Friday, November 27, 2015

My Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap

No matter how long I live in Maine, home will always be Pennsylvania.  Running the Philadelphia Marathon was one of those dream-come-true marathons for me.

at least one of us made it to the Rocky Stairs!  The best husband, race supporter, driver ever.  

Well, it was a long drive.  It seemed like it took forever.  Because, well, it did.  Which left us with like 5 minutes in the expo to get our race packets and head over to dinner.

Brooks Ghost 8 - GoreTex.  So cushiony and perfect in many ways.  I am loving them!

I was invited to dinner with Cynthia from GORE, along with the other bloggers who were invited to run Philadelphia.  Bad blogger here...didn't get any photos of the people...but the food.  Oh my!  

I opted for the signature dish - pasta with meatballs.  Absolutely delicious!  

And to top it off, dessert was a fancy cannoli.  Oh my, heaven.  I inhaled it in like 2 seconds flat.  That is why I should never eat dessert.  

Then Ward decided to fall under a plane.  You'd think he was drunk.  But, he doesn't drink.  He's just crazy.  Finally around 9 pm, we made it to our hotel.  

That's when the outfit decision had to be made.  I threw my Spandits and tops on the floor - looked at the weather forecast AGAIN - and finally decided to go with the Mamba print from Spandits, my purple top, black Headsweats visor, Altra One 2.5, Ultimate Direction handheld, ProCompression PC Racers, and fleece lined Brooks arm sleeves (given to me by my fast friend Amy).   My fuel of choice? HoneyStinger, Untapped, and SOS Rehydrate.  And then I had my ShowerPill wipes on standby to wash up post race!  

My alarm went off at 4:30am and I hopped out of bed like a rocket.  I quickly put my race outfit on and then a throwaway sweatshirt.  I went to make my coffee and saw a long, curly blonde hair hanging out of the coffee maker.  This made me want to throw up and hence, meant no coffee.   Ward and Leslie were up and ready in no time as well and all three of us were heading out to the car by 5:15.  The drive to Philly took almost no time and thanks to Leslie's friend Sam, we scored a $5 parking garage literally right off the highway!    

We met up with Sam and headed over toward the race.  

Almost immediately, we were greeted by a super ass long ling for the security check point.  It was a bit chaotic and it wasn't clear if it was for runners only - so Ward stuck with us and made it through security no problem.  I guess when you are a runner and dressed like you're running a marathon, you'll get through as well.  As soon as we got through the line, we headed toward the starting area but needed to make a pitstop at the port-a-potty line.  Instead of long lines of port-a-potties, there were groups of them all over the place.  This still didn't decrease the long lines waiting for them, but I found it a little confusing.  

I was excited by my Media Pass...but sadly didn't get chance to use it!  :(  

We headed toward the bag-check area and that's when Ward decided he would just keep my bag, since he planned on seeing me along the course and meeting me at the finish.  At this point, I lost Leslie and Sam, so Ward and I headed to the green corral area.  

As we were walking to the coral, it hit me.  A sudden rush of overwhelming emotions.  "I was running a a marathon today.  Holy crap, another 26.2 miles.   I'm not ready.  My long run was only 18 miles.  I need more time.  I really want to PR today. Holy crap, I'm seriously not ready.   I miss my kids.  I want Tucker to be healthy.   Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap."   Then the tears hit.   I bit my lip and held them back.  This was not the time to lose my I shifted my thinking to  "I've done this before.  I've done the work.  Now I need to just do my best and have fun.  I freaking love running."   

Ward's point of view at the start of the race!

Finding my corral was a little tricky, but once we found it, Ward came in with me, being the best supporter ever.  He was giving me advice and I was trying to keep all positive thoughts in my head.  This is when I turned and looked at him and said "I love you so much and love that you're hear, but I seriously need to get myself centered.  I'll see you soon!"   He left and headed toward the media area and I did a dynamic warm-up and collected my thoughts....turning on the positive thoughts.  Thinking about what felt good.  

7AM came and the race hadn't started yet.  7:15...nothing.   Somewhere in there was the National Anthem and then more waiting.  I lost track of the time because I was focused on keeping the GPS going on my Garmin.  Finally our corral started and we slowly started moving.   

As I neared the starting line, I spotted Ward to the right.  This brought a huge smile to my face and I knew everything was going to be alright.  Corny.  Yes.  But so freaking true.  After I passed him, I put in my earbuds and cranked my music.  

The first few miles were crazy packed and hard to manage.  Being the Maine girl, I'm not accustomed to large races like this.  Finding my pace was a little difficult but I was loving every minute of it!  Running through Philadelphia was rather cool!  Most of my races are in the woods in Maine, so as you can imagine, this is quite a change but a super awesome change.    

Ward and selfies with Leslie

Just after the zoo, I saw Ward!  I made a beeline to him.  I was feeling fantastic, like I could run forever!   He jogged with me for a bit, took a pic or two and then said he'd see me shortly. 

After I left him, I realized I freaking had to pee.  Like there was no way I was going to be able to hold it for the remaining 16 miles.  Finally I saw a row of port-a-potties with NO LINE!  I quickly ran over to them, did my thing was back in the race in no time.  I actually didn't really skip a beat at all either... as I found myself with the same people I had left just a few moments prior before my pee stop.  This is when I'm super happy for my fast pee skills...thank you teacher life.  

It turned out that I felt like I had lost like 20 lbs of bloatedness and felt way better.  Shortly after that I saw Ward again!  He jumped in with me for a little bit.  Actually, I think he stayed with me from mile 12 - 14ish.    

We got to the 13 mile point.... and I felt a small piece feeling jealous of the half marathoners as they parted off to the right.  Some others didn't like running along the Schukyl River, but I rather enjoyed it.  The name of it just makes me smile.  Growing up in the small town of Wiconisco, PA - our big shopping trips to the mall usually resulted in going to the Schukyl Mall.  Lots of fun childhood memories in this name.   But I digress.  

While we were running, Ward called my dad and we talked a little bit.  It was awesome to talk to my dad cheering me on from Harrisburg!  Ward parted off around mile 14 and said he'd be waiting for me when I got back there.  I really wanted him to just keep running with me.   

I started to feel some pains in my stomach around mile 19.  1 more mile...I kept saying to myself.  I more mile until we turn around.  1 more mile.  By the time I got to mile 20, my stomach felt like it was going to be torn to shreds.  It hurt so bad.  I ran past the beer table and was seriously tempted. Then I thought- how on earth do people drink beer and then continue to run another 5+ miles?  This distracted me for a bit and distracted me from the pain in the gut.  

I did some quick calculations and realized if I slowed down anymore, the PR I was aiming for was going to be in jeopardy.  So I sucked up the pain, and just smiled and kept going.  I wasn't going to walk.  No way.  No how.  I thought about Deena Kastor and the positive thoughts she uses in a race and focused on those.  I focused on how great my arms felt, how my calves felt, how much I loved running.  This occupied my time until I saw Ward around mile 24/25.  He ran with for a bit and urged me to keep moving.   Then he was stopped by security and was told he couldn't run any further.  He shouted at me to run hard and push it.  So I did.  

Coming into the finish line felt amazing!  I high fived the mayor of Philadelphia, then was ushered through the chute to get my medal - the best damn metal ever - and my mylar blanket and water.  I stood in an incredibly long line to get my post-race snacks. And then was ushered by security to keep moving.

the back of my race shirt - this is an awesome touch!

At this point I had no idea where I was or where Leslie and Ward were. We were supposed to meet by the media tent...but since security ushered me through the area, I knew I wasn't going to be able to get back there. Why the heck did I not check my bag?  i would have had my warm clothes and my phone by now and could find him!!??  Ugh.  So I kept walking...and looked around.  I went to the family meeting area and looked around.   So I walked a bit...and finally came to my senses and asked a nice looking man if I could borrow his phone to call Ward.  Ward told me where he was so I turned around and started walking in the direction...and stood on the corner where he said he was.  Nothing.  Ugh!  So I asked another nice person to borrow their phone...Ward said he was standing on the corner...but apparently in Philadelphia there are like 4 corners with the same signs.  And a ton of construction in the middle so you cannot see the other corner....where he was standing.  I was beginning to shiver uncontrollable by this point... and considered just walking to the med tent when I finally saw him.  He gave me his down jacket to warm me up and we walked toward Leslie.... who had a freaking kick ass marathon!  (when I grow up I want to be like Leslie).  

I don't usually like race shirts - but this one is awesome!

I had no idea what my official time was since I had that pee break, I feared my Garmin was a bit off.  So I didn't even know if I hit my PR or not.   When I got to check my phone, it was confirmed.  I earned it.  A freaking PR.  Not the PR I wanted but a PR.  

I'll take it.  3:54:29.4

The Philadelphia Marathon marked marathon #6 for me, my 3rd marathon in 2015 and a PR.  I have so much to be proud of with these huge accomplishments!   

A little less eventful.  We did stop at 5 Guys (how was it my first time ever eating there?) to eat.  I maybe devoured my XL sized burger in like 5 seconds.   Oops!  

But I have food stuck in my teeth?  

I kept my legs elevated while wearing my ProCompression socks under my fuzzy Spandits thermal tights...while I admired my kickass medal.  

We finally arrived home just after 9:30pm...kissed the kids who were already home waiting for us with Grammy.  Thank goodness for Grammy!  And promptly passed out.  

Then the next morning I dragged my butt out of bed, put on my race shirt and medal and went to school...because obviously, that's what you do after you drive over 1000 miles in a weekend and run a marathon.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

TV Everywhere!

There was a time in college when I arranged my class schedule around my favorite shows.  Yes I did.  Sadly, working, kids, coaching, and running doesn't really give me the time to schedule my life around TV shows anymore.  Seriously, I can go days even weeks without turning on the TV.   But you better believe it, I always have my laptop near me!  

On the occasional night when I did get to turn on the TV, I would watch the Voice.  You cannot even imagine my excitement when I saw that NBC has launched a new program:  Watch TV Without the TV.   You do not have to schedule your life around your shows.  NBC has made it possible for existing cable subscribers to watch their favorite shows when YOU have time!  

One show I have fallen in love with is the Voice!  There is something about unwinding after a crazy, day with the inspirational stories on the show and of course - music.  I love music!   My favorite aspiring artist has been Braiden Sunshine and I just loved watching his Top 12 performance!  

I'm looking forward to catching up on all of the episodes I've missed and staying on top of the Voice with NBC TV Everywhere.

Now it's time to catch up and stay on top of your favorite NBC shows like The Blacklist, Heroes Reborn, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Chicago PD!  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Best Gifts for Your Running Friends

How is it already the week before Thanksgiving?  As crazy as it sounds...we're here and it's time to start shopping if you haven't done so already.  

I could seriously go on and on about the best gifts you can get your running friends - oh wait, I do!  It's what I talk about on my blog!  As you know, I have many favorite companies and I'm excited to share my top 10 gift ideas with you!

Sporting my Spandits, ProCompression, SOS Rehydrate, Gore Jacket and Gloves, and Headsweats cap!

1.  Healthy Human 
Obviously, runners hydrate.  We hydrate all day long.  When we're running, when we're not.  It's what we do.  I always have a water bottle with me and I hate disposable ones.  They are such a waste!  I love to fill up a huge water bottle and drink water throughout the day.   Lately I've been drinking my water from the Healthy Human Water Bottle Stein.  (prices range from $22.99 to $54.99) 

It comes in 4 different sizes and 7 colors and keeps your drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. 

I also have the Healthy Human Tumbler! (priced at $29.99)  This 20 oz contain holds 2 k-cups worth of coffee or green tea and guarantees I won't fall asleep in class.   I have definitely ditched my old coffee mug and have moved onto the tumbler.  The only thing that would make it better is a lid.  And guess what?  Healthy Human is now making a lid for it!  Mine hasn't arrived yet, which is completely fine!  When it comes, I'll be a happy girl!   

To complete my Healthy Human line up - I have a set of 4 pints.  (priced at $22.99) The kids (and I) absolutely love these!  The fun print, the cool feeling.  They will actually go to the dishwasher and get one out (after the clean cycle is complete!) rather than pull a glass from the cabinet.   The classic feel of these make them a great gift for anyone!  

And take advantage!  I have a 10% off code that expires at the the end of November!  Use rnwgrl10 at checkout!

2.  Headsweats 
It doesn't matter where your running friend runs (or yourself).  Headsweats has the perfect head gear for you - headbands, visors, caps, beanies and so much more!  I have a huge selection of Headsweats to get me through any treadmill or outdoor - either hot and humid or freezing cold run.  Use RUNNINGWTG for 25% off!  

3.  ProCompression 
Whether you or your running friend likes knee high, calf height, or low socks - ProCompression has the right length for you!  Not to mention the best quality and assortment when it comes to socks.  Honestly, sometimes I'm not sure what to get because the selection is so incredible! 

To make sure you are continuously adding to your ProCompression collection - which is obviously a good thing to do because you want happy legs and feet - sign up for the newsletter so you can get the beginning of the month email with the Sock of the Month with a discount code!  

one can never have too many lows either!
That's right!  ProCompression always has a monthly take advantage and sign up!  

4.  SOS Rehydrate
Did you know that water alone is not enough to provide the necessary electrolytes for endurance sports?  I've tried so many electrolyte products that I confused myself...until I tried SOS Rehydrate.  They come in packets and you can choose the strength you need for your desired activity or outcome.  Before a long run or hard workout, I'll mix three packets with water and drink up!  The sweet/salty flavor is something I crave and the benefits far outweigh other sports drinks.  

