Monday, August 29, 2016

Lessons in taking care of myself part 1

If you follow me on instagram, you might have noticed I am all yoga and little running lately. Don't worry!! I did not quit running.

So what's the deal?

I had some pain return in my left leg that I had not had since I trained last fall for Marine Corps Marathon. It only started to bother me when I was hitting higher mileage (18 or so for long runs) and started around a similar time this training cycle as well. Given that I have hopes to run a sub two hour half marathon in a few weeks, I decided that taking time off was probably my best (and only) bet.

Almost two weeks ago, I recommitted myself to Yoga Camp and figured that I would continue to work through that and reintegrate  strength training (that has gone by the wayside in these high mileage weeks) in case it was a muscle weakness issue. I do feel like that has made some improvements but still kind of felt like my left leg had to be dragged along and there was just some kind of "hang up" keeping me from moving it normally.

Last fall training cycle, I had talked about going to see a PT and even a chiropractor in attempt to get some relief. I went for a massage instead. It felt amazing, but really didn't touch my issues much.I was disappointed, but muddled through the rest of training with endless KT tape and occasional ibuprofen as well as decreasing the number of days I ran each week. I did go to a doctor after the marathon, but with no clear or helpful insights other than take it easy. 

Last Wednesday morning I finally decided to take some action. I set up a chiropractic appointment for Thursday morning figuring, "what's the worst that can happen?" 
I will admit I was a little nervous about what I had gotten myself into, but knew it was probably a step in the right direction.

I knew I was 100% correct when I walked in and saw this chalkboard welcoming all the new patients for the day. I was greeted with smiles and helpfulness.

I didn't wait all that long to be taken back for my assessment either which was awesome. The woman who spoke with me was professional but friendly at the same time. The basic consensus was that my left hip is higher than my right, my right shoulder was higher than the left and I carry about 7 lbs more bodyweight on my right side. Basically, a little bit out of whack.

When I met with the doctor, he seemed very confident that he could get me reset and back in action. Because of the position of my left hip/side, it was pinching or pushing on my sciatic nerve, causing many of those not so wonderful feelings in my leg! That explains SO much. I was actually relieved to be told that there was a likely solution. 

Over the weekend, I did manage to get 1 treadmill mile on Saturday and 6 outside miles on Sunday. I am currently sitting with a really tight and uncomfortable feeling in the back of my leg and hoping that my appointment this evening will help that. I really miss my running family and the opportunity of getting out of the house in the evenings. I love yoga and other activities, but because I do them at home, they don't give me the same things that running does! 

Has anyone else ever had a similar problem? What finally fixed it for you?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

That time I ran a mile...

Ok, I know what you’re thinking.. “Who cares? You run long all the time and a mile is no big deal.”

And I guess to an extent, you’d be right. Except when it is. When you run all out and give it your all. When you think yours legs are going to fall off, your lungs are on fire, and you can’t stop coughing when you are done.

Last night was the 35th annual Harrisburg Mile and my first time participating. Last year I watched and was blown away by the incredible speed of elite and every day runners alike. Absolutely incredible.  I decided to do it this year for two reasons. The first was to challenge myself since I have never really “raced” a mile. I mean, I know we all had to do the dreaded mile in school and I always suffered so hard through that since I couldn’t run to save my life. The second reason, of course, involves swag. I think I have mentioned before that our local Fleet Feet Store threw out a challenge to do so many of 7 local races- this was one of them. I figured what the heck, why not?

So all day yesterday I was nervous and antsy.. yep all for a silly mile.

I would say I didn’t have a time goal and that I just wanted to see what I could do, but that would be a lie. I really wanted to shoot for 7:30 or close to it. I knew that I should be able to do it, especially knowing that I had just that one mile to complete. 

One of my dear running buddies came by and we drove downtown together. We got a spot about at the halfway point which was nice so we didn’t have to walk as far to get to/from the race. We walked over to the course and quickly were greeted by the massive amount of people there to race with us. The website said 1800 were registered and there were likely more than that with day of registration!!

Before we lined up there was some selfie action- obviously, because who can race without taking one first?!?!

I knew when I looked at my watch at 1/4mile, and it said 6:50 pace, that I was probably going to be in trouble.

And that ended up being correct...

Whatever though. I still had an official time of 7:38 which I could not complain about at all. I coughed up my lungs, watched the remaining age groups and the elites..  and then we went and got our beer!!

