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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?  

 

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?  

Summer Update: Run, Relax, Repeat

So. . . where do I even begin with this post!  After school let out on June 16th, I made the trip North from Maryland to New Jersey and then onto Maine!

Maine is my “happy place” and full of so many great memories from growing up in this gorgeous state!  As I a kid, I spent so many summers on the beaches of coastal southern Maine, however, I had always had one life long dream!

I had always longed to stay on one of Maine’s many islands.  So, for two weeks this summer I lived in a beautiful 1900s victorian on Peaks Island.  Two weeks of walking and running from the house, to the beaches, and the ferry.  It was a relaxing, blissful two weeks of unwinding, spending time with great friends and my daughter! {My Redhead)

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Ferries take people,cars and other cargo from the city of Portland, which sits along the Casco Bay, to many of the surrounding Maine Islands.

Island Life-Maine Style

Peaks Island, Maine  is truly a magical island.  You won’t find palm tress, white soft sand beaches or tropical music, but you will find a quiet, relaxing lifestyle.  This island is a twenty minute ferry ride from the city of Portland, Maine.  Maine’s largest and most populated city.

The island is about 4 miles around and 2 miles wide.  Along the island are pockets of inlets, little nooks and crannies of rocks to sit and watch the ships, sail boats, Sup boarders and kayaks go by.  There are some areas along the shores of the island that have a sandy stretch of beach at low tide.

Maine summers can get warm along the coast, but there are many weeks at a time when the humidity is very low and the day time temps barely reach 78 degrees.  The water temps  in Casco Bay are usually hovering around 60 degrees!

And days were spent. . . 

  • Running around the island
  • walking to the beach from the island house
  • hopping the ferry over to Portland for lunch, dinner or walks in and out of the shops!
  • Caught sunsets on the island overlooking Casco Bay and the city of Portland
  • Ice cream at the local store on the island
  • Beer and wine-loved not having to drive anywhere for pretty much two weeks!

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During my first week on Peaks Island, my good friends-Colleen and Jim stayed with me!

Sharing the fun with friends. . . 

Over the few last years, with running and racing and social media, I have developed some great friendships!  One friendship in particular has been with Colleen, Live Free and Runs she and I have just clicked!  It was great sharing the first week on Peaks with her, her husband Jim, her mom and daughter!  Me, Colleen and Jim, got in several gorgeous “sight seeing runs” around the island.  We also just enjoyed some quiet time on the rocks and beaches.  I loved having a buddy to run with, chat with and sit on the docks drinking coffee while watching the boats and ferry come in to the island.

 

July 4th Fireworks-Spectacular Views!

July 4th Fireworks were viewed from Peaks Islands.  The fireworks are set off from a barge out in Casco Bay!  Colleen’s husband, Jim, took some great pics of the fireworks that night! The night was breezy, clear and perfect “sweater weather”!!  Love summer nights in Maine!

 

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Lobster Supper on the Rocks! 


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My Redhead enjoying some beach time on the island!

Running Along the Shores

So many gorgeous views on my runs around the island.  Even the warm days were still filled with cool breezes off of Casco Bay.

Two Weeks of Running, Relaxing, and Reflecting

I needed these two weeks on Peaks Island to just unwind, unplug and recharge.  I even forgot about tv for two weeks.  Even now, I am realizing that TV isn’t that important to me! Time spent running, actively walking, sharing moments with friends and my daughter.  Maine is truly my “happy place”.  I soaked up the quiet beauty of this Maine island and treasured the old and new memories I have in Maine.

Where has summer taken you?  Share your summer happenings! 

Life Lately: Training,Nutrition and Races

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    Where did April go?   It seems as if time is on speed warp!  Just trying to make the most the most of all the minutes in a day. week or even month!  

In my life, I have realized that not everything is always going to get an equal balance.  Lately, it’s been a shift in balance between Racing, training and nutrition.  I have been focusing on what’s working and just taking each day one-step/run at a time.  Sometimes, you just have to “Go with What is Working in the Moment” and see the positives!

Training- 

  • Building that base mileage back up after an early spring race.  I had a PR in a local, slightly hilly, 10k race back on April 9th- with a time of 50:32
  • The whole month of April I focused on running 4-5 days a week, short runs of 4-6 miles and then a long run of 10 miles.  
  • Mondays-Easy run of 4 miles with a friend
  • Tuesdays-6 easy miles
  • Wednesdays-6 mile tempo run
  • Thursdays-Easy 4 miles with a friend
  • Fridays or Saturdays- Long Run of 10 miles

So, . . . Why this is working!  On my “easy” days, I am running with a friend who is looking to increase her cardio and pace for a 5k.  This kind of forces me to run really easy and focus on encouraging her to meet her goals.  I am getting in my base mileage each week and building up my aerobic fitness, increase muscular endurance and increase oxygen capacity.  My longs runs sometimes happen on a Friday night right now, due to me Redhead’s track meets on Saturdays.  The month of April was all about building upon a base of mileage that was really already in place, just really making it a solid foundation.

Up Next-A few Tweaks and A Shift

  • Hilly repeats are on the horizon, just trying to figure out how to shift my training schedule- I want to incorporate more hill repeats to build speed and endurance, Awwe! The benefits of hill running!
  • Core and Strength Training- I have found an awesome fitness trainer that does sessions with a 1:2 ratio.  I love this because she helps me focus on my form with every exercise.  The focus is on core and strength using weights, medicine ball and weighted balls.
  • Extending my weekly long to 12 miles-getting ready for the Old Port Shipyard Half Marathon on July 9th

Nutrition- A Shift in Balance of Carbs, Healthy Fats, Veggies and Proteins 

Maybe it’s that fact that I am now 41,but I was feeling a bit a sluggish and just not energized.  I am currently in Laura’s Mommy Run Fast Runner Reset group.  The Focus is healthy, balanced eating ( Eating for metabolic efficiency)  and core/strength training.  I have seen improvements, in just a short amount of time, with a larger emphasis on vegetables and fish/plant-based protein in my daily “eats”!

  • Increase water intake
  • Daily vegetables and salad greens
  • Eggs, Fish and beans
  • Quinoa is my favorite “grain” right now!
  • Great time of year for tons of local produce!!
  • Supplement with a high quality protein powder -I am still experimenting with a variety of protein powder brands, but Vega Sport Performance has some great ingredients for performance and recovery!

Races- What’s Coming Up!

  • 5 weeks until this –Zooma Run Annapolis 10k  I love this annual, early June, Women’s Racing Event.  It is a fun-filled, weekend of great women, an awesome Friday night expo and gathering, along with a challenging course to run on Saturday June 4th!  The course is a bit hilly and early June in Annapolis, Maryland can be a bit warm and humid. There is still time to Register for this Fun Racing Event!!  {10k or 1/2 marathon}

So-5 weeks of new opportunities with training, nutrition and races on the horizon!

How are things with training, nutrition and races in your world?  Any tweaks and changes being made?  

 

 

Friday Five: Five Ways Running Has Shaped Me

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Birthdays and a Time to Reflect:

Birthdays always bring about a time of reflection, as well as, a chance to “dream big” for another year.  Running has been a part of my life for the last 27 years.  At the age of 14, I joined my high school cross country team, then went on to run indoor and outdoor track.  I was fortunate to have an amazing coach that instilled in me and so many other young athletes- the love to run.

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 I feel so lucky to still be active, healthy and running the miles as I turn 41 years old today.

Today I am linking up with Mar Cynthia and Courtney  for their Friday Five Link Up and I am sharing five ways that running has shaped my life.

Empowerment- That feeling of knowing that I am in charge of my health and fitness. Knowing that I have the power to choose the miles and the pace everyday.

Friendships- The running community is strong.  Through blogging, running events and social media- I have formed some great relationships with other women.  These women are no longer just running buddies, but true friends.  Running is the thread that weaves through our friendships.

Clarity- Over the years, despite what life throws at me, running has been that cleansing and soul searching aspect of my life.  Running helps me clear my head, stay focused and gives me an healthy outlet for releasing tension and stress.

Motherhood- Yes, running and motherhood do balance the other.  Running has given me an opportunity to be a strong role model for my daughter.  It is so critical to keep the lines of communication open during the teen years.  I am grateful that running is something my daughter and I share together.  Sometimes, it during those few miles,  out on the road or track,  where my daughter and I can talk about what is going on at school and in life.

Inspiration/Motivation- All around me, other runners are inspiring me.  So many opportunities to plan for and reach new goals.  I love reading about other runners setting goals and working hard to achieve them. Its a bit contagious.  Running reminds that my goals are attainable.  The miles run each day bring inspiration and the tough workouts motivate me to push through any obstacles.

 “Love yourself, for who and what you are; protect your dream and develop your talent to the fullest extent.” – Joan Benoit Samuelson

How has running changed or improved your life?  

Be sure to check out the other blog posts today from some awesome runner/bloggers over at Friday Five Link Up! 

 

 

 

 

Friday Five: Five Training Goals

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Run Strong, Run Swift, Run with the Wind

Thank Goodness It’s Friday!!!  I am linking up with Mar Courtney and Cynthia for the Friday Five Link Up  

Training Lately and 5 Goals for Training:  

This past fall I had some strong races and even 2 new PRs in the 5k and 10 mile races.  In terms of training for specific races, I just try to stay at a certain level of fitness for races distances up to the half marathon distance.  I haven’t ever really focused on specifics during any given training cycle.

Last spring I received my RRCA coaching certification and learned a ton of information in regards to training cycles and building plans.  I want to focus more this year on building my own training cycles before I really start working with other runners. Kind along the lines of “practice what you preach” 🙂

Five Goals for Training:

  • Aerobic training in the first 4 weeks of a 12 week training cycle.  Build up that base mileage, increase muscular endurance, increase levels of oxygen and increase the ability to efficiently use levels of oxygen– Steady Runs of 6-8 4x a week, with a long run of ten to 12 once a week.
  • Consistency each week with running at an easy pace, focusing on the miles, not the speed.  I have to admit that I sometimes have to leave all tracking devices at home and just run familiar routes by effort.  I have a tendency to push too hard on the pace when I see it on my Garmin watch or RunKeeper App!
  • Core and Strength training- On my easy mile nights ( 3-4 miles) I am incorporating 30 minutes of essential strength exercises for runners  and yoga to improve flexibility and loosen tight muscles-specifically my hips!
  • Nutrition-  Focusing on hydration, eating foods that will fuel my body, and help with muscle recovery after tough workouts.  I eat a ton of eggs, fish from my favorite company Sizzle Fish , hearty and nutritious grains such as brown rice and quinoa, as wells as a variety of beans.
  • Keeping a Journal: Taking the time to write down my thoughts and reflections on what’s working with this more focused approach.  Being able to pin point the high and lows of each week within the training cycle.  The ability to see when to adjust and be flexible with training and fitting it in to life’s daily challenges.

What goals do you focus on during any given training cycle?  Do you find your training lacking in a certain area?  

Happy Earth Day!!  Don’t forget to check out the other link ups for the Friday Five with Mar, Courtney and Cynthia!

 

Friday Five: Nutrition and Fueling Finds

West to East, Strawberries and Raspberries are in Season

West to East, Strawberries and Raspberries are in Season

Lately,  I have been more focused on nutrition and fueling to keep my body healthy and energized.  As my mileage increases and race season heats up, I find that I need to add in more foods and other products to aid in energy, hydration and recovery.  A few weeks ago, during a run, I felt tired and sluggish despite getting enough sleep.  I took a few days off and reevaluated my nutritional choices.  An increase in protein from fish and plant-based resources, along with supplements and proper hydration had me feeling 100% better and ready to tackle my weekly workouts.

I am linking up with Courtney, Cynthia and Mar for the Friday Five and the topic is food and drink.  I am sharing my current food and hydration options that keep my energized and hydrated!  Some products are “new to me”, while others are regular staples in my pantry!

Link Up with the Friday Five Bloggers

Link Up with the Friday Five Bloggers

 

  1. My favorite hydration mix!  Skratch Labs has this warming Apples and Cinnamon Flavor that is perfect for cold mornings and full of electrolytes!  I enjoy warming my body from the inside out on these chilly spring mornings!
  2. Energy Bits for Energy and Recovery  I started adding this product back into my weekly nutrition routine before and after speedy tempos and long runs.  I have a difference in my performance and muscle recovery.  The only downside is expense and suggested quantity.  It’s a really high quality product, so I am trying to work orders of this product back into my monthly budget.
  3. Organic Protein Powder  I have to admit, I do not love protein powders.  However, this is a “new to me” product.  SoTru Organic Fermented Whole Food protein powder in the Vanilla flavor is yummy!  There is no yucky aftertaste, in my opinion, and I love creating my own cold, creamy morning Frappuccinos with this protein powder-almond milk, frozen bananas, almond butter and cold brew coffee!
  4. Muesli Squares for Snacking  I am a snacker!  Throughout the day, if I don’t have a snack with quality ingredients that I are going to leave me satisfied, then I have a bad habit of reaching for those bags of salty chips!  These bars are filling, full of nutritional ingredients and fill me up!
  5. From West to East-Strawberries and Raspberries are in Season!  My absolute favorite fruit is in season right now from California and Florida.  I love strawberries and raspberries!!  So many nutritional benefits from strawberries!  Strawberries are my cool, sweet “go-to-snack” and raspberries are just as yummy!  So many recipes and ways to use these two yummy summer fruits!

 

What is your favorite summer fruit?  What are your favorite snacks to get you through the day?  

 

Link up with Cynthia Mar and Courtney for the FRIDAY FIVE!