SOS is absorbed immediately into your body.  I've definitely noticed on long runs that just a few sips of SOS brings me back. I've also noticed my need for fuel has decreased....while my performance has increased!    SOS has three flavors right now (and hoping to add more soon!) - Berry, Citrus, and Mango.  And if you are feeling creative - mix them up a bit!  I've done a Berry/Citrus combo and loved it!  I'll be running with my SOS this weekend at the Philadelphia Marathon for sure!

5.  Journal Menu
The running enthusiast - whether they are a beginner or advanced runner - loves to track his or her progress!  There are so many ways to track your running - but I love the ease and portability of writing it down in a journal!  The Journal Menu makes beautiful and well organized journals for athletes to track their own progress - with daily entries, goal sheets, PR pages.  You name it!  

The Journal Menu also customizes your journal for you!  

This is the latest one I received when I was at Rise Run Retreat in October!  For 15% off, use RWTG through the end of January 2016.  

6.  iFit
If your running friend loves to track their steps throughout the day and wants a non-running look - the iFit Classic is the best gift for them!  (retails around $199.99)  I've gotten more compliments on the look of this watch than any other watch I've owned!  

It also tracks your steps, calorie intake and sleep.  I love it!!!!  

The iFit vue is a sleek and more sporty option (retailing at $99.99) that will also read your heart rate when you pair your blue tooth heart rate monitor).  I've used this watch more when I run and sync it to the iFit app.  I love the readings I get from the watch and the app and the low profile look.    

7.  Spandits! 
Not a shocker here...I'm a Spandits girl through and through.  I've also sucked my family into my Spandits-loving world!  Spandits is the ONLY apparel company I know that will customize your shorts/capris/skirt or tights for you.  You can have one leg one print and the other leg another print (or solid if you prefer).  If you are taller or short - you can have your length customized for you too!  

There is something for everybody at Spandits - arm sleeves, skull caps, headbands, dresses!  

And the quality outweighs anything I've purchased from other places for sure.  And please use SPANDITSLOVE for 10% off (and say Jen B sent you!) 

8.  Momentum
If your running friend loves jewelry and positive messages - anything from the Momentum Jewelry website will be perfect for your friend (and while you are there, grab something for yourself too!).  I have been loving my foot notes, motivate wraps to evolve wrap - Momentum Jewelry has the perfect gift!  Also - sign up for the Momentum Jewelry's newsletter to get 20% off your purchase (scroll to the bottom of the page)!

9.   ShowerPill
ShowerPill is a life saver!!!  The crazy busy life I have created for myself doesn't give me time to shower between working out and having to be at the next place.  Most of us have crazy lives like that and ShowerPill is the answer to the problem.  Workout - then wipe down with a huge, great smelling cloth that helps you feel refreshed and ready for the next activity - like returning to work, errands, another workout, sleep, who knows!   And use WIPEDOWN for 15% off!

10.  Gore Running 
These past few months, the temps have been dropping but I've been toasty warm in my Gore jacket, skull cap and gloves!  Gore has so many options to choose from for your running friend - super high quality that will protect them from the elements and keep them running all winter long!   Check them out!  

disclosure:  I am an ambassador for several of the companies above only because I absolutely LOVE their products.  I am not being compensated for this post.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Focus on the Positive

Just over a month ago, I was honored to have lunch with Deena Kastor - only a week after she broke the women's master's record in the marathon. She crushed the previous record and ran her marathon in 2:27:47!  Umm, can I get a hell yeah!  Total rockstar status.  But a real person too.  Which is why I love Deena!

So here I am.  Over a month ago, still digesting my experience with Deena.  Still thinking about the powerful advice she shared with the Runner's World Influencers.   

Focus on what's good.  

Oh my word.  Truer words have never been spoken.  What's the point of dwelling on the negative?  Absolutely nothing!  

Her words apply to running, in relationships and teaching - and well, life!  Have a side stitch?  Switch your focus to your right quad that is feeling great instead!   

As I glance down at the Momentum bracelet choice of the day - whether I'm running, at work, out running errands, I love reading the positive message on my bracelet.  They have a way of making me feel empowered to take on whatever comes my way!  

Deena also shared her struggles when she was returning to running after the birth of her sweet and energetic daughter was born.  I made a real connection with her on this level.  Get this, she struggled with balancing it all just like every women I have met (either in person or virtually).  

Balancing family, kids, work and running and life can be quite difficult, but don't give up! If it's something you truly want to do, you will figure out a way to make it happen. Trust that.