Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: "Onward!"

I recently finished Onward: The absolute, no B.S., raw, ridiculous, soul-stirring TRUTH about training for your FIRST MARATHON by Brook Kreder. (Check out more info HERE!)

I couldn't have picked a better book to be reading during marathon training. The title is completely accurate. Brook doesn't pull any punches or sugar coat her journey.

If you are a runner, especially a female runner - you will appreciate this book! It was perfect motivation for my training, especially as I approached high mileage runs. I highlighted and snapped pics of so many moments in the book that I identified with.

"Run when you want to. Run when you don't. Run when you're sad. Run when you're pissed. Run when you're feeling hella good. It's all part of showing up and proving to yourself you can and will do this...regardless of the circumstances."

The book is an edited compilation of the blog Brook kept during her training cycle, starting at Day 1. She's sarcastic, honest, inspiring, and funny. It might sound weird, but there were times during my long runs that I was thinking of things I had read in the book the night before and it felt like I had a virtual running buddy. To read about someone else's experience doing the same thing you're currently doing - it's a great encouragement.

So, if you're a female runner looking for a little smart ass inspiration, this one is for you. Download it today!

Follow Brook on Facebook too!

(Just for the record - no one asked me to do this review or gave me free stuff for doing it. I just liked the book and thought you might too!)

Monday, September 15, 2014

20 Miles

This weekend, I ran my longest training run to date - TWENTY MILES!

I ran all 20 of these miles by myself, but I did have plenty of inspiration on the way! Instead of a pace band, I took an idea from Kristin Armstrong (author of Mile Markers, one of my favorite running books). She and some of her running friends make "prayer bands". Instead of listing a split time with each mile, they list a person to pray for each mile.

So, the night before I ran, I made mine. It was an awesome tool, and I'll definitely be doing it again for my next 20-miler (one more in the training plan!) and for my marathon. Each mile was a person, or group of people, that I prayed for and thought about. When I started getting tired, I thought "What would _______ say to me if they were here?" and it was a huge help!

Another little piece of inspiration was this pic that my BFF tagged me in on Instagram. I can't tell you how many times this image flashed in my mind while I was running!

And yet another source of inspiration for me was thinking about how far I've come on this journey. Almost 2 years ago, exactly, took the picture on the left - celebrating the first time I'd ever run 3 miles consecutively. I honestly teared up 3 different times during my 20 miles just thinking how grateful I am that God has given me the strength to get this far and do this much. (I also nearly hyperventilated with tears at mile 16 - which was the mile for my mom and dad...adrenaline, exhaustion, and endorphins do nothing to help me control my emotions haha!)

The final source of inspiration that was much less meaningful, but oh so important, was the thought of post-run brunch. And no - this is not all my food. The plate in the front is mine, the 2 plates behind it belonged to Mark - who also did his first 20-miler this weekend. And, might I add, the guy did it 1 hour faster than me at an average pace of 8:08 per mile - he's awesome. (mine was 11:08)

Today (it's Sunday when I'm typing this), my legs feel surprisingly good. I have even gone up and down the stairs a bunch of times with no pain. They're actually not sore at all so far today - hooray! (Let's hope that doesn't mean I wake up Monday morning with sore legs!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Training Update and a Wedding!

Sooooooooo how did I get to week 12 of marathon training already? And are there really only 36 days until I actually run this thing?!

A part of me is at the point where I'm ready to just get the race over with. I've been training for 3 months now, and combining that with the longest months of the year (aka - the first few weeks of school), it feels like I've been training forever.

I kinda didn't believe people when they said marathon training consumes your life. I should've believed them. It really does. Even if it's not the actual running, it's thinking about running - mapping long runs, planning runs, buying fuel for runs, washing laundry so my favorite long run pants are clean. Man oh man!!!!

After my super rough 17 miler a few weeks ago, I was ready to tackle my 18 the next week and make it a great run. By the way, thank you for the many, many kind and encouraging words and comments on that blog! I can't tell you how many times I thought about your comments and it kept me going on my 18 miler!

My 18 mile run had to be done on a Friday afternoon because that weekend there was a big event! One of my best friends got married!!! (more on that below) Luckily, we had teacher inservice that Friday so I was able to drink lots of water and sit most of the day so my legs would be rested. I planned an 18 mile route from my school. It contained some Rail Trail, and beautiful country roads. I planned it so that I would hit a water fountain and bathroom (at Brillhart Station, for my local friends) at the halfway point.

I, unfortunately, didn't look too closely at the elevation of this run. And thus spent miles 14.5-16.5 climbing. I walked when I needed to, and just enjoyed the beautiful surroundings! I felt great and being able to complete 18 miles on a Friday afternoon after the 2nd week of school gave me confidence that I'll be able to conquer 26.2 on fresh legs!


Now for the wedding. Let me tell you - my girl is beautiful, and I mean that both inside and out. I had the privilege of standing beside her as a bridesmaid. The wedding was at Lakeview Farms in Dover, PA. It's a beautiful setting! Bethany and Seth got married outside with the lake behind them and trees overhead. The reception took place in the barn on site. Bethany did an amazing job planning the reception with a rustic, shabby chic - but with a touch of glam - kind of feeling. It was a gorgeous day and so much fun!

Once the photographer (who was our fabulous friend Jessica Velarde) shares the photos with the newlyweds, I'll post more because they are going to be awesome!!! Jess was so much fun to work with and has this really unique eye for capturing moments. I can't wait to see all of her pictures from the day!

Here's a few photos from the day courtesy of my iPhone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SkyZone SkyRobics Review

First of all - a great big internet hug to all of you for your kind words and comments on my Monday blog! I think it's awesome that God uses the things He is teaching me to encourage you, too! Thanks for sharing!!!

On a much, much lighter note - I promised a review of SkyZone's SkyRobics last week! The clan from Gruver Fitness took over 50 trampolines at SkyZone in Lancaster last week. It was hilarious to watch 50 adults immediately turn into kids the moment we bounced onto the trampolines!!!
 We got these super cool SkyZone socks to wear. They're basically like high quality hospital socks - the kind that have the plastic tread on the bottom. 

Then we headed to the trampolines! We started with several minutes of jumping, back flipping, front flipping, toe touching, and general shenanigans before our SkyRobics instructor started the class.

Overall, I enjoyed the class part. We did a lot of basic aerobics stuff: different jumps, side shuffles, squats, planks, push-ups, etc. 
(blurry image of us doing side-to-side jumps)

It was a really great workout! My legs definitely felt it the next day. The best parts, for me, were when we were just able to jump around and have fun. If I had little kids, we would be hitting this place in the winter for sure! They have dodge ball, a big foam pit, basketball, and tons of bouncing opportunities. It would be a great way to get the energy out of your kids when they're stuck inside this winter!

(our fearless leader, Jeremy, showing off his toe touch)

The whole crew! (Can you spot me? I'm in orange. What? That doesn't narrow it down?)

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Race I Didn't Run

I think I did 1 or 2 "Marathon Monday" updates before I got caught up with summer stuff and became an absent blogger! So here's a general marathon training update, and a blog about the race I was supposed to run Saturday that I backed out of 20 minutes before the start.

In general, marathon training is going well! This week my mid-week runs are 2 5-milers and an 8 miler. My long run will be (eek) 18 miles!

Overall, my legs are definitely tired but feel way better than I thought they would at this point. I was especially worried that being back to school would torture them, but I think it's actually better for them. I eat better, sleep better, and just take better care of myself in general when I'm working. The routine helps keep me focused.

The biggest challenge is the mid-week "semi long" run. 8 miles mid-week is tough to wrap my brain around. That used to be a LONG run. 

Saturday I had 17 miles on my training schedule. The longest I've done is 15 miles, so this would be a new distance PR for me. Our town was having a 10 mile race on the local Rail Trail, so I figured I would run 7 miles before the race and then run the other 10 with the race. 

The morning dawned and I woke up on time, had my long run breakfast, and started getting dressed. As I headed out for my pre-race miles (and at this point I knew I only had time to get in about 5 of them oops!), I was feeling terrible. My legs were tight and my hips were aching. My typical long run pace is about 10:30-10:55 minute miles. I hobbled my way through 4 miles all nearing a 12:00 mile. 

I was hurting.

I called it quits at mile 4 and came home to foam roll and stretch before the race. Then I pinned on my number and started to cry. Yup. I stood there in my living room and CRIED. (truth be told, I had cried during my 4 miles too)

I hurt. I didn't feel good. Mentally, I just didn't want to race.

But I told myself it would be fine once I got to the start and saw some of my favorite faces and friends. I got in my car and started off.

Then I looked down and saw my low pressure light was on in the car. I cried again. And turned the car around to go home. I sent a text to my friends to let them know I wasn't coming.

I was worried that I would end up in the middle of this race and be hurt. So I decided to regroup at home and head out on my own. 

I started with a 4 mile route that I could cut back by my house to refill water and stop if I needed to.

I put on some "Jesus music" (that's what my dad calls it) and started just talking to God while I was running. But somewhere around mile 7, I stopped talking and started listening. And this verse popped in my head "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (Phil. 1:6)

I didn't plan to run a marathon this year.  When I planned my races for the year, I was going to be doing the Baltimore HALF Marathon again and going for a sub 2:00 time. God planted this marathon dream in my heart.

And I realized, that I wasn't running His race. I was running mine. I found myself saying out loud (Yup - out loud. Don't worry, it was a back road with no houses!) "it's not my race, it's Your race" and with each step and each time I said that, my legs got looser. My pain decreased. My steps got easier.

I wasn't meant to run that 10-miler Saturday. I needed to run those 17 miles alone with God.  I needed to give the marathon back to Him who gave me the dream and the strength in the first place.

And as I finished those 17 miles, it was raining. Actually it was POURING. My iPod shuffled to the song "Grace Like Rain" and as I heard the words "Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me" -- I ran with a smile on my face. My legs were tired and my feet hurt, but my soul was full of joy.

It's not my race.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Can it really be...

1. Can it really be...3 weeks since I last blogged? Yes. I kept thinking of things I should blog about, but I just didn't feel like it. Sometimes, you need a break from things. Besides, I was a little busy this summer having tons of fun with friends! Hiking, running, kayaking, tubing, amusement parks, fire pits, dancing, picnics, parades, late nights, long runs, and lots of laughter! So many memories were made this summer!

2. Can it really be...the first day of teacher inservice? Yes to that too. As this blog publishes, I'm on my way into school to meet some friends for coffee before our big "welcome back" inservice meeting. (or at least I should be, but if you know me you know I am probably running late)

3. Can it really be...week 10 of marathon training? Another yes. I feel like I just started training and we're already over halfway through! Saturday I joined my friend Nina and her group from Team in Training. Nina is running the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall in memory of Isaac. They did their run 2 weekends ago dedicated to him, but I wasn't able to join them to run. This week, their run schedule matched with mine so my friend Steph and I joined them! It was great to run with some new faces! Support Nina's race by visiting her fundraising page!


Now that summer is over, I will likely be back to a little more regular blogging! Tonight I'm visiting Sky Zone in Lancaster with my fellow boot campers, so look for a review of trampoline based "Skyrobics" this week!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Blogger

Typically during the summer I blog pretty frequently but clearly, that hasn't been the case lately! I've been busy doing lots of fun things!

I ran 12 miles for my long run 2weeks ago with my motto penned on my hand. I chose a 12 mile route that is really hilly. The Baltimore Marathon course is described as hilly, and so was the half course last year. So I'm following a similar training strategy to what I did last year for the half - train on the biggest hills I can find. The 2.5 mile climb halfway through my 12 miles was no joke, but I conquered it!

That same weekend, some friends and I spent Saturday tubing on the Yellow Breeches Creek. There are few things more relaxing and fun than 6 friends + 1 cooler of adult beverages floating down a creek - no cell phones allowed. This is the only picture we took all day, and it was nice to be unplugged even for just a few hours.

Before we hit the creek to float, my pal Steph and I were spectators at a local 5k. I toyed with running it, but ended up deciding that I just didn't want to. Plus it was fun to actually see my speedier running folks, like my friends Justin and Mark, cross the finish line! They're typically across the line well before I even have it in my sights!


This week I went kayaking with my friend, Shea (who crafts and creates at Mack Made), went hiking with Michelle and Levi, went hiking again with my friend Kim and her kids, and worked on some online class work.  There's been movie watching, dinner cooking, game playing, and pool time mixed in there too. I have to say, this summer I've spent far less time with Netflix than usually do during the summer. While it is making the summer fly by quickly, it's also so full of fun that I'm enjoying every second of it! 

And in other news, I got some new kicks! I've been a loyal Brooks gal for awhile now, but Mizuno Wave Riders were my first pair of running shoes ever. I even blogged about them once here! Last month, Zulily had Mizuno gear for insanely low prices. I saw these Wave Rider 17s for $67 and couldn't resist.  I wanted something with a little more cushion for marathon long runs, and these are perfect. I may also have grabbed a pair of Wave Sayanoras too. For $67 - how could I resist? They're $115 regularly!! I think my first run in my Wave Riders was a smashing success, so they're a keeper for sure!