Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I (Sadly) did NOT run Hood to Coast - sigh :(

So if other bloggers are as excited creepy as me you have been stalking bloggers websites that ran Hood to Coast this weekend with Nuun.  In fact, in order to prepare for this I spent the last two work out sessions watching the Hood to Coast DVD and crying my eyes out (note: it is perfectly ok to run and elliptical while crying, it is motivating no?).  So after a lot of blog reading and movie watching, I am officially OBSESSED with the idea of relays and NEED to do one (seriously, life depends on this one)!!!

Ok, confession time, I have never run a relay. In fact, even worse, I gave up my spot on a relay last year for a number of reasons.  If I am being honest, I kind of whimped out - I was really nervous about my neck which has been really painful for the past year and what running all night and being in a van would do to it and I was also pretty injured from trying to run back to back (but don't worry, I did not leave them with no one, they had a back up, so I do not feel that bad).  But now, looking back on it, I wished I had sucked it up (although it was probably the right decision at the time).  At this point however, I want to experience the amazing, awesomeness that comes from running a relay.  In fact, I officially have relay fever and have never even gotten off the ground on this so to speak.

So now what?!? Well, clearly I NEED, MUST, WANT to run one of these puppies. And not just with anyone of course I would love to run with  you fellow bloggers. But I have no idea about which relays are the good, the bad, and the ugly (maybe the ugly are the best ones though, lol, you never know!) Can you all help?  What relay do I choose?

Now there are things to consider about choosing a relay.  First off, October, November, and December are pretty packed right now. Marines Corps is on the horizon as well as an 18 miler run on LBI, and Vegas Half - plus I hope to be spectating with some fine ladies at the New York Marathon and running some miles during the Philly Marathon!! Soo yes, not only do I have relay fever, I clearly can't get enough of marathons. P.S. let me know if you will be at any of these and need spectating support, running support, or want to meet up! I am always game.

Looking at the calendar, my guess is a relay chance won't come up again until next Spring? I don't even know when these relays are but I am pretty sure they are not in the winter, logistics wise, unless they are somewhere warmer than the things to consider when you make recommendations.

But once you have thoughts on what to choose as the relay of choice, let me know, would you run it? I am apparently going to need 11 teammates here...Come on all, I know you all have relay fever too!!!

PS How do I get my hands on awesome Team Sparkle skirts to run in (ok I know I am totally a relay groupie/junkie. Whatever. I am PROUD of it lol)

Reality Check

Yesterday, I spoke about how it is has taken me a year, if not years to get to this point where I am actually training for a marathon! I know for  many of you this is old hat, but for me it is a pretty BIG deal.  And so Monday morning I got a little bit of a huge reality check.  I sat down with the PT/Coach to iron out the details and really get this ball rolling for training.

His remark, “Now you are really going to work, not that you have not been working so far but now you are really going to WORK!” 

He wrote up my schedule from now until pretty much taper time, my reaction oooh F**K I am really going to run a marathon.  This only further hit home when I realized 15 miles are on tap for this weekend.  Luckily, I will hopefully be getting to run it with some wonderful ladies in an exchange sort of way in which I run some miles with some people and other miles with others, because apparently I have gotten to the point when one of my runs can equal two runs!  Ooo, gosh what have I gotten myself into?!?!? Actually, I can't be more excited, but if I am being completely honest also extremely scared and nervous as well, but BRING IT ON!

Looking at my schedule for the next few weeks, it is chuck full of marathon training.  When the coach handed me the schedule, I was like where are the rest days, his remark, there are SOME rest days in there…uhh...compared to my 1-2 day a week rest day schedule this looks jammed pack.  I worry about what seems like lack of rest days but I trust him completely and will go with the flow.  On tap for yesterday was 15 mins elliptical all out, 1 mile run, and 15 mins elliptical.  I have to say I rocked it (not to be bashful or anything) in my new home personal gym while watching Hood to Coast (maybe a hard-core inspirational movie that makes you cry during a workout is just what I need to be inspired) coming in with my fastest mile yet – 6:49!!  I am not sure whether I am more excited about the time or the fact that I am now the proud owner of an elliptical and a treadmill (and this treadmill is crazy amazing, and deserves its own post)!

Tomorrow 4 mile repeats.  It has been a while, actually never, since I have done these, any suggestions on where you all like to do mile repeats – treadmill, track, on the open road?  Part of me thinks treadmill because it forces me to maintain speed and is crazy convenient and has built in iPod capabilities and an awesome fan that actually works!  But the track also seems to make sense too plus I have to enjoy the potential fall weather while I can!  Treadmill?

While I am on the advice track, I got my next CSA share (which I never talk about on here but that is neither here nor there) and we have tons of great veggies especially eggplant my favorite.  I am trying to think of new recipes for eggplant besides grilled veggie sandwiches and parmesan, any good ones out there?

Finally, with 15 for this weekend I am sooo nervous about carrying the things I need – water, band aides (necessity) and chomps.  I can’t carry thinks in my hands or on back because of my shoulders and the belt just seems like it would be annoying and cause back pain..Any thoughts/opinions?

Ok, short and sweet post for today lovelies.  Tell me how your training is going and if you are psyched or actually very scared for your races!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

If you told me last year on this day, that I would be where I am today, I would not believe you.  In fact, I would pretty much laugh at you.  But here I am and in comparison to a year ago, today I am more alive, happier and healthier than I have been in a long time!

I have thought about many ways to go with this post but we are going to go with the blog vagueness and keep you all guessing (but do you really care that much?!?) What I can say is that for many reasons as of one year and a day ago I thought I was going to run Marine Corps Marathon. In fact, I had the whole training plan set and ready to go.  Then, last year today happened.  For many reasons,  I was told that I could not run my marathon. It was not my marathon and I had to give it up.  I would not listen, I did not want to hear it.  And for the first few days I still thought I could do it but it quickly became apparent that I could not.  In fact, not only could I not run my marathon, I was not allowed to work out at all.  Not one bit.  Even a small hike through the woods was questionable.    I was required to do this for 8 weeks.  8 weeks of NO exercise whatsoever, no PT, no rehab, no nothing!  Hold your gasps here!

This was an extremely difficult thing for me to accept and process at first.  It took a long time for me to accept and get to the point where I could do it. But then something miraculous happened, I did it, I accepted it.   And things got better.   I tell you all this, partly for myself (yes I am being selfish) because this is a pretty big one year milestone for me and partly for you all to give you hope because I know a lot of us out there have so many "fun" injuries and other reasons why training has to take a back seat.  Because now one year later, I am training for MY marathon.  I did what I needed to do last year and while it was hard, I am back.  And I know it seems like never ending when you are injured but you WILL get through it if you follow your treatment plan and stick to it.

In the meantime, enjoy life.  That's what I did!  All the lack of training time, became trips to see leaves, movies with the husband, fairs, shows, and shopping!!! I know it is hard to believe but when you have to, there is life without running.

So today I look back and ultimately am trying to be grateful.  Grateful that I listened. Grateful that I have supportive people in my life who coached me through lack of running.  Grateful I did what I had to do and can be here today working towards my training plan and if I can't make it and something happens I know what a wise woman once told me "there is always another race."

Thanks for listening today, I appreciate it!  And to all those injured or taking time off, try to appreciate it. It can be a happy special time if you let it and makes getting back it all the better!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Weekend of Firsts

Well, the hurricane has all but come and gone and we are not too much worse for the wear (how did everyone else weather the storm, hope everyone is ok!)....except maybe extremely tired.  I am having hard typing this post because at the late hour of 5:45 p.m. I am ready to go to bed.  So lets see what I can come up with....

A Weekend of Firsts

1) 13.1 I accomplished my first ever 13.1 on my own and for this training cycle.  Just me, myself, and my book on tape hit the road early Saturday morning.  Overall, it went pretty well.  Not perfect but I did it and was gassed at the end and could barely get myself the last two miles....totaled a 8:40 pace, maybe it was too fast?!?   Not sure if that was the right pace considering all my pace jitters but I will let it roll and hopefully the PT will have some answers for me soon!  Worst thing about the run was a fresh black toenail and I felt it the whole way.  I don't know why this one appeared when it has not been a problem before but not really sure what to do about it now.  Any advice?  

2)  Ice Bath Ok actually this is my second attempt at the ice bath and sort of my second fail.  I don't know I tried and I got a bag of ice but the water still was not cold enough! I pleaded with Aaron to bring me some more and he did, dumping half of the ice container from the freezer into my bath...yet still think that since our water does not get to cold it was not cold enough.  I guess I should not be complaining.  Any suggestions? More ice dummy, I know you are thinking it!

3)  S'mores Pie  I made a S'mores Pie for my friend's pre-wedding night party and it was amazing. Thanks Mary! Apparently it was the talk of the wedding (see below)!!  It was sooo good.  Aaron has been doing all the cooking so I have been feeling pretty bad lately and unworthy of my kitchen.  This snapped me out of it.

4)  Fell asleep at a bar  After our wedding party we went to a friend's birthday party in Boston.  Now mind you I go to bed at 9 p.m. and I have not been making that bed time lately.  So while at the bar I took a 30 min cat nap.

5) Cried on the elliptical   Yes, Hood to Coast is amazing and inspirational but it might be too much so on the elliptical

6) Slept 3 hours  I only got three hours sleep last night, thus the sleepiness

7)  Played Wedding  Ok so I have this little secret, or not so secret obsession, with weddings and my good friend got married today.  I was so honored to be able to help her get ready and wait on her like the beautiful princess she was and is.  I still think wedding planning is a second career for me, more on that later.
 Saying blessings before the ceremony

 Just married!

 Hubby treated me to the new dress, he thought to add the flower

The bride and I

Well all thats about all I can put out in something hopefully that makes logical sense.

Can't wait to hear how your weekends went!  Any advice for me, seems like I need it today!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Unanswered Questions and Luna Love

Well it is Friday, in T-minus, I don't know several hours, I will be hitting the road for my 13 mile run.  Yup 13 miles, the longest I have gone since Memorial Day and the longest i have ever gone that has not been a race.  As I reported Wednesday,  the PT/Coach did not provide me with any answers on times as of yet.  That will come next week.  And you all had wonderful thoughts on what I should do. Thanks so much.  And for tomorrow, this neurotic, Type-A runner does not really have a plan, which is not unnerving at all clearly.  I guess I am just hoping for the best, after all Coach said to do my best.  I guess I will just kind of go with it?!?  Ooo so easier said than done. But I can't really decide what the answer is so that is what I am going to do. Just go with it and from there we will see what the Coach wants to do.

So people are pretty up in arms about the hurricane, yours truly included.  I am not really too nervous but I also do not feel that you should think this is nothing. There was a major leak in our walkway which fed right into the garage and the utility room.  The project to fix it was completed today, so we are going to get to test it out and hopefully it works!!! Anyway, in preparation for the storm, I realized my biggest fear was that the power would go out and the elliptical machine would not turn on for Sunday's recovery hour. Ooo the life of a runner ;)  But seriously, if the power does go out, maybe work will be canceled?!? A girl can dream.   Wait just in .... my husband just told me that the storm is downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it gets to us here in MA, but just in case Aaron and I discussed the necessities for food - bread, peanut butter and Luna Bars.

I have not really talked about this too much but I am a little obsessed with Luna Bars.  In fact, I love them.  They are so filling and so good.  I actually can't eat them right before I work out or even an hour plus ahead of time because I get so full.  But if I fuel with them earlier than that or right after they are perfect.  I can't say enough good things about them and they are awesome for women - filled with folic acid, iron and calcium!  My current favorites are Iced Oatmeal Raisin and Blueberry Bliss but S'mores and Caramel Brownie are pretty amazing too.  I have been trying to get the guy next to me at work to try these forever.  Apparently guys don't like to try them because they say for women on the package but he was starving and there were not any other viable options.  He admitted to loving them.  Seriously? How can you not?!?

Luna was nice enough to let me try their new bars, a Mint Chocolate Chip Protein Bar, a Chocolate Coconut Bar, and Chocolate Chip one.  Luna did not really know that I am not a fan of Mint Chocolate Chip or Coconut in general but I loved the Chocolate Chip (although Blueberry and Oatmeal Raisin remain my favorite).  I was surprised to see a protein bar as I did not know they had those so it was just added fun who does not love more protein?

Anyway, ultimate point if you have never had a Luna Bar, you are missing out! You need to get on this right away.

Tell me do you have a Luna obsession too? How do you feel about running alone? 

Happy Friday, Stay Dry!

What I Can Never Tell Other Runners

Do you like how I entitled this What I Can Never Tell Other Runners when you all know that I am about to spill the beans anyway.  hah. Oh well, I am working on my catchy titles.  Anyway, thanks for your comments yesterday, I really love hearing from you and will respond!

Anyway, in response to this apparent hurricane we may or may not be getting I thought I would chime in and talk about the weather.  But not just any old thing but about specifically rain and running (this is a running blog).  Honestly, rain and I don't get along to well.  Never have - I don't like it, I don't like to drive it, I don't like when it spoils my plans, and I certainly....wait for it...don't like to run it. And here is where the confession begins, I hope you have not written me off completely now.

But I digress, I first must take you back to where my hatred for rain stems.  Apparently, it is genetic. Ff course it is genetic, when you hate something about yourself, what else can you do but blame the parents?!?  I blame my mother, sorry mom.  My mom HATES to be wet and HATES the rain.  Case in point, when I was around 10 years old we took a family trip to Niagara Falls and went on Maid of the Mist - if you have no idea what I am talking about just go watch the episode of The Office where Jim and Pam get married (ps that episode makes me cry every time I watch it, honestly I am a little teary-eyed right now just thinking about it).  But generally the Maid of the Mist is this boat ride to see the falls and feel them, you go right under them and get drenched, for goodness sake they give you a puncho!  Anyway, my mom is in a wheelchair and the Maid of the Mist is located down oh about 50 good stairs and of course the elevator was broken when we went.  My dad carried her and the wheelchair up and down those fifty steps (well, up some really nice stranger helped.  I still remember that, thanks dude!) to go on this ride and she HATED it.  She was SOOOO mad at us that we put her on this ride.  I wish I was home to post a picture of this - dad please scan and send so the world can see mom hating this ride.  Ultimately, it is clear, it is genetic, I HATE rain and mom is to blame (I love you mommy!)

So what does this have to do with running and confessions?  Well here you have it, I know many of you are hardcore runners who would run through rain, sleet, snow or the gloom of night (geez people we are not postal workers, unless of course some of you are) to get your run in and sometimes I consider myself hardcore, a drizzle I am coming, tiny rain storm no problem, flooding, see you later.  But when we get down to it, when it comes to rain, I am NOT.  I 100% hate rain, I hate being in it and I hate running it!!! And don't even get me started on snow (a story for another season).    In fact, I do everything possible to avoid having to run in the rain.  With the hurricane coming up this weekend, and I have been the best and worst of friends with me incessantly checking the weather and yelling at the screen when I do not get the desired results.  Am I the only one that does this?

So why does this all matter?  Well, a very wise girl put up a very good point - "it might rain on race day!"  My response, "it can rain on race day, what?!?!"

Like everything else in running, things are up and down. You could have a perfect run, or a shitty run. OR it can pour or it can be beautiful out.  So what is a gal to do?  As I thought about it, I realized maybe I am a bit more hardcore than I realized, because it has rained and SNOWED in FLORIDA on race days and I still get up, put my clothes on (don't you?!?), and go.  I remember that I trained hard for this, paid money for it, and people are even going to watch me do it so I can scream and yell or I can just accept it and try my best.  So ultimately, if it rains on race day I will be out there. I will moan, I will groan (no one is perfect), and I will say why me?!?!  But I trained for it so here I come.

Post Disney where it rained and snowed

 My first time to place ever and it rained!!!
Most recently, it poured but the runners were out there so, so was I!

Yet, in all out confession mode if it rains like crazy on my long run day you can find me on this baby.....that's right our gym is nearly complete check out my amazing new soon as I figure out completely how this puppy works I will be giving it a full recap.

Ooooo btw, where you wondering who was lucky to win the Stuffits?!?!  Britton is the lucky winner.  Email me lady!  And everyone else go check Britton out, she is sweet and amazing!

Do you love to run in the rain? Do you hate it?  How about snow while we are at it (what snow oh no not yet!!)  Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Needing Answers!

Thanks so much for everyone's input yesterday.  Who would have thought? Run slower to get faster.  So the update is as follows, I headed to my PT/coach today and quickly pronounced "am I suppose to be running my long runs slow, because I am not?!?!" Now my coach is kind of like this wise sage of a man who is always thinking but you don't always get a full story.  He gives you what you need and leads you on your way but it is your journey and some things you have to figure out on your own.  So I was considerably worried that he would just say keep at it.  Instead, he said something along the lines of they should be slower and then asked me to write out all my times in the last month and he would help calculate some paces. YAYYY! Answers! I am an answers girl. In law school, I always wanted the answer.  If you ever went to law school, you know this is a problem because there really is no ONE answer.  So I waited patiently eagerly for my times.  But this law school graduate should have known better.  My coach is very busy man and has all these other patients to treat, it was pretty clear there would be no times today.  I asked him what should I do for Saturday - should I go fast, slow, slow than fast?!? What, I NEED answers.  And in his wise sage like manner he told me to "do my best."  Doesn't he know that I NEED that ONE answer.  Seriously?!?! I guess I am back to the drawing board.  Again, I have to realize running like life is not always a specific plan and today, tomorrow and Saturday I am going to just to have to go with it and trust the process.

In other news,  yesterday when I was running I noticed soreness/sort of pain right below my right knee, technically the very top of my post anterior fibula - at least i think that is what it is.  I hate this part about running the decision of whether this pain is a problem or just one of those minor hiccups.  The decision was made to rock the compression socks to bed and ask the PT in the morning.  Who said "did you fall in a pothole?"  "No" I responded.  "No worries" he remarked (ok he did not say no worries, but you get the idea).  Showed me the stretch which he noted I knew and sent me on my way.  Today it has been pretty good and I just iced but the pain is back again. More stretching and more ice and socks I guess.

Any of you ever  deal with this?  A lot of times over my running career I will have those make or break injuries and sometimes just those aches and pains that go away in a few days, but it is so hard to tell which is what.  How do I know? I just want all the answers...clearly I was not meant to be a lawyer.  I guess, once again, it is a process.

Ultimately, got to run. My husband just made and cleaned up from a wonderful dinner and has offered to give me a back massage. I love you all but honestly, I pick that over writing my blog any day.  Sorry! Have a wonderful night!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Best Run of the Summer - Does that mean I have been doing it all wrong?!?!

Wednesday is the last chance for my giveaway - help your shoes and enter!

So as I alluded to in past posts, Saturday I had an amazing run with Mary from SistersRunningtheKitchen.  She had to do 16 and I had to do 11.  So the plan was for her to start and then I would meet up with her at Mile 5 and we would continue the rest of the way together.  The only problem....pace.  Isn't it always the problem?  And I don't know about you but it is pretty awful when you find out you are not the same pace as someone you really want to run with and then comes the questions can someone speed up or slow down and are you a match?  And then it gets worse if you decide it just is not going to work and you feel like a complete jerk?  Has this ever happened to anyone but me? I always try to just go with it, after all I am running for fun!!! But sometimes the paces are so different that you risk injury and that is where I have to draw the line.

Ok, that was a bit of a digression.  So anyway, Mary who is an AMAZING marathoner, who I can only hope to some day come close to, plans to do her long runs around 9:15-9:30 (i think) and I try to do 8:30s or less.  At first we thought, we would just go back and forth between times and paces but then I started asking Mary more and more about why her long runs were much slower than her goal marathon pace.  Well, folks I guess I missed the whole boat on that whole Run Slower to Get Faster idea. Like really missed this one.  Nice Steph, real nice.  I could not understand how Mary could do her long runs a minute or plus slower than her marathon pace and still achieve her goal on race day.  She voted the power was in the taper (and that and the speed work during the week).  She told me how she tried to run her first marathon training at faster speeds and come race day her body was too beat up and tired. It was not fun anymore and she was exhausted.

This, intrigued me.  So I told her I wanted to give it a go, slow and steady!  And off we went chatting about everything and anything, the miles really ticked by. I could hardly believe it when she said it was time to turn around.  At some points, I did not even realize we were going to fast and so we slowed down.  I didn't feel like I needed an extra energy shot or too much water (although a pee break would have been nice, no luck there I am not a squatter sorry, i am scared of bugs TMI?).  Anyway, by the time we finished I had had a blast! Yes I was ready to be done but I had a huge smile on my face (and I was not even tired later on in the day).  I had gone 11 miles and it was my best run since the beginning of June!!! Hey, maybe this girl has something here!  In the end, we did go back and forth in pace haha going 8:30-9:00ish back and forth without even knowing it. Mary said this was her fastest run in weeks. I felt so bad  but she promised that she felt good and ok.

So Mary pointed me in the right direction of some good reading material and I have been trying to digest it all but it is difficult. One thing that is clear according to the greats Hal Higdon and McMillian I am running my long runs WAY too fast.  In fact,  depending on what previous race time I look at I should be running an 8:50 to 9:50 pace or a 9:08 to 10:08 pace as opposed to 8:15 to 8:30 like I have been gaming for, uuhhhh oops??!?!  This weekend we did 8:47ish and I could not have been happier. Running was fun, enjoyable, and manageable.

So where to now?  Well, where else? Off to talk to the PT/Coach and see where I have gone wrong!  Please tell me I am not the only one who missed the boat on this, but probably am eeekkk

Ooo btw here is a pic of Mary and I post run - doesn't everyone look this good right after their runs?!?
Ok so maybe it was not right after the run but it was close.  Actually right after run went something like this...

Ok, so maybe not ALL of that...well..hmmm maybe, you decide..

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rest Day Blues - Relax Every Second To Train to the Top

Something very interesting happened today.  I called up my coach and he told me to take a rest day.  Honestly, I was not expecting that. I was expecting to hear my normal amount of milage for the day plus some other heavy duty lifting but instead he called for the rest day.  Then something else happened, I was sad.  Sad that I was told to stay put for the day, to do nothing but rest.  Usually I welcome the rest day.  But today, I was bewildered by my overwhelming desire to get out there. To get going.  Maybe it was that I had two rest days last week, maybe it was the fact that I am coming off of the best run of the summer on Saturday (more on that tomorrow I promise) or maybe it was because I felt like all I have done this past week is eat and feel the need to work some of it off.

The first two reasons I get.  But the third I will leave.  I have never been a big fan of just exercising because I ate too much.   I tried that once, it did not get me far.  Don't get me wrong, absolutely exercise is essential to losing weight and remaining healthy.  But I do not prescribe to the one day I eat and now I have to go running policy, that leads to no good and honestly is not the way I motivate myself to run. I run for fitness, fun, and friends and if there is any other reason in there than I need to re-examine my running.

So today I had to put on the breaks.  Realize that even though I had the most amazing run on Saturday and even though I had two rest days last week and even though I am feeling like I "should" run to burn off my breakfast, that these are not the right answers. The right answer is today is a rest day.  It is needed and it is appropriate.  If I am going to push my body and expect it to run a marathon I am going to do it for the right reasons and in the safest manner possible.  I am known for way too many injuries and I do not want to head down that road again.  So now, I am staying put. I am reminding myself all the things that I love about rest days - the ability to be in my PJs all day, to let my muscles relax, to watch tv and read blogs, and to rejuvenate and let my body ready itself.  Tomorrow is a four mile day and then in comes elliptical training and weights.  I need to be ready for that and to do that it means today is a rest day so I remember this...


R - Relax
E - Every 
   S - Second
                       T - To Train To the Top

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dude Where's My Car?

Have you checked out my giveaway?  This is a good one I promise look it up!!

So for those of you who you are stopping by for the first time, welcome!! I am so glad you did and hope you enjoy (oh yea, I love comments so let me know you were here.)  Meanwhile, just some real quick background.  My name is Stephanie and I live in MA with my husband, Aaron.  We are enjoying recovering from law school while having the time of our lives  :) :).  Oh yea, btw I like to run.  I have been running for the past few years but have just discovered the running/blogging community and how much fun it really is to run with others. My goal is to complete a marathon and have fun doing it by running with friends. So far I have had the pleasure of running with amazing people and having a great time.

Anyway, on to today's crazy update on our car situation.  So as you may know, we have been having a little car trouble.  In fact we drove our car 7 hours home and then realized ooo the transmission is shot.  RIP car.  Aaron has had that car since he started driving.  I however have had about 4 or 5 cars already, I am not sure what exactly that says about my driving but I promise I am a safe driver, really! Anyway,  the car issues continued yesterday when Mary and I from SistersRunningtheKitchen (if you don't read this blog, you really should, she is amazing as well as her sister, they both are awesome chefs and so much fun to read about)  went to find our parked car.

So we are ready to leave from our day out and we go to the parking garage which we thought we parked at to the level we thought we put the car, but it was not there.  At first, we laughed and starting going up and down the rows.  But no luck, we could not find the car.  We then began to doubt ourselves, was this really the garage we parked out maybe not?  So back down out of the garage we went as we tried to determine whether this was really the right garage. Looking around, we determined it was and decided to walk right up the ramp where the cars enter the garage and see if we could retrace our steps.  Up we went, level 2, 3, and 4.  No luck, no car.  Now we started to get worried.  We started even thinking about whether the car was stolen.  Eekk!!  So back down we went to see if we went in the wrong entrance. I thought I found the right entrance and pointed it out to Mary, she said that was the one we just came up, uhhh ooops?

At this point, I questioned to Mary whether maybe the car had actually been stolen and we considered this a true possibility.  Ooo did I mention that we did not have the ticket to the garage so we were still not even sure this was the right garage - not so smart.  The last thing we could thing to do was ask the attendant so thats what we did. We think he said something to the nature of look to your left over there.  We were so confused, we could not really understand what he said but we went to the left, and of course there was the car!  We were veryyyy confused.    But the attendant was very nice and said it happens to everyone or something of that effect.  We think that there were two sides to the parking garages and we were just on the wrong one?  I promise, I am smart.  We kept saying we went to grad school lol.  My husband was besides himself. oh dear.

Meanwhile back on the homefront we got into our car this morning and wouldn't you know it...yup, the check engine light came on and low oil.  Back to the mechanic we go....we will see what happens, oh dear!!

What did everyone do this weekend? Ever get lost in a parking garage (unfortunately I have too many times)?  Hope everyone had a great weekend

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Running Roller Coaster of Life

Many of you have posted on your experiences with running specifically how you came to be a runner.  I am not really going to tell that story today. More so, I want to talk about the running roller coaster that I constantly ride - the one that the sooner I accept the more fun I will have running and the less hard I will be on myself in general.

So what do I mean by a running roller coaster.  Like many things in life, running is a roller coaster ride, there are many ups and many downs.  One moment you are on top of the world and the next you are back down at the bottom - this can happen in a matter of moments or days.  As Dean Karnazes put it in his book RUN  with ultra-marathons "if you feel great now, just wait a moment."  I was thinking about this concept and post a lot and it seems like these past few months for me exemplify such issues.

Back in the beginning of April, I was fed up with running.  I had what I consider what was one of the worst runs in years.  It was freezing cold, my jacket was hurting my neck and my shoulders were hurting like crazy, my fingers were frozen cold.  It was NOT fun.  But I pushed myself to get outside and run because I HAD to run to train for my race.  By Mile 1.5 I was in tears.  I made it back to the car at mile 3 and broke down crying.  I was not happy, this was not what running should be.  I had had, enough.  No more I announced. No more meticulous training.  If I want to run, I will run. If I want to go to the gym, I will go to the gym and if I am too tired or if I don't want to, who cares.

After that, I found the running community - other people like me who ran (who would have thought!).  I found the blogging community.  I realized I could run for fun and with people.  So I started making running dates and enjoying myself.  And like that I was back on the upswing, chugging up to the top and landing there in June placing in a race.  And just as I was there, I fell right back down again with feet and shoe problems.  The whole summer was up and down, good days, bad days - maybe too many bad ones.  I went from slow to fast to back to slow (all relative).  I saw my times climb and plummet.  There were tears, there was screaming - I am not going to lie.  But through all of this, I have learned something.  Like life, this is just how running is.  Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down and it is what you do with it that matters.   The more I make my running social, fun and a good time the happier I am. The more I come to accept my times, my speed, my injuries, the better I feel.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am not perfect. I still care a lot (maybe more than I should) about my speed, my times, my goal to run MCM, but life is what it is and the more I realize that, the easier and better running will be.

Tomorrow I will run between 10-11 miles...maybe 12.  I will run with friends.  They may be faster or slower but we will make it work.  We will chat, we will have a good time.  Maybe my legs will feel great, maybe not.  But I am not going to worry about it.  Because in the end, I am getting out there, I am pushing towards my goal, and I am having a hell of a good time doing it :)  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Age Old Debate - the Best Pizza Place Ever

Have you checked out my awesome giveaway for Stuffitts - if you have not, you really need to!!

In the meantime, still here in NJ - if you want to find me look at the pizza places.  Since I have been here we have through three pizzas at two different places already.  My husband is a growing boy!!  But I can't even blame him, I love love love pizza.  I can pretty live off of it (my nutritionist encourages it) and there are so many varieties to choose from - NY/NJ style, home-made, flatbread, wood-oven, name it.  There is then the age old debate of which is the best pizza.  I engage in such a debate often and ultimately just conclude that everywhere is a different place whether it be at the Cape, in Boston So I had to share with you at least one experience like no others - Spirito's in Elizabeth, NJ.

Since I was a little kid, I have been going to Spirito's and this place has been around a lot longer than me.  In fact, it dates back to 1932.   And I have to say I think the waitresses have been around that long as well.  The cash register is just as old as well as their menus and waitering system.  Across the kitchen swinging doors, they have light bulbs with numbers for each bulb.  Each waitress is assigned a light bulb and it lights up when your pizza is ready.

The menu - has not changed since forever 
But it was a bit cheaper back then

Enter through the "Yes"

Don't expect credit cards here, see the original owners in the background
Check out this dude on top of the door!

And what a pizza it is.  Combine that with a garlic salad and some bread (for butter you have to bring your own) and it is pure bliss.  If you want wine or beer, they have that too but expect to have it in a small water glass.

My daddy :) :)
  So every time, I am home, needless to say we go there and order a garlic salad and two pizzas staggered (one pizza to eat there and one to take home, which hardly ever makes it the car ride).  Of course it is a bit more expensive then 1932, but my father treats us graciously. Thanks Dad!  We wanted to have pizza on Sunday when we came home and my dad trekked through a flood to get it to only find out it was closed.  Aaron, in the end, was sad but happy because he did not want to miss the whole experience of bringing your own butter, ordering a pitcher of water, sit in a cramped wooden booth, and eating as much pizza as one can handle.

Even Aaron puts up with the cramped booths for Spirito's

All in all, this is by far one of the best pizzas I have ever had.  The perfect combo of sauce and cheese as Dad would say.  No link here you just got to go out and try this one for yourself.

Tell me do you have a pizza place to rival mine?

Blogger Love and My First Trip to 16 Handles and a Stuffitts Giveaway

Aaron and  I have been in NJ for ooo 4 days and the stats have changed since Sunday... as of today we have

- been to two pizza different pizza places
-  met two different blogger buddies
- paid $60 to have access to a gym for the week (even though we have a new one at home now)!!!
- bought one car
- paid $32 to take a trip into the city
- visited with countless relatives
- drank 2 glasses of wine
-and enjoyed way too much good food (thanks Aunt Debbie, more on that later) & company

Ok time to break it down a little bit more than that!  First off I have to point out how much I love blogging again. How can you not when every time you go a different place you get to meet up with awesome "strangers" and do amazing things.

This week has been no different. It started with a trip to NY to have lunch with Liz from RunBakeRace and my first trip to 16 Handles.  Overall - impression, hmmm...maybe I went a little overboard....oops!!! I was so excited to meet Liz and she was too sweet and too cute.  Definitely go check out her blog if you have not yet.  We met, hugged, and dug in.

 Oh yea and Liz was too sweet bringing me cookies from her favorite bakery.  They were huge and yummy!!!  Check these babies out:

Now many of you are not from NY but I am sure you hear about 16 Handles a ton but, if you are like me, and have never been there, you have no clue what it looks like.  Aaron equated it almost to a bar....take a look for yourself.

 Who was the genius who thought of chocolate covered pretzels yummmM!
Nothing is complete without sprinkles!!

Anyway, as you may know it is self serve, soft-serve.  And boy did I serve myself, 11.8 ounces worth (I swear the other scale said 10.4), can you tell which one is mine?  What a lunch!!!

Ok maybe I went a bit overboard, I had a stomach ache for like two days.  I don't blame 16 Handles, I just could not help myself - I tried Red Velvet, Mango, and Cookies and Creme.  Ali always mentions on her  blog mixing too much is a rookie mistake, sorry Ali, better next time I hope!  Overall, Liz and I had a great time and began planning our stake out to watch NYCM together and cheer everyone on.  If you are running, let me know so I can cheer you on and if you want to be a cheerleader with us, please join, the more the merrier!

Fun blogger time did not end there.  Yesterday, Keri from Blueeyed Runner and I met at my childhood home and ran 4 miles together.  It was a beautiful day although we both concluded at the end that we were a sweat mess due to the phantom humidity....anyone ever had that? You start, not humid.  Then, you come home and your run was hard as hell and in comes the "oh it was humid."  Well, I swear it was!! Anyway, Keri and I had a great time chatting away.  Well, she chatted and I tried my best to get out words through my huffing and puffing.  At the end, I could not respond to tell you truth. I had a really bad stitch in my side and just dug deep and concentrated on finishing the run.  The past two  runs I keep getting these really painful stitches in my side.  I think it might be all the random extra eating adventures. I am really not sure but I am hoping it does not stick around for long.  When I first started running, I used to get this but I have not in years - anyone every experience this?  Overall,  I loved running with Keri.  My ankle did not hurt (knock on wood), my blister bandaides worked their magic (thanks Lindsay) and I had a great time talking with Keri.  I wish I was closer to run with her more.

Ok so the giveaway. I swear I will tie this all in.  When I got home from my run I was a sweaty mess, my shoes were wet and smelly and there was only one thing to do.  Get out the Stuffitts.


Ever heard of these?  I had not, until about a month ago when I was going through all my shoe dilemmas.  Check them out more here.  The website informs you that:

Stuffitts is a soft, form-fitting shape that is inserted into shoes after wearing. Combining new fabric technology, a unique foot-shaped design that maximizes point-to-point absorption, and soft cedar inserts – a pair of Stuffitts can help extend the life of your shoes significantly by protecting your shoes from moisture and odor! Stuffitts work effectively in all types of shoes, boots, and cleats…they also come in sizes to fit men, women, and children. They are made from 100% natural cedar and are 100% reusable.
On my end, I will tell you that these things are amazing.  You put them in your shoes post run and they absorb moisture and make your shoes smell all nice as well as dry them out.  They also keep the shape of the shoe.  The whole process takes as little as 40 minutes (for me anyway) but you could leave them in as long as you want!  Even better after you take them out, your shoes are like new they smell great and feel dry.  Even the actual Stuffitts still smell good - but if not you can throw the covers in the wash!

I was really nervous about using them thinking they would stretch out the shoe but nope they did not as they are form fitting!  Also, if you have trouble keeping your shoes together or carrying them, they have their very own carry strap that connects the shoes together and allows you to keep them together or move them, pretty cool huh?

Ok so how do you get your hands on these puppies?

Here we go....

How to Win these Stuffitts Shoe Savers (please leave a comment per entry)
1) Be a follower of this blog (mandatory)
2) Tweet about this "I want to win Stuffitt shoe saves from RunforFun @26runforfun2
3) Follow me on Twitter @26runforfun2
4) Follow Stuffitts on Twitter
5) Blog about this giveaway (no blog, put it on your facebook page)

Ok that is it for now.  There will be more ways to win all week.  This closes next Thursday morning the 25th :)

Alright off to eat more food, more exercise, and the best yet day with Mammy and Poppa (my grandparents silly, don't you all call your grandparents Mammy and Poppa - story for another day.  Besides they are getting great at the computer, maybe Mammy will tell you herself, she always told the BEST stories)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Mysterious Bib Number - Falmouth Road Race Recap

The last time I ran a race was June.  That was the day I learned to love squirrels - anyone remember that day?  Needless to say I was on Cloud 9.  Since then, running has been ehh a struggle at best considering all the shoe issues etc.  But on Sunday I laced up and Aaron and I headed down in our death trap of a car (update on that, the transmission went and the wheel barrings are no glad we drove 7 hours in it Sunday, uhh oops?) Anyways, the plan was like every year to meet our cousins and to drive to the starting line with them.

My cousin actually picked up my bib number for me as I was not staying down the Cape for the weekend. When I picked up the number though, something seemed wrong - maybe it was the fact that my bib number read 708 when it was supposed to be 706 and my name said "Kara Walsh." Which is not exactly Stephanie.  There was not much to do at that point so we let the mystery go and headed to the starting line, luckily it was the correct corral.  As I lined up in the starting line, my fully charged Garmin, you guessed it, died. Yup, of course. "You've got to be kidding me" I shouted to no one inparticular.  More on the death of my Garmin later this week.

There was not much to do so off we went.  The cool part about this race was apparently people thought I was fast and I was in the corral right behind the elite and really fast runners. I have to admit, I felt semi-special about this. But knew that it was going to be hard not to get caught up in all the fun and sprinting plus I wanted to try really hard not to weave.  In the end, no problem there because 20 seconds after crossing the starting line I felt something in my shoe, a tiny stick. I debated whether or not I could run the 7 miles on it.  I tried to see if I could get it to a point in my shoe where it would not bother my foot.  But then I talked some sense into myself.  We all know my feet have not been doing so well.  The last thing I needed was to alter my gait.  So I pulled over, took off the shoe, to reveal this tiny nothing little stick - hey, I am a sensitive gal!

I am right behind him I promise

Otherwise, the first mile was great. I felt good and was ready to run.  The worst part was that it was so packed that it was hard to move.  The streets are narrow at the start and pretty much all through Falmouth and for the first 2 or 3 miles it was so congested there was no where to go plus all the body heat was not helping.

I wish I could say all my miles felt like mile 1 but at about mile 2 I was not feeling so hot. Or rather I was feeling too hot. It was actually a cooler day but I thought slightly humid and that seemed to really take a toll on me.  So I hit the first water station and the genius in me thought it would be a good idea to pour water over my head.  This might have been good if I had not been wearing moleskin on my heel to deal with a blister that I had all week.  Here comes stop # 2 - again I debated, do I stop and fix the moleskin and hopefully prevent the agonizing blister (blisters really can be game stoppers) or do I keep going?  I tried to be rational - I stopped and fixed it.

Off again, but honestly I was just not feeling great. I don't know if I went out too fast and could not tell without the Garmin but I had to keep slowing down. I felt good that people in my corral were still around me but still not great.  At Mile 3, the course opens up to the beach and I just remember thinking where is the beach?!?! To keep up my spirits, I joined in with the crowd.  Falmouth is amazing! There are people lining the course, partying, cheering you on, giving you water, spraying you with hoses.  I high fived all the little kids, blew kisses to the camera, and yelled out at the crowd to cheer.  I may or may not have said "Come on, we are running a race here" and raised my arms to have people cheer.

So here I am at Mile 3.5 and you know it, shoe issue number 3 - why not right? This time my shoe laces were just too tight. This has been an issue ALL summer.  And honestly at this point I actually kind of, if I am being truthful, wanted an excuse to stop.  So I stopped retied it and went on my way (I promise this was the last stop).   From there on out, my mental game was not great. I tried to keep it up with the crowds and even encouraged other walking runners to keep going but the miles seemed to take forever, my legs felt like led, I was crazy hot, and had a stitch in my side.  I kept thinking never again, why the hell do I think it is a good idea to run in the middle of August, why do I do this race every year again?  Somewhere between mile 4-5, I convinced myself that the mile was so long I must have missed the marker for Mile 5 and was going to hit 6 soon. Uhhhh no, no luck, good one Steph.

The last mile is a bit of a b*tch (sorry) there is one more short steep ass hill at the end and it is a back breaker.   Every year though I point to it (just like I do to the stairmaster) and say YOUR MINE.  And mine it was, up I went and then I was rewarded with glorious downhill.  Once you are down the hill, it is still a bit of a straight away to pass under a huge American flag and the finish.  Galway Girl (my favorite motivational run song) came on just as I saw that flag and I booked it home.  When you cross the finish line, they make the runners walk almost a mile to the field where all the festivites were set up.  I had nothing left, why can't I be in that nice VIP tent right after the finish I thought?

Ok I can't help but give a play by play, Aaron was so awesome at picture taking.  This is a little after I came down the me kick butt (sorry green shirt guy who was still in my corral yay...eek is that bad?)

 Scroll back up, who looks in worse shape me or the winner awesome dude from Kenya

 Ok so this is the same face I make in every race - it is my "in the zone" face as Aaron calls it...I call it the kill me now face just kidding...sort of

Oh well, I made it to the field and downed two fro yo pops (these things are amazing check them out) and then maybe PB, banana, animal crackers, coffee cake, potato chips, gatorade, and crackers - I can feel you judging me. Please don't, this is clearly a healthy post race fuel session!!!

Anyway, later that day, as I was incessantly checking times, the results finally came up.  I checked Kara Walsh - 54:55. YES I thought, no wonder I was dead. But then I realized the bib did not match. Ok, check out 708, my name is there 57:44  UGH, why can't I be Kara?!?!? (sorry Kara, wherever you are, actually I found out a lot from her number, it is kind of freaky actually!)  This is almost a minute slower than last year.  Aaron reminded me with all the stops, I can't complain - true.  But the whole bib thing was so weird.  We got the pictures today, what came? The wrong photos but look up Kara and there I am! Probably my best race pictures ever taken by Marathon Photo...hah figures!

Ultimately, was this hard, yes.  Did I want to stop, yes.  Did I want to give up, yes.  Will I do it again?  HELL YEA!