Friday, September 30, 2011

Marathon Madness Month(s)

Tomorrow or today (depending on when you are reading this) marks the beginning of marathon month!  Yes, you guessed it, we are now just weeks, days but not months away from Marine Corps Marathon otherwise known as MY FIRST MARATHON!  And as we went anxiously, nervously, whatever you want to call it, we have some other things to tackle

I will be running this NEXT WEEKEND and making it a 20-miler. I am pretty sad not to be doing it with my running buddy but I will have this lady and her dad at my side a.k.a when they finish an hour beforehand hopefully they will come find me crawling my way home!

The Running Buddy is running this for time but the cousin and I could not resist adding it in.  No bother that I am hosting a huge party the night before...

Yup somehow I managed to plug in two more races training runs prior to the big day!!!   But I have promised myself that I will not be racing in these other races and am just going to take it at training pace, whatever that may be, unless the Coach tells me otherwise because right now my major goal is to get to the starting line of my marathon healthy and finish with a smile!!

Oh and by the way, I am also planning on spectating at this race...

And spectating and pacing/racing with some ladies at this race...

And I may or may not have signed up for a Turkey Trot, the Vegas Half, and yes, I do have my eye on a  December 5k...uhhh who is this crazy lady?! Last year at least time I was not even running let alone racing! What a difference a year makes...

If you have not noticed lately, I have decided to tip my toe into taper crazies or as we like to call them pre-taper crazies, if there ever was such a thing.  This week many fine women have had to talk me down off the ledge, forget what my poor husband has had to deal with.  PT on Wednesday went something like this

Me to PT:  Is my IT Band, hip, glute ok?
PT commence examination = moving leg around in all weird directions and telling me to resist at different points.
PT: Everything is fine. No reason to worry yet. We will keep an eye on it. You will keep your schedule this week, go do your weights, 3 tomorrow and 15 on Saturday.  *Side note that 3 got me to 101 my first month of 100 miles ever, up from August's 60
Me:  YAY :) :), so just general aches and pains right now?
PT: Yes
two minutes later
Me to Aaron: Did he say I was ok? Do I need to ask him again?!?
Aaron: YOU ARE OK 

Yup, that's me Miss Neurotic.  This kind of syndrome continued for the rest of the week with my shoes, my bandaides, my pace, and on we go.  At one point, this wise lady had to again pull me off the edge with a nice slap in the face, although she promises it was some tough love.  Whatever you call it was absolutely necessary!!

I need to calm down and as she told me TRUST MY BODY!!!  What a concept!  It took me a very long time to love my body and appreciate it for everything it does for me.  But do I trust it? In some ways I do but not in others, and that "other" category collides right with running - of course, what does not revolve around running, seriously people?!  Since I have had a history of nagging injuries that continually sideline me from getting to the starting line every single ache and pain makes me freak it.  So this week, where I have felt some pain or soreness or whatever it, I have uh..freaked.  Even with the all clear from my PT, I am still extremely nervous about tomorrow's run.   And I know it is reflected in this blog and I am sorry - I owe you all some basic Top 10 or fun blog posts, are you sick of my inner turmoil yet?  I promise, next week we will give you some fun stuff!

But anyway, for now, I have to take some advice that was given to me.  I have to TRUST MY BODY.  I know that we have not always seen eye to eye.  But I just need to go for it.  To stop whining and to get out there and see how it goes.  I have done everything right and hopefully by honoring my body, it will honor me.  And if not, it will be back to the drawing board....So here is to marathon madness...I can't wait :) :)

Is this marathon madness month? Anyone running any of the above races? Anyone need some company while running NYCM or Philly - I will be out there for you.  Let me know so I can scream my head off for you and make awesome signs!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Friday....

Kim Knuff are you out there?  One last chance and then I will be forced to pick another Allied Medal Display winner - eeekkk 

Its that time again, you guessed it Fall Friday!! And it is a pretty exciting one at that because this Friday my grandparents are coming to visit from NJ and apparently my grandfather, better known as Poppa, also loves fall and can't wait to see the leaves.  We are, of course, taking them to the White Mountains because if you want to see leaves, there is no better place to go. Well, maybe the spa that me and grandma, a.k.a. Mammy, will be frequenting post long run on Saturday.  To say I am excited is an understatement.

But for now, lets go back to the last fall activity of the week with this amazing lady.  Last Saturday, after my long run, Aaron and I hoped in the car and headed to Rhode Island to visit Samantha.  Sure, I was exhausted and moving at the speed of light like a turtle, but I was not going to pass up a trip to visit Sam and her family's farm. Yup, her family owns a farm, how cool is that?!?

Even better, the farm has a corn maze. Ever since last year when Aaron and I went to Davis Farmland, I could not help but want to do another corn maze.  And despite the tired legs, in we went.  We took turns taking the lead only to end up at dead ends and jokes.  Sam and I chatted away at rapid fire pace about everything!  It was awesome fall + running friend chit chat = major score!

After some more fun farm times, we headed out to dinner in Providence.  Sooo yummy, I would like to show you pictures but I was way too lazy and tired to get out the camera and gobbled up an awesome flatbread pizza, which was only my second pizza meal of the day by the way ;). After dinner, we headed over to Water Fire.  Water Fire is this art event that occurs in Providence multiple times throughout the summer and early fall where there is essentially fire on water...check it out...

