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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. 🙂

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Today was an easy day of running, unlike many Tuesdays (Helloo, Speedwork Tuesdays), given that we had the race on Sunday. Although it was only a 5k, I subscribe to the belief that you must listen to your body regardless of the distance and that intuitive fitness keeps you active, healthy, and injury free (oh, in addition to strength training and foam rolling). 4 miles on the mill with another 10 minutes on some cardio equipment. Add in a few weights and I called it a day. Now that we got through that, let’s get to the original intent of this post.

In the month since I’ve watched Food, Inc., I’ve done a lot of research on the food industry and its disgusting practices that have a stronghold on America’s eating habits. Despite what you think, you do have a choice in the matter. In an effort to help support the farming community and to make small waves in changing food industry practices, I’ve officially convinced Chris, after lots of begging, to be a part of the Red Fire Farm CSA. Being a part of a CSA Farm Share (Community Supported Agriculture) means that Chris and I have bought a share of the Red Fire Farm in order to help sustain its business in return for a portion of its weekly haul of organic vegetables. Although there is the ability to buy into 24 weeks of veggies, we decided that we would first start with the 20 week Summer program. Families can also buy into a fruit share, egg share, and/or flower share, all for an additional charge. Red Fire Farms also allows CSA members to head to their farm located in Granby, MA to pick shares of excess crops, like beans and strawberries, for free!

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 9.04.27 PM Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 9.04.43 PMThe amount you pay is based on a sliding scale and the honor system, as Red Fire Farms hopes that those who are financially more stable can contribute a little more, so that those who are not as financially sound can pay a little bit less. Although the total cost of the share feels daunting at first, when you break it down into a weekly budget, its most likely right around what you are already spending on veggies. This particular CSA also allows you to pay for your share in smaller increments. I also knows friends (who first shared this information with me) that split the cost of the share with another couple, making it that much more affordable! Furthermore, Red Fire Farms thankfully has pickup locations in two separate parts of Somerville (where we currently live), with one of those being less than 5 minutes from us. They also have pickup locations in Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, Jamaica Plain, etc.!

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Each Thursday for 20 weeks starting in June, I will be able to walk to our Somerville location, reusable bags in hand, and pick out as many veggies that are available to me that week…and yes, that is the danger of buying into a farm share. If you have a poor growing season, then your shares will obviously be smaller and you’ll have to supplement your supply by going to the grocery store. However, the same goes for when the season is flush; the more they grow, the more I can bring home!

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Finally, Red Fire Farms states that:
Our goal with the CSA is to provide a good source of seasonal local produce for the community that is a good value for organic food, and raised sustainably for the environment and the farm crew. Staying with the local outdoor seasons of the produce makes the CSA a better value. While saying that, our farm is one of the leaders in season extension, and you will get crops earlier and later than at other places because of the extra work we put in in the fields!”

I look forward in taking part of this year’s share and am excited to take the time to create dishes made from locally sourced, organic, seasonal vegetables. Once the season arrives, I will certainly share my experience with you readers!

Has anyone else participated in a farm share or shop regularly from farm stands throughout the summer? Gripes or likes?

Ras na hEireann Race Recap

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Goal officially accomplished! I set out to run this race with hopes of PR’ing at 24:00 minutes, and I did just that at 23:32! Thankfully, I even came in a little bit faster than goal pace, although my garmin and the official results suggest a 5 second pace discrepancy. I find that quite odd given that my garmin still clocked me in about .03 longer, yet the same overall time from the official results. At least I’m getting better at these tangents!

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Lets start from the beginning. First off, the day was FREEZING. I think when race time started, it was about 27 degrees. This would have been..ok… if my mind wasn’t set on it being 40 degrees based on the weather reports from earlier this week. Anyway, I decided to split from the apartment at 10:30, in hopes of making it with a few minutes to spare before the gun went off. In order to grab another mile, I jogged down to the race start, which was an amazing idea given how cold it was.

I decided to leave Chris in the dust at this point, because he wasn’t ready to leave the apartment when I was (even with plenty of warning and planning). I didn’t see him until the very end of the race…which was only about 1 minute after I finished. YES you read that right. Stupid Chris hasn’t been running at ALL and still finished with 7:55 minutes per mile, on average. I have to say, I’m very proud of him, even if I’m also super jealous that he hasn’t put in the same work but put up similar numbers.

unnamed-1(Yes, I am in the process of getting a new Canon Powershot, instead of using my Iphone camera all of the time.)

After the race, all of the bars in Davis Square and the surrounding areas hosted an after party, with kegs of Harpoon Beer on tap until they were kicked, with many of the bars hosting a local band.

Baby Snake, Chris, and I wound up heading to The Pub in Ball Square for the rest of the afternoon, where we met up with my co-counselor from camp, Jen, who was also at the race. Jen and I met up at the very start in order to high five and wish each other luck. Jen’s girlfriend, by the way, was also a race photographer for the event.

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Several hours later, ugh…yes..you read that right, and a few games of foosball, Chris and I wandered home with no plans of indulging our Sunday night routine and instead ate a calzone and ice cream. DAIRY AND GLUTEN FAIL. Whatever, it was just what the doctor ordered.

All in all, I have to say that the event was very well organized and the start and finish made for a very enjoyable experience. Most of the 5k’s run in Davis Square are along the same route, so I was pretty familiar with the terrain seeing as how I had run the Jingle Bell run in years past, in addition to jogging along Broadway for many of my weekly training runs. There were some very small hills that would slow me down, but in the same breath, you were always lead to a glorious downhill, which is how we ended the race. Tack on an After Party and my friends, you have a world class 5k experience. I highly recommend this to other runners in the Boston area. Thanks to the organizers for putting together a stellar event!

Friends, you should also join me in running the Runners World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon in June! Use the code from Blonde Ponytail blog and save yourselves some money when you sign up for 1, 2, or all 3 of the events! I’m looking forward to seeing all of my blogging heros!