Back at it.

IT’S ALMOST SCHOOL VACATION WEEK!!!!! YAYYYYY!

Truth.

In the week and a half since my race ended, I’ve been taking it realll eassssy when it comes to running, aka, haven’t been running at all. You can thank my knee hurting for that. But, with the Boston Marathon right around the corner, the city is all abuzz about the happenings and I’m caught up in the excitement.

There is nothing I want more than to BQ (well, that’s not true…I can think of a few others ahead of that). To get there, I have to keep up the miles, continue to practice my speed training, and drop some effing weight….which is apparently never going to happen. So, instead, I just got out there tonight and did what I do best and knocked out some miles. Not necessarily junk miles, but weren’t my best either.

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Tomorrow, I just have to get through one more day of school, one more track practice, and then its of to dollar oysters and flowing cocktails at Lineage in Brookline. I cannot wait!!

The rest of the weekend includes celebrating, Easter, and the Boston Marathon. My vote is for Shalane Flanagan, after having watched her CBS interview this past weekend.

#BostonStrong. Love this city.

Fool’s Dual Half Marathon Race Recap

My how that winter was long!  I can already tell that the spring is going to whiz by based on how eager we all were for the sun to shine and for temps to reach higher than freezing. I love this time of year because it means the start of baseball season, the start of our spring track and field program at the middle school, and two and a half short months for all of us working in public education to make it to the finish line. As always, the lack of posting is directly proportional to the amount of work I have sitting on my desk. I’m not sure there are many of you out there, but let’s jump into the review of the Fool’s Dual Half Marathon!

unnamed-1I want to first point out that I thankfully met my goal of completing a half marathon around the 1:45 mark, as I officially finished in 1:45:43! PR CITY!!!!!!!!

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In the week since I’ve finished the Fool’s Dual Half Marathon, I’ve taken a number (aka the last 4 days) off from running. This course along Cape Ann and Gloucester was one of the hilliest courses I have ever participated in. My legs, with a special shout out to my IT bands, continue to ache and I’ve decided it best to take a complete rest instead of jumping back into running in order to complete the BAA 5k next weekend and continue my training cycle to include the Runners World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon in June.

If any of you readers decide to dive into your first Half Marathon experience, I highly recommend that you participate in the YuKan Run Race Series, that hosts events in the Gloucester area during April, June, August, and December. The field was even smaller than my race in December, with only 412 half marathoners finishing the event. I believe the race only holds about 1,000 runners in general, so I was surprised to see so few of us participating. Regardless, the event organizers put on a pretty good show, with amazing views and a well-supported albeit challenging course.

In the days leading up to the race, I didn’t eat well (a.k.a. pizza was the main staple) but made sure to drinks gallons of water. Race morning, I had a toasted multigrain bagel with plain cream cheese from Dunkin Donuts on the go.* I typically like to eat a banana on the side, but had completely forgotten to grab a banana on my way out that morning. When we pulled up to DD, they informed us that they were sold out. Blargh. I decided to forge ahead despite my lack of potassium intake. Chris and I trekked about 40 minutes up the Massachusetts coast and arrived at the O’Maley Middle School, where the race began and ended. Parking was a breeze, packet pickup was a breeze, and there were no porta potty lines all morning (with the exception of the last 20 minutes). The start of the race went off without a hitch at exactly 9:00 a.m.

*(and yes, gluten free was not the way to be. Stomachaches galore!)

The beginning of the event started at around 36 degrees with the wind chill making it feel around 29, the sun continued to shine throughout race morning making it a perfect temp to get out there and run. I saw way too many people suited up in layers and gloves, as I don’t think they were expecting it to heat up so quickly along the coast. I kept to an Underarmor long sleeve tech tee, my Brooks running capris, and a racing hat.

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The course was very well supported, with water and gatorade (at most locations) on miles 2,4,5,6,9, and 11! I always make sure to take water or gatorade at each stop, but usually dump out half of the drink and fold the paper cup so that it is easier to drink. This was also the first time I haven’t worn a fuel belt to race a long distance event since May of 2012.

There were also packets of energy gel twice during the race as well. I can’t remember what kind it was, some kind of Clif gel, but took it anyway because I wanted to save my gu for another time without spending more money. 😛 I never worry about whether or not the gel will make my stomach sour at the taste, because nothing really upsets my stomach. Just make sure to take it with water and not gatorade. Anyway, I took a gu at mile 5 for a mental boost, and again at mile 9. I’m pretty sure that I don’t require two packets of fuel during a race. I think I do it more as a mental distraction and something to look forward to.

Screen shot 2014-04-10 at 5.33.19 PMOverall, this race was a challenge for me mentally. The rolling hills shredded my quads, hamstrings, and IT bands and I could tell that it was going to be a battle for me to finish. Within the first three miles, I almost decided to quit the event because my plan was not being executed the way I had hoped.  I honestly thought to myself…what if I just call Chris right now and have him pick me up. No harm, no foul. I would only tarnish my pride and miss out on a medal. Still, somehow I managed to push myself.

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I’m surprised I finished in the time that I did, just looking back at these splits. You can tell which laps I decided to take some walking breaks, which worked as an excellent strategy for me.  I hooked onto my pacer, which was a gentleman who let me creep a little too close at times yet kept in my sights during those moments of frustration. When he and the others around me continued to trudge up the hill running, in the end, they fared no better than I did. Using those walking breaks, I was able to push out ahead of the group and continue on to meet my PR.

I was so excited to see Chris in the last .01 of the finish, knowing full well that I had met my goal. I kicked it in faster than I would have expected for the last mile of the race, but I knew I needed to push myself if I wanted to reach my goal. I can honestly say it felt so wonderful to be able to train competitively in this last cycle. Someday, I’ll beat Chris’s PR of 1:42…it’s so close, I can taste it…but also one day get into the 1:30’s range.

Lastly, I would like to finish this post by thanking the race organizers from the YuKan Run series for their finely executed event, making it one of my favorite series to compete in. I can’t help but wonder if the PR had something to do with it. 🙂

Attention Female Runners

I’ve not been home the last few days and am about to embark on one last New York trip this summer.  Off to Yankees Stadium!  I swear I’m not cheating on the Red Sox…. but its a family tradition to go. 

I decided to write this short post because of the inspirational photo I saw on facebook from Will Run for Margaritas aka I run like a girl.  I loved its message (even with the spelling errors). I have to remember that I’m married to running; in sickness and in health, til death do us part.  Running makes me feel stronger, improves my confidence, and reaffirms that my most important relationship is always going to be with myself.

Remember this when you feel tired, rejected, hurt, embarrassed, disappointed, frustrated, or defeated.  Running keeps you in the moment with yourself.

Enjoy all of your weekends and I’ll be back to post on Sunday!

Races and Remembering

Well I’m about to do again folks.  I’ve signed up for my third half marathon in the last year….making that one 5k (Boston Jolly Jaunt), one 5-miler (Harpoon Brewery 5 Miler), two Chilly Half Marathons, one Baystate Half Marathon (come October!) and one full marathon (San Diego Rock n’ Roll) all in 365 days.  Plus a wednesday consisting of a 30 minute tempo run.  Wait. That’s today.

So the newest addition to my race total is the Chilly Half Marathon in Newton, MA.  Interested?  Sign up HERE.

I’m trying to get my good friend Olivia, from Diablog, to do it with me.  She was a former roomie and now a bestie.  She is just getting into running so I thought maybe this would be nice to get the race started together!! C’mon Boliv!!!

The 2010 race was my first ever long road race (I had done a handful of 5k and 10k races previously) and marked my inaugural stint into the world of running!  Finishing faster than 2 hours made me feel like I really did belong in the running world.

Reading Jess of Blonde Ponytail’s latest post (Planting my “Running Seed”) got me thinking. Since it’ll be one year ago that I started really running and training, I thought it might serve as a nice reminder as to why I signed up do this first race, and take a walk down memory lane. (Thanks Jess! I hope you don’t mind that I dovetailed your post with my own ramblings!!).

Running was a saving grace for me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever do it enough justice, or thank the sport enough for helping me work through some difficult feelings and frustrations. My own “running seed” was planted when I decided enough was enough; that I wanted to focus on me instead of the life I didn’t think I would ever have or giving too much of myself to people who didn’t appreciate all I had to give.  Maybe I’m skirting around the issue and not speaking directly about it (I do work in the public schools) but I felt a lot of hurts and was tired of letting other people dictate my self esteem.