It is hard to tell but this water on fire I promise!

By the time we got home it was 11. I proceeded to pass out.  Around 3 a.m. I woke up feeling like something was sticking me. Apparently I never got undressed and had just laid down and covered myself in the sheets.  Aaron, exhausted himself, also passed out and never even noticed.  How is that for you? Totally worth it. An awesome, fun filled fall day.

Happy Friday!!! And to all my fellow Jewish bloggers and readers Happy New Year :)

Tell me what is on tap for your weekend? Any fun fall activities or suggestions?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Floundering Pumpkinfish

My father has always called my "Fishie" as my nickname and sometimes "Pumpkin" which awesomely enough became "Pumpkinfish."  This is totally the coolest nickname in the world, right up there with "Stephanator."  Maybe in retrospect then, I should have taken up swimming but it really never was my thing.

Regardless, I have been floundering helplessly out there lately on my long runs.  I am very very lucky that my Coach/PT sets up great running schedules for me and listens patiently (yes really patiently) as I nag him repeatedly with question after question.  But there is one question that he just won't answer for me and it is a big one, PACE!  Our conversations sort of go like this...

Me: Can we talk about pace?
P.T. sort of stands there waiting for me to continue the current rant I am intent on discussing today
Me:  Ok so I am not really sure what pace I should be doing my long runs at for the marathon, or the marathon itself, any thoughts?
P.T.  commences his favorite pace speech here: 1st mile is your slowest, 2nd mile is your second slowest but a little faster, third mile is your third slowest but should be faster than the other two.  Then settle into your pace at Mile 4ish
Me: So no negative splits?
P.T: No, I would have you speed up way before the half point at Mile 3/4
Me: And then what, just keep it up at that pace?
P.T: Yup, pick a pace that you know you can maintain for that distance
Me: AHHHHH What pace in the world is that?!?
P.T.: Just do you best
ME:  AHHH Just give me a number man!!

Yup, we have had this conversation multiple times. It kind of reminds me of when I was trying to gain weight (yes gain weight) at one point and I had the following conversation with my nutritionist

Me:  But how much do I have to gain?
Nutritionist: I am not sure we will see how it goes
Me:  But what if I blow up like a balloon?
Nutritionist:  You won't your body has a set point, a happy place
Me:  What is my set point?
Nutritionist: I don't know trust your body it will find it
ME: AHHHH!!! Just give me a number lady!!

When I was in law school, I struggled to live in the grey.  I wanted the black and the white. There had to be an answer, THE answer.  The thing with law school, however, was there is always two sides, so you are always perpetually in the grey.  It is something it took me a long time to come to terms with.  It also took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that if I fed my body properly, it would find a healthy set point (my body did btw) and it is still taking me a long time to accept that my P.T./Coach does not want to give me an exact pace for my marathon. 

How can I not have a pace you wonder? How will you know how not to go out too fast you wonder? What will you put on your pace band you wonder?  I wish I could answer your questions because I am wondering the same things!  I know, I know there are wonderful pace calculators to look at and I have spent way too much time looking at those things.  And yes, I have been experimenting, sort of, with different paces on my long runs and yes, I may even decide to wear a pace band (giveaway coming soon!)  but will I really know what I am going to do? No, not until race day.  I don't know how I will feel until then, no clue how my legs will be.  Right now I am just hoping to make it safely to the start line and then safely to the finish with a big smile on my face. Because that is really what this has been about for me. My goal right now is to run a marathon. And as much as I am yearning to do it for time, any time will be a PR!  I need to trust my body and trust my coach and just let go, just a little bit (hah, my husband is laughing his head off right now knowing I am totally incapable of this).

But I am going to try because as a wise lady once said:

One thing I can promise you is this, you will be smiling when you finish and if you flame out, you flame out - hydrate and take energy, shot blocks or whatever you need, walk it off if you have to and pick it back up, even if it's a slow jog [just do what you have to do to make it to 26.2]

Well here's, once more, to 26.2 - whether it takes 3 hrs (HAH), 4, or 6. I will see you smiling at the end!

Anyone else every struggle to determine their pace and goal times?  How did you deal with it? How did the actual event turn out?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On not becoming a freakout, incomprehensible crazy lady!

Well over in Run for Fun land we are still being a neurotic athlete like normal.  I called the PT/Coach last night trying to describe my random soreness/tightness and he was like I can't really tell without looking at it and voted for elliptical Tuesday morning instead of running 5 miles and to come in Wednesday as usual. On the up side, I got to sleep an extra hour on the down side, I freaked out and immediately Googled  "pain in hip socket area" ( I don't even know if it is the hip socket btw).  Google is an amazing thing but I think we need parental controls on google for those running marathons.  Google is all trouble when trying to "diagnose" phantom pain or soreness/tightness.  I immediately saw words related to stress and fracture and had a nervous breakdown, pulling Aaron away from his work and making him tell me everything will be alright as he tried to just make me go to sleep like a scared five year old.    His explanation soreness, maybe some inflammation, nothing that a little R &R with a bag of ice won't cure. Probably a bit more sane than my impending need for surgery.  As my PT always says, "did you fall in a pothole? No. Then you are fine. Go Run."  It is the fact that he said not to run, that scares me the most...

This morning I woke up, went upstairs our gym, flipped on the Kennedy Series (sooo good), and knocked out a very sweat 20/20 elliptical exercise (20 minutes as hard as you can, 2 min rest, and another 20 minutes - it is seriously sweat inducing).  No major pains or anything. I felt at points a little tightness/soreness on my right hip/hip socket area as I still do at varying times today, but it is still hard to pinpoint. 

In the mean time, I am trying to stay sane and focused.  I keep reminding myself that I have run 98 miles this month so far (hopefully will get to the 100 marker too; 98 is the farthest I have ever run in a month by the way) and 18 this weekend.   I have  learned over the years that it is important to try and stay in the moment that you are presently in.   Worrying about past and future events will not get you anywhere except maybe give you a major headache and early wrinkles.  Instead, it is best to fully participate in the moment that you are in as opposed to suffering the consequences of becoming a freaked out, incomprehensible, crazy lady - just something I have picked up over the years..hmmm... So today, I am doing trying to do just that.  Luckily, I have some fine wonderful ladies who have agreed to meet for an awesome event at a local spa.  Get this the spa is having a night of all free services and champagne and cupcakes to top it all off.  And as my lady friends said cupcakes clearly cure all.  If you can't run today, might as well eat a cupcake and that is solid advice if I have ever heard one!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Raise Your Hand For Anxious Athletes!

Before I begin this post I need to announce two giveaway winners.  One for Pretzel Crisps is Heidi Nicole from Run Around Aroo, this lady is adorable, absolutely check out her blog! The other is a bit controversial.  I had to pick a new winner for the Allied Medal Display because Jeff did not claim his prize (sorry Jeff, I tried).  Kim Knuff is our new lucky winner!! Ladies please e-mail within the next few days to  Congrats to you both.  To everyone else, don't worry more fun to come soon, I promise!!!

In the meantime, it is just still me here when there is no giveaways, rambling on to whoever is nice enough to put up with my continued blogging - thank you I love you all so much for putting up with me.

This morning I was thinking about doing a post of this nature and this wonderful lady wrote something similar and I knew I had to jump on the bandwagon.  Well, for those of you who don't know I, like many, have struggled throughout my short running history with a bit too many injuries.  Nothing so serious comparatively thank goodness but enough to sideline me for months at a time!  When I first started running, I was not smart.  I was running way too much and not cross training which equalled injury number one, this was actually a blessing in disguise as it led me to my now PT/coach and made me much faster but I did lose out on two races and a whole 6 months worth of running because of a very bad case of runner's knee.  And then over the past few years I have enjoyed IT Band Pain and Foot Pain.  Not fun.

This summer, I struggled with my foot and my ankle.  But since mid-August, things have been going ok...knock on wood - I am scared even putting this down knowing I might regret, so I am not really saying it aloud, so it is ok (insert crazy antics to calm me down here). But after 18 this Saturday, I am definitely a bit sore.  My hamstrings have been sore the past week and now my right hip flexor is a bit sore and painful (at least I think it is my hip flexor, it is mainly my right side hip right up by the IT Band, is that the hip flexor?!? lol). I have been doing all the right things I hope - endless stretching, dates with my foam roller, cross training, Aleve - the works just in case.  Because honestly, I have the biggest case of being a nervous nelly or an anxious athlete right now more than ever.  There is a big part of me that knows all of this tightness, soreness and some pain, at times, is normal.  For goodness sakes, I just ran 18 miles in tons of humidity and it was my longest distance ever.  But this does not stop me from being overtly neurotic and paranoid. 

We train for months, if not years (in my case) to toe the line at our first marathon and honestly it is a challenge just even getting there.  I watched a documentary once on people trying to train for their first Marathon and it said only 1/2 of those people will make it to the starting line.  Why?!? Because running is HARD, it is injury inducing, it is tiring!  And ultimately, whether we like it or not, we will not always make it.  I did not make it last year.  This year, I feel that it is finally my time.  I have been looking towards this point for the past 3 year plus and I want am going to make it.  Enter Miss Paranoia. Every little tinge, every feeling, every bit of soreness, I am like uh oh, what is that??! Is that normal?!? Should I call my coach?!?  I don't know how my husband is going to survive the next 35 (YES ONLY 35 DAYS) of this.  I am hoping my Coach/PT visit on Wednesday will come and not aggravate my nerves. 

But I am also treading the fine line of knowing what is pain v. soreness/tightness. I have experienced awful pain and this is not that. Particular I just feel tight around the side of my hip.  Any stretching suggestions would be great.  But I continue to waiver about where that line is - am I ok? Is this normal? Someone please help this crazy runner off the ledge here ;)

Does anyone ever feel like this?  What do you do to calm yourself? Any good stretching advice for me?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

18 MILES! - PDR - Proud Determined Relentless or Pain Doubt Rest?

Well, I am still alive, 18 miles and a lot of ice cream later. And guess what? No rain.  I guess I will have to battle mother nature at another time in terms of rain but I think battling humidity might be just as bad.   So where does this leave me, well with a freaking PDR that's where haha, sorry can you tell I am just a tad bit excited and maybe crazy tired, at best?

