I’m Moving

Hello friends,

I’m moving web hosts to a platform that will allow me more flexibility, and I also managed to snag a fun web address. Head on over to http://www.seenancy.run (yes, that’s dot run!) and check it out. It looks the same, but I’m hoping to redesign over the next few months.

If you subscribe via email, you should continue to get posts, as I can move your email address to the new site.

If you subscribe via the WordPress feed, please come on over to the new site and re-subscribe.

Thank for reading!

Nancy

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The Importance of Showing Up

Last March, I had my first-ever Age Group win, at a snowy and slippery Big Chili 5k in nearby Danbury. Shortly thereafter, I posted this to Facebook:

FB quote after chili 5k

 

It is important to keep wise and sage people around you at all times. My husband, one of those wise and sage ones, said something to me like, “Don’t thank them, you earned it!”

While I was trying to be funny in that FB post, I was kind of diminishing own my hard work. It is absolutely true that many people (many typically faster than me) bailed due to the weather, and it is absolutely true that I probably wouldn’t have placed if they had shown up.

But they didn’t.

I earned it by showing up.

I earned it by skipping the easy thing (staying in my cozy bed) and doing the hard thing.

I earned it by pacing a negative split, so I’d have some gas at the end.

I earned it by treading quickly but carefully on the white fluff accumulating quickly on the roads.

I earned it by racing my butt off in the last mile and dueling it out with another woman in the last 800 yards (turns out she was in my age group).

The faster runners that stayed home did not do any of those things. To be quite honest, with the winter I was having last year, just showing up was actually very, very hard for me, mentally, a feat in and of itself.

Therefore, I cast my winning stoneware chili bowl high into the air and say, “Just show up, runners! Do the hard thing! You never know what spoils await you!”

 

What hard thing have you done lately?

 

 

 

 

 

Kissing 2015 Buh-Bye; Hello-ing 2016!

This runner did not write about any races this year. GASP! WHAT? A runner ran races and didn’t talk/write/blather about it! I am proof it can happen.

I had a lot going on. Some of it fell into the “extremely stressful” or even “awful” category. But once again, running was my respite. While it was somewhat accidental, I ran less weekly miles this year, but made every mile count. The result was 6 solid races, including my first sub-2-hour half marathon, and no injuries. I think I might be onto something here in the “less is more” camp. I learned something from each one, which I’ll save for future posts, as they are GEMS, I tell you!

So here’s my 6-in-1 race recap for 2015 in a nutshell. Or should I say in a #hashtag. (#lazyblogger)

March 1: The Big Chili 5k, Danbury, CT

Hashtags: #snow #slippery #PR #1stinagegroup #exclamationpoint

5k, Big chili, PR

As you can see the conditions were ideal. To you faster people who decided to sleep in, I won a chili bowl, and you did not.

 

April 26: NYRR Run as One for Lungevity Foundation 4M, New York, NY

Hashtags: #lungcancersucks

Lungevity, NYRR,

There was a giant whiteboard for notes at race central.

 

May 10: Run Like a Mother 5k, Ridgefield, CT

Hashtags: #runfairy #cameinlastsonooneelsehadto #fun

5k, mother's day, run like a mother

The start of the kids’ race. You can’t see the wings, but they’re there! (Photo by Lisa Cousins Photography)

 

May 16: NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon, Brooklyn, NY

Hashtags: #ran3daysaweek #fastandflat #shaved9minutesoffpriorPR #soakingrain

Brooklyn Half, half marathon

Before the start with my Ragnar friend Nikki. This race was a blast, besides getting drenched for most of it.

 

 

July 12: Mossman Sprint Triathlon, Norwalk, CT

Hashtags: #perfectconditions #solidoverall #didntdrown #didntcrash #didnttrip

This was my nerves freaking out and being photobombed by another triathlete.

This is my pre-race nerves face.

 

 

October 16: Inagural SONO Half Marathon, South Norwalk, CT

Hashtags: #nogps #nomusic #sub2hrsPR #tonsofexclamationpoints

Ah, the two faces of racing. This time, Im the one smiling instead of wanting to puke. Thats a sub-2:00 smile, by the way.

Ah, the two faces of racing. This time, I’m the one smiling instead of wanting to puke. Thats a sub-2:00 smile, by the way.

 

November 21: Mima’s Meatballs 1-miler for MSV (Predict Your Time Race)

Hashtags: #charity #predictyourtime #walkedwithDad #firstimeheeverworearacebib

My dad and I did this together. No words...

My dad and I did this together. No words…

It was a helluva year. I’m happy to kiss it goodbye and put it into the record books. 2016 is going to bring big challenges. Can you guess? Hashtag hint: #70.3

How did you feel about 2015? What challenges are you taking on in 2016? Do tell in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

Worn Jackets and Used Tissues

I have a new-to-me winter running jacket. It’s the prettiest dark cornflower blue, fleece-lined, and wind-proof. It’s not that much out of the ordinary, except…

…it was my mom’s.

My dad handed it to me in the days after the funeral. “This would fit you,” he said. Many of my mom’s clothes do not fit me, as the top of her head came up to my chin, on a good day.

“It’s a medium, not a small. Try it on,” my dad said gently. My mother was a big-time clotheshorse. You know how people find stashes of cash around a house after their loved one dies? I found stashes of clothes in all of the closets, under beds, in storage areas, even in my dad’s closet. Needless to say, I wasn’t ready to go through all of her clothes. But my dad was rumaging through the front coat closet, and came across this jacket.

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“I bought it for her on one of our trips. It’s warm. She was always cold.”

I tried it on. It fit.

“You could wear it running/I could wear it running!” we pretty much said at the same time.

The jacket went into my suitcase for the trip back home.

The thing with losing a loved one is, life goes on whether you’re ready or not. I had no choice but to jump back into real life…mothering, teaching, wife-ing, etc. Running? I didn’t quite have the energy for that yet.

Two weeks later, I could not ignore The Call Of the Run anymore. My body and brain craved it. It was 25 degrees, and being the cold-weather-wimp that I am, reached for the pretty blue jacket and zipped it up.

Buried in the pockets I found a stash of tissues. One of the pockets held a bunch of neatly folded tissues, ready for use. The other pocket held, well…crumpled tissues I can only assume were “used.” (She had a constantly runny nose from her cancer treatments.) Under normal circumstances, finding someone else’s used tissues would cause me to throw up in my mouth a little. But this little treasure made me smile, as they were hers, and OF COURSE my mother would have one pocket for new tissues and the other for used. She had a system for everything.

While the thought briefly crossed my mind, I did not keep the tissues.

But wearing her jacket that day did not make me sad. It’s really, really hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re running. Try it, I dare you. Instead, I felt like I was taking her with me on that run, literally and figuratively wrapped around me and keeping me warm. It was a damn good run.

20150207-105105.jpg

I’ll be kind of sad when the weather warms up and I won’t be able to wear the jacket for a while. She wasn’t a runner, so it is unlikely that I will magically find a tank of hers to wear in the warmer months.

But until then, I’ll enjoy taking a piece of my mom with me on my runs, used tissues and all.

 

 

A Tale of Three 20’s

Three 20-mile runs. I have never before done THREE of them in a single marathon training cycle.

In 2012, I was a novice runner, and my marathon training included one 20-miler, which I accidentally turned into a 22-miler and almost killed my friend.

In 2013, I was supposed to run 2 X 20’s during that cycle, but the weekend before the first one was scheduled, I ran an extremely danger-zone-hot Ragnar Race, which was epic in and of itself, but also so epic that when I was done I felt like I had just run a marathon. I took the following week as a drop-in-mileage week to recover, and did the other 20-miler later in the cycle with a very sore toe (which turned out to be a plantar plate tear). It wasn’t pleasant, but I pushed through.

This year, when I got my training plan from Coach Erin for the 2014 TCS New York Marathon, I did a spit-take as I glanced at the plan. One…two…THREE twenty-milers??  *looking around the room*  Who..me?

Being that my mantra of the past 6 months has been Calm the Heck Down, (only substitute a certain cuss word for “heck”), I pretty much just told myself that over and over. I’m going to abbreviate it CTFD. I think it’s going to turn into my mantra for life in general.

Twenty miler #1/September 14th: “Relief”

Considering I went to bed at 1 AM and didn’t hydrate properly (was in Manhattan for a play the night before) this run went pretty well. My main goal was to finish, test out my fueling, and try out the elaborate blister-reducing system I had planned for my feet.

I did loops in town from the Starbucks (restroom and water available!) of 6 miles-4 miles-6 miles-4 miles. I was really stoked to have my Ragnar van-mate Iliana join me for the first 10, my friend Chris join for 6, and my bud Lori join me for 14. It makes the time go so much faster when we’re jabbering away. Also, running friends help you CTFD.

It was a bright beautiful day...hence, the squinting.

It was a bright beautiful day…hence, the squinting.

I didn’t bonk (which means I fueled well), and I held back my pace (re: CTFD) to make sure my average pace was 11:09/mile (my goal for long runs is the low-11’s). One teeny blister showed up, but other than that I was happy. I knew if I could get JUST ONE of these suckas under my belt that would acceptable. Not ideal, but acceptable, as it had been in the prior years. The run wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, but it certainly wasn’t the ugly depths of hell, either. It did, however, make me completely useless the rest of the day.

marathon long run 20-miler

Pretty much stayed this way the rest of the day.

Twenty-miler #2/September 28th: “Shock”

I made it through the 6-4-6-4 loops again. And I felt pretty…good! Controlling my pace (again, C-ingTFD), my average was 11:10/mile. I wasn’t completely wiped out afterward, either. But you what I felt afterward? SHOCK. I was shocked that I felt so…good! I believe my quote on my running log to coach Erin was, “WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?!”

TWO DOWN. I knew that if the wheels came off this training plan, I’d have two 20-milers under my belt. WHEW. I didn’t take a photo before or after the run, but I did take a recovery photo of The Icing Of the Cranky Toe whilst watching my son’s baseball game later that day. A day in the life of a mother runner…

marathon long run 20 miler

Don’t worry, it’s not reinjured. Just soothing the angry digits.

 

Twenty-Miler #3/October 12: “Confidence” 

I faced this one alone…on purpose. I wanted to test my own mettle, just me and my running tunes. I also thought “don’t fix what’s not broken” and stuck with my usual hilly 6-4-6-4 loop route. The last two miles needed to be at goal race pace, somewhere around 9:30-ish/mile. It was the kind of crisp, lovely fall day that makes you want to do a long run (oh wait, maybe that’s just me?), and I was also testing out my race outfit. I’m happy to say that after C-ingTFD, I did not make a bathroom stop, I fueled perfectly, my race outfit did not chafe in hideous places, my average pace was 10:53(!) and the last miles were 9:25 and 10:00. BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA-BOOM!

marathon long run

An eyes-closed selfie is my secret signal that I’m READY

Now I know why Coach Erin put three 20-milers on the plan. Not simply to put the miles on my feet, but to put the CONFIDENCE in my head. I feel READY. My race goal (TBA publicly soon) actually feels reachable. I could race tomorrow if I had to. Don’t get me wrong, I still have random twinges of anxiety about it, but all I have to do is CTFD, right?

Relief, shock, and confidence. Good things come in threes, they say. Good things, indeed.

Why Vampire Weekend Should Be On Your Running Playlist

First, Vampire Weekend is not, I repeat NOT, a goth band, nor are they vampires. Let’s get that out of the way first. You could politely call them alternative, but I call them brilliant. And fun. But not the band “fun..” That band is very different and have a name that’s hard to put into quotes. Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, let’s get some background.

For my very first half marathon in 2011, I had a frightening discovery about 10 minutes before the start: I hadn’t synced my ipod correctly the night before, and I didn’t have any of my running playlists! OH THE HUMANITY!  On the iPod were limited music selections (most of the memory was taken up by my husband’s audiobooks), but I did find Vampire Weekend. So, I listened to their first two albums on repeat all the way through the race, all 2 hours and 25 minutes of it. It got me over the finish line looking like this:

marathon training music vampire weekend

That was me in 2011 at the Cap City Half in Columbus, OH. Once again, racing with my eyes closed. The Richard Nixon hands, however, were fully planned. It turns out most, if not all, of Vampire Weekend’s songs make most excellent running music.

How would you describe their sound? It’s hard to pin down. I’d say like Paul Simon’s Graceland album, if Paul Simon were punkier, spunkier, and used more synth. Past and present music geeks will find African and ska percussion rhythms, surf-rock guitars, and string quartets to their liking. The inventive rhymes get the golf clap from me; the lead singer/songwriter was an English Lit major. I mean, if you can rhyme horchata with balaclava then you are just the bee’s knees in my book. Also, punking out a harpsicord like they do will beam rainbows of sound into your blessed eardrums.

So, here are my top 5 Vampire Weekend songs that you must put on your running mix. Think of this post as a virtual annotated mix-tape. You can sample the songs by clicking on the Spotify link (the visual is the album cover) that took me 4 hours to figure out how to embed into this blog. Not that I’m bitter about it or anything.

“RUN”

I place this song beginning of most of my race playlists. I love being surrounded by throngs of eager and hopeful runners while this galloping song plays. Running metaphor alert!
It’s all about escaping (with a rich girlfriend, natch) to a better place.

Favorite lyrics: “So lead my feet away / Cause all they do is stay”

“COUSINS”

I have no idea what this song is about. But at about 176 beats per minute of breathless, crisp, energetic awesomeness, who cares? And the bass line, good god, THE BASS LINE. Stick this in the middle of your playlist for a pick-me-up when you’re dragging.

Favorite lyrics: “Interesting colors I discovered myself / If your art life is gritty you’ll be toasting my health”

“M79”

This bouncy little ditty is about taking the M79 bus across Manhattan to visit the NYC Culture Center. Besides be a little ode to that trip, the intricate dueling strings in this piece are insane. It makes me want to pick up the viola lessons that I abandoned in 9th grade.

Favorite lyrics: “No excuse to be so callous / Dress yourself in bleeding madras”

“HOLIDAY”

This ska-tinged melodic fun-time song is another good one to put in the middle. Also, mentioning a font in your lyrics ups the geek-love factor ten fold.

Favorite lyrics: “She’d never seen the word bombs blown up to 96 point Futura”

“DIANE YOUNG”

From the newest album, it’s Elvis meets auto-tune, but I promise you it’s in a very non-Katy Perry way. Dying young…this is a very, very rock-n-roll song. Use this toward the end of a race, an “in the clutch” song if you will, and it will get you over the finish line. Turn this one UP.

Favorite lyrics: “Nobody knows what the future holds / It’s bad enough just getting old / Live my life in self-defense / You know I love the past cuz I hate suspense”

Vampire Weekend should be on your playlist because just about all of their songs have an infectous, curious, joyous undercurrent to them – even on the heavier themes. We should all try to run with joy in our hearts, and these songs can help. They make me feel young and fearless and help me forget I’m not young and fearless anymore. If these 5 songs don’t convince to you give them a try, then I just don’t know what I’ll do with you.

So Run with your Cousins and take the M79 to go on Holiday, just avoid Diane Young, okay? (see what I did there? BOOM.) No really, go enjoy – nothing like a fresh song on the ole’ iPod to get you out the door for a run. Do it. Now. Gorightnow. Go.

Hurdling Into Marathon Training

While the westerners have a been frying, we East Coasters have been drowning in rainy, soupy conditions. Perfect time to start training for marathon #2, the Philadelphia Marathon on November 17th!

Starting off with just an “easy” 3 miler, I waited until my husband got home from work and ran close to dusk. If I’m anywhere close to dusk, I usually wear a headlamp.

marathon training

“I will crush you with my smile, my headlamp, and the brute force of my shoulders.” *said with a intimidating Austrian accent*

I had bought some new Brooks Pureflows a while back and I was ready to break them in.

marathon training puddles rain

It’s been a tad wet lately.

I was about a mile into the run and the sanity was starting to creep in and the songs were flowing freely, when suddenly I came within a step of squishing this guy:

marathon training hurdling

My husband thinks it’s a Black Racer. So fitting, right??

I actually hurdled him like I was in some obstacle course race. I’m sure I let out an embarrassing little scream, I was so startled, as he blended right in with the asphalt. I’m not too scared of snakes, so I snapped a photo I could show to my husband, Nature Boy. (My big fear? Drowning. See Open-Water Swimming.)

Right at that moment, when I was hurdling the snake, I had been thinking about this upcoming marathon, and the metaphorical hurdles I would have to jump in order to make it happen.

  • Scheduling Hurdles. I have it better now that it’s summer. But once school is on the horizon and I’m toting the XL teacher bag I will probably have many of those kind of days where every single second of my day is planned with something besides running and I collapse in a spent heap on my pillow and answer my husband’s questions with a grunt. Subhurdles: Laundry Folding Hurdles, Kid Activity Hurdles, Pay Bills On Time Hurdles, Clean Up Cat Puke Hurdles, etc.
  • Physical Hurdles. I’m still battling the dastardly plantar fasciitis and one other annoying-yet-painful foot malady, yet to be diagnosed, that I am worried about. With any luck, there will be no face plants/road rash, or lung issues, or any new, uncalled-for affliction during this training cycle. I hope to have time to strength train and/or stretch more, but see Scheduling Hurdles above. Someone please invent a machine to stretch me in my sleep.
  • Mental Hurdles. These are the biggest ones and sometimes the hardest ones to overcome. I know that I can do better than I did with my first marathon…or can I? More than wanted to do better, I want to feel better at the end of this marathon. Can I do that? I want to, that’s for sure. There are 2x 20 mile long runs scheduled by Badass Coach Erin this cycle. They are a long way off but I’m already worried about which friend I will almost kill on them.

Hurdles, hurdles, everywhere.

IMG_8170Turn around? Or run forward?

With all of life’s hurdles, when in doubt, just RUN FORWARD, friends. Just be sure to look out for snakes.

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