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!

 

 

 

 

 

First Run of 2015, With Some Extra Wings

On December 30, 2014, my mom lost her battle with lung cancer.

On January 1, 2015, I ran the first miles of 2015 for her.

I hadn’t run since December 3rd. On that particular run, my breathing was heavy and my body ached. I took a break from running and workouts. My heart needed to be with her, not my running. I just didn’t have room for both.

On that first day of the new year, I wanted to run, my heart was ready. I felt sad, but also somehow light, lifted, and free…like I had some extra wings. I miss her terribly, but I’m relieved she is no longer burdened with pain and a broken body.

We did not live in the same state, but she got to see me run some races. She was not a runner, but she was my biggest supporter.

mother marathon support

My mother and my daughter cheering the first mile of my first marathon in matching pink coats.

marathon mother support

My mom and I freezing at the start of my first marathon, 2012.

marathon mother support

Before my first half marathon in 2011.

Philadelphia Marathon

She was with me at the Philly Marathon in 2013.

This next picture is from that New Year’s Day run a few days ago. I’m making the sign (albeit backwards) for “I love you,” as she was an educator for the heading impaired.

marathon mother support It’s going to be my new finish-line hand signal.

I love you, Mom.

Looking Forward, Looking Back, Looking Down (So I Don’t Trip)

So I’ve been a little lazy busy. I’m still basking in the afterglow of the Philadelphia Marathon back in November, but I haven’t run one. single. step.

I have an injury to my plantar plate, which is where your toe connects to the rest of your foot. Essentially, it is a partially torn ligament in my second toe. And yep, it’s a running injury. I’ll do a whole blog post on that later, but basically I must take a few months off from running to let it heal. I’m learning to be patient.

And truthfully, in December and January, I didn’t feel like I had anything to write about. The nice thing about being an unpaid blogger, is that I don’t have to write and you can’t make me. But starting to plan 2014’s race calendar has got the ole’ creative juices flowing. Not one to be on time, I figured February, rather than January, is a good time for me to be looking back at 2013, looking forward to 2014, and looking down always to avoid the annual Taking Of a Digger (see 2012’s here and 2013’s here).

2013 Highlights:

WOW. I guess I don’t feel so bad about taking a break from running. Breaks are good. Just ask my sweatshirt dress, which is about the only thing I could comfortably wear in December, as I had gained about 5 post-marathon pounds. Whoa. Another post on that later, too…

2014 training marathon triathlon

Much is blank for now, but just you wait.

Providing my toe cooperates, here’s what I have on tap for 2014:

  • I CAN’T WAIT to be a spectator when my husband runs The Ocean Drive Marathon in southern New Jersey in late March. Seriously, I have a plan to give out orange slices and play rockin’ tunes from the mini-van.
  • I’m going to volunteer to lead the Run Like a Mother 5k on the bike again. This time, I won’t look like one of the bike kids from E.T.
  • MIGHT be doing the Ocean City, NJ Triathlon. Working out logistics on that one…
  • In June, I’ll be strapping on the wetsuit again for the TriRidgefield Sprint Triathlon.
  • In August, I’ll do another triathlon, TBD, but strongly considering the Columbus (Ohio) International Triathlon – I’ll probably do the sprint version.
  • In November, I will FINALLY get to run the New York City Marathon!! (This is the makeup from the Hurricane Sandy snafu in 2012.)

So…that’s the plan, Stan. 2013 is going to be hard to top. But as long as I don’t face-plant, 2014 going to be a great running year.

What do you have planned for 2014?

A Marathon Decision

Only 604 days until my next marathon. I’d better get a move on that.

When the 2012 NYC Marathon didn’t happen, the New York Road Runners gave the participants a few options as a mea culpa:

  1. A full refund (minus those dang processing fees, of course). This would have been over $200, or
  2. A guaranteed entry to the 2013 NYC Half Marathon on March 17, 2013, or
  3. A guaranteed entry (NOT a free entry, but at the 2012 price) for either the 2013, 2014, or 2015 NYC marathons.

What to do…what to do? I feel like I’m on “House Hunters”. None of the choices are a home run, and I really hate the paint color in that living room and…never mind.

I recently got a horoscope Tweet (I can hear you giggling) which said, “Libras have a tendency to be indecisive over the simplest of decisions.” Well, DUH. But despite that hypothesis, I easily eliminated choice B, because I had already won an entry to the NYC Half through the NYRR’s lottery system. SWEET!

