10 Years Ago Today – April 18, 2004

10 years ago today I was 17 years old and came home from work to see a bunch of family members standing in my driveway. My uncle walked over to me as I got out of my car and told me that my mom had just lost her short and intense battle with pancreatic cancer.  I stood there silent as everyone hugged me. Then my dad came out of the house and I immediately broke down when I saw him. He told me she was gone and that my sister was on her way home from a friends house. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry. He asked if I wanted to come inside and see her before they came to take her away. I knew right away I couldn’t do it. I remember looking around at everyone who was crying and staring at me and I felt an overwhelming feeling of needing to get away. I could not be there any longer- I had to leave. I got in my car while hysterically crying and started driving. Not the most safe thing to do, I know. My dad knew I needed to leave and let me go. I called my best friend Christy and as soon as she picked up the phone and heard me she knew. I drove to her house and shortly after my other best friend Sandy came over. We sat together and cried. I didn’t know what else to do. Eventually I went back home to a house that felt (and still does feel) empty and like something was missing.

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We knew it was coming, as she had come home from the hospital and been put on hospice a week or so before. The hospice nurse told us to go ahead and say our goodbyes, because she would probably be unresponsive soon and was sedated with pain meds. Sadly, I don’t have very clear memories of our last conversation, except that it was short and full of tears. I remember her apologizing for not being able to see me graduate, get married, have kids. She told me she loved me and she knew I would be okay. That’s how she was though, selfless and never thinking about herself- always about others. She was not only an amazing mother to my younger sister and I, she also worked full time and volunteered at our local fire department as a fire fighter and she drove the fire trucks. She’s everything I hope to be as a wife, mother, and woman.

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I remember everything that happened 10 years ago today and how I felt so vividly like it just happened yesterday. But some of the details leading up to that day are foggier. It all went downhill so quickly, with only about 10 months from diagnosis to death. I kept a private blog back then with detailed accounts of every day, but still to this day can’t bring myself to read it because the memories of my mom towards the end are so painful. I don’t want to remember her that way, and I want to protect myself and my fragile heart- so I just avoid it and pretend like it doesn’t exist.

A letter I wrote myself in February 2004 for a school assignment. We were supposed to open it on the last day of high school.

A letter I wrote myself in February 2004 for a school assignment. We were supposed to open it on the last day of high school.

Since then I’ve done a lot of the same thing in terms of actually dealing with the emotions I have around losing my mom so quickly. After graduating high school two months later, I left for college summer session in late June and didn’t talk about it. Instead I drowned my sorrows and numbed my pain with too much alcohol and food, until I drank too much and it would all come pouring out in drunk tears. Luckily, I had some friends who came with me from high school to college who understood and helped me through when I was a mess. I dreaded coming home because the memories associated with where I grew up were too painful to handle, so a lot of times I chose not to. I went to summer session at my college 3 years in a row and then studied abroad in Australia for 5 months. I couldn’t have gotten any farther away by moving to the other side of the world. After graduating college I moved to Virginia to teach, and that is where I still am. When I look back on all of this now it’s really clear to me what I was doing although I didn’t realize the time. I was a poster child for avoidance. 

During this time I spent a lot of time writing about how I felt. I’ve always been better at expressing myself through writing and find it very therapeutic, which is part of it reason why I blog. Throughout all of this I also found running, and I think that has been the key to finally helping me process and deal with losing my mom. I worked through a lot of emotions and did a lot of reflecting while I ran, and still do to this day. There were times when I would literally be running and crying at the same time. It actually happened this morning when I was running and thinking about this 10 year anniversary. At my RRCA class my teacher made the comment that, “We are all running from something”, and I think that’s true. I was running from the pain and emotions that I had and didn’t want to face, but in the process I found something else. I found peace and clarity and acceptance. I’ve had moments while running where I feel her with me, like in my last marathon. Truly magical moments where her presence is undeniable. It is amazing. Those moments are what I live for. I am always looking for more ‘signs’ that she is with me, especially as more and more time passes between the last time I saw her and now. I just want to stay connected to her and remember her as best I can.

Finishing my last marathon with my new friend- a man running for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Finishing my last marathon with my new friend- a man running for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Losing my mom so young has shaped me in so many ways and is a big reason why I am the way I am today. People who meet me at first say I can be quiet and guarded until they get to know me better. That’s how I was when I first moved here and was making new friends, when I started dating and when I met my husband. The truth is, I am that way because I’m afraid to let people into a heart that’s already been broken. Along with this comes tremendous anxiety as well, because I am terrified of losing other people that I love. It has definitely shaped me as a wife and mother too, because I know that every day is a precious gift and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Today while rocking Kevin before his nap I let him sleep on me for longer than usual before putting him in his crib, and just soaked the moment in. I can’t even imagine how my mom must have felt, knowing she was going to die and leave behind two daughters who were only 17 and 14 years old. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to my baby.

Lighting a candle for her at our wedding

Lighting a candle for her at our wedding

This post is basically a long dump of a lot of emotions, but I really wanted to capture my feelings on this 10th anniversary. Sometimes I feel like it’s been 10 years and I should be more “over” it by now. But I don’t think if will ever be. I’ve come a long way but I still have work to do. I still feel guilty about a lot of things. I feel guilt towards how I treated her at times when I was a selfish teenager and even at some points when she was sick, guilt that I didn’t want to see her once she had passed away, guilt that I left my family and wasn’t there when we needed to be together. By writing this post I am trying to face my feelings and overcome some of the avoidance I have had about this important aspect of my life, so I can move on and focus more on the positive.

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I also spent time today looking at a scrapbook I made for her when I was 17 that I have avoided looking at for years. It was filled with her obituaries, the eulogy I read at her funeral, poems and pictures, tons of cards and letters from friends and family, notes from her, and even a letter I wrote to my future self. It was amazing and heartbreaking at the same time. Nothing will ever fill the void she left, but by thinking of all the great memories we made together, how her influence affects the mother I am today, and knowing she’s still with me through it all is definitely comforting and is allowing me to start to heal.

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Along with focusing on the positive, my sister and I have decided to celebrate our mom’s life and remember her on this 10th anniversary by running the PurpleStride 5K, which benefits the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The statistics for pancreatic cancer are sadly very grim. It is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and is anticipated to become the 2nd by 2020. It has a five-year survival rate of just 6%, and 73% of patients will die within the first year of diagnosis (this included our mom). Despite these statistics, pancreatic cancer is the most under-funded and least-studied of all major cancer killers, with only 2% of the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget dedicated to researching it. This is why we are hoping to spread the word and raise some money to help fund pancreatic cancer research.

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If you are interested in donating to this cause in memory of our mom and to help fund pancreatic cancer research, ANYTHING, even $5, helps. We would also love for others who live in the surrounding area to join us at the race, which is on May 31st in Wilmington, Delaware. You can run, walk or even just spectate to show your support. If you decide to run or walk with us, join our team Strides for Staci, and your registration fee will become a donation towards us. You can register or donate here.

The tattoos Lauren and I got for my mom- "love" written in her handwriting from a note she had written.

The tattoos Lauren and I got for my mom- “love” written in her handwriting from a note she had written.

<3

Potomac River Run Half Marathon Training: Week 3

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Week 3 is done and just like that I’m halfway through my (short) training plan. This was another weird week because we were away in Richmond the whole weekend, so I had to fit in all my key runs before then. I knew I wouldn’t have time to run in Richmond before or after my class, and I also didn’t really want to because it would still have been dark in the morning and I wasn’t familiar with the city at all. I knew I’d be exhausted in the evenings too and not want to run. This meant I ran on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and cross-trained on the other days. Since I did my runs earlier than usual and after a race on Saturday where I put in hard effort, my legs felt dead for most of the week. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back on track with my normal routine!

Here is my plan with including how week 3 went.

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Monday: Key Run #1 – Speedwork. 5 miles in 39:20 (7:52 average pace). I had mile repeats on the training plan for my speedwork. I was planning to go to the gym in the morning to do it, but I slept horribly so I didn’t. Instead I went straight there after school to get my workout done. I did a 1 mile warm up, 3 x 1 mile @ 6:53 pace with 400 meter recovery between, then a half mile cool down. This was a tough workout plus I really struggle with running in the afternoon/evenings. I really had to fight for this one and didn’t think I would be able to do all 3 at goal pace, but I did and I didn’t puke! Then my face stayed red for about 2 hours afterwards :)

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Tuesday: XT – Walk & Strength Circuit (16:00). I had to fast and get bloodwork for my thyroid in the morning so I couldn’t make it to Body Pump like I wanted to. After work I went for a 10 minute walk with my husband and little Kev. Later that night I wanted to get in a little strength training, so I did a circuit that included push-ups, squats, dips and sit-ups. I started with 10 of each, then 8, then 6, then 4, then 2. I did the same thing a couple weeks before but this time I tried to do it fast and transition from one exercise to the next quickly. It took 6 1/2 minutes total.

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Wednesday: Key Run #2 – Tempo Run. 7 miles in 58:50 (8:24 average pace). My tempo run this week was an interesting one. I had to do 1 mile easy, 2 miles @ mid-tempo pace (7:38), 1 easy, 2 more at mid-tempo pace, and 1 easy- 7 miles total. I knew it was going to be tough but I wasn’t prepared for how heavy my legs would feel. I did the first 2 tempo miles in 7:49 & 7:49, and the second set in 7:54 & 8:06. I was just trying to hang on at that point! I did this run outside instead of on the treadmill, which meant it was also on hills making it harder to maintain my speed. It’s crazy how I ran a 7:59 pace for the 15K last weekend and today those same paces felt super difficult. But even though I didn’t hit my goal paces I’m still really proud of my effort. I really gave it all I had. Plus, it felt great to run 7 miles before work.

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Thursday: XT – Body Pump (1:00:00). FINALLY made it back to a body pump class- and at 5 a.m. too! I can definitely tell it’s been a while and I lost a lot of strength. But I’m hoping to go more consistently now and build it back up again. I was definitely sore afterwards (in a good way)!

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Friday: Key Run #3 – Long Run. 10 miles in 1:25:09. 10 miles before work- DONE! I wanted to try to squeeze my long run in this morning because we were going away all weekend like I said. My goal pace was supposed to be around 8:12 and I wasn’t able to hit that, due to it being pretty warm and humid out- 65 degrees at 4:30 a.m.! I overdressed and wore a long sleeved shirt, and ran out of water early, so it was not easy. As soon as I got back I drank a ton of water and my green smoothie to refuel. I definitely felt proud of my efforts even though I didn’t make my goal pace.

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Saturday: Rest. We left to drive to Richmond at 6:30 a.m. and I sat it class from 8:00 to 6 p.m. We went straight to dinner and then back to the hotel to sleep. So the only exercising I did this day was my brain. It worked hard ALL day long!

Sunday: XT – Walking (25:00). Our hotel was a little over a mile from where our class took place so I walked there on Sunday morning. It felt great outside and it gave me a chance to see a little bit of the city. We were hoping to go to a short run as a family when we got back home that evening but it ended up being too late and we were hungry and tired, so we didn’t.

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Week 3 Total:

  • Run: 22 miles
  • Cross Training & Strength Training: 1 strength training circuit, 1 Body Pump class, walking

I’m glad that I was able to fit in some strength training this week and get back to Body Pump, which was my goal. However, since attending the RRCA Coaching Certification Course I’m thinking about modifying a few things in my training plan. I want to try to incorporate at least one day of running-specific cross training (cycling, elliptical, stair stepper, etc.) in addition to the other activities like Body Pump, yoga and/or walking that I like to do. These activities are good for my overall fitness but I learned they don’t necessarily improve my running. I also want to do more short, easy running between my harder key runs- adding in 1 or 2 a week. You can read my reflections from the course here for more of an explanation about why I am making these changes. I’m not sure yet how I’m going to make it all fit together and work, but we’ll see. It’s going to take a little trial and error to figure it out.

This week’s motivation. Coming to this realization over the past year has totally changed my running. Training your mind is as important as training your body!

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Previous Weekly Recaps

RRCA Coaching Certification Course Reflections

Wow. I just got home from a weekend full of talking and learning about running at the RRCA Coaching Certification Course. My brain feels like it might explode from information overload and I am still processing it all, but it was an amazing experience. To be surrounded by like-minded people discussing and becoming more knowledgable about a topic we are all passionate about- it really doesn’t get much better than that!

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The course was in Richmond, Virginia, which is only about an hour south of where we live. We decided to get a hotel and stay overnight though, because I would be in class from 8 – 5:00ish both days and my husband wanted to do some brewery touring and sightseeing while he was on baby duty. We headed down early Saturday morning and I could not wait to get started!

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The course covers a wide variety of running related topics and prepares us to work with beginner to advanced runners who are training for all distances and/or to meet personal goals. We learned about the history of coaching, types of runners and their training needs, exercise physiology, types of running and how to build periodized programs, running form, nutrition, the ‘business’ side of coaching, sports psychology, how to deal with injuries, heat, and altitude, and created and individualized program for a case study runner. Whew! Talk about information overload.

A lot of what we learned reinforced things that I already knew, but I did learn a ton of new things as well. I also learned some things that I have been doing that could be keeping me from reaching my full potential. I am not fully certified yet (I still need to take the online test and get CPR/First Aid certified), but I wanted to share some of the interesting tidbits that stuck out in my mind from the weekend.

