My Current Motivations (and Celebrating the Mizuno Wave Rider’s 21st Birthday!)

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Mizuno.  The opinions and text are all mine.

December is often a difficult time of the year for keeping up with fitness.  Most people see their calendars more filled than usual, with holiday parties, time with family, and the time needed to prepare for various celebrations.  I also have the added stress of planning for and hosting a birthday party for my toddler this month, whose birthday is just two days before Christmas.  Needless to say, I, like most people, have a lot on my plate this month.  Just because I’m extra busy does not mean that I want to let my health and fitness go to the wayside.

So what’s currently keeping me motivated to make sure that my health and fitness remain a priority during this busy month?

1.  Making up for the time that I lost in November

If you read my December goals post last week, then you’ll recall that November was an incredibly challenging month for me.  Between stress at work, a week long migraine, and then getting sick, I lost a lot of precious time for working out.  Trying to make up for the time that I lost last month is helping push me out the door.  I really want to make December count when it comes to my fitness.

After completing a 6 mile run last Sunday

2.  The desire to reach my goals

Not only am I trying to reach my December goals, but this is also my last opportunity to work on reaching my 2017 goals.  I don’t want to feel like I’ve failed at reaching those goals, which is giving me the extra drive to really push myself this month.

3.  My next races

The next races that I will be running are the Princess Enchanted 10k and Princess Half Marathon down at Disney World at the end of February.  Even though I will be running both of these races with the only goal being to have fun, I don’t want to injure myself by not being physically prepared, especially for the half marathon.  So even though I’ve cut back on running in order to have more time for other forms of exercise, it is still important that I do maintain some running each week.

4.  Not wanting to gain weight

With the flurry of holiday activity this month, there’s lots of temptation with holiday treats and beverages while celebrating with friends and family.  Since I do want to enjoy myself, keeping up with my fitness and healthy eating during non-celebration times will help ensure that I don’t pack on any unwanted weight this month.

5.  New shoes

I always find that a new pair of running shoes helps give me that extra motivation to work out.  Last month I received a complimentary pair of the Mizuno Wave Rider 21s as a way to help celebrate the Wave Rider’s 21st birthday.  Although I am a loyal Mizuno running shoe wearer, my usual running shoe is the Wave Inspire, so I was excited when I found out that I would be receiving a pair of the Wave Riders to try out.  Unlike the Wave Inspires, which are stability shoes, the Wave Riders are neutral running shoes, meaning that they are lighter weight and provide less support than stability shoes do.

I’ve now run a couple of times in the Wave Rider 21s, and I can definitely feel the difference between them and my usual Wave Inspires, mainly when it comes to how lightweight they are.  I often feel like I am “running on air.”  From a fit standpoint, the shoe itself has a very similar structure to the Wave Inspire, and thus when I’m not running I don’t notice a difference between the two Mizuno shoes.  To me, they fit exactly the same.

Since I usually run in stability shoes, I have been a bit cautious and careful when running in these neutral shoes, but despite them being neutral shoes I still find them to be quite supportive.  I am excited to have added these to my shoe collection, and plan to continue wearing them on some of my shorter distance runs.

QOTD: What is currently motivating you to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

Posted in Motivation | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

2017 Clarendon Day Double Recap

Back in September I was at the height of my training for the Chicago Marathon.  To help break up the monotony of long runs, I tried to incorporate as many races as possible into my training plan.  I did this with Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly the day that I ran my 20 miler.  The weekend after Philly I had one last double digit run before the big marathon, and decided that running the Clarendon Day Double (5k followed by 10k), as well as a couple of extra miles would be a great way to get the miles in.

The weekend of Clarendon Day I was at the end of battling a cold.  I had also run the Dulles Day 10k on the Runway the day prior.  So not only was I not feeling 100% but I also ran the races on tired legs.  Regardless, I ran both races, crossed the finish lines, and walked away with two medals to commemorate the experience.

First up was the 5k.  The races both started in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington.  After successfully finding free street parking, I parked only about a 10 minute walk away from the start line.  Since I had picked up my bib the day prior, I just walked right up to the start line, and after a brief wait the 5k started promptly at 8:00.  It was a very low key way to start a race, but given that I wasn’t “racing” that morning, I was okay with it.

Ready to run!

Both the 5k and the 10k were net downhill races, so it was very easy to push the pace, especially at the beginning of the race.  I did my best to not let myself run too fast, and reminded myself that I still had the 10k afterwards, as well as extra miles to run in order to complete all 12 of my planned miles for the day.  Even though it was a 5k, I utilized my usual long run intervals of 4 minutes of running followed by 1 minute of walking, and crossed the 5k finish line in 32:13.

After crossing the finish line, I then had to make it back up the “Hill of Death” in Rosslyn, which you run down during each race (part of what makes these races quite speedy), and back to the start line in Clarendon.  The 10k was scheduled to start at 9:00, just one hour after the 5k started, so I had to move with a purpose to get back up the hill.

Making my way back up the incredibly steep “hill of death” in Rosslyn

1.69 miles of running and walking later, I was back at the start area, where I met up with Deborah and Mar just prior to the start of the 10k.  Deborah and I wound up running the first couple minutes of the 10k together prior to my first walk interval, which gave us a couple of minutes to catch up and talk about motherhood.

With Deborah and Mar prior to the start of the 10k

It was deja vu with the 10k, as the first half of the race is on the same route as the 5k.  So back down the hill I went, again trying to remind myself to not push my pace too fast.  The 9:00 start meant that the sun was also beating down at this point in the morning, and I definitely felt the effects of the sun given that the Clarendon course is not shaded at all.  The further that I ran, the slower that my pace became, and the more challenging that the race became.  Once again, I utilized 4:1 intervals, and crossed the 10k finish line in 1:10:14.

Post race with my medals

After collecting my medals, downing a bottle of water, and having a quick snack, I slowly started to make my way back up the hill since I had parked near the start line.  2.34 miles later of some running and lots of walking and I was back at my car.  My combined time and distance of running and walking for the morning wound up being 11.12 miles in 2:03:12 (11:04 pace), which was consistent with my long run training pace.

Overall, I was quite pleased with how I handled the double run, especially given the sun, heat, and that I was at the end of fighting a cold.  Running races is always a great way to make long training runs more fun, and I’m glad that I was able to participate in Clarendon Day again this year.

QOTD: When training for a major race, do you incorporate shorter distance races into your training?

Posted in Races | Tagged , , , , | 33 Comments

December 2017 Goals

To say that November was a difficult and challenging month for me is an understatement.  My lack of consistent blogging should be one of the first giveaways about how hard of a month it was.  Early in the month I battled a migraine that lasted for more than a week.  Not only did I have to deal with being in constant pain, but I was also nauseous on and off during that time.  After a visit with my neurologist and adding in a couple of extra visits to the chiropractor, I finally found some relief.  And then just as I was trying to gain momentum with working out again, I came down with a terrible cold that then turned into a sinus infection.  Needless to say, many of my November goals quickly went out the window given the obstacles that I faced.

1-3.  Log at least 80 miles, run at least two times per week, and strength train at least two times per week.

Grade: C

Given the circumstances that I faced last month, I’m going to be a bit easy on myself and try to not be over critical with my three fitness goals from November.  My final mileage total for the month was 47.5 miles, which has been my lowest monthly mileage for all of 2017.  Its incredible that my September total was 135 miles, and that this past month was nearly 90 miles less than that.  Such is life when you have to battle the conditions that I did.

My November miles brought my 2017 mileage total to 1,032.7 miles.  Although I have reached my original mileage goal of 1,000 miles for the year, I’m still eager to see whether I can reach my revised goal of 1,150 miles, even after last month’s setbacks.  Fingers crossed that everything works out for me in December!

4.  Find a work-life balance.

Grade: B

While I did make significant improvements in better balancing my work demands with the rest of my life, there is still room for improvement.  Everyday I try to work on this for the benefit of both my mental and physical health.

5.  Enjoy the month’s social activities.

Grade: A

At least I accomplished one goal this past month!  The highlight of last month’s social activities was Friendsgiving, which we hosted for the first time and was a huge success.

We managed to squeeze 12 adults, 5 children, and an infant into our kitchen for Friendsgiving

I’m more than ready to put last month behind me and move onto the last month of 2017.  As is the case almost every year, December is going to be a super busy and jam packed month.  But I ready to close out 2017 just as strongly as I started it.

