Race Recap: 2016 Willow 4 miler + Winning my First Race!

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Years and years ago when I lived in Texas, I won a couple of trail races. My husband and I did a 10 mile in Waco and half marathon trail race around Dallas and I was the overall female winner of both. But since moving back east, I haven’t really won any races – even some of the small, local ones, despite my being fitter and faster than I was back then.

I’ve also never flat out won a race before (overall male and female). Until this past 4th of July.

But let me be completely honest here. It was a small race. Super duper small. Like <50 runners, small. I knew I had a good chance of being the overall female winner but winning the race, outright, was a nice surprise.

We learned about this race from my sister-in-law. She mentioned the kids 1k race and I then saw that there was also a 4 mile race.

Initially, I planned on doing a long run on Friday or Saturday and then racing/running as hard as I could on tired legs on Monday. But, running in the days leading up to the race was a bust – Friday was a very late afternoon run so I didn’t start Saturday’s run until later in the day. I felt like garbage from the moment I woke up and then long run only lasted 1.5 miles (I called my husband to come get me b/c I didn’t even feel like I wanted to run back to the house). I decided to make Sunday a forced rest day. I felt a bit under the weather and didn’t see the need or have the desire to push myself. A. I’m on vacation. B. I’m not training for anything at the moment. So sleep, family time and wine won out over a long run.

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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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      Fall Marathon Plans + Back Home!

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      If there’s one thing I’ve learned about planning your racing calendar out, it’s that it’s not set in stone…not even your goal race.

      Last fall, I had my eyes on the Wineglass Marathon in October, but after a few weeks during the late summer where I wasn’t feeling great and wasn’t up to long runs, I decided to forego Wineglass and chose the Potomac River Run Marathon in November – which gave me an extra 5-6 weeks of training.

      Earlier this year, I signed up for Wineglass again. I wanted that to be my goal race this fall, but after Saucony reached out to me to be part of the 26 Strong program again, I decided, once again, to forego Wineglass and choose a later marathon. I had entry to NYC Marathon, so decided that would be my goal race with the Chicago Marathon with Ruth (as part of 26 strong) as a long training run.

      But there’s been this nagging feeling in my stomach about the fall that I couldn’t shake. My worry is that running 26.2 miles in Chicago with Ruth could jeopardize NYC three weeks later. I’m not the type of runner who can run 26.2 miles and recover and then RACE 26.2 miles soon after. I’m concerned that there will be some fatigue from Chicago that is lingering by the time NYC rolls around.

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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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          Unplugged Week + First Time To Disney!

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          My family and I had a rather spur-of-the-moment trip to Florida last week!! My husband found out about a conference in Orlando that he was going to attend and threw out the idea of me and boys joining him. Between the brutal winter so far, the increasing desire to take the boys to Disney and the ability to see my grandmother (who spends the winters about an hour outside Orlando) and my dad (who spends a couple of months each winter with my grandma), it was a no brainer.

          So after my 20-miler Saturday morning (first of training cycle – whoohoo!), we hit the road (we drove the 1,000+ miles!). Unfortunately, we left right when a snowstorm was hitting the east coast. We had checked the forecast and knew we would be getting some snow, but I kind of gave the side-eye to the “winter storm watch” (the snow accumulations have been way off the forecasted amounts up until this point). Plus, we assumed that the roads, especially I-95, the main interstate on the east coast, would be A-ok.

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            Weekend in Boston

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            My family and I are getting ready to head home after a wonderful and fun three days in Boston this past weekend. We drove up early Saturday morning and after a short 45-minute stop for food and a stretch just outside Hartford, CT, we arrived at the Westin Copley Place at 2pm.

            Our room was still being worked on, so we got to hang out in the Westin Weekend Room for a bit. It’s a parent’s saving grace if you get to hotel early and have some time to kill. There were snacks, crayons, coloring books, games – all for young kids.

            We spent some time hanging out in the room enjoying the views.

            Even Willow loved to see Boston!

            Later that afternoon, we went for a walk, did some exploring and found some food to bring back to the room. And were greeted with a sweet surprise upon our arrival. The boys were pretty excited!

            Sunday morning started off dark and early. My alarm was set for 5am but both boys decided it was a good idea to start the day off even earlier. (I will go into detail of race morning/race/post-race in my Falmouth Race Recap post.)

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              Training Update: Good Intentions

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              Old picture of the hill I used for repeats

              Just a reminder to get your daily vote in for the Runner’s World Cover Contest!

              Prior to our trip to Alaska, I hadn’t taken a day off from running in weeks. My new coach has me running seven days a week right now – often one long run, one or two workouts and the remainder easy/recovery runs (8 miles each)- with one of those being lower mileage (5-6 miles). It’s definitely out of my comfort zone and I’ve always been a big proponent of having one full rest day, but I’ve put my faith in my experienced coach and will follow what he prescribes.

              It’s been a while (= weeks) since I’ve given any type of training updates, so before I get into my running in Alaska, let me rewind a bit more.

              Week Prior to Vacation: 7 runs, 2 workouts, 59 miles

              • Workout #1: 10 miles w/ 5x mile repeats with 1/4 mile recovery (roughly 2:15-2:30). Splits: 6:35, 6:33, 6:34, 6:37, 6:39. Positive splits were the name of the game. It was 81 degrees + 62 dew point = 143 suck factor. I knew I should adjust the target paces but my body doesn’t always follow what my mind thinks. I started too fast and paid for it by the end.
              • Workout #2: 15 miles. 7:35 average pace with 600 ft of elevation gain. I’ve mentioned recently how I’m trying to focus on taking harder routes (more hills) in training to help me become a stronger runner. After my normal 1.5 miles out and back (I run south to the end of the island), I decided to run north 6 miles – a route that I often shy away from b/c of some of the big hills. I was surprised to see the splits I was hitting on the way out and when I turned around, realized I had a pretty strong tailwind, so despite feeling like I was taking it easier, my paces began to drop. This was a great run for me and I walked away feeling like I was starting to get my legs back. Splits: 7:58, 7:48, 7:46, 7:43, 7:47, 7:39, 7:40, 7:35, 7:39, 7:30, 7:35, 7:29, 7:25, 7:17, 6:59. 

              Two weeks ago: 6 runs, 2 workouts (1 missed workout), 59 miles

              Workout #1: 9 miles with 10 x 400m hill repeats. Coach wanted me to find a hill with 3-5% slope. I have never done hill repeats outside before so ran to the biggest and longest hill I could think of – it’s just about 1/4 mile long. I began the repeats. By the 3rd one, my legs were shot and the splits I had planned on trying to hit were a distance memory. As it turns out, the hill was a 9% grade – soway steeper than planned! I don’t remember the last time my legs burned so much during a run!

            • Workout #2 – 16 miles (below)
            • I had a lot of good intentions during our vacation, but I didn’t want running to be the most important thing I did while we were gone and therefore, there were a couple of missed days of running.  On our travel day out to Alaska, we had an early wakeup (4am) in order to make our 7am flight. I very briefly thought about waking up at 2am to get my 8 miles in but logic and my husband telling me I was crazy won out and I planned to run after we arrived in Alaska. After 18+ hours of travel, we arrived at my in-laws home just after 6pm (10pm east-coast time) and the LAST thing I wanted to do was head out and run. I hadn’t seen my in-laws since January and realized it would be quite rude to leave to run.  So I chalked it up to an unplanned rest day.

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                Alaska Adventure

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                Hi Everyone!!! I had every intention of updating you at least 1-2x/week while my family was on vacation – I figured it would be a piece of cake. But there was always something that won out over blogging and after the first couple of days, I decided to just let it go, unplug and spend as little time on the computer and my phone as necessary.

                The last 15+ days were nothing short of magical. It’s impossible to accurately describe what a wonderful, whirlwind adventure it was for us. This was one of those trips where everything felt easy and each day was more fun and exciting than the previous day.  Even though our daily routines were disrupted, we fell immediately into a new routine (or lack thereof!) with no bumps along the way. I was a bit apprehensive about how traveling 18+ hours and then being away for two weeks would affect the little guys but they exceeded our expectations and acted like seasoned travelers.

                Here’s how the two weeks unfolded: We spent the first five days at my in-law’s home on Nancy Lake (about 90 minutes north of Anchorage), then headed up to Denali National Park for three days (two nights) for lots of hiking and sightseeing. We returned to Nancy Lake for a long 4th of July weekend and finished off the trip with a two nights at the Aleyska Resort (in Girdword) which included time at the resort, Wildlife Refuge and a glacier cruise.

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                  Whirlwind Weekend on the West Coast + 100 marathons by age 28

                  Just wanted to drop in and say hello! It’s been over a week since I last came on here to blog.  I had such great intentions while I was on vacation – I even brought the computer with me…I always seem to think that I will have all this free time and that I will blog and respond to emails after the kids go to sleep.  But honestly, I am often in bed earlier than when we are home.  Being away from home with two little ones is pretty exhausting.  There is no safe area to let them roam while you kick your feet up and relax.  I also think I reached muscle failure no less than 50x this weekend from holding them so much.  The only place where it was really okay for my youngest to be roaming on the ground (crawling) was either the hotel room or the grass – but even in those instances, my husband or I could not take our eyes off of him.  So while it was technically a vacation, it’s not really a rest and relaxation vacation. HA.  We often passed out alongside the boys as we were putting them to sleep – so no blogging or work of any kind for me.

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                    A Child’s Ability To Empathize

                    Loving the Bungee Bouncer!

                    Thank you to everyone for your positive comments, advice, and support on Wednesday’s post.  I’m happy to report that yesterday was a better day. I was more mobile and not in excruciating pain.  Today is even better.  I also have an ortho appointment for first thing Saturday morning (two hours after we land).  Fingers are crossed!

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                    As of 5pm Wednesday evening, our “vacation” to Stowe Mountain Resort hadn’t gone as planned.

                    The pregnancy pain that I talked about on Wednesday forced me (and my son) to stay in the hotel room most of the day.  I was able to move around a little more than Tuesday, but was concerned with my ability to keep up with my speedy 18 month year old and/or hold him when he decided he was tired of walking.  There’s only so much coloring and reading that an 18 month old could do in a hotel room before he starts to go stir crazy.

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