My Son’s First “Race” and Long Run Success


Pre-race…LOVE that every child was “#1”!

A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent my husband and I the website for a local kids race, the Kids Running Obstacle Course (ROC). The youngest category was 4-5 years old, so we decided to sign our oldest son up up (he’ll be 4 in January). He has shown an interest in running and he’s a big fan of climbing, jumping, rolling, etc (like any young child!) so it seemed like a perfect first race for him.

The race not disappoint. My son never stopped smiling throughout the entire 10-15 minutes it took to run over, under or through the obstacles.

Some he was able to maneuver on his own and then either myself or Jenn (who was with her daughter) were there to help him over those that were a bit outside his comfort zone.

I’ve wanted to sign him up for several kids races earlier this year, but I’ve been hesitant b/c I never want running to be something I force on him. My husband and I decided that the obstacle course aspect of it would be a good introduction into racing/running.

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    1st Birthday + 8 weeks to go


    My youngest son turned one last week. Hard to believe that it’s been that long already, right? I feel like it was just yesterday that he came into this world. It’s been a fun year (sometimes crazy at times!) with a 2nd child and I could not have asked for a sweeter, happier little guy.

    My boys and I celebrated on Thursday (his actual birthday) with presents and cake.

    And continued the celebration with a fun birthday party on Saturday with family and friends from the neighborhood.

    Can we take a moment and discuss this cake? It was beautiful and SO SO yummy (white cake with cannoli cream.) One of my good friends from high school made this beauty!! She has made cakes for my boys’ special events the past few years and they could not be prettier or more delicious. (She’s VERY reasonable and is based on Staten Island. Her website is here!)


    For the first time this training cycle, I felt like I had a wonderful week of running from start to finish. I nailed both my stress workouts (3×2 and long run) and felt so strong despite racing a half marathon last Sunday. The Philly Marathon is just under 8 weeks away. First 20 miler will be this weekend (with lots of miles at MGP – agh!), one more half marathon tune-up race, a few more weeks of hard training…and then taper begins.

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      Things I’m Loving

      erica sara

      So I had my first stress workout on Monday.  Plan called for 2 miles warmup, 2 x 2 mile tempo interval (with 3 min active recovery in between each), 2 mile cooldown. Goal pace was 7:00->6:55. I hit the paces (6:54-> 6:52, 6:58-> 6:53), but it was a lot tougher than I would have liked.   The first set was manageable, but I was exhausted by the mile part of the second set. I don’t think it should have felt that hard.  UGH.

      Truth is, I am trying really hard to not get down on my speed just yet.  Ironman training put me in the best shape of my life – my fitness level is higher than it’s ever been.  But, my run speed suffered. Something had to take a backseat…and for me, that was running.  So although I can run 20 miles the day after a 100 mile bike ride, I cannot hold a speedy pace on a tempo run.  My worry (fear?) is that my spring marathon goal is not feasible right now.  My plan is to just focus on each speed workout, each long run the best I can and see how my body responds.  I have 3 months until Philly. It seems like a long time but when you sit and look at the number of weeks, it really is not that much.

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        Pregnancy #2 vs. Pregnancy #1

        One of the questions I’m asked most frequently these days is if my second pregnancy is any different from the first.  They could NOT be any MORE different!  Although I feel and look different this time around, the major change is my overall outlook on my pregnancy.

        Breaking the news to my husband and family.  When I found out I was pregnant with our first child two years ago, I told my husband, parents, and sisters (with the exception of one) in person.  I had my husband come home from work (I told a small white lie) because I wanted to share the news immediately and wanted it to be face-to-face!  This time, other than my mom (who I was with when I took the pregnancy test) and my sister who lives next door, I broke the news to everyone over the phone – even to my husband who was at work!

        Books, websites, resources. Hours after telling my husband two years ago, we were in Barnes and Noble buying a handful of pregnancy books.  These (along with a few key websites and an awesome day-by-day pregnancy guide-book that a girlfriend sent me) were my bibles for the next 5-6 months.  The books were always by my side and I read and studied whenever I could – I wanted to know every single detail of pregnancy that I could.  I knew the baby’s current size, weight, developments, skills, etc.  Ask me how big Pumpkin is right now.  The answer?  I honestly have no idea. It’s not that I don’t care how big he/she is or what developmental stage he/she is up to – but there are different priorities right now in my life right now.  I know and remember what I need to in order to have a safe, healthy, and successful pregnancy.  The size of the baby (and fruit/vegetable comparison), while the highlight of my week for pregnancy #1, is no longer my focus these days.

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          Chobani Champions Review + Giveaway


          My son is at the age (13 mo) where he wants EVERYTHING that mommy and daddy eat and drink.  Thankfully, we eat healthy about 95% of the time, so some of our good habits have already rubbed off on him (I will not go into detail about the other 5% of the time!).  My husband and I are huge Chobani fans, and I’m happy to say that my son has been eating Chobani Greek Yogurt since he was about 10 months old.

          The grocery store we shop at has a limited variety of children’s yogurt – I had never seen or heard of Chobani Champions yogurt before – UNTIL I received an email from a representative at Chobani.  She offered to send some samples of the two new flavors – Vanilla Chocolate Chunk and Orange Vanilla. Talk about knowing exactly how to get to my heart: sending me free samples of a product for me makes me happy but sending me samples for my little man puts me over the moon!

          What is Chobani Champions yogurt??
          – First greek yogurt made for kids
          – Contains 20% of Daily Vitamin D and 10% of Daily calcium
          – Comes in pre-portioned, 3.5oz cups (each containing just 100 calories)
          – 100% Natural – no artificial colors, preservatives, flavors or sweeteners added
          – Four flavors: Orange Vanilla, Vanilla Chocolate Chunk, Honey-Nana, and VerryBerry
          For all of the information on Chobani Champions Yogurt, check out their FAQ page on their website!

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            What’s better than two PRs in one day?

            Me and my son

            A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I started doing speedwork again (Here is my post in case you missed it).  As of Christmas week, there is a treadmill in our apartment.  It prevents me from making excuses.  There’s nothing getting in my way of what I’m supposed to do now except me. So, for the last 3 weeks, I’ve forced myself to do speed sessions once a week.

            During preseason basketball at West Point, we were timed running miles on the track – my miles were always around 7:00.  When I was on the Fort Hood Army 10-miler Team, we did track workouts 1x/week – my miles dropped to 6:15-6:25.  I got my miles down to 6:10 when I was deployed to Iraq in 2007-2009. That’s been my personal record (PR) until last week.

            I ran my fastest mile ever last Thursday (5:59). This week, I planned to run 5x mile repeats. I woke up tired, sore, and not in the mood to do miles on the  treadmill.  I debated doing them right up until the moment I stepped on the treadmill – I secretly wanted to crawl back into bed for the next hour. But I know myself and knew that I would regret my decision all day…so I got on.

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              Sometimes getting out of bed is the hardest part of my run

              Ever have a day when you just don’t want to run?  Either too tired from being up late, or legs are sore from a few days of hard running? Or you just aren’t in the mood to run?

              I’m not embarrassed to admit that I have days like that.  I like to think that I wake up every morning eager to go on my run, but there are definitely many mornings when I need to push myself to leave.  This morning was one of those days.  My alarm went off and I rolled out of bed with ZERO desire to head out the door.  My legs were a little sore from not taking any time off after Sunday’s 16 miler and I just felt exhausted!

              It didn’t help that it was pouring rain out.  Usually a good excuse for me to crawl back into bed.  But knowing that the marathon is only 17 days away (but who’s counting?) and that my first ultra is just 30 days away, I forced myself to get out the door.

              It’s funny what some wind and rain will do to what was supposed to an “easy” 8 miler that was on the schedule.  My easy runs are typically between an 8:35-8:50 pace (after my 1st mile warm-up).
              On mornings when I need a little extra motivation to push myself, I often turn the easy run into a progression run – once I complete a mile, I have to run the next mile faster then the last.  It’s much easier  to convince myself that I need to only run faster than the last mile, then to tell myself I’m going to run at an 8:00 pace for 8 miles.

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                Staten Island Half-Marathon

                Even though I’m only racing a half-marathon tomorrow, I find myself getting more and more antsy as the night hours dwindle away.  I realized earlier today that this is the first real race I’m going to be competing in since March 2010.  While I did several races while I was pregnant, I had to keep my heart rate at a specified level as per my Dr’s guidance – I was not allowed to get too out of breath!

                There’s a certain excitement in knowing that you will be pushing yourself as hard as you can the next day. No more time for training.  No more time for worrying.  The only things left for me to do is make sure I drink enough water and get a good night’s sleep.

                I don’t expect to PR tomorrow; while I’ve put in enough miles to feel strong over the 13.1 miles, I know that I haven’t done enough speed or tempo work to PR.  But, if nothing else, it will show me where I am at, and hopefully I can adapt and focus on what I need to in time for the marathon.

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                  Who or what inspires you to run?

                  As part of the 5 Borough Challenge, my fellow participants and I were asked “Who or what inspires me to run?”.   At first I thought this would be an easy question to answer…I decided to use this morning’s run as time to think about my answer. Each morning that my alarm goes off, there is something different pulling me out the door.  My inspiration to run each day changes – depending on the day, the week, or my current life situation.  For example, when I was pregnant, my motivation was that I wanted to remain in running shape.  I can’t imagine how hard it would be to get back into running if I took months off during my pregnancy.  Knowing that running even a few miles each day (regardless of how slow I was moving) was a success and an accomplishment, was all the motivation I needed to head out for my run.  After I gave birth to my son, my inspiration quickly became to get back to my previous weight and running ability.   My motivation to run (and push myself when I’m already out running) increases when I am signed up for a big race; I find that knowing there is a race marked on the calendar gives me that little extra motivation to push myself those last few miles or last 30 seconds of mile repeats. Of course, there are mornings when the motivation to head out the door is simply that I probably shouldn’t have eaten that 3rd piece of pizza and most certainly shouldn’t have eaten the 4th the night before, or that I started – and finished – a pint of LaRocca’s Italian Ice.  Or it’s because later on that day we are going over my mom’s house for Sunday dinner with all of my sisters and their families/significant others.  In most families, this is a normal meal.  However, going over my mom’s for “Sunday macaroni” really equates to the average Thanksgiving dinner.  And that’s not even touching on the amount of dessert that inevitably appears (seemingly out of thin air)  on the table (see photo below – this was at a recent family get-together).  So my run in the morning is more of a precautionary measure for my waistline – and it allows me to eat all day guilt-free!! However, there are always two constants that serve as my inspiration – my newest and greatest is my son, AJ.   I want to be healthy and strong for him as he grows up; I want him to look at me and be proud that I ran while I was pregnant with him; I want him to come to races and be proud as he sees me cross the finish line…I want him to grow up seeing that daily running/exercise is normal and healthy.  My husband, Paul, and I already are astonished that at 9 months he is repeating things he sees us doing and we know that it’s only going to get more pronounced as he gets older.  We want him to look to us for examples of a healthy, active lifestyle. And second, at the very core of my inspiration to run is the simple fact that I love to run.  Running is who I am and who I will always be (God-willing that I’m physically capable!).  I have always enjoyed starting my day off with a run – no matter how short, easy, or slow that run is.  During these runs, I  think about the day – what chores  I need to get done, who I need to call or email, and what I am making for dinner.  It helps create order in my life and allows me to return home with an organized plan for the day.

                    Learning to love my flexible running plan

                    AJ enjoying bath time!

                    Up until a year ago, running was the most important part of my day.  If I were able to complete the run that my self-imposed training plan had scheduled for me, then the day was great – I was happy, cheerful, and relaxed.  If I happened to wake up late, hit snooze too many times, or just not have the time or energy to head out the door for a run, then anyone who spent time around me, knew to steer clear!  I would be irritable, impatient, and often times, a complete (insert expletive) to everyone, including (and especially) my family.

                    Fast forward to today.  The NYC Marathon is only 6 weeks away – my longest runs to date are a 20, 18, and a few 16 milers (none with impressive or satisfying times).  I haven’t gone on a long run in 3 weeks.  My weekly mileage is about 20% less then what I wanted it to be.  Yet, despite all of that, I couldn’t be happier.  I was blessed with a happy and healthy baby boy 8 1/2 months ago and quickly learned that following my training plan (or even getting out the door to run) is no longer what makes my day.  Most mornings I am able to head out the door for my run before my husband, Paul, leaves for work – however, teething, bad nights of sleep, and Paul’s work trips are the curveballs that prevent me from religiously following the training plan.  The amount of satisfaction I get from a great run – while still incredibly satisfying! – pales in comparison to having my son smile at me!!

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