Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Boston Training Recap - 12 Weeks Till Race Day!

So, Monday and Tuesday night of this week I put the kids to bed, and and soon as I started to blog I fell asleep. Like fell asleep with my fingers on the keyboard.

It's getting real friends. Training is in full effect and running after 3 kids, laundry, cooking, homework, sick children waking up in the middle of  the night... yep - it has made me cherish every bit of sleep I can get :)

Right now, it's all about my family and taking good care of myself so that A. I don't get sick and B. stay injury free.

I got a pretty cool package in the mail from Be Fit and the team at Sweat Pink. Don't you love fun mail?!



Give me protein! 


One of the items they sent me was a jar of protein powder and I was excited to give it a try. I blended up one of their suggested recipes - 
The Orange Dreamsicle Shake.

1 scoop of Be Fit vanilla whey protein powder
1 fresh orange (the recipe called for orange juice, but I wanted the whole orange)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
6 ice cubes

Blend and serve.

It was so delicious! I am focused on getting plenty of protein to repair my muscles from all the demands of marathon training.

Stay tuned - I will be giving away this package soon to a lucky reader!

Be Fit also sent me some pretty great strength videos to try. I have watched a few and they are intense. I am looking forward to trying a workout this week!

What else has been going on?

Megan started ballet class!


Ballerina :)

We went to my friend Gus's art show on Sunday. If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you've heard (I mean, read) me talk about Gus. He is a runner and a super talented artist!
Jerold and I usually go to one of his art shows as part of a date night, so it was fun to bring the kids to a Sunday afternoon show...


Teach them young - art is GREAT! 



By the way I have to say that Josh looks so big to me in this picture! I remember when he was just a baby. Crazy.

Anyway, I wanted to share with you what I have been using for my tired muscles...



Wow, this stuff is amazing. I like it a little better than the plain epsom salts and boy does it work. I ran a hot bath last night, poured in a few cups, soaked my tired bones for 30 minutes and promptly went to sleep. I have to say, when I woke up I felt good. The soreness was gone and I felt ready to start the day - I had a hard workout on the schedule!

Can I tell you how HANGRY I have been lately? Not all day, but there are times during the day that I have to eat right. now. So everybody get out of my way.
This is one of my favorite meals to eat after a hard workout...




It's called the Tex Mex scramble - Salmon, guacamole, eggs, black beans, green beans. It is heavenly and I enjoyed every bite.

Speaking of food - I am finished up the runner's reset with Laura this week. It has been such a great experience and I loved focusing on what types of foods I am putting into my body. What works and what doesn't.

Here is my conclusion: I really liked taking sugar out of my diet during this time. BUT, I realized that I really want dessert one night on the weekend. Jerold and I will usually have dessert together and it's a fun way to hang out and watch a movie or talk (and eat!) after dinner. SO, I got off track a little bit and had chocolate both of the last two Saturdays. I am okay with it! I know going forward, that I don't need chocolate every night and I look forward to it on a Saturday night. It's a healthy balance for me - and it's all about balance, right?

Everything else was smooth sailing - I took the honey out of my oatmeal in the mornings, made sure I had a dedicated time for lunch (I get so busy in the afternoons, that I was skimping on lunch - a huge no-no during marathon training) and made sure I was eating every 2-3 hours.

These are all great habits and I will stick to this going forward.

Elle will be THREE on Saturday!! I am so excited to celebrate her, and a little sad that I now have zero babies in my house :(

She started signing her name when she arrives at preschool each morning...




And every chance I get to hold her hand, I take it.

There's nothing better.



Here is what my training looked like for last week:

Monday January 18th: 6 miles easy

Tuesday January 19th: 6 miles easy

Wednesday January 20th: 2 mile warm up, 5 x 1 mile repeats (with .25 rest in between), 2 mile cool down
10 miles total.
My splits for the 1 mile repeats: 6:51, 6:58, 6:55, 6:52, 6:59

Thursday January 21st: 6 miles easy

Friday January 22nd: REST

Saturday January 23rd: 16 miles at 7:57 pace (I picked a course that was somewhat similar to Boston - 2.5 miles downhill, then lots of rolling hills, a good amount of uphill, flat, downhill and a flat finish)

Sunday January 24th: 6 miles easy

Total mileage: 50

Note: Every day I do dynamic stretching (its a lot - there are exercises from my coach and exercises from PT) before each run. On Wednesdays (my hard day) I do an extended warm up.
Core exercises are done every day. Strength training several times a week.
I am so strong now on the single leg jumps, double leg jumps and squats. My right quad muscle is so much stronger!