So in August of 2010, I started running and I didn’t stop. I wasn’t sure how I would feel after that marathon (and a missing toenail later…by the way it did finally fall off). It was a lot of dedication, and a lot of solo me time, regardless of the fact that I ran in a pack of beautiful women. I had to keep myself involved and motivated…I had to push myself to run when I didn’t want to i.e. stressed, tired, and overworked. I had to stay in on friday nights and get up early saturday mornings. I vowed to not date anyone until after it was over (oops. best mistake ever.) although I’m guessing that focusing on myself and my fun helped in ways I will never understand but will always be grateful for.

Now that I’ve taken some time to sleep, lay low, travel, run on my own agenda, and enjoy my friends/family, I feel myself getting back on that running horse and doing it all over again.

While journaling my own adventures, I’ve been amazed at how many people have started their own running stories, or have been inspired to at least incorporate healthy eating and fitness into their lifestyles.  In no way am I bragging, but its felt good to set off a little fire underneath some people’s butt’s…from my family…to friends…to ex’s… to current boyfriends (if you read this, you know its true, ha!). 

Hopefully I have a lifetime of miles to run. And if for some reason I don’t, at least I know how I got there, and will continue to use those thoughts to keep me motivated and healthy in other aspects of my life.

I also wish for tight abs…so lets see if I can use my positive thinking to will those as well. Eh I can’t be serious all the time. It hurts me brain!

(Forever and always my biggest supporters. Obviously go mom go is a big one as well.)

Armlin’s Army

As you all know, I’m training with Team in Training for this here marathon in San Diego. I signed up for the marathon originally on a whim; a manic moment because I was struggling with my own personal life and wanted to prove that I was stronger than those difficult times.  However, as I have become more involved with the LLS organization (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) I realize that I want my training to be more than proving to others that I can push myself.  

When I partnered with the organization, I found an overwhelming support network of people who are working together to raise awareness and funds to cure blood cancers.  As the training has progressed, I have been working with TnT and receiving more information about families that have benefited from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s efforts.   However, it is at this time that I wanted to share a story of a family who fought so incredibly hard to win the battle over Lymphoma, yet lost the fight in the end.

This is the story of Geoffrey Armlin.
I became aware of Geoffrey and his struggle upon attending my sister’s high school graduation in June of 2010.  She shared with me that one of Geoff’s goals throughout his battle, was to simply be able to graduate.  When he walked across the stage in order to receive his diploma, he was met with a standing ovation and hundreds of tears and applause.  
Geoffrey relapsed in October of 2010, yet because of his unfailing ability to connect to other people, paired with his humble personality, the community quickly came to his side.  Local television stations and radio stations within the Albany area began to take on Geoff’s cause and promote awareness of his diagnosis.  Below is a summary of Geoff’s struggle, from the Fly 92 radio station webpage.  A similar story can also be viewed through the Your News Now (YNN) website seen here.

“Geoffrey Armlin is 18 years old from Middleburgh, NY and is a talented musician. He plays guitar, piano, drums and is learning to play violin. He loves the outdoors, camping, rock climbing and paintball. Geoff was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Burkitts Lymphoma in March of 2010 and on October 31st he relapsed. Geoff  was accepted into Utica IT as a math and linguistics major, but because of his treatments, he’s unable to attend.

The Armlins are a very tight knit family and Geoff is the oldest along with 4 brothers (Geoff’s twin, Jarod-18, Jon-15, Jacob-17, Floydie-9) and sister, (Jaylynn-7). Tammy (mom) and Floyd Jr. (dad) along with the rest of the Armlin family are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany while Geoffrey is being treated at Albany Medical Center.

Tammy reached out to FLY 92.3 to see if we could play Geoff’s favorite band, Second Hand Serenade, because he is such a big fan of their music. We made arrangements for the lead singer, John, to give Geoff a call. They spoke for a while about music and it was a thrill for Geoff.

Upon hearing the story of the Armlin Family, three local businessmen and very close friends of FLY 92.3, realizing that time was of the essence, decided to pool their resources together to grant this family an Insta-Christmas. Al Hannoush, (Hannoush Jewelers), Bobby Mallozzi (Mallozzi Family of Restaurants and Banquet Halls), and James Goyette (Mohawk Honda), as we affectionately dubbed “Armlin’s Army”, have received the family’s “gift list” and are in the process of helping them celebrate an Insta-Christmas.”

Despite his efforts and unparalleled optimism, Geoffrey died on December 9, 2010, at the young age of 18.  His family has set up an organization in memory of his life called Armlin’s Army, which is a nonprofit organization that raises money for families of seriously ill children and lessens the financial burden of dealing with these diagnoses.  I encourage you to check it out, or pass on the information to others who are in need of support.  You can also became of fan of Geoff’s community page on facebook

In the meantime, I have asked the family’s permission to dedicate the last 10k (6.2 miles) of my marathon to Geoff. (And don’t be surprised when you see me slip into a shirt with his face on it at mile 20!) His story is exactly why I am running my marathon with Team in Training; so that families like the Armlins do not have to suffer the loss of a child due to a blood cancer diagnosis.  The money you donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is used to support families throughout the diagnosis of a blood cancer.  It also raises the money to be able to find a cure.  If you could please visit my donation page and make even a $5 contribution, you have no idea whose life you could potentially be saving or the cures that could become available.

When times are tough…

Going from the high high I felt yesterday, to the current state of affairs tonight, has really been a shock to the system.  I really had to start from scratch this evening, in order to stay motivated to run.  I know I talk about work all the time on here, but the caseload is really getting to me.  I would give anything to have a lifestyle that allows for runs in the morning (I’m up at 5:30) or one that allows for flexibility within the work day, but I don’t. I also work 10-11 hours a day, and come home feeling a tad “mis” or miserable, for all of you who don’t understand the language of middle schoolers.

After searching for emoticons that appropriately displayed my current emotional state, I’ve selected one from MySims Wiki.

HAHA. It’s making me crack up. HAha, I keep looking at it and I keep laughing.  FYI, My friends say I have an uncanny ability to keep laughing, even when tears are streaming down my face.

Speaking of which, I felt like pulling my hair out today when I got home and realized I had a goal of running about 5.5 miles tonight.  There was nothing left in my body to give from the day, but I told myself I had to get out there.  After some good whining, Peter Griffin of Family Guy style, I made my way to the streets of Southie, to kick out a good run.  However, after 1.5 miles in, I stopped.  I stopped to take off my running jacket because I felt hot, even though it was around 32 degrees.  But then I stopped again, because my brain died and I couldn’t push myself anymore.  So, I decided to select an uplifting song to help me push myself, and chose John Legend’s “Greenlight”.  Hopefully now, I could be taken into my running high.  Except for the fact that after about 30 seconds into the song, my Ipod died from the cold and my garmin died from a dead battery, all in the same moment.

Bahhhh.

So what does lauren do to stay motivated?  Here are some tips.

1. I’m training for something big.  Like…a marathon.
I know from personal experience that when I have an event to train for, I’m more likely to push myself to get a workout in.  So my good friends, if you want to stay motivated, sign up for races big and small, and don’t doubt that you can’t do it.  Go mom go is doing it, she signed up for a 5k…and my mom hates to sweat.  Go mom go admits that having something to work for makes you want to go out there and kill it, even when you’ve had the worst day of work ever.

2. Think of your stupid ex, boss, friend, in-law, etc. 
You want me to admit a secret of mine?  I like to envision my previous boyfriend seeing the results of my race.  You know why?  Because I’m awesome, and I’m going to kill it, and I like to imagine myself sprinting in front of their face while shouting “YOUR LOSS”!  It helps, believe me.  Its what makes the end of my runs faster than the beginning of my runs; I like to envision those moments in my head, and how I’m awesome.  Its also helped to improve my self-esteem, just as a bonus.  I guarantee it works. Try it.  Maybe it’s your boss that gets to you, maybe you’re fighting with a friend.  Just think of killing it in front of them.  BOOM, you’re on fire!

3. Exercise is energy
I have to remind myself all the time that runs actually make me feel BETTER as compared to feeling worse.  Never, ever, has a run let me down.  I always wind up feeling refreshed and have an overall high energy level when I exercise.  You know how I often refer to exercise science as science and magic?  Well, that’s because it is.  For some reason, when you exercise you get more energy, as compared to feeling more drained.  Like I said, its all magic and science.  

