Sunday Snaps

In the spirit of my love for instagram, I thought I would dedicate Sundays to my favorite snaps. Just a little visual of ‘lately’ if you will.

I love getting out of work at night with plenty of daylight left to soak up the evening sun on my runs…evening miles

Now if only I can get the temps to warm up.

I have been on a Spring cleaning spree. It feels so good to just pare things down ya know. After spending hours cleaning out my dresser and closet I have come to the conclusion that I need another fitted t-shirt like a hole in my head and that my love of scarves has gotten out of control.

scarvesSadly this is only half of them. I have a whole other box in my coat closet. Oy!

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day my boss bought me this:mint vodka whip creamThat would be Irish Mint Vodka Whipped Cream. Can you say trouble?! Oh, and it taste REALLY good. Like I need another excuse to suck whipping cream from the can.

Speaking of booze, does anyone else devote a whole shelf of their fridge to it? fridge favoritesI am really digging Shock Top Belgian White as of late.

Another thing that has been my jam is avocados.sammieI put them on my sandwiched, in my scrambled eggs, on my salads, in my tacos….I think they pretty much pair with anything.  Or just eat them plain. Yeah, I do that too.

My hubby and I rolled out of out sweats for once and spit polished ourselves up for his brothers wedding. I even dared to rock some red lips.me and my man

Even Rogan was impressed:Rogan

Almost as impressed as I was to be spending my Saturday at Lowes. Just like last Saturday. And the Saturday before that. And the one before that…..loathe lowes

At least Joe knows how to bribe me:shamrock shake

Last but not least, I really loved this months issue of Runners World. Especially the article about Steve Prefontaine:Prefontaine

Gosh I love that!

Did anyone do a Shamrock Race this weekend? I ran with my Run Camp group and had a fun 9 miles.

Buh-Bye Winter, Hello Half Marathon

Ahhh, March. Thanks for showing up. Now be good and bring some warm weather with you :-)

bye winter

Like most Michigan runners, I am so over running in the snow. Yeah, yeah. I feel like a bad ass when I get out there and brave the weather. And it IS beautiful, peaceful. There is something truly magical about leaving your footprints in fresh snow.

But…..

It feels so good to shed the layers! To feel dry pavement under your feet. To be able to feel your fingers on a run. To not have to worry about a chapped face from the brutal winter wind. To not have your water bottles freeze up!

The forecast has 40 degree days ahead. 40’s and 50’s are my FAVORITE running temps. Ahhh. Bring it!

Now that the weather is in my favor, and the time change is finally happening (hello sunshine after work, I have missed you!) I getting re-energized about running again. I am looking forward to the next two months of Run Camp and I am also looking forward to running this:
Gazelle Girl Half Marathon

The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon is a women only race to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX. I had not planned on running it because it was a little on the pricey side in my opinion for a half ($75), but after I had to sit out the Winter Blast half due to the plague I wanted in on it! Wouldn’t you know, it was CLOSED when I went to sign up. Bummer. There is a happy ending though, and a friend who had signed up could no longer make it and she sold me her bib for only the price of the $10 transfer fee. Score!

Actually the happy ending will be when I finally get that PR ;-)
I kid!
Sorta.

So to summarize: the weather is showing signs of warmth and I am signed up officially for my third half marathon. The wonderful joys of an upcoming Spring!

Ok, I am off to bed early in hopes of an early morning run. Joe thinks that I will hit snooze and skip it until after work, so now it’s on! I hate to be proven wrong!

Do you have a price limit on your races? What is the most you have ever paid for a half marathon? 

Moving Forward

It has been eight days since the race that wasn’t. Now that I am on the other side of the disappointment of not being able to take part in the Winter Blast Half Marathon and I am feeling back to my healthy self again, I am ready to lace back up my Brooks and get back to what I love: running.

You see, I am invested in running. For a million reasons, running has become a part of me. I am lots of things: a wife, sister, aunt, coworker, friend. I am a reader, husky lover, craft beer enthusiast, terrible (but passionate) cook, and a live music junkie. I am quick-tempered, stubborn, loyal, funny (at least in my mind!) and a tad OCD. And I am a runner. It has become a part of me. Like my hazel eyes and dimpled chin.

