3 years (and 1 month), 1161 miles, Friendship and Family

  
This is the hardest recap to date. I find I’m struggling with perspective on a year that saw new adventures and unevenness in commitment. In many ways, it seems to be my new normal.

The blahs…

Honestly, I can’t blame last winter (but how how convenient it would be to blame all that snow) – it was all me. By accident, I learned that I had reached a point in my running that I could pull off a race without a lot of training. It may not be my best time, but it wasn’t even that far off. Training seemed unimportant (eek!)

There were months with a lot of miles and months with very few miles; yet there were miles. Even when it didn’t seem like much, I would get out and walk. The hardest part was deciding to run when walking seemed just fine.

Time to run…

As the boys get older, my schedule continues to change. This is obvious, yet hard to get a handle on. I’ve said before that I try not to say we are busy (all the time) and accept it as normal. To sound like a teenager, “all of my friends are doing it too!”

I’m pretty good at sneaking in running time, but it is definitely the first thing to go. My goal for the summer is to be more consistent in my running. I’ve been pretty good about it, but last summer was pitiful. 

Friendship…

This year saw not only running with my usual partner in crime, but reconnecting with an old friend. We had lost our ways when our kids were tiny and we live 30 minutes apart. A mutual love of running has allowed us to meet mid-way and chat through our miles.

I can’t imagine running without my friends. They help get me out and keep me going. It is always a highlight within my week!

Family…

Not only have I expanded my friend circle, but my family circle as well. My husband and I never thought we would run more than a 5k, this year we ran our first 10k and 5+ mile legs of a marathon relay and a 5 miler! We’ve already run as many races in 2016 as we did in the spring and fall of last year. Pretty crazy!

There has also been the welcome addition of our youngest running 5Ks. Our oldest has enjoyed them and we are now at a point where we trust him on the course by himself. The youngest was a little more hesitant. Mainly because of his asthma. We worked out an agreement where I run with his inhaler and he runs with me. Somehow, he already has three races under his belt.

We are at the beginning of their busy sports season and I’m not sure how many races they’ll run this spring, but it has been amazing to include them in the fun. It’s only a matter of time before they are both speeding by me on the course.

Sharing the running bug…

I am asked about running often, probably because I talk about it so much ;), and I have to say it has given me so much more than I ever imagined. When I am contemplating (arguing in my head) about walking or running on any given day – I remember how much I enjoy the race and time with my friends and family.

When I started running and followed runners on social media, I would get frustrated when people would post “a quick 5k today” because I was still struggling to get through a 5k. Now, 3 miles doesn’t seem far (I’m still not quick) and I get it. I vividly remember the struggle to get through one mile and I’m not going back to it!

Some days and weeks are easier than others, but it has all been worth it!

Shamrock Shuffle ~ Family Fun

   
One of my favorite things about my running journey is the addition of running with the kids. It is nice to have races to run with my husband and different races to run with the entire family. The Shamrock Shuffle was a great race to run with the kids.

We ventured up early to check out the course and the sights. The race began and ended by Plymouth Rock and went along the water. It gave us the opportunity to play tourist and meet up with friends!

  
The race had a good turnout and there was a lot of green!

  
We split up at the start according to our paces. I was running with our youngest. He was enthusiastic the first time we ran a 5k together and was less enthusiastic the second time. He really wanted to do this race so I was hopeful.  

He was a complete joy through the entire race. There was a running commentary the whole time and he was excited to pick out scenery shots along the way. He still doesn’t maintain a consistent pace so there is a lot of running and walking. I let him determine our pace and followed his lead. It worked out well!

  
Our oldest finished with his best time (26:01) and placed second in his age group! The entire day was a great success and we can’t wait for the next one!!

  

My first official 10k!!!!

  
My head is still spinning and I’m having a hard time putting all of my emotions into words, but I’ll give it a try 😉

I’m not sure how I got to this point and yet it has been a long time in the making. Weird, right?  Last year, I decided to forget my “I’ll never run more than a 5k” and look for the next challenge and then the snow came ~ cancelling many winter races, including what was supposed to be my first 10k.

Let’s just say training fell flat after that. The boys’ schedules were crazy and while I was still running, my runs weren’t as long or as consistent. This fall, I ran the hilly 6.15 mile portion of the Cape Cod Marathon Relay relatively unprepared and felt better than I expected. While I was happy with the entire experience, I had hoped to be a little faster.

My husband and I had always planned to run the 10k from last year and signed up pretty early. Somehow, I didn’t really train properly (sensing a theme?). I was running consistently and put in plenty of miles in January for the Winter Warrior challenge. Still, I didn’t feel as prepared as I did last year. 

I found I was having a lot of doubts about this race. Yes, I would finish; but would it be the time I was capable of? I didn’t know. I held onto the fact it was my first 10k and would be my PR (Personal Record) regardless. 

I had a pretty good idea about what my pace would be and was hoping to be done around 1:10 and would accept 1:15 (due to lack of training). By my calculations, this meant I would be finishing with the front runners of the half marathon. This did not thrill me.

I know I’m racing myself and all of the other feel good statements, but there is something about finishing 6.2 miles at the same time someone is finishing 13.1 miles.

The race…

The weather could not have been any better! It was sunny, in the high 40s and breezy (ok, really windy). It seemed as if the weather was making up for last year! I wasn’t sure about layers and knew I over dressed for the frozen pilgrim. I decided to put my number on my leg, allowing me to peel layers off along the way.

We found our friends (who were running their first half marathon!) and headed to the start with 3,000 of our friends. This is definitely the largest race we have ever been in!

  
My primary goal was negative splits (faster pace each mile) and to simply run. I started without music and decided to just go with it. My legs felt great right away and I was a little nervous I was going too fast. 

I overheard someone say their pace and figured I should be fine. As I went along, my legs and breathing felt good. I took my jacket off around mile 2 and was happy with my layers from there.

The course was absolutely beautiful! I didn’t dare stop for pictures, afraid I would ruin a good thing. I simply enjoyed the view! Knowing the course so well, was a huge advantage. I picked out landmarks in my head and checked in with myself at each of these points. Everything felt good and I kept going.

I never put in my headphones. I had no idea what my pace was. I let the sound of all the sneakers and the view of all the brightly colored runners keep me going. All I knew was it felt great! I was happy through the entire course!

As I came around the final corner, I saw 1:08 on the clock and ran hard. I was going to beat my goal! After crossing the finish line, my phone congratulated me on my fastest 10k at 1:05! Could it be?

Just as I collected my medal, the first finisher for the half marathon crossed the finish. What? Two goals accomplished 😉

My official chip time was 1:05:17! My first mile was 11:17 and then I maintained a 10:30 pace and mile six was a 10:15 pace!

  
This race reminded me of everything I love about running. It was exactly what I needed!!

I’m a winter warrior!

  
OK, the challenge was for January and we are nearing the end of February; but I’m still excited about all January had to offer. Throughout December, I couldn’t pick a goal or word for 2016. Nothing was really exciting me. I decided it was time to focus on feeling success in what I already do. My plan was to run distances I felt good about and feel good with the weights and reps I do in class.

Then I signed up for the Winter Warrior challenge on January first. My friend had mentioned it earlier in December and I wasn’t ready to commit. A) I don’t like being cold (ever) B) How does this fit with feeling successful in what I’m currently doing C) What the hell – go for it 😉

I had already done the First Day 5k when I signed up and decided to go all in. They give you an option to buy the shirt when you sign-up. The names of everyone who completes the challenge are on the back. Of course I decided to buy it and there was no way my name wasn’t going to be on it!

