Spring Race Training=Delicious Recovery Smoothie

Happy New Year!  I hope this year brings you plenty of happy mileage and health.

Despite the fact that we are just now getting deep into winter, we are also entering Spring Race Training Season.  I’ve been keeping quiet, but I definitely caught the spring racing bug and signed up for a race.  I will be running the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020

To be quite honest, I am pretty nervous.  This will be my sixth marathon, and up until my last one, I had nothing but great experiences with the 26.2 mile distance.  I qualified twice for the Boston Marathon and spent two other times running well over 26 miles as a running coach for a charity at the Chicago Marathon.  Nine months after I had our first daughter, I ran a marathon PR at the Run for the Red Poconos Marathon.  Four weeks later, I ran Grandma’s Marathon and had the worst experience of my life.  I went from an absolute high to an absolute low.  That left me completely deflated.

To be honest, I was so relieved to be 15 weeks pregnant the following spring and have an excuse not to run Boston.  I just wasn’t mentally ready to do another and that was okay!

I’ve definitely had some time to clear my head.   I would also like to think that I have grown as a runner and know that not every race has to be a PR.  This race for me, is a way to look 26.2 miles in the eye, and go back after it.  It also helps that it is basically in my backyard.

As an ACE Certified Health Coach, I also have a new approach to my training.  I still love all food and any dessert.  But I also know the power food has to work as both fuel and a recovery system.  I’m using this tool to take me into training and keep me healthy.

I recently added a delicious new smoothie to my post workout regimen.  I am loving it and so are my kids!  It can also work as a great breakfast to take to work or school as you run out the door in the morning (hint, you can also blend some oatmeal or granola into this!).

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Mary Approved!

The key is blueberries.  Rich in fiber, Vitamins K and C, and antioxidants, it is the perfect potion to refuel your muscles and help repair damage done during a workout.  Your muscles are only as good as you treat them.  Long runs require plenty of repair and antioxidants are key to this recovery.

Blueberries also contain 85% water.  Hydration is essential to sustaining a training session, and is also vital for getting your muscles back into working order.  If you don’t rehydrate after a workout, your body isn’t going to function at it’s best.

This smoothie only requires 4 simple ingredients and can be whipped up in a flash before or after a workout.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup Greek or vanilla Light and Fit yogurt

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tbsp honey

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Directions:

Simply place all ingredients in a blender and pulse on smoothie mode.  Pour into a glass and enjoy.

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The great thing about frozen blueberries is that you can get them year round at an affordable price.  The freezing process also maintains the fruit at it’s freshest point so you don’t miss out on any of the vital nutrients.

Happy Running!

“I Don’t Think I Can Finish The Race”-But You Will!

Happy holidays!  I’m adding a quick post that I have been meaning to do for a few weeks now.  Our family joined several cousins, aunts, and uncles in a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning and I’m finally sitting down to share a special moment from that day.

For weeks our family had been talking about doing a Turkey Trot and we finally signed up the day before Thanksgiving.  Several family members had said they would be doing the kids run/walk and our 4 year old thought that would be a lot of fun.  Only after we had talked about it for several days, did we find out that the kids race was a 5k!

This past summer Rock completed his first Half Ironman and Mary was disappointed to find out that she missed out on the opportunity to do a kid’s race.  When she knew that everyone else was doing the 5k, she insisted she needed to do it.  We decided that Rock would run the race and push Lucy in the stroller and I would do the kid’s race with Mary.

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We literally showed up as the gun went off and Mary hopped out of the stroller and began running.  For the first mile, she actually ran the entire time.  I was really impressed by her endurance and speedy little legs!  Then things began to slow down.

Somewhere between mile 1 and 2 she needed a drink.  I explained that there was only one way to get refreshments and that was to press on until we found an aid station.  At mile 2 we found our oasis and after downing a cup, she shrugged and said, “That wasn’t the best water ever but it will do.”  She knows how to make me laugh.

Things began to go downhill from there.  She started to feel tired and her feet were hurting.  We had discussed this before the race and the rule was that if she was going to do this with her cousins, I wasn’t going to carry her.

“I don’t think I am going to make it, mom.”

I looked around me and several older runners were also struggling and beginning to walk.  I could tell that many people were doing this for the first time, together.

I squeezed Mary’s hand and explained that this happens to every runner at every distance.  Part of the reason people do races is for the challenge it presents.  Regardless of how fast or how far you are going, you are always going to have a moment in a race where you question if you are going to be able to do this.  Pushing past that point is the way to reach your goal.

I reminded her of our afternoon a few weeks before, cheering runners on at the NYC Marathon.  “Remember how we saw people walking and some people were crying?  They didn’t think they were going to finish.  But they kept on going.”

We held hands and continued our run/walk to the end where she flew through the finish chute and grabbed some bananas and water.  The smile stayed on her face the rest of the day.  She proudly had finished her first 5k.  I was incredibly proud of her.  The mental barriers of running are often more difficult to overcome than the physical challenges.

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This was a good reminder for me.  If you continue to run, you will continue to face challenges.  They come when you aren’t expecting them.  If you fight through and stay confident, the reward on the other side of that challenge is bigger than you can imagine.

She also reminded me the next day as she came shuffling down the stairs, that your legs will always be sore the morning after a race!  Happy Running and Happy Holidays.

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That’s What Races Are All About

Hello, friends!  Please excuse my absence.  I’ve been doing a lot of coaching during this summer/fall marathon season.  I also spent the latter portion of the summer studying for and getting my real estate license.  I hadn’t planned on taking such a long break from blogging, but I also hadn’t planned on delving into two really fun businesses at once this fall!

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See More @SarahDudek-Realtor on Facebook!

Running in the fall is a pretty fun experience, especially after spending a few months slogging in the summer heat and humidity.  There are also so many fun marathons to choose from.  I’ve literally had runners racing in a marathon every weekend of the month of October into November.  My phone has been actively tracking everyone!

We are once again in New York City, teaching at Wollman Rink in Central Park.  If you are here, please stop by and say hello!

Being in New York this past week has been incredible.  We saw the Marathon Route flags going up along First Avenue, Fifth Avenue, and the Central Park Drive.  We watched the finish line being set up and we saw the masses of runners flocking to the park as the week came to a close.

The subway system in NYC is far too difficult to navigate with a double running stroller, so I make the 3 mile trek to and from work each day with the girls across the city.  Over the past few weekends, we’ve come to work along First Avenue where runners were getting in their last few long runs.  We also go across the park where runners from around the world come to log miles.  As we made these adventures over the past few weeks, we talked about long runs and marathon training.  We discussed how running a marathon is never easy, regardless of how many you have under your belt.

I love these little talks with my girls.  Mary is 4 and she takes in every detail and asks so many questions.  Lucy is now 2 and she simply repeats whatever we have to say.  The biggest take away from these talks is that we should cheer on the runners.  Unprompted, Mary started shouting, “Good job, runners!” to anyone we passed.  This was then followed by, “Good job, wawa!” from Lucy.

The girls helped make signs for our friends who would be running the marathon.  They asked about each runner and where they were coming from and practiced cheering for each of them.

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On Sunday, we stepped out of the apartment to the Mile 19 marker and found a perfect place to track our friends and cheer on everyone.  The perfectly rehearsed, “Good job, runners!” and, “Good job, wawa!” were met with oohs and ahhs.

We chatted about how we were waiting for our friends at one of the hardest places in the race.  Somewhere between mile 18 and mile 23, the excitement of the race ends and the panic starts to hit.  Fuel supplies run low, and the reality of the amount of time you have been on your feet, and the amount of time you have left, starts to settle in.  Being able to be on the flip side, and cheer for someone who might be struggling, is pretty magical.

