Monthly Archives: May 2014

Civitans 5K

This morning I kicked off the Runner’s World Summer Run Streak by running the Civitans 5K with my boys!

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This Memorial Day race takes place in downtown historic Fredericksburg and the route goes along part of the Historic Half that I ran last weekend, so I am very familiar with it. I did this race last year and had a great time, and this year it was supposed to be a competition between my husband and me, who claimed a few months ago that I couldn’t beat him in a 5K. Our friend was supposed to walk/run with Kevin in the stroller so we could race each other, but she had a death in the family yesterday and was understandably unable to come. My husband pushed the stroller instead, and obviously this meant we couldn’t compete, but I still wanted to try my best. My stomach wasn’t feeling 100% for some reason, but I decided to go out at my 5K race pace (7:05 – 7:20ish) and hang on as long as I could. It was a warm, sunny morning and I knew that the out-and-back course was slightly hilly, especially in the last half, so I wasn’t sure what would happen.

As 7:00 a.m. approached, I kissed my boys goodbye and headed toward the front of the pack. Kevin went to the back since he had the stroller. We started right on time and I focused on finding a pace that felt comfortably hard. I checked in with my body as I ran, enjoyed a few downhills and tried to send messages to my stomach to settle down.  When my watch beeped for mile 1 I was pretty surprised at how fast it was, because it didn’t really feel like I was running at that pace. I could tell I was exerting a lot more effort than I usually need to in the first mile of a 5K.

  • Mile 1 – 7:13

I realized quickly after crossing the first mile split that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain such a fast pace. The hillier portion of the course began and my body was having a hard time maintaining the pace. At this point I contemplated dropping back to run with the boys as a family since I was already started to fade at not even halfway through, but I noticed there were not too many women in front of me. I decided to keep pushing it so I could maybe place in my age group. My next mile was slower as expected, but my stomach was starting to feel better so I was hopeful I’d be able to finish strong.

  • Mile 2 – 7:37

The last mile of a 5K always feels so long to me for some reason. I was determined to drop my pace a little so I kicked it up a notch after passing the 2 mile mark. I grabbed some water at the table and got to work. I focused on a few women who were in front of me. I knew there was a hill toward the end and luckily, hills tend to be a strength of mine. I passed one girl on the hill and then focused on the next one. At this point I could see the finish line, and the clock said 22 minutes and some seconds, which was surprising to me. I hadn’t been looking at my watch much and was expecting to finish somewhere in the 23-24 minute mark.

  • Mile 3 – 7:28

As I watched the seconds tick away, I decided I wanted to finish in under 23 minutes, so I sprinted my little heart out. As much as I tried, I couldn’t catch the girl who was in front of me, but that was okay. I finished within a minute of my PR (22:07) on a tough course when I wasn’t feeling 100%. I was so happy!

  • Finish Time – 22:59 (7:24 average pace)

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After catching my breath for a minute I ran back to find the boys. I thought we could all run to the finish together. I saw him running fast around the corner and I jumped in to run with them for a minute, but when Kevin caught sight of the finish line he booked it there and I couldn’t keep up 🙂 He finished in 27:41, an 8:55 pace – which is an awesome time pushing the stroller on hills!

After finishing we walked over to where the food and water was to hang out and check results, since I wasn’t sure yet if I had placed. We went inside the library where it was a little cooler and recapped the race for each other. We saw a guy come by with results and when I checked them, I saw that my husband’s name was next to MY TIME! He had given me the wrong chip by mistake! I told him he must have done that on purpose just to say that he beat me 🙂 Luckily, we got it all sorted out and our race times were switched. I found out that I was the 5th woman overall and placed 2nd in my age group. Woo hoo!

Awards were not until 8:00 a.m., so we spent some time cheering on the 10K runners who were starting to finish, chasing Kevin around, and looking for puppies.

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At 8:00 a.m. I got my reward- a gift certificate to our local running store. Kevin also got an award for his age group! Winners all around!

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The Civitans 5K was a great race and a fun way to kick off our running streak. As for my little competition with my husband, we have already planned a rematch at our 4th of July race when we’ll be in Myrtle Beach with his parents. It is SO ON!!!

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I’m Going Streaking!

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This year I have decided to participate in Runner’s World’s Summer Running Streak!  Runner’s World is challenging people to run at least one mile a day from Memorial Day to the 4th of July – 40 consecutive days of running.

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that I did my own version of this running streak two years ago when I was pregnant. My “pregnancy edition” included walking and/or running at least one mile a day. I gave myself permission to walk in between running days because I was heading into my third trimester and it was summer and really hot, so I knew running every day would be a challenge. I loved it so much that I decided to continue the streak after the 4th of July. My goal was to make it to Labor Day, but I made it to day 80 in mid-August, when I had to break the streak due to some swelling I had after we moved when I was 34 weeks pregnant. The streak was really fun and motivating, and kept me active during the end of my pregnancy. I knew I wanted to do another type of running streak in the future, and now is a great time since I’m not training for anything specific.

Getting my streak on while pregnant in 2012

Getting my streak on while pregnant in 2012

The best part about this running streak is that my husband decided that he wants to do it too! He’s been looking for some motivation as he begins to rebuild his running base for some fall races. He’s already suggested that we try to do it until Labor Day, but I said let’s just get to the 4th of July first and see what happens :).  The other exciting part of this challenge is that we are kicking it off tomorrow with a Memorial Day 5K, and finishing it with another race on the 4th of July. It will be great to be able to hold each other accountable and do this together!

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My original and favorite running buddy ❤

Like before, I plan to write weekly recaps about how the running streak is going for both me and my hubby. I know it may be difficult to fit a run in some days but one mile only takes about 10 minutes (usually less!). I’m sure we can find an extra 10 minutes during even our busiest days. I also have a few friends who plan to join in, which is super exciting! I’m really looking forward to this challenge and to see what we all can do. Let the fun begin!

Anyone else participating in the Runner’s World Streak? I would love for others to join me!

Marine Corps Historic Half

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Last Sunday I ran with my friend Amanda in the Historic Half Marathon and had an AMAZING time. The Historic Half is part of the Marine Corps Marathon series. I’ve done many of the races in this series in the past and they have all been super fun, well-organized, with Marines all over the course- all great things! One thing about these races are that they have a reputation to be tough. Most of them are hilly, and in true Marines fashion, they almost all have a hill (or two) at the end. The Historic Half is no exception. In fact, they planned the route to include not one, but two massive hills, from about mile 10 – 12.

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Needless to say this course is VERY hard to PR on, but Amanda was determined to make it happen. She worked so hard and pushed herself like she had never done before in training. We ran the course together before the race and practiced the hills, and she was 100% ready. I was so excited to run with her and hopefully help her accomplish her goal!

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The other cool thing about this race is that it’s practically in my backyard! Fredericksburg is only about 20 minutes from where I live, but in true northern VA fashion it took almost an hour to get there because of traffic (at 6 a.m.!). Amanda lives in Fredericksburg, so it didn’t take her quite as long. But by the time I met up with her and we ran to the start (almost a mile away from where we parked), we only had about 5 minutes until the 7 a.m. start time. The other thing that you can always count on at Marine Corps races is that they will start exactly on time! We chose to get in our corral rather than wait in the long port-a-potty line, and hoped our urge to pee would go away. Luckily, it did 🙂 The temperature at this time was around 55 degrees. We were chilly at first in our shorts and tank tops but after our warm up we agreed that what we had decided to wear was perfect. There was a nice breeze and we felt comfortable and ready to get started.

Within a few minutes we were off and running. The first mile was very crowded as expected, and Amanda and I tried to make our way through the masses. I knew that she had come up with a gold, silver, and bronze goal for this race. Her bronze goal was just to finish the race. Her silver was the beat her PR, which was 2:09, and her gold goal was under 2:02. To achieve silver or gold I knew we had to keep her pace between 9:18 – 9:52/mile. I didn’t want to go out too fast, but I also knew that she was capable of running at the lower end of that range. Despite the crowds, we ran a pretty perfect first mile, and once it cleared out some and we were heading downhill our second mile was a tad on the fast side. I reined it in a little bit in the third mile, but we naturally fell into a faster pace again that. Amanda told me she was feeling good, so I went with it. She had decided not to wear a watch and did not want to  know what her pace or splits were, so I kept it to myself. I also made sure we started eating our Honey Stingers every 3 miles.

  • Mile 1 – 9:34
  • Mile 2 – 9:07
  • Mile 3 – 9:24
  • Mile 4 – 9:07

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After mile 4 we headed into a part of a course that wound through some of the neighborhood streets near downtown Fredericksburg. Amanda and I have run here many times, and I could tell she felt really comfortable running on such familiar ground. I kept telling her, this is HER town and HER race and she’s owning it! During the next few miles we kept our pace toward the lower end of her goal range and enjoyed the sights and sounds around us. There were tons of enthusiastic marines and spectators on the sidelines, a house with a sprinkler (it was starting to warm up so this felt great), and even a table with tequila shots set out on it. We didn’t take any- although I do love tequila 🙂

  • Mile 5 – 9:19
  • Mile 6 – 9:24
  • Mile 7 – 9:28

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I noticed that we passed the halfway point in just under 1:02, which was an awesome pace. However, I knew that we would most likely positive split since the hills were coming up. Shortly after mile 7 we headed into Amanda’s favorite part of the course- historic downtown Fredericksburg. I decided to use this exciting, spectator packed, slightly downhill part of the course and the adrenaline that came with it to boost Amanda’s pace a bit, and give her a little more of a cushion before the hills came- without killing her legs.

  • Mile 8 – 9:18
  • Mile 9 – 9:31

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After we left downtown and hit mile 9 I could tell Amanda was starting to get nervous. I asked her how she felt and she said she was starting to feel a little tired and knew some of that was mental. She had run Hospital Hill and the Cowan Boulevard hill many times and knew exactly what was to come, but I needed her to keep a positive attitude. She had no idea how fast of a pace she had kept so far and although I wanted so badly to tell her, I didn’t want to before the hills because I was afraid she’d stress and worry about maintaining it for the rest of the race. So I held back, and as we hit mile 10 and saw Hospital Hill ahead of us I told her that this was where it was going to start to feel uncomfortable, but that it was okay and she was 110% prepared for that. This is where she was going to show what she is made of!

  • Mile 10 – 9:31

Meanwhile, while we were running, Kevin and little Kevin were hanging out at the finish line, cheering on the other runners! Kevin’s getting really good at his, “Go, go, go!” and loves calling all the runners, “Mommy” :).

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As we started climbing Hospital Hill I asked Amanda if she wanted me to run beside her or slightly in front of her. She told me to run slightly ahead of her to help pull her up and keep her focused. This hill is a long, slow, incline, and just when you think you’re at the top, the course veers off to the right and makes you do an extra semi-circle before hitting the top. Amanda looked so strong and confident on this hill, and I told her quietly to look around her at all the people she was passing. I knew a little friendly competition was motivating to her, and it worked and made her smile too.

  • Mile 11 – 10:14

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She kept an awesome pace despite the hill, and although we did slow down it wasn’t by much. I knew we had a brief period of more flat ground before the second hill so I told her to focus on breathing and getting back into a comfortable rhythm before pushing it hard again. The second hill is shorter and steeper, but I think it hurts more than Hospital Hill because you’re already tired from it. Once she had her breathing and heart rate back under control, I started to go into tough coach mode. I told her she had this, and reminded her that she didn’t walk up these hills when she ran this race as her first half marathon 2 years ago, and she wasn’t going to walk now. I also reminded her about how she ran all the way up that monster bridge at mile 23 of the Outer Banks Marathon without walking. She’s done harder things and she was going to do this today.

So often I have run with Amanda and she’s finished amazing races and runs with regrets about what she should have done differently. I didn’t want her to feel that way today, so I told her it was time to leave it all on the course. I wanted her to know that she truly gave it all she had. As we started going up the second hill I looked at my watch and realized that with a little more than a mile to go, she was definitely going to PR. I decided to tell her this for a little extra motivation. I said to her, “I just want you to know, that you’re definitely going to PR- but it’s up to you to decide by how much. Now is the time to push it.” Told you I was in tough coach mode! She said she was going to do it and pushed ahead- I was so proud of her!

  • Mile 12 – 10:11

The ground started to level out after we hit mile 12 and we were about to turn right to run the final mile back to the finish line. A week before we had run the same part of this course at the end of our 8 miler, and I had her practice finishing strong once we turned the corner. I told her we were going to do the same thing today. After turning onto the straightway she picked up her pace as much as she could, and I told her we had just hit the 2 hour mark with a little more than a half mile to go. She was in shock when I told her that and she said she never thought she would be able to run that fast on this course. I told her she was doing it, and I got all emotional as I saw how happy she looked and how proud she was. The last half mile was the most exciting part. The roads were lined with people cheering and the music was playing loud. I saw Kevin on the sidelines cheering with little Kevin, and then I let her go ahead in front of me so I could take a picture of her finishing and PRing!!!

  • Mile 13 – 9:26
  • The last .1(8) – 9:01 pace

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  • Finish Time – 2:05:12 (9:33 average pace)

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I was SO proud of Amanda. Not only did she PR by almost 5 minutes, she set a course PR of 15 minutes! Last year when she ran this race, she finished in 2:20. It is a TOUGH course and she killed it!

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2:05!

I don’t think there’s anything more rewarding as a coach than to see someone you’re coaching accomplish a goal they’ve worked so hard to achieve.  It brought tears to my eyes watching her push herself at the end, and seeing the smile and shock on her face when she saw the clock. She left it all out on the course and I am so proud of her. I also had a few other friends who ran- including one who PRed by 11 minutes (!!), and one who finished her first half marathon- redemption after she was hit by a truck a year ago, only a few days before she was supposed to run the Historic Half. It was such a great day all around.

The Historic Half is one of the best half marathons ever- fun, well organized, full of awesome spectators and Marines… it’s just awesome! Every runner should come to Fredericksburg, Virginia to do this race! I know I’ll be back every year.

Mother’s Day 2014

I had such a wonderful Mother’s Day today. My husband does an awesome job of making me feel appreciated every single day, and he is always telling me that I’m a great mommy. However, it’s nice to have a special day to be pampered a little bit.

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My Mother’s Day celebration really started on Friday when I dropped Kevin off at daycare. His daycare providers had prepared a few sweet gifts along with cookies and juice for all the moms. Kevin was so proud to bring his gifts to me: a potted flower, a handmade card, and a journal to record all the funny things he says and does- perfect!

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The celebration continued on Saturday. In the morning I had an awesome long run with one of my favorite mother runner friends, and then came back home to be with my boys. Later that evening my husband went to a food and beer festival so I got to spend some quality one-on-one time with Kevin. We had fun playing outside, looking at flowers and chasing every dog he saw walk by :).

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This morning I woke up at 8:15 a.m. (!!!) to an empty bed. My husband had let me sleep in and had gotten up with the baby at 6:30, even though he had gotten home super late. They had gone out to the store to get groceries and Starbucks for me, then made me breakfast- peanut butter and banana pancakes. YUM! Kevin also gave me a bouquet of roses and a card he had drawn all over. It was so sweet.

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My only request for Mother’s Day was to go on a family run together. Since I have been marathon and half marathon training, we haven’t been able to do this in a long time. After some relaxing and Kevin’s first nap, we headed out around noon. It was hot and really sunny, but I was so excited to run with my boys!

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We did 3 miles around our neighborhood. The same route that I used to run with my husband all the time when I was pregnant, and the same route we walked after my water broke and we were starting to get labor started. Oh, the memories :).

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My husband hasn’t run very much lately, so that combined with the heat meant we took a lot of walking breaks and took it easy. We were having so much fun talking and enjoying each other’s company. The 3 miles flew by.

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It was so nice to spend time with my boys and do something that I love at the same time. I’m excited to be able to do this every weekend!

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After our run we had lunch and got Kevin down for another nap. When he got up we headed out for the second part of my Mother’s Day gift- shopping!!! It has been a long time since I have bought some clothes for myself (besides running clothes… haha). It was long overdue. I was able to find 4 shirts, a pair of shorts, and a dress that I love- all perfect for spring and summer.

We came home and my hubby made me dinner- I had requested my favorite Rice and Bean Salad and he’s really good at making it! It was perfect after a hot day. We got little Kev ready for bed around 7:30, and I spent some extra time rocking him to sleep. As he gave me about 20 kisses and did about 30 fake sneezes (his new thing), I kept thinking about how much he’s grown and also how I’ve grown as a mommy over the past 20 months. He has brought me so much joy and happiness and I honestly could not imagine life any other way.

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As I write this I’m currently sipping on a glass of wine and getting ready to head up to bed. It was a wonderful day and I’m so thankful!

As for my own mom, I thought about her and our memories together a lot today. As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed full of tons of photos of people with their mothers, I did feel sad that I can’t celebrate this holiday with mine. But I appreciate her more and more every day now that I am a mom myself. I realize now just how much she loved us with her whole heart and always put us first. I feel like I can connect with her on a totally different level, and that gives me a wonderful sense of peace.

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Sending love to anyone reading who can relate to this in some way. Happy Mother’s Day ❤

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Past Mother’s Day Posts

Tips for Summer Running

Lately I have become very aware that we are approaching the summer months. Usually where I live in Virginia there is more of a slow transition from winter to spring to summer. Not this year. After a very harsh and long winter, it feels like we skipped straight to heat and humidity. This past week temperatures were in the 80s. Next week will be more of the same and even a day that will go into the 90s! In early May. This is crazy!

The temperature this morning at 6 a.m. when I started my run... and it climbed higher after that!

The temperature this morning at 6 a.m. when I started my run… and it climbed higher after that!

As I struggled through a hot run a couple days ago I started thinking about running in the heat and how to deal with it. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you will be forced to use the dreadmill all season long or that you can’t run at all. Over the years (and LOTS of trial and error), I have learned how to run safely in the heat as the temperatures warm up.  Here are my tips and tricks to get you through the summer months, based on my experience and also my RRCA Coaching Course.

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1. Adjust your goals and expectations. I put this first because it is by FAR the most important, in my opinion. Flexibility in terms of pace and distance is key in the summer when it is hot and humid outside. I will admit, this is a hard one for me to accept. But I have learned the hard way too many times by my stubbornness (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, countless training runs and other races that were pre-blog) and I am much more careful now. This can also be tough because many people training for fall races have to train in the hottest months of the year. Just remember that even if you can’t hit your pace goals or even some of your long run mileage, running in the warm temperatures IS making your body stronger and more able to adapt to stress. It will only make you run better on race day- when hopefully you will have perfect fall conditions :). This happens to me every. single. year. And I have gone on to have some of the best fall races afterwards! You might even consider running without a watch and just go by how your body feels instead. I do this a lot in the summer to take some of the pressure off. Another option is to do walk/run intervals. That’s fine! Don’t feel bad about doing what you need to do to stay safe in the heat.

How marathon performance declines as temperatures increase and decrease above and below 55 degrees

How marathon performance declines as temperatures increase and decrease above and below 55 degrees

2. Give yourself time to acclimate to the heat. It takes a minimum of 5-10 runs of an hour or more to acclimate your body to the heat. If you run for less than an hour (most people don’t run for an hour every time they go out), it will take even more. This was eye-opening to me when I learned about it. In the past I have become very impatient and frustrated with myself when I feel like I should be “used to” running in the heat after only a week or so of hot temperatures. This is not the case at all! Heat causes the body to change in many ways- your body temperature and oxygen uptake increases, your glycogen is depleted faster and your lactate levels increase- basically, you feel weaker, your legs feel heavier, and you have less energy to burn. While you are working on acclimating yourself to the heat, make sure to reduce the intensity of your running for the first few days and try to be patient.

After a super hot race in Nashville. My body was not acclimated to the heat and I ran my slowest marathon ever.

After a super hot race in Nashville. My body was not acclimated to the heat and I ran my slowest marathon ever.

3. Try to run during the coolest hours of the day. It makes sense to try to run as early as possible if you know it’s going to be a hot day. This is when temperature will most likely be the coolest and the sun won’t be out as strong as it would be later on. The morning is also when your core body temperature is the lowest. In the summer, it’s not unusual for me to try to start my long runs by 6 A.M. at the latest. If I end up going out later, I will at least pick a place that is as shaded as possible. There is a paved trail in the next town over that is mostly shaded. It’s worth making the drive up there if it’s a hot day. I also like running on another trail that goes through a state park, because it’s surrounded by tall trees that block the sun.

4. Dress appropriately. Wearing proper clothing can make a huge difference in how comfortable you feel during a hot run. It pays to invest in light-colored, loose, moisture-wicking clothing. Lighter colors will reflect the heat rather than absorbing it. Loose clothing allows heat to escape better than tight fitting clothes. Moisture-wicking material will help draw sweat away from the skin and dries quickly, which will help you stay cool. Some people will even run shirtless, but I’m not that brave. I just choose clothing that is so light I practically feel like I am running naked. Lightweight, breathable socks (heavy socks = too much sweat = blisters), visors (better than hats, which trap the heat and do not allow it to escape), and sunglasses are also great to wear in the summer.

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5. Protect your skin. Running in the heat and humidity usually means wearing less clothing, which means more skin is exposed. Sunscreen is so, so, so important when running in the summer, even if it’s cloudy! But be careful, some brands will drip into your eyes if you apply it on your forehead. I really like Neutrogena Ultimate Sport, SPF 70- they have one for the body and for your face. It doesn’t drip or sweat off, and has lasted for even my longest runs that are several hours long. It’s also VERY important to protect your skin from chafing by using Body Glide, Vaseline, or a product like that. Chafing happens when skin rubs against something, and gets worse with sweat. This can be a big problem in the summer! Before a hot and sweaty run I apply Body Glide everywhere- along my sports bra seams, under my arms, my inner thighs, the waistband of my shorts, my feet, anywhere that skin could rub. There is nothing worse than getting in the shower after a hot run and realizing you chafed somewhere by feeling that terrible, searing pain! Body Glide was also my best friend when I was pregnant too (see below picture). It’s a great investment!

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6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Obviously, it is super important to stay well hydrated in the summer. This means drinking before, during, and after your runs. It’s important to set yourself up for success by starting your runs with a full tank of water inside you. It is also necessary to have a hydration plan for while you are running. I love my handheld Nathan QuickDraw Plus water bottle for shorter runs, and my Camelbak for long runs. But I also have some tips and tricks for getting creative with hydration, especially on long runs, since it can be tough to carry enough water on hot days and I hate carrying extra stuff when I’m hot.

  • Plan a route that loops back to your house at some points, so that you can refill your water or grab a cold towel.
  • Plan a route that passes any place you could refill your water or buy more (gas station, fast food restaurant, park with a water fountain).
  • Stash water bottles on your route ahead of time, hiding them in a bush or somewhere out of sight. If the temperatures are warm enough, you can even put them out frozen and they will melt in time for you to drink and be perfectly ice cold.
  • Have someone come out and meet you during your run. There have  been many times where I’ll have Kevin come out to meet me halfway to replenish my water.
  • Make it a game to find yards that have sprinklers going and run through them. Or if you loop back to your house you can have someone ready with a sprinkler or hose. It’s fun AND it cools you down!

Continuing to drink after your run is important as well. I have found that if I don’t keep refilling my water bottle throughout the day after a hot run, I get bad headaches and even stomach cramping later on. No fun at all! If you want to, you can determine how much water you lose while you run and what you will need to make sure to replace afterwards. All you have to do is weigh yourself before and after your run. Convert the pounds you lost into ounces, and make sure to drink that amount. For example, if I weigh 130 pounds before a long run and 128 after, I will need to drink 32 ounces of water.

His and hers Camelbaks :)

His and hers Camelbaks 🙂

Nathan QuickDraw Water Bottle

Nathan QuickDraw Water Bottle

7. Don’t forget electrolytes! Water alone is not enough to sufficiently hydrate you on hot days and especially if you are doing a longer run. You also need to replace the electrolytes you are losing through sweat or you will risk an electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to many serious health risks and illnesses. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride, and you can get these from a variety of sources: sports drinks like Gatorade, Accelerade and Nuun, energy gels and chews like Gu, Clif Shot Bloks, Hammer Gels, Honey Stingers, etc., and a more natural alternative: coconut water. I like to get electrolytes in during hot runs as well as afterwards. Generally, I will drink water while I run but I get electrolytes on long runs by alternating between Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Clif Margarita Shot Bloks every 30 minutes or so. I like the Shot Bloks in the summer because they have extra sodium. I am a heavy, salty sweater (always have dried salt on my clothes and skin after a long, hot run), and I noticed I was getting pretty bad cramps on my long runs last summer. The Margarita Shot Bloks really helped. I don’t do them every time because too much sodium can cause water retention and swelling. Alternating them works perfectly for me. After a hot run I like to drink Nuun or Coconut Water. I also put some extra salt on my food that day. Doing these things really helps keep the post-run headaches and cramps away!

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8. Use the treadmill as a tool. Although I am not the biggest fan of the treadmill, it can be my best friend in the summer. I will often choose to use it if I don’t want to battle the heat and humidity or if I can’t get out the door early enough. I was on it almost every day the summer that I was pregnant too, just to make sure I didn’t overheat. The treadmill can be an awesome tool during the hot months. During marathon training, I would do as many miles as I could outside and when it got too warm or I started to fade, I would finish the rest inside on the treadmill. This allowed to get my miles in without compromising my safety.

On this day I made it 9.5 miles outside before heading inside for 4.5 more on the treadmill

On this very hot day Kevin and I made it 9.5 miles outside before heading inside for 4.5 more on the treadmill

9. Know when to call it quits. There will most likely come a time when it truly is too hot to run. If you know this before you start your run, be flexible and try again another day. If you’re already out and running, it is so important to pay attention to your body and watch for signs of extreme dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. For me, I know that I need to stop and walk when my breathing starts to get out of control and my heart rate starts to climb too high. I often feel like I can’t get a full breath when I’m running in hot and especially humid conditions. Shallow breathing = less oxygen = heavy legs = slowing pace and a whole lot of other health issues. Without enough oxygen our bodies start to have to work harder which causes our heart rate to spike. Here are some other signs of heat illnesses. A few of these are what I experienced during my DNF in Myrtle Beach, which I believe was caused in part by me getting over being sick but also dehydration.

  • Headache or intense heat buildup in the head.
  • Confusion or lack of concentration.
  • Loss of muscular control.
  • Oversweating followed by clammy skin and cessation of sweating.
  • Hot and cold flashes.
  • Upset stomach, muscle cramps, vomiting, dizziness.

If you experience any of these you need to stop running immediately and get medical assistance.

Here’s to running safely and happily in the summer heat! What are your tips? Did I miss any?

Day in the Life with a 19 Month Old

It’s Day in the Life time! Here is a 24 hour snapshot of what life is like currently, with Kevin at 19 months old. Last month I recorded what we did on a weekday so this time I wanted to do a weekend, when we had all day together as a family. Here is what happened on Saturday, May 3rd!

6:30 a.m. We wake up to the sound of Kevin talking to himself on the monitor. He usually wakes up between 6 and 7 a.m. I go to get him from his crib and bring him back into bed with us. Sometimes this buys us another hour or so of sleep. Today it didn’t, he just played and kicked us and rolled around.

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6:50 a.m. Since he’s not going to sleep anymore we get up, get dressed and change his diaper. Then we all head downstairs and start making breakfast. Kevin has pancakes, banana and milk. We have an adult version of basically the same thing 🙂

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7:10 a.m. After eating we head into the living room. I drink my coffee and we all play together. One of Kevin’s favorite things is to call Elmo using the app “Elmo Calls.” It makes his whole day! He just recently learned how to say Elmo too 🙂 I love lazy weekend mornings!

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8:15 a.m. I head out to the store to pick up some groceries. I am making a meal for a colleague of mine who just had a baby a week and a half ago. She is a vegetarian too so I was excited to make her a good meal to help her through those long newborn days/nights!

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9:00 a.m. I arrive back home from the store and unpack my groceries. Kevin takes little Kevin upstairs for his morning nap, and I start prepping the food. I’m making her Lentil Enchiladas from the Peas and Thank You cookbook, with a spinach, strawberry and avocado salad.

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9:15 a.m. Little Kev is asleep so my husband goes outside to cut the grass and take care of other outdoor chores. While I am cooking another colleague of mine stops by with dessert for me to bring to our friend.

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10:35 a.m. Kevin is awake, so we change his diaper and get him dressed for the day.

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10:50 a.m. I eat a quick snack and pack us all picnic lunches. I also pack a yogurt for him to eat in the car on the way. I also pack up the dinner- it looks delicious!

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11:20 a.m. We leave the house and make our way north to Alexandria.

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12:05 p.m. We arrive at my friend’s house where I immediately get baby fever! I got to hold him for a good half an hour as we talked about her birth story, how she’s been doing, how the baby’s been, etc. It was a great visit!

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12:50 p.m. We leave my friends house’s go have a picnic lunch nearby by the water along the Mount Vernon Trail. We eat sandwiches and fruit and cheer for runners that are out on the trail. Every time someone passed Little Kevin would yell, “Go, go, go!” and he even called a few women (and men) mommy. I was proud 🙂

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1:35 p.m. We head out and make our way home, stopping at Whole Foods on the way so my husband can pick up some beer.

2:30 p.m. We are back at home and Kevin is in desperate need of a diaper change as he has a blowout as soon as we walk in the door. We get him cleaned up and then try to get him down for a (late) afternoon nap. We have tried to cut his naps down to one a day but every time we try it’s been a nightmare. So two naps it is, even at 19 months!

3:00 p.m. Kevin is asleep, my husband starts doing some laundry, and I meal plan for the week and relax. I had a half marathon the next day so I needed some down time to rest my legs! I also worked on making some letter trays for my students at school.

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4:30 p.m. We get Kevin up from his nap to make sure he will actually sleep that night! Kid would sleep forever if he could.

5:10 p.m. It’s time to start making dinner! I always like to eat early the day before a big race to make sure my food gets fully digested. While we make homemade pizza Kevin eats his dinner. He’s been really into foods he can dip recently, so I made him pasta and gave me a little bowl of marinara sauce to dip them in. He loved it!

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6:05 p.m. We eat our dinner. Pizza on garlic naan bread with veggies and fake ‘sausage.’ Plus my vegan cheese. Sounds appetizing, right? It actually was very good! I can’t do dairy the night before a race or hard run so this was perfect.

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6:40 p.m. Bathtime with daddy, and and then we get him ready for bed by putting on lotion, brushing teeth, etc.

7:05 p.m. Kevin has been really into books lately, but he’s so independent that he doesn’t want other people to read them to him. Instead he sits there babbling to himself and turning pages. It makes me [as a reading specialist] so happy!!!

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7:15 p.m. Nurse. Yes, still. Only on one side, only for a few minutes. I am ready to be done!

7:30 p.m. He’s asleep. I go back downstairs to do some dishes, clean out my car so it’s ready to take us and my friend to the race the next day, and get all my race gear laid out and ready to go.

8:30 p.m. With all of my “chores” complete, I can finally relax!

9:30 p.m. I head upstairs to start getting ready for bed.

10:00 p.m. SLEEP!

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5:00 p.m. Wake up and start getting ready for my day.

6:15 a.m. Leave for the race!

Previous “Day in the Life” posts:

Potomac River Run Half Marathon

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Today I ran the Potomac River Run Half Marathon. I had high hopes of getting a PR in this race, since the half marathon is the last major distance I need to PR in since having Kevin almost 20 months ago. Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen. And surprisingly, I am 110% okay with that.

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Let’s start at the beginning! The night before the race I decided I would focus on 3 Ps for this race: patience, perseverance and positive thinking. I wanted to be patient in terms of my pacing by not going out too fast, persevere by hanging on while feeling uncomfortable, and keep a positive attitude no matter what. Even though I didn’t get the outcome I originally wanted, I did end up using these 3 Ps to get me through the race and they definitely still applied.

This morning my running buddy Amanda met us at our house at 6:15 and we all drove up to the C&O Canal Path together. We arrived just after 7:00 and were able to find close parking, pick up our stuff, and use the (indoor) bathroom twice before the 8:00 a.m. start. I love small races!

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We were pretty chilly before the race started but I knew I’d be fine in my tank top in shorts once I got started. This race offered a 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. start, but since the temperature wasn’t supposed to get too high (this is me foreshadowing… LOL) we chose the 8:00 start. We headed to the start line by walking down a gravel path. The course was almost all packed gravel, but there were some bigger rocks here and there. It was a beautiful out-and-back along the river. I couldn’t wait to get started!

What most of the course looked like, beautiful right by the water!

What most of the course looked like, beautiful right by the water!

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I said goodbye to my boys and lined up with Amanda toward the front, because this race was not chip timed and I learned my lesson before about those types of races. Sometimes every second counts!

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After the National Anthem and some instructions from the race director, he quickly counted down and we were off! I ran with Amanda for a few seconds then we went our separate ways.

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I felt really good the first half of the race. I focused on half mile chunks and that helped the miles tick by. It was still cool and the breeze felt good. I was maintaining around an 8:05 average pace pretty effortlessly. It didn’t feel like I was going out too fast at all. I ate my chews every 20 minutes, alternating between Honey Stingers and Clif Margarita Shot Bloks (for extra sodium) and each time it gave me the little boost I needed. I was focused on getting to the turn-around point so I could head back and then hopefully pick up the pace in the later miles, since I felt so good.

  • Mile 1 – 8:05
  • Mile 2 – 7:56
  • Mile 3 – 8:07
  • Mile 4 – 7:59
  • Mile 5 – 8:14 
  • Mile 6 – 8:10

At the halfway turn-around point my watch said I was at 53 minutes. I did some math and realized that put me at a 1:46 finish time, which would be a PR since my current one was 1:48:55. I was really excited, but things started to change right after I turned around. It felt like the temperature had suddenly risen by quite a bit and sun was really beating down. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, and although parts of the trail were shaded a lot of it was not. I wasn’t prepared for this, because the forecast had said it would be 50 degrees and cloudy, and would only get to 60 degrees by the time I finished. It was definitely getting to be a lot warmer than that and I started to worry.

It was then that I saw Amanda headed toward the turn-around. I asked her how she was feeling and she was all smiles when she told me she was keeping a 9:10 average pace. I was so excited for her because I knew she’s been working toward a 9:18 goal half marathon pace (this was more of a training race for her- her goal race is in 2 weeks). Seeing her gave me a little boost, but then I looked down at my watch when it beeped at mile 7 and saw that I had slowed down. After that my body started to hurt and feel the effects of the temperature and the effort I had put in so far. I quickly realized I was going to have to adjust my goals for this race. Ever since my DNF, I am a lot more careful when it comes to pushing myself. I don’t even want to push my body too far again, and I promised myself I would always err on the side of caution if I needed to. I knew that my body just wasn’t used to running in warmer temperatures yet, after such a harsh cold winter that seemed like it would never end. So I slowed down. I started walking through water stations. Then I started taking walking breaks whenever I wanted to. Talk about a positive split for the second half of the race!

  • Mile 7 – 8:30
  • Mile 8 – 8:47
  • Mile 9 – 8:43
  • Mile 10 – 9:00
Waiting for Mommy at the finish line

Waiting for Mommy at the finish line

When I hit mile 10 I turned off my watch. I wasn’t angry or upset though. How could I be mad? It was a beautiful day and I was running on a gorgeous course. I turned off my watch because I didn’t want it to take away from my race experience and I didn’t want my climbing pace to ruin my day. I was determined to keep a positive attitude and enjoy the rest of the race. Those last 3 miles felt super long, but luckily I was able to watch turtles swim in the water and cheered on marathon runners that were going out for their second lap (while secretly thanking God that I wasn’t doing a full marathon!) I could feel myself getting a painful blister on the bottom of my foot from wearing worn out shoes on rocky terrain and kicked myself for not getting new ones like I knew I should have. There were bugs swirling around my head and trying to go up my nose and in my mouth. But I still wasn’t frustrated or disappointed. I just kept moving forward doing walk/run intervals, and finally I saw the finish line and my boys waiting for me.

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After seeing them I turned the corner and headed downhill to the finish line! The clock said 1:57 and some seconds. Not my slowest and not my fastest half marathon, but a time I was proud of.

  • Finish Time: 1:57:17 (8:57 average pace)
The clock on the left is the 7 a.m. start, and the 8 a.m. start is on the right.

The clock on the left is the 7 a.m. start, and the 8 a.m. start is on the right.

I could tell Kevin wasn’t sure how to react at first. He knew my goal was to PR and he obviously knew I missed it by a lot. I told him I was fine and that it was a difficult race for me, but I finished and I was happy. I explained a little about what had happened and told him I did enjoy the race, but I felt like I was done with ‘hard’ racing for a while. My heart just wasn’t fully in it and I could tell my body was ready for a break. He agreed with me and told me he was so proud of me anyway. He is the best 🙂

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About 12 minutes later Amanda came through at 2:10, only missing her PR by a minute! She was so strong on a tough day and I was so proud of her! And this was just a ‘training race’ for her. I can’t wait to see her kill it at her goal half marathon!

She makes it look easy, doesn't she??

She makes it look easy, doesn’t she??

We chatted about the race once she was finished and she agreed with me on many of the same things. She also lost steam around mile 7 as the temperatures got warmer. She told me that accidentally ate a bug that flew into her mouth, survived some tummy issues AND saw a snake in the middle of the path at one point! She is a rockstar.

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This race reminded me that running isn’t always about getting a PR. Even though it was a tough day, I finished with a smile on my face and absolutely no regrets. I am proud of my effort and how I kept a positive attitude. A year ago (or even a few months ago!) I don’t think I would’ve been so happy with myself and my results, but I have come a long way and done a lot of work in that area of my life since then.

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I have to say though, I am pretty excited to be done with training for a while. My body needs a break and I am so ready to run when I want to without following any type of plan! Here’s to running more with friends, my hubby, the baby in the stroller, and not running when I don’t feel like it. I can’t wait to spend my time focusing on other people and help them with their running goals as a running coach. I’m also excited to get back to the gym and the classes I love! It’s been a great year and a half of hard training and I have accomplished so many of my goals, but it’s back to easy running for me for a while. And I could not be happier about that :).