It really wasn't the best beer I have ever had, not even close. But... I shared it with friends and was able to catch up with some people while we were enjoying them. That is what really matters...

Oh and this...

This view is literally what dreams are made of. How can you not be completely in love with this view? I know there are other views out there than have their beauty too.. but this is mine. I love that I can enjoy this and it is mere minutes from my house. 

Have you ever raced a mile? What was your experience like? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A 10k and a 15k crossed the road...

Holy cow, my friends!! Can you believe July is over halfway finished already?

It has been a busy summer already and considering I have another race coming up tonight, I thought maybe I should write about the last two.

The first was all the way back on July 2 and it was a FREE 10k. This is the third or fourth time I have done this race and I always enjoy it. I completely appreciate that it is free and especially enjoy it because it is in my hometown. I spend the night prior at my parents and this year that meant extra time with my sister and her crew.  My mom has also walked the 5k option the past few years as well so she waits for me at the finish line. I love being able to share an event with my mom who also enjoys being active and does all kinds of amazing things to do so!! 

part of the River Runners crew pre- race

large, more complete group post-race

This year was a little different though since I actually placed in my age group for the first time ever at this race!!!!! To be honest, I haven’t won many age group awards in my time so this felt REALLY great. I might have even wore my medal into the grocery store afterwards.

If only they spelled my name right ;)

A little less than 10k, but super stoked about the pace!

My next race was a complete 180. The following weekend, I embarked on a little adventure with one of my running pals. This was a race that my pal had put a bug in my ear about not all that long ago and then reminded me the day that shirt guarantee ended.  It was a trail race and a 15k at that, so you know I was a sucker and signed up!  As soon as we pulled in, I was so glad I did.

What's not to love about this view?? I mean... come on!!

The race was about an hour and a half away so we chit-chatted it up (shocking, I know). We arrived with plenty of time to get our shirts and bibs, use the bathrooms, and hang out for a bit before the race started. 

Oh... and take selfies!!

I am not going to lie, this was a tough course. To be fair to myself, I honestly think that I had not given blood Friday and tried to run this race Sunday, I would have been much more successful. I didn't think it would effect me that much, but apparently it did. This course was much rockier than any I have ever done to date, but I do not regret doing it for a minute. In fact, I think we both decided pretty quickly that we would absolutely do it again and try to convince some others to come along next time. We both enjoyed the challenge and the scenery cannot be beat.

Plus... they fed us delicious food afterwards and gave out pint glasses instead of medals to all finishers. By delicious food I mean hot dogs and bagels which tasted like a 5 star dinner after the race we just ran. 

I absolutely love this race shirt, too. I tested it out the other day and it is so comfortable. I see myself getting a lot of good wearings out of it. 

So even though July is over half way over, you can see I have been enjoying the racing life.. maybe a little too much but what a better way to spend summer, right?!?

What races have you been up to? Do you prefer trail to road in the summer?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Water you waiting for?

See what I did there?

But seriously, today I want to share with you what is easily my new favorite water bottle.

If you ask my husband, he would probably tell you I have said that a LOT over the years.. like A LOT A LOT. In our house, we have a major water bottle issue. I can't help it. This girl loves to drink water on the go.. or even tea and occasionally an iced coffee. the quest for the PERFECT water bottle is not one to be taken lightly.

Is it light enough? Is it portable? Does it seal well enough so that it won't leak or spill? So many questions.. see?

Up until now, I never thought that questioning whether it would really stay cold for HOURS in my hot car while I run my miles was actually legit.

Enter Hydro Flask.

A friend that I run with frequently always had this bottle to re-hydrate afterwards and bragged of its amazing abilities to stay cold for HOURS. It can even stay cold for up to 24 hours!  Seriously you guys.  I had to find out for myself and reached out to Hydro Flask to see if they might send me one to check out and share my opinions with you!

There are about five things right now that I want to say are the best things about this bottle.. 
1. Your water will seriously stay cold for hours. My friend taught me the trick of adding an ice cube or two for extra longevity

2. I can fill this bottle with water and two ice cubes, and it stays cold ALL night while I sleep. When I get up in the morning and reach for refreshment.. yep still cold. 

3. The sport cap they included is fabulous for all day drinking. I have used this top exclusively because I didn't feel like having to unscrew the lid every time I wanted a drink. 

4. I can carry it EVERY WHERE. The durable loops makes it easy to carry, or if I am carrying a big bag/purse, I can easily throw my Hydro Flask in there. I don't have to worry about it denting or scratching either because of the powder coat on the outside. 

5. Did I mention that it keeps your stuff cold FOREVER?! Sometimes I run (note sarcasm) and sometimes I do this for two hours or more. This bottle is seriously first class and I can enjoy some wonderfully cold water when I finish up even the hottest of my summer runs. 

The bottle they sent me holds 24 oz and is extra tall to accommodate. Whats even more awesome is that it fits in my car's cup holder too.  They have lots of other sizes between the standard mouth (like mine) or the wide mouth. up to 64 oz. 

I cannot say enough positive things about this product. In fact, I might have to get one of the larger sizes down the road... just do me a favor?? Don't tell my husband. (haha!!!)

Have you ever tried Hydro Flask? What is your go-to reusable water bottle?

** I did receive this HydroFlask in exchange for a review. No other compensation was received and ALL views are my own. Thanks again to HydroFlask for working with me.. this bottle is legit amazing **

Friday, June 24, 2016

Iron Run Half 2016

Directly following my double header 5k weekend, I hit the trails and ran a half marathon!!

The race is put on by Friends of Pine Grove and is called Iron Run Half Marathon. This is the second year I have run it and this year was a huge improvement for me on so many levels.

Like last year, I spend the night at a friend's cabin so we got to kind of mosey awake and get ready, eat breakfast and travel the 5 minutes from her cabin to the race. We met all of our river runner friends there for a nice photo opp before the race.

It was a really cool mix of abilities this year and I really didn't feel like I got held up as much with larger groups of people. The trail was wide enough for two people for most of the race, but last I definitely felt "stuck" more than this year.

I started the race with Michelle and Katie, both of whom have been awesome running buddies this year. Katie was gone by mile 1 and Michelle and I stuck together for the first 2-3 miles somewhere. At one point, I went in front of her and then I never saw her until the finish line. I waited at the first two water stops to see if I could see her and never did.

I ran with a complete stranger for a few miles as well. I really enjoyed chatting with her and learning that this was her first trail half (maybe first half all together..). That is the fun part about trail running. At least for there isn't quite as much pressure to go super fast or crazy so  you can really have a conversation with someone. Super fun stuff.

The aid stations and volunteers for this race are seriously out of this world. They come out in the hot weather to serve us water, Gatorade, a gel assortment, pretzels, and smiles. This is an incredible group of people, I swear. As tired as I was and ready to be done.. as soon as I crossed the finish line and cooled off, I was bummed that I have to wait another year to run with my friends at this race.

Coming into the finish line!!!  Wore Tasc Performance gear for this race and had no idea how drenched with sweat until I touched my tank to grab my water. To me, this is incredible!

I was so excited this year to not only have felt so much better the whole race, but also that I ran further with a better time!! They extended the course from (per my garmin last year) 12.73 to 13.4, partly to get more of the route on trail and secondly because people wanted the full half marathon distance. This year I came in at 2:45:55 and last year was 2:50... seriously!!?! I was thrilled.

Bottom line is.. I highly recommend this race. It's super budget friendly and so well organized that you CANNOT go wrong.  I hope that my schedule allows me to be there year after year.

Do you like to run trails.. or does the idea scare the crap out of you? ;)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

3rd Annual Double Header

I am so terribly at blogging lately, it is a shame. I think I am at the computer typing so much for work, that I often have no steam left for much else. Maybe I just start talking to the computer and it can type for me.. that's a thing, right?


A few weeks ago, I did my third year in a row of doing The Color Run Hershey in the morning and Rock N Glow 5k in the evening. It never fails to be a fun (but tiring) day.

This year, my ENTIRE family got to join us + a friend of my mom's who joined us last year too.

To say I was thrilled that we got to do this is easily the understatement of the year. From my dad down to my not-quite 1 year old nephew, I think I can say we all had a nice time. We were supposed to do this last year.. however, the not-quite 1 year old, was not quite.. well. born yet!!!

TCR Hershey had some sweet props this year.. including this HUGE pineapple.. you know I had to get my picture


Needless to say.. fun times!!

I just have to share this one too.. I do plan on buying some of the official pics.. but this is too funny!!

The evening race was definitely one to remember!! As soon as we got in the car and on the highway, it started to rain. We spent the time before the race sulking that we were going to have to run in the (very cold) rain!! I kept telling my nephew that it would really make him a rockstar to run in the rain. This is nothing new for me to run in the rain, but he never has for any length of time.

We pouted a little..

Even though he is smiling here...

Then we waited under cover to stay dry until the race started at 9pm. At about 8:50, some people started to head to the start line so we decided we should too. And wouldn't you know it?? It stopped raining... and just felt like a big scck of humidity!! I told my nephew to set the pace and we quickly headed out around the "slower" folks in the crowd. The humidity quickly got the best of him, but he sure did rock this race. He set a PR (again!!) coming at 31:51. I not-so secretly was hoping we would make it under 30 minutes this year, but the in the humidity that wasn't happening. Every year, this kiddo makes me so proud. I really do wish he lived closer to I could take him out running once each week, but that's not an option.

I was rocking my awesome Tasc Performance tank and shorts and they were amazing!!
My shirt was completely drenched when I was done, but I still felt great and didn't feel like a wet slob- just keeping it real.

Rock N Glow is a great local race that draws quite an incredible crowd. I have done it 4 years in a row now and have enjoyed each one. They do a great job organizing and they are always great with having plenty of water at the stations and great treats afterwards!

Always a great day and we go to bed nice and exhausted!!

Do you have certain races you do year after year with family? 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Happy Global Running Day!!!

Today I am joining a link up over at Jonesin' for a Run for Global Running day. For some reason, this year I am so much more excited for it.. maybe that's because I am off work and get to enjoy local events!!  So here's how this is going to go.. I am going to answer some questions and then I challenge you to do the same :)

Why do you run?
Initially I ran for the challenge. How far could I make it? Could I really complete a 5k? But now? It is SO much more. I have met some of the most incredible friends as part of the running community and this makes me feel so much more whole. It was like this part of my life wasn't complete until I entered the running world. It is stress relief, social, and a way to get out of the house and have major me time.
How do you plan to celebrate National Running Day?
Since I am posting this ON the day.. here is what I have done so far. I actually already ran 4 miles earlier in downtown Harrisburg with a super awesome group of 80 people or so with Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg at 12:15pm today. Pretty sweet experience to kind of mob the city as we celebrated together.
(thanks to Fleet Feet for the sweet pic!!)
How many miles have you run so far this year? Do you have a mileage goal for the year?
According to my Garmin connect account I am at 493 miles for the year. At the end of the day today, I will hit 500!!! That's so incredible to think I have put in that much mileage already. I will hit at least 1000 miles this year knowing I am about to head into 50k training!!
What big events do you have on the race calendar so far this year?
Oops. I guess I already answered this one. So in the spring, I was training for a half marathon and so badly wanted to get under two hours. Although my plan was derailed at mile 7, I still made it back to the 2:02 range for the first time in two years (after an injury) and I thought I was going to LOSE it from pure happiness. The goal to #sub2orbust will continue for another half this fall in Harrisburg (local) in addition to my super big goal to complete a 50k and become an ultramarathoner!
Before I leave for a run I must have:
Flip belt, garmin watch, brooks shoes, and my sunglasses!! If it's a long run (over 8-10 miles) I must have huma gels and water.
Do you track your runs? If so what do you use?
Absolutely... I have a Garmin Forerunner 230 and a vivosmart (to track overall steps). I love being able to look back and see my paces, distance, and routes (especially on days I run somewhere new).

Who is your favorite running partner?
I have so many!!! Like I mentioned above, I have met so many wonderful people that I enjoy running with. This list expanded by a few people this year too, when I joined the training group back in January. A group of 4 of us were deemed OCD triangle because of our incessant need to know specific paces we should be hitting so we could obsess over doing just that. We are quite the power team of encouragement and friendship.

What races have you run so far this year?
Since 2016 started, I have done pretty well so far with races. I have run a trail half (in ice and cold water puddles), a 10k at St Patty's day, a 10 miler that supported local art organization, and OCMD half marathon. I have 3 races coming up in the next two weeks and I cannot wait to hit the trails more in preparation fro the 50k.

If you have to give someone one piece of advice about running, what would it be?

NEVER GIVE UP!!! And also, finding a buddy either in real life or on social media who inspires you. This will keep you going and remind you to get out there. 

Describe your relationship with running in one word: