A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Friday Favorites: A couple of official race photos

Happy Friday everybody! I’m excited because I realized that tomorrow morning I get to make my dining reservations for my trip to Disney for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I love the reminder that my next Disney trip is only 6 months away (even if it does mean that I have to wake up early). I’ve got a nice mix of new places to try and old favorites on our list.

I like that in both of my pictures near the finish I'm running - great reminder of the strong mental finish on a hot day!

I like that in both of my pictures near the finish I’m running – great reminder of the strong mental finish on a hot day!

Did you guys hear about this? One of my fears, I admit, is falling off of the treadmill (not helped by my habit on reading while running!) but that comes more from a humiliation standpoint than worrying about life threatening injury. How awful for this family! PSA: Be sure to actually use the safety key, especially if you’re running somewhere without witnesses!

Lincoln Half Marathon Finish Line 2015

I have no recollection of a fist pump as I crossed that finish line, but I was certainly feeling it so I’m kind of entertained by this picture. πŸ™‚ What more evidence do I need of that strong finishing kick than a pic with the hem of my SparkleSkirt kicked up by my fierce stride?

Speaking of fears, I’m now a little worried about the granola bars currently in my car for emergency snacking. Did you guys see this story about the cocaine packet in the granola bar? Crazy! Thankfully, I don’t usually share these granola bars with O. Cocaine is a good justification for not sharing my snacks, right?

I love this post from Erika in this week’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up about the “Best Race Ever.” She is so right! Every day we get to go out and do something we love with a lot of other people who are crazy enough to feel the same way, it’s the best day ever.

I also love this post from Laura, who is doing a great job getting back into her fitness groove, about heading out to run in less than perfect conditions. That message applies to so many things in life – if we wait for the perfect time, we’ll never get anything done and there is so much to learn from the imperfect outings! That’s why I’ll be heading out to run tonight even though my legs I’m sure will feel like logs and it’s likely going to be raining. That’s okay – I still GET to go do it. πŸ™‚ That’s a good sign that you’ve found the right exercise for you, I think – you look forward to it even in less than ideal conditions. Similarly, check out Shelley’s post here about getting over that hump to get started. Accept that you’re worth it – you’re worth the effort to get out there and try even if you feel like you’re too heavy or too awkward or whatever. You’re worth investing your time and money into, I promise.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I’m looking forward to doing a children’s Heart Walk for the American Heart Association with O tomorrow and not cooking at all on Sunday, part of my usual Mother’s Day celebration. πŸ™‚ I’ll be sure to update you on our Disney dining booking successes on Monday.


TotR: Best Race Ever & Lincoln Half Marathon Recap

We’re going to separate “Best Race Ever” from the Lincoln Half Marathon in the title because while this race had lots of victories, it’s not going on my list of best races ever. What were my best races ever?

– The Princess Half Marathon 2014: I can’t believe that was only a little over a year ago! This race continues to stand out in my memory because I still remember the feelings of joy and amazement that I was really doing this – I was really running 13.1 miles! Amazing and I hope I never forget that.

– The Peak 2 Peak 10 Mile race in 2014: This was the first race (and maybe only race) where I had a time goal in mind and managing to work HARD to get it. Every time I doubt that I really could run faster in a long race, I come back to this race and remind myself that I CAN do it. It was not a crowded course and was gorgeous weather, both of which helped tremendously. I was also really highly motivated because I was using it as proof of time for my Star Wars Rebel Challenge corral placement. πŸ™‚

– Of course, emotionally, my favorite race day is my race at Boys Town with Oliver because he is such a huge motivation for me in my running. We’re both a little sad that he won’t be able to do it this year thanks to his leg (cast comes off today! Send us good vibes that all is healed up & we’re done with this!).

While the Lincoln Half Marathon didn’t make my list of “Best Races Ever”, I have a lot to be pleased with regarding the whole experience. This race is held in Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the Cornhuskers, and is insanely popular. There are about 12,000 slots and it sells out in hours which is crazy for a local race! Thanks to a little insomnia the day of registration, I got the chance to register this year when it opened at 3 am and had the chance to figure out what the hype was all about.

The race starts and finishes on the University of Nebraska – Lincoln campus and I think that, plus the crowd support, are the selling points for a lot of people. On the plus side, there is plenty of parking on campus and I passed the bag drop station on the way from my parking spot to the starting line. There were also plenty of real bathrooms at the starting line in the recreation center, which is always a huge perk. There was a very small town race vibe to the starting line, despite the fact that there were thousands of people. They released runners in waves based on their anticipated paces over about 45 minutes, so I had plenty of time to wander around and people watch. It struck me that this was the first race I’d run in a long time without costumes anywhere to be seen. πŸ™‚

I got a laugh at the very small-town race announcer at the starting line, who told us to be sure to compliment our neighbors on the flowers in their yards as we passed. :)

I got a laugh at the very small-town race announcer at the starting line, who told us to be sure to compliment our neighbors on the flowers in their yards as we passed. πŸ™‚

With all of those people, it was really crowded for the first mile or so as we made a couple of turns through the city streets. There wasn’t a lot of crowd support for the first few miles, but there were a couple of climbs for what is reputed to be a flat race. There are definitely some long flat sections, but be warned that the course climbs between miles 1-3 and again at mile 8.5-9 (“the hill”). The first water station was around mile 3 and from that point on, there were a lot of spectators along the course which was fun. There were people with lots of signs (my favorite: I don’t do half marathons. I do half marathoners), dogs, kids, music and snacks. There were a couple of small musical acts as well. The crowd support is one of the things that people rave about at this event and it was nice to see so many people out cheering.

At several houses, people had water hoses out spraying runners in deference to the heat although as someone who a) didn’t want to slip on the wet asphalt and b) didn’t want to run wet for another 10 miles, I tried to veer around those guys. I should go back and look at my Garmin for my final distance – with the course crowding, really narrow congested water stops and things like this, I know I ended up at a lot more than 13.1 miles. One thing I was a little disappointed to see was that while they had emailed us several times through the week about the heat and the need to hydrate, they didn’t actually add any water stations to the original plan. The water stations they had were huge, but then you’d go 2-3 miles before hitting another one, which caused a lot of people difficulty. I was glad I had my own water bottle.

At around mile 6-7, we left the neighborhoods we had been running to run along a narrow path for almost two miles. This was easily the most frustrating part of the course for me, as there was no room to maneuver and people were starting to slow down because of the heat. With the spectators along the side (including a lady with goats on leashes!), it was even difficult to get off onto the grass to pass around people. I need to work on my ability to maneuver these tight spaces in races, for sure. I get caught behind slower people and don’t feel like I have the gumption to pass them. I need to learn to be more aggressive, albeit politely so. πŸ™‚

After we left the narrow trail, we were again in neighborhoods (including one of my favorite houses, which was giving away donuts!). The crowds were lovely but there was definitely not much in terms of scenery or entertainment in this race. However, it’s probably really nice from a nostalgia perspective if you went to school here and were “coming home” as it were. There was one last stretch of hill around mile 9 and then it was blissfully flat until we hit the stadium.

From mile 10 or so on, I and lots of other people really starting feeling the heat. I had a lot of mental conversations about whether I wanted to walk more because my body really needed it with the heat or whether I was mentally giving up because I have a tendency to do that in races. Given that my A goal was effort based (a really good thing given the heat it turns out!), I didn’t want to give that up if I didn’t have to. I had a little lightheadedness but it was brief and better after a Gu, so I decided to slow down but still keep up my running intervals rather than just walking as much as I wanted. I decided that a strong finish in these conditions was a) letting myself walk an extra 15 seconds of each walk interval (so a 2:45 run/:45 walk pattern) and b) hit any water station I happened to pass, rather than only partaking if I happened to be in a walk interval when I hit it, which I’d done up until that point. My own water bottle was nearly empty and I didn’t want to let my stubbornness about sticking to my intervals get me in trouble. My pace slowed A LOT from 15K to the finish, but I still managed to pass 199 people according to the race results, so that’s a good thing. I definitely felt like I was holding fairly steady as passed a lot more walkers and more than a few unfortunate souls on the sidelines with the medics or throwing up. I am super proud of myself for gutting it out (safely) at the end despite the conditions. Apparently there were 29 people who ended up in the ER thanks to the heat. Temperatures in the 70s and rising humidity when we’d all been training in cooler weather without time to acclimate to this just made this tough.

Coming into the finish line, you run into the football stadium and across the field to the 50 yard line. At that point, I was so ready to be DONE that it was not as exciting a moment as it could have been. I probably would have soaked it up more had it been Kyle Field (Aggie class of ’00 here). πŸ™‚Β  I didn’t meet either of my time goals, sub-2:30 or a PR, but I’m proud of my 2:35:55 in that heat and humidity and I’m really proud of finishing strong.

The post-race situation was more than a little chaotic. There were a lot of people immediately stopping for pictures after the finish and unlike RunDisney, there really weren’t volunteers moving people along. I nearly plowed into a group of girls! I had to weave through several of groups to find someone to give me a medal.

Finishing in the stadium

Finishing in the stadium

I was a little dismayed to see that we all get the same medal, so I technically now have a marathon medal:

That's the stadium on the medal.

That’s the stadium on the medal.

Even the ribbon was the same for all racers, even though they could tell which race we’d run and were distributing these as well:

This was a nice touch and yes, I put it on my car before I left the parking lot that day.

This was a nice touch and yes, I put it on my car before I left the parking lot that day.

Volunteers were directing people off the field and into the shade where there was water and snacks. Unfortunately, that area was not particularly well organized. There were a ton of people and no signs indicating what was where in terms of water, gatorade, etc, so I couldn’t see until I was at the tables that apparently the tables on the right side of the space were all soda with no water or Gatorade – those were all over the left. I waded across and had to reach over to try to at least snag some Gatorade before moving ahead to the snacks, which included orange wedges, banana halves, bagel pieces, bags of SunChips, yogurt tubes and chocolate milk baggies. There was also soup, which I had zero interest in thanks to the heat. Definitely not as much in terms of post-race snacks or hydration options as I’d experienced in Des Moines and the lack of signage or people offering direction was a real problem. I’m not sure why water and Gatorade weren’t set up on both sides if they weren’t going to offer signs?

There were also no signs at the exit pointing you back around to the bag drop area. Several people asked me if I knew which way to go and as a newbie to the race, I couldn’t help them. It’s probably not an issue if you’re local or someone who has run this before, which encompasses most of the people there, but again, a little sign at the exit would have saved my tired legs a lot of extra steps! I eventually found someone to point me in the right direction after about 20 minutes of wandering and was able to get out and head home.

All in all, it was a successful race for me in terms of mental toughness at the finish, which is what I really wanted. I’m actually really okay with not hitting my time goals and am looking forward to tackling them again in the fall in Des Moines. I don’t think I will return to this race unless someone wanted me to run it with them. There just isn’t much in terms of scenery or entertainment and I found the organization really lacking on the course in terms of water stops in the heat and in the post-race area. While it is relatively flat, it’s just too crowded to be a good PR course for me. I can totally see why locals love it though – the crowd support was really nice. I don’t have any official race photos to share and was too busy running to take many along the way, but I’ll have to finish up here with my favorite sign that I saw near the finish as I was returning to my car. It totally encapsulated how I felt when I was wandering hot, sweaty, tired and LOST. “I have no idea what is going on.”

There were definitely a lot of canine supporters, including this cutie with a sign near the finish.

There were definitely a lot of canine supporters, including this cutie with a sign near the finish.

What was your best race day ever? Thanks as always to April, Patty and Erika for hosting Tuesdays on the Run. Be sure to check out the link up for everyone else’s great race experiences!



Weekly Wrap-Up: Race week!

It was a good week of workouts, culminating in a hot but ultimately successful half marathon yesterday in Lincoln.


Monday Easy 2-3 miles on the schedule and I went with 2 miles (still holding on to following the plan during taper time!)

Tuesday 2 miles, with a warm up / cool down and 5 – 1 minute speed intervals. It felt really good to do this kind of workout race week to remind myself of how far I’d come!

Wednesday Cross training, aka a stroller walk with Oliver – pushing 40 pounds of toddler around in a cast is a lot of work in my hilly neighborhood! I’m going to miss these chats each evening but not the cast. πŸ˜‰

The stroller has gotten this much of a workout in quite a while!

The stroller has gotten this much of a workout in quite a while!

Thursday 3 miles in the morning at the 3 minute/30 second intervals I was planning on using race day and I had a great progression, with each mile faster than the last. Just what I wanted to see in my last workout before the race. πŸ™‚

That's the kind of progression you like to see

That’s the kind of progression you like to see

Oliver and I went on another stroller walk in the evening as well. Dinner was already finished (thanks to the slow cooker) so I was glad to be able to spend the extra time with him. He’s becoming a very interesting conversationalist.

Friday 2-3 miles or cross training on the schedule, with the option to bail if needed and I decided to take that option to give my legs two days of rest pre-race.

Saturday Rest day! I drove to Lincoln Saturday afternoon for the Expo (surprisingly busy) and the new Avengers movie as a treat to distract myself pre-race since I was staying in Lincoln overnight and had nothing else to do that evening.

Not a very exciting shirt (and not half marathon specific) but at least the colors are good.

Not a very exciting shirt (and not half marathon specific) but at least the colors are good.

Sunday I slept surprisingly well and woke up to an already warmishΒ  morning, so I knew that they were right to warn us all about the heat. It got very warm after mile 10 or so, so I reminded myself over and over that this is why I’d set my A goal based on effort not time. I’ll talk more about the race tomorrow, but I am really happy with my mental effort on this race! Yes, no PR thanks to the heat, but I did not give up when things started getting warm and people started dropping around me at mile 10. I kept plugging along, finishing with my intervals steady even if the running got slower and even a bit of kick to cross the finish line! Finish time 2:35:55, so not either my B or C time goals, but a win nonetheless given the conditions!

Glad I didn't go with capris liked I'd originally planned - this was definitely a day for shorter options.

Glad I didn’t go with capris liked I’d originally planned – this was definitely a day for shorter options.

I was also really pleased with this weekend on the food front. I ate when I was hungry, but didn’t let myself fall into that “it’s okay because I’m running a half marathon” trap of over-indulging. I focused on healthy foods for fuel and recovery and feel like it was really successful all around. I even got one of those big cups of grapes at HyVee, which I used to eat all of in the two miles between my house and HyVee, and portioned it out over several different snack sessions! Definite NSV.

This is a sight previously unseen in our house.

This is a sight previously unseen in our house.

I’m grateful for my husband, who does not understand why one would run 13.1 miles at all, much less pay for the privilege, but still sends me messages like this when I finish a race:

I know I've said this before, but I married really well. :)

I know I’ve said this before, but I married really well. πŸ™‚

My good deed this week is working with Oliver for a school food drive. It’s hard to explain to an almost 4-year-old the idea that there are people who experience hunger on a level he never will and that as people who are blessed with a lot, we have a responsibility to help others. He’s earning quarters with chores around the house to donate to the school change drive for the food bank and volunteered to go through his piggy bank himself to pull out all of the quarters he already has to add to the donation as well.

A family good deed this week: Sorting O's piggy bank for quarters to give to the school food drive. I'm proud that this was O's idea!

A family good deed this week: Sorting O’s piggy bank for quarters to give to the school food drive. I’m proud that this was O’s idea!

This week, I’m going to take a well earned break from running. I’m glad there were no witnesses to see how hobbled I looked when I tried to get out of the car after the drive back after the half marathon yesterday. πŸ™‚ My legs definitely worked hard in that race. Maybe by Wednesday or Thursday I’ll be ready to cross train a bit beyond some yoga and I’ll plan to run 5-6 miles this weekend to shake things out. I’m looking forward to a week of rest and some time to contemplate next steps and next goals for running in the next month or two.

