Monthly Archives: March 2016

Life Update

12743551_10110210039421044_4336606126160636075_n

Okay, deep breaths! I think I am ready to talk a little bit about what has been going on in my life lately. As I have vaguely mentioned in past posts, this has been a rough time for me. I had to take a step back from blogging because I have always tried to be very honest during the last 5 years since I started Run Inspired. I didn’t know how to write about my life, my family, and my running without writing about what was going on. It was honestly hard to write my training recaps and about the marathon, and Kyler’s monthly updates, because everything was being affected by something I didn’t feel ready to talk about yet.

It has been a very difficult start to the new year. A couple weeks into 2016, things started to change in my household. My running got put WAY on the back burner, as seen in my training updates. I started really struggling to get my work done at school and within my coaching business. Certain people became absent from my pictures and my posts on social media. The reason for all of this was that my marriage suddenly fell apart. Kevin and I are now separated and he no longer lives with us. It all happened very quickly and left me feeling extremely broken. I don’t want to go into the details of what happened, but it has been devastating and heartbreaking on multiple levels.

I have a lot of extremely raw emotions that come and go as I work through this grieving process. It has been a roller coaster that goes up and down, between sadness, disappointment, anger, hope, hopelessness, exhaustion… and so on. Then in the middle of all of this I had to go run a marathon, and it was one of the most defining moments of my life. It was so much more to me than just a race. It was a chance for me to show my strength, independence and resilience. To show that I can do hard things, and that good things do come to those who work hard, stay positive, and don’t give up. It helped give me some of the strength and clarity that I needed to move forward.

Making the choice to continue to love, trust, and respect others when they have not given that to me in return has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But at the end of the day, I know that I need to do that for myself and more importantly my boys, to show them what it means to take the high road and to have good character. “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.” I refuse to let the actions of others destroy my heart.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 7.54.55 AM

The dust is starting to settle a bit, and I’m now adjusting to my new “normal.” My family and friends have been EVERYTHING to me during this time. I am seriously blown away by the support and love we have received. Luckily, Kevin has always been an amazing father and that has not changed. He is still very much around and a part of their lives, and I am thankful for that. I never expected this for our family and for our boys and while it breaks my heart, I’m glad that we can at least co-parent together for them.

12814739_10110338361058454_2441509607701827030_n

Now that spring has begun and the world is coming to life again, I feel like I am starting to as well. Things at home are still very hard as I learn how to navigate as a single parent, but I’m taking it day by day. In “real life” I’ve been slowly telling people what is going on, usually in person, because it’s a lot to explain and the questions that I’m asked about it all are emotionally exhausting. I plan to spend the next year of separation before we are able to file for divorce focusing on myself, but most importantly my sweet boys.

12049702_10110423856220464_666275764830540523_n

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do plan to continue blogging about it. This space has been an amazing journal of the last 5 years of my life and I’m so thankful that I have it all documented. While I may not have as much time as I did before, it’s important to me to keep blogging about this journey. It will be interesting to see where I am a year from now and where life takes me. I’m ready for the next chapter.

12814436_10153962394904710_3740254715156072490_n

The Myrtle Beach Marathon: Redemption!

I have never been more excited to write a race recap! The Myrtle Beach Marathon went better than I ever dreamed it would. Every single detail came together and I ran the strongest race of my life, both physically and mentally. I beat all of my goals by a landslide and scored myself a 13 MINUTE PR! Here are all the details.

436411_222482358_XLarge

Best race photo of my life! At mile 26 too!

This race kind of snuck up on me. I have been super busy with work and home stuff that our trip to Myrtle Beach felt like it came out of nowhere. All of a sudden it was time to pack up and head south, and before I knew it I was at the expo picking up my stuff and then at the starting line the next morning. I think this was a huge blessing in a way, because I didn’t really have time to get myself all worked up and stressed about the huge challenge ahead of me. I also went into it with sort of low expectations, since my #1 goal was just to finish this time after my DNF here two years ago.

12512460_10110288708462654_5614595023849370381_n

I was very excited about the weather forecast, which looked absolutely perfect. High 30s at the start and low 50s at the finish, with minimal wind for a coastal race. I was so thankful that wind didn’t seem like it was going to be a big issue this year, because it has been really tough the last few years which caused me to expend too much energy. Everything seemed like it was starting to come together.

12795552_10110288708527524_3615393617020902077_n

Even despite all of these positives, I still woke up on Saturday morning with a very nervous tummy. I focused on doing my pre-race routine – bathroom, coffee, eat, get dressed, bathroom again… but my breakfast made me feel a little nauseous so I couldn’t get much down. I left the house around 5:30 to drive about 20 minutes to the start, and once I got there I pumped (#momlife), used a porta-potty (there were a TON this year with no lines – so much appreciated!), and made my way to the start. I felt like I had a ton of pent-up nervous energy that I needed to get out. I couldn’t wait to start running to release it.

IMG_6663

Luckily, I knew Andrew, who was pacing the 3:45 group, which was my ‘Gold’ goal, and I was able to say hi to him when I lined up in his corral at the start. Seeing a familiar face made me feel a lot more comfortable. I knew he would be running about an 8:30 pace, which I thought was doable based on my training and recent half marathons. However, I still had some fear lingering in the back of my mind from two years ago when I had to suddenly stop at mile 21, so I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hold that pace the entire time. I decided to go for it and see what happened.

Finally it was 6:30 (super early race start!) and we were off. There was a big wall of people with the 3:45 pace group so I hung a little behind them to give myself some space. Since we started toward the front, the course wasn’t super crowded and it was easy to keep the pace I wanted. As expected, an 8:30 pace felt really easy, and almost too slow. I was SO tempted to pick it up a little bit – but I have made that mistake so many times before. I kept telling myself to be patient and hang out here at this very comfortable pace for a while. We ran out to a shopping area called Market Common, did a loop around there, and then headed back out toward the beach to start running back the other direction.

  • Mile 1 – 8:32
  • Mile 2 – 8:26
  • Mile 3 – 8:34
  • Mile 4 – 8:28
  • Mile 5 – 8:32
  • Mile 6 – 8:29
  • Mile 7 – 8:32

I passed the 10K timing mat at 52:06, but it was a little off from what my watch said. Actually, all the mile markers were about a tenth of a mile short from what mine and the other people around me had on their watches. Not a big deal, and I knew it would eventually even out at the end. I had set my Garmin to show my overall average pace while I was running and it stayed steady at 8:30-8:31/mile the entire time, so I knew I was right on track.

I have run the full (up to mile 21.5) and the half here a couple times, so I know the Myrtle Beach Marathon course very well. I practiced visualizing it on my long runs. I knew every long stretch, every turn, every mile marker, every timing mat. I knew there would be two parts of the course that would be the hardest for me. The first would be the 9 mile stretch along the water from mile 8-17. Not only can this be hard physically because of the wind that comes from off the ocean and between the buildings, but it’s also very tough mentally because you’re running straight for so long without any change in direction. I knew this was my first big test, and if I could get past this part feeling strong I’d be in really good shape.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 8.41.46 PM

  • Mile 8 – 8:28
  • Mile 9 – 8:33
  • Mile 10 – 8:35
  • Mile 11 – 8:24
  • Mile 12 – 8:25
  • Mile 13 – 8:33

I passed the halfway point at 1:51:05, still keeping a very steady 8:30 pace. I have never run a more consistently paced race in my entire life, and I really owe that to our pacer Andrew. I have never run an entire race with a pace group before, but it was very freeing to be able to just run and not expend any extra energy worrying about looking at my watch and crunching numbers. It really helped me enjoy myself and take in my surroundings better. I also loved the pace group for the support and the camaraderie. The miles were just flying by as I spent time talking with the people around me and getting to know them and their stories. It was amazing!

  • Mile 14 – 8:36
  • Mile 15 – 8:34
  • Mile 16 – 8:31
  • Mile 17 – 8:30
  • Mile 18 – 8:33

From miles 15-17 we took a very slight turn bringing us even closer to the water, and the wind really picked up once we did that. I tried to focus on not fighting the wind too much so that I didn’t waste too much energy. I knew it would be over soon and that we would be turning and running inland at mile 17, so I just hung in there. I never let myself feel mentally defeated. Something that really helped me was to think of the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Yes, I realize that’s kind of funny to say since I am a vegetarian 🙂 But for me, the mental part of running is huge and it’s very easy to get caught up in that and get overwhelmed. I kept reminding myself to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Rather than stress about the 26.2 miles ahead of me, I broke it up into smaller more manageable “bites” – just make it to the 10k timing mat, then the half, then mile 17 when we finally turn away from the beach and the wind, then mile 18.3 where another timing mat is, and so on. This made it seem less scary and more doable!

10289916_10110294214767974_6203364102294178409_n

I passed the next checkpoint (18.3 miles) at 2:35:32, still right on my 8:30 target. By now my watch and the mile markers were perfectly in sync. I knew my next “bite” was to make it to the spot where I had to stop last time, at mile 21.38. This was the second part of the course that I was nervous about. I was feeling really great at this point, especially since we were now away from pretty much all wind. The pace still felt extremely comfortable and once again I was tempted to pick it up some, but I really didn’t want to push it until I got farther in the race. I think one factor aside from pacing that helped me feel really strong was my hydration and fueling. I actually decided to wear my Camelback just like I did in my last marathon two years ago, and I am so glad I did. I loved having water whenever I needed it, as well as a place to store my Honey Stingers (and my obsession – chapstick) that was out of the way. I never felt thirsty or like I had any sort of dip in energy the entire time. I drank when I felt like it and ate a half pack of Stingers at 1 hour, and then every 35 minutes after that. It was the perfect balance that left me feeling hydrated and fueled.

  • Mile 19 – 8:30
  • Mile 20 – 8:34

I really love hitting mile 20 in a marathon. To me, the two halves of a marathon are not 13.1 and 13.1. I think the first ‘half’ is the first 20 miles, and the other half is the last 6. If you run a smart race, both of those segments should take about the same amount of effort.  The last 6 miles were such an out of body experience. I kept waiting for the wall to come (either mentally or physically) and it never did. I kept telling the pace group that I couldn’t believe how good I still felt, hoping I wasn’t jinxing myself. I got a little worried when the spout to my Camelback fell off at mile 21 and I had to stop to get it, but I was able to pick it up and get right back into it. I also got worried when our pacer Andrew had some IT band pain at mile around the same time and had to slow down. But the best feeling of all was running past the exact point where I had to stop and get medical help two years ago. I remember so clearly how terrible I felt in that moment, and today in this moment I felt so strong and unstoppable.

From miles 22-26.2 I refused to let myself think about how much I had left, and instead just focused on working on the mile I was in at the moment. One bite at a time. It got a little lonely, since our pace team had broken up quite a bit and I was now running alone. We were also in a more isolated part of town that seemed to drag on a bit, and I saw my pace slow a little bit in miles 22 and 23. I gave myself a little pep talk and decided that it was all me now. No pacer to take me the rest of the way, nobody to talk to and distract me. Nothing but me and the road and my own determination. I knew I was going to PR at this point, and it was up to me to decide by how much.

  • Mile 21 – 8:27
  • Mile 22 – 8:39
  • Mile 23 – 8:38
  • Mile 24 – 8:31
  • Mile 25 – 8:35

I kept working on each mile, one at a time, and before I knew it I saw the flag for mile 25. I decided I needed to pick it up and finish strong, just like I had been practicing in my long runs. I gave those last 1.2 miles everything I had. Right after the mile 26 flag we turned right into the finish area, and I looked down at my watch and saw a time of 3:42. I could not believe that I had just run that fast. I started getting teary eyed once I saw all the people watching by the finish line, and when the announcer called out my name. I ran through the finish line and immediately burst into tears. I DID IT!!!!!

  • Mile 26 – 8:21
  • Last . 20 – 8:07 pace
  • Finish Time – 3:43:10 / 8:31 average pace

12806074_10110291177953774_3208311700640342497_n

DSCN5329

I think this is my shocked face 🙂

What went right in this race? Sometimes everything just comes together and conditions are perfect. It happens very rarely, but I think today was one of those days. Everything from the temperature, the wind, how my body felt, the familiarity of the course, my fueling and hydration plan, my mental strategies, my slower than usual pacing, my strong finish. I tried very hard to stick to my power words of patience, discipline, and trust. Patience to not go out to fast. Discipline to stick to the plan and keep going when it starts to hurt. Trust in my training and my body.

12524276_10110291177928824_5363627951922098643_n

Like I said in my goals post, this was more than just a race to me. This was a chance for me to get my redemption from two years ago and finally cross the finish line of the Myrtle Beach Marathon. This was marathon #10 in state #10 for me, which allows me to officially join the 50 states club and start working toward the other 40 (however long it may take!). And most importantly, this race was an opportunity for me to leave some sad, angry, defeated feelings on the pavement, and remind myself that I am strong and can do hard things. I could not have asked for a better experience for my 10th marathon, and I am so proud and thankful.

12794585_10102844361543539_3427636264837651616_n

What’s next? Well, first I’m looking forward to a few months off from hard training! I jumped into training pretty soon after baby, and my body and mind are definitely ready to cut back a bit. Then marathon training will resume this summer for an undetermined fall marathon. I plan to keep chipping away at my time in order to hopefully get my BQ sometime in the next couple of years. We’ll see! Running has taught me that anything is possible with time and a lot of hard work!

Taper Recap + Goals for Myrtle Beach

Well, it’s been a few weeks now since I have posted about my training and I am now 2 days away from running my 10th marathon. Truthfully, there hasn’t been all that much to talk about. When life got stressful and I had to shift my priorities to focus on my family, my training plan went out the window for the most part except for my long runs which I made sure to do. Besides that my running has mostly consisted of shorter easy runs whenever I had time and energy to do them (which wasn’t very often). Not an ideal way to end a training cycle at all, and I’m feeling nervous about that now that my marathon is so close.

Going into this training back in November, I was coming off a big new half marathon PR in Richmond, motivated and excited about what I could possibly accomplish next. My training for the first 10 weeks or so was awesome. I felt better than ever and was hitting my paces on all my workouts. I dreamed of getting closer to my BQ and maybe even running between a 3:40 and 3:45 in Myrtle Beach.

Now I don’t even know what kind of goal to set for this race. I feel pretty emotionally and physically drained and haven’t been sleeping or eating well. This is the race I was unable to finish two years ago when I got sick and had to stop at mile 21.38. The timing of this race isn’t great and it feels kind of insignificant right now, but at the same time I have worked really hard for this and I really need to cross that finish line.

With that being said, here are my goals for the race. I always like to set multiple goals (gold, silver and bronze or A, B, and C) so that I have many opportunities to feel successful, no matter what may happen.

Bronze – Just finish! I will truly be happy if this goal is met, regardless of how long it takes me to get there.

Silver – PR by running faster than 3:56:08 (9:00 pace)

Gold – Finish in 3:45 or better (8:35 pace)

I know the person who is leading the 8:30 pace group, so I hope to stick by him as long as I can. Based on my training and recent races, that pace should be doable and comfortable as long as I feel good and conditions are right. Wind has always been a factor here and at other coastal races, so I am expecting to have to deal with that. I know from previous races that wind takes a lot out of me and I may have to adjust my plan and expectations depending on how I feel. It will be in the 40s and 50s during the race, which is pretty much perfect, so I’m happy about that. If I can stay with the 8:30 group the whole time I would finish in just under in 3:43. That sounds crazy but not super out of reach either.

This is more than just a race. This is a chance for me to get my redemption from two years ago and finally cross the finish line of the Myrtle Beach Marathon. This is marathon #10 in state #10 for me, which will allow me to officially join the 50 states club and start working toward the other 40. And most importantly, this race is an opportunity for me to leave some feelings on the pavement, and remind myself that I am strong and can do hard things.

Patience. Discipline. Trust. Those are my power words for this race. Patience to not go out to fast. Discipline to stick to the plan and keep going when it starts to hurt. Trust in my training and my body.


Saturday at 6:30 AM… It’s go time!

Mom & Baby: 9 Months

Kyler’s 9th month was full of fun and awesome new developments. I am watching him transform from a baby into a little boy daily. It is sweet and sad all at the same time! This month also brought some highs and lows for me as well. Here are all the details.

12240132_10109757752263134_8185782053577456939_n

Baby

Kyler has not been to the doctor yet for his 9 month appointment, but he’s starting to look longer and leaner. He is in mostly 9 month clothing at this point, but some pants and pajamas are getting too short. Time to break out the 12 month stuff I guess! Sad face.

His tummy has adjusted to eating food now, and he’s turned into quite the little eating machine. There has not been one thing he has turned down. He has breakfast and dinner right now (along with nursing about 6 times a day), and we are basically giving him modified versions of what we eat. We still haven’t given him any dairy yet. I think I’m a little nervous to because Kevin reacted so badly to it when he was his age (projectile vomiting). But he has shown no signs that he is sensitive to dairy, so I think it’s time to give it a try.

He is now on more of a sleep schedule, and I am thankful for that. He goes down around 7:30 PM and usually wakes up between 3 and 4 to eat, then goes back down for a couple more hours before being up for the day. Just in the last week or so he’s been waking around midnight, but can usually be settled back down without nursing, so I’m not sure what that’s about. He also has fallen into a nice nap routine of a solid morning and afternoon nap. Sometimes I have trouble getting him down, but he goes down fine for others.

12662490_10110163121465004_6480503526471988022_n

He spent a lot of this month being VERY attached to me. I’m not sure if this is the time where separation anxiety gets worse or what, but most of the time if I am nearby he wants to be in my arms, and when I walk away he makes sure to let me know he doesn’t like it! This makes baby wearing a lifesaver, especially when I need my hands to deal with my threenager!

He has the sweetest smile of all time (maybe I’m a little biased!) and he still only really has his two bottom teeth at this point. There’s a small spot next to his two bottom teeth where another is breaking through, but it still hasn’t come all the way up yet. I was surprised to see that one coming next, since usually it’s the top two that come after those.

DSCN5281

Kyler loves going out and about to anywhere he can look at people. I started putting him in the front of the cart in stores and he loves it. He just looks around smiling at everyone the entire time.

12524052_10110105509544754_8567916155873952985_n

One of the most exciting parts of the month was that we finally got some SNOW! And a lot of it! In my last monthly update, I posted that we had a blizzard here in Virginia. After writing that we continued to have off from school for a total of a week and a half. It was like a second winter break to spend with my babies, and I loved it!

12642988_10110086608861874_5977716224429638548_n

It was also fun to bring Kyler in the snow for the first time. He liked exploring it and tasting it, and watching his brother run around. Next year they’ll be able to play in the snow together 🙂

DSCN5253

Another very exciting milestone from this month was that Kyler is starting to become mobile. He is not completely crawling yet but he’s managing to scoot himself around (usually backwards), and is starting to be able to get up on his hands and knees and rock.

I left the room the other day and came back to find him halfway across it and behind the coffee table. He also tries to follow me now whenever I go somewhere. It cracks me up, but also makes me a little nervous for this summer when I’m home with TWO mobile kids!

Kyler learned to clap this month too. He can now clap when you tell him to or when you say “Yay!”, and he will also wave hi and bye-bye when asked. I think his first official word is “bye” because when he waves he says “ba ba,” but who knows!

Kyler loves his big brother more and more as time passes and it’s so sweet to watch. Here are some of my favorite pictures of the two of them from this past month.

Body

There were some highs are lows for me physically this month. On the plus side, I felt better and less tired thanks to adjusted thyroid medication. But on the flip side, I got my period back this month and that made me feel like absolute crap- physically and emotionally (hormonally). I broke out, was super moody and my milk supply went down some as a result like it did with Kevin, but it picked back up once it was over. It was also super painful this time around. I am not looking forward to next month at all!

The month started off pretty strong in terms of running and following my training plan. I was hitting my paces and feeling great in all my key workouts, and I managed to pull off great 20 and 22 mile long runs. However, some things started to fall apart around me in my life and running was forced to take a backseat. I’ll elaborate more on that at a later date, but it definitely was (and still is) a struggle to take care of myself right now. I am trying my best to get good sleep, eat enough and run when I can at this point. I feel pretty drained and I have no idea how my upcoming marathon is going to go, but I’m just in it to finish now.

12729354_10110174542671814_2585612327774945088_n

Mind

Like I have also said in this post and mentioned in previous posts, this was a very hard month for me emotionally. I’m not really ready to share why because it’s very new, raw and personal. I have always been an open book on this blog and I really hate when people are vague on social media like I am being right now, but I think with time I’ll be ready to talk about it more. I  did take a last minute trip to Pennsylvania to see my family a few weeks ago, which was really nice. I went up with just Kyler and had a very low key weekend with some people that I love.

Right now I’m trying to surround myself with people that love me and that I know I can trust, and focusing on my two amazing little boys.

Kyler James, I love you, your contagious smile and the joy that you bring to my life. I cannot believe how quickly these last 9 months have gone by. I have a feeling that the fun has just begun!

IMG_5186

Previous Mom & Baby posts: