Monday, November 30, 2015

Finding The Joy In Running

I was on a five mile easy run today and all I can say was that it was joyful.
No time expectations, I didn't look at my watch.
I just enjoyed soaking up the sunshine and feeling my legs move.



Sunday I had a wonderful 10 mile run with an amazing sunset. Every sunrise and sunset is pretty amazing!






I started planning my Christmas list and mentally building on my general to do list (does it ever end?!) during my run today. I even thought about something that made me laugh out loud. So there I was on the road, laughing and running.
It was awesome.
I love it when I feel as happy as my kids!






This is one of the many reasons why I run. It makes me happy. It brings me joy.
I think I am a better, nicer, productive person when I am running :)








Here are some wonderful ways to find YOUR joy in running.

1. If you are a new runner and you are wondering where to even begin... 
Get fitted for a pair of running shoes, buy a running bra (for the ladies!) and just start. Even if it's 5 minutes of running and the rest is a power walk. You did it. It's something to smile about :)


2. Run without a watch.
I know it's hard to let go of our GPS watches, but it can be such a freeing experience. If you must wear it, cover it with your sleeve.


3. Pick out 5 elements of nature on your run. 
A beautiful tree with golden leaves, a bright flower, look up and notice the cloud formations, actually notice a bird chirping, embrace the wind! Running in nature is pretty amazing!


Exploring nature and having fun in NYC!


4. Think about future running goals.
It's so nice to think about what you'd like to accomplish with your running and have plenty of time to get it done. Whether it's running your first 5K or 50K, it can be nice to go on a relaxing run and think about your goals.


5. Run with a friend!
I was giggling by myself today and at one point I thought about how much fun it would be to run with a friend. Friends can make running so FUN!

The day before Thanksgiving, I was able to take a spinning class with my dear friend Jessica. Jess and I ran cross country together in high school. I remember going on long runs together and howling with laughter at a funny story. One of things that I love about Jessica is how fun she is!  She is also an amazingly talented runner that went on to run at UCLA. She doesn't run these days (she's just a super smart professor at UC San Diego! ---> yep, I'm a proud friend!), but loves to spin! I am so thankful for her years of friendship!


Longtime friend!!


6. Running with zero expectations.
Who cares if you run slow or fast, 2 miles or 10 miles. At the end of the day - you are out there moving your body!!
Now that is something to jump for joy about :)


I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving!! I am thankful to have this blog, for my readers and for all the wonderful people I have met so far on this journey.








Total November miles:  142!!


How do you find the joy in your running?

Do you normally run alone or with a friend?

What do you think about when you run?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon: Day Three And Four!!

Okay.
Let's just get this out of the way right from the beginning.
I did NOT get to actually run with Meb.
Yep. Nope.
If you look at my race bib, you can see the orange dot with an "M" on it. That is the sticker they gave me to be able to run with Meb.
I will tell you all about it in this post, but I wanted to start off with that statement as I read all of your comments (thank you!!) on Friday and didn't want keep you hanging :)




When I left off on Saturday night, we had just finished an awesome meal at Tao restaurant in the Venetian Hotel. Next time you go to Vegas ---> put it on your list!!!

We all agreed to sleep in on Sunday morning and meet for a late breakfast/brunch.
Ahhh, sleeping in was so wonderful and I filled my belly with the following pre race fuel:

When I first woke up mid morning I ate:

- 1 banana
- 1 Honey Stinger protein bar (chocolate mint flavor)
- Lots of water

When we met for brunch I ate:

- Steel Cut Oatmeal with berries and bit of brown sugar
- 1 hard boiled egg
- Lots of water that included 2 grape Nuun tablets


Flat Nat is ready to run!
Brooks Ghost 7 shoes, Feetures socks (not shown) Spandits capris, Lorna Jane bra, Oiselle arm warmers, Garmin 620 GPS watch (not shown - oops!)...





A huge thanks to Sue for lending me her Oiselle arm warmers for the race! The winds were predicted to be gusts of up to 40-50 miles an hour, yet I was thinking I didn't want to wear my half zip for the entire race. Next up, we decided to take a short walk from our hotel to the Las Vegas sign for what else? More pictures!!! :)

Sue took a fun video of Jerold and I jumping in front of the sign, so we could get a still shot for a pic.
Check it out....











Another fun pic...







Afterwards, we all headed back to our room to rest and the plan was to meet up at the Kid Rock pre race concert. This is also where they had a gear check set up, porta potties and then all the corrals lined up for the race.

Rest for me, more hydration (I stopped pretty much all water intake at about 2:30 PM - 2 hours before the race so I was less likely to have to pee during the race) and then Jerold and I headed over to the concert.
When we arrived, it was crazy! A sea of runners everywhere, with everyone trying to get into the concert. We finally made it in!!

Kid Rock rocking the house!


It was so fun to finally meet Jen and her costume was awesome!





I ran a few strides and then headed to the porta potties for one last quick bathroom break. The lines were so long and for a moment I started to feel nervous about getting to my corral, but I knew I couldn't start the race without going to the bathroom! #runnerproblems






By the time I was finished, it was definitely time to high tail it to my corral. The first corral we came to was corral #47. 47?!!! I was supposed to be at corral #6!!. At that moment, we knew we needed to run to get there. Luckily Jerold is tall and he grabbed my hand and away we went. "Excuse me, pardon me, sorry, excuse us!!" was what we said the entire way and then suddenly we made it with plenty of time to spare. Whew! I immediately asked a Rock N Rock official who was sitting on a media vehicle where exactly was I supposed to meet Meb and the group. I showed her my bib and she told me not to worry. Just to stay right where I was (between corral 6 and 7) and before the race began, we would see Meb. Ummm. okay. But as the time ticked on, I looked high and low and didn't see him at all. At that point I thought maybe he decided not to run because of the weather? I didn't know and I had no idea where else to look for him as there were runners everywhere. So, I focused on my race and tried not to think about it.




I was thinking about the run so much that it didn't really register to me that Jerold was telling me that they announced that Meb was now running in corral 3 and then they were off!! There was nothing I could do at that point. I was in corral 6 and I wasn't going to be able to reach the group. Such a bummer. Jerold told me they finished like 2 minutes before I did. Somehow they must have decided to change his corral number. I guess the only thing I would have done differently is showed up 2 hours before the race and camped out in the wind? I don't know... But, I had a race to run and I was ready to have a blast. Here we go!!









Let me say, if you are ever thinking about running this race - do it!!! It was SO much fun. To run down the Vegas strip at night is pretty amazing. They had the runners well organized with all the corrals and it felt like everyone in my group was running about the same pace. It was surreal and such a big party. The music was pumping and I could feel myself smiling - this is it!!! My first race in one year and after knee surgery in April, an entire summer of rehab, crutches, a huge brace on my knee, not running for 8 long months... this was so exciting for me!!

Mile 1 : 9:17
All I could think about was not going out too fast. My coach wanted me to take it nice and easy in the beginning. There was no time goal in this race and I didn't know what my body could really do. I was hoping to run under 1:50, but I just didn't know and at this point my longest run was only 10 miles. I had only done one short tempo run and then a run with 8 x :30 second strides the week of the race. That's it. I was not training for this race as I am still in the building block phase of coming back from surgery. 


Mile 2: 8:00 flat
Okay. Here we go. The course was flat, the weather at the moment was nice and cool, very little wind. I still didn't know what to expect. 8:00 flat - I'll take it.

Mile 3: 7:44
Umm, okay. It did not feel like 7:44 for mile 3. I was smiling and felt good. The water stops were very plentiful by the way. My coach told me to take water every 3 miles, so I got water at this stop.

Mile 4:  7:45
Still cruising along. Feeling a little shocked that I am running this pace. Note: my training runs are no where near this pace at this phase in my training.

Mile 5:  7:31
What? It felt good, so let's roll with it.

Mile 6:  7:40
I can feel the winds picking up big time. I wear contact lens, and I kept thinking, please don't let any dust blow into my eye and make me lose my contact lens!! I also took a GU (Espresso flavor --> it has a nice huge jolt of caffine and I don't drink coffee, so I can really feel the effect. Yee haw!!) and there wasn't water at this point, so had to wait a couple of minutes for water.

Mile 7:  7:39
Here is what I was thinking: the wind may be blowing me around like Dorothy in Kansas, but that is not an excuse to lose the pace right now. Stay relaxed and focus.
Oh. there's the water!!!! Yay!!!

Mile 8:  7:36
I guess the GU is working.... !!

Mile 9:  7:49
Okay. At this point it is raining, the wind is blowing and I am thinking if I get to mile 10, the I only have a 5k to go. There was a part of the course where we are in old Vegas and we veer off the strip, no spectators, but there was a band playing Christmas music!! 

Mile 10: 8:10
Yikes. The wind is taking it's toll on me and I a trying my hardest to stay strong. I know my fitness is not there yet, but I will keep pushing. Don't forget to smile for the camera! :)

Mile 11:  8:15
Okay. It feels like I am going the same pace, yet I just ran 5 seconds slower...

Mile 12:  8:20
So much for a negative split! Ha ha! :) It's raining and the street is pretty slippery. I really want to be finished at this point, but keep pushing - you aren't done yet!!

Mile 13: 8:29
The finish line came upon me out of nowhere. Usually I really have a sprint at the end, but not today. 

I finished strong. Average pace: 7:58








I did a little facetime with my kiddos which was really neat. They were so excited to see me and I was so happy to see their sweet faces! After that, I immediately thought about recovery and went to get my medal and had a bottle of chocolate milk, a banana and some pretzels.
The race provided tons of snacks (and beer, which I gave to Jerold!) - it would have been awesome to have a bag to put it in. Maybe next year they can provide that :)
The medal is pretty sweet and it glows in the dark and let's just say you won't miss anyone wearing the t-shirt!





It was SO COLD after the race!! The heat blanket helped a little but my teeth were chattering. We had to walk a very long way back to the hotel as the strip was still closed. 
I caught up with Sue and her friend and we got a pic in front of the Bellagio fountain...





We finally made it back to our hotel (The Mandalay Bay was a great hotel - spacious, nice rooms, great service, close to the starting line - I would definitely stay here again)! I took a nice hot shower, kept hydrating with water and took a few minutes to use the R8 roller to work on my muscles. I also stretched a little bit.
Then it was off to dinner to celebrate. We ate yummy Mexican at Border Grill in the hotel - so good. Although, after a race, my stomach seems to shrink and I can't eat very much. I took the enchiladas back to the hotel with me. I ended up waking up at 4 am - STARVING. I ripped open the container and devoured all of the enchiladas. :)

After dinner, we went to the top floor of the hotel - there is a bar called the Foundation Room. The views of the strip are amazing and turns out they were letting ladies in free + a free glass of champagne! Yes, please!








We said goodbye to Sue and her friend with huge hugs and fun wishes of seeing each other again (DC? LA? New England? All the possibilities!!) Then it was off to bed for much need sleep!!

Sunday morning we slept in a bit, had breakfast and really wanted to meet up with the We Run Social Crew. We realized that it would be cutting it too close to get over to meet them and decided to head to the airport. It's a good thing we did - the line for security was insane!

Homeward Bound!!





So, that's it!! My recap of the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. It was such a blast and I would definitely run this race again!!

I have a ton more fitness to gain in the road to Boston 2016 ---> it was so fun to test myself at this stage in my journey and I had an awesome weekend!

PS: Last but definitely not least, a big thank you to Jes from Run Lady Like for featuring me on her blog last week!! The article came out the day I arrived in Vegas and I hadn't had a chance to talk about it on my blog.
Go HERE to check out the article on my running journey.
Thanks so much Jes!!! :)


Which Rock N Roll races have you run? Do you have a favorite?


Are you running on Thanksgiving? (I am not going to run a Turkey Trot this year, but I will go for a nice run in the morning!)


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon: Day One and Two!

I haven't been to Vegas in so long, and I was super excited to make the trip there! My flight left at the very early hour of 6:15 am on Friday morning...






Of course I wore my compression socks for the trip!






So funny to arrive at an airport filled with slot machines!




Jerold stayed behind with the kids and flew out on Saturday morning. It was really nice to have the entire day on Friday to relax and relax is just what I did! I arrived and got checked into my room at the Mandalay Bay right away...





Talk about carefree!! No kids, by myself with the entire day ahead of me. It was awesome. I went to one of the restaurants for a long and leisure breakfast, came back to the (very spacious!) room and took a two hour nap. Then I was off to the spa for a mani/pedi and time in the steam and sauna room + the jacuzzi. Let me just say - I did not take a moment of it for granted! I felt so blessed for every moment of solitude and relaxation on Friday.
I was super excited to meet Sue and she texted me later in the evening that she was on her way! 
We finally got to meet in person and let me just say how lovely she is. I felt like we were friends anyway, but meeting her was pretty awesome. We hugged and hugged and then she gave me this beautiful present...





Isn't it so pretty?! I was blown away by the gift and she told me that I'm Unstoppable, which is like the coolest thing ever. I wore the necklace and earrings the entire weekend! I love how delicate it is...





We went to Lupo for dinner, which is Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. I normally would not drink before a race, but we had wine with dinner, laughed, talked and just had a great Friday night!


Saturday morning, Jerold arrived super early in the morning and what was the first thing I said to him? "Want to join me for a run?" Ha ha! I am sure he loved arriving at 7:45 am and hearing those words! So we headed out in the opposite direction of the strip for an easy 4 mile run.
Oh! Let me say that I was supposed to run on Friday and take Saturday off - but I was super tired and made the decision to rest on Friday. I think it worked out because I had more spring in my step on Saturday morning...






After our run, we met Sue and her friend back at the hotel and we all headed to the expo. I couldn't spend a lot of time at the expo because I scheduled a massage for the early afternoon and didn't want to be late for that! :)
The expo was really fun! I definitely think you'll have a good time there if you decide to run the race next year (which you should!). 










The Vegas strip closes down two times a year: for New Year's Eve and for this race! They think runners are a pretty big deal...






An ESPN affiliate asked me if I wanted to answer some questions about running. Sure, why not?!






We went to pick up our race numbers and goodie bags...






And Meb was there signing race numbers!! We were sooo excited and as soon as we got in line, they told us he had to leave :(





Something really cool happened. Meb was scheduled to pace runners in the 1:45 pace group for the half. If you could prove that you ran the time or faster in the last 12 months, then you could RUN with Meb!!! So I immediately got on my phone and searched for my marathon time from last year. That was exactly the info they needed and I was put in the group to run with Meb!! We were all jumping up and down and it was a great moment. All I had to do was report to corral #6 on race day.

Soon after, I left the expo and went to have a massage, which my muscles really appreciated. Then, back to the hotel for a little more rest time (okay - I took another nap!) and later that night we went out for dinner.


Wearing my necklace and earrings from Sue! #runnerfriends


More wine and great Asian food at Tao in the Venetian Hotel. We stayed up way past our bedtime and the 4 of us had a blast talking, eating, drinking (only one glass of wine!) and laughing. Such a fun Saturday night!


Finally, it was off to bed and thank goodness the race wasn't until Sunday night! Plenty of time to get ready. 

Stay tuned on Monday for my full race recap of the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon!

Have a wonderful weekend!!


Have you ever had a glass of wine before a race?


How much time do you spend at race expos?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Racing, Fitness, Life Lately

Hey Friends!
I feel like I have been on a spinning top lately - going to NYC, coming home for a week and then off to Vegas for the Rock n Roll half marathon on Sunday.

So, I will have a full race report on Vegas very soon!! I am so excited to share everything about the weekend with you. Definitely check out my Instagram account for quite a few pics from our crazy fun time!

I will say that I am really happy with my race on Sunday. The finish time was better than I expected and my body really showed up for me. 1:44:27 ----> 7:58 pace - and after the year I have had, how can I be anything but excited about that?!

Monday, my coach had me take the day off and Tuesday I ran a very easy 5 miles. After I finished my run, the kids came home, were so excited and they asked me to run a little bit with them (can you tell that I am tired?!)! We had so much fun...



Future runners

I had a lot of fun being away and now I am happy to be home again! It's been a little crazy this week getting back into the swing of normal life. For some reason, everything has been happening this week - tons of homework for the kids, 2 major tests for Josh, making snacks for the 3rd grade party, driving all over town for various reasons, packing boxes to donate to children for Christmas, buying turkeys for the homeless (all through my kids' school, and I am grateful that my children are learning so much about giving!) and the list goes on. Oh! And it's Thanksgiving next week and I have so much to do!!!





Today was another easy 5 miles. It feels so surreal that I ran a half marathon...
After the race, the main thing on my mind besides excitement and trying to get warm (it was SO COLD and windy!!) was post recovery. I have a long way to go in my marathon training and I wanted to make sure to recover well. I drank the chocolate milk that they gave the runners. I also had a banana and a few pretzels along with a lot of water.

When we finally made it back to the hotel, I stretched, took a hot shower and rolled my muscles with the R8 roller before we went to dinner. I was focused on recovering as well as I could so that I wouldn't be too sore this week.


Seen on my run


Sleep ---> my body is craving it so much! I cannot keep my eyes open after I put the kids to bed. I've been going to bed a bit earlier, but last night I could have gone to bed at 7:30 :)

Treats ----> um, can we say fro yo?!!!



Earned it! :)


With Boston just 5 months away, I feel like it's becoming real. I have so much fitness to gain, but I know I have to be patient and take it slow. It will come.

Anyone doing a Turkey Trot next Thursday?! Check out this article for the top 30 turkey trots in the US. There is also a link to find a race near you!!



How many races do you run per year?


How often do you travel for a race?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie





Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I Bit The Dust, Beautiful Runs, Life Lately

So Saturday evening was super fun. My Mom and I went to an awesome lecture about the opera. A rep from the LA Opera was giving the talk and it was fascinating!



Date night with my Mom!



We learned so much about opera and had lots of wine and cheese! :) The perfect way to end a Saturday evening. 

So, let me back up a bit and tell you about my run on Saturday (you'll have to check out the beautiful sunset I saw on my Instagram page!) 

Anyway, I was clicking along on my 10 mile run, having a grand time with my thoughts. Excited to get another 10 mile run under my belt (my first one was in NYC last week! If you missed my adventures, you can read about it HERE, HERE and HERE! ), happy about the beautiful weather and my body was feeling good.
All of a sudden on the trail was a lady walking along with an umbrella sticking out - the kind of umbrella with the long point on the end. Those type of umbrellas scare me, I always imagine someone getting seriously hurt with one.
Anyway, all I could think about was that I wanted to avoid running by her, I just wanted to go far around her. So I ran around her up a tiny dirt mound and I must have tripped on a root or something (I try to be so careful on trails) and I could feel myself flailing like an ungainly bird, arms flapping, desperately trying to catch myself. Desperate, desperate - and then I fell. Ugh.
Luckily, I wasn't really hurt, Yeah, I had dirt in my mouth and scratches on my leg. I was mad because I couldn't catch myself, mad that I went around the lady, hoping I didn't land on my knee, just mad at myself.
And I still had 6 miles left to run!! Since I wasn't hurt, I had to dust myself off, and keep going. Miles 6 and 7 were a little rocky, but I got back on track miles 8, 9 and 10 and finished well.


I have been loving my fruit selections lately - fruit and yogurt have been what I am craving after a run these days...





I was on a 5 mile run on Monday (I ran a 4 mile recovery run on Sunday) and all of a sudden the sky opened up and it started raining. Yes, raining!! It was heavenly! I didn't care about getting soaked, because as quickly as the rain started, it promptly ended. All of a sudden, at the end of my run, were the most amazing clouds...


The beauty after rain


I had a another fun 5 mile run today...


A lot of 5 milers on the schedule this week and I leave this weekend for Vegas!! I haven't been to Vegas in SO long - I'm excited to go and run the Rock n Roll half marathon! I will be interested to see what my body wants to do ---> I am just going to listen to it and have fun :)
There are going to be so many people and I get to finally meet Sue and a bunch of fun bloggers!!! #werunsocial!!!


I always enjoy eating breakfast with this joyful little girl! Oatmeal and fruit for the win!




I wanted to share with you my takeaway from my physical therapist last week. He told me to concentrate on running without making a sound. Running light on my feet. So that is what I have been working on and let me tell you - it's kinda tough to think about while you are running. Am I making any noise while I'm running? The theory is running lighter on your feet will make less overall impact on your body. He also gave me more strength exercises for my upper body.
I am feeling good progress in my right quad muscle and my knee, but I feel like I need more upper body strength.

Also ---> I totaled my miles for the month of October!! This is the first month I have kept track of miles in a really long time. 

123 miles!!

I am really jazzed about that and it's a good starting base on the road to the marathon.


Alright, have a wonderful rest of your Tuesday. Wishing you lots of good sleep and some great runs this week!!


Anyone doing a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot?

How much time do you dedicate to upper body strength?

Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Favorites!!

My mind is just blown that it is the first Friday in November!!
3 weeks till Thanksgiving and so many wonderful things to look forward to this month.
Here is what I am loving this week!!

1. Seriously jumping up and down over THESE running capris!!
I found out about them from the girls on the Rise, Run, Retreat and I love all the vibrant colors and patterns.
Let me just say they are even better in person. The fabric is like butter and I am really glad I bought 2 pair!! :)





2. THESE jeans. I wore them almost every day I was in NYC and they are so comfortable and so flattering. Very different from my other jeans and I love them!!










3. THIS book. I just started reading it and can't put it down. An incredible story that every athlete needs to read!!






4. My friend's husband is a great writer and incredibly funny. Check out his article HERE for a great read... (Bonus: The model is my girlfriend getting out of the car!! Love it...)





5.  THIS book. I haven't read it yet, but I love Elin's books and Nantucket is a huge happy place for me. This looks like a cozy, fun holiday read...







Cheers to long runs, champagne, wine, and naps this weekend!!!


What do you have planned for the weekend? (I am running another 10 miler tomorrow!!)


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie