My Health Matters 5k Recap

I am lucky enough to have an AMAZING group of girlfriends who live in my neighborhood.  We all have school age children who are also friends.  While running one morning, the four of us to run together often got the idea in our heads of doing a 5k together.  Somehow, we convinced the others to join in the fun.  And TEAM FEARLESS was born!

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We signed up for, and made AMAZING shirts for, the My Health Matters 5k in Herndon, VA.  First time races are always a little tricky, but we figured we were just running for fun, so no big deal!

On Friday afternoon, before the race, I picked up our packets and delivered them around the neighborhood.  And, of course, set out my flat mamma with my new unicorn sparkle skirt!

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Various ladies in our group love to write what we affectionately call “positive graffiti” with sidewalk chalk all over our neighborhood.  One of the ladies added our team name to each of our driveways (with the help of her 3 year old cutie pie son).

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Three of us arrived early to get in 2-3 miles before the race to keep up with our training plan.  I couldn’t sleep before picking the gals up, so I drank my coffee and watched the sun rise up over Ashburn.

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After our warm up, we got cleaned up a bit and met our team for some pre-race photos.

Hadley and Molly positioned themselves at the front of the pack because they were both shooting for places in the small, home town race.  I had consumed WAY TOO MUCH wine the night before and put myself a bit further back in the pack.

The race started on the road and wound through the trails in Herndon.  As we got going, I felt a kick in my step and decided to chase my friends.  Going over a bridge, I saw Hadley’s blond ponytail swinging behind her as the first woman – a lead she held all the way through the race and maintained at the finish line!

Molly finished 1st in our age group and I was second, with the rest of our friends all finishing within 5 minutes behind us.  I felt great and really proud of kicking it up a bit, but want to see that 24:xx flashing soon.  I know the speed work we are putting in will get me there…  PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE!!  I guess.

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We stayed for the awards celebration, but were very disappointed when the awards given did not match the website promises for recognition.  We tried to address it at the ceremony and afterwards, but it doesn’t seem that they can get it 100% right.  They were very nice and apologetic, and we realized it was a first time race about HAVING FUN, but never the less – we felt slighted.

Regardless of that snafu – we had SO MUCH FUN together and I cannot wait for another race with these amazing, fearless ladies!

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Wednesday Why: Legs Up the Wall

Why on earth would you do this?  And what the heck is it called?

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This lovely posture is called “Legs up the Wall”.  I discovered it in a restorative yoga class and after hearing the instructor praise it, decided to do some reading.  I learned, among other things, that not only was it CALMING, but it was one of the best things you could do for tired legs.

After adding it after EVERY RUN, I can now tell you – taking the time to do it is one of my keys to staying healthy.  Sometimes I do it and meditate.  Sometimes I post my runs.  And sometimes I chat with my kiddo about his day.  Combined with foam rolling, it has completely changed how I IRL (in real life) – even after a day at a client in heels!

The Why
– Reduces edema (stuck excess fluids) in your legs and feet
– Relieves tired muscles
– Reduces stress and calms the mind
– Boosts energy
– Alleviates headaches

The list continues when you visit Mr. Google, but you get the point!

The How
1. Find a good wall that abuts to a carpet or a rug.  OR bring over a mat.  You don’t want to be distracted by lying on a hard surface.
2. Scoot yourself so you are sitting next to the wall with one hip touching.
3. Swing your legs up against the wall and make sure your sits bones (aka your bottom) is flush against the wall.
4. Relax and take a deep breath

It’s that easy!!  I recommend at least 10 minutes, but if a couple is all you have – go for it!

I challenge you to try this pose today.  I’ve done it on conference calls from my home office, in my bedroom before bed and in the living room after dinner.

And – let me know how it goes!

Namaste, friends.

Monday Mantra: May 15, 2017

Back when I was regularly blogging, I used to post “Monday Mantras” here and on Instagram.  Now that I have committed to writing regularly again, I have decided to reinstitute the practice.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE mantras.  I find them very powerful tools for running, yoga and the stresses of every day life.  I like the explanation in this article (and the longer explanation in this one), but for me — the simplest way to describe the impact is to think about how much power we have over our minds.  In yoga, we regularly use OM to center us and connect to our inner selves.  As someone who needs more words, mine tend to be longer than one syllable.

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For this week, I want to think about kindness.  Kindness to ourselves, to others and to the path that we are on.  It is OK to have a hard day.  It is OK to spend the day in yoga pants and surround ourselves in comfy cotton.  It is OK to stop our day and restart.

And, when you are ready, it is OK to begin again.

We are our own harshest critics and wouldn’t it be nice if we were also loving and kind to ourselves?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we loved ourselves and therefore, were able to love others more fully?

Namaste, friends.

 

 

Advice from 23 Half Marathons

As of Sunday, I have officially completed 23 half marathons.  Since I am now done, for the season, I decided to take a look at progress, lessons and next steps as I dream about fall.

I have been tracking my running data since 2015 – first on excel and now on google drive.  When I started that process, I went back and look for the finish times of EVERY RACE I’VE EVER RUN… And found all but two of them on bibs or somewhere in cyberspace.

As runners, I think tracking helps us see patterns in our behavior and performance.  In my real life, I am something of an accidental data nerd and have to admit I enjoy seeing what emerges when I mix up the info in different ways.

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Half Marathon Performance: August 2004 to May 2017

My first half, a NY Road Runners fun run around Central Park, came after my first full and it didn’t even have a medal or a shirt!  Once I returned to running seriously at the end of 2013, I started to look out for such things and my collection of both has grown significantly.

My lessons from the trenches…

1: Not every race will be a PR!!!
This one is hard for me.  I am constantly looking to improve and get better, but when you run multiple races in a season, you have to give yourself the leeway to sometimes just have fun.  Or help a friend over the finish line or realize today is not the day for you.  That used to make me CRAZY, but now I can take it in stride and allow joy in the journey. As you can see from my chart, typically I have one “stellar” race a season and the rest tend to be a little slower.

2: Training plans matter. 
I love writing training plans and will often source a bunch of place before I figure out which one works for me.  For a long time, I ignored the advice of track work and hills, favoring just enough miles.  I have learned the hard way that not doing that work will BITE YOU on race day.  Varying pace and the type of pounding on my legs REALLY changed the experience for me.  The caveat, listen to your body!!!  If you need a rest day – take it.  If you are sick – don’t run!!  Remember – there is a difference between excuses and self care.

3: Study the course map.
I am very guilty, particularly when choosing quantity over quality, of not looking at the map or elevation of a race course at all.  For a long time it was because I didn’t know what on earth I was looking at when reviewing that info.  (I am supremely directionally challenged – I will get out of a store in the mall and not know which way I need to turn.)  But I slowed down and taught myself.  Now, particularly for a goal race, I will study the map for my training plan and race day plan.

4: Do NOT try anything new on race day.
Know your fuel plan.  Test EVERY PIECE OF CLOTHING. Eat properly the day before. Do not let the expo get you — this is not the time for a new tank, hat or gu.  This is tried and true advice and even the most seasoned runner can get sucked into an amazing new find or the taper crazies.  Do not let 13.1 miles turn into a stomach cramping, fuel belt chaffing, new hat flying off experience.  You have worked WAY TOO HARD for that.

5. Mentally train too!
I have not regularly done this either, but after trying and failing for SO LONG to get a under 2 hours, I decided it was worth a shot.  I worked on mental toughness this spring by reading books, listening to podcasts and generally embracing the suck.  For so long I thought it would just get easier to go faster.  And it has, but to really push myself – I had to change my thinking and visualize that finishing time.  Whatever floats your boat, really – is it a mantra, a saying on your hand, the music you listen to or don’t?

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And for goodness sakes  — have fun!  You are amazing for getting out there and doing what such a small percentage of the population can do.  It doesn’t matter what your times are compared to others.  It matters what your times are compared to your goals.  We are not going to the olympics, but typically back home to be the best person/mom/dad/wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend we can be.

2017 Frederick Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday was my second running of the Frederick Half Marathon. In 2015, I ran it as part of the Nut Job Challenge (5k Saturday night, half marathon Sunday morning).  Originally, I had planned this race as my sub-2 attempt, but I ended up shooting for, and making it, at the St. Luke’s Half two weeks prior.

On Saturday morning, my son and I headed up to Frederick in the rain to pick up my packet and do some adventuring in Maryland.  We arrived at the fairgrounds, found parking fairly quickly and went to pick up my bib (one building) and my race premium (another building).  After wandering around the small expo, we headed over to see the farmers market.  Puddle jumping was too tempting for my little buddy to resist, so I ushered us back to the car to continue our adventure.

The rain was slated to stop by 11 and I had hoped we’d make it to the South Mountain Creamery to learn about ice cream making on our way home.  Sadly, there was no end in site to the rain, so we headed over to Brunswick, Maryland to check out a small train museum.  My father-in-law loves model trains and has a huge set up in his basement, so Michael is quite familiar with watching trains.  This particular exhibit wound all the way through the third floor of the museum and followed the train from Union Station up through Maryland.

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The rain stopped long enough to check out the old caboose in Brunswick.

We headed home, still in the rain, and I went about gathering items for my “Flat Erin” for the race. Since the goal was to have fun, I really went all out for this one – channelling the character Poppy from the movie Trolls.

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Skirt: Sparkle Athletic, Headband: BAMR Bands, Shirt: Run Happy by Erin on Etsy.

Saturday morning at 5am, I met my friend Kim at a local Starbucks to head to Frederick for the 7am start.  I knew that it was an absurdly early hour to leave, but if we didn’t we would sit in massive traffic upon arrival into the small town.  Packing 4,000+ runners is never an easy feat and I did not want to be stressing for no reason.

We arrived in plenty of time, got organized, and met up with our friends for some silliness before the gun went off.  It was COLD out, so we spent our time being goofy and staying warm.

When we lined up for the starting line it was STILL COLD, but we seeded ourselves around the 2:20 pacer and off we went.

 

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It remained fairly cold and the sprinkles that had begun right before the national anthem turned into full out rain by mile 2.  The course was much hillier than I remembered or was expecting and my legs were super tired, but we were all about fun — so fun we had.  We chatted about everything and everything as the miles flew by.  I was not carrying water and had a bit too much before the start out of nerves, so we had to stop for me – which took over 5 minutes because two of the potties were just not OK for female use.  Before we knew it, we were at the final 2 mile stretch a crazy up hill climb back to the fairgrounds.

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We finished at 2:14 and change.  MUCH slower than 2 weeks prior for either of us, but as speed was not the intention – we focused on what a lovely catch up we had for 13.2 miles.  Shortly after crossing the finish line, we met up with two of our MRTT buddies and proudly showed off our new bling.  The wind was picking up and it was getting COLD, so Kim and I headed back to the warm car to trek home.

This year they offered the option of posting FREE photos directly to Facebook for finishers.   VERY COOL, but two caveats. They come posted with not just the race logo, but a full advertisement for the race on the bottom.  AND they post all your photos – even the ones you would never post yourself.  We have had a lot of laughs looking at one another’s pics and quickly deleting them before too many of our friends get a good look.

It was a fun race and one I’d do again, but not on tired legs after two weeks of racing. Overall – Frederick does a GREAT job of putting together an A+ race with a wonderful vibe!