Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

WOW! My winter hibernation vacation is flying by.  I am still keeping up my holiday run streak.  So far in 24 days I have run roughly 150 miles.  There's still 10 days left in the year.  I hope I can hit 200.  I'm going to fall short of my original goal to hit 1500 for the year because of a stupid snow storm last weekend preventing me from doing my 20 miler.  I still got out and ran, but only did 3 miles.  Getting hit by a plow is just not worth trying to get in extra miles.  I might be able to make up for it by adding on a few miles to my shorter runs this week but it is still unlikely that I will get enough miles to hit 1500.  Yeah, just double checked my training log and I'd need 102 miles in the next 10 days to hit 1500.  It's possible, but not likely to happen.

I started off my vacation with a half marathon. The Jingle Bell Half in Atkinson, NH last Saturday.  It was 8 degrees at the start.  The course was pretty challenging and by challenging I mean hilly.  Add in the below freezing temps and it was rough.  I made the most of it though and just had fun.  I wasn't really racing it and my plan was to use it as a training run so I just went out really easy.  I did the first 5 miles at about a 10:30 pace, the next 5 miles at a 10:00 pace, and the last 5K at a 9:40 pace so, despite the weather and the hills I still negative split it and had a really great time.  I hung out for a little while after the race with some friends and other runners enjoying a post race beer and some soup.
Sunday we got about a foot of snow and I spent half the day shoveling so I didn't get to do the 20 miler I had planned but the 4 hours of shoveling was enough of a workout.  I did manage to squeeze in 3 miles before the sun went down just to keep my run streak going even though I really really didn't feel like running.  Stupid winter. 

Monday I was supposed to go to Pole fitness class but my back hurt so much that I canceled.  I went out and did a few more hours of shoveling trying to clear some of the parking spaces in the street instead followed by a 5 mile run with my friend Kim in Salem, NH at lunch time.  When I got home, I got the most amazing letter in the mail along with a generous donation to my Dana Farber Fundraising from the Tewksbury Police Department.  I had sent them a letter thanking them for keeping the roads safe for me as I train for the marathon.  Mile 23 will be dedicated to the mother of one of their officers.  Mile 23 is just after Coolidge Corner and I will need the motivation to push through the pain and finish strong.  Running that mile for Ruth Perry and Tewksbury PD I know I will do my best.

Tuesday, we were supposed to get another snow storm, so I got up and baked some cookies to bring to TPD to thank them and then went out for a short 3 mile run.  I delivered the cookies just as the snow started coming down.  Spent the rest of the day chillin on my couch watching a Law and Order marathon on A&E or TNT.

Wednesday I finally made it to pole class, after 2 hours of shoveling out my car and all my neighbor's cars.  Holy cow, it was really hard, I don't know if it was just because I was still sore and exhausted from shoveling or if it was because we did a bunch of advanced stuff that I wasn't ready for.  Either way it kicked my butt, but in a good way.  I went home, shoveled for another 2 hours and then went for a 2 mile run to keep the streak alive.  After all that I rewarded myself with a nice glass of wine.

Thursday, I checked off another item on my "to-do" list.  I went to see the Nutcracker in Boston.  I've never been and I thought I probably should it's like a world famous production and was completely redesigned this year.  So, me and my mom went into Boston to see it. (First I ran 4 miles, still streaking).  It didn't take long to get into the city, but because of all the snow parking was an issue.  I had to go by 4 garages before we finally found one with open spots then we were late for the show.  We had to wait to be seated and we missed part of the first act, but it was showing on a monitor in the lobby so we could still watch.  It was magical! The costumes and the sets were so beautiful.  I had a great time and my mom did too.

Yesterday was pretty boring, just did 7 miles and went grocery shopping.  Today I got up to do 10 miles before venturing to the mall (I still haven't done any shopping).  We are experiencing a bit of a heat wave in the northeast at the moment.  It was 45 degrees and partly sunny out this morning.  I almost wore a tank top but was afraid I wouldn't be warm enough.  I started out nice and easy.  Warming up over the first few miles.  Going up the big hill on 133 I saw a TPD car and waved, it gave me a little boost of energy and I actually made it up the hill in under 11 minutes for the first time in a LONG time, that hill is tough and wears me out, but today I conquered it with a little extra motivation from TPD - Thanks!

The rest of the run was great, nice back roads in Andover and mostly flat.  I felt really good.  I took a gel at mile 5 and picked up my pace a little bit.  On the way back to my house I really felt great so I pushed the pace a little more and ran the last 3 miles in under 10 minutes per mile.  I ended up negative splitting the run!  And finished feeling like I could have kept going and going like the energizer bunny, but I do need to get to the mall at some point, plus I have a party to go to tonight and I baked a spiked eggnog cheesecake that smells amazing to bring with me.
Still time for anyone reading this to get me a Christmas gift ......just saying...... all I want is donations to Dana Farber.  It IS after all the season of giving.  Please consider making a donation today, together we can make a difference and Dana Farber is finding cures for cancer, help them with a gift today!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Still a little time left in the year.....

I am trying to cram just a few more things in to make 2013 the most awesome year ever.  Last week I went to the Taza Chocolate Factory in Somerville, MA for a tour.  I love their chocolate and I knew they were nearby, then discovered a few months ago that they do tours and talked about it with some friends and wanted to go but couldn't settle on a date.  Then there was a Groupon for it and my friend bought it.  So, last Friday we went.  FREE Chocolate samples and a cool tour - yup it was awesome.

I'm still going strong with the Holiday Run Streak too.  Goal to run at least one mile per day between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Today is Day 14.  Friday after the chocolate tour was rough, I didn't want to run and I had plans to meet some people for drinks.  I squeaked in 1.85 miles from my house and quickly changed and walked to downtown Lowell for a beer. 

Saturday I ran my 10 mile loop with a friend(which is really 10.5-10.75 depending on if I go all the way around the block at the end).  It was cold but not too bad, the sun was out and felt great.  We averaged a decent comfortable pace talking the whole time.  After the run I had a whole bunch of things I wanted to do and errands I needed to run, but I ended up taking a shower and then falling asleep on my couch for the rest of the day watching movies.

Sunday I had signed up for a race in Gloucester, MA.  The Holiday Half Merry-thon.  It was actually two races.  A 2.62 mile run followed by a half marathon.  I had low expectations for the race and was really just using it as a training run for Disney.  I had 20 miles on my schedule for the day, but opted for the race instead.  When I picked up my bib I noticed it was #179 - Sean Collier's MIT Badge number.  It was a special bib number.  Nothing different about it, but the number itself holds special meaning now and I wanted to wear it proud and run strong in memory of the brave man that once wore the number on his badge.
I had a sharpie in my car and I wrote on the bib "Collier Strong" and drew a little ribbon shape next to it.  The 2.62 mile race was a nice warm up because it was in the 20s and I was freezing.  And just as I was approaching the finish I bumped into a girl I had met a few years back in Disneyland.  She was running 13 halfs for 2013 with her mom and this race was #12.  We finished and chatted for a bit before the half marathon started.

I really didn't expect much and started out really easy.  I felt great and settled into a solid pace.  After the first few miles I was feeling really good and thought about Sean Collier and tried to picture the image of him in uniform that was shown in April and that hung on a cross in Copley Square with notes and flowers.  I repeated to myself "run strong" over and over again.  The course was really hilly and challenging but I felt light on my feet and the fastest I have been all year.  I saw my splits on my watch going down and down mile after mile.  After the first half I thought it might be possible to negative split the race and maybe even finish in 2:10 or 2:12.

I kept pushing myself a little more and a little more.  I saw people walking up the hills and thought I'm not stopping.  I can gut it out and get through this.  I pictured Sean's image in my mind and pushed on.  With just 2 miles left I looked at my watch and started doing math. 2:10 was definitely within reach and I could even be under that.  I picked up the pace and turned my feet over faster and faster.  Run strong. Keep moving forward.  Keep running.  Don't stop.  I crossed the finish and grabbed my medal and stopped my watch - 2:08:50!!!!!!  I said a little thank you in my head and teared up.  It was my best half marathon all year and I felt amazing.
Here are my splits:
1- 10:27
2- 10:25
3- 10:11
4- 10:10
5- 10:27 (took my first gel at 4.5)
6- 9:53
7- 9:54
8- 9:30
9- 9:53 (took my second gel at 8.5)
10- 9:31
11- 9:50 (last big hill)
12- 9:06
13- 9:06

Almost perfect negative splits.  I couldn't have possible paced it better unless I was a robot or being paced by a pro.  Once I got back to my car and changed into a dry shirt and warmer layers, I texted my friend Denise and started crying I was so happy.  After a really hard year of disappointing races and difficult days far outnumbering the good days, I finally had the most amazing race ever. 

In other news, last week I got my invitational entry to the Boston Marathon.  I mailed out my holiday cards of my photo with Santa and mailed out more letters to previous donors and a few small businesses that I support throughout the year.  I got a few donations over the weekend and continue to make great progress towards my goal to raise $10,000 for Dana Farber.  And I got the flyer for the painting party fudnraising event I am having in early February.  I am really hoping that more donations roll in before the end of the year since it is the ONLY thing I want for Christmas.  I would LOVE it if I hit $7500 before the end of the year.

You can help me get there!  Donate today at Make my Christmas wish come true!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Only 5 weeks until Dopey

I think I'm ready.  Over the long holiday weekend I did the best training runs so far for this challenge.  On Thanksgiving I ran a 5K, Friday I ran 7 miles, Saturday I ran 10.75, and then Sunday I ran 18.  That's pretty close to Dopey distances.  All of the runs felt pretty good too. 

The 5K on turkey day was cold and windy, but I finished in about 30 minutes and averaged 9:55s.  I procrastinated on Friday and it took me a long time to get out the door to run but once I did I felt great.  I did my 7 mile non-hilly hill loop and averaged 10:25s.  Saturday I had a lot to do so I got up relatively early and did 10.75 miles averaging 10:30s.  Sunday, it was freezing rain and icy out.  There was reports of massive car accidents all over so I waited until about 10:30 to go out for my run.  I nearly wiped out on my front steps, but once I made it to the street things were less slippery.  The run was pretty miserable as far as weather conditions go.  It was cold and wet and windy, but I felt really good and maintained a pretty consistant pace. I slowed down on the hills naturally, but overall I felt good about it and averaged 10:55s (probably a little faster if I took the last 3 miles out because I was frozen and tired).

I'm really happy with how the whole weekend of running went.  I'm exhausted even thinking about it, but happy it went well and I felt good the whole time.  I am very confident now about the Dopey Challenge and could probably take it easy and taper for the next 5 weeks, but I've got other plans.  I'm going to do 2-3 more weekends like that and THEN taper.  I also have two half marathons in the next few weeks so I have to squeeze those into the plan too. 

I have started going to Pole classes every week and added Aerial Silks too.  I can tell I am getting stronger, but it isn't getting any easier.  Especially silks.  It is all upper body and lifting and pulling your own body weight up.  I see progress from week to week, but in inches not miles.  I also have a nice collection of bruises all over my feet, ankles, shins, knees, and backs of my thighs.  It's really fun and challenging and I am learning some cool tricks, but damn it hurts. Even the most basic thing, climbing the silks, is really effin hard to do.  I can get the first step but then I get stuck because I can't pull myself up.

Oh and I am trying something else this year, a Holiday streak.  The goal is to run at least one mile between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Today is day 7.  I am doing good so far, but I'm really really tired and I want to just take a break.  I don't think streaking is working out for me, but I'm not ready to give up just yet.  Even if I only go out and do one sloppy mile the streak is alive and unbroken.  I can do this. 

I think if I succeed in keeping the streak going until New Years someone out there should pledge a donation of $1 for every mile I run between Thanksgiving and New Years.  I'd match it.  It could be ~$200, but if I break the streak, that's where the buck stops.  Any takers?????? 

Speaking of fundraising, I am officially past the halfway point on my way to my goal to raise $10,000.  Thanks to all my generous donors I am at $5460 (plus there is a couple hundred dollars in company matches pending).  I'd LOVE it if I could hit $7500 before Christmas. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.