Saturday, March 23, 2013

Allstate 13.1 NYC Race Recap: So what? I'm still a rock star.

I got my rock moves. That's right. I finished my 6th half marathon! Now, this post could be sad and sullen because, spoiler alert, I didn't go sub 2. However, I didn't cry during the run, so that's a plus. Also, I'm going to Puerto Rico tomorrow, so this recap will be as positive as it can be in light of crushing all my hopes and dreams...okay, in light of crushing my aspirations after my hard work in this training cycle ;-).

I started off the day by meeting up with some friends. Kim picked me up with Beth, and we drove to the race. I also met up with my coworker and running partner extraordinaire Kristin. We did the usual, check our bags, hide out in the (Warm) charity tent, used the facilities, and suddenly made our way to the start. (Kim ran the 5k a bit earlier, go Kim!)

 See, she really does exist! And her number was 111! 

When we got to the start, I was SO nervous. I had been nervous all morning, but the wind had made me more nervous. I kept trying to calm myself down, but I couldn't shake my anxiety. I tried to channel that into my running. I met Ashley at the start after she ran three miles to tack on to her training run. All of a sudden, it was go time.

The first 5 miles were awesome. I was maintaining my pace, even on a hill, and felt really good. I was zoned out to my music as planned, and I was loving my mix! However, around mile 5.5, we rounded the corner of a lake and BAM. Wind. in. the. face. I knew it was windy, and had been slightly battling it, but seriously!? I felt like I was standing still. My pace remained decent, and fought through to get to a non 20mph section! I can't remember if this was the first half or not, but I'm coming down from a pretty steep climb:

One of the reasons I was able to fight through that wind? (Besides Ashley trying to run in front of me to block some wind....incredible.) Some amazing cheerleaders. Kim and her friend donned Mickey hands and livened up a pretty dead spectator turnout. I think it was worse because it was so cold, but these ladies owned those Mickey Hands!

As I plowed through the second half of the race, I was still confident I could get a solid PR. My Facebook update said that at mile 8.7 I was projected to finish at 1:59:27. Well, that would have been A-O-K with me. However, we had to go around that lake again. Around mile 10 my hamstrings also cramped up, which obviously didn't help anything whatsoever. I kid you not. That route around the lake took my soul. I walked three times. I was talking to myself. I was praying. It got really ugly out there. I REFUSED to cry. I would NOT repeat Philly, where I lost it strength wise AND mental wise and began to cry out of frustration, aka using even MORE energy. I pushed myself, repeated my positive thoughts and Bible verses to myself, and went for it as my body would allow. Finally, I plowed up my last hill.
 I felt like I was walking. Also, this lady TOTALLY stole my thunder.

At mile 11, I was on the Edge of Glory.

At mile 12, I got mad. I got mad when I saw that my watch was inevitability going to cross the 1:59:59 barrier and my finish time would have a 2 at the beginning. I got mad that I walked. I just flat out got mad. What song came on? Blow Me One Last Kiss. Pink, girl, you said it. I finally had enough. I think I maybe think to much. So this race? I blew it one last kiss and said so long. I powered toward the finish. I could see the shoot. I was ready for whatever time my legs had so wonderfully given me.

Anything could happen. I ran to my finish song with a smile on my face, ready to cross those sensor pads. As I crossed the finish line, I had no idea what my time was, and I was okay with that. I bent over because I felt like throwing up. Suddenly I had to kneel down. As I sat there, completely deflated of energy, I said a prayer thanking God for legs to run with, water to hydrate myself, and food to eat. I stood up feeling 100% better. In fact, I skipped to get my medal, hugged the girl who gave it to me, and basically danced through leaving the finish! People were joining in, although they were missing out on my HOT finish line jam.

Official Finish: 2:05:07 Previous PR 2:06:34

This is me in an awkward medal photo, it looks like I'm strangling myself. Also, my hair is whipping in the wind. Sheesh. Hot mess central!

I met up with my awesome friends the Slafters, and we all headed to the beer garden! Thankfully the beer garden was INSIDE and warm, with free Michelob Ultra for all us carb devoid runners (???). It was perfect! I was also excited that I got to show them the 5 Borough Panorama, it is seriously the coolest thing in the world and a must see.

Afterwards we went to Queens Comfort, our FAVORITE restaurant! I had the most incredible mac and cheese, and hung out with the most incredible friends.

 This was indeed as delicious as it looks.
 We had some medal malfunctions, apparently they can attach themselves to true love!
 I love this man. He has been my support and my rock. 
 And this man in the leopard jacket? Well, let's just say, this is part of his usual shenanigans. 

Now all that's left to do is head to PR (Puerto Rico!) with a PR! It may not have been the number I was hoping for, but it was still a PR. I will not have race regret. I will not look back and think of the should have's and would have's. I will learn from this, grow from this, and take pride in the fact that I completed another half marathon. No time for losers. We are the champions.

Also, this weather forecast helps things:
That's right PR, get the rain out now. Nothing but sun from here on out!

CONGRATULATIONS to all the runners who finished strong today!!!

How about you? Have you ever had a goal race slip from your feet? Did you race this weekend (Specifically anyone in CT do the Sandy Hook run? Heard it was 17,000 runners strong!) Did you eat yummy food this weekend? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Friday, March 22, 2013

I'm running my goal race tomorrow....

....and all the fear/paranoia/excitement/fun/anxiety/anticipation that comes with it. Sheesh. I woke up at 5am this morning COMPLETELY wide awake, mind whirring about with thoughts about tomorrow. I have had more well wishes this week than ever before between family, friends, students, social media friends; everyone. I saw this today and I felt that this

 Thank you to everyone who has seen greatness in me. It's truly humbling. Also terrifying!

I EXCEEDED MY GOAL FOR WORLD VISION! On Tuesday I had raised $150. By today, I exceeded my goal of $500 by raising $645!!! So grateful for the GENEROUS support of AMAZING people who have helped provide CLEAN DRINKING WATER to those in NEED! I decided to dress up my team jersey by attaching some student good luck wishes; they're truly the sweetest 4th graders around!

So, want to see the "terrifying" plan? My sister Coach Jen made it up for me. Here she is:

These are times I've consistently maintained, or bettered, in long runs. I am EXCITED that Ashley will be running with me! After her STELLAR performance in Sunday's NYC Half (CONGRATS AGAIN!), I'm so excited that she's joining me with her positive energy and PR luck ;-) I will be writing "1-3 9:20 4-6 9:15" etc on my hand with sharpie. I guess I'll see how permanent it REALLY is...and if it will tatoo into a tan in Puerto Rico!!!

My personal plan: Turn on the tunes at the start. I've noticed that I've really been into zoning out to my music in a fast way, and this race is not a crowded spectating bonanza like a big NYRR race. There are definitely supporters, and some of my students may come! However, they changed the course so there is a lot more "rural" time around a big lake (4-5 miles instead of 2-2.5 miles), so I'm anticipating getting real cozy with my playlist a la Mr. Miller. Its running time is 2:01. So there's that. Here it is:

I am ready. I've done what I need to do. As Michelle so bravely and eloquently put it,

And what is the worst that could happen?  That I fail?  I have failed at SO many things I’ve set out to do in my life…so what’s one more?  Failing makes me stronger.  Failing no longer scares me.
All I can do on Saturday is race with my heart and my head – my body will follow. 

So, Heart and head, get ready. My body is ready to follow. Sub 2 or bust!!!

How about you? Have you gone public with a goal race? Do you always enjoy racing for fun? Are you doing anything great this weekend? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's race week! For real!

Note: Sorry about the confusion, folks! Many friends thought I was running the NYC Half Marathon this weekend...nope! I did not join the PR City bonanza! CONGRATS TO ALL MY LOVELY FRIENDS WHO DOMINATED THIS WEEKEND! FYI, I am running the Allstate 13.1 NYC Half Marathon in my hometown borough of Queens! Yippee!

This week at church, I was struck by an old hymn. Mr. Miller and I had "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" sung at our wedding. It is a beautiful hymn written by an American composer, and we both love it dearly. It is truly a poetic tribute. As we sang it at my church, the singer reminded us of what an Ebenezer was...but I actually remembered what it meant from college! Here's the excerpt I'm referring to:

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Ebenezer refers to a memorial stone placed in remembrance of a great victory. However, that wasn't the stone's only purpose. It was also set to remind the people of where they had come from. I reflected on this idea later in the day, as all my friends were PR'ing every which way, and had a feeling of contentment. There has been a long journey from my first 13.1 in 2009 to my goal race coming up this weekend. This journey has included 5 half marathons, two marathons, and lots of training in between. 