Even though I might hit roadblocks along the way or have setbacks here and there, I know that in my heart I am still a runner. I may become burnt out and need a short break. My schedule can sometimes overflow and days might pass without one mile ran. I might wake up on the morning of a much anticipated race with an awful norovirus and it may take days before I am recovered enough to even think about pace, routes, and speedwork. It doesn’t matter. I am still a runner. It may lay dormant for a short while for whatever reason, but the passion, the urge, the need to run – it always comes back. Eventually my mind, body and soul crave it.

Last night, after eleven long days, I ran.
linkingup

Eleven days is a long time for me to go without a run. It didn’t take very long for my body to sink into the rhythm of the steps and for my soul to sigh with pleasure: this is just what my body (and heart and mind) needed. 

It’s hard to put into words, but when I am on the road my body, mind, and soul feel whole. They act as one. I do my best thinking and feeling on a run. I let go of stress, I work thru problems, I talk to God. I zone out, I zone in. I push myself, I find myself, and I feel like my best self when I am running. That’s why I am a runner. That’s why even if there is a roadblock or setback, missed run, or missed race, I will always find myself back out on the road. 

From here I am moving on from my missed race and looking ahead. Nothing is on the schedule yet, but I think I am at a point where running for the pure love of it is enough. I still have the passion in my heart for a half marathon PR and I am hoping to use that as fuel for my fire over the next few months. We will have to wait and see what the Spring race schedule and my training with Borgess Run Camp have to offer.

One thing I do know though: I am so happy that I am healthy and able to be doing what I love. There is a lot of gratitude and satisfaction in that. 

“My mindbender came along when I opened my mind (and my heart) to and consider that every “no” makes room for an unexpected “yes”. Every delay, fortifies our patience and allows for time to prepare and mature. Every physical setback forces us to rest and recover, building strength in other ways. Every weakness and temptation heighten our awareness of our need for others and God. Every bout of loneliness or depression remind us to love lavishly when we are able. Every embarrassment keeps our sense of humor intact. Every gaping hole of loss could be a window. Perhaps every failure is not really a “failure” but a “blessing” in suspicious packaging.” –Kristin Armstrong, Mile Markers

Friday Favorites

What a week! I am feeling a lot better, but my stomach is still giving me problems! My sister (the nurse in training!) thinks that I have food poisoning verses a virus. In that case it can take up to two weeks for it to move out of my system. Oy!

At any rate it is almost the weekend so I think we should focus on the better things in life! It has been for-ev-er since I have done a ‘Friday Favorites’ post, so I thought that I would bring it back from the dead today. Here is what is rocking my world as of late:

Favorite Read: Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock

dancing on broken glass

This book, oh this book. The story, the characters, the prose. It captured my heart. From amazon:

“Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler probably shouldn’t have fallen in love, let alone gotten married. They’re both plagued with faulty genes—he has bipolar disorder; she, a ravaging family history of breast cancer. But when their paths cross on the night of Lucy’s twenty-first birthday, sparks fly, and there’s no denying their chemistry.

Cautious every step of the way, they are determined to make their relationship work—and they put their commitment in writing. Mickey will take his medication. Lucy won’t blame him for what is beyond his control. He promises honesty. She promises patience. Like any marriage, there are good days and bad days—and some very bad days. In dealing with their unique challenges, they make the heartbreaking decision not to have children. But when Lucy shows up for a routine physical just shy of their eleventh anniversary, she gets an impossible surprise that changes everything. Everything. Suddenly, all their rules are thrown out the window, and the two of them must redefine what love really is.”

I finished this novel almost two weeks ago, but I keep thinking about it. I love when a story stays with you and you wonder what the characters are up to now. This is one of those stories!

Favorite Jam: Anything – and I mean ANY-THING! – by the Avett Brothers

They can do no wrong in my eyes. Every song speaks to my heart. Joe and I saw them live for the second time this month and the whole show was perfection. Each song is poetry set to the music of strings and amazing vocals. Besides that, those brothers are HAWT! The folky, hipster, banjo lover in me cannot get enough.

Favorite Eye Candy: Charlie Hunnam charlie hunnamI am still watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix and I am almost done with season four, aka the season where Jax cuts of his hair. And just when I think that he could not possibly get any hotter. Does anyone else watch this show?! It’s gooooood. Someone please tell me that Clay gets what he deserves. No wait! Don’t spoil it for me!

Favorite Polished Paws: OPI Mermaid Tearsnail

A perfect shade for the Spring Fever that I have building up inside me!