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After we had found the last of our runners, we headed home for naps.  I asked the girls if they had fun cheering and Mary said, “Yes, mom.  That’s what we do for people at races.  That is what races are all about.”

The final part of that comment made me smile, inside and out.  That is what races are all about.  They aren’t about winning or losing.  They are about achievements and accomplishments.  Races are about disappointments and setbacks.  They are injuries and comebacks.  At the end of the day, they are about running with thousands of other people, sharing in the same great moment, together.  We do it, cheering each other along, because that is what races are all about.

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The bench in Central Park honoring running great, Ryan Shay.

What do races mean to you?

 

No Boring Salads Here & Kid’s Deconstructed Salad

You might think this is boring, but I love salads in the summer.  Sure I am a Health Coach, and you would assume that I love all things healthy.  However, my family would tell you I have a deep love for Cool Ranch Doritos and Crunchy Cheetos.  In fact, a few days ago, Mary and I took a date day and went out to the lake to enjoy these treats on the dock.  It was a special moment for this mom!

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Back to the salads.  As soon as the warm weather arrives, I crave a fresh pile of greens and toppings.  Over the years, I have learned there are so many ways to spice up a simple salad and save a ton of time in the kitchen, leaving you more time to play outside with your family.  Even better, most of the simple ingredients you use, can be plated for kids (or salad hating adults) to enjoy as their meal.

Grab a few ingredients, and you can easily switch things up throughout the week for a different dinner every night.  You can also throw leftovers together for lunch the next day.

It’s all about the base.  These days, there are so many types of pre-washed greens.  You can buy these by the bag or container.  You can also buy salad kits.  I discovered last year that my 2 year old loved Caesar Salad kits and now she loves the kale and Brussels sprout with poppyseed dressing.  The cool thing about kits is that you can use the fixings, or skip their dressing and add your own favorites.  I personally love the kale kit, but usually just use the greens and then make my own creation.

Veggies are great, but think beyond the produce section.  Sure, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and carrots are great.  But don’t forget about canned and frozen veggies.  Canned black beans, corn, and chickpeas can easily be rinsed and thrown into the mix.  They are also budget friendly!

Frozen veggies are picked at their ripest and flash frozen.  You can often find them in steam packets that go directly into the microwave.  Warm them up and then pop some onto your plate.

It’s okay to add a touch of carbs to the mix.  One of my favorite meals is the Caesar salad from a place called The Noodle.  As you might guess, they are known for their homemade fresh pasta and even the salad comes topped with noodles.  It is a delicious addition.

Orzo is easy to make and let cool off in a colander.  Rice packets are another great addition.  Toast some day old bread and break into croutons.  

You can always add dairy.  Add this for some extra flavor and protein.  There are so many delicious options from shredded cheddar and parmesan, to bleu cheese, feta, and crumbled goat cheese.

Maybe you protein.  Maybe you don’t.  I do love meat, but I have been making a conscious effort to eat more plant based meals.  By adding a bunch of other flavors and textures to my plate, I don’t always need meat.  But when I do, I sometimes think beyond the traditional chicken, steak, or salmon.  You can find tuna packets, which are a lower calorie protein with high Omega 3 healthy fats.

Morning Star farms offers traditional black bean and Mediterranean chickpea burgers.  I also really like their veggie “chicken” patties.  Boca Burgers have a surprisingly great texture and taste pretty darn similar to a regular burger.

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Meat free “chicken” patties with BBQ and ranch.  So good!

 

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The girls had a taco.

Deconstruct your salad and please even the pickiest eaters.  Before I go further, I urge you not to underestimate your kids.  I never thought my oldest would love Caesar salads at 2 years old.  I didn’t know my one year old would beg for bites of cabbage.  Try adding a small salad to a plate.  Don’t make a big deal about it.  Don’t refer to it as “healthy.”  Just make it part of the meal.  If they decide they don’t like it, no big deal.

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Whatever “tools” you use to build your salad, plate them out on your kids’ dishes.  For example, if you decide to make a Mexican salad, add cheese, beans, meat, and peppers to your little ones’ plates.  Add some dip or salsa and a tortilla.  Let them roll theirs into a taco or burrito.

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I can’t pass on some Annie’s mac and cheese shells!

What I love about this approach is that you are never eating a salad while the rest of your family eats something different.  This isn’t about healthy vs. unhealthy or one person eating healthy while others are eating a different dinner.  You are eating together as a family.  When you put together ingredients for the week, you can easily whip up a meal in minutes for everyone.

What is your favorite way to eat a salad?

Brings Me Back-NYC Marathon

Hello from New York City!  You may have noticed my absence the past few weeks, or perhaps not.  I know that I have been pretty quiet around here lately.  The reason for silence is because I have been busy working 7 days a week for the past few weeks at the ice rink in Central Park.  I used to work there years ago.  It was how I worked my way through college when I first arrived in New York and where I met my husband, on my first day of work.

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Six years ago, we left New York and moved to Chicago and later to Michigan.  We continue to work here in the spring and fall and last winter I got a text from a co-worker asking if I could work her maternity leave this winter.  Knowing the struggles of becoming a mom and then the next struggle of being a working mom, I gladly obliged to a return to Wollman Rink for a few weeks.

The work isn’t easy.  The hours are rough.  I’m up well before the sun rises each morning and I run home to meet the girls after a few hours on the ice.  I return to the ice later in the day to work some more, before running the 4 miles back to get our children fed and to bed.  We’ve suffered colds, sinus infections, and ear infections.  But we are finally on the mend and despite being exhausted, we are having a  great time in the city.  So please excuse my absence over the next few weeks, I have great plans for a big return after the holidays.

Until then, I want to offer a huge congratulations and thank you to all of the runners of the New York City Marathon.  Anyone who dares to run and anybody who dares to train and finish a marathon is a super hero.  It is an incredible process that requires months, and weeks, and hours of diligence.  There are days of exhaustion and times of injury.  But there is nothing more incredible than crossing that finish line.

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That time Mary was a few weeks old and we went to cheer on the last of the runners on their way through Brooklyn!

I ran for many years leading up to the first time I really had a chance to admire the New York City Marathon.  It is always hectic trying to get in and out of the rink in Central Park, as it is very close to the finish line.  Most years I worked all morning and afternoon and missed much of the race.  When I finally got my own apartment situated in East Harlem, right by the 19 mile mark, I had a sunny afternoon to myself and I went to watch the runners.

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Spectating a marathon will change even the hardest of souls.  You will witness humans at their absolute greatest.  People are drenched in sweat and struggling.  Some are beaming and smiling.  Others are grimacing and crying.  Along the sidelines you will find people of all backgrounds, coming together to cheer on family and friends, and strangers.  It is amazing!

Watching those runners who spent months training for this big event, that year, touched me.  I felt chills listening to a band up the street, and the cowbells ringing.  There were dozens of languages being spoken around me and people were calling out names of strangers whose names were taped across their bibs.

The marathon was a uniting force!

I went home feeling like a changed person.  I commented on what an incredible experience it appeared to be, but that I would never do something so crazy.  Yet, that moment stuck with me, and was the reason I have run several marathons and helped hundreds of others cross their own finish lines.

There is something very special about the New York City Marathon.  A city that can be so busy rushing to and from work and other occasions, finds the time to slow down to cheer for tens of thousands of strangers for one magical day.

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This year was extra magical because I got to take my girls to cheer on the runners near that same place that forever changed me.  Mary made a sign and was quite the hit waving and cheering on the runners.  At one moment she asked me why people were “stopping.”  I tried my best to explain to her how hard those last few miles are for so many of us.  I choked back tears as I held her and watched people passing by and said, “You run when you can and walk if you have to.  We all just keep going.”

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Congrats to everyone who ran New York and Indianapolis this weekend!

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!

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?