My Three-Year Old’s FIRST Race!

Right before vacation, I shared the details of my oldest son’s first race – the local Father’s Day 5k! The funny thing is that I mentioned in the post (and telling loads others) that the perfect distance for the boys would be anywhere from a 1k to a 1 mile race but that we were hard pressed to find a race of that distance.

So you can understand my excitement when we found out about a 4th of July Kids Race while we were on vacation. It was only 5 minutes from my in-laws home in Willow, Alaska – and it was a 1K (~.6 miles). My youngest (will be 4 in September) was so disappointed that he was not able to run the Father’s Day 5k. My heart broke for him. He wants to do everything my oldest does – and 99% of the time blows me and my husband away because he is able to. But, I felt that a 5k for him was waaaay too long. I wanted his first race to be something manageable for him. So the 1K was perfect!

The boys were incredibly excited for the race – and to race with their cousins! We made a stop at Target two days before to get some patriotic shirts for them – and outfits for the girls!

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    Back Home + Alaska Highlights

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    I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last updated here! After a crazy couple of months of work, I was beyond ready to have two weeks of vacation in Alaska with my family! With the exception of a day here or there, this was my first real break from work since returning to work full-time in October – and I was oh-so-ready for it.

    To maximize time in Alaska, we chose a late afternoon flight that basically flew through the night and got us in at 1am (Alaska time; 5am – NYC time). To save a vacation day, I worked from home on the day we left – right up until it was time to go to the airport. Remind me never to do this again. The day was beyond crazy. Between getting up at the normal time (4am) to fit in a workout, starting work around 7:30am so I could be finished by 12:30pm and being packed and out the door for the airport by 1:15pm. But in the middle was all the little things I needed to fit in – straightening up, doing one last load of laundry, clearing out the fridge, washing everything in the sink. After two weeks of vacation and a red-eye flight to return home, I knew the last thing I wanted was to walk in to a messy house.

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      My Son’s First 5k + Age and Distance for Kids?

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      On Sunday, my five year old ran his first race – the Staten Island Father’s Day 5k. I honestly had no intention of him or me running this race. Just recently, he has shown an interest in running – and we’ve begun doing some short runs together here and there when he’s up for it or asks me. Most runs are anywhere from 1-2 miles with some short walk breaks in the middle.

      The Father’s Day 5k race has become one of my favorite local races. It’s as local as you can get. We live less than a block from the main road on Staten Island – and the race is an out and back on that main road with the start/finish being one block away from our house (inside an area called Mt. Loretto). It’s that close. It’s well organized, a fun, but challenging route and the logistics make it just too easy to pass up.

      I had casually asked him earlier in the week if he wanted to do the race with me but he said he wanted to next year when he was older. So I left it at that. I won’t push either of my boys into anything that they don’t 100% want to do.

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        “I’ll Have Another” Podcast with Lindsey Hein!

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        Hello and Happy, Happy Friday!! I’m so pumped for the weekend – especially since it’s supposed to absolutely gorgeous! I’m looking forward to relaxing a ton, some running, pool and sun time and some bbq’ing with my whole family on Sunday to celebrate Father’s Day. If you happen to be one of the 5 (maybe 10? haha) men who read this blog and are a dad (of a human or furry friend!), Happy Father’s Day!!

        I’m super excited to share my interview that I had with my good friend, Lindsey, last weekend! I know I mentioned it here already, but if you are into podcasts, definitely check out Lindsey’s I’ll Have Another podcast. Every single episode I have listened to has been amazing – the interviews feel like a couple of friends are sitting in your living room chatting about running, families, work or whatever other topic it may be.

        Lindsey and I chat about everything from my time at West Point and the Army, being a stay at home mom with the boys, starting this blog (4.5 years ago!), training for an Ironman, returning to work and life/running lately.

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          Current State of Running + Why I Run Marathons

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          Check out Instagram for a fun summer giveaway by Nathan Sports!——-

          I drafted so many posts the last 4-5 weeks with updates on running, but each time, I was hesitant to share the progress I had been feeling because I didn’t know if it was permanent. I didn’t want to come here and shout that I was feeling great to only feel like garbage two or three days later.

          Even now, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m finally on the road to recovery. It’s two full months since Boston – 60 days. Almost 9 weeks. I had what I guess you can call my best week of running post-Boston last week. 44 miles with a whooping 13 mile long run. I know it doesn’t sound like much, especially when Timehop reminded me this morning that I ran a 63+ mile week one year ago. BUT, it is a huge improvement for me – given how I have been feeling the last two months.

          To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% sure what caused me to feel the way I did (and still do to a lesser degree). I think it was a combination of a whole lot of things – nutrition, lack of sleep, back-to-back-to-back tough, breakthrough cycles. And so I’ve been working hard to get those things back in check. Vitamins every day. More sleep at night. Naps on the weekend. Lots of rest and recovery.

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            Why Not You??

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            This post initially appeared on Women’s Running. It can be found here.

            When my sisters and I were younger, my mom would always ask us Why not you? whenever we began to doubt ourselves.

            You want to play (insert sport here)?

            You want to go to (insert college here)?

            You want to do x, y or z?

            Why not you?

            She wanted me and my sisters to believe that we could do whatever we wanted and that anything was attainable – as long as we put our mind and hearts into it.

            Her thought was that if someone else can do it, why can’t you?

            It was about teaching us that nothing should be viewed as impossible.

            You can’t control the gifts or natural abilities you were given. BUT, you can control how hard you work for something. You may not pick it up immediately or as fast as others. It may take you longer. It may take more tears and/or sweat. And that’s okay – because the end result is still the same.

            (Note: there were plenty of times when we set our sights on things and came up short. My mom would ask us if we tried our best. As long as we did, it was still a success and something to be proud of.)

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              Podcasts + Running Mojo is BACK + Upcoming Races!

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              After feeling “off” for almost three weeks, I was over-the-moon when I started running Saturday morning and realized that I felt GOOD. So good, in fact, that I would have kept running had my sons not had soccer that morning.

              I decided to leave my garmin at home so I could just run and not worry or be distracted by pace. Even though I ran a bit last week, I felt like I was going through the motions. Every step just felt “blah’ and my legs felt heavy.

              I officially jumped on the podcast while running train Saturday. I’ll be the first to admit that I was so hesitant to give this a try. I love listening to music when I run and didn’t know how I would stay motivated to keep moving only hearing an interview or someone speaking.

              But because I didn’t have set mileage or pace on Saturday, I figured it was the perfect time to do it. One of the reasons I was excited to give it a try was because Lindsey was interviewing my good friend, Ashley – and I wanted to listen to the interview anyway – so figured I might as well try it while running! Lindsey started her I’ll have Another podcast a few weeks ago and has had nothing but amazing, fun women on her show. (If you are into the podcast thing, definitely give her a listen!)

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                Can You Really Balance Family, Work and Running?

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                For years, I remember seeing women who juggled successful careers, families and running and thought they had the kind of balance I hoped to one day have.

                I returned to work full-time this past fall after almost five years of being home with my two children. I’ve learned that (for me) there is no balance.

                I don’t know if it can ever be balanced. There will never be enough time in the day. And I believe the phrase “doing it all” is misleading.

                I would love to spend every possible moment with my boys and not miss a school pickup or a soccer practice on Wednesdays.

                I would love to not feel heartache when I am at work late finishing a project for a deadline. Or feel that I should have stayed longer at work rather than rushing home to see my boys.

                I would love to have more time to cross-train, stretch and recover properly from the miles I do run.

                And I would really love to sleep more.

                But I have found a balance in the imbalance. And here’s what I learned:

                I can’t give 100 percent of myself to everything all the time.
                But I can still give 100 percent all the time. It’s just that the 100% is now divided.
                And I can focus 100 percent on what I’m doing THAT moment, whether it’s work, housework, family or running.
                I have to be okay with “good enough” rather than perfection.
                Priorities can shift from one month or week or day to the next. The closer I get to the Boston Marathon, the more important my workouts are. I’ll choose a run over folding laundry or vacuuming the house. Offseason? Running isn’t as high a priority as to other aspects of my life.
                I have to be kind to myself.
                Sleep is always a priority.
                Sometimes, it’s best to do what will make me happiest, even if it may be viewed as selfish.

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                  Things I’ve Learned Since Returning to Work

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                  So, I’ve been working outside the home for almost 6 months now. It’s definitely one of those weird time paradigms because it seems like I just started but I also can’t imagine my days/life without this job.

                  Things are going extremely well. I’ve settled into a good routine and I whole-heartedly enjoy what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. I’m excited to start and build a career here. And it’s more than just a job for me now – it’s a social experience, too, which makes going to work enjoyable and even fun.

                  I wanted to share some of my thoughts – things I’m loving and not loving – about working.

                  Eliminate or cut back on the time sucks. This isn’t a nice to do, it’s a must do. I’ve cut back tremendously on the things that suck time out of my day – especially in the mornings when I’m rushing around and in the evening when I’m home and spending uninterrupted time with my boys. Prepping things like work and running clothes, coffee, lunch bags for the boys, lunch for me all save my husband and I a great amount of time in the mornings. I also don’t check social media or do much of anything on my phone until I am on the bus. It’s so easy to plan to check one thing and then 15 minutes later, the phone is still in your hand.

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                    2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-12, T-11)

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                    Well, after a solid week of training (T-12), last week was the training week that wasn’t. My whole family got hit with the Norovirus. It knocked us on our backs for days. And it wasn’t until Friday where I felt ready to run again.

                    My husband and I started having symptoms at almost the same time on Monday. He was working from home, I was at work in the city when we started texting each other. We both felt off from the early morning (I actually had dressed and intended to run. Ran to the end of my block and realized something wasn’t right, so came home), but attributed it to what we ate the day before. By lunch-time, my husband wasn’t keeping anything down.

                    By 4pm, I had gotten sick at work and was on my way home. I was hoping that I would be in the clear for a window of time. Unfortunately, that window only lasted about 45 minutes. I got sick on the packed bus, which will likely remain on my list of embarrassing life moments (thankful my coworker handed me a garbage bag as I was heading home). We spent the next 36 hours in bed, with the most intense stomach pains I’ve ever experienced.

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                      2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-13)

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                      Some weeks running and training are seamless and each run goes as planned. Other weeks it takes lots of moving of the puzzle pieces to get the runs in. And other weeks, those puzzle pieces may not fit so perfectly and something has to get tossed.

                      This past week was the 2nd. I got all the runs in that I planned to, but it took a bi t of finagling and shifting of when and where the runs happened.

                      6 days of running with a weekly mileage of 60 miles – highest since mid-September. The constant hunger has returned and so in case my mileage didn’t indicate the return to marathon training, the endless calories and meals are a good sign.

                      There was a lot of treadmill running this week. Not ideal or how I hoped to spend my weekend, but as always, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to still run even when the roads are less than ideal – or the child-watching situation makes it impossible.

                      As many of you, we got hit with a ton of snow Friday evening into Sunday morning. The last report I saw had Staten Island with the most in the tri-state area – at 31.7 inches. It was a lot. But life went back to normal on Monday – school for the boys and roads mostly open. Running outside is day-by-day right now depending on the temps. If it’s sub-freezing, then there’s too much ice on the shoulders for me to run. Here’s how the week broke down:

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                        Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-15)

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                        Running tends to mirror other aspects of my life. If I have a stressful week, running typically doesn’t go well. If I’m having a good week, running usually adds to the happiness. This past week was filled with so much family, happiness and love – and I feel like my running really showed that.

                        6 total runs for 57 miles with one planned rest day. This was the first week where I made the decision at the start of the week to take a mid-week rest day – and man, did it feel GOOD. Sleeping in felt great but more importantly, I felt energized for Thursday and Friday’s morning runs, not exhausted or dreading them. So, for the time being, I’m sticking with a rest day (planned for Wednesday but staying flexible with the day).

                        Here’s how the week broke down:

                        Monday, Thursday, Saturday – easy miles in the bank
                        6, 8, 6 miles – all easy paced/recovery runs. Monday’s run was garmin-free and the other two were with my garmin (I averaged 8:18 and 8:20 paces for those two).

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                          Juggling Priorities and Sacrifices

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                          Priorities and sacrifices often go hand in hand, especially when it comes to marathoning. If one of your priorities is the marathon, it’s likely that at some point during your training cycle you will have to sacrifice something. Whether that is skipping a party because of a long run the next day, passing on your favorite food because it’s race week or giving up lazy Saturday mornings in bed in order to get a run in before the day starts.

                          Everyone’s priorities and sacrifices are different. What may be a sacrifice for one runner may be something that means very little to someone else. And another runner may put running at the top of their list while another runner may have a ton of other things that out-prioritize running.

                          It’s a question of What are you willing to sacrifice in order to reach your goals? But it’s not simple and certainly not black and white. If you were to tell me that I needed to give up wine or chocolate in order to run a certain time, then that would be a major sacrifice for me (and quite honestly, one I’m not willing to give up). It’s also not sustainable for me – I could go maybe a couple of weeks but I enjoy them both too much to go much longer.

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                            Feature on ESPNW + Family Priorities

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                            A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Gina, a photographer for ESPN-W. She was interested in my Army story and potentially wanted to include me in a Veteran’s Day piece ESPN-W was putting together.

                            Everything worked out and I’m incredibly honored to have been included in this story, even more-so after reading about the other seven female Veterans that ESPN-W chose.

                            The photo shoot was so incredibly fun. We got to shoot in the rain (you can see the rain if you look closely!) on my favorite trail by my home. Then returned home for some still shots and filmed interview. The hardest part was not smiling and trying to keep a straight face – I am a super smiley person so to force a straight, serious face was not easy for me!

                            Click here for the article.

                            Also wanted to wish all the veterans out there a Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you for keeping my family safe!

                            ———

                            I’ve taken it easy the last few days in regards to running and training. I woke up incredibly tired on Monday, chalked it up to a jam-packed weekend which resulted in little sleep and went out and ran. By Monday afternoon, I had the chills and felt like I had been hit on the head. Tuesday was even worse (so much so that I didn’t even go to work) and still wasn’t feeling great on Wednesday or Thursday mornings – so no running or working out of any kind. I find that the more I run, the more in tune I am with my body. I know when something is brewing and when I need some time off to prevent sickness, overtraining or trying to do too much.

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                              My “normal” day as a working + running mom

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                              I am five weeks into my new job and finally feel like I have a rhythm and routine that is sustainable and feasible – at least for the time being. I’m sure there will be obstacles or bumps along the way, but no sense worrying about how I’m going to get around them before they are even in my way.

                              A lot of readers have asked what a typical day is like for me lately. I wanted to wait at least a month until the dust settled and I had a better handle on the day-to-day routine.  So here goes:

                              3:45-4:10am: Wakeup. This varies based on the day, type of workout and number of miles I am planning to run. I make it as late as possible to squeeze out even an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep! Monday and Wednesday are usually my speed days and/or longer mileage days, so I tend to get up closer to 3:45 on those mornings.

                              Coffee. My husband or I set it up the night before, so it’s all ready by the time I make it downstairs. I straighten up, empty the dishwasher and do little things around kitchen until coffee is ready. Some mornings my husband joins me. We sit, drink our coffee and enjoy the quiet morning – and then when I run, he goes up to his office and starts working.

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                                Returning to Work + Juggling Training

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                                So, I returned to full-time work (out of the house) three weeks ago. I haven’t worked outside the home in almost FIVE years. I realized I never really talked about what I did before I became a mom and began blogging, so here is the full story.

                                I attended West Point for four years and then spent six amazing years in the Army. They were truly some of the most rewarding and exciting years of my life (I don’t know if there is any interest in what I did while I was in the military – please let me know if there is and I’ll talk about it in a separate post!).

                                After leaving the Army and returning home to NYC, I felt pulled in two directions. Part of me wanted to continue what I had been doing for the previous six years in the Army. I had all this intelligence experience and absolutely loved my last position (Lethal Targeting Officer for the Division). And so that was what I initially pursued. I applied for and was offered a job as a DEA analyst in NYC. But during the pre-employment process, a private company approached me and offered me an amazing job. They were based in DC but were willing to set up a small office for me in NYC so I didn’t have to relocate. The idea of a corporate job + making a lot of money won me over and beat out continuing to work in intel and the government sector.

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                                  Juggling Family, Work And Life With Long Distance Running

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                                  This post was originally featured on Women’s Running (it can be found here).

                                  Training for long distance races (half marathon, marathon, ultras) is difficult in and of itself. It becomes a whole other challenge when you factor in all the responsibilities many of us have–being a spouse, having children, owning or maintaining a home and/or working a full or part time job.

                                  I had more flexibility with my time before I was married and had kids. It was fairly typical for me to spend a couple of hours each day working out or at the gym. I’d run (with no set training plan–just however far I felt like running that day), cross-train and do some strength or core work.

                                  These days it is a delicate balance to juggle my responsibilities with my training. My “free” time is limited. I no longer have the luxury of running whenever and however far I like. And so, my training has to be adjusted a few ways.

                                  Make each mile count. Gone are the days where I just head out to run with no idea of how long or far I will be out. I’ve been forced to get smarter with my training. I am no longer able to waste my time running “empty” miles. Nowadays, each mile has to matter and every run has to have a purpose. I follow a training plan and ensure that when I leave the house, that run means something to me and my goals.

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                                    Heading to Alaska!

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                                    We leave this morning for a 3-week vacation to Alaska to visit our family (my in-laws) and do some sightseeing and relaxing! Could NOT be more excited!

                                    The boys have been asking about our trip to Alaska for months. We made a countdown with 12 days to go – the first words out of their mouth each morning was that it was time to take another number down!

                                    We spent two amazing weeks last year – and it’s a yearly tradition that my husband hope to be able to continue as long as possible!

                                    We weren’t sure if our trip would even happen, however, until Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, the town where my in-laws live (Willow – which is what we named our first dog after!) has been battling a large wildfire for days. After an unseasonably mild winter (they got much less snow than recent years), the state has had unseasonably warm weather with little to no precipitation. While that sounds great, it has caused most of the state to be in a high level of danger for forest fires.

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                                      Warm Weather Pace Adjustments -> Don’t Fight It

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                                      The summer heat and humidity has arrived in the northeast and running has been a hot, sticky mess lately.

                                      I always seem to start out overly confident of my ability to run through the humid weather each year and I try to fight it. And it usually takes only one long run to knock me upside the head and remind me of how much control the weather has over my pace.

                                      I did an easy paced 15 miler two weekends ago. It was my longest run post-Boston – and the heat and humidity chewed me up.  If I’m being honest, it was one of those runs where I knew that I should slow down – I could feel the stickiness in the air and knew that the pace I was running would not be sustainable. The pace felt easy and manageable early on, but I had that little voice in my head telling me to just slow down and take it a bit easier. But I held on to that little bit of hope that today, THIS day, would be different and that the voice in my head was wrong. It wasn’t.

                                      I didn’t start the run until 8am. It was already almost 80, humid and sunny. Not ideal but life comes first – we were up late with the boys at a neighbor’s bbq and I had no desire to get up before it was necessary. I also thought that I would be able to get the 15 miles in with no water. Not smart. As I talked about a couple of weeks ago in this post, this would be no issue during the winter, but I sweat too much during the summer for me to even make it past 12 miles without water.

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                                        A Healthy U Conference + Memorial Day Weekend

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                                        If you are in the NYC area this weekend, there is still time to register for the 2015 A Healthy U Conference – I’m really excited to have been asked to speak/answer questions during the running portion of the afternoon! All information can be found here. 

                                        ———

                                        Despite the long weekend, I still feel like I needed a recovery from the jam-packed weekend we had – which was mostly filled with family activities.

                                        Saturday, we spent the entire day at my sister’s home in NJ for a BBQ. It really was two bbqs – hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and all that go with that (salads, macaroni and cheese, veggies, guacamole) around 2pm and then ka-bobs, pototoes, corn, etc around 7pm. And then dessert. Lots of eating!! But also lots of running around on her gorgeous 1 acre property – wiffle ball, volleyball, golf, badmitten.

                                        My husband and I had planned for Sunday to be a veg-kind-of-day – cleaning, laundry, relaxing and napping – but around 9am, my oldest son asked us if we could go to New York City – completely out of the blue. 20 minutes later, we were in the car, driving to the train station on Staten Island.

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