So, here's my Ebenezer:

So, there you have it, my Ebenezer. This is what I've been through. It is by God's great help I've come. I'm excited to celebrate my victory on Saturday. The encouragement I've been receiving from friends and family has been overwhelming. I'm anticipating a great race. I'm excited for a great race. I'm nervous, yet ready. I guess that's the best place to be.

How about you? What is your "Ebenezer"? Do you have one race or many races that tell your story? Did you race this weekend? Celebrate St. Patrick's Day? TELL ME ABOUT IT! 

4 days until the 13.1 NYC Sub 2 or Bust Bonanza!
5 days until traveling to P.R. with a PR!

Friday, March 15, 2013

I'm running for clean drinking water

The other night, my friends and I discussed things we can't live without. A lot of people struggled with this question, but I knew my answer right away: water. I never leave the house without it; if I forget my bottle, I buy one immediately. I never run without water because I dehydrate very easily.

I'm running the Allstate 13.1 NYC Half Marathon for Team World Vision. This is my fourth time running this race, whose proceeds go to World Vision. I raise money to provide African Villages with Deep Water Well Pumps. These pumps save children from having to walk 10-20 miles round trip to carry DIRTY drinking water for their family, keeping them out of school. This dirty drinking water perpetuates disease and sickness in an already disease and sickness ridden land. 

I run to supply villages with the ability to pump their own water, enabling children to attend school. World Vision also trains locals to manage and fix the pumps if broken, ensuring that they will have clean drinking water for years to come.

I am so excited to run for World Vision. Every experience I've had with them has been positive. I'm excited about the work they're doing, and to support others to receive what I openly can't live without: water. If you are interested in my experiences with world vision, watch this video. If you are interested in donating, please click this link. If you are interested in cheering me on, come to the Allstate 13.1 NYC on 3/23 to see hundreds of Team World Vision runners pounding the pavement for this cause!

How about you? Do you have a charity that you run with? Do you choose races based on what charity or cause they support? What can't you live without? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

7 days until the 13.1 NYC Sub 2 or Bust Bonanza!
8 days until traveling to P.R. with a PR!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A balanced diet while training

I love food, let's be clear about that. I love to cook food, I love trying new food, and I certainly love the benefits of distance running and the amount of food it requires. However, I'm not in marathon training, I'm in HALF marathon training. My body missed that memo after the Philly Marathon. During my running hiatus in December, I kept eating like I was still marathon training. Oh, and a Christmas cookie with my coffee every morning also happened. Then the holiday parties. Anniversary celebration. Christmas. New Years. 

I prefer: never! :-) For great jokes about losing weight and diet humor visit

In January I noticed my pants were DEFINITELY tighter. Well, it didn't matter, because I was beginning a training cycle for a half marathon! SCORE! Nope. Those extra pounds have clung to me with all their might. Last week I was fed up. My sentiments were very similar to Jen's. The number on the scale was far from my "happy number", which is a reasonable number considering my height etc. 

Daddy said, "Ill start my diet next week. but first i gotta finish off that last tub of ice cream in there".  No joke.

I received a bit of encouragement from my friend Kim. Everyone is more than willing to tell me, "You look great!" or "You exercise all the time, you're fine." Kim helped me realize the difference for me is that I know I am not at my best and know I need to make some changes. The danger is when those changes are ignored and turn into bigger gains, an even larger challenge to overcome. 

no #diet - eat healthy

So, I went back to the basics. My plan includes: 

1. Logging all my food on My Fitness Pal
2. Keep up with my regular exercise routines 
3. Eat clean (duh)
4. Make smart choices when I eat out. 

This week, it wasn't easy. Changing your habits is never easy. The fuel demands of a half marathon are certainly less than a full marathon, and I finally got back to measuring portions, not having seconds (or thirds...), and the oreos remained in the container untouched all. week. long. 


This week, I finally saw success. I saw the scale move, and I was so proud. I'm not insisting I have to be "skinny"; I simply want to be comfortable. I'm finally on the road back to being comfortable with how I look and feel.

Here's to a successful long run tomorrow, and another successful week!

How about you? Do you have a happy weight? Do you scoff at diets? Did you bask in the glorious sun this weekend? Tell me about it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Leli's Bakery in Astoria = fabulous

I highly value customer service. As a former customer service employee (I worked retail for five years and served tables for four years, ZERO complaints!), I rank customer service as the number one reason I will return to an establishment. If the food is great but service is only so-so at a restaurant, I'm not likely to want to return. If I am ignored in a clothing store, chances are I'll think twice before going back.

Tonight I had a fabulous experience at a new(ish) local bakery in Astoria, Leli's. For information and the cool background on this bakery, check out this article. So, what was so great about this Leli's Bakery?!

Leli's offers a wide variety of delectable eats, including stuffed breads, soups, and tons of baked goods!
 I want it all.

 Adorable seasonal themed cookies. YUMMY. 

I really wanted their almond biscotti. It's half the size of a normal biscotti, very soft and flavorful. Unfortunately, they were out. The employees bent over backwards to help me find a cookie I'd like, had me sample different kinds, and ended up giving me that jelly cookie in addition to the almond macaroons I finally decided on.
 Truth be told: That jelly cookie rocked my world, dare I say, better than the macaroons?!

 The decor is retro chic. All the tables and chairs are mismatched set, giving it a country bakery theme.

By the end of our quick drop in, we were smitten with Leli's. As we were preparing to leave, an employee came up and said, "We usually throw this bread away, would you like to take it home?" Um. I am three days into a diet. UGH. YES?! Then he realized we were two couples, and came back with a SECOND bag of free bread! SEVEN LOAVES OF AMAZING (DAILY BAKED)  BREAD!
 Give me bread and I will love you forever and ever.

 What's not to love about this sign? Again, decor was adorable.

We gave some of the bread away to neighbors, but still ended up with way more than we needed. I decided to slice it up and freeze it. We will have bread to last us quite a while if it holds up in the freezer.
Ciabatta bread and whole wheat raisin walnut bread. The smell alone is incredible.

So, there you have it. If you're ever in Astoria, check out this bakery!

How about you? Do you have a favorite local spot? Do you highly value customer service? Which restaurant/bakery do you always recommend?  TELL ME ABOUT IT!

15 days until the 13.1 NYC Sub 2 or Bust Bonanza!
16 days until traveling to P.R. with a PR!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Runner Envy

We've all had it. You know, when you see someone has just PR'd a 5k and your 5k time is an addition problem: Their time + 10 minutes = your 5k PR. Or when you see your friend on Twitter ran 20 miles, and your measly 10 mile run seems like nothing. These are EXTREME examples of runner envy.

I think the subtle envies are more lethal. I cringed when I wrote my post Sunday and typed my average was "Only 9:15" for 10 miles. I realized that when I read other people's blogs and they say their average was "a slow 8:xx" etc, I roll my eyes and sigh. However, I'm starting to understand it all a little better these days.

I never tried to be fast. My runner envy would be seeing someone;s splits and say "Wow, I could never do that." Every person who got into running or ran a race for the first time with me always seems to be much better at running than I am! When I saw my weekly mileage totals compared to others who were training for the 2012 NYC Marathon, I would panic thinking "I'm not running enough!" Despite all these things that would subtly affect me mentally, I would continue doing the same stuff because I was comfortable. I liked being comfortable.

Now, I am running uncomfortably. I took my (subtle) desire to be better and actually put it into action. Instead of averaging high 10 minute miles, I've been consistently in the high 8 or low 9 minute miles. What changed? I decided I didn't want to just finish. I actually want to try for a real time. A sub 2 hour half marathon, aka 1:59:59. I've been breathing heavier, pushing harder when I'm tired and would usually ease into a nice slow pace to simply log miles, and running with faster people (AKA frightening). Even though my times are improving significantly (I also attribute this to the cold weather, in which I thrive), I still catch myself seeing other people's times and thinking "If I could only..."

So, how do you deal with Runner Envy? I've decided the month of March that I will not say or think a single negative thought about myself. I will only speak positive uplifting things concerning my running and my body. I will not compare myself to others, which will be incredibly difficult. The NYC Half Marathon is the weekend before my half marathon, and presumably I'll be reading up on all the fabulous recaps and PR's for sure! However, I will avoid that little voice putting fear in my head for my upcoming turn to complete my goal. I think a lot of it is being confident that I am doing what I need to do to complete the goal I have set for myself, taking no one else's successes or failures as my predictors.

The choices you make today.... #mileposts #dreambigrunlong

How about you? Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? Do you enjoy a healthy dose of competition? Are you scared to chase a goal? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

17 days until the 13.1 NYC Sub 2 or Bust Bonanza!
18 days until traveling to P.R. with a PR!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

It's race month! It's vacation month! March is here!

Yes, this week was filled with many exciting developments. The realization that there are only four months left in the school year was one of them. Four. Months. I can make it! I booked a vacation with a friend to Puerto Rico. Can't. WAIT! I have been all sorts of giddy about it...and hitting the gym. I joined Mr. Miller's gym with a month free promo, so we'll be sweating together a bit more often for March. Sigh. Here we come bathing suit! It is also RACE MONTH! Three weeks until the big 13.1 NYC. Three weeks until:

Will it be a sub 2, or will it be a bust? Either way, I'm getting on a plane the next day!!!

On Saturday I was invited by Kristine to attend a Pilates ProWorks class. Well, THAT happened! I was so scared because I had to run 10 miles on Sunday, and I know my core is not as strong as it can be. What's there to be scared about, right?

 These words beckon you in with strange machines inside...
This looks like a torture chamber...

Overall, it was a CHALLENGING fun experience! I've taken barre classes, but never barre fused with TRX. I've also taken Pilates classes, but never used the reformer (They have their own version, it's fancier you see). The instructors were awesome, encouraging, and very attentive. I admittedly did alternate moves for some of the workout due to a semi sensitive hamstring and the fear of my 10 miler being pain filled the next day. This was an intense workout that used creative moves and always kept me on my toes....literally. 

Thanks Kristine for a great event! Thanks Jen for the picture!

I woke up EARLY this morning for a long run. 6:20am is early, right? (My summer long run wake up is usually 5am.) It's the only day I can really "sleep in" past 7:30am since I work Saturdays. However, 10 miles had to happen. I didn't know where to run, so I opted for Long Island City

Long Island City is so friendly, every few yards there a sign that says "LIC Welcomes You". So polite!

When I got to the bottom of the Pulaski Bridge, I was stumped. I though it was at least 4 miles from my apartment, but it was only 3. So, I decided to (GASP!) venture into Brooklyn and make up the last two miles and turn back. Unknown route, unknown neighborhood, a recipe for disaster! However, it was the exact opposite! I loved running around Greenpoint, especially as I followed the signs toward the Williamsburg Bridge. The bridge is a bit further than 5 miles, so I turned back just short of it. 

So pretty, even from afar!

I was running into the wind the whole time. I can't do math in my head when I run (Or ever really. I need a piece of paper and a pen.), so I couldn't figure out what I was averaging. My goal was 9:15-9:30, but the stupid wind kept making put forth a huge effort to stay in the low 9's. When I turned back, I was excited to see if the wind would help push me along a bit...NOPE. It was blowing in my direction AGAIN!? This run was tough but I'm glad I gutted through it.

This was me right before I figured out the harsh wind reality.

Overall, The run was what it was supposed to be. 10 miles at a 9:15 average. Best mile was 8:58 (Ran that in both mile 7 and mile 10). Not too shabby. I have to average a 9:09 to get a 1:59:59 half marathon, so I hope race day I'll have an extra pep to make it happen.

Last random thought: I am so thankful for the NYC/Twitter running community! Tons of people at the class yesterday had run double digit runs and were toughing it out in a difficult class! Also, after I ran today I felt slightly sad that my average was 9:15, I was hoping for a confidence boosting 9:05 etc. After I posted, there were several extremely encouraging tweets and messages. So glad to be able to connect with amazing inspiring people!!!

How about you? Have you made any meaningful friendships with Twitter? Are you taking a trip this winter? Did you run long/race? Have you suffered through wind confusion?! TELL ME ABOUT IT!

20 days until the 13.1 NYC Sub 2 or Bust Bonanza!
21 days until traveling to P.R. with a PR!