Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Getting Back On Track + My Fall Marathon!

I'm really happy with the way this post marathon recovery time has worked out. I took a solid week off from running and then started back slowly, totally running how my body felt and resting a lot.
It's amazing how much your body goes through during a marathon - 26.2 miles of pounding on your joints and muscles, not to mention the fact that you are totally dialed in mentally for a lot of hours. The dramatic range of emotions you feel before, during and after - oh and don't forget about all the months of training as well. I think you are truly honoring your body by giving it ample time to really rest and recharge.






I have spent these past five weeks since Boston (where did the time go?! BTW, I still have more pictures to share...) focused on my kids and so many little things that go by the wayside during marathon training. I've organized a few closets, done a good amount of spring cleaning, started cooking and baking a bit more and attending a lot of end of the year school events. 




A rare date night


This time of year is so insane (right, Moms?) with the emotions of another school year coming to an end, happiness because we made it and sadness because my babies keep growing. Thankfulness that I don't have to prepare lunches for three months (we get out of school in June) and yet laser focused on what in the world are my kids going to do all summer, plus planning travel, summer birthdays (Megan and Jerold), camps and more. I remember thinking a couple of years ago that we would have so much more freedom with travel once everyone was potty trained and taking zero naps. The time has pretty much come (at four, Elle could take a nap - but she formally dropped it a while ago and she is SUCH a little girl now.) I find myself in a semi constant state of remembering to be in the moment - even when the kids are whiny, cranky and driving me crazy (cause this is real life, not some glossy magazine life), cause I know soon they'll want to be off with their friends more than hanging out with me and I don't want to miss a thing. Sometimes I find myself a little hyper sensitive about it - did I ask Josh enough questions about his day? Did I spend enough time reading with Megan? I should really give Elle a piggyback ride to the bath tonight...




I've also kept running at the forefront of my mind. I have this ability to firmly plant running RIGHT THERE in spite of the utter continued craziness of our life. Running definitely grounds me, provides such stress relief and relaxation (#runningismyrecess - this community is growing, hastag your photos, join us and be inspired!!) and I know each day is one step closer toward achieveing some big running goals.

Last week was a good base building week and with 46 miles logged, it was my biggest running week since well before Boston. Ended the week with 12 miles at 7:23 pace, which was a relief to get this evening run done before the sunset. Thoughts of not wanting to run in the dark + getting fired up about a fast fall marathon ended with me running this long run faster than I should have, but yet I needed it and finally felt like my legs were back and I felt fresh again.

Coach and I have talked a lot about the next marathon and I given a great deal of thought about which one I really want to run. I want to set myself up in the best way possible for success - which means the following: (And tips for anyone out there looking for a PR) ----->

1. Close to home (relatively and preferably in the same time zone)
2. COOL WEATHER. Of course you can't predict the weather, but you can have a pretty darn good idea based on years of data.
3. Fast course (based on the data again, but of it's ultimately what you want - if you don't run well on pancake flat courses, then you should probably skip Chicago...)
4. Good course support
5. Competitive field, but not a super huge race (although some runners do extremely well at huge big city races).

I narrowed it down to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November and the California International Marathon in December.
Both great races, big but not huge, very cool to cold weather, fast courses, good support, competitive field.

You probably can guess my answer...

CIM.

Yeah, I'm going to race CIM in December, although I was very, very tempted by Indianapolis because it would be so easy to see my Dad and he could come to the race, which would be amazing.

I chose CIM because I have been trying to run this marathon for years. Literally years and something always comes up to prevent that, so I think 2017 is the year to do it. I will have to fly up to Sacramento, but it's a short flight and zero time change. Great course (I need to practice my downhill, which I need to fine tune that technique) and it is the location of the USA Marathon Championships this year! The field of women is going to be incredible and I can't wait to be a part of it. Every year this race has extremely cool to cold weather and I am going to relish that - I love the idea of running a marathon in 30-40 degree weather. 

Bonus: My Dad is coming here for Christmas!

Well, there it is - the fall marathon plan. 

Right now is just building a base again, dialing in some speed this summer, trying new things and enjoying lots of daylight, fresh peaches, watermelon, trail runs, camping, playing in the ocean, laughing, outdoor dinners, swimming, SUP, catching up with friends, taking a nap in the backyard and - enjoying life.

Take life by the horns and steer it in the direction you want to go.

Anything is possible.

xo,
Natalie



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Family Day At The Los Angeles Zoo!



This post was sponsored by Stonyfield yogurt and the AZA. All opinions are my own.


Our family absolutely loves being outside and we adore animals, so going to the zoo is always a special treat. Every time we visit the Los Angeles Zoo, we have a unique and fun experience learning about many different species of animals. It is a beautiful place, tucked away nearly twenty miles from the ocean in a quiet part of Los Angeles county. This zoo is definitely a must for anyone who visits LA, especially if you have kids! 
When Stonyfield yogurt offered to send our family to the zoo in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), we were thrilled to go!





Stonyfield is really into cows and they started a Mooovement (pun intended) sponsoring a program that gives kids free access to zoos and aquariums across the country. Stonyfield is workly closely with the AZA and their SAFE program (Saving Animals From Extinction) to save some of the planet's most endangered species. Want to find out more about the program and how you can get a free ticket for your child to visit the local zoo? Click HERE for more info!







It was an extremely hot day in Los Angeles, but we were lucky that the animals were happy and out sunning themselves for us to cruise by and say hello. We saw graceful flamingos, chipper chimps, lazy tigers, happy hippos and so much more. Meercats, alligators, elephants, gorillas, zebras, a huge condor, several varieties of parrots, sea otters, tons of fish, a huge black bear eating his leafy greens and the list goes on. We were really excited for snack time and our Stonyfield yogurt that was tucked away in a small cooler was the perfect snack to reenergize and cool us down.





As a Mom with three kiddos, I love seeing their eyes light up with excitment over each animal and the questions are endless. They also loved taking ownership of the map, deciding what they wanted to see and the best way to get there.

You can spend an entire afternoon at the zoo and never see everything, so we'll be making more trips and learning as much as we can about endangered animals and what we might be able to do to help. This trip was also a great way for our family to spend the day together and we shared many special moments.











Check out THIS video that asks kids and adults - can a cow save endangered animals?



From now until the end of September, when you purchase two specially marked YoKids yogurt packs, you get a FREE ticket to your local AZA affiliated zoo or aquarium with purchase of an adult ticket.

Summer is a great time to get out with your family and explore the zoo or aquarium. 

I 'm sure you'll have as much fun as we did! 


When was the last time you visited a local zoo?

Have you ever been to the LA Zoo?

What is your favorite animal?


xo,
Natalie






























Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Favorites!

Well hello weekend, I've been waiting for you :)

How's your week been? Running wise, I've had a good week - we are starting to lay down a foundation of miles to slowly start up training again. Patience is always the key word and I am content to be patient right now. Just keep running day after day and gradually add in some speed work (I had a good 8 miler yesterday with 10 x :30 second repeats) and knock off the post marathon recovery rust. I'm close to narrowing down a summer half marathon, looking for another and searching for some short races to try. Getting back into core work and weights and I'm always considering new ways to get stronger with weight training. It's been nearly four weeks since Boston - where did the time go?




There were a few awesome things that jumped out at me this week, and I wanted to share with you guys, so let's get to it!

1. THIS article from Outside Magazine. Four pros talking about how they each made a comeback after injury or pregnancy (or both!). Everyone has setbacks and it's nice to know that elite runners go through some of the same fears that we do. Super inspiring read.

2. The snack I had today was bomb. Period. I almost wished I hadn't discovered it, cause it's seriously addicting. Garlic and butter infused popcrack corn. :)
Pop a batch of fresh popcorn on the stove and while it's popping, melt two tablespoons of butter with 2 cloves of garlic (I used a garlic press). Pour over the popcorn immediately, add salt to taste and enjoy!





3. My friend Sandra was having a blast today swinging on THIS! Doesn't this look like so fun?! My kids would love it, but I want a turn!


4. Great article about Olympian Kerry Walsh Jennings - Lululemon's newest elite ambassador. She looks awesome in this white collection and love her attitude as a Mom and an athlete. Side note: I hope she is down to earth and cool in real life. Jerold got a chance to meet her at a charity event and said she was very kinda snobby... Say it isn't so, please! You know, here are my two cents on celebrities - actors, athletes, whoever. You have to be humble and kind... I mean you don't have to, and I think about what their life is like in a bubble. Do they encounter a lot of creepy people and it makes them keep their guard up? Could be. I like to go with the notion that you should keep your feet on the ground and be kind, but then I'm not a celebrity so... #thereyougo


5. In honor of Mother's Day, I wrote an article for Women's Running Magazine about my perspective as a Mother Runner. To all the Moms out there - HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!

Before I sign off, I have to chat about Running Is My Recess. It's my newest baby - I guess we could have gotten a dog, but I can't handle a fourth child right now. My kids are cautiously asking, but they know deep down that it's MOMMY who is going to be stuck with dog walking, poop cleaning, potty training, dog washing, dog training and everything else I am forgetting. I remember getting my first dog at like age 6, his name was Benji, he was a poodle and it was a not great experience. Who knew poodles could be mean?! I would jump on the couch screaming and my Mom would have to rescue me. Needless to say, we lovingly gave Benji to our neighbors who didn't have young kids and it was the best decision for our family. We adopted another dog named Benji (I was really into that name) months later. He was a cocker spaniel and an absolute dream. He was my constant companion for a long time...

Whoa, I digress. Sorry to veer off into the opposite direction. Running Is My Recess! Yes - it is up and running on Instagram. Tag your photos #runningismyrecess and connect with this growing community. We'd love to see where you went for a run today!! I am also featuring runners on my blog and Facebook each week...











Have a wonderful weekend!

xo,
Natalie

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

You're Worth It: Celebrating The Whole You


This post is sponsored by Stonyfield yogurt and Prana, but all opinions are my own.


Do you ever have the feeling that life is moving at such a rapid pace that you don't truly take time to enjoy it? Often, I reflect on my days and it's always off to the next task, next location, another line item to check off on my never ending list. I look at my kids and notice how much they are growing right before my eyes. I want to take a mental snap shot on the priceless, crazy moments that happen throughout our week. It brings me such joy to focus on each of them and where they are in their childhood - as they say the days are long, but the years are short. My kids are so free, innocent, full of love and laughter. They have the uncanny ability to see the world as a beautiful place, without a care in the world.

When was the last time you had that feeling? That life was so rich with adventure, free from the negative and you were able to toss away your cares, if only for an hour...





Living by the sea is therapy for me and when I'm near the water, it brings such peacefulness to my life. Suddenly the stress melts away, I feel so energized and ready to take on anything. I love SUP and that is one of our go to activities during the summer, but I've had the desire to learn to surf for a long time. I'm pumped that this is the summer that I'm going to try it and of course you want to look good too! I'm loving this Lorelei Sun Top from Prana - it's perfect for hanging at the beach, indulging in a little SUP or surfing. The bright electric orange color reminds me of sunny days, dancing in the surf and soaking in every ounce of playtime that I can.





What I love about Prana is that they are committed to seeking out materials from sustainable sources, the people that make their clothing are treated fairly, and the processes they use improve the industry as a whole. As a Mom, runner and a consumer that makes me feel good about wearing Prana's fun and stylish clothing. 

I'm so happy that Prana and Stonyfield are pairing up on this campaign - two companies that truly care about making their products from organic, sustainable sources (Stonyfield is now a certified B corporation).

As a marathoner, I'm very focused on what I put into my body for maximum performance and recovery. After a run, I really look forward to cooling down, stretching and then grabbing a bowl of Stonyfield organic whole milk yogurt. Paired with chunks of granola and colorful berries, it makes a perfect post run snack.





As the days grow longer and summer makes it's long awaited appearance, I will be running a lot and training for a fall marathon. That means lots of delicious Stonyfield yogurt for me and the whole family! I'm also psyched to sport the Lorelei Sun Top from Prana. 

From now until May 31st, enjoy 15% off your whole Prana order - simply use the code WHOLES17NRF.

(This offer is not valid for influencers, on gift certificates, or valid on any other offers.)


What is your favorite snack after a run or workout?

Have you tried anything from Prana's clothing line?
(You can check them out on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter)

xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Running Is My Recess

You knew a blog post on this was coming, right? :)

If you follow me on Instagram, FB or Twitter, you'll know that I am excited about the new movement I've created. It's called Running Is My Recess, it officially launched last week and here is a bit about why this inspires me so much:




Last September, I gleefully tearfully escorted my kids into school after a fun filled, sun drenched, adventuresome long summer. Later in the day, I went for a run and it was utterly glorious (not trying to be overly dramatic). I spent the summer battling an injury, crushed by the fact that I had to cancel a marathon I was so pumped about. My running was coming along slowly but surely, and each small block of time that I reserved to go for a run was a true gift. I felt like I was finally on the right track to being able to train again and the goals were starting to simmer with promise. On that late summer day, the sky was clear, the sun blazed bright, I took a breath of crisp sea air and I felt absolutely...free.

"This is MY time," I thought to myself, "just for me. I don't care about the work I have to do, the laundry I need to fold, the bills I need to pay, the dinner that is waiting to be prepared. I'm blocking all of it out and just focused on feeling my legs turn over. I love how powerful my arms feel right now, the deep breath I just took and the next one I am going to take. Right now I feel unstoppable."
I can't believe that I get to do this everyday if I want. This is truly my play time, my RECESS."





I can't recall if the run that afternoon was thirty, forty five or sixty minutes, but I lost track of time. Suddenly, it's over and you are back to work, back to being a Mom and the thousand other hats to wear. You grasp onto that moment, and relish the sweat and sense of accomplishment. It's a standing date that's attached to you - part of your well being. 

I brush my teeth. I run.

That is when Running Is My Recess was born. I couldn't get the phrase out of my head and I kept pondering the idea. The possibility of turning the seed into a space where everyone would feel welcome. Runners of all abilities, shapes, sizes, male or female - just a place to share what makes running your playtime.


Sue working toward her dreams...



Sandra flying on the trails...


If you think about children - they have to get up every morning, eat their breakfast, get dressed and go to school. I can't imagine there is a school on planet earth that doesn't allow children to have time to play during their day. Kids have to run, jump, stretch their legs, play games and socialize with their friends.


How are we any different?





Adults have to carve out time for themselves in the midst of stress filled, responsibilty laden days. Some people knit, others go on a bike ride, some read a book, hike, surf, sail, golf, and the list is practically endless. That time is something we latch onto, plan and look forward to. It helps us keep a clear mind and continue to work hard.
We are runners. WE RUN. Yes, of course we have other interests, but we well know running becomes part of us, and even when we go away from it for a while, there is always a magnet drawing us back.
Grownups need recess just as much as kids (maybe more) and that is what running is: our recess.






Even on those hard core days, when you are grinding away five one mile repeats, running 16 miles with half at race pace, or simply pushing yourself out the door for three miles - it's still ultimately enjoyable and once it's done, you never regret it. Of course not every run is life changing and magical and some days really suck, but deep down we love it. The sports drives us - we still keep coming back to it and exploring the possibilities.


I'm hosting the very first giveaway on the official Instagram account, so pop over and check it out!








Join us as we navigate our way to become better runners and better people. I'd like to feature YOU. Yes, I'm talking to you over there. Tag your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #runningismyrecess so we can grow this awesome community. I will then feature you on the Insta page and on my blog! We can inspire each other in ways that are unimaginable.

To the person sitting on the couch right now debating on why they would ever consider running... I encourage you to try.

Through good times and bad, it will change your life.

xo,
Natalie












Monday, May 1, 2017

Boston Marathon 2017: Race Recap

The past two weeks have gone by like the speed of light. 
Everything is so fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. Crossing the finish line, calling my coach, feeling the medal being placed around my neck, the whisper of the heat wrap being draped around my body. Taking in every sound, every moment of the Boston Marathon.
There was one point where we were asked to loudly cheer for the spectators crowded along the outside of the barriors. I opened my mouth and cheered enthuasicastically for them. I felt so honored to be among all of those great athletes, and for the people that took their day to cheer for us. It was a really intense moment of gratitude.




2nd Boston Marathon in the books!


Boston Marathon weekend is such a whirl of fun excitement, and there is so much to talk about.
I'm going to focus right now on April 17th - race day. I went to sleep pretty early the night before and slept like a total champ two nights before, so I felt ready to get up and seize the day on Monday morning. Alarm rang at 5 am (which is really 2 am LA time - ouch) and I slowly got out of bed at 5:30. Flat Nat was ready to go, so I got dressed quickly, started hydrating, went to the bathroom (there is always that feeling of saying a forlorn goodbye to the beautiful hotel bathroom, knowing it's all porta potties until mid afternoon) and then Jerold and I headed down to breakfast.





My Mom traveled with us again this year and as always I am so thankful for her. I had so many thoughts about bringing the kids again this year. Of course I love having them with me, but it also would have been easy to fly in for a couple of days, race and go home. Easter fell so late this year and I really couldn't bear the thought of leaving my kids for Easter. Jerold and I left them during Halloween in 2015 when we went to NYC to watch the marathon (I won a trip and how could we turn down such a fun opportunity?). I know it's only Halloween, but I was so sad to miss being with them and I thought to myself, I absolutely will not leave them for Easter if I can possibly help it. Anyway, Josh my ten year old, had his heart set on coming with me and that really sealed the deal.


My three rays of sunshine


Back to my Mom for a moment. She is such a gem and I couldn't believe that she arranged to travel with us again this year. I love having these memories with her and the power of family is unbelieveable. Also, it is so nice to have an even ratio - three adults to three kiddos. Each of us got to wander off alone without kids at some point during the weekend, which is a pretty nice bonus.
I loved the fact that Jerold was able to travel with me to the bus drop off that morning. We had a leisure breakfast together (I had a bagel with almond butter and an egg, a gatorade electrolyte mix that I put in water, followed by more water. It was already getting warm outside.) He always has such motivational things to say before a goal race. There really isn't anything sweet and loving about it. It's just - go kick ass. You trained for this, you are capable - push through the pain and go get it.


He's more than a husband. He's my best friend and he takes zero crap from me. "Just do the work." It's really amazing to think about how many pre-race moments we've experienced together so far. Sign made by the loving friends in our town!



By the time I got on the bus to go to Hopkington, I didn't need the throwaway clothes I brought along. It was already super hot and everyone was talking about the heat. The bus ride is always relaxing, fun and a pretty long ride to arrive at athlete's village. Last year, I sat next to a girl and we chatted the entire time. This year, I put in my hotel throwaway headphones, listened to music and ate a Picky Bar.





Arrived at athlete's village and it was like a complete repeat of last year. I had to PEE so badly. I mean, I didn't think I would be able to walk off the bus. My bladder was physically hurting and I was bummed, because I wanted to take in the atmosphere, not worry about if I would make it to the porta potty. Next, the coolest thing happened. Anoush recognized me and introduced herself (if you don't know who she is go check her Insta page. BTW, she is total hero of this marathon.)! I was so happy to connect with her and her friend and we all admitted that we needed to find a bathroom like right now. Anoush and I both were in the predicament that we were so close to not making it and we tried to escape to the woods - no such luck. Security is super tight and although I was happy to feel safe, I needed to pee desperately. We finally found the shortest line we could find and I debated on begging someone at the front to let me go, but I knew everyone would hate me, so I had to ride it out. Let's just say, this is how you get to know someone. There was no polite conversation, I started singing some ridiculous song and Anoush and I were both were blurting out whatever, so our bladders wouldn't burst. I can't believe we didn't get a picture together!

Anyway, finally got through that and it was time to walk to the corrals. I was able to relax a bit and enjoyed chatting with my new friends. We stopped one last time at the porta potties and then it was GO time. I had zero time to run a 5 minute warm up, but I did make time for my dynamic stretches and got to meet a few people along the way (thank you to the two ladies who came up to say hello!). There is something about 70 degrees in Boston, that feels distinctly different than 70 degrees in LA. The air feels different somehow (probably due to humidity and lack of ocean breeze) and I could feel the heat burning down on us. In those moments before the start, I didn't think about it - I just knew in the back of my mind I needed to take advantage of ice along the way, hydrate and run smart.





This was the sweet pic Jerold sent before the start!!




Let's talk about my fuel for a moment. I digest GU really well and it gives me such a burst of energy when my body starts to get tired or my legs become heavy. I had been practicing my long runs with a Spibelt and felt confident that it would be good for race day. Between the back zipper pocket in my shorts (Huge thank you to Lululemon LA for sending me the sweet "LA special edition" speed shorts to race in! The speed shorts are what I run in, so it was an easy decision) and the Spibelt, I would carry six GU with me. Yep, six - actually I had seven as I took one as I was walking to the start, another stragety I had practiced.

Mile one: 7:30. The race plan was simple and I knew I needed to follow it carefully. Don't go out too fast, ease into it. The race was crowded, but I was able to navigate through the crowds easier this year (and I also moved up a wave so I think that helped.). I followed a group of runners who were on the same pace and we sailed right through.

Miles two - five: 7:23, 7:26, 7:13, 7:25. A little bit of GI stress. For some reason my stomach felt really full at the start and I was a tad worried about it, but tried to block it out. I mean, what was I going to do? The food I consumed flashed in my head. Did I eat too much? Drink too much? I have practiced this! So, I am running along with a full stomach and kept postive by thinking everything would move around and work itself out. Consequently, I was supposed to take a GU at mile four and I just couldn't do it. I decided to wait just a bit until my stomach hopefully settled.

Miles: six - ten: 7:11, 7:13, 7:29, 7:26, 7:24. Crap. Am I seriously having major GI distress during a goal race? Tell me this isn't happening. Still blocking it out, but I hate the feeling of taking a breath and you just feel full and gross. I took the GU slowly anyway at mile six. I knew I couldn't afford not to and didn't want to get into even more trouble later. I kept thinking, just get to the half way mark. Just make it to 13.1




My phone was turned off during the race, but I saw this later. xo


Miles: eleven - fifteen: 7:32, 7:22, 7:32, 7:36, 7:46. Got through the half in 1:37, which was totally in the 1:36/1:37 range where coach wanted me to be. Okay cool. 1:37 - not great, but not too bad. The longer we were running, the hotter it was getting, but I knew everyone was going through the same thing and I just needed to keep going. When I passed through the half mark, I knew Jerold would be tracking me, I knew my coach was watching and I was thinking: "I'm okay, guys! I'm making it." Although I knew the hard part was yet to come and I was bracing for the hills. My stomach was better by this point and I considered that such a win. I conquered that hiccup, I can do this. It's hot, but I'm not done - keep pushing, you've got some serious work to get through.

Miles: sixteen - twenty one: 7:25, 7:59, 8:00, 8:05, 8:11, 8:44.
Gulp. This is always such an eye opener. You try and stay positive, try and frantically do the math and determine if there is any way you can salvage this. Dog gone it! I am so hot right now - is this Heartbreak Hill? I can't remember from last year... No, this isn't it. Just try and enjoy the crowds. I have run so many hills in prep for this - just keep pushing.  I didn't look at my watch until I saw the sign that you've reached the top of Heartbreak. 8:44. UGH. 
Now I knew I had to suck that up and give it whatever I had left. I was stuffing ice in my bra whenever I could, grabbing the cold, wet towels they were handing out (thank you!) and I was beginning to mutter to myself. I know I was a sight at that point and I probably looked half crazy, but I had to keep pushing.

Miles twenty two - twenty six.two: 7:52, 8:33, 8:11, 8:17, 7:53
Mile twenty two always gives some relief with that wonderful downhill and then reality sets back in - I still have to run a 5K. I love Boston, but I just wanted it to be over at that point. I felt guilty for thinking that, but my legs felt a bit beat up, the heat was a factor and I was really tired. 8:33 and then I shook it off. No, you will not go down, get it together. FINISH THIS STRONG. Give it everything you have left. No regrets. I knew the time goal was out the window (sub 3:15 at the very least. 3:10 on a great day. I know I am capable of that), but I wanted to finish strong. By the time the last mile rolled around, I knew that I could do anything for one last mile. I raised my finger and keep talking to myself "One mile. One last mile. FINISH THIS."



It's not pretty people. It's called mile 25.



It felt like a war zone at that point, people were literally dropping like flies and medics were helping people off the road. I passed a struggling man and gently said "You can do it- one more mile". I hoped he would join me in the struggle, but everyone was in their own head at that point. 
Suddenly, I took the right on Hereford, left on Bolyson and the magic was still there. The roar of the crowd was intense and I knew I had to try and sprint down that straightaway and see my family cheering me on the in grandstands (Thank you to my friend Gina for the absolutely awesome grand stand seats for my family! They are now completely spoiled for the second year in a row. So grateful for her kindness). Where are they, where ARE they?


I see them!


The finish line is almost there, just keep sprinting. Finally, I crossed with a huge smile and sense of relief. I did it. 

3:23:02

I originally thought this time was a 20 second PR, but it's not a PR. It's one second slower. Too funny. My PR is 3:23:01.

So here's the deal - it's back to the drawing board. I feel energized that I am in great shape and I know I can run a fast marathon, it's just challenging to run fast on this course in THAT heat. At least for me.

Smiles of joy



It's maddening and kind of funny at the same time that this silly 3:23 time wants to stick with me. Hey, guess what? I'm ready to break up. No offense...


Pumped to recover well and start a new training cycle. SPEED. It's going to be about speed this summer and racing some shorter stuff. Then, we'll transition into another marathon training cycle for a fall TBD race. All of the hard work I have been banking for the past... three years? Yeah, I ran my first race post three babies in 2014. Of course there was a surgery and an injury sandwiched in between, but that's the way it goes. All of that hard work will come together to kick some serious butt this fall. I'm not afraid of hard work.

Coach and I talked a lot right after the race and then I found my family and I felt good! Didn't have to visit the medical tent (had to last year) and felt thankful for that. Had some stomach issues and that slowed me down when we got back to the hotel, but was finally able to meet up with my sweet friend Sandra and her family for a celebration dinner!

Can you believe I rushed out of the door without my medal?



We had such a fun evening laughing, eating and hanging out. Sandra has become a true friend and I love spending time with her! She is so positive and full of joy. It was so nice to recap the race with her and hear all about her experience. She ran such a strong race and ran away with yet another BQ! 
I finally got to meet her husband Jesse, which was great and he and Jerold got to chat for most of dinner. I think there is joint family vacation in our future.... :)

I can never eat a ton after a marathon, but I kept hydrating (I couldn't even think about beer or wine. I really wanted a glass, but my stomach wasn't having it) and was able to eat a little bit.

Well, that is a wrap on race day! I have more posts coming about our fun weekend and pre race activities.

Thank you Boston for another unforgettable marathon. It's a privilege to race in this marathon and the memories we've gathered these past two years will be forever in our hearts.

Thank you to my awesome coach for his constant guidance, advice, knowledge and friendship. I appreciate you coach!
Thank you to my loving family - I know we could have gone to Hawaii for spring break (!), but you came with me on this journey and I love each of you infinity.
Thank you to Brooks Running for the WAY cool Boston edition lobster shoes. NOTE: after a few test runs and careful consideration, I decided not to race in the shoes (Launch 4). I opted to go for what I know works for me - the Brooks Ghost 9 and I got a fresh pair the week before the race. I love that I get to hang out in my lobster shoes! 
Thank you to Pro Compression for the brand new socks that I love to run in. Thank you to Momentum jewelry for the Boston Strong bracelet!
My sweet friends gifted me with a Boston Strong footnote and homemade poster + inspiration t-shirt and brownies. 
Thanks to Lululeon LA again for the sweet shorts.

Thank you to each of you for your kind notes, e-mails, texts, and phone calls. I read every single one and it meant the world to me!!

Although I am very much a goal oriented runner (headed toward BIG future goals!), I never lose sight of the fact that the journey is just as important. I loved my training cycle and I became such a stronger, faster runner. I ran over three minutes faster on this course than I did last year, so there's that wonderful tidbit.

Each day we GET to run is a gift. 

I never take it for granted.


xo,
Natalie

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

We Can't Wait To Go To The Zoo + It's National Penguin Day!

This post was sponsored by Stonyfield yogurt. All thoughts are my own.

Has it really been just over a week since I ran the Boston Marathon? I have enjoyed a week of zero running and recovery (well, other than the fact that I was running around taking care of my family that got the horrible flu virus! Well, that is a story for another day...). I can't believe how fast this week has flown by and I am working on the race recap to give you all of the details, so stay tuned.




In other news, did you know that today is National Penguin Day? Yeah, I didn't either, until Stonyfield yogurt passed along the info this week. This is way cool and my kids are super excited!




To commemorate World Penguin Day, Stonyfield and AZA are hosting a Facebook Live for kids and their parents to get a firsthand look at these majestic seabirds, as well as the conservation work being done to save them. Tune in to this Facebook Live broadcast direct from Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT. Kids and their parents can get a firsthand look at these majestic seabirds, as well as the conservation work being done to save them, with a Facebook Live broadcast today (April 25th), direct from Mystic Aquarium’s Penguin Encounter. During the broadcast a penguin trainer will provide insight into the care, behavior and conservation of African penguins, and viewers will also have the opportunity to see real African penguins firsthand as well as ask the trainer questions in real time. Tune into the @Stonyfield Facebook page at 12:00 PM today to catch the broadcast!

In celebration of World Penguin Day, Jerold and I have an opportunity to visit the zoo with our kids in a couple of weeks! We haven't been to the zoo together as a family in a while, so everyone is excited about this special trip.

Stonyfield YoKids is sponsoring the AZA SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) program; together on a mission to help save endangered species. As part of a year-long effort, Stonyfield will not only be contributing funds to field work but aiming to drive kids and their families to see animals and conservation projects first hand at zoos, aquariums, and on the ground where the research is happening.

Humm, I wonder what we'll be snacking on during our giant trip to the zoo? You guessed it, Stonyfield yogurt! My kids are big fans of the yogurt squeezers and I love the vanilla yogurt topped with granola and fresh berries.

As the leading organic yogurt maker, Stonyfield takes care with everything it puts into its yogurts and everything it keeps out. By saying no to toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs, Stonyfield has been saying yes to delicious, healthy food for more than 30 years. 

Alright, I am off to stretch and go for an easy run today to get my legs used to running again. I hope you guys enjoy World Penguin Day and don't forget to tune into the live broadcast!




Happy running!

xo,
Natalie

Thursday, April 13, 2017

That Time I Was On The Cover Of A Picky Bar

Running, running, Mom life, writing, running, oh hey Jerold (two ships sailing by in the night), Mom duty, running, eating, strength training, core work, hydrating, sleeping, Momming, writing and more running.

Repeat and do it all over again.

And then one day last month, I found out the coolest thing. Say what. Excuse me? You want to put my picture on the cover of a nutrition bar that I eat ALL the time. Please say that again, I don't think I heard you correctly.





I am pumped to tell you all the details of this awesome experience that I am beyond honored to be a part of!

Late last fall, I got a message from THE Lauren Fleshman (you know, bad ass, legendary, amazing runner. Yeah, preciscely.) who told me that they were very interested in using my picture for the cover of one of their bars. Would I give permission for them to use the image?
Um, that was a total no brainer.

This means so much more to me than just being on the cover of a bar. I love what Picky Bars stand for (whole, real food with zero crap. I can give it to my kids with a peace of mind and it's great fuel for marathon training!), and the fact that all three of the founders (Lauren Fleshman, Jesse Thomas, Steph Rothstein) are ridiculously talented athletes that put so much heart and soul into their sport. To be among the other athletes that they have chosen to be on other flavors of their bars, is a feeling that I can't seem to express enough with words. #elated

When we visited three US National Parks last year, I was in complete awe of the beauty and wonder of each location. We started at Bryce National Park, went on to Yellowstone and ended at Zion National Park. We had heard so many wonderful comments about The Narrows - a legendary spot in Zion and couldn't wait to see it for ourselves. Jerold and I were really happy with the progression of the trip and the kids were having a blast. It's been so interesting reflecting on this past decade of being a Mom (I still can't believe Josh is 10). My heart is always raw and I find myself deep in thought about my kids - are they happy? Are we giving them enough life experiences? Are we raising humble, respectful kids who love God, nature and the beauty of the world?

Can we move to Montana?



A river runs through it.



Majastic Ousel Falls in Big Sky


By the time we arrived in Zion, we all were filled with such joy - sun soaked, taking in the breathtaking nature of the Western United States, full of adventures in camping, hiking, biking, fishing (they caught rainbow trout in Big Sky!) and so much more.

When we finally arrived at The Narrows, the kids were blissfully happy to play in the water and as I looked up at the perfect blue sky, I knew this was a moment to capture. I quickly asked Jerold to snap the moment and he nailed it.




"Life is an adventure, go live it!"


At that time, I had no idea what "#lifepoints" was or that is was a popular hashtag created by Picky Bars. Early last fall, I stumbled upon Jesse Thomas's Instagram account and was captivated by the raw, beautiful photos he posted about life as a professional triathlete in gorgeous worldwide locales. I started using the hashtag in my photos that meant something unique and special to me, never knowing what would soon come.

I am so honored that Picky Bars chose me to be on the cover their Need For Seed bar and it will be something that I will forever treasure.
To celebrate, they sent me a huge box of the bars...


Picky Bars for days!

A very sweet note!



They also sent an incredible plaque with a replica of the bar (I'll share that pic soon!), so that I could have the keepsake to remember long after the bars were gone. Thanks so much Picky Bars, you guys are awesome!

As I prepare to run the Boston Marathon on Monday, I cannot wait to rip open the wrapper and sink my teeth into one of these delicious bars as part of my pre race meal.

What is your favorite Picky Bar flavor?


xo,
Natalie