  
I decided to do the bronze challenge which meant getting in one mile everyday (walking or running) outside for the month of January. The boys and I found a fun mile in the neighborhood that includes a decent hill. I also found a flatter mile in the neighborhood for the truly yucky days.

Luckily, the least inviting days fell on days I run with friends. There were times we were tempted to do our miles in the neighborhood or my friend not doing the challenge was going to go on the treadmill. Somehow, we decided to get together and get it done. Something about sharing the experience and if you’re going to put on all those layers, it might as well be for more than a mile 😉

  
My friends doing the challenge and I even got our mile in through gross weather before attending the Pats playoff game ;). As we said in my house, anything for my name on a shirt!

The challenge was a huge success and gave me the perfect goal to start the year! It allowed for success and took some extra effort. There were a few times I told my friends “I am not this bad ass!” Turns out I am 😉 There were some bitter cold, windy and snowy days; yet I conquered them with my friends and it felt great!!

I was excited to complete the challenge with my husband and friends at the Frozen Pilgrim. Maybe even more excited to celebrate with a cold beer after 😉

Time to find a new challenge – I really enjoy the external motivation!

Frozen Pilgrim – wasn’t that cold!

  Our friends were running the Frozen Pilgrim in Plymouth and it sounded like a fun excuse to run and hang out. Somehow the photos of the course covered in snow and last year’s cancellation didn’t sway us (not really sure what happened to me that snow and cold didn’t scare me).

There were three distance options: one, three or five miles to coincide with the Winter Warrior challenge (more on the challenge in a later post).  We all decided to run the three mile course.

Race day came and it was beautiful! Sunny and 50 degrees for January 31st is as perfect as it gets! Dressing can be a little tricky and I definitely overdressed. I knew I was in trouble when I wasn’t cold at the starting line 😉

There was a great turnout for the race and everyone was excited about the weather. We were a little surprised about a big hill one mile in – thankfully, the view at the top was beautiful and then there was a big down-hill :).  My friend and I decided to walk up the hill and run the rest. I haven’t done this in a race when I had the ability to run the entire distance. It worked out really well and gave us good power through the rest of the race.

I figured I would be somewhere between 32-34 minutes. As I came around, I saw the clock at 31 and sprinted hard. I crossed the finish as the clock turned to 32 – ahhh – my final time was 32:01.

After the race, we went out for a celebratory lunch with our friends on Plymouth harbor. We had a blast and enjoyed the beautiful weather before trekking home 🙂

Family 5Ks over the holidays

  
Happy New Year! We have continued to be busy around here and our youngest has now run two 5Ks!

Three years ago, the boys decided to run their first kids’ race on our youngest’s birthday. This year, they decided to run the full 5k days before the youngest turned nine.

There was a little concern about the youngest running in the cold as he is an asthmatic. The weather was supposed to be beautiful – we decided I would carry his inhaler and he would have to stay with me.

Our oldest found a friend and started the race with him. The youngest was ready to go!! We started off at a good pace and we were going off how the youngest felt. He decided to walk up the hill (about one mile in) and then he was running again. We took a few walking breaks and he was anxious to get far ahead of me.

Over the course, we negotiated when he could separate. As we turned the final corner I let him go and he loved it!! He finished at 34:55 (the oldest finished 27:42). It was a perfect day!!

  
We had so much fun with the Jolly Jaunt, everyone wanted to run the New Years race. Last year, my husband and I ran with friends on New Years and loved starting the year with a run. The race itself left a bit to be desired so we were excited to run the inaugural 1st Day 5k!

  
We all headed out to meet our friends at the race. As we were waiting for the start, our youngest decided he was not so excited about the race. He’s a bit of a stubborn guy and like that we were walking. It was cold to be walking, but he didn’t care.

He held his ground until we were a little over a mile in. At this point we decided to run and walk intervals. The deal was he could pick the landmarks. Run to the basketball hoop and walk to the black mailbox, etc. We did this for the end of the race.

His entire attitude changed. He was wishing volunteers a Happy New Year and saying thank you. As we finished, I joked that he had experienced every possible emotion over the three miles.

In the end, he was a little disappointed in his 43:05 finish, yet was happy that he stuck with it and finished strong. Our oldest finished in 28:35 and has said he felt like he was flying as he crossed the finish 🙂

Two races, two different experiences. In my head, I know each race is different, yet I expect them to feel the same. Running the races with a nine year old truly exemplifies all that goes into a race. Joy, anguish and perseverance all showed through these races.

My husband and I plan to run a few more races this winter (weather permitting) while the boys will wait for warmer weather in the spring 🙂

Have you run or walked a race with kids?  How did you welcome in 2016?

Cape Cod Marathon Relay ~ So much to share

In many ways this race was similar to going on a big trip. There is the unknown with lots of preparation and the experience is difficult to describe.
  
I’ve been asked to run this relay in the past and declined. This year, a good friend from my past asked if my husband and I were up for being on a team with her and her husband. My husband and I decided it would be a great way to reconnect and have fun!

The training…

I was a little concerned about my lack of training. Since the boys have gone back to school I have been meeting up with my friends to run. Before the race, we were covering 5 miles a few times a week, but there was still some walking. I was also walking 5-7 miles twice a week while our oldest was at football practice.

The miles were there, but I hadn’t run 6 miles all the way through since June. Add in the idea of hills and I was a little nervous. I knew I had the strength and ability, but there was a little voice of doubt in my head.

The fears…

I’ve mentioned the hills and training, but I was also uncertain about running by myself. Part of the fun of races is the collective experience. Being out there with others working hard on the same path. 

Holding up my end of the bargain was another concern. I had the longest and considered by many the hardest stretch. When we picked up our packets, a runner heard I had the 4th leg and joked that I should switch immediately – not helping the nerves 😉

The joy…

This was my first time being involved in a marathon (aside from cheering on the Boston marathon when I was younger). The energy was amazing! This is where it gets hard to describe. There were runners everywhere. Some running the full marathon and others on relay teams. Each transition point was filled with energy! Some passing through and others switching up and bringing new exuberance to the course.  

I ran from mile 15 to mile 21. There were rolling hills (not as scary as I had imagined) and the marathoners were digging hard. They were surrounded by support. There were entire families cheering and working water stations, signs all along the way, and of course support from fellow runners. 

  
It ALMOST made me want to try one (if you are one of my running friends – step away from the registration button, I said almost ;)). I love running local races with my husband and friends, but this had a different feel. I was both a participant and spectator. 

We cheered through all of the transition points and at the finish. There were familiar faces along the way. My leg came and I set out with a group of runners.

The run…

Dare I say, the run felt good! I had some leg issues for the first few miles, but it gave way and I felt great. The pace was slower than I hoped for and I slowed through miles two and three, but then the magic happened. I felt stronger, my legs were moving without me thinking and my pace was getting better.

  
I was surrounded by different runners, spectators and beautiful scenery! There was never a time I felt alone on the course.

I came up what was a long hill. The road winds and it just kept climbing (luckily, it wasn’t steep) and then it was literally down hill from there. I had no idea where I was in terms of the exchange point. I was looking for my husband and enjoying the run. 

Then I saw my friend! She had ridden her bike to the exchange point and rode along side me for my finish. It was awesome!!

  
Overall, it was a great day and I can’t wait to do it again next year! As I ran past all of the supporters, I was reminded of how meaningful it is to see people along the way. If you ever have the opportunity to support a race, please do! I promise, you won’t be disappointed 🙂

A huge thank you to Mashpee Madness!!  My friend signed up up through her running group.  We were team 17 out of 19. That’s right 95 runners wearing bright yellow and cheering along the way!  It took relay team to a whole new level 🙂

Have you ever been involved in a relay? What is your favorite distance to walk or run? Have you supported anyone at a race?