with the Stability Ball that I have kept me engaged and motivated to be more consistent with core and strength training!

How do you fit in core strength to your weekly running routine?  What is your “must have” piece of equipment for core and strength training?  

-MaineGirl2Runs-

Annapolis Running Classic Recap

3rd Times A Charm.  Start of the Annapolis Classic Running Half Marathon.  Navy Marine Corps Stadium in the beautiful downtown Annapolis, Maryland. 

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Navy Marine Corp Stadium

 

Familiarity.  I feel that there are advantages to running the same race course multiple times.  Aside from slight changes that the race director might make to the course each year, the course is pretty much the same.  You become familiar with the roads, the ups and downs of the course; you’re able to anticipate and strategize when to push the pace and when to hold back.  Each mile of the race, every hill is memorized and you develop this confidence for knowing the course and what to expect.  Each year, I keep coming back to this race, filled with a determination to  conquer hills, that in the past held me back.

The Numbers.  Third Times a Charm.  Half Marathon Number 10.  In 2012, I ran this race for the first time.  It was a freezing morning in Annapolis.  I was feeling excited though, because this was my 2nd half marathon that I had ever run in my entire life!  Back in August of that same year, I had run my very first half marathon in Virginia Beach. {Time of 2:10:05}   It was so hot and humid.  I knew right away that running half marathons in hot, humid weather was not for me!

So, in 2012, on  a freezing cold morning in Annapolis, I ran my second half marathon in a time of 1:57:45.  I loved the scenic race course and chilly December 1st weather!!  The race course started and finished at the Annapolis Naval Academy Stadium.  The first five to six miles of the race take runners out and around towards historic downtown Annapolis.  The second half of the race is over the Naval Academy bridge and out  towards some side roads, before heading back across the Naval Academy Bridge.  A few turn arounds and hills through these side streets.  It may seem weird, but I love the challenge and the up and down flow of hills.  I absolutely fell in love with this race and the post-race festivities which include live band, fresh raw oysters and hot tomato soup, along with yummy crisp beer!

2015 Annapolis Half Marathon Certification Map - resized

Photo Credit: HalfMarathons.net

In 2015, I returned to this same race! This has become my late season, last HURRAH, half marathon!   The date had been moved from the first weekend of December, to the weekend in November just before Thanksgiving.  Race morning was clear and crisp, but not as freezing cold as that morning in December.  That year, I ran part of the 13.1 miles with Colleen  The first few miles flew by, but once again I knew the hills looming from mile 6 to 13.1!  Once again, I had goals for starting strong, holding a steady pace, tackling the hills and finishing fast.  I always feel confident and in control until I hit the BRIDGE, then I seem to hit a wall.  I have to shuffle jog, walk/jog up and over that Darn Bridge!  I regain my breathing and pace as the course continues out towards several more hilly roads, before heading back over the bridge to the slightly uphill finish at the Naval Academy Stadium.  This is where the advantages of a familiar course come in handy, but also where it can be your mental enemy.  You know what lies ahead and that there are hills to tackle that will leave your lungs burning and your quads stinging. Once again, the hills on the back end of this course and heading towards the finish were tough and I struggled through some miles.  I finished with a time of 1:56:48.  

**On an interesting note, I ran this same course back in June of 2015-Zooma Run Half Marathon, in a time of 2:10 and change.  I definitely run better on this course in cooler, to colder weather.  

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Me and LiveFreeRun! Gorgeous autumn colors! 2015

So. . . 3rd times a charm, right?!  Looking back on this past running season, I knew I had approached my training a bit differently, than in previous seasons.  Weekly long runs were always 10+ miles, I was tackling hilly routes and had several half marathons already completed in this particular training cycle.  Leading up to the Annapolis Classic Half marathon, I had run a half in July, early September and one in the beginning of October.  I had trained hard each week in between these races, focusing on tempo runs and powering through the hills.  I felt really ready, after the hilly half marathon in early October in Vermont.  I was excited to see what would happen at the Annapolis Classic Half on November 19th, 2016. 

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Another year of running with this awesome friend! November 2016

Annapolis Classic Half Marathon-2016 Time Goal- To be honest, I really wanted to just run my best half of the training season.  “My best” being that I knew I could tackle hills and maintain a better overall pace than in previous years.  I didn’t want to get too caught up with a specific number, but at the same time, I had a range in mind.  I knew I definitely wanted a course PR.  I knew this course pretty well by now and was confident that I could conquer some previous hills that I had left me exhausted in the past.

It was a cool, clear morning.  I have learned not to “over dress” and so I was a bit chilly at the start, but knew I would warm up quickly.  Once again, my wonderful friend and running buddy, Colleen  and her husband Jim were here to run as well.  Well, Jim was running the 10k and Colleen had just run a full marathon about three weeks prior, so she was happy to run/pace me for a bit.  We met up at the start area and mingled for a bit with other runners.  Pictures were take in front of the Navy Jet Plane with all the 2016 Annapolis Classic Ambassadors   I had the opportunity to be an ambassador this year!!

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2016 Annapolis Classic Ambassadors

Fueling and Hydrating-a big difference this year!  One big important change in this training and racing cycle was hydration and fueling.  I had realized through previous races and conversations with other running friends, that I wasn’t fueling enough before and during my half marathons.  This was definitely one of the reasons, I always felt like I just “sputtered out” at mile 10 each race.  Back in early October, in Vermont I was talking with Sandra Organic Runner Mom about my issues and she encouraged me to focus on better fueling during the race.

Before and during the race fuel- Skratch Lab Fruit Drops for carbs.  I also ate a bowl of oatmeal with a bagel and banana prior to the race.  On the race course. I ate the fruit drops at miles 6 and 10.  On course, I drank water and Nuun hydration.  I walked/jogged through two water/Nuun stops along the course.

Running the Miles-  Go time and the start of the race.  Colleen and I started off together after the runners were given the go!  We cruised along through the first 5-6 miles together.  I appreciated having Colleen by my side, she always encourages me to keep my pace quick and steady.  We also caught up with Courtney (EatPrayRunDC) who was running the 10k and hoping for a strong tempo run!  She ended up nailing it and “running away” with a huge 10k PR!!

Miles 1-6-Strong, quick and steady

  • 8:27
  • 8:09
  • 8:15
  • 8:21
  • 8:20
  • 8:19

Then the Bridge, I dug down deep and reminded myself of how badly I wanted to “beat” the bridge this time.  I focused on one step at a time, kept telling myself-“you can do this, your strong, and it will only hurt till you get to the top”  At this point in the race, Colleen was ahead of me now, she was running strong and quick.  I could see her ahead of me, but the distance between us was growing.  I was once again, feeling a bit defeated, but tried to shoo away those negative feelings.  As I climbed the bridge and finally got to the top, I felt different from the previous two times I had run this race.  Yes, my mile pace had slipped, but I recovered faster and got back into a quicker pace again.  I kept pushing on, determined to maintain speed through the next several miles and few remaining hills.

Miles 7-10

  • 9:31
  • 8:57
  • 9:37
  • 8:38

There were more hills, a walk through the next water stop and a few moments of doubt and wondering “why I do this”  Then, I regained my focus, determination and sheer will to succeed.  To prove to myself that -“I am strong and capable”.  Looking back now on my mile splits, I can see where I still have more work to do, but I see hard work and mental toughness winning.

One More Time-Up and Over that Bridge-  It these moments in a race that shape our souls, remind us of why we race-because we want to constantly improve and challenge ourselves to reach our full potential.  I saw that bridge looming once again in the distance, I knew that I had to gather up all my strength and determination to  climb the hill one more time and  finish the race.  I kept thinking, “Don’t let yourself down”.

“Remove the Fear of Failure and the Impossible Becomes Possible”

Miles 10-13.1

  • 9:07
  • 8:58
  • 8:11
  • (.17) 7:40

Heart beating heavy, lungs burning and “willing” my legs to quicken the pace.  I wanted to finish fast and strong.  Power through to the end.  The finish line was within sight and  I could hear Colleen and Jim screaming for me.  I could see the time on the finish line clock.  And I could hear the words of my high school track and cross country coach, “Run Tuff”.

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The Finish Line- Those final steps, a struggle,a hard and fast effort; crossing that finish line brings a rush of adrenaline and pride.  It shows us that we can be more than we imagined we could be. 

3rd Times a Charm- Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon- finish time 1:54:07

A two minute + Course PR

Final Thoughts- I am excited and proud of myself for tackling this course for the 3rd time.  But more importantly, looking back over this entire training cycle, I see so many strengths, lessons learned and so much accomplished. This training cycle brought so much emotional and physical growth, not just in running, but in life.  I am super happy with this course PR.  It’s my second fastest half marathon time ever.  With that being said, I now want to set new goals for this distance in the spring.  I know there is more work to do and I am ready for the challenge.

Have you ever run the same race more than two times?  

Fall Weekends-Running and Recipes

Okay, so it’s Monday and I am already wishing for a “repeat of this weekend.  The air is clean, dry and chilly!  The fall foliage is at its peak in most of the northeast and mid-Atlantic states!This is the time of year for me, when I love being outside all.day. long.  This was the first weekend, in a while, where there was time to do all things I love doing on a fall weekend!

Friday Miles- School let out two hours early, so I headed home to squeeze in a few miles. Sometimes those miles after school are just what I need to unwind from a crazy, hectic day with 4th graders.  I don’t run with music, mostly because I am seeking silence after a day full of chatter!

Saturday Long RUn- The sunrise run did not happen.  I lingered too long in bed on Saturday morning.  It just felt so good to not have to wake up early because of other time commitments throughout the day.  By the time I headed out of the house for my long run, the sun was at its warmest point in the day.  I quickly peeled off my long sleeve shirt and capri leggings, in exchange for a sports bra and shorts.  62 degrees with sunny skies is still a bit warm for me.

11 miles total-not the 13 I was originally planning for, but still a good solid run!

1 mile warm up, followed by 3 miles at 8:50 pace, 3 miles at 8:30 pace, 2 miles at 8:20 pace and 2 miles at 9:05 pace.  My pesky bunion on my right foot has been giving me some issues lately. Womp, womp.  :(  I have been trying the KTTape (video)  application for bunions.

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I have an appointment with a sports podiatrist in December.

Fuel on the run- Skratch Lab Energy Chews and Exercise Hydration  The ingredients are all natural with a light and clean, crisp taste.  The energy chews are fruity, but not sticky heavy in my mouth or stomach.

This run felt good, my legs and energy were strong and steady.  I feel like all the hill work this summer and early September/October has really paid off!

**Two weeks till the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon**

Sunday Rest Day- Muffins and Soup-  It must be that chilly fall weather, but I have been craving baked goods and warm, comforting soups.  I have a ton of apples that I grabbed up from a local orchard when I was home in Maine last weekend!

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Apples are my favorite fall fruit

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Warm Apple Muffins

Stonyfield Farms Recipe for Apple Pecan Muffins, but I omitted the pecans because I didn’t have any!  I also used this awesome gluten free flour from Cup4Cup Flour found at Target instead of the white all purpose flour.

Warm and Comforting Soup

This Soup is so creamy thanks to the cannellini beans/White Beans and finely chopped cauliflower.  I also added two heaping tablespoons of turmeric powder which has great anti-inflammatory benefits for runners!

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Creamy Mushroom, Garlic, White Bean and Cauliflower Soup Recipe

  • 1 cup of finely chopped crimini and shitake mushrooms
  • four cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot finely chopped
  • 1 cup of raw cauliflower finely chopped
  • 1 large raw carrot peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 can of white beans with liquid, plus 2 more cups of water
  • 1 vegetable boullion cube
  • 1/4 cup olive oil-for sauteing, adding another tablespoon or two at a time as you add the ingredients to the saute pan
  • two tablespoons of butter
  • sea salt to taste
  • ground cayenne pepper to taste
  • Trader Joe’s Season Salt to taste
  • turmeric powder- two heaping tablespoons

Directions-  one cooking pan- Le Crueset -My Go-To-Pan

  1. Heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil on medium heat, then saute the chopped  garlic, shallots and carrots in olive oil on medium heat until the ingredients are golden brown-push to the sides of the heavy, medium sized deep covered saute pan
  2. add the chopped cauliflower and saute till lightly browned and tender
  3. then add the chopped mushrooms and saute, adding in another tablespoon two of olive oil
  4. Add the beans with liquid, plus two more cups water and the vegetable boullion cube!
  5. Cook everything with the lid on until everything is cooked and very tender, stir in the two tablespoons of butter!
  6. Use a hand held immersion blender to blend Some of the Soup, but not all – you just want to create some creaminess with the cauliflower and white beans
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Soup for supper and more for lunch!

Fall weekends-chilly running weather, warm and comforting soups and yummy muffins!  How was everyone’s weekend? Are you craving fall comfort food!!

13.1-The Journey and Wrapping Up Fall Races

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.

– Proust –

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Fall Foliage Covered Road in Scarborough, Maine

Every mile is part of the journey.  Covering distance, with every step, mindful of the imperfect roads.  Life and running are perfectly imperfect and a journey of self-discovery.  As I wrap up my fall racing, I reflect on the last five months of training and life.

13.1 Miles-is half of nothing.  This has been my distance to conquer, to test my limits and strengthen my body and soul.  Last June, I decided that this would be the season of running half marathons.  I love this distance because it is a mixture of strength, stamina, endurance and speed.

The build up to this distance occurred over the last five months.  Weekly training was a combination of strength, endurance and speed.  I focused on building a solid base of weekly mileage – 25-30 miles a week.  Running typically happened five times a week out of a seven day cycle.  I included tempo runs, race specific speed workouts and the long runs into this training cycle. I increased my “short” weekdays runs from 4 to 6 miles.  Every Saturday or Sunday I was managing to hit double digit long runs.  Ten miles seems to be my lucky 10!

My constant struggle during any training cycle is “fitting in” the strength training.  Strength training is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to staying injury free by maintaining good running form and keeping the hips and calves “strong and happy”!! 

There is an incredibly satisfying feeling when training hard through the summer months for fall racing.  You suck it up and get out there in the heat and humidity. My running mantra -#SuckitUpButterCup! For me, it was also a good time to add some races to my summer training.  I like to use some races as preparation for my big goal race.  The magic number, for me, was 13.1 miles this season!  I raced a few 10ks, but have had my eye on the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon which is now in three weeks!!

The Journey to Racing  13.1 

I used three half marathons this season as training runs, in preparation for my late fall goal race.  In July I ran the Portland Maine Shipyard Half Marathon, then I went on to run the Navy Air Force Half Marathon in September, followed by the The Leaf Peeper Half Marathon in Vermont on October 4th  The Annapolis Classic Half Marathon will bring me to a total of ten half marathons since I started road racing four years ago.  Running 13.1 miles over and over again, allows or me to build on what works with pacing and knowing where I need to put in more work.

 Overcoming the Mental Game

I feel like upping my shorter weekly runs to six miles and some nights even 7 miles, during the week, really put me in a good position mentally.  Then, when it came time for my Saturday/Sunday longer runs, those double digit 10 milers seemed so much more manageable.  10 miles no longer seems like a long and challenging task.  I have become more comfortable, both physically and mentally with lengthening the miles during my tempo runs. I have built strength, endurance and speed into my double digit runs, which I feel is key to racing half marathons.

Of course, as my body adapted both mentally and physically to consistent higher mileage, I then needed to add in more speed work and eventually increase my long runs to 11-12 miles every week.  Increasing some of my long runs on weekends was doable because I picked two half marathons between the months of September and October.

The key piece of advice for myself this training season has been-building routines and consistency.  Sticking to my 7 day training schedule and being consistent with a balance if hard tempos, easy long runs and speed work.  Allowing my body and mind to adapt and then pushing myself further, reaching outside of my comfort zone.

 

Three Weeks till Goal Race and Then. . . 

In the last three weeks leading up to the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon, my focus is staying injury free.  I tend to feel a few “squeaky wheels” as I near the end of a training cycle that has been “high mileage” for me.  So, I will foam roll, fill up on fish and legumes for protein, focus on eating complex carbs and start to taper a week and a half out from the race.  I want to nail one more long run workout this weekend!  It will be a tough workout-Allie from Vitatrain4life did this workout.  I will adjust the paces to fit me.

The Plan-

2 mile warm up

3 miles @mp pace

3 miles @hmp

3 miles @10kpace

1 mile @mp

and a 1 mile cool down

 

Goals for Annapolis-allow myself to settle in to a good pace, trust my training, and not be afraid to “leave it all out there” on the course.  I don’t want any regrets about this race and I know that as long as I just “run my race” it will all fall into place.  I feel good about where I have come this year with half marathons.  This is definitely a distance that allows me the opportunity to keep “chipping away” at my time.

This is a late season race, but after November I will take some time off from heavy mileage, let myself just enjoy some easy miles and then start building a base back up in January for spring races.  I’ve enjoyed the journey.  As with anything in life and running, nothing is perfect, the plans don’t always go off effortlessly each week, but the lessons learned along the road to any race build wisdom and strength.

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“Everyone must take the time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”- Elizabeth Lawrence

Any late fall races on your schedule?  What’s next?  

 

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Leaf Peeper Half Marathon: Rise.Run.Retreat

Running up and over the beautiful Vermont hillside.  The fog lifting up off of the peaks of mountains in the distance.  Cool, crisp fall air and overcast skies made for the perfect running weather.  All around me, the colors of fall gently painting the leaves of the trees-rusty oranges, deep fiery reds and sunny yellows.  The Vermont Leaf Peeper Half Marathon was the perfect finale to an incredible weekend at Rise.Run.Retreat

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The Views along the road in mile 2-3

When ten women, including myself, get together for a four-day retreat because we love to run and blog about running, it seems only fitting to end the retreat with a scenic, but hilly half marathon!  Our mutual love of running brought us together, so why not celebrate each other and the retreat with a 13.1 run, up and over hills, dirt roads and a grassy trail. Of course, after having spent a majority of the four-day retreat-eating, drinking wine and having some serious fun, I am not sure we were over zealous to run on the final day of the retreat!  The comfortable house overlooking the mountains,on a cloudy chilly morning seemed to be inviting us to stay and chat a bit longer.

Sunday Morning-Late Race Start!

Wow!  An 11:00am race start!  I have never started a race that late in the day!  However, I am not a super, duper early morning riser, so it was okay.  It allowed for time to eat a great breakfast and slowly get moving.

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Fueling with Stonyfield, Pete and Gerry’s and Blissful Eats!

I chatted with everyone at the table about their race plans/goals.  I remember talking with Sandra about race fueling, which I must say, I have not been very consistent with for my half marathons!  My plan was to focus more on refueling -carbs/glycogen, during the half marathon!  I knew that I wanted to use this race as a strong long run, keeping some strong and steady paces throughout the race.  I wanted to take advantage of being able to run so many hills!

 

Packet Pick-Up and -Ready.Set. Go-My 9th Half Marathon

So. . . packet/race bib pick up went smoothly.  That’s the beauty of small town races, tucked away in quaint little mountain towns.  No crazy long lines!  Every runner received a long sleeve cotton shirt and a “made in Vermont” jar of pasta sauce!  Since it was a bit chilly and overcast, many of us chose to stay warm in the cars-Allie and Sandra had driven us all to the race that morning in their cars.  There was plenty of time for dashes to the porta potties and some easy warm-up miles and dynamic stretches!  Ten-to fifteen minutes prior to the start of the race, we all gathered at the start line.

Here Come the Hills!

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The first mile went smoothly and I was holding a steady 9:00 minute pace.  I had Christine just to my left.  She looked strong as we headed into mile 2.  The temps were perfect!  I think I have finally learned not to overdress, I alway warm up within the first mile, even on really chilly days.  I felt comfortable with my pace.  I focused on on not going out too hard in the first two miles, because I knew there would be some hills early on in the race.

The road ahead started to curve and wind upward on a steady incline.  Runners around me started to slow, a run/power walk form going into mile 3.  I looked ahead of me and saw Christine still powering through the hill.  So impressed with her grit on those hills!  I kept pushing up the hill, I didn’t feel alone though in that struggle up the hill.  I could hear heavy breathing and other runners encouraging each other to keep pushing through the hill.  My lungs were burning and my quads were straining!  I just kept telling myself, “what goes up, must come down”!  It seemed like a never ending incline up that hill, which actually had a name-Perry Hill!!  That is some serious hill status-to be named!

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Still Trying to Smile through Perry Hill-Photo Credit Vermont Road Runners

Slowly Christine began to pull away from me.  I tried to keep her in my sight through mile 3, but my pace had slowed significantly.  I was struggling to maintain a strong pace.  Then, my garmin beeped at mile 3-12:14.  Wow, super tough hill!!

This quote sums up my feelings of the hills on this course- “It’s easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top”-Henry Ward Beecher, American Writer

There was so much beauty around me on this course.  The fog hanging along the tops of the mountains in the distance.  The vibrant colors of fall scattered throughout the leaves on trees.  It was all so breathtaking.  I couldn’t resist the chance to snap a few pics along the course. I didn’t have any time goal for this race, I just wanted to use it as a strong training run.  Some of the course was hard dirt and gravel.  Somewhere between mile 4 and 5, was a dairy farm with black and white cows grazing in the field, against a backdrop of rolling hills and mountains in the distance.  Just so much beauty on this course!

Mile 4 beeped on my garmin-9:08- I was cruising along a good pace now, just taking in the beauty around me.  I was starting think about seeing Jes somewhere near mile 6.  She is 6 months pregnant and had run up ahead earlier, before the race started to get a good spectator spot.  I knew I only had about two miles to go before seeing her along the side of the course!

Miles 5 and 6- 8:27 and 8:20- I gained some good momentum on the slight down hills. I was feeling strong.  I walked/jogged through a water stop and chewed on some Gatorade Endurance Energy Carb Chews one of the sponsors of Rise.Run.Retreat  I need to focus more on my fueling options during half marathons because I always feel like I sputter out in mile 10-11.  I washed down the energy chews with some water.

I was so excited to see Jes as I turned into the end of mile 6.  Seeing her out there on the course was so motivating!  I waved and smiled as I past her and focused on the next several miles to come along the course.  The course is an ‘out and back’ course, so I knew there would be a ‘turn-around’ at some point!

Miles 7 and 8- 9:48 and 9:04- There were some more hills in mile 7 and then some downhills in mile 8.  I kept focusing on maintaining a strong and steady pace.  I was feeling a bit tired from the hills on the course.  I swear it’s the hilliest course I have ever run!  Finally, I saw some of the first place runners coming back towards me, on the other side of the road!  I started to keep my eyes open for some of the other Rise.Run.Retreat women!  Sure enough, first I saw Allie and she looked strong and fast!  She would actually win her age group!  Then, coming towards me, from the other side of the road was Sarah, in her neon yellow shirt!  This is one of the perks of the ‘out and back’ course, you eventually get to see runners who were ahead of you during the race!

Seeing the other women out there on the course was so motivating.  Those are the moments that I cherish most in a race-the motivation, encouragement and support from other runners.  Their energy and strength and determination are contagious!!  I waved to Laura,  Sandra and Angela as they past me on the way back, after the turn around!  I think the orang turn around cone was at mile 8.  I remember seeing and hearing Natalie and Sue cheering for me and snapping photos as I passed by them going into mile 9.  They were so sweet to actually slow up and take pictures of all of us out there on the course!

Miles 9 and 10- 8:35 and 9:40 –  Lately, in races, I have had bladder issues. I try to “hold it”, but it just gets too uncomfortable!  It’s probably due to age, but I have had to stop and pee in the porta potty.  So I dashed off to the bathroom for a quick pee break somewhere along mile 10.

Miles 11-12 8:28 and 9:37-I saw Jes again, waiting at mile 10.  She was going to run/walk the last three miles of the race with Natalie and Sue.  Then, I continued on through mile 10. I was feeling pretty good and energized to finish this race.  I remember chatting with some other runners along mile ten and we encouraged each other to push hard and finish strong.  Then, just as I am thinking that I will “dial in that last gear”, here comes one more uphill battle in mile 12.  Mile 12 was an uphill that then turned onto a grassy trail.  I had to really push to maintain a steady pace.  I just kept thinking about mile 13, which be a great downhill to the start!

Miles 13 and .22-8:06 and 6:50- The final stretch of this course was a gently rolling downhill back to where the race had started.   As turned into the parking lot of the finish line,  I picked up speed and finished strong through the finish shoot!  I could see Sarah, Laura, Christine, Sandra and Allie waving on the other side of the finish line!  My final finish time was 2:01:30-

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Celebratory Pic-We conquered the hills of the Vermont Leaf Peeper Half Marathon!

The Finish Line- It was cloudy and chilly.  My long sleeve shirt felt moist and chilled with sweat.  It didn’t matter though, because my heart was warm from being surrounded by strong, talented and amazing women at this race.  We had all gone out there on the course to run our own race, at our own pace, but we still were there for each other.  Cheering and encouraging each other on through the hilly course.

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Sue, Natalie and Jes-finishing strong with smiles on their faces!

At the end  of the race, it was about celebrating each other’s accomplishments and inspiring each other.  That’s what we do-lift up, motivate and inspire.  For me, that was the theme throughout the whole retreat.  The pics from this race, our final event together, sum up what the whole weekend was about-channeling each other’s strengths, talents and inspiration.  Our hearts were full.  We celebrated returns to running from injury, a huge age group win, nailing a hard tempo run during the race and sticking out the tough parts and finishing!

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The Vermont Leaf Peeper Half Marathon was the perfect ending to an amazing four days at Rise.Run.Retreat All of us out there pushing hard and doing what we love-running.  The very sport that brought us together and wove friendships! This race and being surrounded by these women, reminded my of why I love to run and race.  It also reminded me of what I am capable of on a tough course.

How do you tackle tough hills during a race?  

A Huge Thank You –Headline Sponsor Dr. Cool Recovery and the following Event Sponsors for supporting and pampering us with amazing products and gear! Rise.Run.Retreat has the best swag bag!

Cabot Cheese Vermont
Blissful Eats
Stonyfield Yogurt
Chef’D
InsideTracker
Gatorade Endurance
Propel Electrolyte Water
Vermont Made Garuka Bars

Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs
Tiger Tail Recovery
FuelBelt
The WTFactory
Moji Mojo
Eureka Healing Balm
Skins Compression Gear
Kuhl Lifestyle Clothing
Darn Tough Vermont Socks

Llbean and LlbeanPR

Rise. Run. Retreat-Uplift, Motivate and Inspire

These three words-Uplift, Motivate and Inspire.  That is how I can best sum up the four days spent at Rise.Run.Retreat  A surreal four days spent with an amazing group of women-each of them possessing great strengths, talents and the warmest of hearts.  It amazes me how running has led to such experiences and opportunities to connect and create friendships.

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Photo Courtesy of Many RISE.RUN.RETREAT runners/bloggers

Running is at the core of my heart.  From the moment I began running track and cross country in high school (26 years ago) and now, in my forties, running has been a huge piece of my life.  Running has been the constant thread that stitched the pieces of my life together.  It has been through running, that I have forged some of my greatest and lasting friendships.  I’ve become part of a community of runners that uplift, motivate and inspire.

RISE.RUN.RETREAT 2016

It is not easy, to put into words what an incredible four days it was, spent in the mountain valley of Vermont at RISE.RUN.RETREAT. The air was cool and crisp, fall was showing all its vibrant colors among the trees that crested the hills and mountains.  Running led to social media and blogging, which led me to an amazing group of women at this retreat.  Sarah from RunFarGirl and Jess from RunLadyLike are two extraordinary women who had the enthusiasm and passion to create and organize this event, which is now in its second year! They took a dream and made it a reality!

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The views of Camel Hump Mountain in Vermont

As my plane landed in Waterbury, Vermont last Thursday, I was excited and nervous at the same time.  I was meeting up with nine other women-who for the most part, I only knew through their blogs and other social media outlets.  It was a bit surreal to actually be meeting so many of these women, for the “first time” even though I felt like I already knew them through their blogs and social media sites.

Priceless moments shared and life long friendships created

There is so much to share about this wonderful retreat.  Some of it will have to be broken down, bit -by -bit into other posts.  The most important part of this retreat was the time spent with everyone!  SO much nonstop chatting and sharing stories about life and running, marriage and motherhood.  The ease in which we all gathered and mingled throughout the weekend was magical.  There was such a strong flow of warmth and positive energy from each and every person.

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Chatting and wine and cheese on the deck

It was truly incredible and wonderful how easy it was to just chat and share so much about running and life. The love of running had brought us together, but we also had so much more to share as moms, friends, and just being women.

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Yoga Pose on the Deck

Incredibly grateful to be in the company of these incredible women.  Their strength, motivation and perspective on life is empowering.  Surrounded by these women who inspire me, yet reminded me of my own strengths, as I witnessed their strengths and grit!  The deep, honest conversations we shared about life-blogging and running, left me feeling very reflective on my own goals as a blogger and runner!  Each of these women, so talented, strong and creative.

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So many beautiful smiles!

Rise.Run.Retreat was the perfect four day-weekend for ten women to come together and share their love of running, blogging and life!  We ran, stayed up late chatting, had amazing food, laughed and simply enjoyed the moments as they unfolded.  Sarah and Jess did a fabulous job of organizing guest speakers, catered breakfast, lunch and dinners. It all came together seamlessly!  

Oh, the ways that running has been the thread that weaves these moments and meaningful experience through my life!

This retreat reminded me again, how running has led to these connections that lift you up and give you the energy to keep going!

Stay tuned for more highlights from this incredible retreat!

So much more to share in regards to the guest speakers, the fitness and yoga sessions and of course the Vermont Leaf Peeper Half Marathon with stunning views of mountains and killer hills!!  On Sunday, as a final event for everyone, we ran the half!!

Check out these incredible runners/bloggers on the social media site!!

Angela – Happy Fit Mama

Allie- VitaTrain4life

Christine- Love Life Surf

Sandra- Organic Runner Mom

Laura-This Runner’s Recipes

Natalie- Nat Runs Far

Sue- This Mama Runs for Cupcakes

Co Creators/Organizers of RISE.RUN.RETREAT-  (The Creative Duo Extraordinaire)

Sarah- Run Far Girl and Jes- Run Lady Like

Uplift-Motivate and Inspire-  Have you attended a running retreat?  What memorable life experiences have you gained from running and blogging?

Chasing 13.1-Fall Races and Celebrating Autumn!

13.1 – Half marathon-Not just half of anything.  This is the distance that challenges me and pushes me to my limits.  This distance is a combination of speed and stamina over a period of 13.1 miles.  

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2016 Navy Air Force Half Marathon 

13.1 – Goals-  Since this past spring (2016), I have been building base mileage, increasing my weekend long runs and working on my mental stamina and speed for this distance.  Last fall of 2015, I ran my 7th half marathon-back in November (Annapolis Classic Half Marathon)  and prior to that, the Navy Air Force half marathon, last September.   Both half marathons were sub 2 hours.  Earlier this summer, I ran the Portland Maine Shipyard Half marathon-an early July race that was cool and cloudy-very hilly course (1:59xx)

Break Down -Navy Air Force Half (2015, 2016) September races

  • 1:55:31:31-  cool morning, low humidity
  • 1:58:18- warm morning, extremely humid

Break Down-Annapolis Classic Half Marathon (hilly course)  Early December and Late November Race (2013 and 2015)

  • 1:57 in early December of 2013-cold start
  • 1:56:46 in late November of 2015-chilly start

Looking back on my last several fall marathons- I see consistency, steady pace and overall strengths.  Looking back at my individual splits for these races, I see that I go out strong in the first 6-7 miles, then slowly my pace declines and I “sputter”.  I feel that I am still working on and training for that combination of sustained endurance and maintaining speed.

Training this past summer and early fall- I have been focused on “long runs” of 10+ miles every week.  Also, adding some tempo runs of 6-7 miles, along with breaking up my 3-4 mile runs with 400s and 800s for speed.

Two More Half Marathons for Fall 2016

I have two more half marathons on the schedule for this fall racing season.  A very hilly, new to me race in Vermont-Leaf Peeper Half Marathon which I am running as part of the Rise Run Retreat weekend, hosted/created by Sarah of RunFarGirl and Jessica of RunLadyLike !  Vermont is going to be another strong, tune up race!! Some good hills to work in that race!  Vermont Half is next weekend-October 2nd!!

Then, I have the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon in mid/late November.  This will be my “goal race”!!  This will be my third time running the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon!!  I feel ready to shave off 3 minutes-(aiming for 1:53xx)  Join me on November 19th in Annapolis for this awesome race!  1 dozen oysters and beer at the finish line!  CODE MAINEGIRL2RUNS16 for a discount at REGISTRATION  

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Image Credit: Found Here

Okay!!  Time to celebrate fall weather, autumn related activities and cooler, less humid weather!!  Fall is my absolute my favorite time of year!!  I love the 70 degree days and the 50 degree nights!!  I am a jeans and sweater kind-of-girl!!  Hoping for one more trip north, to Maine, before the end of October! I am looking forward to –

  • apple picking
  • bonfires
  • wine on the deck
  • wearing all my Ll Bean Sweaters!!
  • A/C off-windows open and fresh air in
  • Enjoying those gorgeous fall colors in the trees

And-this time next week, I will be spending time with some amazing women!!  SO excited to meet some fellow runners/bloggers in person, for the first time!!  I am attending Rise Run Retreat  in beautiful Waterbury, Vermont!  Even though I grew up in Maine, I have never been to Vermont!  This retreat is going to be the highlight of my fall season!  Running has brought me the incredible gift of –experiences, meeting other women, and creating lasting memories.  I am looking forward to a long weekend of running, laughter, sharing life stories and learning so much from this experience!!  The retreat is hosting some great guest speakers/companies that will be presenting on topics related to nutrition, recovery and overall wellness! The Sponsors at RiseRunRetreat are amazing companies/brands!!  A few months ago, I posted about my blood work analysis –Training, Nutrition and A Blood Test  and so I am really “pumped” to meet the faces behind Inside Tracker at this retreat!

 

So-there you have it!!  Happy Friday!  What’s on your fall race schedule?  What are you celebrating?