Have a good week everyone!



Ultimate Coffee Date: Mother’s Day Wish List

I’m probably a little too amped up already, looking forward to tomorrow’s Lincoln Half Marathon, but we all know I can’t start my day without coffee so you might as well join me. πŸ™‚ Really, my ideal weekend morning includes far too many cups of coffee and enough lounging around time to really enjoy them.

Thanks as always to Lynda, Coco and Deborah for hosting!

Thanks as always to Lynda, Coco and Deborah for hosting!

When I’m excited and nervous about something like I am this race, I tend to talk a lot. Today, in addition to the race, I’m pretty sure these are the things I’d ramble about if you were here with me:

– Can you believe we’re only a week out from Mother’s Day? In case my husband is reading this, a quick little Mother’s Day wish list for me:

  • Some new scented lotion (LOVE a good body cream!)
  • Flowers that Oliver picks out (he has great taste!)
  • New running socks (because a mother runner has needs)
  • Tales from Another Mother Runner (because one of those needs is mother runner laughs)

– My ideal Mother’s Day might look a lot like last Saturday did at our house. I got to go out for a breakfast date with Oliver, which meant endless coffee refills and the kind of random chatter only a three year old dining partner can provide. Then we hit the library to get some new books for O and pick up one I’d requested, Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin. It ended up being a really quick and easy read: I was actually able to finish the whole thing Saturday while we lazed around the house! I’d definitely recommend it if you want something interesting but not heavy at all. There really isn’t much surprising or complicated about the plot, but the conversations and interpersonal dynamics are interesting and things zip along really quickly. I even got out for a run during nap time that day. Like I said, perfect day!

I sort of love that there's a new Nancy Drew book about a CSA program and confess that I've got this on my Goodreads "to read" list. I read a lot of serious stuff for my job! I love the light stuff in my off time.

I sort of love that there’s a new Nancy Drew book about a CSA program and confess that I’ve got this on my Goodreads “to read” list. I read a lot of serious stuff for my job! I love the light stuff in my off time.

– I also recently won this book on making Mom friends (Women are Scary) in an online giveaway and it made me laugh a bit to get the email telling me I’d won it. πŸ™‚ It’s like they knew I was totally socially incompetent and a little paralyzed at the idea of approaching other moms. Before Oliver broke his leg, we were actually strategizing setting up our first playdate. It was like gearing up to ask someone out on a date for the first time!

I'll let you know how this one is once I finish it.

I’ll let you know how this one is once I finish it.

– Speaking of things that stress me out, I have to bring something to O’s school next week for Teacher Appreciation Week and their potluck. For some reason, this always stresses me out even though I know I’m an EXCELLENT cook. Any ideas for good potluck recipes that are good at cold or room temperature?

– Speaking of O’s broken leg, we go on Tuesday to cut off the cast and repeat x-rays. Cross your crossables that things are healing well and we’re done with this thing! He’s already lost a couple of pounds and his leg is getting so thin that I can see a big gap at the top of the cast. It’s going to take a while to get things back to normal once the cast is off, but we’re all ready to get that process started! I just hope everything has healed well.

I should probably cut off the coffee now so that I can get to sleep tonight. πŸ™‚ How are you doing? What do you want to chat about today? Any big plans for May? Let me know and enjoy your beverage of choice this lovely May morning, wherever you may be!





Goals for the Lincoln Half-Marathon

This morning, I did my last run before the Lincoln Half Marathon on Sunday:

That's the kind of progression you like to see in your last run pre-race, right? And there really wasn't much effort in that - just warming up :)

That’s the kind of progression you like to see in your last run pre-race, right? And there really wasn’t much effort in that – just warming up πŸ™‚

This little 3 miler, which I ran using the 3 minute run/30 second walk strategy I’m going to use Sunday, and my speed work on Tuesday were both GREAT workouts from a mental perspective, so I’m feeling really strong going into this weekend! I haven’t had the taper crazies and my body feels good, so as long as I don’t fall down and hurt myself (knock on wood!) I should get to the starting line Sunday in great shape.

We got an email today from the race organizers warning us that it was going to be a little warmer than ideal:

If all goes well, I'll be finishing closer to 10 so it shouldn't be too bad.

If all goes well, I’ll be finishing closer to 10 so it shouldn’t be too bad.

Thankfully, I was aware of this and factored it in to my packing list and race day gear plan like we talked about Tuesday. Still, I’m being a good girl and have already started hydrating with water and a little Nuun today so that I’m in good shape Sunday.

Back when we talked about running goals for the year, I said that one of my goals is to run a half marathon sub-2:30. I think my legs and my body definitely have that in them and this training cycle has gotten my mental game in better gear than ever before, so that’s definitely part of my goal for Sunday. My A goal, though, is really focused more on the mental aspect than the clock because that is what has really shaped my sense of success in races that have gone well and failure in those that have not gone so well.

My goals:

A) Run a race with good mental effort and DON’T GIVE UP AT THE END: I’m all about concrete goals, so what’s this going to really look like? Sticking with my intervals until mile 12 and then running in the last mile without intervals. I’ve done lots of “strong finish” workouts in this training cycle to really work on my mental game and should be able to do this. It’s time to put my money where my mouth is and finally prove it to myself.Β  Aside from the fact that this is really the victory my running soul needs from this race, the other reason to have an effort based A goal rather than a time based A goal is the weather. As it is going to be warmer than expected, that may slow things down a bit but I should still be able to put out a steady effort and focusing on the effort rather than the clock will keep me from pushing too much and overdoing it (unlikely to be a problem anyway since it really isn’t going to be THAT hot).