Favorite Truth:run quoteFavorite Dainty Feet: Toms Crochet ClassicstomsI think there are two types of people in this world: those who love TOMS shoes, and those who think they are ugly. I LOVE them. Every Spring I treat myself to a fresh, new pair and this year that pair will be the crochet classics. Best part is they are giving free shipping right now if you use promo code: CROCHET13. I love me a good deal!

Favorite Bite: Baked Mac & Cheese with Kale and Baconwhitecheddarmacncheesekalebacon1-1

Joe and I are HUGE mac & cheese fans and once we can handle rich foods again I am so making this!

Favorite Mitten Love: Manistee Pure Michigan 

This is my hometown! I love that the beauty of my small town is getting a lil’ recognition!

Favorite Running Must Have: Diamond Roga Shortsdiamond-roga_5

How cute are these?! I so see me nabbing a Spring half marathon PR in these babies ;-)

Favorite Funny: Off the Leash Dog Cartoonoff the leash
This is my life! I have to laugh at this because it is so true!

Favorite A-ha: How to hang a sweatersweater

Let’s file this under ‘why didn’t I think of that!’.

Favorite Sip: Ginger Mint SmoothiesmoothieThis smoothie was the only thing that sounded (and tasted!) good to me this week. If your stomach is upset like mine was, ginger does wonders! Just sub more ice instead of milk and yogurt because dairy does not do wonders on a sour tummy. End result: Refreshing!

There ya have it! I am wishing everyone a happy, safe, and run filled weekend! I am kicking off mine with a Friday night wedding. Oh la la!

Tell me what you are reading, eating, sippin’, watching, or jamming to this week!

The Race That Wasn’t

My heart is so full with all of the well wishes and good luck that you sent for my race! Truly, you all are the best!

But….

I did not get to race. (Ahhh, it pains me so much to even write that!) Yep, my very first DNS. I went to bed on race eve a little nervous, a lot excited, and downright eager to get up and see what the Winter Blast Half Marathon had in store for me.

A few hours later I awoke from my slumber to hear my man getting sick in the bathroom. I got up to comfort him and offer him some water. When I finally crawled back into bed I tossed and turned while he moaned away in pain.

Exhausted, I finally officially woke up and my stomach felt off. I tried to ignore it and hopped in the shower to get ready. (Yes, I was showering BEFORE getting all sweaty. It helps me wake up!)  That’s when the first wave of nausea hit. From there on out, things got ugly real fast.

Out of all mornings, why oh why did I have to get sick the day of my race?! Ughhhh! So, so bummed. Joe and I took turns in the bathroom all day and I tried to ignore the fact that I was missing out on my half marathon. I became so dehydrated and weak, that by the time Sunday night rolled around I did not even care about the race. I just wanted to be healthy!

And here we are three days later and my stomach is still off. I have been living off of bread, crackers, Gatorade, and soup. I haven’t been able to run. I mean I need to be by a bathroom at all times if ya catch my drift.  Ah well, I am trying to look at the bright side: I am pretty sure that I have lost five pounds. flu

I have started to feel a lot better tonight, so I think I am finally on the upswing. That’s a good thing, because if I go much longer without my beloved coffee or running, I might hurt someone. No joke.

Have you ever signed up for a race and not been able to make it to the starting line? Do you shower before a race?

Race Eve

Tomorrow morning I will set out to run my third half marathon, The Portage Winter Blast.winterblast

On one hand I feel ready to tackle 13.1 miles. I have had some solid, faster runs lately that have helped boost my confidence that just maybe a PR is within reach.

On the other hand, I have not had that many longer runs under my belt this training cycle. I was hoping to get at least one solid 13 mile run in, but the most I went was 12 and that was a few weeks ago.

And then there is the fact that this is the WINTER BLAST half marathon. Tomorrow’s temps will sure not disappoint the name of the race: weather

A whopping 12 degrees at the start….ouch! Good thing that I trained in some crazy conditions :-)

winter training

So here I am, on race eve. The training is behind me. My overnight oats are soaking, my bib is pinned, and my iPod shuffle is charged. I am ready as I can be. Now it’s time to go out there and see what race day will bring. Wish me luck!

Struggle Bus

I am thanking my lucky stars that when I was training for my marathon last year, that Michigan had a pretty mild winter. Sure, there were a couple of days where the weather was a challenge, but they were few and far between.

This year though is a different story. Snow, snow, and more snow. And cold, windy chills galore. Running in these conditions have been tough and I feel as though it is starting to wear on my confidence for my race in two weeks.

Let me back up.

I wanted to get 13 miles in this past Saturday. I went to bed early on Friday, made sure that I was properly fueled, hydrated, and dressed. Basically, I felt that I did everything right to ensure a quality long run, the last before my race.

The second session of Run Camp started this past Saturday and the membership SWELLED! I have said it before, and I will say it again. It feels so awesome to be apart of a community that supports and encourages new and veteran runners alike. From seasoned marathoners to brand new 5K racers, runners came out in droves to train together thru the winter. How awesome is that?!

Run Camp

Source.

Unfortunately, the weather did not get the memo we were going to be out on the road for some serious miles. The roads were snow covered, the wind was intense, and the farther we ran, the harder it snowed. Snowy Run Camp

Source.

It felt as though I was running in sand the entire time I was out there. The plow trucks had yet to make an impact and the roads were covered in ice. In short, it was hard! I struggled thru 5 and a half miles before I decided to cut my run two miles short and turn around.

My pace was the slowest it has been all season, yet I felt that I was working overtime for the miles. Not to mention the route that we were on was super hilly! This run kicked my butt! I was sore, tired, and defeated as I finished up. Oh, and my confidence for a half PR in two weeks flew out the window.

Struggle bus, I was on it for sure.

It’s really hard to accept a bad run when you feel that you did everything right and that you gave it your all. Sometimes though, things like the weather might not be on your side. I learned last year to accept runs like this as ‘character building runs’ and to shift my focus on WHY I was out there training.

I know that running through the conditions that I ran through yesterday will make me a tougher, stronger runner. I know that I am getting a better workout running through the snow and I am using different muscles than I would have otherwise. I know that when the road is cleared off that I will feel lighter than ever after running through the ice and slush.

I also know that despite the struggles, Saturday’s run was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. The snow-covered trees…the crisp, fresh, clean look of the early morning run was so peaceful. To get up and experience my town thru the eyes of an early morning runner is a truly magical thing.

I know that I gave 100% on this training run despite what the numbers on my GPS represented. That’s all I can do, is give my all.

On race day, that is my plan. To give it my all. If that equals a PR, I will be ecstatic. But if I come up short, that means that I will have to keep on trying. And I will.

Winter Running

What are your tips for bouncing back from a non-steller training run?

Three Things Thursday

  1. Thanks for your support on my journey to get speedier. I love how you suggested mile repeats and intervals. I used both of these tools in the past and I know that they work great. Sometimes I feel that I need to go to a track to get a good speed session in, but that is not the case! I am going to take these suggestions to heart and will start incorporating them into my routine. Here’s a great article that I found on mile repeats. mile repeats
  2. I don’t want to be one of those people who always complains about the weather, but OH. MY. GOSH! Can Michigan please make up its mind?! Dropping 40 degrees in a few hours time is not cool. Yep. Back to snow, ice, and wind after an almost 60 degree day. Michigan Weather
  3. I am in deep, deep love with this song. I want to run into the sunset with it.

What’s rocking your Thursday?

Speedy, Redeeming Miles

Just when I get back to the blog and droned on about Winter Running, things start to ‘thaw out’ in Michigan. While my Sunday in Kalamazoo was snow covered and cold, my Monday was warm for Michigan and rainy. Image

Today we are expected to reach record highs of close to 60 degrees! Mind you this time last week we had NEGATIVE wind chills! To say that the weather can not seem to make up its mind is an understatement.

I knew that the Spring-like temps would not stick around for long so I laced up my running shoes last night for a quick three miler around my neighborhood.

Even though the run was short, it was just what I needed. I felt light, speedy, and I was down right giddy for the whole 27 minutes of being out on the road.

My last couple of runs prior to this one have almost felt like a chore. My legs felt heavy and sluggish, and the weather put a damper on my motivation. I was getting my running in, but without reaching the ‘runner’s high’ or even coming close to enjoying it.

And just when you start to think, “What am I even doing training anyways? This is not even fun….”

BAM!

You have an amazing run that reminds you of WHY you put in the time, the sweat, and your heart into this little old thing called running.

I think what made this run a little more sweet for me was the fact that I was working hard to push myself (and felt pretty decent up until the last half mile!).

You see, I have never been a fast runner. I am a back-of-the-packer so to speak. While training for the marathon last year I saw my pace get slower and slower. I was okay with that. I was working on building my endurance and in my mind, that meant that my pace would have to suffer.

Now that I have my first marathon under my belt, I want to change gears and work on speed. While I was content with 11 minute miles for marathon training, I am not content with that for half marathon training. I am ready to aim for a PR.

To get faster, I need to run faster right?!

That’s why I am incorporating tempo runs and short speedy runs into my training. One run a week I go out for 3 miles and push myself to run outside of my comfort zone (which, as of late has been 10:30-11:30 minute miles).

I know it’s just for three miles, but am aiming for a sub 9:30 pace. I wanted to start small and work my way up. Hopefully by this Spring I can hold this pace for four miles and then five.

Here is how it is going so far this training cycle:

Week One: 9:57 average pace per mile

Week Two: 9:23 average pace per mile

Week Three: Snow storm! Safety first! Skipped speedwork for a nice and easy run.

Week Four: 9:18 per mile

Yes, I know that for most runners this pace would not be speed worthy, but for me it represents hard work. I love seeing improvement and I hope that the trend continues. I am hoping that shorter, speedy runs combined with tempo runs and stride-outs will help me achieve the goal that I have for this year: a half marathon PR!

Another factor that made last nights run: MUSIC! I brought my iPod out of hibernation and when Missy Elliot’s ‘Music Makes Me Lose Control’ came on, I put that baby on repeat! Talk about an oldie, but a goodie! An awesome jam to run to :-)

What old school jam do you have on your iPod that brings out the speed in you?

As Chelsea mentioned on her blog yesterday, I am also a BIG fan of Outkast’s B.O.B.

Winter Training

I decided it was time to dust off the old blog and write a little bit about how my half marathon training is going. Last year this time I was knee-deep in marathon training. I was venturing into an unknown territory as far as mileage, running 15+ miles for the first time. Each week I pushed myself until I was oh-so-spent. In a word, marathon training was intense. I had to learn how to overcome not only the physical challenges, but the mental ones too of distance running. I also was learning how to properly fuel and the secrets to a speedy recovery. ImageThis time around, training with Borgess Run Camp for the third year, I feel a lot more prepared. I know which fuels work for me, I know a few things about recovery, and I have fallen in love with the ‘long run’.

Yep, I think I am getting the hang of how to tackle a Winter training season. And I must say, without the pressure of the ‘unknown’, I am a lot more relaxed than I have been in the past.

I am listening to my body and if I need an extra rest day like I did this past week, I take it (no guilt!).  I am making sure that I get in my tempo runs and one day of speedwork each week. I am also embracing the ‘long run’, making sure that I take it nice and slow and enjoy my miles.

I am hoping that this will all lead to a PR next month, but I am also keeping in mind that the weather might not be on my side.

This past week Winter came a knocking in West Michigan! Negative wind chills, lots of snow, and icy, unplowed roads do not make the best speedy running conditions. My dog seems to enjoy it, but I have been struggling out on the road!

Image

I refuse to let the weather hold me back too much. I dress accordingly, slow down, watch my footing, and grin and bear it. I am saying a little prayer that race day will be nice and dry. Oh, and no wind chill! That’s the worst!

Training thru a harsh Winter is not easy, but there are a few tips that I have picked up over the past few years that have made it a little easier:

  • Don’t be afraid of the cold! If you are dressed properly it will make running in extreme cold much more manageable. Smartwool works great, as do layers and windbreakers.
  • Slow down! If the roads are too icy cross train instead or find a treadmill. Injuring yourself is not worth it.
  • Be seen! Rock the reflective gear and headlamps if you are going out after dark. Image
  • Run for time instead of distance. I took this route with this past Saturday’s long run. My original goal was 12 miles. I awoke that morning to snowy, unplowed roads. After the first mile I knew that it was going to be a tough run. It felt as though I was running in quick sand! I decided to turn off my GPS watch and run for time rather than miles. I figured that a little over two hours on the road would be a great run to build endurance. That ended up being 10 miles rather than 12 due to the conditions, but I felt as though I worked very hard for those miles, definitely harder than if I was to do 12 miles on a dry roads condition day. Sometimes it’s okay to have plan B, as long as you get out there and do your best.

I am three weeks out until the Winter Blast Half Marathon and despite the challenges of Winter training, I am feeling very good about this race. In the mean time I am trying to decide what other races that I want to add to 2013. I think that this will be the year of the half marathons for me!

What are your ‘Winter Blues’ training tips? What is your big race objective this year?