1. Log at least 120 miles.

I know that this seems incredibly ambitious, especially after what happened in November.  However, I am incredibly motivated to reach my revised 2017 mileage goal, which I am currently 117.3 miles away from reaching.  I won’t go down without at least trying this month!

2.  Weight train at least two times per week.

It needs to happen this month, especially with all of the extra parties and social events that are on my December calendar.  Weight training will also help me to prevent injury as I ramp my mileage back up.

3.  Stay healthy and sane.

December is a super busy and super stressful month.  I need to do my best to keep myself healthy and as stress free as possible, especially if I want to enjoy all of the upcoming Christmas activities with my family.

I’m looking forward to enjoying the upcoming Christmas season with my boys!

QOTD: What are your goals for December?

Posted in Motivation | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

Why I Didn’t Reapply for Rock ‘n’ Blog

For the past three years I have been a part of the Rock ‘n’ Blog team with the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series.  My participation as a Rock ‘n’ Blogger has allowed me to participate in various races and connect with other runners both online and in person.  I was also treated to the VIP experience at Virginia Beach in 2015 and Philly in 2016 and 2017.  I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities that being a Rock ‘n’ Blogger has provided me with.  In addition to the races themselves, I was also connected with various brands, including Eagle Creek and SmartyPants Vitamins.

After crossing the finish line of Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly in 2016

The only thing that I would have changed about my Rock ‘n’ Blog experience would have been being able to travel and participate in even more races.  Unfortunately, my job as a teacher limits my travel abilities during the school year, and there aren’t many races during the summer months.  But even with not being able to participate in more races than I have, I have thoroughly enjoyed my participation as a Rock ‘n’ Blogger for the past three years.

Running through the city of love during the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half Marathon

Rock ‘n’ Blog applications for 2018 were due last week.  I went back and forth for awhile about whether or not to reapply for next year’s team.  After much debate, I decided to not reapply.  Why?

For one, my 2018 calendar is already filling up, especially for the Spring.  I have an out of town bridal shower the day of Rock ‘n’ Roll DC.  Since I’m running the Chicago Marathon again in 2018, I’ll likely have a 20+ mile run to complete the weekend of Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly.  Although I made this race a part of my 20 miler this year, I’m not sure that I want to do that again next year.  The only other “local” race left is Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach over Labor Day weekend, but I’m not ready for us to commit to traveling over the holiday weekend right now.

Another reason why I didn’t reapply is because my heart just isn’t in it at the moment.  I don’t want to commit to something just because I’ve done it before, and then feel obligated to have to fulfill responsibilities for an ambassadorship.  That makes it feel like work.  I already have a full time job, and don’t need to have more things that feel like “work” on my plate.  And because I’m trying to find a better balance in life in order to better take care of myself and my family, I’m trying to be better about prioritizing and committing to things that I really want to do.

Part of why my heart isn’t in it right now is because there were some changes made to the program over the past year.  The former head of the Rock ‘n’ Blog program has since left the company.  She was an incredible leader, who did a great job of helping to inject enthusiasm into the group, especially on the group Facebook page.  I haven’t connected with the new leader the same way I did with the old leader.  There have been some other changes made to the program, that aren’t necessarily bad, but they didn’t exist when I first applied to the program, and thus weren’t part of what drew me to the program in the first place.  In no way am I putting Rock ‘n’ Blog down, I’m just saying that the program is different than when I first joined it three years ago.

So those are the three main reasons why I didn’t reapply for 2018.  Does stepping away for next year mean that I’ll never consider applying for the team again?  Absolutely not.  But Rock ‘n’ Blog just isn’t the right fit for me for next year.

QOTD: When have you had to make the decision to step away from something that has been a part of your life but you knew that it wouldn’t continue to be a good “fit” for you?

Posted in Races | Tagged | 40 Comments

Keeping Up with Your Fitness During the Holidays

Believe it or not, the holiday season is upon us.  I’ll be kicking off the holiday season tomorrow by hosting almost 20 people at our house for Friendsgiving.  Then Thanksgiving is next week.  And then before I know it Christmas and New Year’s will also be here.

There’s no denying that this time of the year is one of the busiest periods of the entire calendar year.  There’s a flurry of activity as we each try to spend time with friends and family.  But just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you can afford to let fitness go to the wayside.  Although you may not have the time to workout for as long as you’d like to, its still important to stay active for both your physical and mental health during what can be a very stressful time of the year.

So what can you do to help make sure that continuing to exercise remains a part of your schedule during the busy holiday season?

1.  Schedule your workouts and pencil them into your calendar.  You’re more likely to exercise if you plan ahead when you’ll work out.  Even if holiday activities require you to modify your normal exercise routine and schedule, planning time for your workouts in advance will help ensure that you’re still able to get your sweat on.

2.  Recognize that any working out is better than none at all.  With a lot of extra activity going on, it might be difficult to keep up with your regular exercise schedule.  However, a shorter than usual workout is better than not being able to workout altogether.  And getting your body and mind will thank you for stepping away from the flurry of activity to focus on yourself for a short period of time.

3.  Find like minded people to help support you, and help support them.  Whether its an online challenge group or a friend of family member, there is always strength in numbers.  Finding at least one person to help hold you accountable will increase the likelihood that you’ll keep up with your workouts.

4.  If you usually work out in the afternoon and/or evening try to shift some of your workouts to the morning.  Because of work, I fall into this category, however, I also recognize that the majority of holiday events occur in the afternoons and/or evenings.  On those days, I plan to get my workout in in the morning, and then I won’t have to worry about remembering to make time for it later in the day.

5.  Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a workout.  Its bound to happen at this time of the year.  Missing a workout here and there isn’t the end of the world, and isn’t going to have a huge impact on your health overall.  Just make it a priority to not miss multiple workouts in a row.

QOTD: What tips do you have for keeping up with your fitness during the holidays?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

Looking for some more tips for staying active and healthy during the holidays?  Check out some of my previous posts for more ideas and suggestions.

Tips for Staying Motivated During the Holidays
Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays
Tips for Staying On Track During the Holidays

Posted in Motivation, Training | Tagged , , | 38 Comments

Finding a Healthy Life Balance

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, my presence here on the blog is far from what it used to be.  Less than two years ago, I was able to keep up with writing and responding to five blog posts per week.  That was pre-child.  Since little man was born, I’ve tried my best to keep up with three blog posts per week.  Most of the time when he was an infant I was able to keep up, but as he’s gotten older and more active, its become increasingly difficult to find enough time for it, especially while also balancing the demands of being a full time teacher and a wife to my husband.

I have found it even more difficult since the start of this school year to keep up with my blogging.  Part of my responsibilities as a teacher includes teaching an Advanced Placement course, which adds to the amount of time that it takes for me to grade assignments.  This is my tenth year teaching, my fifth teaching AP, and this school year for multiple reasons has been more taxing on me than recent years have been.  I leave work more mentally and physically exhausted than I have for the past couple of years.

As of this semester my husband is also in grad school, which has added more responsibility for little man to my plate.  While I love my son, the amount of time and effort that it takes to chase an almost two year old around makes for one exhausted mommy, especially on the nights when its just myself and little man.

I love this kid, but boy does he exhaust me!

The point of all this rambling is that something has needed to give.  One of my goals for November is to find a better life-work balance.  Despite my best efforts and intentions, I cannot do everything.  One thing that I think will help me find a more healthy life balance is to eliminate the pressure on myself for routine blogging.  I am so incredibly thankful for all of the opportunities that this blog has afforded me, especially the networking and people that I have connected with online.  However, as many of you know, blogging takes a lot of time and work, and time is something that I just don’t have a lot of right now.  I think that eliminating the pressure to blog X number of times per week will help me right now.  I know that this goes against all of the advice that I have provided about growing a blog, but focusing on your own needs is sometimes more important.

Blogging used to be one of the things that I looked forward to most each day, but often times now I see it as a chore.  Many evenings after getting little man to bed I would much rather go to bed myself instead of sitting down at the computer to write.  It has caused me to get behind on many scheduled blog posts.  Last week I finally wrote one of my September race recaps, and I still have another one to write.  I have a couple of product reviews that are currently sitting on my calendar, but I keep pushing the date back on because I just don’t have it in me to focus on writing them.  I’m hopeful that if I eliminate the pressure on myself that I need to blog X number of times per week that I’ll eventually find the joy in blogging again that I once had.  Right now it feels more like work than anything else.

Is cutting back on blogging going to instantly make finding a healthier life balance possible?  Of course not.  But I think that for me at this point it will certainly help.  This rambling is far from a “I’m leaving blogging entirely” but more so putting down in words how I’ve been feeling.  And now that its in writing, I almost feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  I have felt so guilty about not blogging regularly, but hopefully I’ll start to see that guilt fade away now.

QOTD: How do you find a healthy life balance?

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , | 37 Comments

2017 Dulles Day 10k on the Runway Recap

Back in September, our family participated in the Dulles Day races.  Having previously run the 5k in 2013 and 2015, and the 10k in 2014, I knew that this was a fun and exciting race for people of all ages.  Since airplanes are not only visible from the race course, but an airplane is also pulled out and right on the course itself, I figured that this would be a fun race for little man to “participate” in since strollers were allowed on the course.

The course itself was on one of the runways at Dulles airport.  Race courses can’t get much flatter, and thus faster, than that!  Given that I was at the height of marathon training, I opted to run the 10k, while my husband opted to run the 5k.  He wound up being the one to run the race while pushing the BOB stroller, and thus, took little man along for the ride with him.  And like I had predicted, he had a blast out on the runway seeing all of the airplanes.

Photo Credit: PR Races

The 5k started ten minutes before the 10k did, so I saw them off before I lined up for the start of my own race.  Since my pace had slowed down a bit due to marathon training, my goal at Dulles Day wasn’t to PR, but was simply to have fun while out for a 6.2 mile run.  And that’s exactly what I did, I had fun.

Just past the start line
Photo Credit: PR Races

The runway was actually harder to run on that I had remembered it being.  It was super sticky from the melted rubber from the airplane tires, and the sun beat down on us runner that morning.  Its a good thing that I wasn’t trying to PR, because I would have been incredibly frustrated and disappointed if I had been.

The race started on a service road just off of the runway, behind the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles.  Less than a mile into the course we were on the runway, and just past the one mile mark ran past a full size jet.  It always amazes me how large airplanes really are, and how science allows for them to work the way that they do!

Splits for Miles 1-2:
10:01, 10:10

The further that I ran along the course, the more that I felt the impact of running without any shade on black tarmac.  I wound up running slower than I would have liked to given how flat the course was, but I reminded myself that not every run is meant to be a speedy one.  So instead of getting frustrated by my pace I focused on enjoying the thrill of running on the runway and took lots of pictures.  I mean, how many people can say that they’ve run on an airport runway?

Split for Miles 3-4:
10:11, 11:08

The closer that I got back to the start/finish line, the more that I tried to push myself.  I tried my best to make up for the couple second stops that I had made during the race to take pictures, and just before the finish line I saw my husband and son cheering me on.

Nearing the finish line
Photo Credit: PR Races

Splits for Miles 5-6.28:
10:36, 10:33, 2:48 (last 0.28 miles)

I crossed the finish line at 1:06:15 (10:41 pace).  This was about seven minutes slower than my current 10k PR, but was “fast” for a marathon training long run.  Given that it was on the faster side of my long run paces, I was quite pleased with my finish time.  Sure, it would have been nice to PR given how flat the course was, but not every race is meant to be run with a PR goal in mind.  More importantly, my husband and son were at the finish line cheering me on, and my son had a huge smile on his face when he saw me.  That smile was priceless, and it was clear that he was quite happy to see me, as well as proud of me.

Post race with my boys and our medals

Thanks again Dulles Day for hosting another fun race.  I’ll be back again in the future!

QOTD: Do you try to PR at every race, or do you run some races just “for fun”?

Posted in Races | Tagged , | 33 Comments

November 2017 Goals

I’ll be honest, I completely forgot about most of my October goals about halfway through the month.  As I sat down last night to write this post, and pulled up my October goals, I could barely remember writing them.  That just tells you how crazy, stressful, and busy the month of October was.

1.  Log at least 75 miles.

Grade: A

My October mileage total was 72.7 miles.  I hate seeing just how close I was to fully reaching my goal, but I also keep reminding myself that I cut way back on exercising after the marathon and just in the past two weeks have started ramping my exercise back up.

My October miles brought my 2017 mileage total to 985.2 miles.  That means I am just 14.8 miles away from reaching my initial 1,000 mile goal for 2017!  However, you may recall that in early October I increased my 2017 goal to 1,150 miles, which means that I have a very manageable 164.8 miles to log in order to reach my updated goal for the year.  I’m confident that I can do it.

2.  Run my first marathon.

Grade: A

I ran Chicago, crossed the finish line, and officially became a marathoner!

3.  Foam roll, foam roll, foam roll.

Grade: C

Although I did some foam rolling, I should have done more than I did.  Foam rolling is one of those necessary evils, and even though my foam roller is in my bedroom and is very easily accessible, I need to be better about doing it more often.

4.  Listen to my body.

Grade: A

I think I’ve done a really good job of listening to my body post marathon.  After taking a week off from exercising after Chicago, I have been slowly easing back into a fitness routine.  I’ve only run three times since the race (once per week), and have been enjoying being able to dedicate more time and energy to cross and strength training.

5.  Don’t push myself too hard.

Grade: A

Even if I had wanted to do more exercise than I have over the past three weeks, work stress and things at home have dictated otherwise.  So while I have been physically resting, my brain has been going nonstop.

Now that I have recovered from the Chicago Marathon, I’m working on getting back into a regular fitness routine again.  Although I’m not currently running 3+ times per week, I am trying to exercise at least 4-5 days per week.  With only two months left in 2017, I’m very ambitious about finishing the year out just as strongly as I started it.

1.  Log at least 80 miles.

This is just under half of the miles that I need to log into order to reach 1,150 miles for the year.  I know that with hard work, focus, and determination that I can do it, even with having cut back on running.

2.  Run at least two times per week.

Since the marathon I have only been running once per week, but with the Princess Half Marathon coming up in February I need to start running more miles than I currently am.  I will be running this race purely for fun, and still am not sure when I will officially start “training” for it, but until that happens I do want to make sure that I maintain a strong running base.

3.  Strength train at least two times per week.

Now that I am not training for a major race, part of my fitness shift has been on spending more time on strength training.  This was one of the things that I failed to keep up with during marathon training, particularly at the end, and I know how incredibly important it is, especially for helping to prevent injury.

4.  Find a work-life balance.

Between meetings, professional development, and end of the quarter craziness, work has just been nuts for the past two weeks, and at times it feels like it has taken over my life.  Yesterday I made a point of pointing my work down and spending an hour at the gym to take a mental and physical break from the stress.  I know how important it is to try and find a balance with everything, and I need to make this a priority this month.

5.  Enjoy the month’s social activities.

As part of finding a work-life balance I need to make sure that I take the time to enjoy the social activities that we have planned for the month.  I am especially looking forward to hosting Friendsgiving this year.  Its going to take a lot of time, work, and energy to get ready for it, but I cannot wait to enjoy an afternoon and evening with friends celebrating all that we have to be thankful for.

QOTD: What are your goals for November?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

Posted in Motivation | Tagged , , , , | 46 Comments

I’ll Be Back in 2018!!!

Since crossing the Chicago Marathon finish line three weeks ago, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting.  While some of that reflecting has been about what worked and what didn’t work during both my preparation for running my first marathon, as well as the day of the race itself, I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about when and where I will run my second marathon.  After a lot of thinking, some soul searching, as well as talking with family and a couple of friends, I’ve decided that I’ll be returning to Chicago again in 2018, once again running with Team Ronald McDonald House Charities!

I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to run with Team RMHC again.  Running this year’s Chicago Marathon with the team made my marathon training and racing a very powerful and meaningful experience.  I feel like my work with RMHC isn’t done and that I’ve been called back to run with the team again next year.  And just like this year, I’ll once again be running in memory of my childhood friend Tammy, who during her four year battle with cancer stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Memphis during her treatment at St. Jude.

Once again, I will be running Chicago in memory of one of my childhood friends, Tammy, who is third from the left.

Despite my own physical struggles the day of the race, the Chicago Marathon itself is an incredible experience.  From a runner’s standpoint, the race logistics seem almost flawless.  The crowd support along the course is like something that I’ve never experienced before.  Even in the back half of the course, which is away from the heart of downtown Chicago, there were still some spectators cheering runners on.

The Charity Block Party at mile 14 of this year’s race

Logistically, early fall is the ideal time for me to run a marathon.  Not only does it allow for me to do the bulk of my training during summer break when I don’t have the same level of work responsibilities to also balance in addition to being a mom and a wife, but the timing of the race itself fits really well with my school calendar.  Race weekend is far enough into the school year that the initial beginning of the school year craziness has died down, but is also early enough before the end of the first quarter at the end of October/beginning of November when end of the quarter stress kicks into high gear.

The Chicago Marathon also gives my husband, son, and I a perfect excuse to spend a long weekend with family.  My parents and sisters live just two hours south of Chicago, and it was wonderful to spend some quality family time together in Chicago this year.  We’re all already looking forward to doing the same again in 2018.

Once again, I cannot thank all of you enough for your support in my running the Chicago Marathon this year, and I thank you in advance for your support for next year’s race.  I would greatly appreciate any and all donations made to RMHC on my behalf.  Please consider visiting my fundraising page.  $25 can pay for dinner for a family, and $80 covers the cost of a room for one night.  No donation is too small.

I had nothing but an incredible experience running with Team RMHC this year and cannot wait to run with the team again in 2018!

QOTD: How do you make your running a meaningful experience?

I’m linking up with Deb for the Race Linkup.  Be sure to also check out her post for more race ideas.

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What I Learned from Training for and Running My First Marathon

Since crossing the Chicago Marathon finish line almost three weeks ago, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on what went well, as well as what didn’t, in preparing for as well as running my first marathon.

1.  Marathon training is hard, especially during the summer when the heat and humidity provide an additional challenge to what is an already taxing task.  It is both physically and mentally demanding, and it requires a lot of adjustment to your personal calendar, especially on the weekends when you hit the high mileage long runs.

There were several times over the summer when I questioned my sanity about running in the heat and humidity. Thankfully, all of that hard work helped me on race day.

2.  Training for and running an early fall marathon works best for me.  Marathon training takes up a lot of time, and being able to do the bulk of it during the summer when I am not at school helped significantly with being able to balance training and spending time with my family.  Not being “in training” when I hit one of the high stress points of the school year (which I’m currently in right now) was also incredibly helpful.  So although summer marathon training is certainly a physical challenge, it works best for my family and I.

Training during the summer also means that little man and I get to spend a lot of quality time outside together. Thank goodness he loves going for runs and walks in the stroller!

3.  Its okay to miss a workout or two.  Although I completed almost every planned run during my 18 weeks of marathon training, there were times when either because I was sick, little man was sick, or my body was physically exhausted that I decided that it was best to skip a planned run.  There were also times when my schedule during a particular week didn’t allow me to complete all of my planned cross training and/or strength training.  In the long run, missing a workout here and there didn’t have a major impact on my training overall, and sometimes things other than working out needed to take priority.  Although I always feel guilty about missing a planned run or trip to the gym, I know that listening to my body is incredibly important, as is balancing my training with the needs of my family.

4.  Don’t do things differently on race day that I haven’t been doing during training.  Looking back on race day, and the indigestion that I battled during the race itself, there were two big errors that I made.  The first one was eating a heavier breakfast before the race than I did the mornings of my long runs during training.  I was incredibly worried about not having enough energy to complete the race that I ate more than my body was used to.  I have no idea if this was part of the cause of my indigestion, but I know better than to have fueled differently on race morning than I am used to.  The second thing that I did differently was to drink Gatorade at almost every water station along the course.  Although I do drink electrolytes while training, I usually only drink them post run, and only drink water while I’m actually running.  But since I was worried about the heat on race day, and again having enough energy for all 26.2 miles, I drank a small cup of Gatorade at almost all of the 20 water stations along the course.  The next time that I train I need to try drinking some electrolytes during my long runs, which will help me to determine whether or not this was part of what contributed to my tummy issues during the race.

Receiving some much needed fruit snacks from my husband at mile 21 of the race. Fruit snacks wound up being a saving grace during the race.

5.  Running a marathon deserved to be celebrated, no matter how the race goes.  Although I was initially disappointed when I crossed the finish line because I hadn’t run the race that I had hoped to run, I pushed through the challenges that I faced and still ran a marathon.  I had pushed through and didn’t give up, and after some initial disappointment turned to focusing on celebrating my accomplishment.  After all, I ran 26.2 miles.

Celebrating at dinner the evening of the race

QOTD: What lessons have you learned from your training and/or racing?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

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