B) Cross the finish line in less than 2:30: I really want to do this sometime this year and it would be great to get it done now so I have a little less pressure should I decide to run Des Moines again in the fall (great race so I very well may and it would be fun to set some new goals there,Β  since I already know the course!).Β  All of the race calculators predict I have this time in me, based on most of my other races, so it’s time to cross this line!

Pace bands at the ready for that sub-2:30 goal!

Pace bands at the ready for that sub-2:30 goal!

C) Set a new PR: Really, there is absolutely no reason, even with the weather, that I shouldn’t set a new PR Sunday. I feel so much stronger about my running right now than I did at this point before Des Moines, my current PR. Barring injury or catastrophe, there’s no reason I shouldn’t cross the finish line under 2:32:48.

Sunday morning I’ll post the link to track me, with my bib number, on Facebook so you can see how I’m doing if you like. πŸ™‚ Another goal for this race weekend is to keep my fueling in the right zone – not restricting myself out of fear of repeating the way I felt the weekend of the Des Moines half marathon but not going back to that overboard place either. This is a little complicated by the fact that Darrell and Oliver aren’t coming with me because of O’s broken leg, so I’ll be all alone without witnesses. I have a plan (yes, I’ve planned out what I’m eating the night before, the morning of and immediately after the race) and I’ll be checking in with Darrell and my Lovely Ladies Losing It girls for support if I need it but I actually think I’ll be fine. The odd perk of last week’s binge-trigger (thanks to all of you for your kind comments by the way) is that I’m reminded of how far I’ve come and how strong I am. That’s actually one of my mantras for this race day: I can do hard things. My other? Bravery is what happens when you try. (That one is a little long to keep in my head at the end of race, so it’ll likely just be “try” in the moment, over and over, but as I’m visualizing the race to get ready, the whole thing is definitely in my mind.)

I’m feeling good about these goals and this race. Next week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is Best Race You’ve Ever Run and I have to think that’s a good omen, right?

Wish me luck!


Tuesdays on the Run: Warm weather running gear

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is warm weather running gear, which is pretty perfect as I’m planning my packing list and race day gear for the Lincoln Half Marathon this weekend. The weather forecast means a warmer race than I was expecting:

I should be done before it gets up to the 80s, right?

I should be done before it gets up to the 80s, right?

That means I need to think about wearing fewer layers than I have been for lots of my runs. Thus, as usual, perfect timing in a Tuesdays on the Run topic. Thanks as always to April, Patti and Erika for hosting! Be sure to check out everyone else in the link-up!


In Nebraska, warm weather is not really a given this time of year and the temperatures can fluctuate a lot so until June-July, I really have to keep a lot of layers on hand like arm sleeves, light jackets and shrugs. For this weekend’s race, we’re going to trust that the forecast holds true and I need to prepare for warm weather. I’m planning on wearing a short sleeved tech tee and my SkirtSports capris.

I'm not sure I'll go with this shirt, although I do love the color. Picking an outfit is less exciting when it isn't a Disney race.

I’m not sure I’ll go with this shirt (Another Medaling Runner), although I do love the color. Picking an outfit is less exciting when it isn’t a Disney race.

I’m going with capris over my usual SparkleSkirts because if we’re being totally honest here, the 5-10 pounds I’m up in the last 9ish months has resulted in chafing on a few runs when I’ve tried to wear them lately. SparkleSkirts are normally chafe-proof but since they’re getting a little small I have issues now. It makes me sad because I adore my SparkleSkirts and their fantastic pockets. With the capri length of the SkirtSports bottoms, I don’t have the awkward chub rub and they at least have two pockets on the side legs, so that’s something. I like having the side pockets for Gus and for my phone. I’ll also be carrying my car keys in the pocket attached to my water bottle.

Other warm weather must haves that I’ll have with me this weekend:

Sweaty bands to control my wild and crazy hair: I am a super sweaty person, so these are very helpful for soaking up the sweat and keeping it out of my eyes!

BodyGlide to keep all of that sweat from resulting in chafing: Long runs are a great time to learn where you need to be liberal with the BodyGlide to avoid chafing. I’ve been having trouble with chafing over my shoulder from the sports bra lately so I need to be sure I’m generous with the BodyGlide Sunday morning.

Sunglasses or a visor: Protect your eyes from the UV rays and be sure that your vision doesn’t get thrown off by the sun glare by wearing sunglasses or a visor or hat. I’m not really a hat girl given how hot my head gets and will likely be going with sunglasses rather than a visor Sunday unless they increase the rain chance.

Sunscreen: As a dark skinned person, I rarely burn and can therefore get really lax about sunscreen. It’s important even for those of us who don’t burn to protect our skin from cancers and wrinkles. I’m not ashamed to admit that at 36, I’m vain enough to be concerned about wrinkles more than anything else. πŸ™‚ Wrong, but true. Whatever it takes to get me to wear sunscreen, right?