I use the R8 roller daily, compression socks after every run, a couple of yoga positions that stretch me out and feel wonderful, and a massage once every week or two.

Happy Hump Day ---> downhill to the weekend!!

Anyone training for a race in February?

Have you ever run the LA Marathon (it's on Valentine's Day this year!)?

Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie


Friday, January 22, 2016

It Takes A Year To Heal + Sub 7 Splits!!

When I had knee surgery 9 months ago (April 16, 2015 to be exact), my doctor and physical therapist said it would take one year to fully heal.
One year to feel completely normal again, to get my quad muscle strong again (my right quad looked like a deflated balloon after surgery.), to not feel strange little twinges in my knee (not pain, just twinges and that is to be expected).
So how am I feeling?

I feel good. I work on getting stronger every day and I am staying diligent about doing all the exercises and strength work that I need to do. I still have a ways to go, but I am taking the slow and patient route.
Yes, I think about injury. It's definitely more on my mind these days that it ever has been in my life. I think it's normal when you go through a major injury and especially when you have surgery.  BUT ---> the bright side is I feel like everyday I get more confident and I am really (really!) enjoying my running.




Yes, that is a stain on my shirt! I tried a bottle of tart cherry juice concentrate this week and spilled it on my shirt! :)

It's been a good training week so far. I have a 16 miler tomorrow (Saturday) and I took today off from running which was AWESOME. My body needed the break after 7 straight days of running and I enjoyed every minute.




We went on a date to see the Revenant tonight. We went to one of those super cool movie theaters that have the soft leather reclining seats (I loved having my feet up and resting!) and full restaurant service!! We ordered dinner and watched the movie. Have you seen it yet? Definitely a must see! I think Leonardo will win the Academy for best actor for sure. Very gory and tons of action so be prepared.

I had a breakthrough workout this week and I am really happy about it! Wednesday I ran 5 x 1 mile repeats and I ran all of them under 7 minute pace. Considering where I am coming from - this is huge for me and I was so happy to get to this point. I can't wait to get stronger and faster!






The socks I am wearing are Pro Compression's sock of the month for January!! I love the colors! Don't they remind you (in the best way!) of winter? If you'd like a pair, use the code "PRO16" to get 40% off!!

My friend Tina sent me this series of articles on the Boston marathon and preparing for the race. I have been devouring every word!!

I just ordered a pair of the new Brooks Launch 3 shoes and I can't wait to take them out for a whirl!



Megan, my 5 1/2 year old starts ballet class tomorrow and I can't even tell you how excited I am to see her in a pink outfit dancing around! I took ballet for many years as a little girl and it feels so surreal to have MY daughter now going off to ballet class. Time really does fly...

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


What are your weekend plans?

Last movie you've seen in the theater?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Beauty Of Yellowstone National Park In Winter

It was so joyful for me to look at the pictures from our trip to Big Sky, Montana and Yellowstone National Park a couple of weeks ago.
I am really excited to share these with you! If you have ever thought about visiting Yellowstone, I highly recommend wintertime. So many people visit in the summer, and although it is gorgeous during the summer months, we were blown away by the beauty of winter!
I think so often we wish for winter to hurry up and be over, but there is an amazing amount of beauty to be seen during the cold, frigid months.

I was chuckling to myself as I was writing this - Yahoo just posted an article about the best National Parks to visit during winter. You can check it out HERE.

This was definitely one of the best, most memorable vacations I have ever taken.
So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite shots from our winter adventure!






Bison!



The water temp. in the hot springs goes well above 200 degrees!










My Mom captured this awesome shot!





Up close and personal with beautiful Bison




Graceful swans




Old Faithful erupting








Our mode of transportation to the park











This is back in Big Sky, but I love snowshoeing! Elle totally fell asleep :)




Fact: Big Sky has the best XC skiing in the United States!


Well, there you have it! Put Big Sky and Yellowstone National Park on your bucket list - you'll be so happy that you did :)


Where is your favorite winter destination? 


Have you visited any US National Parks? Which ones?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Monday, January 18, 2016

Boston Training Recap - 13 weeks Till Race Day!

How was your long weekend?!

I can't believe there are only 13 weeks left till Boston, which really means just under 12 left to train! Time is flying by!! :)

This week I incorporated more hills into my running. My coach also wanted me to run my long run on a course with some hills (I appreciate his conservative approach so much. No sudden drastic changes, still being gentle with my knee...).

On Sunday I watched a few videos on the Boston Marathon - what the course is really like and how to approach the race. I really enjoyed THIS video (it is actually only audio) - a real comprehensive breakdown of the course, how to strategize your race and what to expect.

Hills are key!


Here are my workouts for the week:

Monday: 6 easy miles (For a while during my base training, I was running my easy runs at any pace that felt good. Now my coach has me at 8:45-9:15 pace for easy runs).

Tuesday: 6 easy miles

Wednesday: 1 mile warm up, 7 miles at 7:35-7:45 pace (see my splits in the pic below), 1 mile cooldown - 9 miles total





Thursday: DAY OFF. After 7 straight days of running, I really needed this day off! I went and had a massage. Although getting a massage may seem like a luxury, it is so beneficial for runners. Massage helps to relieve muscle soreness and increases circulation + blood flow. Go HERE to read more about the benefits of massage for runners. In addition to massages, I also use my R8 roller daily after a workout.



Friday: 6 easy miles

Friday was a super fun day - the kids were excited for the long weekend! I also had the opportunity to work all morning at our church putting together baskets for young mothers in need who are expecting a baby. It was so fun and really rewarding to be a part of this service project!


Martin Luther King, Jr.


Baby baskets!


Saturday: 12 miles with running friends at 8:30 pace. It was great to run with a group - I ran 12 miles with them and then they kept going to run 21 miles in preparation for the LA Marathon next month!!
I can't even tell you how excited I am to watch the Olympic Trials!!!


The end of 12 miles along the LAM course for me and 9 miles left for them!! :)


The course had a lot of rolling hills and few steep uphills in the beginning. It was just what I needed for a long run. I also got a great view of the Hollywood sign!!


Hello, Hollywood!


Loving my new PRO Compression socks for recovery and style! :)



Aren't these so cool?! Want a pair? As an Ambassador, I am excited to offer you 40% off!!
Just use the code "PRO16" - it's good until February 28th!

Sunday: I usually take Sunday off, but since I took Thursday off, I ran an easy 6 miles.

Total miles for the week: 45! 

The mileage is slowly getting more substantial. The more miles I put in - with my 2 quality workouts per week + strength training - the stronger I will be! 

I definitely had some days of fatigue, where all I wanted to do is take a nap!!
Juggling three young children + marathon training = I am wiped out by the end of each day.

Let's talk about the Runner's Reset I am doing with a group of women led by Laura, shall we?

It was a good week of eating!

I made some delicious Asian lettuce wraps and my family was so excited about them! Everyone ate a ton! 

#successfuldinner


I had quite a few sweet potatoes...





And how did I do in terms of sugar? Really good - until Saturday. Jerold and I watched The Martian (have you seen it yet? Highly recommend!!) and I ended up having ice cream with a few chocolate chips sprinkled on top. Chocolate chips are my favorite and I really wanted to eat this dessert - so I did! Is it the end of the world? No, of course not. I know that I can start fresh tomorrow. The point isn't to deprive myself, just to cut out sugar for a short amount of time. 

So, that's it! A great week of running and many, many more to go.


Anyone race this weekend?!


What is your favorite dessert?


Happiness Is Running Life!


xo,
Natalie



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Running Fast On Tired Legs, Ummm - That's the Marathon!

Today was my 7th day in a row of running. I didn't mean for that to happen.
Let me explain.
I normally run Monday - Saturday and take Sunday off. That gives me 6 days of running and I am always glad to have Sunday as a day off.
But, last week I needed a break on Wednesday. I just felt super tired and didn't feel like running, so I listened to my body.
That meant that I ran last Thursday - today (Wednesday). Which also meant that I ran today's tempo workout on tired legs. How did I get through it? First, I spent a good 20 minutes warming up - my normal dynamic stretching routine, and I added squats, skipping, jump squats, push ups, lateral band exercises from PT, high knees and fast feet.
By the time I started the workout I was sweating, feeling awake (!) and ready to go.
In the marathon when your legs get tired, you don't have a choice ---> you have to keep going.

I ran one mile for a warm up and then got down to the tempo portion. 7 miles at 7:35 - 7:45 pace.
Here are my splits: 7:36, 7:39, 7:40, 7:42, 7:39, 7:42, 7:37
When I got to the beginning of mile 7, I started thinking "This is what it kind of feels like during the marathon." 





It was great practice, because my mind went into overdrive (Be Brave. Be Strong. Be You. Thanks Tina!) - keep pushing. I tried not to look at my watch, but then I had to peek - one half mile to go! Keep pushing. I knew I was hanging on and I gave it one final push. 7:37.
I was happy with this workout for several reasons:
1. I stayed within the time range that my coach gave me. I know he gives me these paces for a reason :)
2. When mile 3 came around, I had that brief moment of "I have 4 miles left of this?!" And then I took a deep breath and just ran the mile I was in. RUN THE MILE YOU ARE IN.
3. I finished strong

Can I just say how excited I am to get a massage tomorrow?!! :)

After my workout, I got to pick up this ray of sunshine...






No matter what I am feeling, she just puts a huge smile on my face!!


So I am on day 3 of the 21 day Runner's Reset I am doing with Laura leading a group of us.
It's been good so far. I haven't had any added sugar, zero wine and I haven't lost my mind! :)

Seriously, it's been good. Lots of sweet potato, nuts, berries and a variety of fruit, chicken and lean turkey, steel cut oatmeal without the honey that I normally have (I haven't missed it! I think I can do this permanently!), tons of veggies, (kale, broccoli, spinach to name a few), tons of water, and a good amount of almond butter (love, love apple slices with almond butter for a post workout snack!).





I will start blending some fun healthy smoothies, as I have so many fun recipes to try!

Here is what I ate on Monday!

Monday Jan. 11*

Breakfast
Oatmeal (no honey) with butter and almond milk
1 hard boiled egg
fruit (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, baby oranges)

Snack
sliced apples with almond butter

Lunch
Pasta with turkey meatballs and marinara sauce + mixed baby green salad



Mini snack
handful of cashews and walnuts

Snack
1 cup of hot almond milk with a teaspoon of vanilla extract (YUM!)
Cheese slices and wheat free/gluten free crackers

Dinner
Wild Salmon, baked sweet potato, kale

Before bed
1 glass of water with Nuun

*Water with every meal and snack


Women's Running Magazine published my article!!






Wishing you a great workout and happy eating!! :)


Have you ever taken added sugar out of your diet? How did you feel?

How many days a week do you typically run?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Monday, January 11, 2016

14 Weeks Till Boston

14 weeks or 99 days till the Boston Marathon!! But, who's counting? :)

It has been quite a week - busy, super emotional and also full of promise.

I had a great 14 mile run on Saturday...




It felt like a breakthrough run for me, where the endurance and speed were becoming friends. 7:57 pace and I was tired when I finished, but not exhausted. I am slowly chipping away at building my strength and I can feel it in my running.

Today (Monday) also is the day I am starting the 21 day reset program led by the awesome Laura!
I am excited to clean up my eating and focus on everything that goes into my body being fuel for marathon training. What to eat after a long run, and not necessarily fueling for an early morning shorter run. Taking out excess sugar and leaving my beloved chocolate chips and glass of wine behind for now. After our trip to Montana, as wonderful as it was, I definitely felt like I packed on a few pounds (elk chili, prime rib, bison, wine EVERY night, dessert EVERY night - yep, that'll do it!) even though I was running quite a bit while we were there. I felt it on the long run on Saturday and it wasn't a feeling of vanity (oh gosh - my butt feels bigger! Even though it did!) as much as the feeling of I want to be light on my feet and ready to run fast.
So, I'll definitely be reporting on my food intake and how eliminating added sugar is making me feel for these next 21 days.

My sweet girl always makes me smile! on Friday at school she made the most beautiful arrangement of flowers and brought them home for me. She said: "Mommy, these are for you. I love you da whole wide world!!" I mean seriously - how does it get better that that?!



I wish I had a pair of Tinkerbell socks :)


I needed that smile and those pretty flowers. It was a super, super sad week for me. A friend of mine lost her battle with depression and passed away last week. She left behind a wonderful husband and two sweet little boys. To say it was a shock is an understatement (I didn't know she suffered from depression) and I don't mean to get too heavy, but this is real life. I struggled to breath, I struggled hard all week. She loved running, she loved the Boston Marathon so much. She ran it in 2014 and we talked so much about Boston, how exciting it was... She gave me tons of advice on where to stay, what to do. 

Monday and Tuesday were really hard running days. It poured rain and I ran in it - thankful to have my tears mix with the pouring rain. Wednesday I couldn't do it. I didn't care about running - I just needed a break. Thursday I had to pick myself up and do a hard workout. I thought to myself that I know my friend would want me to keep pushing. She would say - "Don't you dare back off because of me! This is the Boston Marathon!!" So I took a breath and plunged into the workout.
Saturday, I ran an early morning 14 miles - it was a faster pace than my coach had given me, but I couldn't stop running faster. I rushed home to shower and then Jerold and I were off to the memorial service. It was a tough day.

I will be dedicating every step of the race to her memory. I have a new purpose. This race is for you Lesley. I know you are dancing with the angels, We all miss you.

Here is a run down of the week's workouts:

Monday - 6 easy miles

Tuesday - 6 easy miles

Wednesday - Day off

Thursday - Went to PT in the morning and did lots of exercises.
Then hard workout  ---> 2 mile warm up, 8 x 1/2 mile (7:00 - 7:10 pace) with .25 rest in between. 1 mile cool down. 9 miles total. My paces: 7:11, 6:44, 6:47, 6:50, 6:51, 7:12, 7:33, 7:30 - last two straight uphill and in the wind!) 

Friday - 6 easy miles




Saturday - 14 miles at 8:00-8:30 pace. 
My splits: 8:19, 8:03, 7:50, 7:59, 7:48, 7:53, 8:01, 7:49, 7:55, 7:46, 7:39, 7:52, 7:47, 7:49
Average of 7:57 pace

Sunday - 5 easy miles on the treadmill + squats with weights, core workout and dynamic stretching.

Note: Every day I do dynamic stretching before I run. Core, squats and PT exercises I did every day except Wednesday 

Total Miles: 44


Live each day like it's your last. Have fun, laugh, play outside, hug your friends.

Tell me something fun about your weekend!!

Wishing you the start of a great week!

Happiness Is Running Life!!


xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Training For A Marathon While On Vacation

Hi Friends!!
Can you believe it is the first week in 2016? I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season and a great start to the New Year.

Our family made the trek to the beautiful state of Montana for the holidays!! We left the Monday after Christmas and we were there for one week. To say it was amazing would be an understatement. If you haven't been to Montana - put it on your bucket list for sure. 
I have wanted to travel to this state for years. I loved studying geography when I was a little girl and I was always curious about Montana. Were the kids in Helena really like the kids in Ohio? What would it be like to own a cattle ranch in Billings? What wonders would I discover in Yellowstone National Park?

Well, I found a 100 year old ranch with authentic log cabins for us to stay in and away we went! We actually went dog sledding and it was a huge treat for the whole family!

Dog sledding in Big Sky, Montana!


Elle was determined to snow shoe and she did a great job. It lasted about 5 minutes and then we pulled her along in a covered sled. Definitely a proud Mom moment....


She did it!!



Josh and Megan had so much fun cross country skiing. There were hundreds of miles of groomed trail to explore and they had a blast. We all had so much fun, that we didn't leave the ranch to take them downhill skiing! 


Special time



We had a blast just hanging out together in the beautiful outdoors....

Montana family selfie!


So here's the thing. We were having so much fun and the scenery was incredible, but I still had to run. I still had to train. Because at the end of the day, I am running the Boston Marathon in about 15 weeks and I had to stay focused on that.

So how do you do it? How do you balance having fun with your family and still get your marathon training completed?






1. Try to relax (after all - you are on VACATION!)

My coach sent me the schedule and I knew what I had to do for the week. I talked to him about my vacation -  i.e. it was going to be extremely cold and snowy!! We discussed that some days I may need to use a treadmill if the outside conditions weren't ideal. He also gave me the latitude to cut back on a run or take a day off if I needed to.
I knew that my training was important, but spending time with my family came first + relaxing and enjoying my vacation...



2. Be Flexible about your running.

Yes, you are on vacation, but you still need to get the running done! Flexibility is key. There were days that I wanted to sleep in a little with my kids (we had nice fireplace in our cabin - oh so cozy!) and I did!! There were days that skiing with them all day was the priority - and I did!! 
I still got the runs in, but I was flexible about when they were completed. I'll post my workouts below, but some days I ran in the afternoon (during nap time/down time is ideal), one day I ran before dawn, some days I ran in the evening.


Evening treadmill tempo run!! Yes, it was hard :)


3. Enlist support

Let family and friends that you are traveling with know your goals so they can support you. 
I didn't talk with my family a lot about my running (except for Jerold - I always talk to him) while we were away, but it was nice to have their support. My Mom came with us on the trip and she would ask about my running, and she stayed with the kids 2 times while we ran outside (Brrrr, it was cold!).
When you have children and are training for a marathon, it is so wonderful to have support!


Baby, it's COLD outside :)


4. If you miss a day - (try) and let it go

This is important. Sometimes things don't go as planned, and you miss a day of running while you are away. Let it go. It's one day. Your body will be okay.
One day we were skiing all day, which turned into having an early dinner (with wine!) and I ended up not running that day. It happens.


5.  Embrace the beauty of running in a new location!

I LOVE running while on vacation. I really feel like I get to explore the location and I always discover something beautiful!


Gorgeous, breathtaking Montana




So there you have it! :) Wanna know how my week of running turned out? Here it is...


Monday December 28th - Super early morning travel day. I was NOT going to run at 3 am, so I ran when we arrived. I actually couldn't wait to get outside. 6 miles in about 5 degree weather. 

Tuesday December 29th - Day off. We got up at the crack of dawn and traveled to Yellowstone National Park. It was the highlight of the trip!!! So amazing - we saw bison, swans, hawks, a raven, elk and wolves!!!  We even got to see Old Faithful erupt. Epic moment!!

Wednesday December 30th - 6 evening treadmill miles. Brrr - cold outside (as in -7!)

Thursday December 31st - Last run of 2015! Another treadmill run. 2 mile warm up, 4 mile tempo (at 7:30-7:40 pace). Splits were 7:41, 7:35, 7:35, 7:30. 
I was so nervous about doing this on the treadmill. Jerold came and sat and read to me while I grinded this out.

Friday January 1st - Day off. XC skiing all day with fam. Was going to run that night and... didn't. Happy New Year!

Saturday January 2nd - If you check out my Instagram, you can get the lowdown on this run. Was supposed to run 12 miles at 8-8:30 pace. The actual ----> 6 freezing, beautiful, high altitude miles outside.

Sunday January 3rd - 12 miles done! I had to complete this workout and nothing was going to stop me. I got up at the crack of dawn and went to treadmill (located in another cabin, with windows facing EAST - I saw the most beautiful sunrise...)
4 miles at 8:27, 3 miles at 8:20, 2 at 8:13, 1.5 miles at 8:00 and 1.5 miles at 7:53
Really happy with this and the most I have ever run on a treadmill!!

I would later find out that I was chosen as a Pro Compression Ambassador!!! They also shared this pic on their Instagram page with the hashtag: #thecoldneverbotheredmeanyway.
My daughter LOVED it!!!! #frozenfanatic


Monday January 4th - Travel back home late morning. Ran 6 outside miles in 64 degree weather that evening. Hello home!! 


Total Miles while on vacation = 44


Stay tuned for beautiful pictures from our trip to Yellowstone National Park and more of our Montana adventures!!!


Do you like to run while on vacation?


Have you ever been on vacation while training for a goal race (marathon or any other distance)?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie