Holding On To Uncomfortable: The Key To My Running

I recently realized why I am able to endure distance running.  It is often said that running requires a unique mindset.  My realization might just add proof to that theory.

The other day I was out for a run in the warm summer heat.  Lately I’ve had a few struggle runs and whenever it gets warmer, I tend to feel nervous about how things will go.  On this particular run, I made it to the halfway point and turned around feeling stronger than I had anticipated.  That is always a good feeling when you are uncertain of the outcome.

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I started thinking about upcoming races that I haven’t signed up for.  There are two marathons this fall that had been on my radar, but due to work schedules, they aren’t going to happen.  There are also a few shorter races that I have been considering but the thought of them made me a bit anxious.
I started questioning why shorter distances make me so nervous compared to the half and full marathon.  I’m not ashamed to admit that the 5k is a distance I avoid.  I despise that race.  To me, it is a sprint.  I have a competitive mind when it comes to races (my husband would tell you that is also the case with many things in life).  As much as I try, it is incredibly difficult for me to just “run” a race.  I’ve attempted this during a 5k and the moment I start getting passed by young kids, I can’t help myself.
To race a 5k is in my mind, a mad dash.  It is 3.1 miles of fast running and feeling absolutely awful at the finish.  A 10k has a slightly better pace for me.
The half and full marathons are mentally easier for me because you can slow that pace a bit and settle in.  The key, I realized is that I’ve learned to learn to hold onto uncomfortable at that distance.
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Running, in general, is an uncomfortable experience.  As you begin moving, your lungs work harder, you heart has to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles must do more.  Every cell in your body has to push more.  It is a taxing situation and it is uncomfortable.  It is hard!  
 
Learning to deal with the uncomfortable, to hold onto that feeling, and to move your mind away from that feeling is the key to enduring any distance.  You will likely always feel uncomfortable to some extent during running, but it will get easier.  That uncomfortable becomes more manageable.
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Our minds are a vital tool in the sport of running.  Finding ways to hold onto that uncomfortable is the key to enduring.
How do you hold onto uncomfortable?

Training Doesn’t Always Have To Be Perfect + Riding The Wave

This summer has already been a whirlwind for us.  The first half of June was spent preparing for our 2 year old’s first dance recital.  That was a crazy foretaste of what our lives will like be in a few years as our kids grow, and sports and other activities take over.  Rock was in NYC until the end of June and that meant the majority of my runs were on the treadmill while children took naps.

Every summer for the past few years Rock and I have participated in Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival of Races.  I realized this year that of all the races we have done, this is the only one we make a point to sign up for.  The Cherry Festival is a really fun event for all ages and their races are beautiful and well organized.  Despite the fact that Rock had been logging 30,000-40,000 steps each day in NYC but not always having a chance to get in a run and my lack of hitting the pavement, we decided we would do the half marathon again.

We also convinced my brother-in-law to come join us.  He had done his first half marathon in May and finished just under 2 hours.  Shortly after, we discussed his goal of aiming for a 1:50 half and decided that with some smart training, it could be a potential A goal for this particular race.  I created a plan for him and we worked out some game plans to get him through race day.

The week before the race, Rock and I decided that regardless of how little actual training we had done, we needed to get at least 10 miles in before race day.  I had been logging daily 7 mile runs, but hadn’t set foot in the hot summer conditions yet.  Obviously, we picked a day when the temps were to hit the mid 90’s.  By the time we dropped the girls off at daycare and started, the air was already soupy.  I knew it was only a matter of time before things fell apart.

Fell apart they did.  At mile 5 we stopped for a water break and by mile 6, I was down to taking a break every half mile.  I was dehydrated and felt ill.  I made it home, but was left feeling pretty defeated.

Then we left for our annual week in Northern Wisconsin where just about everything I ate was fried and every run was done pushing our double stroller up and down hills in the hot summer heat.  Things were not looking good!

Friday night we arrived home with our bellies full of the only fast food we could find along the interstate, leaving me up at 3:30am with heartburn.  Not exactly the ideal pre-race dinner!

An hour later we were up and fueling again, ready to hit the high school where buses were waiting to ship us out to the Old Mission Peninsula where the race would start at a winery.

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I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous.  I was beyond nervous.  I knew that my body could handle 13 miles.  I love double digit runs.  However, that 10 miler the week before was really playing hard in the back of my mind and race day was going to be relatively warm.  While it was 50 degrees when we started, I knew it was going to climb by 20 degrees over the next two hours.

The first two and a half miles wove up and down through dirt paths of local cherry orchards, before spitting us out on the road that runs along West Grand Traverse Bay.  From here we followed the bay for the next several miles.  The view is beautiful and the homes along the water are quite spectacular.

I felt good, but noticed that the heat was getting to me and I was waiting to see when my body would fall apart like before.  I had a mile where I started to feel like I was fading and feared the end was near.  Then I began to feel a renewed strength in my legs and my pace slowly increased.

I kept assessing how I was feeling, but at times I was reading into it too much.  I was trying to find the negativity.  Once I realized this, I worked to clear my head.  I turned my music up and just let my body settle in.  I had done this distance many times.  In the past, I was in better shape or more prepared, but my body and mind knew how to do this.

I forgot that every mile can be so different.  Some miles will feel great.  Other miles, your body will struggle.  There will be miles where your mind tries to fool you into giving up.  And there will be miles where you are ready to tackle just about anything.  The key is, you can’t let any particular mile take over your race.  You have to remember that things will change.  The good will come with bad.  The bad will eventually wash away.

When I remembered this, my mind gave my body renewed strength.  I had no idea where I was in the pack of runners, but I knew I would be okay and I decided to stop worrying about everyone else around me, and just run the rest of that race.

I crossed the finish line surprisingly better than I had expected.  When the results were posted I was walking to the car and happened to look on my phone.  I was shocked to see that I had finished 26th for the women and 3rd in my age group.  What a pleasant surprise!

You never know what might come of your training.  There might be injuries or other setbacks.  Life can get in the way.  The key is to do the best with what you have.  Make it work and then go forward on race day and trust your body.  Let your mind trust you.  Training will rarely be ideal.  That doesn’t mean that your race can’t have great results.  Roll with the wave and you never know where you will come out at the end.

 

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I also have to give a huge congrats to my brother-in-law who finished with a 12 minute PR in his second half marathon ever.  He’s seriously a rockstar!

Stick With It

I love training runners for races.  I also love training runners and athletes in general.  It is common for me to get e-mails from people looking to prepare for an upcoming race and I also have several who train year round.

Lately I have been noticing a trend.  Someone gets super excited about an event they registered for and we sit down and create a plan.  They dive in head first, and often times fall in love with the process.  It can be time consuming, but there are ways to make life work around training and vice versa.

Race day comes and the excitement builds.  Some races go well, others don’t, but most often the person finishes the race feeling really good about what they accomplished.  They celebrate with a necessary post race beer (or a few) and indulge in some delicious food.

Then they kick their feet up and rest for a few days.  I would of course recommend this.  Everyone needs to recover after a race and training cycle.

Sometimes though, that rest and relaxation phase feels a little too good.  We tell ourselves we will get back out there tomorrow and then tomorrow becomes next week.  Time goes by and next thing you know, it has been several weeks or months.  Suddenly, you’ve been gone so long you don’t know how you could possibly return.  You want to, but you feel a bit lost.

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Years ago I remember Oprah discussing her ups and downs with weight.  She said that sometimes as you gain weight you start to look at yourself and you’ve suddenly gained so much, it feels hopeless.  You don’t even know where to start or how it could possibly make a difference at this point.  Stepping away from exercise can feel a bit like this too.

A few months later I will get a desperate e-mail.  “I want to run a race that is coming up, but I don’t even know where to start.”  So we start the process all over again.

However, this time around things feel extremely frustrating.  Running used to be difficult, and then you built up that aerobic base, you learned how to get through the struggles, and it started to feel easier.  This time, you know what that felt like, but it is hard again.  It stinks to know how great it used to feel and be back in that difficult beginning situation again.  It makes getting started even more difficult, not only physically but also mentally.

Sometimes when we dive into a training plan, it can be exciting.  There is an end point and we are striving to reach that goal.  Once that goal has been met, it can feel great to breathe a sigh of relief and sit back for a few.  It can also seem a bit overwhelming.  Where do you go from here?  What is the next goal?

Keep in mind that there doesn’t always have to be a next goal.  There could be a distant goal such as, “Next year I want to do another half marathon.”  But that doesn’t mean you have to start training for a half marathon right now.

At the same time, keep in mind the progress you have made.  You don’t always have to be in marathon shape, or race shape.  That’s practically impossible.  Trying to do so would likely lead to an overuse injury.  On the other hand, you can stay in shape.  You can keep some of that endurance and forward momentum that you have made at a much smaller scale.  Your goal could just simply be to maintain your aerobic base and enjoy some easy mileage each week.

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Maybe you were doing double digit runs for several weekends leading up to an event.  Now you could do a few three mile runs during the week and enjoy a slow and long five mile Saturday.  There’s no set rules as to how far you need to go or even how fast you must be.

Not only will you maintain that ability to run that you gained from your training, you will be keeping your heart and whole body healthy.  Remember how much time you used to have to devote to training.  Now you only need to devote a fraction of that time.

Sometimes the idea of carving out time for a workout can seem overwhelming.  It’s easy to want to push it to the back burner.  But I also know that once you start doing this for a few weeks and make it a routine, that routine becomes a habit and a running habit is hard to break.  You will notice that it becomes easier and you might even start to crave your miles.  Make the time at first and eventually it will become second nature.

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Then the next time you see an event that is calling your name, you can sit down and figure out a plan, and know that you already are prepared to keep going.

One thing I always try to instill in my clients is that once you are a runner, you are always a runner.  It’s always there for you.  Take it and make it yours!  Even if you do end up taking a break from running, it will always be there when you are ready to return.

The Best Gift

Happy Monday and happy day after Mother’s Day!  I hope you all had a great weekend.

It was a little chilly and rainy in NYC this weekend.  In fact, we took the girls for a run on Saturday and got stuck in a downpour.  They managed to nap through it while we hid under the RFK Bridge on Randall’s Island.  Rock and I were soaked, but the girls were perfectly content in their stroller.

On Sunday Rock rearranged his work schedule to gift me an hour to run by myself.  I saw on the Today Show that most moms would like the day off from parenting, but I wanted to spend the day with my girls.  However, after pushing the girls in the BOB Dualie for the past two weeks, it felt awesome to run on my own.  It feels so effortless when you ditch pushing 60 pounds up and down the hills around here.  I was cruising!

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It was also a really great time for me to reflect.  I use my running in a variety of ways.  Sometimes it is about testing the limits of my body, or my mind.  Other times, running is a way for me to clear my head or work through different situations.  Running is my therapy.  I almost always come back with a clearer head and ready to be a better person, regardless of whether a run goes well or not.

On yesterdays run, I was reflecting on being a mom.  It certainly hasn’t gone the way I had prepared for most days, and it certainly didn’t start out the way I had planned.

Like many women, I had hoped to get married and start our family.  But as life often does, things took a little longer than planned.  At the time, it was very difficult for me emotionally.  I spent a lot of time dealing with those emotions on my runs.  It was cathartic.

Once I was pregnant, the miracle of what was to come was appreciated in a completely new way, perhaps more than I would have realized had things happened faster.

I ran through both my pregnancies and felt like it was a special time that I got to spend with that little peanut growing with me.  I hoped that perhaps my being healthy and active might be passed along to our little ones.

These days, I run with the girls in the stroller and I enjoy my times with them, even when I repeatedly hear, “Can we go back home now?”  I like our adventures to new places or playing “I Spy” as we go along.  I love having the girls see me enjoy running and exercising.  It is something we get to do together as a family.

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Things have definitely changed.  I don’t get to sleep in on weekends anymore because some people think 6am is a perfect time to jump up and get going.  I don’t have the luxury of sitting around and drinking coffee until I feel ready to go on a run.  We have nap schedules and bottle times.  You either get your run in during the allotted time, or you are out of luck for the day.

There isn’t always as much time for workouts or for prepping the best meals.  I haven’t done a workout besides running in several weeks now, because it just hasn’t fit into my day.  And you know what?  That’s okay.

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The night before Lucy was born!

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These girls….they’ve made me stronger in ways I never could have imagined.  My two year old knows how to test the limits in ways that drive me nuts and also secretly crack me up.  The way she can ask the same question repeatedly for 15 minutes makes me think she has a future with the CIA.

The love they have showed me and the things they are teaching me makes my heart want to burst full of joy.  Just thinking about them and what they have brought into my life brings tears to my eyes.  They have made us a family!

Being a mother runner isn’t easy.  Running itself will never be easy.  But I certainly believe that being a mother runner can actually make you stronger than you could ever possibly imagine.

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Somehow I have less time to run and less time to work out.  But in the months after having Mary, I PR’ed in my return marathon.  A few weeks ago I won a race as Lucy ran along with her dad.  Being a mom, and the act of becoming a mom, gives you the strength to do endless things.

The greatest gift I’ve ever received has been these two little girls.  I’m forever grateful for the strength they have given me and for their patience as I continually learn to be their mom.

I also want to send love to any woman who has hopes to be a mom.  There was a time when reading Mother’s Day posts was difficult for me.  A friend perfectly said yesterday, “Be patient.  God may not be done writing your story just yet.”

Happy Mother’s Day.  How was your weekend?  Anyone else love running with their kids or fur kids?

Favorite Websites

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered a few new places to shop online.  Some you may have heard of, others might be new to you as well.  I thought it would be a fun Friday topic to share some of my favorite shopping sites and hear what yours are too.

Adelaqueen.com  was a site I came across this past winter while looking for a new coat.  I have a friend who has the cutest furry coat that looks to me just like a warm teddy bear.  When I saw Rory Gilmore wearing something similar during my pregnancy bedrest, I took the extra down time to start searching.

I didn’t want real fur.  I have my grandmother’s old furs but when I tried them on in high school, it just felt kind of gross to me to have a dead animal wrapped around me.  Plus, faux fur can be much cheaper.  I searched all over the web and found Adelaqueen to be highly rated, super cute, and perfectly priced.  I loved having this new coat all winter and didn’t worry about wearing it anywhere I felt like because at the price I paid, I won’t be devastated if something happens to it.

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This is the one I opted for.

Thriftbooks.com was my favorite find this Christmas.  I came across a list of great books to teach empathy and kindness to young children.  I did a search and came across this website that sells good quality used books at a great price.  For around $3.79 each book, I ended up buying several dozen to wrap up for the girls.

We love reading books in our house, but they get manhandled by the kids.  It is fun to fill their bookcases and not have to worry if something gets damaged.  I also purchased a few cookbooks and gifts for family and friends.

One of our favorites is “Tough Guys Have Feelings Too.”

Nordstromrack.com isn’t exactly new to me, but it never crossed my mind that I could actually do outlet shopping from the comfort of my own home.

Before we left for Mexico this past winter, I got on this website and scored some awesome summer sandals for less than $20.  As you may have noticed, I love a good bargain!

Albionfit.com  came on my radar from visiting the sixsistersstuff website.  This is a family owned business based out of Utah that makes women’s clothing for swimming, sport, and life.  Their clothes are fashionable and practical and the business focuses on being green.

I love their swimsuits and when a winter sale hit, I grabbed a cute one piece.  I was a little irritated when something happened with my order, but when I reached out to express my dissatisfaction, they promptly rectified the problem and gave me a little something extra.  Excellent customer service is a big one in my book.

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What are your recent favorite sites to shop?  Do you like to find good bargains?

My Favorite NYC Running Spots

Greetings from NYC!  We are here again for our spring sports classes and every time I run in this city, I remember all over again, what a great place this is to run.  I wanted to share a few of my favorite spots.  Please forgive me, as I am going to just focus on the borough of Manhattan.  There are so many great places outside of Manhattan, but seeing as I typically run here, I will let the other experts share their faves beyond this little island.

Favorite Must Try It At Least Once:  If you are going to be in the city, you have to run a loop or sections of Central Park.  It isn’t my absolute favorite place to run, but it has some great appeal.  First, one loop of the park is exactly 6 miles, which is a great distance for me.  Typically, any place I stay at is at least a mile from the park, so that is an awesome 7-8 route.

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The park is super hilly, and that presents some fun and challenging moments.  You also get a great view of both the Upper East and Upper West sides as well as some great sites within the park.  You will find yourself running amongst thousands of other runners, bikes, and horse drawn carriages.

Please do be cautious as parts of the loop are open to traffic.  Cabs can drive a little crazy, and cyclists can be quite dangerous as well.  There are many bike rental areas for tourists and they tend to roam outside of the designated bike path.  I tend to only run this during quieter hours to avoid busy traffic.

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Pictures don’t do bobcat hill justice.

Favorite Long Flat Path:  If you are looking for a picturesque and flat route, take a cab up to the George Washington Bridge and run straight down to Battery Park.  This route is about 10 miles, and you get beautiful views of the Hudson River, numerous fun piers, and skyline views.  If 10 miles is too long for you, pop in along the Upper West Side.  Start with a jog through flower lined Riverside Park and it spits you out right on the pathway.

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Favorite Escape From The City, Within The City:  I love running on Randall’s Island.  I mentioned to my husband the other day that this is where I fell in love with distance running.  A few years ago, I would only see a handful of runners on the island, but now it is busy morning, noon, and night.

The Parks Department has devoted itself to creating an athlete’s paradise on this little island with numerous ball fields, a tennis center, golf center, horse stables, and path’s galore.

A footbridge from the East River brings you over to this perfect place that allows you to be just far enough away that you feel like you left the city.  Plus, there is a FDNY training center and you might just get the chance to run alongside the recruits during their training runs!

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Get Your Tour’s Worth:  If you really want to experience NYC on a long run, I highly recommend starting on the Upper East side along the East River Path.  Take this all the way to the bottom of Manhattan and hop on the Hudson River Path.  Follow it all the way up to Harlem and take a jog along 125th Street.

You will get to see Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey.  This route will take you by the Williamsburg Bridge (a favorite one to run over) and the Brooklyn Bridge.  You will see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island along the way too.  Running this loop will give you a serious workout and also a sneak peek into much of the city.

This might be a bit too much for one run.  Break it up into a few segments during your stay and you will experience the city in a whole different way!

You Can’t Go Wrong Here:  NYC is a great running city.  Even if you are staying in Midtown and just want to get a quick run in, all you need to do is lace up and hit the sidewalks.  Let the stop lights dictate your route and you are bound to see some fun sights along the way.

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Have you ever been to NYC?  Do you have a favorite running route in Manhattan?  Help me out with your favorite routes in the other boroughs!

A Case For The Treadmill

Excuse my absence.  Apparently having two little kids, coaching, and trying to keep life together is a full-time job.  I don’t know how parents of three kids even get out the door of their house!

Spring running is finally in full effect across the country.  After a late April snow dumped 20 inches on our yard, I was starting to feel like winter was never going to leave.  We had a bizarre winter in Michigan.  It was cold at times, but also warm.  It snowed, but it often melted and there were days in February and March where we had green grass in our yard.  Then April turned into a frigid, snowy mess.

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Mary likes watching the turkeys roam in our yard.

Between the crazy winter weather, and being a mom of a now 2 1/2 year old and 8 month old, it can be difficult to fit runs in.  Lucy was too young to run in the stroller, and the weather was too cold to push Mary.  Quite often, my only option was the treadmill when the girls napped or at night when they went to bed.  Thank goodness for Netflix.

A week ago Saturday, I toed the line for my first true race since having Lucy in September.  I felt pretty out of place at the start.  I had no idea what to expect.  I hadn’t run with a GPS in months.  I didn’t know what my pace would be or how it would feel.  I had nothing to base it on.

Plus, it was freezing and the wind was blowing like crazy.  Thanks, April.  Glad to see you go!

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When the gun went off, I just settled in and started running at what felt like a good, but sustainable pace for me.  Imagine my surprise when I looked down after the first mile and I was running well over a minute per mile faster than I expected.  I was running way too fast!  But when I checked in with myself I was feeling relatively good.  I tried slowing a little bit, but as we came to the halfway turnaround of the 10k, I realized I was nearly at the front of the pack of the race and also the first woman.

Mile after mile, I was running paces that were faster than I had ever run.  I felt pretty good until mile 4 when the Pop-Tart that I ate before the race started to make me feel pretty sick.  Who would have thought?!

I was beyond thrilled when I crossed the finish with a 10k PR.  I ended up 6th across the line and in first place overall for the women.  It was a much needed boost for this running mom.

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This was a special race for me, as it was also where I ran my first 5k, 27 years ago in honor of our neighbor who lost his battle with leukemia.  A few years later, his dad passed away and the race now is done in both of their memories.  They were also avid runners.  At my first race, I won 2nd in my age group by default as there were only two of us.

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From my first 5k

It was also the weekend of our town’s yearly festival.  Despite being super chilly, and super windy, the entire family had a great time.  I also need to add a huge congrats to Rock and Lucy who placed third in his age group on Lucy’s first ride in the BOB!  Stroller running is no easy feat.

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Running on the treadmill can be a bit tricky.  It will never truly replicate running outside.  Every treadmill varies.  They all feel and work in different ways that make them unique.  You may have noticed this when some models feel easier or more difficult to use.  There is also no added effect from wind or changes in terrain that challenge our muscles and endurance.

Pace is also a tricky factor with treadmills.  It is virtually impossible to run at your normal speed on the mill.  I always encourage runners to find the pace that feels right on the treadmill.  Don’t let the numbers dictate how fast you must go or frustrate you.  Just know that what feels right for you, is exactly what you need.

While a lot of people will say that the treadmill has little to no place in a training plan, that isn’t always an option.  Personally, I feel that you need to do what works best for you.  That can mean giving yourself permission to get your runs in on the treadmill.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this for 100% of your runs.  But again, you do what is right for you.

I’m finally enjoying warmer weather runs with my girls, and that presents its own set of challenges.  However, I certainly have the treadmill to thank for keeping me sane and fit this winter.  You might even say it made me a better runner.

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What are your thoughts on the treadmill?

 

Waiting For The Wall

Happy Monday!  Excuse my lack of presence. We were away for the past week on a family vacation in somewhat sunny Florida.  The weather was chilly most of the week.  However, yesterday when the time sprung forward one hour, all the kiddos who we were sharing a room with, decided to finally sleep in their own beds through the night.  It felt so good, I stayed in bed until the littlest one finally decided to get up.

Rock took Mary in the jogging stroller for an 8 mile ride to grab donuts (I love the way he thinks) and I met them there with the car to trade off.  As I started my run, it was almost 11:00am and the sun was beating pretty hard. It was only 73º, which would be a pleasant run in the summer.  But I haven’t been running in that heat for a long while and the last half of my run was straight into the sun on an unshaded path.  Curses for sleeping in!

Right from the start, I began preparing myself for this being a harder run compared to my others this past week. Despite some breezy days, the cool weather worked in my favor and I was running sub 8:00min/miles for eight miles a few days before.  However, I also know that you need to keep your pace on the slower side for most runs.  While my pace has been slowly getting faster and those sub 8:00’s felt relatively moderate, even those need to be slowed down from time to time.

I started Sunday’s run out and got it in my head that I would keep the pace at what felt “easy.”  I would ignore my GPS’s pace function and I would just do what I could.  I knew it was going to get hard at some point and I was going to aim for getting to six miles before I opted to walk for a bit.

I broke the run into half mile segments and checked each one off as I went and also checked in to see how I was feeling.  I used my music to push me through and I kept a calm conversation in my head.

Those last few miles were harder but as I approached each one, I was surprised that I was still feeling okay.  They weren’t quite as hard as I made them out to be and I used that as fuel to keep me going.

Isn’t it the worst when you head out for a run and haven’t mentally prepared yourself?  Have you ever started out feeling so great and having the best of intentions, only to get to the halfway point and you begin to struggle?  It is so hard to keep going when you are taken off guard.  It can mentally take the wind out of your sails.

I realized yesterday that I am still a bit traumatized from my last marathon.  There, I admit it.  I really want to run another marathon.  Nine months after I had Mary, I ran the Run For The Red Pocono’s Marathon.  I PR’ed by over 8 minutes and qualified for Boston with a 14 minute buffer.  I felt amazing!

A month later I ran Grandma’s Marathon.  It was supposed to be flat and fast; a welcome change from the final hills of the Poconos.  But the weather had other things in mind as the temps climbed into the 80ºs and black flags lined the course.  My body gave out.  But my mind gave out long before my legs did.

It was a very difficult experience.  It took all of those happy emotions from a month before and dug them in a deep, dark hole.  I knew and I still do know that I am capable of a great race.  But man, that was one painful experience on both a physical and mental level.  The marathon is a beast and when you have been beaten down, it can be hard to get back up.

I’m eyeing races and trying to find the one that is just right for me.  I will be back soon.  It is a great reminder that running is far more than just putting in the miles.  We have to train our brains to handle the highs and the lows.  Preparing for those difficult days is important.

Sure, you don’t want to be a Debby Downer before each run.  I am not recommending that you always prepare for the worst.  But it helps to know what obstacles might be in your way.  Think of how you might handle them.  When difficulties arise, use them as training tools for how you might approach them on race day.

It also never hurts to have donuts waiting for you when you arrive back home!

I didn’t hit the wall yesterday.  It was a pleasant surprise.  But it was also a great reminder that no two runs are alike and sometimes they can really throw you for a loop.

How do you prepare for these tough runs?

Family Easter Craft Project

We’ve been crafting again in this house!  I love keeping decorations for every holiday, and next up on our list is Easter.  I know St. Patrick’s Day is in there, but I’m ready for spring and trying to prod Mother Nature to sway herself in that direction.

For once in a long while, we will be home for Easter.  So it is time to start getting some decorations ready around this house!

As you may recall, I purchased a bulk pack of canvases at Christmas.  I had two left, and they had my girl’s names on them for some spring projects.  We also keep washable finger paints and dotters on hand.  That is basically all you need to make these super cute projects.

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My 2 1/2 year old used the paint dotters and we used the washable finger paints with Lucy’s cute little 5 month old feet to make her first art project.  In my opinion, both turned out to be pretty adorable.

As someone who teaches arts and craft projects for preschool aged children, I am all about creating things that will turn out well regardless of age or ability.  You can see that both girls made great projects with a little help from Rock and myself.  From start to finish these take about 15 minutes and I think they are totally worth it!

Easter Egg Projects:

Materials:

White canvas

Paper

Clear tape

Pencil

Scissors

Washable finger paints

Washable Paint Dotters

Paint Brush

Modge Podge

Directions:

Fold a piece of paper in half, lengthwise.  Draw a half oval (egg shape) with pencil.  This helps keep the shape nice and uniform.   I then chose to draw a simple zig-zag pattern.  Cut out the inside portion of this pattern to create a stencil.

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Carefully tape the stencil to your canvas.  Work along the edges to ensure that it is flat and even.  Tape the inside just along the edges to keep the paper flat.  This will help keep the paint from running under your stencil.

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You can then either use the paint dotters or washable paint.  I placed thin layers of washable paint on a paper plate and rubbed Lucy’s foot in the paint and then blotted it all around the stencil.  We used wet wash cloths to remove paint as we worked through a variety colors.

Just like painting your walls, remove the stencil and tape immediately after you are done to ensure the paint doesn’t dry under the stencil or run.  You can then add a border and use a Sharpie to add names, years, etc.

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Once the project has dried you can then coat with a thin layer of Modge Podge.  This helps to preserve your project.  Do keep in mind that the washable paints can run. So do this quickly and gently.

Do you have any crafting traditions for Easter?

It’s Not Very Chilly-5 Minute Slow Cooker Chili

Apparently long weekends leave me a few days behind on catching up!  We had an awesome long weekend playing with family at Shanty Creek Resorts.  If you recall, we were there a few years ago when Mary just started crawling and we basically had the place to ourselves.  A year before that, we got married there in the summer.

Things have changed just a little bit!

This time, these non-skiers enjoyed a winter weekend playing in the snow.  Well Mary and Rock played in the snow and I sat at the Lakeview Restaurant and watched them tube down the runs.  They had a blast.  Lucy and I chowed down and had fun too.

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Just watching some Olympics.

We finished the weekend off by enjoying a delicious meal and flight of beers at Short’s Brewing Company.  I didn’t get any pics because I was fresh off of an 8 mile run and was both ravenous and seriously into my tasting of five delicious IPA’s.

Between our trip to humid Mexico, some dry and stuffy aired flights, and a chilly return to reality, my throat has been soar for a few days.  My tonsils are swollen and I am trying to remedy things with sweaty workouts, lots of hot and cold hydration, and some warm soothing meals.  While I have enjoyed a few meals that involved meat, I’ve stuck to my plant based eating most of the time.  It has been surprisingly easy.

I scoured a few websites to look at various planted based recipes and then decided to try my hand at making my own slow cooker meals.  Last night I made this Slow Cooker Lentil and Quinoa Chili.  I wasn’t certain how this would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised.  This meal cost around $10 to make and as the lentils and quinoa cooked up, the slow cooker was filled to the brim.  This will last us for several meals.  There’s no browning of meat or veggies.  Just dump the ingredients in and turn your crockpot on.

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Enjoying some chili with her post ballet Happy Meal

I missed the last episode of “This Is Us” when it aired after the Super Bowl.  So I don’t know how things ended up, but I did see the episode when the fire started and I do cringe a bit each time I turn my slow cooker on.  But give this one a try.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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Slow Cooker Lentil and Quinoa Chili:

Ingredients:

1 onion (chopped)

1 green bell pepper (chopped)

1 red bell pepper (chopped)

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can pinto beans (drained)

1 can black beans (drained)

1 can chili beans (drained)

1 can tomato sauce

4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups lentils

1/2 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

3 cloves minced garlic

Salt to taste

Directions:

Pour all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Top with your favorite fixings.  Enjoy!

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Check out my other chili recipes!

3 Cans And 6 Veggies Chili

Super Easy Turkey Chili