Now it’s between house #1 and house #3. Cue tech-pop-happy-decision-making-music. A full refund sounds temping, but I really, really, REALLY want to run NYC. Even though I’m over the NYC Marathon fail, I still want to do it, dreamer that I am. Twas an itch that wasn’t scratched. Regarding any marathon running in my lifetime, I had planned to be One and Done.  It was my 40th birthday present to myself. But now it’s like I’m out for vengeance/redemption, like in a Tarantino movie. (Just as much cursing, but much less blood. Unless I face plant. It’s happened before.) I know that I can do better than I did in the alternate marathon. Darn you, first-born competitive genes.kill bill unfinished business

Kill bill you aint kidding

So that leaves option 3, but which year? Actually, that’s simple. Training for a marathon is all-consuming, as I found out. Like, the only thing your body will let you do is eat, sleep, work and run, and none of those things you’ll be able to give 100% to. There is no hyperbole in that statement. I would like to add “have a life” to things I’d like to do in the fall of 2013. 2015 sounds too far away. It took me about 2 years of running to mentally and physically build up to a marathon. So…

THERE YOU HAVE IT. 2014 NYC Marathon, here I come! See you in 604 days…

Fellow 2012 NYC Marathoners, what option did you choose and how did you decide? Leave a comment below.

P.S. Don’t even UTTER the word “hurricane” to me around that time or else I might have to kick someone in a hurtful place.

Buh-Bye February!

Note: This was written before bronchitis struck on February 28th. February just reached a whole new level of suckery.

As much as I dislike the dreary March weather here in Connecticut, it’s still better than February. Now that I’m over my lung issues and my marathon issues, I’m ready to kiss February goodbye, and enjoy the upcoming NYC Half Marathon on March 17. Time to get thy butt outside!

But before I do, here are some things that I won’t miss about February:

The bundled-bandit look.

cold weather running

God, that’s sexy.

 Frost beards.

cold weather running

All the rage, and even sexier.

Fargo-like snow driftings.

cold weather running

You betcha.

Frozen (and sometimes mascara-caked) eyelashes.

cold weather running

Tammy Faye, eat your heart out.

cold weather running

Yes, they are short, but FROZEN together. (Note to self: Groom brows before next selfie.)

“Lane Closures”

cold weather running

Speed work or speed skating?

My Garmin died. Like, D-E-A-D. Less than a year old. I don’t have a photo of said dead Garmin. I tried every troubleshooting trick I could Google. Then mysteriously, 7 days later, it rose from the dead. I simply tried to plug it in one more time, and POOF! It started right back up again and has been working ever since. It was like it didn’t like February either and decided to hold a little GPS protest.

So remembering that my Garmin revived itself reminded me that February wasn’t all that bad. Here are a few redemptive affairs:

Like a true friend, Mary joined me for quite a bit of the self-torture. So did Amy, Lori, and Jen-with-one-n. Running friends, I tip my beanie to you.

cold weather running

She’s more cold-hearty than I.

Hey! I got some new shoes. PURPLE SHOES. I mean, really purple! But then I got them all muddy. But still…purple!

cold weather running mud new shoes

Why yes, that is original 1960 bathroom tile, and yes, it is that color. Thanks for asking.

My friend Nancy and I went to see the Broadway show The Heiress, staring my boyfriend Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens.  This has nothing to do with running, but it was a bright beacon in the pit of the month, and we had to fight our way out of Blizzard Nemo to get to see the curtain rise. Actually, perhaps it is a bit like running. Achieving a goal against seemingly insurmountable, snowy odds? Ok, it’s a weak link. Throw me a bone here.

I've never been so happy in 15 degree weather.

I’ve never been so happy in 15 degree weather.

So there you have it. Bring on March! And how was YOUR February, friends?

What I Did When I Wasn’t Running

Running in November (after the marathon) and most of December pretty much went down the tubes. But there were some bright points:

I got my picture on a Wheaties Box.  My friend and former neighbor Peggy, who has the highly enviable skill of being able to do open-water swimming with ease, sent this awesome gift to me after the marathon. On a related note, I once collected a Wheaties box that had Mary Lou Retton on it. Full circle.

Yes, I ate my Wheaties.

Yes, I ate my Wheaties.

20130110-215348.jpg

I gave these shoes their once-a-year wearing (to the LitWorld Holiday party).

Wearing these for 3 hours = worse than running 26.2 miles. Why did I torture myself?

Wearing these for 3 hours = worse than running 26.2 miles. Why did I torture myself?

I took several spinning classes at a private studio in the woods of CT. Mary introduced me to it. While it’s actually quite inexpensive it feels a little like a cross between a yoga studio and a country club, so I can feel little snobbish-slash-not worthy when I go.

Schwanky.

Schwanky.

While not a “bright point” per se, I had strange asthma flare-ups that lead to a change in medication and a future trip to the pulmonologist. (Apparently “adult acquired asthma” is a thing.)

Mama bear, papa bear, baby bear.

Mama bear, papa bear, baby bear.

I got this nifty running hat from my friend Jade. It’s got a nice high tech wicking fabric, but it’s in a military style design, which all the cool kids are wearing. She also sent me a running mix CD of totally inappropriate rap songs. Jade makes me feel like I’m 13 again and we’re biking to the convenience store (strangely enough called “Convenience”) to buy Fun Dip.

Phat hat.

Phat hat. (Yes, I’m wearing pajamas and a fleece hoodie. So very stylin’.)

While visiting my parents, I ran on their treadmill. Your eyes are not deceiving you. There are 3 TV’s within viewing distance. I’m not even going to attempt to answer the question of why this scenario exists. So of course, I didn’t watch any of them and ran with my ipod music instead.

The view from the treadmill. Look closely, and you might find a fourth TV that I haven't heard about yet.

Look closely, and you might find a fourth TV that I haven’t heard about yet.

While in my hometown, I ran 3 icy miles with my friend Dave, then I ate donuts, as one does when one runs with Dave.

Yum yum in my tum.

Yum yum in my tum.

My husband got me this sweet road bike for Christmas. It still needs a name. I was thinking it’s a “she”, but now I’m thinking it’s a “he”, so it will sound vaguely sexual when I announce I’m going for a ride. “Time to get on Marty McFly and do a 20!”

Rides like buttah.

Rides like buttah.

I signed up for my first triathlon, in June. Now if I could only get over my giant fear of open-water swimming (Note to self: Be Like Peggy – see above) with 100 other people, I’ll be good to go.

This is my husband's medal from last year. Will this be mine, all mine??

This is my husband’s medal from last year. Will this be mine, all mine??

I got into the NYC Half Marathon on March 17th (lottery luck!). As for training…guess I’d better get on that. I was kind of enjoying all the free time and the sleep and whatnot. But I’d gained back the pounds I’d lost from marathon training. I was becoming a big cranky-pants. Time to find the runlove again.

I started the New Year with a run with my bud, Mary. (I’m looking like a bandit due to the blasted asthma.).

I look like I'm on the run. Get it? HA!

I look like I’m on the run. Get it? HA!

It was a chilly, hilly 3.5-miler to start off January 1st. I’m glad I started back. My foot is still bothering me a bit, but wow, that felt good to run like that again.

So, what have you been up to lately? Have you done a triathlon? Do you spin? Do your parents have 3 televisions in the same room? I want to know! Leave a message in the comments.

Happy New Year!

The Atlantic City Half Marathon Kicked My Butt For My Birthday

Nothing says, “I’ve got something to prove” like running a half marathon for your 40th birthday. What was I trying to prove and to whom? Good question…

Dan, the kids and I headed down to Ocean City, NJ to spend the weekend at the beach with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, celebrate our milestone birthdays, and for us to run the Atlantic City Full Marathon (Dan) and Half Marathon (me).

Due to Dan’s back ailment, he had to defer his entry to next year, so I was running solo. This race, like the Ridgefield Half, was also a “tune up” race, as part of my taper to the NYC Marathon on November 4th. So nothing to go crazy with, but being that it’s fast, almost-flat course at the beach, and that it was my 40th birthday, I had something to prove to myself. Deep inside I wanted that Personal Record again.

The problem was, I had spent all week battling a cold and taking care of an ailing husband and daughter. I averaged about 5 hours sleep each night. I was congested and just plain dog tired. But I was going to run this thing. Just…keep…moving…forward…

We started in front of the Bally’s Casino on the Boardwalk.

marathon training long run

Blue skies are smilin’ at me.

The race had about 2500 entrants (full and half combined). It was a dry, cloudless, 50-degree fall day at the Jersey Shore. The port-a-potties were plentiful and the crowd was energized. Despite my lack of sleep, I think I fueled well. I ate clean-n-carby the night before (thanks to Karen, my S-I-L), and I stopped the fluids about 45 minutes before the race. Other than being in a zombie-like state, I was as ready as I could be.

Even though Dan didn’t run he was going to be my spectator. We left the kids in OC, so it was like a date, only with sweat and not actually being near each other for over 2 hours.

20121028-232722.jpg

I handed the camera to him. I wanted to give myself a break from taking photos during a run. Not long after the race started, I was kind of sorry I didn’t have it with me.

The gun went off, and since we were a little sardine-ish in the corrals, we do the shuffle-shuffle-shuffle-run! up to the start. The course ran up the Boardwalk for a couple of miles, then onto the streets of AC. I can appreciate how far AC has come in the past 30 years, but the presence of casinos against a backdrop of (some) lingering urban blight is just bizarre. Like at one point we were running behind the Borgata – one of the schwankiest in AC – and I spied with my little eye a disheveled woman in extremely short shorts of the not-running kind, walking barefoot, carrying stiletto heels and smoking a cigarette. The brain cannot reconcile such things easily – but a long race gives you time to ruminate on such things.

I would say the course was relatively flat. There were some small climbs from road ramps – at the top of one of the ramps I got a sweeping view of the back bay and the electric wind turbines. We ran about 1/2 mile in a tunnel that went under the AC Expressway (feelin’ hot! hot! hot!) that had a long climb out of it. There were times when racers were on ramps and above/below each other so you could randomly shout and wave to the other runners above/below you. Not that I did that. (Yes, I did.)

I felt surprisingly good for the first 7-8 miles. Dare I say it even felt “easy”. I found myself pacing with a 50-ish guy with a beard and a khaki cap. We had been within a few yards of each other since the beginning. When I would slow down to take a water, after I started up again I would look for Mr. Khaki Cap, and catch up to him. He would fall behind, then I would see him out of the corner of my eye, sneaking up on me again. We did this little game for about 9 miles. When you pace with someone that long without talking to other (or even looking at each other), it’s like a little game of tag. It’s another Jedi mind-trick to get you through the race.

After mile 8, things…just…started…to…slow…down. Mr. Khaki Cap pulled ahead of me and I had trouble tracking him. The course went back up on the boardwalk, and south past the start/finish line. The Half Marathoners continued about 2 miles south, then we were do to a complete 180 degree turnaround and head back north to the finish. There were no “lanes” to run in, so things got kind of wacky, as I found myself dodging tourists and spectators, and half marathoners coming from the opposite direction.

I did see Dan once around mile 10.

long run marathon training

I don’t want to know what the store behind me is advertising.

I got a smile and a wave and a cheer! That perked me up a bit (I was also happy to see Dan standing up at that point – I was worried that his back problem would make him go jelly-legged that morning.).

But after that, it just got hard. I can’t say that it was one specific part of my body that hurt, but my energy was tanking. I did my normal fueling of a gel and some nibbles of Clif bar. It helped, but I was still struggling. I stopped looking at my Garmin back at mile 11 – I didn’t want to know. I was afraid my perceived effort didn’t match my real pace. I don’t normally need a mantra to repeat unless I’m climbing a hill, but I started thinking about my birthday, and then I started thinking about how far I’ve come as a runner. I started running when I was 37, so for some unknown reason I just kept repeating the numbers 37, 38, 39, 40 over and over again, like a lame trance. The song “Unwritten” came on my ipod, and I just repeated 37…38…39…40 in my head like a broken record, in time with the music.

I don’t remember ever turning so far inward during a race before. Usually I’m with Mary, or I’m watching the crowds, soaking in the atmosphere. This was completely different. I tuned out everything around me, listened to my breath, felt every footstep. I passed Dan close to the finish without even seeing him.

long run marathon training

Not even a glance…

He said he was yelling for me, but I didn’t hear him. He said he almost didn’t recognize me because I had my “race face” on. I’m guessing he means this face:

marathon training atlantic city

Now that’s a race face.

I am known for my smiley face race photos. This was not a smiley-face moment.

Shortly thereafter, I crossed the finish line. I remembered to stop my Garmin (I often forget) and was shocked, shocked! to see 2:09:05 – a new Personal Record by about 45 seconds! I always try not to linger in the woulda-shoulda-couldas of my mind, but I admit I did briefly wonder what I could have done had I actually been rested that weekend.

I did prove something to myself that day – that I could push through the hard parts to get to the good parts. Maybe it’s a metaphor for turning 40…I’ve pushed through the hard parts of 20’s and 30’s, so that my 40’s will be even sweeter. Or maybe more tiring. I can’t tell which yet.

20121028-232701.jpg

Sporty Forty.