Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Patience Is The Theme + 31 miles

Each day last week as I logged the miles and details of my workouts, I would notice notes from my coach.

Stay patient. 

Patience is the theme for this cycle. 

Patience pays off in the end.

I am starting to feel like I'm making some progress with coming back to running. Runs are starting to become a little bit easier and I am not quite so wiped out at the end.
It's so nice to have this time to ease back into training - I am not putting any too much pressure on myself and enjoying the ride. 
I move runs around slightly if I need to and I'm in a good rhythm with running five days a week with two bigger work outs: a slight tempo or modified speed portion mid week and a long run on the weekend. The remaining runs are easy paced and just getting the miles under my belt. It's all about running conservatively with no sudden moves right now.

If I continue to stay patient, it will all come together. I've come to peace about not racing a fall marathon and as much as I wanted that to happen, it just wasn't meant to be. Funny thing is that the months fly by so fast (how is it already almost November??), it'll be time to think about a fall 2017 marathon before I know it. I will get my chance soon enough.
I am really excited about my build up and training for Boston. Sometimes I get so excited, I literally want to start jumping up and down. I am ready to lay it all on the line and see what happens in April. 

One day at a time.

My body has been feeling tight, so I've been performing various yoga stretches every day - in addition to my daily dynamic warm up - (The ones that I love: legs up the wall, downward facing dog, pigeon and child's pose). I'm getting stronger with push ups and really focused on core work this week. We need those core muscles engaged and activated to run a strong marathon!
Overall strength training is coming along slowly but surely - I'm carving out time to hit the weights and will continue to build...

Here's a look at my week of running:

Monday October 17th: 5 easy miles

Tuesday October 18th: 5 easy miles

Wednesday October 19th: REST (I stretched and did some core exercises, PT exercises + exercises for my foot)

Thursday October 20th: 2 mile warm up, 3 mile tempo (paces: 8:31, 8:15, 7:36), 1 mile cool down. 6 miles total. I kept the tempo paces conservative and felt good slowly easing back into things. 

Friday October 21st: 5 easy miles

Saturday October 22nd: REST (lots of family fun today!) - More pics on my Instagram .

Sunday October 23rd: 10 miles. A good long run and my body is remembering what this like!

Total Miles: 31

Again, easing into things - this week's mileage is only one mile more than last week.

We took the kids apple picking on Saturday, and we had such a sweet time together. This trip definitely has a big place in my memory bank. I want to freeze time for a bit and keep them at this age for a while, mmmk? :)

Onward to a new week of chasing my goals and dreams - one step at a time.

Patience pays off in the end.

What race are you working toward right now?

Have you ever been apple picking?

Happiness Is Running Life.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Building A Base, 30 miles + A GIVEAWAY!

It's been nearly two months since I started running consistently with zero pain in my foot. 
Slowly but surely I am gaining strength and developing a running rhythm again, but I have days where I feel tentative. Thoughts turn to my healed foot and my heart starts to race a bit, hoping that the awful, persistent pain (plantar fasciitis) is gone forever, never to return. It bugs me a bit not to run with self assurance, to think about the next day or the next if my foot will be angry with me from a longer run or a little bit of speed.

I've had some light speed workouts from my coach these last few weeks and thankfully they have been successful. I don't have any races on my schedule for the fall so far and right now I just can't wrap my head around racing. My thoughts turn to Boston in six months and considering where I am starting from, it doesn't seem that far away. My goal is pretty simple - to PR in a big way. Not big in the sense of outlandish or unrealistic, just race the way I know I am capable of racing. The marathon is such a crazy beast, because anything can happen on race day, but you have to be prepared to tackle it. Period.
With that said, I do love the journey - logging lots of beautiful miles and feeling your body get stronger and stronger. It never gets old.

I feel successful these days just getting in my run. I perform a dynamic warm up every day, core, physical therapy exercises (including specific exercises for my foot) and light yoga, but I know I need more. The trick for me is to carve away a little bit more time for cross training (lately on my days off, I have just been resting!) and really hit the weights with a new resolve - get stronger. 
My weekly running total for last week was 30 miles! I was surprised when I added up the mileage and I feel happy with that milestone.

Monday October 10th - 5 miles (easy)

Tuesday October 11th - 5 miles (easy)

Wednesday October 12th - 2 mile warm up, 10 x 1 minute faster (1 minute jog), 1 mile cool down (5 miles total). Jerold paced me on this, and it was super helpful to have him running beside me.

Thursday October 13th - REST

Friday October 14th - 5 easy treadmill miles

Saturday October 15th - REST

Sunday October 16th - 10 miles (easy)

Are you following me on Instagram? I post there daily with more pictures :)

Now, it's time to talk about the GIVEAWAY I have going on! 

I am giving away a Moji Foot Pro (one of our gifts from Rise.Run.Retreat) to one lucky reader! It feels awesome on your feet as an instant massage - pop it in the freezer as another option!
Click HERE for all the details and to enter!

I hope you guys have a great end of the week and a fantastic weekend. 
Happy running!!

After a big break, how long does it take you to get back into running shape?

Anyone have fun plans for the weekend?

Are you dressing up for Halloween?
I have dressed up in past years - this year I am just going to be Mom and forget dressing up. :)

Happiness Is Running Life!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Joy and Special Moments - Rise. Run. Retreat 2016

I had never met Kara before that beautiful, sunny, fall day in Burlington, just over two weeks ago. I had just landed from an overnight Los Angeles flight - on a total high thinking about being away from the normal routine of life for the next four days. I could hardly believe that my only "job" for the long weekend was to take pictures, meet amazing women, talk about running, life and anything else we wanted to talk about, listen to incredibly knowledgeable speakers, eat good food and RUN.

I took a short cab ride from the airport straight to the water's edge of Lake Champlain and breathed in the sweet fresh air and gorgeous views. Next came a leisure breakfast with just myself for company, and that in itself was a gift. 
Before I knew it, Kara was standing in front of me with a bright, sunny smile and a warm hug, ready to become friends.

We took a fun trip together into Waterbury, Vermont chatting non stop during our 30 minute drive into the countryside. First stop - the original Ben and Jerry's headquarters, where we took a tour and indulged in some tasty ice cream. We already felt like we were on vacation and both of us were excited about the weekend ahead of us.

Soon it was time to go to our home away from home for the next nearly four days and we contacted Uber once again to take us to our final destination. In the small town of Waterbury, Uber isn't exactly plentiful and we realized it would take 30-40 minutes for a car to reach us. 
In that moment, I immediately thought of Sandra and wondered if she might be able to pick us up along the way. I called and of course she said yes - because that is the kind of person she is - sweet, kind and a really great friend.
Sandra picked us up and off we went - happy, carefree and ready for an adventure with eight other women.

I'd like to share with you in pictures some of the special moments of our weekend. It's been two weeks since we all arrived back home and I can't stop thinking about our time together. The bonds that we formed in just a short amount of time are truly special and we all can't wait to see each other again...

We laughed like this pretty much all weekend!

A house of runners - can't you tell? :)

Sweet bags from LL Bean stuffed FULL of goodies from our sponsors.

I loved capturing this moment with Sarah (creator/co-organizer of the retreat with Jes), Allie and Sandra right before our first run together. Dr. Cool was the presenting sponsor for the retreat and they had lots of special treats for us. Sarah is sporting the headband and Sandra has on a cute tank top! We loved all of our goodies from Dr. Cool!!

Jet lag got to me, and I woke up RIGHT before our yoga session (taught by Ali Ricciardone!) Don't you love my bed head? 

Big smiles from our time together tasting amazing cheeses from Cabot AND a few glasses of beer and wine. I really loved that Christine (who was also my roommate!) and I had matching flannel shirts on from Kuhl - aren't they awesome? Kuhl gifted each of us with something special from their collection.

Listening and digesting important information from all of the special speakers (The amazing elite marathoner Sheri Piers, Jonathan from Inside Tracker, Crystal and Jamie Sheahan) on how to become better runners. As you can tell, we take our running very seriously :)

Crystal came to speak and demonstrate a strength workout with the Wreck It Bag. Crystal is SO awesome and we took in everything she had to say.

To say that Sheri Piers is inspiring is an understatement. 3 time marathon Olympic Trials qualifier, first American woman in the Boston Marathon in 2012 - her talk was a huge highlight for me. I'm pretty bummed that I have a bed head in this pic with her! Ha! 

Jes (creator/co-organizer of the retreat with Sarah) chopping and cooking one of our meals from Chef'd! Chef'd sent boxes and boxes of fresh, delicious food for us to prepare. We divided up into teams and made various dishes.

Sarah and Laura figuring out the next step in our meal. 

 Our dynamic cooking team (we were team pasta!) - Jes, Sarah, Laura and I!! No, we weren't having any fun! :)

Jonathan from Inside Tracker came and spoke to us about getting our blood tested and how to optimize our performance through food. Really learned a lot from our session and I will definitely get my blood tested during this training cycle. #bloodontlie
We also enjoyed an awesome lunch from Fiddleheads Cuisine.

We went back to Ben and Jerry's as a group! I sat on the couch next to Allie and Sue all weekend during our sessions. Love these girls!!

Jes, Sue and I during the Leaf Peepers half marathon. These two are so special and I am happy to call them my friends. We had a blast running, walking and cheering on our friends that were running. This was the MOST fun I have ever had during a half marathon!