This run was not an easy one.  The humidity was a killer!  But we made it, thanks in large part to an awesome running partner who kept me going for oo the last 5 miles when I thought I just did not have another step in me.  This run was a bit of a struggle between feeling great to feeling like I wanted to fall over.  The first 13 seemed to go pretty decently but the last 5 were a little...difficult.  There were many times I did not think I was going to make it, that it was just sort of painful and hard, and that I just wanted to lie down ;).  When we finished, I may or may have not said that the concrete sidewalk might as well have been a Westin Bed, but I made myself walk around a little bit more before "stretching" on the pavement.

While this run shifted between feeling great to feeling really hard, either way I am wearing my 18 with pride and a tad bit of doubt.  If 18 is this hard, how will I get to 26?  And why is it that 16 felt so great last week but 18 this week, at points, seemed impossible?!?  Either way, I am marching forward as best as I can and learning as much as possible along the way.  Each run is a new experience and a new learning opportunity.  I have realized that training for a marathon is not simply about training your body to run 26.2 miles but also to teach yourself how to manage everything else - the fuel, the hydration, the blisters, the bathroom.  Every time I think I have conquered one, another problem creeps up.  This week it was hydration.  I realize and kind of already knew that I am not drinking nearly enough when I run.  There are water fountains along my route but still not nearly enough for what I need to be taking in.  The belt and the hand held don't work for me, which is problematic.   But after yesterday's run, I know I have to do better so the goal for this week is to make this darn belt work for me.  Once again, time to put on my big girl panties, man up and just go for it!

Alright all, I know this is not the most amazing or well written post of them all but its umm 9? And I am exhausted from all the ice cream eating and running fun.  Better things to come tomorrow I promise.

Tell me how your runs went and how you deal with hydration?

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Will Be a Marathoner!!!

Tomorrow I will run 18 miles.  Tomorrow it will likely rain.  And not just a light drizzle.  They are calling for pretty heavy rain.  And if I am being honest, I have never really run in that kind of rain.  I have been running for the past four years and I have managed to get around any major down pours while running.  I will muster up a 10 mile treadmill run before going out in the rain if you will believe that.

I have written about this before about the simple fact that I do not love or even like rain. Actually I hate/despise rain!  I was not going to post on this but as I have been completely obsessed with this week and been tweeting to the high heavens about  rain I figured I better just own up and write this post.  After reading a few awesome blogs today with some crazy motivational tips and great attitudes, I knew that I not only had to write this post but that I had to commit to running in the rain.  Tomorrow as we all know, a very famous blogger will run her first marathon. I know you all know who I am talking about, I don't even have to mention her.  I read her post today and she wrote about the chance for less than ideal weather and it was like a very hard, but helpful slap in the face.  She brought be back to reality Really Steph!?! You call yourself a runner, you think you are hardcore, you are so impressed with your milage and speed but then at the first chance of rain, you cower in the corner like a sad puppy...really?!?!  My mother-in-law would not be impressed. She would not take any of this BS that I am currently partaking in. She would just get out there and go. 

Now it is my turn.  It is my turn to put on the big girl pants, muster up the confidence that I have gained over the past week and go.  Runners all around me are laughing mother nature in the face and getting out there for their runs.  They are not switching around the days, they are just going for it because they know that come race day it may rain and on race day, rain or shine, it is GO time.   So when my newly found amazing running buddy asked if I wanted to go on Sunday instead (she was game for either), I said, nope, I am going to do it.  We are going to run in the rain! Her response, "I was running either way!!!" So tomorrow, I will wake up and it won't matter - rain or shine - I will get out there, I must get out there because I am a runner and I am going to be a marathoner too!!!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Friday

Happy Fall Everyone!  Today is FINALLY the FIRST day of fall.  I have been waiting forever to write this post because I absolutely love love love fall.  I know other people say they love fall, but I am more obsessed with it than anything.  For some reason, whether it be the wonderful leaves changing colors or Halloween or the cool crisp air, I am always at my happiest come Fall.  There are tons of wonderful activities to do and things to enjoy.  I just can't get enough of it!  In fact, last year I forced Aaron into going on so many leaf "peeping" trips that our gasoline bill took such a rapid spike.  Months later when we were going over bills, we could not figure it out, until we remembered that I dragged us all over New England looking at leaves and having a blast.

Jumping for Joy for fall last season
Yayyyy fall!

Well this fall is not going to be any different.  I am determined to soak it all up between races, October 15th parties (more on that to come), pumpkin carvings, apple cider donuts, leaf trips, mega-mazes, and much much more.  I am almost getting teary eyed thinking of all the fun that awaits me.  I may or may not be obsessed enough to make Fridays permanent "Fall Fridays" but we will see just how much you all can take.

While it was not officially fall last weekend, I could not help but get a head start when Aaron and I were asked to attend "Mom's Day Off" Apple Picking.  Mom's Day Off is this awesome program that a bunch of the fathers at our temple put on where they take the kids for the afternoon to give moms time off.  But the moms did not want to miss apple picking (who can blame them) so they tagged along.  Now I know you are thinking, wait does Steph have kids?  Nope.  But I do happen to partake in all the family friendly activities at our temple - you should see me at Tot Shabbat (the toddler service at our shul), I can't wait to lead it!

Too cute, how can you not love fall (especially with compression)?!?

Apple Cider Donuts freshly made at a farm? Yes please!

We LOVE fall in our house (note I am on top of a hay pile made for kids to climb....uh yea)

So what is next you ask?  I am going to visit this amazing blogger this weekend and her family's own farm to do the Mega Maze.  How cool is that?!?! But now lets here from you, what cool activities do you have planned for fall? Any suggestions for me of must do fall activities in the NE area? 

Happy Fall Friday!!!!! :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And Spit Like a Man...

Not grossness factor on this one, might e a little higher than normal depending on your views

During my speedwork out on Monday, as I was cruising along, I got that ever present need guessed it - SPIT.  You know that feeling when you are going way too fast (at least for your legs) and all that wonderful saliva and extra nuun that you have drank gets to be too much in your mouth and you just have to do it? Come on guys, I know I am not the only one who deals with this because I have been on many runs with people who find the need to spit.  Unfortuantely, many of these people are guys, I don't think i have seen so many girls do this, so maybe I am just a freak of nature (which is absolutely possible by the way).

Regardless, on Monday, I felt that need to just get rid of all that extra fluid and, you know, spit it out.  Now, I have watched many runners do this with an air of grace that I just cannot replicate.  They feel need to spit and they just do it.  They are just as learned as Jack from Titantic (you know I was going there with the title, right?  Fess up, how many people saw this more than once in the movies - because my 13 year old self saw it 4 times in the theaters!).  Well, for me, I do not have Jack's skills nor was I taught by him and this creates a problem.  Simply, I want to spit, I want to get rid of the extra saliva but I have no force behind it.  I try, but it does not go anywhere except maybe my shirt or face - told you, total grossness, but I just could not help but post this and see if I was alone in this problem.  So because I am not skilled in the least, I have taken to pretty much dealing with by swallowing ("that's what she said") or spitting into my long sleeve shirt (which only works if I am actually WEARING a long sleeve shirt hmph). 

Monday morning luckily I was wearing a long sleeve shirt.  But it really got me thinking as I ran circles around the track (isn't this what you think about on your runs) what was wrong with me?  Why am I no good at this?  I consider myself a pretty hardcore runner and I feel like all the "pros" do it.  What am I missing?

Are you all with me on this one or am I once again, absolutely crazy and going off the deep end?  Btw, I did warn you of the grossness factor.

PS I am totally in the mood to watch Titantic now (but clearly only the first half before it gets sad).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fear and Determination

Have you entered my giveaway - Pretzel Crisps Galore 

All summer I have been living in fear of the hills around my house.   In fact I have pretty much avoided them at all cost hitting the treadmill or other areas instead.  Lately, I have been feeling really good though.  I am still on a high from my track workout yesterday (more on that later) and my BIG win (well, not that big, but a girl can dream) on Saturday.  So last night I committed to tackling these hills - after all I did have a 4 mile with 4 hill workout on tap.

Fast forward to this morning, I woke up exhausted and not wanting to go outside.  It was DARK and a little scary out there.  Eh...just did not seem like the right time.  I kept pestering Aaron about what to do...if I should just hit the treadmill, if I should wait...WHAT?!?  He clearly had enough of my debating but voted for the treadmill due to the darkness.  Well, I, of course, opted for outside (once it was light enough Mammy - Grandma - don't worry!).  Why is that? Why do we even both asking others when we already know what we are going to do? ooo women, sometimes I just don't know what to do with us...

Anyway, I told myself I would take it slow.  That this was not about speed but about conquering my fears and these HILLS!  Apparently, my brain and legs were not communicating because by slow my legs thought I meant fast and off we went.  As I climbed up and down these hills, my legs just seemed to gain speed and power.  My mind willed them to slow down but something inside me just kept going until the very end even when I wanted to keel over and throw up (which is how I judge, by the way if I have gone fast enough.  If I want to vomit, then I probably had a good workout, how awful oops).

As the last mile approached, I realize the potential, I could make this 4 miles under 30 minutes!!! Now, I did a 5 miler in June in 37:04 but I have never seen 4 miles go under 30 for a 4 mile run and I became determined.  Determined to beat these last hills.  Determined to win out.  Determine to NOT see 30:00 on my watch.  So I pushed.  I kept going.  I fought my way up two massive hills and a few small ones and then it was all over.  4 miles.  Thats it, it was over and when I looked down I saw it 29:42.  Take that hills!! I will eat you for breakfast!

Lesson learned, I AM going to do this.  I deserve this, we all do.  We put in the time and the energy, dedication and devotion to make it to our goal.  And in 40 days and 26.2 miles I AM going to accomplish that goal.  See you at the finish line!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway (and a winner!)

I wanted to post on so many other topics today but then I noticed that this is my 100th post and thus I delayed the other topics in order post on this topic.  In the past year, my life has taken a 180 spin, I have gone from being sick to being healthy.  To being maybe a minor bit crazy to, well, maybe still crazy but very very happy ;)  and to just enjoying life.  I am and feel very blessed.  A part of what has made me so happy is all of you.  Blogging has brought me so much joy.  And while my time in the blogging community is short when compared to some, I have loved ever minute of it.  I love "meeting" new people, encouraging them, making new friends, really meeting  these people, and receiving so much love and support from others.  I seriously do not know how I ever was a runner without every one of you holding my hand through it all. Thank you!

I have received a few comments and e-mails lately that have made me feel that you feel the same way too and this just makes me grin like a runner on race day (ok I know I am such a dork for using that line, but it just popped into my head, and hey, it is kind of cute, right? How many followers did I lose on that one? eek just kidding).  So anyways I want to giveback to you all through two ways. 

1) I need to annouce the giveaway winner from my Allied Medal Display Giveaway. I know, I know, this is a week late. Honestly, I wanted to announce it and have a great blog post about all the wonderful advice you had all provided but I did not have the time to do it justice, so it will have to wait.  In the meantime, the winner is Jeff Williams!  Jeff, I don't have any of your contact info so email me or else I will be forced to hunt you down on Facebook ;)  (I promise, I am not too much of a stalker).

2) Another giveaway!!! This one will be easy I promise! It is for Pretzel Crisps. 

Aaron loves them too!

I am a little obsessed with these things.  Have you tried them?  They have all these wonderful flavors like Seasame (which tastes like yummy salted pretzels), Garlic Parmesean, Everything, and more!! I use these things for a snack after running or anytime honestly and throw PB or Hummus on them. Nice, easy, yummy! Pretzel Crisps was nice enough to do a Giveaway.  And this is not just ONE bag of Pretzel Crisps it is a freaking HUGE BOX of Pretzel Crisps Bags along with coupons and a fun reusable bag.  You know you want months worth of Pretzel Crisps, I do I do. They sent me some samples and Aaron and I went through them in less time than I care to admit.  Hey, I am training for 26.2 here!  It is high time I send these pretzels off to you, so come play!!

To win just do one of the following (or more) but leave one comment per each please:

1) Be a follower and send me some blogger love in a comment letting me know
2) Tweet "I want to win a HUGE supply of @PretzelCrisps from @26runforfun2"
3) Follow me @26runforfun2 on Twitter
4) Follow @PretzelCrisps on Twitter

That is it! Simple and easy. I really wanted to make this an easy giveaway for people to enter. You all have given me so much. I want to thank you. So I hope you will play :)  We will end this giveaway on Friday afternoon.  Short and sweet! Thank you all!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Steph's Strong Sweet Sixteen

I just want to qualify this post as Saturday's run may or may not have been the BEST run of my life...ok now that, that is out of the way, lets continue...

On Friday night, I went to bed scared and nervous.  Nervous that I was not going to be able to do 16, let alone do it all by myself, forget the idea of making it 13 + a 5K.  Nervous, that I had, had a full week of running and was not going to have 16 in me.  Nervous, that my fingers were going to freeze off.

Well, nervous or not, Saturday morning I bounded out of bet, running late because my alarm failed to go off costing me 15 precious minutes (seriously, I have my routine down to a science, I NEED those 15 minutes, but a tale for another day).  Aaron dropped me off at the trail and the plan was I would run the first mile and he would wait for me for that mile and then I would decide whether I needed the gloves or not and then he would leave me and I would be on my own until Mile 13 where I would see him at the race.   After the first mile, I knew I needed my massively, oversized but wonderful gloves (I promise to post on this later too).  I also told him that my Garmin was insane, apparently it said I was going 9:00 min miles but it felt faster.  Not good sign.

No matter, I was off.  I put on my book on tape (soo amazing) and began to run.  Somewhere into the second or third mile, I felt the need to calm myself down, to remember that I had SIXTEEN to go and not to get fast.  So I started saying, yes aloud, to myself, 16 Steph, 16, in hopes of keeping myself going at the right pace.  By the time, I hit Mile 6ish and it was time to turn around, I was feeling good.  And my mantra continued, I added "Steph's Sweet Sixteen"  and then "Steph's Strong Sweet Sixteen" to keep me going. I thought of all of you and how I would write about this and it kept me moving.  But something magical happened, with this cold front, came a renewed hope and energy.  I was smiling or rather beaming, waving to people and saying hi.  I was not out of breath. I was not tired. I felt good.

Soon enough, I was at Mile 12 and headed over to Aaron and the race.  As soon as I saw him I gave him a big smile telling him I felt great but still was nervous about the race.  I told him even though I felt good, how was I going to speed up after EVEN splitting the past 13.  I gave him my gloves and continued to trot around as we had 15 minutes to go.  As the time got closer, I ran up to the race area.  My cousins were there as I was barking orders at nicely asking Aaron for help and he was nicely obliging.  He is too good to me.  Apparently, my nervousness shone through because my cousins thought I was going crazy as I barked out "iPod," "shot blocks," "water etc.," you know the drill.  It is HARD being the pit crew. Thanks dear could not do it without you.

Before I knew it, I was standing at the start with about 250 other runners.  This was a VERY local race. No time chips or closed roads just stop watches and police patrol.  As we waited for the race to start and I did a little "running dance" - e.g., moving side to side - (as the Coach instructed me no down time), I was still unsure of what was to come but I did know I apparently was up against all of the middleschoolers and high schoolers in my town, as they all lined up next to me. C'est la vie.

Check out the woman in the wheelchair getting a good luck kiss!  Wow, she is training for Boston, awesome!

Then the "gun"went off someone's voice shouted "Go"  and we were off.  I knew that we would start up hill and then get a nice rolling downhill and I used it, oopps I know, I know, but  I gained speed quickly.  Unfortunately, I probably lost speed as I tried to get my iPod into gear.  I have one where the controls to the iPod are on the headphone.  I love it but it can be tricky and I could not get it to start. It just kept saying the name of the first song - Eye of the Tiger - but would not play it.  I kept thinking damn, I know that's the song, just play it!!  In actuality though, I did not miss it as much as I thought I would.

Instead,  for the first mile or two, I was neck and neck with um a 10 year old and his track coach.  The coach was telling the boy how to run the race, how to go out slow, remain steady the next mile and speed up in the last (something my Coach would say is a no-no). He told the boy what the straightest way to go was and offered encouragement.  I loved it.  And took some of the advice. The worst part was just when I thought I could be entertained by this Coach, he said he would be quiet. AHHHH, seriously?!?! Luckily he was not too quiet.

Meanwhile, back to the race, we had passed Mile 1 in what seemed like no time, despite some little but what seemed like awful hills to me.  I was happy to see times like 7:14, 7:05 ?!?! blinking on my Garmin! I will take it, thanks speed workouts!! By Mile 2 though, I was soo ready to be done.  Can you blame me?!?! Another Mile seemed like forever.  I just wanted to walk.  I fantasized about walking, just giving up.  Wondering if I could slow down and still do great? I kept seeing hills and was like seriously?!? When I saw a girl pass, I rationalized, she was not in MY age group (oh stay silent my competitive nature).  As it is, I checked, the next woman in my age group came in around 25:30 minutes (I know I am a stalker, don't hate me), but would I have slowed, no way!! Nonetheless, I kept going, kept running my heart out.  Some guy passed me and said "You can do it."  I may or may not have said "I am going to die!" Ooopps?!?

Zoom in on this, can you tell I am soo ready to be done?

At last, I rounded the corner and all of a sudden I heard Go Steph. Not once, but twice.  I did a double take, who were they? And then I remembered I had geared up for this race and had my "Go Steph" shirt on, oo right.... Amazing how well your brain functions after 16 miles.

And then bliss, it was over.  I clicked off my Garmin at 16.10.  The time clock said I finished in 22:52, could have sworn it was more like 22:30, but I will leave it.  I was ready to keel over but I couldn't, I had a surprise for me.  My friend and her too adorable daughter came to cheer me on and look what she made me...

She may be a little shy but she is too cute

 She wanted to keep the sign, who can blame her? I told her to hold on to it for next year!

I told her I remember thinking at Mile 2, that she was not going to come and that was ok.  But she told me, nope when she says she is coming, she is.  I was sooo touched, no one ever comes except my wonderful husband and my father.  Anyway, her daughter must have the running gene because she proceeded to say she wanted to race and said "one, two, three, on your mark get set go!!!" and began to run.  I could not for the life of me catch her!!

So end results? Besides what might be one of the BEST runs of my life, I placed 3rd in my age group, 71 overall, and 11th female. Ok it was not the biggest crowd, but I am still beaming from it!!  Even better, my time 2:21:51 = 16 miles and done!!!  No rest for the weary, proceeded to go to a fair all day, clean the house and do paperwork for four hours, and entertain that night, still feeling good.  But the bed never felt so sweet.
Me and the cuz...we have 5k fever and have already signed up for a Turkey Trot! By the way even though it was a little race we all got a medal (major plus), winners got Nalgenes.

Now that is a Strong Sweet Sixteen!!  How were your long runs this?

Friday, September 16, 2011

To Glove or Not to Glove - That is the Question

Remember Thursday?  Remember how it was about 80 degrees?  Well, apparently we have changed course and tomorrow morning is looking for a nice 40 degree morning at my 6 a.m. running time.  Well, I will let you in on a little secret.  The cold and I, we don't get along.  Now don't mistake me, I love love the Fall. I love the lack of 90 degree days and the beautiful 50 and 60 degree weather.  Bring it on please!!! After a summer of sweat, I am absolutely ready for the Fall weather.  It is the winter that I despise.   Just not my cup of tea, just how it is.  And I categorize winter as anything under 45 degrees or so haha (maybe I will eat my words, we will see).

Anyway, I am not too happy to see a 40 degree day on tap tomorrow.  Mostly because I have really really bad circulation in my hands and my fingers never seem to warm up.  Anyone else have this problem?  Well, just as a basic recap if you are not as lucky as to experience this first hand (no pun intended - your hands turn white and sometimes a nice purple color if they get really cold and it is pretty painful.  Not ideal when you are running a mass amount of miles.  Even after many miles, my hands never seem to get with the program, maybe I should speed up hmm?

In the past, I have tried many of runner gloves that promise to keep my fingers happy, only to be seriously disappointed.  I have tried hand warmers, but maybe I am missing the point because they never seem to get that warm!  Ultimately, I have used a pair of gloves that are actually my husband's from American Eagle of all places.  These gloves are about 5 years old and are big and bulky, they are far form the normal "running glove." So when I saw tomorrow's forecast and knew that I had to get in my 16 miles regardless I started the debate of what to do with my poor fingers.

After a trip to the running store (which ended in me buying new capris and a long sleeve tech tee - hey tis the season!), the hubby and I decided that the winter running gloves were just not going to cut it and headed for L.L. Bean.  In the end, you guessed it, I ended up buying essentially a pair of hardcore ski mittens. The woman behind the counter told me they were super warm and she wore them for skiing.  She gave me the strangest look when I told her I was going to use them for running!

So here I am getting ready for tomorrow's 13 plus 5k to equal 16 and am in the aged old debate about my gloves or rather mittens.  I know it is very likely that I will need them to start tomorrow morning but that by mid-run I will not want them.  But then what do I do with them?  I have this same problem with tech shirts, you dress in layers but then once you don't need the top layer anymore you are kind of screwed.  Since I am running to the race, I won't have my car or a loop to put the stuff down,  I don't know how people tie stuff around their waist honestly, and I really hate carrying.  That kind of leaves me with hiding stuff along the route and going back for it later.  I don't really know...

Any of you ever have this problem with layers?  Anyone else have cold hands?  Good luck, good weekend, and good night - it is 9 p.m. on a Friday night and I am ready to call it quits.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Martini and Cupcake Night

I know this is going to come as a shocker to everyone, but apparently there is a side of me that has a life, albeit small, outside of running! I know, right?!? Is this the same girl that talked about sacrificing it all for the marathon, well there is such thing as balance.

Tonight, I worked on this by holding for my Temple's Sisterhood a Martini and Cupcake Night.  Since joining my temple last winter, I have become co-VPs with another woman for Programming and we wanted to start this year off with a bang showing people how much fun Sisterhood can be.  I think it was a success.  Tonight we gathered over 40 women to have cocktails and cupcakes.  My co-VP, Elyssa, did an awesome job gathering fun cupcake and martini theme items and we went to town baking for the event.  Even better my husband and the new assistant Rabbi were the bartenders and made our favorite martinis including Key Lime Martini, Cosmo, and apparently a ton of their own creations.  The event was short, only 2 hours, but everyone seemed to have a blast, a nice excuse to get out on a Thursday night and have a good time.  We have been planning this event for some time and I am thrilled that it went over so well.  I absolutely think this is a great event to try if you are looking for something fun to do.

Me & the bartender

 Welcome to Martini Night

Chocolate Cake Lollis to take home

 I just can't get enough!

 Our bartenders


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How I Create A Playlist

Thank you everyone for your suggestions on the 5K.  I have to catch up on my comment responses, its been crazy over here, I will respond.  The coachy says I can pick it up for the 5K and run the first 13 miles before, huh, pick what up is my response.  Ok, enough...

In honor of my wonderful friend who is running her second marathon this weekend and starting to compose her playlist for the big event, I finally am breaking down and writing this post.  I have been wanting to write this post for some time but I just had not had the time to do it the justice it truly deserves.

Creating a playlist, is like creating a work of art.  It takes time, energy, thoughtfulness, patience, and ultimately money (those songs don't all come free you know).  As my running has evolved so has my playlists.  With each different race comes a different purpose, a different memory and thus a different playlist.  As I have gotten "faster," the music on my playlist has gotten faster.  And the circle of life continues ;)

When I begin to think about a playlist, I start by considering the race I am about to undergo.  Is it a 5-miler and therefore I will be trying to sprint through it?  Is it a half marathon and thus I need some slower songs in the beginning, a faster pick me up at Mile 3 and again and again after that?  Are there hills during the race so that I need to make sure to have the perfect songs to match those hills?  And of course how long do I estimate it will take me to run this course, because I need enough music (G-d forbid I run out of music before I cross the finish line)?

These are all questions I consider when beginning a playlist.  The other part comes from somewhere inside of me.  Because really a playlist is a very personal thing.  Yes, some songs like Eye of the Tiger might speak to many people and make an appearance often, but other  songs like Gallway Girl may not mean anything to the next person but it sure means something to me.

Usually, I admit I start writing my list the night before the race.  Not the best time but it just sort of always happens that way - maybe I should really get started now for Saturday (won't happen, I know, I know).  So I sit down and I start answering the above questions and pull music based on those answers.  After I start adding times of the songs and seeing if I have enough (which takes a little too much time) and then volia I have a starting list.  It is then that I get my husband involve and torture him making him help me fine tune the list. 

You see, I am a little musically challenged.  I have absolutely NO RHYTHM and NO BEAT.  When I was younger I was singing and my brother told me to be quiet and that I had a horrible voice.  I complained to my mother. She agreed with him.  What can I say, music is not my forte. 

Meanwhile, Aaron had a different experience.  His mother used to be a spin instructor.  Together they would make playlists for her class and Aaron would help her find things for "climbs" and "sprints," which he still refers to as we put together my lists.  They then created the playlists and put them on cassettes. After Aaron's mom passed away we could not find these awesome 1980s/1990s lists.  And then all of a sudden Aaron's dad found them.  What a mess it was to get these things from cassettes to an iPod but we did it.  It is so amazing to run to Aaron's mom's music, it is almost like she is here with me.

So if I can offer one piece of advice about making lists, it is pick things that speak to you, that get you moving.  Ooo yea, sorry two things: DON'T listen to it until the big day, the music gets old quick unfortunately. 

Enough rambling, here you go

Debbi B.  Awesome 

Squirrel Run - 5 miler 

Falmouth Speed - Falmouth Road Race - 7 Miler 

Hyannis Half Marathon

I would love to hear your thoughts and what music suggestions you have for me.  Don't forget to stop by my friend's site and give her some ideas too.  Sam, I know you are going to rock it this weekend. Good luck!