Electrolyte replacement: When the weather gets warmer, I sweat buckets and if I’m not careful about my electrolytes, I end up dizzy and with horrible headaches after long runs. I like Nuun because it doesn’t upset my stomach as much as Gatorade or Powerade do on the run (although those are okay afterwards). I’ll be drinking Nuun in my water for a couple of days before the race in addition to having it with me in my handheld bottle on the course and in my water bottle in the car for the drive home.

Some of the Nuun flavors even include caffeine, which is a nice little boost. :)

Some of the Nuun flavors even include caffeine, which is a nice little boost. πŸ™‚

What are your summer running gear must-haves?


Weekly Wrap-Up: The final countdown!

A week from now I’ll be basking in the glow of finishing my fourth half marathon and admiring new bling. πŸ™‚ No matter the outcome of the Lincoln Half Marathon, I hope I can appreciate the success I’ve had in running over 200 miles this training cycle and in running my fourth half marathon, a feat unimaginable just a few years ago. It’s been quite a week, coming off an exhausting week of call and having visitors from out of town, with a dash of personal upheaval thrown in. I feel a little hung over still from a rough 24 hours of binge-resisting Wednesday and Thursday, which has definitely thrown off my healthy habits a bit. On the plus side, for the first time ever I haven’t totally tossed the taper training plan aside and I actually did the runs. This week is all about getting my mind and body set for the race and tossing off the mental nonsense of the last week.


Monday 3.1 miles that started slowly (13-ish pace) and got quicker as I went, my favorite way to start the week.

Tuesday I was supposed to do a 2 mile tempo run with a warm up/cool down, but I didn’t make it out of work in time. Instead, I did the easy 3 miles on the schedule for Thursday. Kudos to me for not skipping the run all together!

Wednesday Cross-training with a 30 minute walk, which was a much needed distraction from the mental monkeys and binge-urge that I was struggling with. My poor hubby had to listen to me rant and process out loud while I paced our bedroom.

Thursday I confess my brain just wasn’t in the right place to do the mental work of that two mile tempo run I was supposed to do today, with the switch of the Tuesday/Thursday workouts. My soul needed a little walk (15 minutes) with Oliver more than anything else, so I gave myself that.

This walk, chatting and picking dandelions with O, was definitely what I needed.

This walk, chatting and picking dandelions with O, was definitely what I needed.

Friday I made myself get that tempo run done that I’d been putting off all week! I did a half mile warm-up, 2 miles at a slower tempo pace (10:54) than I’d been doing previously in deference to how close we were to race day and then a quarter mile cool down. I also walked about 15 minutes after that to get to my happy hour date with Darrell.

Saturday 5-6 miles easy was on the schedule and I headed out Saturday afternoon to get those miles in after the morning’s rain settled down. I took it easy and just enjoyed noticing the spring smells and sights along the run, including the smell of freshly cut lumber – a particularly homey smell to me thanks to growing up in a family of chronic remodelers. πŸ™‚ I actually stopped running at 4.97 miles per the Garmin when some neighbors stopped me to see if I knew who owned a lost dog they’d found. We ended up walking another 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile trying to figure out where the sweet girl belonged. I think that’s close enough to 5-6 easy miles and felt like a really nice way to wrap up the week. I also got in lots of yoga stretches post-run, which felt good. I need more of that this week!

I'm a bit of a freak, I know, but I love the smell of a home site.

I’m a bit of a freak, I know, but I love the smell of a home site.

Sunday This was a really lovely rest day, with a nice breakfast with my guys followed by a walk at the park to check out the new goslings:

Aren't they sweet?

Aren’t they sweet?

Plus a family outing to the grocery store to stock up and explore the produce section. Oliver was fascinated by the cactus leaves (are those leaves per se?) and other funny foods. We ended up bringing home the kumquats we picked out:

I confess I've never eaten one of these either!

I confess I’ve never eaten one of these either!

It was an awesome rest day! We bought a small seedless watermelon while we were there and my NSV this week is not eating the whole thing. When I was doing Weight Watchers and totally abusing the free fruit, I could seriously eat all of one of those little watermelons the same afternoon I cut it. Having leftover watermelon like this was unheard of:

We only ate about a third of the watermelon which was a huge victory!

We only ate about a third of the watermelon which was a huge victory!

My good deeds are trying to help my neighbors find the dog’s owners and making the most delectable looking triple dark chocolate pudding cookies for my husband to take to work tomorrow. I’m in a real baking kick so I bake on Sundays and send it off to Darrell’s job on Monday. I get “best wife ever” points with the work guys and get to indulge my love of baking without the temptation of sweets hanging around the house too long – win win! This week I am beyond grateful for all of the wonderful friends I have in my life who helped with my personal stuff this week and helped me stay on just the right side of the binge cliff. Special shout outs to the wonderful Lovely Ladies Losing It group on Facebook, where we can have seriously hard grown up conversations about this stuff with respect and support and general kick-assery. Also super kudos to Darrell, who is seriously the best husband ever and I am so sorry for everyone else that there is only one of him and I don’t share well. πŸ™‚

This week, I’ve got a couple of bitty runs on the schedule to keep things loose. No strength training and no serious cross training (thanks to last week’s taper reading!). Lots of fluids and good healthy fueling, with a shift toward a little more carbohydrates and less roughage later in the week. Here’s hoping we all have a good week!


Friday favorites: Tapering

I amΒ  now officially in the midst of tapering, so naturally I’ve been reading lots about it this week. I feel like I’ve never gotten tapering quite right – I tend to just fall off the wagon completely or get distracted by worries and phantom aches and pains. This week, my Friday Favorites are focused on all I’ve been reading about tapering so that I can remind myself to re-read these things and keep my eye on the ball!

No chilling out like this gorilla we saw at the zoo for me - a smart, not lazy taper is on tap!

No chilling out like this gorilla we saw at the zoo for me – a smart, not lazy taper is on tap!

A perk of starting my taper the week of the Boston marathon was all of the articles in the last few weeks that were targeted at tapering for Boston, not that I’m running Boston of course. πŸ™‚ This one from Women’s Running has some good general principles (and I need to get my list started for race day!). One thing I didn’t really think about with tapering was what I should do with my non-running workouts. In Greg’s round up of tips for tapering, he mentioned the idea of cutting back on strength workouts. I hadn’t considered that before, but it does make some sense. There’s an article here on Runners World that goes through some of the science of how strength training plays into the taper (I love the Sweat Science series!). Apparently, the optimal time to cut back is 8-14 days out from the race, so it looks like I’m off the hook for strength training from now until race day.

The tip about strength training is also included in this Runners World article on How to taper correctly, which also discusses cross training and nutrition during taper time. I’m going to have to remind myself frequently that moving less (not moving NONE) is actually good for my race and not to worry about my pants getting tighter – it’s okay to gain a little during this period as I restock glycogen stores. It’s not an excuse to go completely carb-crazy, so I’ll need to review the nutrition tips in Eat to Peak again to be sure I’m optimally prepared for race day. These articles on Zelle about How to Carbo-load the Right Way and from Womens Running on What to eat the week of your marathon also have some great tips to help me make a food plan for next week.

This first week of the taper has gone well, overall. I’ve kept moving and done all of the assigned workouts. Unlike previous taper periods, I haven’t let “I’m tapering” be an excuse for skipping any workout I don’t feel like doing. πŸ™‚ I even got a bonus workout in on Tuesday, taking O to the zoo with a friend who’d come into town to visit. Pushing an almost 40 pound toddler with a cast in a stroller around the hilly Omaha zoo definitely counts as a workout! Thank goodness that was Tuesday with a cross training day Wednesday because my legs were toast.

Even if you have to have your Mom help you up into the penguin bubble because of your cast, watching penguins is still pretty cool :)

Even if you have to have your Mom help you up into the penguin bubble because of your cast, watching penguins is still pretty cool πŸ™‚

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Happy Friday!


Weekly Wrap-Up: A little late but better than never

This normally a Monday post but we had a busy Monday and I never got around to it. A friend visited with her almost 2 year old daughter and we’ve had quite the adventure. Oliver told his teachers that he was “borrowing a baby sister” this week, which is super cute. I’m glad he likes borrowing them occasionally but we have no plans to add a permanent one for him. πŸ™‚ He’ll have to satisfy himself with lots of visits with little friends. I didn’t want to skip this post completely though because it’s important accountability for me.

I am officially tapering! Gotta love the little sigh of relief that comes with that. Of course, that doesn’t mean I get to slack off completely for the next two weeks until race day, but it does mean I won’t be working to find time for a two hour run over the weekend.Β I was somewhat surprised to see that I have that scary two mile tempo run on the schedule again for this week. I have to remind myself that I was able to successfully to do this already once, so of course I can do it again, and more importantly – what a great mental boost to have so close to the race in proving to myself yet again that I can do harder things now than I could do before!
My NSV for this week is definitely tied to these workouts. For the first time, I had a super busy week on call and yet I managed to get every one of workouts in. You know why? Because I made the effort to wake up at 5 am on days I needed to run to get it done. It’s amazing how readily I can get my workouts done when I do them first thing instead of hoping I get done with work soon enough to do them in the evening. πŸ™‚ I’m proud of myself for not using work as an excuse to slack off during this last tough training week.


Β Monday Easy 3 miles on the schedule and I got in 3.07 miles in 37 minutes. I think waking up at 5 to get this done before work really set this week on the right track mentally! I also got in some strength training with my kettlebell Monday night.
Lots of rainy running this week. It makes me feel like those miles should count twice somehow.

Lots of rainy running this week. It makes me feel like those miles should count twice somehow.

Β Tuesday This was the two mile tempo run that scared me! I was supposed to do a mile of warm up, two miles at tempo (zone 3) and a mile cool down. Because I was squeezing this in before work in the morning, I cut the warm up and cool down a little short but totally rocked the two miles at 10:09 pace with no breaks. I covered the treadmill screen with my towel and just kept going for about 18 minutes before I let myself look. It was tough, mentally as much as physically, but I felt like fist pumping when I finished it! The gym is super crowded that early in the morning, it turns out, so I didn’t, but I totally did in my little head. πŸ™‚ (2.75 miles, 31:36)
Very cool to see the sun rising outside the gym windows as I finished those two tempo miles!

Very cool to see the sun rising outside the gym windows as I finished those two tempo miles!

Wednesday Cross training, which was an entirely unmemorable 30 minute walk.

Thursday 5-6 miles on the training plan that I divided into two chunks. I did 3.75 miles in the morning, a little slower than usual at 13 minute pace because I was just tired and not feeling it. After work, I did the last 1.3 miles and I’m proud of myself for getting out there even though I was worn out. It was a day I was at work until 7 and I felt totally justified in skipping those extra minutes. I’m proud of myself for reminding myself it was only a few minutes and getting out there anyway. That second chunk of 1.31 miles was speedier (11:28 pace) because I wanted to get home and get done for the day!
Friday Easy 2-3 miles or cross training and I did 2.04 in the morning at 12:45 pace.
Saturday I was worried about fitting in this run, since it required no one needing to call me for a two hour chunk. I’ve never attempted a long run on call before. I got up super early and got it done, reasoning that if I was running before most of the state was awake the odds of getting called were lower and it worked. πŸ™‚ I was supposed to do 9-10 miles with the last mile as a strong finish (a switch of the last two long run in the training plan, since I did the 11-13 miles last weekend). I did 9.2 miles, with the last mile-plus at 11:11 pace. I really love the mental boost I get from that “last mile strong finish” workout!
The sun breaking through the clouds was just such a great visual to finish this run with (and motivation to haul it back home before the rain started!).

The sun breaking through the clouds was just such a great visual to finish this run with (and motivation to haul it back home before the rain started!).

Sunday I rested, with some yoga stretches and wall sits and calf raises. I got lots of steps for a rest day, but it was a good day overall. I remain amazed at how good after a longer run these days. I used to feel anything over 8 miles for days afterwards!
We have the lovely snow of blooms from the trees now - much better than the actual snow we had just a week or two ago!

We have the lovely snow of blooms from the trees now – much better than the actual snow we had just a week or two ago!

My good deed this week was entertaining my friend’s 2 year old while she shopped for some clothes during our trip. I know how hard it is to get time to actually think about the clothes you’re trying to buy when you have a toddler along. πŸ™‚ This week I’m grateful for our insurance. O continued his streak of misadventures by coming down with an ear infection over the weekend so we were in urgent care Saturday night. Sigh. Thank goodness for Blue Cross since we were back in a doctors office before we’ve even gotten the bill for the ER visit and casting.
Once the rain finally stopped we got a big burst of tulips and green grass - it really feels like spring now!

Once the rain finally stopped we got a big burst of tulips and green grass – it really feels like spring now!

I’m excited that I’m less than 10 days from the Lincoln Half Marathon. I’ve heard such good things about it. It’ll be interesting to see if it lives up to the hype! Now it’s time to focus on tapering, fueling and getting my mind in gear.
I hope everyone is having a good week!



TotR: Spring Training Update

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is a spring training update, which is appropriate since this is the last week of my Lincoln Half Marathon training cycle before tapering starts. Thanks to Erika, Patty and April for hosting, as always!


I had some very specific goals for this half marathon training cycle to help me meet my goal of running a half marathon with a strong mental effort and hopefully the sub-2:30 run I think I have in my legs. This is a great time to look back at how I’ve done with those goals.

Mental training: Like lots of us, my brain tends to get in way of putting in the race efforts that I think my body is trained for. My biggest disappointments from race experiences have been frustration with giving up more so than the actual time on the clock, so while I’d like a time PR for this race, my bigger goal is to feel like I put in consistent effort with a strong finish and that requires a lot of mental work. I’ve done lots of reading about mental training (like here) and have also done regular workouts targeting my mental oomph. This morning I totally rocked a 2 mile tempo run, which was such a huge exercise in mental strength. I’ve found tempo runs, which I’ve done for the first time in this cycle, have been really great at overcoming the urge to give up when my body has more in it. I’ve also had lots of runs with a “strong finish” and race interval practice runs. I feel like I’ve made huge progress with this and just have to remind myself over and over for race day that I can do this and I have done this.

Does this playset look like a Tardis to anyone else? Or am I the only one geeky enough to see Doctor Who in random places on the run?

Does this playset look like a Tardis to anyone else? Or am I the only one geeky enough to see Doctor Who in random places on the run?

Strength training: We all know how important strength training is for running, both in terms of avoiding injury and in gaining speed. I’ve been much more consistent with strength training this cycle than ever before and I think it has really paid off in terms of injury avoidance (knock on wood). The left hip pain that had been irritating me since fall is now gone and hasn’t reared its head again. The only injury I’ve had so far (knock on wood) is a little Achilles irritation after the Leprechaun Chase 10K and that settled down with a week of walking and strength rehabilitation.

Pay attention to paces: For my interval runs, tempo runs and hill work, I kept track of my paces and targeted those based on my target goal pace of 11:27 on race day. I ran those two tempo miles today at 10:09 which is super speedy for me! I haven’t focused as much on pace during my long runs, other than in my last “strong finish” miles and a couple of workouts with race intervals thrown in, but looking back I can see how all of my runs are getting steadily faster as a result of all of this training. Definitely what you want to see πŸ™‚

Yoga for recovery and flexibility: I haven’t done as much dedicated yoga time as I was hoping, but I’ve been really good about regularly working in a few yoga stretches during the day. I’ve also been using my Stick and foam roller, which is helping a lot. I’ll definitely be sure to keep the foam rolling and yoga stretches up as I transition into taper mode to keep my legs ready to go!

Overall, I feel like this has been a really good training cycle. I’ve loved this training plan (thanks to Another Mother Runner) and feel like I’ve learned a lot thanks to the mental work, tempo runs and actually focusing more on form and what my muscles are doing. I feel like I’ve set myself up nicely for a successful race day so we’ll see how things go!

How’s your Spring Training going? Any big events coming up?