The hills were GNARLY, but Sue had such a great attitude! I loved running with her!

Totally hamming it up with Angela, Sandra and Kara. We LOVE our Eureka Balm! Also, we all have on our amazing compression tights from SKINS. Everyone traveled home in them after the race, which was such a treat! Kara and I have on the long sleeved black running tops from Dr. Cool. 

Running is special. It allows you to see such natural beauty and push yourself beyond what you ever imagined possible...

Bonding with friends that have the same passion, is electrifying and truly dynamic.

As I am building back my running again and gearing up for my next training cycle, I am constantly inspired by each of these women. I can't wait for our paths to cross again.

Allie from VitaTrain4Life

Angela from Happy Fit Mama

Christine from Love.Life.Surf 

Jes from RunLadyLike

Kara from One Redhead and Lighthouses

Laura from This Runner's Recipes

Sandra from Organic Runner Mom

Sarah from Run Far Girl

Sue from This Mama Runs For Cupcakes

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How God Speaks To Me Through Running

The smell of bacon wafts through the air and gently wakes me out of a deep slumber.
It's Sunday morning and I have zero intention of getting up early. The moment of coziness in my warm bed is indescribable and my three year old has made her made into our bed during the early dawn. I am beyond elated that we don't have to rush to school, soccer or a birthday party. My long run will happen later in the day and I don't worry about it - I'm just grateful to have this warm little body next to me. Her hair smells of baby shampoo, her body still squishy and baby like. I try to capture so many moments like this as I know they are true gifts of life.

We have church today and I am excited and curious all at the same time. Our Pastor of 21 years and his wife have just left our church - off to Colorado to retire and enjoy true mountain life with their family. We had a big send off for them and it was joyful and sad all at the same time.
Today is the day that we will hear a new Pastor speak - a man that has been chosen to possibly be our next lead Pastor. He hails from Boulder, Colorado and seems like a wonderful person, Pastor, husband and Dad.

As we sit in the pew, he begins his sermon with zeal. He is talking and quoting various scripture and I instantly like him. He seems like a warm friend with a genuine smile and I find myself hanging onto his words.

"We have to throw off the weight that entangles us. We need to run with perseverance the course that is marked for us, the race that is marked out for us."

Run with perseverance.

Wait, what? I think to myself. It can't be, this Pastor - our possible new Pastor - cannot be a long distance runner...

Running as an illustration for faith. His words become more powerful, and one can tell that he is talking about something he truly loves.

"Running a race of faith will require everything that we are - every fiber of our belief, straining toward God."

He begins to tell a story of how he wanted very much to be a basketball player in high school. As much as he wanted to play, the genetic makeup wasn't there and he found himself on the track team to obtain the coveted varsity letter. Like many young track athletes, he wanted to become a sprinter and yet found himself dead last in the 100 meters.

During one afternoon track practice, he brings a hackeysack and starts fooling around - playing and hanging out instead of warming up for practice.
The coach is upset and orders the entire team to run a one mile race as punishment for not warming up.
Everyone is upset with this young kid, especially one particular guy - a six foot two teammate (who happens to be an all conference 800 meter star) who taunts our Pastor about what he did and questions why he is even on the team.

Pastor tells the kid point blank that he is going to beat him in the mile race (it would be his first). The race begins with everyone sprinting way too fast as he kept his pace steady. By the time the third lap rolls around, he feels like he wants to black out, but keeps pushing. Finally the runners approach the fourth lap and then the last 100 meters. He starts sprinting and sprinting to give it everything he has left.

He wins the race in 4:48.

His first ever mile race.

The entire church is riveted by the story and I am sitting on the edge of my seat gripping Jerold's hand. 

He goes on to talk about his love for running - the marathons he has run and the friends he has made. One particular close friend of his that he speaks about is a woman who ran her heart out to win the bronze medal in the 1500 meters in this summer's Olympic Games. "Her name is Jenny and she never gave up" he tells us. Jerold and I look at each other and I grip his hand again and whisper - he is friends with Jenny Simpson!

Days later, I am still moved by the sermon and how God spoke to me that day.

Run With Perseverance.

"Running a race of faith will require everything that we are - every fiber of our belief straining toward God."

Whether you are a Christian or not, no matter what you believe...

We as runners can all relate to the pure and simple truth that we must always, always run with perseverance.

God speaks to me in so many ways through running.

Happiness Is Running Life.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Power Of Friendship And Running... Rise.Run.Retreat 2016

Chilled from the freezer, I slowly place my hand in the bag and take out a cold handful. As I put them into my mouth, the smell of chocolate along with the hard texture of the chocolate chips instantly makes me smile. I can feel the tension of the day melting away as I sip my steaming mug of tea. This space is reserved just for me - in this space, the phone doesn't ring, text messages stop beeping, children are lovingly tucked into bed (and stay put until morning) and you can cut the silence with a knife.

I reflect on the summer of eagerly anticipated training that was stopped dead in it's tracks before it even really began. Fresh off the high of the Boston Marathon and well deserved time off, I felt like I could fly. This was to be my launching pad into stronger, faster racing. Really showing myself what I was made of, pushing my body and my mind more than I ever had before. I was ready to delve again into the deep, dark cave of pain that happens during a marathon.
After all, if it doesn't hurt at some point along the way, you aren't pushing hard enough.

Instead I was left broken once again - a foot that refused to heal, endless stopping and starting of running. Each start hopeful and then left hurt and disappointed once again. I finally realized that the September marathon had to go, throw it out the window already. Take the time off (4 solid weeks) and look toward a December marathon. YES, that will be the answer...

My coach and I had a big discussion at the end of July as I was coming back from four weeks of rest. I was to race a half marathon in Vermont as a stepping stone to my December goal marathon. We talked, planned and talked even further about the future and some short term goals.

No, my body refused to budge. As stubborn as my three year old sweet little girl, who goes from sunshine to sunburn in an instant, my body was following suit.
"I'm not ready yet." It kept telling me. "When?" I pleaded. "When I am good and ready", it replied with quite the haughty attitude.

After many more hiccups along the way, I finally started running again at the end of August. I realized that this was an exact replica of what I had gone through last summer - only then I knew what would happen.

My heart was excited to travel nearly three thousand miles to the other side of the United States, to a beautiful place called Vermont. I couldn't wait to see and meet nine other women who loved running as much as I did. Women who were great runners, writers and wonderful people. Many of them I hadn't met in real life, yet I could tell they would be just as genuine in person as they were on their blogs.
I pushed aside thoughts of running the half marathon that all the women would run on our last day together. I wasn't sad anymore, in my mind it just wasn't reality.

The speed shorts that I love to train and race in were suddenly super snug on my bottom. As I gazed into my full length mirror, I shook my head. It wasn't in disbelief, because I knew night after night (after night) that as I placed my hand into that bag of incredible chocolate, I wasn't running the miles to back it up. I was swimming and putting in some strength work, but it wasn't the same. My body never responds quite the same as when I am throwing down 16 mile long runs, combined with 7 mile tempo runs or mile repeats. My butt knew the difference, my shorts knew the difference and so did I. 

The re entry into running had to be careful and very slow. Even though our family home is nestled in the mountains directly above the ocean with trail access practically right out the door, I was told to run on flat ground for a while.

Fast forward four weeks later and suddenly I am in the green mountains of Vermont running on a stunning, yet very hilly trail with nine other women. I knew it was real, yet I felt like I was in a fog all at once. We started running uphill from the very beginning, and it kept going and going. I was so out of shape and my lungs, legs and entire body was protesting. We start chatting a bit and then another hill leaps into the path. "How was that hill Ladies?!" Allie (who I love!) says with confidence. I am cursing inside a bit thinking: "How can I possibly not stop and walk right now?"

Sarah and I had never met and at that moment she is running next to me, starting a conversation. I tell her (through ragged breath) how hard this is for me right now. I feel comfortable saying it - it's hard. She kindly begins to talk about running, my last race and then the races that she has coming up. It was so welcoming, refreshing and fun. Before we know it, we have made it to the halfway mark.

All the women come together and we are laughing, talking, admiring the beauty around us and marveling at the fact that we are running. Together!! We take pictures and laugh some more - there is so much joy and we forget about the fact that we have to run back...

I drop back a lot on the way back, my body again protesting at the fact that I am doing this right now. We arrive at another punishing hill and all at once I see Angela at the top, looking back at me. Silently encouraging me to keep pushing. You can do it Nat - she seems to say. Again, She and I had never met and the kindness in that gesture gave me the confidence to keep going. Just. Get. To. Angela.
If I can make it to Angela, I will have a friend to run with. We chatted for a bit about the craziness of the hill and before I knew it, the run was over and suddenly I didn't want it to end.

This is what happens when you bring runners together - great things happen. Friendships are born.

Allie from VitaTrain4Life

Angela from Happy Fit Mama

Christine from Love.Life.Surf

Jes from RunLadyLike

Kara from One Redhead and Lighthouses

Laura from This Runner's Recipes

Sandra from Organic Runner Mom

Sarah from Run Far Girl

Sue from This Mama Runs For Cupcakes

I have so much yet to tell you about our incredible weekend of running, friendship, sharing, food, swag and people that traveled to come and speak to us. It was all very surreal.

Jes and Sarah had an amazing vision and it all came together beautifully over 4 memorable days in the mountains of Vermont.

The power of friendship and running...

Have you ever been on a running retreat?

Happiness Is Running Life.