Tag Archives: Blogging

5 Healthy Tips for the New Year

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Fit and Healthy- These are the two goals I am striving to maintain this year.  Fit and healthy will lead to stronger and sustainable running.  Ultimately, running is something that I want to continue doing well into my 50s and beyond!  Prioritizing what works for my health will help me reach my goals as a runner.

5 Fit and Healthy Tips

  1.  Yoga is a great way to improve balance, flexibility and strength!  Run. Run, Run,-Why can’t I just run and run?!  Over the years, I have come to realize, through minor injuries and set backs, that I must incorporate various fitness activities into my running routine.  Yoga is something that I can do at home or at a studio.
  • I recently had a chance to take a Yin Yoga Class  at the Freeport Yoga Company I learned that this type of yoga promotes stimulation of the connective tissues or fascia in our bodies.  As we age, it is important to maintain flexibility of the connective tissue by practicing deep stretches and staying hydrating!

2. Eat More Fish!  This is a great  protein to support health and recovery of muscles! Fish is a great source of Omega3s, vital to the health of runners!  I recently read this article on the many benefits of eating more fish, which include improved joint health and anti-inflammatory properties!

  • I have incorporated more fish into my weekly, monthly diet by taking advantage of this great seafood delivery service for more than two years now!  Salmon, cod, and haddock are three of my faves!  This company delivers conveniently, individually frozen fish to your door!  In less than 30 minute I am able to prepare a meal with Omega3 rich fish!  Try out SizzleFish today!!

3.  Food Prep- Okay, this may seem simple and basic and it really is, but taking the time to prepare food from scratch can have huge benefits on your health!  Cut out the prepackaged, processed junk and focus on just eating real food!

Tips for Food Prep!  Freezer bags are your friend!!

  • soak, cook and freeze various types of beans!
  • Prepare, bake and freeze healthy muffins!
  • Rice and quinoa also freeze well!
  • Stock up on recipes for Overnight Oats for breakfast and Hearty Soups for lunch and supper!
  • Capitalize on seasonal produce and roast fall veggies to toss in the fridge!
  • One of my older posts on Meal Prep/Planning Found Here

4. Invest In Your Health-Get your Blood Work Analyzed! Twice this year, I gotten a thorough blood work analysis through Inside Tracker a company that helps athletes dig deeper into their health through analyzing a number of key biomarkers in their blood!  The tests offer a more in-depth look at what our bodies need, as oppose to the basic, sometimes vague blood work done at a general practitioner’s office.  I wrote about my previous blood work analysis here

  • Optimizing nutritional needs based on results
  • Adjusting workouts and training to better meet the needs of our bodies
  • Takes the guess work out of what foods to eat and which supplements are necessary for our body’s best performance!
  • The Inside Tracker Dashboard can guide you in setting goals for your health and training!

5. Mental Health– Just as important as physical health!  This coming year, I am taking a “step back” each day/night from all the stresses of the day.  It is important to incorporate ways to relax and de-stress! Remember to find time for quiet peace, clarity and reflection.

  • Turn off the tv, cell phones and social media for some time each day
  • Keep a written journal and write to unwind and reflect
  • Celebrate the little things each day that bring you joy!  Remember to just breathe and exhale!

Cheers to a Fit and Healthy New Year!!  Find Ways to be your best self! -MaineGirl2RUNS

What are your fit and healthy tips?  Would love to hear your tips!

Running and Life: New Year, New Chapter

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This year I choose to . . . 

  • Reflect– If we are willing to stop, analyze and reflect on where we have been, then we can use those moments to gain perspective and move forward.  Reflect on what went right, but also be open to opportunities to adjust or change things that didn’t work.  Our ability to reflect allows for an innate awareness of ourselves that will lead to personal growth in running and life. Each day, week, and month, setting aside time to reflect and learn from ourselves.

“A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you.”
Tahir Shah, In Search of King Solomon’s Mines

  • Celebrate–  Be good to yourself.  Stop and celebrate the small achievements, instead of waiting for what you think might be the biggest achievement.  Celebrate the tiny steps that we take each day to change and improve in running and life.  These moments are far too often overlooked because they mean seem small or insignificant.  It’s refreshing to celebrate each step in the direction we take to train hard, race strong, and live life well.  Encourage and celebrate the achievements and success of others.  There is unmistakable power and strength when we celebrate not only ourselves, but others around us.

 

  • Aspire- Each new year is another chapter in this book of life.  The pages are blank, waiting to be filled with new hopes, dreams and adventures.  We have this great big opportunity to set new goals, goals that will make us stronger, more capable and confident.  Our goals don’t have to be huge, lofty out of reach goals, just focus on the series of steps that will bring us closer to empowerment and success in running and life.  Our goals should give us pride and accomplishment upon achieving that goal.

Discover a purpose that gives you passion. Develop a plan that makes you persistent. Design a preparation and motivates you to optimize your potentials. Do it because you love it!”
Israelmore Ayivor, Dream Big!: See Your Bigger Picture!

  • Endure- Strength is born from enduring the tough moments. Being persistent is following our heart, our dreams and goals.  From endurance comes fortitude and resilience.  As we endure the hard training, early or late evening runs and all those tough moments in between of “fitting it all in” , we are rewarded with that feeling of accomplishment that is so freeing and empowering.  Endure the hard days, those times when we must find the strength to push ourselves when faced with challenges that test our will.  Believe in yourself and your ability to find strengths hidden deep within the uncomfortable moments of our lives.

“Craving for the top of the mountain is a feeling to yearn for, an endurance we learn from.”
Goitsemang Mvula

Happy New Year!  What will be next for you in  this new chapter!

I’m excited to continue to connecting and sharing in this journey of running and life!- MaineGirl2Runs 

Inside Tracker-Taking Charge of My Health

Excited to have a needle stuck in my vein and blood drawn?!  Of course, my mom and husband would have thought I was crazy to want to have my blood drawn.  I absolutely hated anything to do with needles growing up.  I guess that is why always avoided any procedures at the doctors office involving needles,  if it wasn’t absolutely necessary!

Well, with age comes wisdom and insight.  You grow up a bit and realize that some things are necessary in life to continue to do the things you love to do.  One of those things in life is running.  Running is something I want to be able to continue doing late into my life. as long as possible.  Running has taught me to be more attune with my body’s needs mentally and physically.  My desire to perform, as an athlete,  at my healthiest, strongest and most capable level is what lead me to seek more information and insight into my health.

Back in June of 2016, I decided to try out InsideTracker for the first time. I was so excited when ,Jonathan Levitt  a team member at Inside Tracker,  reached out to me!   With a discount, I was given the opportunity to have the Ultimate Blood Analysis Test, plus Inner Age  performed.  Inside Tracker is a company that will work with you to  “optimize your body’s performance through Sophisticated, science-based blood analytics.”  It did require that I get several vials of blood drawn!  Yikes!  I was nervous about the blood draw! The nurse technicians at Quest Diagnostic Lab in Annapolis, MD were awesome!  I never felt a thing!  Having my blood drawn and this test performed was one of the greatest things I have done for my health!  The results were available within a week!  You can read about my first round of results Here and Here

Changes in Training and Nutrition lead me to one of my most tough, but rewarding training seasons!  

Through the summer and fall, I made changes to my nutrition and training needs.  One of the great benefits of using Inside Tracker, is the instant results, feedback and recommendations that are specific to your blood work analysis! I felt stronger, healthier and mentally fit!  I knew that I was taking charge of my health and in the process optimizing my training and overall health!

Improvement from June to November!  As I finished up with a long training cycle, including four half marathons between July and mid November, I knew that I wanted to retest with Inside tracker to see which Bio Markers had improved and which ones still needed work. Six months after my first test, I retested again-using the Ultimate Blood Analysis Plan  I love the Inside Tracker website because you get reports, graphs and detailed analysis of your blood work!   

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Improvements were made and in big part, by following the nutrition recommendations and guidelines that are provided with the blood work results!  

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On the Inside Tracker website, you can customize and tailor your goals for nutrition and training.  I love that I can create goals and be alerted on a weekly, monthly basis.

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Choose Your Goals! 

Focusing on just a few key goals has helped me improve my health and performance.  The guess work that comes with trying to figure out what and how much of a supplement or food my body needs was no longer and issue!  With Inside Tracker, I am able zero in on exactly what my body needs!  My biggest goal is boosting my energy  by improving my glucose and ferritin levels. 

Choosing foods that help me reach my nutrition goals, as outlined in my Inside Tracker Results, will lead to a stronger, healthier body that can reach its full potential as a runner and bring better overall health!

Breakfast- each morning I start with a hearty bowl of steelcut oats, arugula and organic eggs-my favorite company and brand Pete and Gerry’s Eggs as well as the Carol’s Eggs Brand from New Hampshire!  My friend Sandra’s family owned company!

Supper- Two years ago, I began ordering Omega3 filled fish and seafood, online, from sizzlefish a company that offers superior quality fish delivered right to your door on dry ice!  This is a must try company!  I love having my freezer stocked with fish!  At supper, I also include Kamut-ancient grain to increase my iron levels.

Supplements- Since reviewing my blood work analysis results, I was able to pinpoint which supplements I truly need to add to my nutrition routine.  I will focus on taking a vitamin D supplement, along with berberine and plant sterols to improve my ferritin, iron and vitamin D levels. I customize and order vitamins from Vita Five

Updated Blood Work Results- Having these updated blood work results will allow me to focus on what my body needs in regards to training and nutrition.  I feel in control and proactive with my health, not only as a runner, but just a woman in her early forties just trying to maximize her overall health and wellness.  The results from Inside Tracker give me valuable information to use a part of my conversation about my health with my physician.  As I gear up for a new training cycle for early spring half marathons, I feel excited that I have taken charge of my health!  Digging deeper into my health through blood work analysis is so beneficial! 

What are you doing to optimize your health and performance?  Have you tried Blood Work Analysis testing with Inside Tracker? 

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?  

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?  

 

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?