  • The specificity of training. In the words of our instructor, “The system you stress is the system that improves. Specific stress leads to a specific results. To run fast you need to run fast. To run far you need to run far.” Sounds simple and it is, but this clicked for me. The job of a coach is to put this specificity and purpose into your client’s programs to help them become proficient at whatever it is they are working to achieve. The examples he gave us were, just like shooting free throws in basketball won’t help your golf swing, running at an 8:20 mile pace will get you proficient at running an 8:20 pace, not 8:00 or 9:00, and running 200 meter repeats will not help you get proficient at running a marathon. This specificity in terms of the types of running and training paces they should be doing is important to keep in mind as we build plans based on our client’s goals.
  • Cross training is called “cross training” for a reason. It is training at a slant to your primary activity and should provide equivalent stress to the body. Activities that mimic running form and improve cardiovascular ability (elliptical, bike, stair stepper, pool running, etc.) are the ones that will truly help you progress as a runner. Things like yoga, pilates, weight training, kickboxing, Cross-Fit, etc., are great for flexibility, strength and overall fitness but are not necessarily running-specific cross training. They can be categorized as ‘fitness activities.’ This was eye-opening to me because I admit, lately I go to Body Pump or do yoga on my cross training days and call it a day. While they are definitely not ‘bad’ for me, I know that I would benefit from adding a little running-specific cross training to my routine.
  • Strides. Do them. Incorporate strides into your workouts 2-3 times a week to activate and exercise your fast twitch muscle fibers. More about this later!
  • Exercise physiology. Super scientific stuff but I found it fascinating.  The human body is an amazing machine. For example, I learned that you build up more mitochondria (your body’s “energy factories”) faster and create better oxygen and blood flow while running at a conversational pace, which shows the importance of taking recovery/easy running days. This challenged the way I am currently training with the Run Less, Run Faster training program- only 3 high-intensity runs a week- which means these benefits are still happening inside my body but at a much slower rate. As a result of learning this I’m going to incorporate some easy running between my key runs.
  • “We’re all running from something…” Interesting concept to think about and I do believe it’s true.
  • Sports psychology. I really enjoyed this portion of the course about the mental aspect of running and training. This is the area that took so long for me to develop personally. We learned that there are 5 areas to focus on relaxing and keeping positive while running or racing: breathing, face, body, words, and images/visualization. It’s important to be aware of these 5 areas so you can support your runners and help them relieve their tension points- whether they need to be reminded to breathe in the clean air and breathe out the toxins and stress, relax their jaw or hands, or they need to hear a positive mantra at a difficult time.
  • Running in heat. I want to do a full post on running in warm temperatures as we get closer to summer, but one fact that stood out to me is that ideal marathon performance occurs at 55 degrees. You can expect your performance and speed to degrade 7% if the temperature on race day dips down to 35 degrees or goes up to 75 degrees. At 85 degrees you can expect a 10% degradation. Just a reminder to adjust your goals based on certain conditions in order to stay safe.
  • Running is a sport of failure. This one really hit home for me, especially given my recent marathon DNF. Runners fail at achieving their goals more often than most other sports. But failure does not define us- what does is the way we react to it, adapt, and overcome it. I have learned this through my journey as a runner and it has crossed over into the rest of my life as well. It is such an important lesson to learn.

I only wish that we had more time to dig deeper into the material and learn from the expertise of our instructor, Randy Accetta- a 2:19 marathoner who competed in the 1996 Olympic Marathon Trials and has a lot of experience coaching runners at all levels. Additionally, our course was filled with 40 different people with varying experiences: newer runners, ultra marathoners, running shoe store owners, race directors, bloggers and mother runners like me, a Masters runner who trained with some of the most famous coaches in the world, a woman who won a marathon and went on to compete in the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, and more amazing people that I know I am forgetting. While there were interactive portions of the course I wish we had more time to talk with and learn from each other- many of whom were already coaching people in some way. Of course, you can only learn about such a broad topic in only 2 days and I totally understand that- but I left wanting more!

Source- Randy Accetta's Facebook page

Source: Randy Accetta’s Facebook page

My next step is completing my certification by taking the test and getting CPR and First Aid certified. Then I will be able to officially get started helping people achieve their goals! I am so excited for what’s to come, and I know it’s going to be an amazing journey. My learning is far from over!

Day in the Life with an 18 Month Old

So Kevin will be 19 months in just a few days, and life has been so busy that I realized I hadn’t done an 18 month Day in the Life post yet! I really like doing these because I find them fun to look back on, and plan to continue with my monthly baby updates/DITL snapshots of life at that age until he is 2. Here is what happened on Wednesday, April 9th!

4:30 a.m. My FitBit Flex starts vibrating on my wrist, which is my silent alarm telling me it’s time to get up. So. Early. But I have a 7 mile tempo run to do, so I get up, get myself dressed, and head out the door.

4:53 a.m. I leave for my run. If I run outside in the morning when it’s still dark I stick to well-lit neighborhoods and a shopping center near my house that is a full mile around. It can be boring but it’s safer, so it’s worth it to me!

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5:58 a.m. I arrive back home after finishing my run and walking for a few minutes. It was a doozy (more about it in my weekly half marathon training update later this week)! My husband is already awake and showered and making us green smoothies for breakfast. I stretch for a few minutes and talk to him, then head upstairs to shower and get ready for work.

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6:30 a.m. My husband leaves for work. He leaves so early because he is currently coaching middle school baseball, so he works from 7-3 then coaches from 3-5. I finish getting ready and drink my large cup of coffee.

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6:40 a.m. I go in little Kevin’s room to wake him up and he is not happy about it. Kid loves his sleep! I change his diaper, get him dressed, and fix his crazy bedhead.

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6:52 a.m. We go downstairs and Kevin starts drinking his mini smoothie. We give this to him to hold him over until he has breakfast at daycare, and he loves it. While he drinks it I make myself lunch and pack up his milk, cloth diapers and other daycare stuff. He stands by the door to look for “beep beeps,” or trucks- which he is currently obsessed with.

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7:05 a.m. We go back upstairs so I can finish getting dressed and brush our teeth. Kevin normally likes when we brush his teeth these days but fights me today, I think because he’s getting all 4 canine teeth right now. Ouch.

7:20 a.m. We leave for work. I also pick up my neighbor who works with my husband and rides in with me every day. While I drive I (finally) drink my own green smoothie. I am starving at this point! I am loving my smoothies lately and they keep me super full- especially because we have been adding peanut butter.

8:20 a.m. I finally get to work after stopping at Kevin’s daycare, talking to his babysitter for a few minutes and trying to distract Kevin with his milk cup while slipping out the door, then dropping off my neighbor at her work which is on the way to mine. Whew! It’s a long commute because the location of Kevin’s daycare is not ideal, but it’s worth it us because we absolutely love it.

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8:25 a.m. As soon as I get to work it’s go time. I drop my lunch off in the fridge, use the bathroom quickly and go to pick up the student I tutor before school. Then my regular day begins, and I have 3 groups of kindergarten students back to back. I’m a reading specialist, so I work with 11 groups of students throughout the day for 30 minutes each. It’s a LOT of work but I really do love it.

10:50 a.m. I finally get a chance to breathe as my planning period begins. I eat a snack of 2 hard boiled eggs and get to work planning some activities for the 1st grade teachers I work with.

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11:50 a.m. It’s lunch time! I am having leftover Tortilla Soup from the More Peas, Thank You cookbook. It’s one of our favorite soups, and we wanted to have it one more time before it gets too warm outside for that type of meal. While I eat I get a chance to unwind a bit and chat with my coworkers, who I love so much!

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12:20 p.m. Back to my kiddos. I take 6 more groups of students back to back for the rest of the day. It was supposed to be 7, but one student I take by himself was on a field trip so I couldn’t see him.

3:30 p.m. The instructional day is over, and I have a quick break before I have to head out to my afternoon duty so I eat a banana.

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3:45 p.m. After my duty I head to a meeting with my principal and some of my colleagues. Normally I can leave work at 4 but I stay a little later today because of this.

4:30 p.m. My meeting is over and it’s time to drive home. On the way I eat a Larabar. Kevin picks up the baby most afternoons because where he coaches is right by his daycare, so I can go straight home and get started making dinner. I do stop to get gas on the way, but my commute is much shorter than the morning which helps balance it out.

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5:08 p.m. I arrive home, change into comfy clothes and sit down to relax for a minute. Eventually I start making dinner, which is roasted vegetable paninis with baked zucchini fries.

6:10 p.m.  My husband gets home with little Kev- I am so excited to see my boys, even though he is cranky because he didn’t want to nap much that day!

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6:25 p.m. Kevin is hungry and getting even more cranky, so we go ahead and give him dinner. Ideally we like to all eat together, but tonight’s dinner was a little time consuming to make so it didn’t work out that way. Kevin had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with veggies and hummus. Lately he LOVES any food he can dip! He also had more milk.

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6:45 p.m. Finally it’s time for us to eat! The paninis and zucchini fries are delicious! I also have a glass of wine with dinner because I needed it after the long day I had.

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7:00 p.m. We’re finished eating so we take Kevin upstairs to get ready for bed. Since he’s super tired we decide to skip his usual bath time and just get him to sleep. We change him into his PJs, brush his teeth and then I nurse him.

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7:45 p.m. I put him in his crib and he is not happy at first, but he quickly gets over it and falls asleep within a minute. He was so tired! I go back downstairs and finish my wine and relax. I message back and forth with my sister about running shoes and a friend of mine who wants me to coach her since I have my running coach certification this weekend (!!!). My amazing hubby does some laundry, and I eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg for dessert. Yum :)

8:55 p.m. I make my lunch for the next day and get everything else ready- lunch, diapers, milk cup, work outfit, workout outfit, clothes for the baby, etc. I am really trying to get in the habit of doing this at night so the mornings are less stressful!

9:20 p.m. I head upstairs to get ready for bed.

9:30 p.m. I lie down in bed but have trouble falling asleep for a little while. Must have been the chocolate :/ I eventually fall asleep around 10:00.

10:00 p.m. – 4:30 a.m. We all SLEEP!

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4:30 a.m. And 24 hours later, my alarm goes off yet again for another morning workout. This time it’s Body Pump class at 5 a.m. And another day begins!

While we were at work, here is what Kevin was up to!

  • Breakfast: Chex cereal (+ the green smoothie he had at home)
  • Lunch: French bread pizza, green bears, pears
  • Snacks: ??? I don’t know- she doesn’t write this down for us.
  • Diaper Changes: 4
  • Read “Good Night, New Orleans!” (Our babysitter just got back from a trip there)
  • Napped from 9:05-10:00
  • Did not take his second nap and talked to himself the whole time :/ (He has been very inconsistent with his naps, some days he takes two and other days just one. I am going to do some experimenting over Spring Break next week to see if he’s finally ready to drop to one nap!)

Previous “Day in the Life” posts:

Potomac River Run Half Marathon Training: Week 2

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Another week of training is officially in the books! I had some really great runs this week, including an awesome 15K race which gave me yet another PR. Since my race was on Saturday, I had to alter my normal schedule and run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. This meant I missed being able to take the Body Pump & Body Flow classes I like to take on those days. Instead I just did a whole lot of walking on the days I didn’t run. The weather was beautiful so I just couldn’t resist.

Here is my plan with including how week 2 went!

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Monday: XT – Walking (25:00). It was a beautiful day outside, which was very much needed after a weekend full of cold temperature and rain. I couldn’t wait to get home from work and go for a walk with little Kev. He LOVES his walks!

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Tuesday: Key Run #1 – Speedwork. 6 miles in 47:31 (7:55 average pace). 6 miles of speed work before 6 AM! 1 mile warmup then ladder intervals- 400 @ 6:27 pace, 600 @ 6:31, 800 @ 6:35, 1200 @ 6:44, 800 @ 6:35, 600 @ 6:31, 400 @ 6:27, all with 400 meter recovery between, then a half mile cool down. This was the kind of workout that leaves me completely empty and on top of the world at the same time. I hit all my goal paces and it felt great!

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Wednesday: XT – Walk/Run (30:00). On this day I stayed after school for our staff running/walking club. I ran with two of my friends and we covered two miles total doing a combination of running and walking. I was really tired before we went out but felt awesome and refreshed afterwards!

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Thursday: Key Run #2 – Easy Run. 5 miles in 44:54 (8:59 average pace). I had my 15K race coming up on Saturday so rather than do my usual tempo run I did an easy run instead to save my legs for the race. I was out the door by 5 a.m. and back by 5:45. It always feels so satisfying getting my workout done before most people are awake, and it always makes the day so much better! So worth the 4:45 a.m. wake up call. It was also nice to run outside rather than the treadmill!

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Friday: XT – Walking (20:00). Another beautiful evening, another walk with the family. I am loving that the sun sets later and the temperatures are warming up so we are able to do this! On this night we walked and hunted for pinecones :)

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Saturday: Key Run #3 – Long Run. 9.3 miles in 1:14:25 (7:59 average pace). I already wrote a recap of the J. Brian’s Tap Room 15K, but basically I had a great race and got another PR! I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and was able to meet my goal of keeping a sub 8 minute pace (at least according to my Garmin time).

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Sunday: XT – Walking (30:00). Another beautiful day. We took a family walk to the store to get a few things on Sunday evening after dinner, which felt great. When I was growing up, my family always walked around the block after dinner before bedtime. I really hope to continue this tradition with my own family.

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Week 2 Total:

  • Run: 20.3 miles
  • Cross Training & Strength Training: just a whole lot of walking!

Obviously I need to work on better cross-training this week. Walking is great but I really need to get into more consistent strength-training and core work. This past week threw me off because of my race on Saturday, and while I could have done some home strength training or yoga I just chose to walk instead. Starting this week I’m making it my mission to get back to Body Pump, since I’ll be back to cross-training on Tuesdays and Thursdays when they offer 5 a.m. classes at my gym. I know I need to strengthen all of my muscles and my core in order to continue to get faster and stronger.

This week’s motivation… Love. This. Quote. I feel like this has been my mission over the last 18 months!

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Previous Weekly Recaps

J. Brian’s Tap Room 15K

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Yesterday I ran the J. Brian’s Tap Room 15K. I wanted to run this race to gauge my current fitness level for my upcoming goal half marathon on May 4th. I pretty much knew I would PR, since this is only my 3rd attempt at the 15K distance and the last one (my current PR) this past June was run in 80 degree weather at a 9:18 pace. Since the 15K is kind of an odd distance, I wasn’t sure what pace to go for. I did a 10 miler last August at an 8:07 pace, so I decided to shoot for 8:00/mile and see how it felt. In order to get a half marathon PR in a few weeks I will need to stay under an 8:18 pace, so I knew it would be a good test for me.

The race started at 7 a.m. which is super early, so I headed down to Fredericksburg to meet my friend Amanda who was also running. I didn’t want to have to wake my boys up super early to come with me so I went solo. Kevin is always happy to support me at my races but I wanted to give them a little break.

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The race started in downtown Fredericksburg which is always really fun. I love it there- it really has such a historic feel to it! It was about 40 degrees at the start which was pretty chilly, but I knew I’d warm up quickly so I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. We quickly picked up our bibs and timing chips, used the porta-potty and got lined up at the start right as the gun went off. We ended up being around the back of the pack since we cut it so close to the start time. I didn’t think it was a big deal because (I thought) the race was being chip timed and it wasn’t a huge race so it wouldn’t be super congested at the beginning. I said goodbye to Amanda, told her to push it and went on my way!

The race started with us running out of downtown, through some neighborhoods, and onto the Canal Path, which is a paved trail by the water. I’ve run in Fredericksburg many times so I was familiar with the course, which was nice because I knew what to expect. It was pretty flat with a few rolling hills, which I like. I felt strong right away and went out a little fast, but was hitting my goal of keeping around an 8:00 average pace. Just after mile 2 we entered the Canal Path, which was pretty because it’s surrounded by trees and water. I loved it. I decided I would fuel every 25 minutes like I usually do in longer races, so at the 5K mark I ate half a pack of Honey Stingers.

  • Mile 1 – 7:50
  • Mile 2 – 7:55
  • Mile 3 – 8:01

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I decided to look at my watch every half mile to see how close I was getting to an overall 8:00 average pace. I knew that every half mile should take 4 minutes, which made it really easy to gauge my progress and how much of a cushion I had. At mile 4.5 we started heading back the way we came, and I was hoping to see Amanda but I never did. The pace I was running felt a little uncomfortable, especially at certain points with the hills, but that was my goal.

  • Mile 4 – 8:02
  • Mile 5 – 8:03
  • Mile 6 – 8:08

When I passed the 10K mark at 49:30 I realized I had just run faster than my current 10K PR (which is 49:35). I immediately thought to myself- time to sign up for another 10K so I can crush that distance too! But I quickly got myself refocused because I knew I still had another 5K to go, and that it would be the hardest part. Once I realized I was 15-20 seconds ahead of my 8:00 average pace goal, I decided I really wanted to finish with a sub-8:00 pace. For some reason, running a 15K at a 7-something pace seemed like something I’d never be able to do and I wanted to try. I took the second half of my pack of Honey Stingers right at the 50 minute mark, and felt them kick in pretty quickly, thankfully. I needed it!

  • Mile 7 – 7:57
  • Mile 8 – 8:02

One thing I have really been working on is my mental strength. I think this is a big reason why I have gotten faster recently. A strategy I use frequently is focusing on the mile I am and not thinking ahead to the rest of the race (I learned this when I was in labor and working through each contraction- LOL. It works very well in both situations!). In this race, I just focused on the half mile segment I was running at that time. Every half mile, I would check my watch and see how far away I was from the next 4 minute interval. For example, I knew I had to get to mile 8 in 1:04, and mile 8.5 in 1:08, and mile 9 in 1:12. It broke the race into smaller parts and kept me focused on my goal. Before I knew it, I was almost at the finish line with time to spare.

  • Mile 9 – 8:00
  • The last .3 – 2:27 (7:47 pace)

The biggest hill of the whole race came during the last .3 miles. I struggled up it and saw the time tick by. I knew I’d be cutting it close to keeping a sub-8:00 pace. Fortunately, after that hill came a nice downhill and I cruised the rest of the way to the finish line!

  • Finish Time – 1:14:25 (7:59 average pace) <– according to my Garmin

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Not less than 10 seconds after finishing I saw Kevin walk up with the baby in the stroller. I couldn’t believe they had just missed me finish! He said it took a while to find parking and he knew he would be cutting it close. I didn’t expect them to come at all so it was a nice surprise. I love my little support crew! I checked my Garmin and saw that my average pace was 7:59- I was ecstatic when I realized I did it!

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After getting my pint glass and some water, we headed back to the finish line to wait for Amanda. I knew she was shooting for a 9:30-9:45 pace, so she would be finishing between 1:28 and 1:30. Right on time, she came through the finish line a little after 1:30 looking strong! A PR for her by over 10 minutes!

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We hung out for a while afterwards, talking about the race and enjoying some post-race food and drinks. I also got to meet a local blog reader (Hi Sharon!!!) which was awesome.

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After going home I received an email like usual with my race results. I was surprised to see my official time was 1:14:39, 8:01 average pace and 14 seconds slower than my Garmin. I knew that was actually the clock time because that is what it said as I crossed the finish line. Since we were wearing chips on our ankles I had started my Garmin when I crossed the start, like I always do in races that are chip timed. Thinking maybe it was a mistake, I wrote a message to the company that does the timing of most of the races I do on their Facebook page, asking where the chip times were. They informed me that although they used chip timing, the race organizers only contracted to record finish times based on the gun. When I asked why we wore chips around our ankles, they said the chip “provides a quicker and more accurate posting of results than the pull tag and printing stop watch technology.”

To some people this might not be a big deal, but since I was trying SO HARD to keep a sub-8 minute pace, it’s a little disappointing to see my “official” time be at an 8:01 pace. At the end of the day it’s still a PR and I’m still very proud of how I did, but I wish the race organizers would have been more clear about how the race was being timed on their website, and not send mixed messages by having us wear chips on our ankles. The website said, “Timing provided using winning time chips. We are recording finish times only. All awards are based on gun time.” To me that meant they were using chip timing but awards are based on the gun. I guess by saying they are only recording finish times was a clue that it wasn’t truly ‘chip-timed’, but I think it would have been more clear if they had said they are recording finishing times based on gun time only. I am not the only one who was unaware of this- 2 of my running friends were also. If I had known it wasn’t chip timed, I would have made sure to get closer to the front. So I guess officially I have to say my time for this race was 1:14:39, and an average pace of 8:01. Oh well, it is what it is! Moving on!

I can’t believe how well my running is going lately. Yesterday was my 3rd PR in less than a month. I have now PRed at the marathon, 5K and now 15K distances. I never in a million years dreamed I would be able to run the paces I am running now. I started running almost 10 years ago with 11+ minute miles, and it’s still unbelievable to me at times that I’m able to do races at 7 and 8 minute average paces now. It just goes to show what a little hard work and a LOT of believing in yourself can do.

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Now, who knows of a 10K I can run? I’m addicted to PRs and I want more! :)

365 Days of Fitness: March Recap

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Another month has come and gone! Like February, this month was a bit challenging. We got even MORE snow, I was preparing for another marathon attempt and then recovering from it afterwards, and then was hit with a stomach bug. Despite all of these factors, I was still able to be active in some way every day except for one- the worst day of my sickness (although my abs did get super sore from vomiting all day!) I did take it pretty easy in terms of intensity besides my marathon on March 9th. If I wasn’t running I was walking, doing yoga, stretching, rolling out my muscles, or doing simple strength-training exercises.

Here’s the picture recap!

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After crazy winter weather, a marathon DNF, a successful marathon, sickness, and recovering from it all, I am very much looking forward to April and the months to come!

Previous Months

All of my pictures were taken with the FitSnap App (it’s free!). Check it out!