4. Stay in the moment!
Mindfulness.  Its key.  I got out there tonight and started to get lost in thoughts while trying to push myself to compete against my garmin.  The moment the garmin and my ipod died, I had to be with just me again.  So, to stay in the moment, I thought about the moment, and only that moment.  I stepped away from myself, and began to feel and listen to my breath, I felt the pavement underneath my feet, I felt the way my foot lands on the ground, I felt the way my body feels strong when going up hills, and how amazing it feels the moment I’m done with said hills; recoveries make me feel awesome.  Stay in the moment in running, its so therapeutic.

If there’s anything I’ve learned since taking up running, its how I feel much more confident in myself, and how I know that regardless of what responsibilities I have weighing on me, I know that running is always going to make time for me.  It will be there in the end of a difficult day or the best day of your life.  Furthermore, running makes me feel important, it makes me feel powerful, and it makes me realize that I can accomplish anything, great or small.  Go get ’em tiger!

Anyone else have tips on how to stay motivated?

All you can do is laugh

Oh lord.  Lately things have been on a backslide. So I’m glad that at the very least, I know how to laugh. About everything. Its my best quality.  First off, I’m really excited by a very old song (2009) by The XX called Islands.  The XX is an excellent band.  Secondly, I’m doing a really crappy job of running this week but am ok with it, because I like to keep a thumbs up attitude.  Thirdly, I got my Christmas present from my brother’s girlfriend today, and I was so super excited to receive a handmade bracelet from….ITALY!

Then, to what to my wondering eyes should appear?  My hunter boots arrived in the mail, with eight tiny reindeer!  Yep, these were my Valentine’s Day present to myself.  Thank you very much! Look how marvelous they are!  I no longer will be wearing my little kid rainboots anymore.  I’ve graduated into adulthood.  

I’ve also taken the liberty to show you what the rainboots look like on me if I were french.  Because french girls wear trendy buns, and have straight bangs. Because….
I done got my hair did!  I’m not necessarily saying its exactly what I wanted, but its what I got.  Oh god, you’ve been a funny fellow these last two months.  Thank goodness we can have a chat at the vatican next week.  Olivia even suggested we light some candles at a cute little Catholic church overlooking the Almafi Coast.  Tee hee, I’ll be in Italy by Sunday!

Ahh, so I’m so off track with training, I know.  But! I have a lot of wonderful things happening in my life, even if it doesn’t feel that way 100% of the time.  Let’s remember kids what I wrote before Valentine’s Day!  Although we sometimes aren’t where we think we should be, we are exactly where we are meant to be.  I had been recently introduced to a commencement speech given by Steve Jobs (hailing from the Apple empire) to the students at Stamford University. Below, I have listed my favorite lines, and remind myself of these words whenever I start to feel a little “phooey”.  I fully believe in this way of thinking, and I try to remind myself that, in the end, it will all work out the way its meant to.  Even if I don’t get a run in for three days.  Even if work is hectic.  Even if I haven’t packed for Italy.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Ciao bella!

Run lauren RUN

8 miles around the charles in 1:06:57.  All done before 9 a.m.! YESSSS.

Here are the splits! (How fast I ran each mile, on average).  Also, could the city of Boston start shoveling the sidewalks?  Because now they’ve turned into ice death traps.  By the way, the only people that said “Hi” to me on my run (I smile and say “hi” to everyone) were men over the age of 50. Pffft.  Next run I want to high five people, well maybe not really high five.  But continue to high five with a smile.

Mile 1-8:23
Mile 2-8:24
Mile 3-8:34
Mile 4-8:32
Mile 5-8:43
Mile 6-8:17
Mile 7-7:51
Mile 8-8:08

I started challenging myself toward the end of my run, which was even faster than the start!  I tend to set up mental goals to push myself, especially during times when my Ipod dies (yes AGAIN! I know! I think its allergic to the cold because it doesn’t die at the gym!).

Take care of yourselves loves!  I think the most important thing to remember during Valentine’s season is that whether or not you are single or in a relationship, be mindful and cherish the moments you are in, make each day new, remain positive that you are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment regardless of where you think you should be (positive energy attracts positive experiences), and keep working on the relationship you have with yourself.

Also totally loving Keane’s This is the Last Time.  Its old school circa 2004, but I forgot how much I love Keane!