Monday, November 24, 2014

My 30th Year

My birthday is tomorrow. I will turn 31 years old. Where does the time go? 
Here are just a few of my favorite random things about my 30th year, in no particular order:

Anything involving my running group in Massachusetts
I sure do miss all the amazing people I met and ran with weekly (not all are pictured). They kept me motivated and inspired every day. I'm thankful to have so many of them still encouraging me across the miles. 

 The time Dave convinced me to ride the Cape Cod Marathon course with him
....and I flipped over my handlebars onto the soft sand. That could have ended badly but I fortunately was right by the beach when I decided to have an accident.

I love how this randomly appeared in my yard last December.

That day I let my young nieces 'fix' my hair. 
 It was terrifying. ha!
I love that so many of my family members started running! 
They've even started racing...and placing in their divisions. Say whaaaat?
I got to visit my dear best friend Janell in Pennsylvania a few times. 
I absolutely treasure every moment I spend with her. 
I'm counting down the days until her visit here this summer.
I was able to help her put on the Inaugural CJ's Resolution Challenge 
+ be a member of TEAM CJ!
 If you're looking for a fun, crazy race in January then check it out. Team CJ will also be making another appearance in fall 2015. More info to follow.
My husband won some pretty awesome awards. 
I know I don't talk about him or his job often.....but he's pretty rad. 
He is a true hero and that's not just because he puts up with me.
 I finally was able to visit Mt. Rushmore. 
As I kid I missed seeing it by about an hour.
It was just as awesome as I hoped it would be.
p.s. I love the random kid that photo-bombed us.
 I volunteered at the Boston Marathon for my 3rd consecutive year. 
After 2013 I needed to get back to this race. It was incredible. I am so sad that I can't volunteer in 2015. It's always a highlight of my entire year.
I worked with some of THE COOLEST people ever. 
Leaving that job and those people was rough. Can't they just move here?
I traveled to several races and hung out with awesome people.
I PR'd at this particular half marathon which made it even more fun. I am so lucky to know these people!! We are all a special kind of crazy.
I finally was able to visit the amazing Jamie and Mike's home.
Our friendship has always been a bit unusual because we've never lived in the same state as one another. I was so happy to be a guest in our best friends home for the first time. Plus running in 2 races during a snow storm was fun.
I helped run a friend or two into a new PR.
I really did nothing...except run with them and believe in them.
I was able to run the KC Hospital Hill Half and was cheered on by family...again.
I love running this hometown race.
I love that my family showed up to support me in the rain storm.
I moved to Sitka, Alaska. 
I was able to run in each state I passed through along the way too.
It was difficult to leave Cape Cod but I'm enjoying our adventure here so far.  There is nothing quite like this beautiful place. I can't wait to continue exploring.
I ate a lot of sushi.
That is all.

I started a running group in Sitka.
I am excited to be meeting new people here that love running too.

My 30th year was good to me. I can't wait to see what my 31st will bring.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chasing Waterfalls

    I love the running community. I really can't say that statement enough. A few weeks ago I decided to begin forming a running group here in Sitka. As long as I connected with at least one other runner, I would be happy.

    Since then I've met some incredible people....and they just so happen to love running.

    A few days ago Devin messaged me and it turns out she grew up in Massachusetts. I felt oddly connected to this stranger because we've ran some of the same areas and endured some of the same weather. We decided to meet up this weekend for a run.

   It was dark and horribly rainy during our original meet up time so we decided to delay. After a few hours the skies had slightly lightened up. As I stood in the rain waiting for her to show up I hoped she was awesome. We had planned on running 10-12 miles. That can be a long time to spend with someone if it's awkward.

    Soon enough I saw a chick in black tights and purple top running my way. I knew from the moment she approached me that she was my 'kind of people'. She smiled big and we immediately started chatting. She stowed some stuff in my car and then informed me she'd invited some other friends. I was thrilled. A few minutes later Will and Ira came running up, dressed in shorts. (I mention this because of how cold and rainy it was.)  We discussed the plan and quickly decided we should hit the trails since there was a nice group of us. We were headed into the rainforest within a few minutes.

    The trail was pretty empty. I don't know if that's because of the storm or just because it's late November in Alaska. As we traversed through the forest together it felt familiar to me. It felt like I knew them and that we've ran together often. At first we were avoiding the large, muddy puddles. Eventually we all threw caution to the wind and splashed right through the muck. I felt alive.

   My hamstrings started shutting down at one point due to a leg workout the day before. Devin was so kind and motivational. I had to walk a bit because we were going uphill for so long and the terrain was a little sketchy. The guys would run on ahead and then wait for us. We developed a nice rhythm. Eventually we made it to our destination, a beautiful waterfall.
  We decided to wade through the water and get a close up waterfall experience. It was around 38 degrees and rainy. I was not about to jump underneath the cold mountain waterfall....but the other three did.We then turned around to run the 5.5ish miles back....drenched. Hey, at least our shoes got washed off halfway through the run.
    As we tiptoed across rocks and slipped through the mud we spoke about how running expedites friendships. We spoke about how these sorts of adventures are worth way more than material things. We cheered each other on and even stood in silence appreciating the views at times.
    My birthday is on Tuesday. I'm in no way freaking out about getting older yet. I do often think about how lucky I am to be capable of such feats though. I could not have done this same run 10 years ago. 

    On our final stretch 'home' we started talking about food; as most runners do as the end draws near. The rain continued to pour down and my feet narrowly kept avoiding being tripped by roots. I was thankful. Isn't life grand? 

    As we ran back into town Will peeled off in one direction and Ira in another. Devin and I happily continued to charge through the rain together. We discussed how we were at a satisfied state of exhaustion. Soon it was time to say goodbye to her too. 

    That run, wait....that experience, was exactly why I love the running community. They started out as strangers but now I feel like they're friends. I hope we get to meet up again soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


     I moved to Sitka, Alaska this summer and have been searching for a running group here. Some of my favorite memories and people I have met through running. Running brings me joy. Running challenges me. Running brings both exhaustion and happiness to me.

     I know there are quite a few runners on this small island. I wave at you or smile as we pass one other. Some days I contemplate stopping and asking if you'd like to meet up for a run in the future. I never have. I joined various pages on Facebook but all were/are mostly inactive. So after several months I decided to form a running group myself.

      On Tuesday evenings I will be at Crescent Harbor by the large shelter. (I don't know if there is an actual name for it.) I ask that you arrive around 5:15-5:20 so that we can start the run no later than 5:30. We will run to the airport and back. Dress brightly and in reflective gear. Wear a headlamp if you have one. I know that we all run at different paces and that's okay. If you run faster than me, feel free to run on ahead. If there's anyone behind me than I will wait for you at the turn around point.

     We've officially met up for 2 weeks now and I have to say that it's been a highlight of my week. The first week it was pretty dang cold. This week it was in the 40's, very windy, and rainy. I didn't mind it though because I knew I had other people out there with me. It really motivated me to get out and run. A special thanks to those of you that have joined.

      I have started a #runsitka Facebook group so that we can connect throughout the week. Feel free to join. I'd love to start setting up longer group runs on the weekends too.

       The added bonus of the group name is that you can use it on social media to further connect with group members.

      Consider yourself invited to #runsitka


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guest Post: Stone Cat Marathon Race Recap

    This post is by my friend Mike Laliberte. We actually have ran 2 races together but did not know one another at the time. I've had the pleasure of corresponding with him about running and training in general for about a year now. Mike did such an awesome job training for and running this race that I really wanted him to write a recap. He had a few setbacks but was able stay positive and overcome them. I have been so inspired and motivated by him and I hope you will be too! He never gives up (he's both stubborn and bad-ass) and his writing always captivates me. Enjoy! 
Photos were taken by Mike's 3 girls.
      Marathons have a way of challenging you, and I don’t mean that they are not challenging in themselves to run, but most often you are left with a certain feeling of unfinished satisfaction. You want more. You are either looking for a better PR, a BQ, an ultra marathon, or a trail marathon. Something else to shoot for. I had previously run 3 road marathons and with each of them I was able to get a better PR (personal record).
    This year I started looking for another road marathon to run with the goal of a sub 4:00 finish, but had to stop my training due to some weird knee pain. The funny thing about this ‘injury’ was that when I ran fast, it did not seem to  bother me at all. So I then decided to try a 5K and ended up running my fastest time ever at 22:59. I then proceeded to run 200 meters on a treadmill at a 5P (12 mph) which was also a record for me. During summer vacation, I started thinking about fall marathons since I felt like my knee issue was better. I came across one that I had heard of before, “Stone Cat Marathon” in northern Mass. It’s a trail marathon put on by ultra marathoners. Because of it’s popularity, there is a lottery to get in and I was lucky enough to make it in. With a mountain climbing trip to Colorado already planned for July, I knew I would have maybe 13-14 weeks to train rather than the more typical 18 weeks. In early September I ran a road half marathon to help with the training, but started off with a really tight calf which I ended up pulling after about 4 miles. I walked the final 9 miles which basically gave me plenty of time to wonder if I had just thrown away the marathon. (Thank you Crystal for your encouragement at this point!). This would end up costing me another week and a half of training time, leaving me the most under-prepared I had been so far. At this point I ended up changing my plans for training and went with all trail running rather than mixing up road and trails.  About one month from the day of the marathon I was able to do a training run on the actual course and that was great for me because it was an eye opener. There were more hills, roots and rocks than I had been training on, this allowed me to see what I was up against. Since I live near the ocean, I hadn’t had a lot of options for daily runs that involved this type of terrain. The turning point for me was when I was able to do a 21 mile run 3 weeks before the race which led to feeling like I was prepared for the marathon and I would probably make it.
    Now on the eve of the marathon after trying my best to hydrate and load up on carbs, I found myself in my hotel getting my stuff together and planning to get up for breakfast at 4:30. This race is also a 50 miler for those who can handle running around 10 hours. I guess on paper I would like to try something huge like that, but not today. Sleeping past 1 a.m. was not really in the cards for me even though there wasn’t much on my mind. I wasn’t really nervous though, I usually have a wave of it hit me sometime during the day or two before the race. 
    It’s nice to stay in a hotel that has a special rate for the runners, it ends up feeling like a hotel party. You can’t miss who the runners are. The atmosphere is kind of special. The morning of the race brought cold but sunny skies. I brought a bag with plenty of stuff including a change of shoes and socks, some food including a handful of gels and Gatorade for the race knowing that the 3 aid stations had plenty to offer. I ended up eating plenty of M&M’s, Fig Newtons, Pringles, and even a piece of Pumpkin Pie. Right before 6:30 the race director gave some instructions as the sound of 2 bagpipes filled the air at the starting line. Ready-Set-Go!
    The course is a 12.5 mile loop, so the marathoners have to run 1.2 miles before getting on the actual course loop. This whole thing takes place in a state forest that is only 2 miles in diameter. There are probably 40 or so turns to make but all had pink signs to make it real easy to follow. The course is a good mix of single and double track but with fresh leaves covering the rocks and roots. Most of the hills are short and steep along with a couple of higher more gentle hills. When you are climbing a hill with plenty of people who decide to walk, you pretty much have to go with the flow. 
I noticed after a couple of miles that my GPS watch started acting funny. The distance that I should be at wasn’t right and my pace seemed too slow. I ended up picking up my pace to keep the possibility of finishing in under 5 hours intact. This was way too early to start to go faster though and so that became a concern too. When I reached the starting line which was the end of the first 12.5 mile loop, I noticed that my distance was a good mile less on my watch than I had actually run. That’s when I realized how off it was, but it did give me hope that I could finish in under 5. I was at 2:23 for the half. The last section coming in and going out goes across a school soccer field and that is where there are plenty of people cheering you on which is always welcome. The second loop started with some nerves that I was going to run out of steam, but after I passed the 2 largest hills I felt like this was still my race to run. One interesting thing was that there is one cutoff that skips about 3 miles of the course and is clearly marked “wrong way” but both times I passed this junction, I saw 1 or 2 people taking the shortcut. I thought, “what good will that do? you are just cheating yourselves!” The two aid stations that are in the woods have the friendliest people ever there to help you, they fill up your drinks for you, try to offer you whatever food sounds interesting, and then help you on your way. Kind of like the old Texaco gas station commercials where you pull in and then 12 people come out to give you gas, clean your windshield, check your tires and all that. You really feel special.
    The last 5 miles are the easiest with opportunities to make up some time if you need to, that is unless you are out of gas. I was doing okay, wondering if and when I was going to hit the “wall” so I just decided to wake up my iPod and get some music to help drive me. For some reason, my new Shuffle would only play in shuffle mode and it kept skipping the few songs that I really wanted to hear. I was real concerned about tripping on roots for those last few miles, because as a road marathoner you get used to zoning out with a level pavement to run on, but here with roots all over, it’s not that easy. You really have to pay attention to where you place every step, you really have to concentrate. I saw plenty of people hit the ground, some hard. It’s not uncommon for people to break bones out there. I heard a lot of stories. Back when I did the training run a month before, there was a guy behind me telling me about his experience running the marathon the year before. He said that a bunch of people sat on the grass afterwards and compared notes and cuts and bruises they got that day. This time he was running the 50 miler. I ended up tripping twice in the last 2 miles, 4 altogether but never hit the ground.
     Once I reached the final mile I knew I was going to finish where I wanted to be, and it was one of my faster miles. Crossing the 1/4 mile field heading to the finish line was a blast for me, I passed some people as I could feel the ground flowing underneath me and could hear the cheering getting louder and louder along with the sound of an acoustic band playing near the finish line, then my daughter running trying to take multiple pics as I got to the clock. There was also an ultra runner just before the line yelling out to me “Sub 5 hours! That’s awesome man!!” It was a great feeling knowing that I finished within my A time goal even though I really just wanted to have fun. My calf that was injured 8 weeks earlier turned out to be a non factor, even though it bothered me to some extent on every training run. My GPS watch showed that I had run only 24.3 miles, which helps explain why my splits were all messed up. I came in #76 overall out of 188 and #17 of 49 in my age group. That works for me!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Spread Kindness & Give Thanks

November is here and with it comes my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.

I know America likes to jump from Halloween to Christmas- don't give in. Stop and give thanks. Better yet, try to be the reason that someone else is thankful.
Go out of your way to show kindness to another.
Smile at strangers.
Open a door for someone.
Bake cookies for your neighbors.

    Every day, dozens of times during the day, we make choices. Do we say hello to the person we pass in the hallway or walk on by? Do we say something encouraging or keep to ourselves? Do we spread joy or create chaos? 

    Remember that even small encounters can impact another human being.
I was recently reminded of this.

    Earlier this year, while I was still living on Cape Cod, I was at the gym working out. As I often do, I struck up a conversation with another gym-goer. He and I ended up chatting for a short bit about running. He said he wasn't really a runner but was interested in it. I quickly told him my story and how running changed my life. I encouraged him to run. We exchanged social media accounts and that was it.

    Well a few days ago he messaged me saying he had ran over 100 miles in October. He thanked me for "waking this passion for running". How cool is that?!

    So I charge you with a mission to spread kindness this month (and always). I know that life happens and we can't always be that bright light for someone else. Let this be a reminder that you are in control of your daily choices. Choose wisely.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cape Cod Memories

    Two years ago I met my best friend Jamie in real life for the first time at the Cape Cod Half Marathon. They actually call it the Cape Cod Marathon Half....but whatever. I am so thankful that Twitter brought us together and that she and her husband traveled out to the Cape to race with me. My life has been forever changed by their awesomeness.

Cape Cod Half Marathon 2012
      One year ago my amazing friends Stuart and Stacey ran their first marathons on the course. I also had the opportunity to meet my Twitter friend Sarah for the first time as she tackled the "Clam Chowdah Challenge". It was another epic weekend.
Cape Cod Marathon 2013
I spectated because I had ran Mount Desert Island Marathon the weekend before.

      I am so sad that I won't be there this year but I can't wait to hear stories from those that are. Have an incredible race weekend. Take photos for me. I am definitely homesick for Cape Cod.

    Also a shoutout to my family and friends running the Monster Dash in KC. My Dad is set to run it as his first 5k alongside a large number of my loved ones. I am also terribly sad that I can't be there. I'm just homesick all around apparently. Have a great race!!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

*tap tap tap* Is This Thing On?

Several times a week I think,"I really need to write a blog post." Then I #1 Never find the time to do so. #2 Can't think of anything to write about. Plus with each passing week it feels like my blog post must be even more then I get frustrated because nothing I say is that profound. (Ha!)

After all this time I have finally decided to give myself a break. I am going through a large life transition and it's okay to slack in some areas. I am sorry that it had to be on this blog. I have at least put forth an effort on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (FOLLOW ME!!) I don't know why this page seems so daunting.

I'm not going to bother with writing a ginormous recap of my life over the past  5+ weeks since my last post. IT'S BEEN BUSY!! I mean, crazy busy. I keep asking myself,"Am I in over my head?" The answer to that is more than likely a big fat yes. I am barely finding time to eat some days. This is no exaggeration. I don't know how I will be able to maintain my life to this level long term. Something has got to give...I just don't know what.

I've been keeping up with my friends races and I have to admit that I am green with envy. I was once a racing machine. Now it has been almost 12 weeks since my last race. That is crazy talk. I have tried to stay motivated and still knock out some mileage but it becomes more difficult every day. I often ask myself WHY? Why am I running all this mileage? I even cut back on mileage and I still ask myself why I am doing it. Is it because it's familiar? Is it because it's part of who I am now? Is it because I fear my friends are going to greatly surpass me in fitness? I don't know. Perhaps it's a bit of everything.

I am thankful that I still find so much joy and happiness in running and fitness in general. I am frustrated because my schedule is rapidly creating less time for it.

Our lives are fluid and things are always changing. I am trying to navigate through this hectic time without sinking the boat. It's just been difficult to do as of late.

All that being said, the reason I am so conflicted and frustrated is because I enjoy all the things in my life. I like my job. I enjoy what I'm doing with it. I enjoy the extra income that it brings to my family. I love to run. I love how it makes me feel. I love that it keeps me fit. I love my workout classes. I enjoy the company of the people there. I love how it has made me stronger. So don't feel too sorry for me...I've brought this all upon myself.

I am sure there are others who have gone through this phase of life or something similar. How did you get back to feeling like yourself again amidst the chaos? I am open to suggestions. I do not enjoy feeling so stressed out about time management.

I think it's necessary to end on a positive note. So, I will tell you that last weekend I ran 16 miles FOR FUN. The husband was at work so I had extra time. It was awesome. Then this week during a kick butt workout I noticed that my arms are really starting to tone up. This greatly excited me. I'll have to post photos soon (check out my Facebook page, for reals). I am also surprised at the workouts that I am able to do. My strength and endurance have definitely increased. I just need to start working on speed again.

Have you had any victories lately, big or small?