Thursday, March 31, 2011

3TT: We are competitive edition ...

In our house, competition is fostered. We don't do things to simply finish. We do them to win. And then we brag about them. For example ...

1. On Saturday, Dizzle is running the VA 529 Kid's Run at the Ukrops Monument 10K. It's her first race since October and she is ready to go. Her PR at this distance (1 mile) is 12:08. She told me this morning that she thinks she can beat 12:00. She also believes she can win the race. I think she can too (well, the beating 12 minutes part). And fortunately, for her, she will have two things working in her favor.

1. Since she is only 5, I get to pace, I mean, run with her. I'm pretty sure we can make a sub-12 happen.

2. She's got a sweet outfit (Note: if it's warmer than expected, we have black knee highs)

I think the rest of the 5-7 age group better watch out.

2. Doodle is pretty much a soccer phenom.

At age four, she's been joining in on Dizzle's practices for the last two years. And it shows. She's got speed and agility and wicked footwork. We've had other parents suggest we have her moved up an age group. Um. No. I'd much rather have her dominate. Thank you very much.

At practice on Tuesday, Doodle was playing like normal, when suddenly, she was all out crying. Like inconsolable. She ran off the field. I hugged her and thinking she was hurt, I asked her what was wrong. She replied, "I ONLY scored two goals. And I wanted to score six."

Seriously, Doodle. Did you not realize that you were the only person who scored any goals? Hello, overachiever ...

3. Speaking of overachieving and domination, J had an off-site meeting yesterday followed by a bowling tournament. Yes, you read that right, a bowling tournament. Like the rest of us, J takes competition seriously. And of course, that focus paid off. His team won and they all walked away with the cutest trophy ever ...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

one set of wheels ...

Last week, J got in a little fender-bender. He is perfectly fine, but his 2000 Toyota Camry got the short end of the stick. It currently looks like this ...

And it is going to stay that way. Due to a whole slew of reasons, including the fact that we didn't have collision coverage on the car, we will not be repairing it or replacing it. That means effective last Thursday, we became a one car family.

Easy peasy, right? I mean, it's not like I have to a job to go to. And I was already moonlighting as a chauffeur. Seriously. Being a stay-at-home mom usually entails making sure that everyone else is where they need to be, when they need to be there. Plus, J only works 12 minutes from our house. And it's not like he EVER needs to go to the airport 20 miles away. Or be picked up from the airport late at night. After our kids are in bed. Are you catching my sarcasm here?

Basically, I am living in my car. Take Monday, for example. J took Dizzle to school at 7:30. He was back here by 7:45, just in time for the two of us to load Doodle and Dilly into the car at 8 a.m., so that I could drive him to work before taking Doodle to school. (Note: Travel time from J's work to Doodle's school - 32 minutes).

Once I successfully dropped off J and Doodle, I had to make a stop at the store and the bank. With that done, Dilly and I finally arrived back at our house at 10:37 a.m. Exactly two hours before I had to leave to pick up Doodle at one followed by Dizzle at two (no trip home in between). At 2:28 p.m., we got out of the car for the thousandth time that day.

Then at 6:15, I dressed the girls in their pajamas and put them back in the car for one last trip. We needed to pick up J from work and they needed to go to bed as soon as we got home. Cumulative family time for the day (when all five of us were present) - 12 minutes. Approximate time spent by me "commuting" - 5 HOURS.

This is going to take some getting used to ...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Easy Canvas Prints Review ...

About two weeks ago, Megan from Easy Canvas Prints (and BuildASign) contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing a product from their recently launched site.

Um, of course. I loved the stickers (HERE) I received when I worked with BuildASign and I have been complaining for MONTHS that we needed a new family portrait printed. It seemed like the perfect partnership. (Note: The most recent family photo displayed in our home was from 2007. Dilly's not even in it.)

And with that, I got started. Easy Canvas Prints allows you to transform your digital photos into canvas prints in just four easy steps. And the best part is that you can customize your canvas with a variety of styles and effects.

I decided to transform this picture from our Disney vacation in December. Don't we look cute?

The process was easy.

First, you choose your canvas size up to 40" x 40" and your wrap thickness, either .75" or 1.5". I went with a 16" x 20" canvas with a 1.5" wrap.

Second, you upload your photo. Easy peasy. The site will even let you know whether or not your photo quality is high enough to make a good print.

Third, you choose your border. I opted for the mirror image, but you can also select an image wrap or a border color.

Finally, you select your image options which include color finishing and image retouching. Once you've made your selections, that's it.

A few days later, this arrived at my door (yes, I hung it up immediately.)

I think it turned out fantastic and I absolutely love it. Plus, I'm pretty sure that once the rest of my family sees it, they are going to want one of their own. You (and they) can check out Easy Canvas Prints HERE ...

Note: I received one canvas print free of charge. The opinions, however, are all my own.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 National Marathon Recap ...

Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: 3/26/11
Temperature: A chilly 36 degrees at the start
Official Time: 4:15:48 (9:46 pace) for 26.2 miles
Garmin Time: 4:15:49 (9:39 pace) for 26.48 miles
Place in Age Group: 161/305
Overall Place: 1662/2872

The Good:

The Weather: Back in October when I registered for this race, I pictured the perfect Spring morning for race day. A low of 40. A high of 56. It was going to be magical. But of course, that didn't happen. Three days out from the race, forecasters were calling for a HIGH of 40. I wasn't quite sure what I thought about that. But, as it ends up, the weather was pretty much perfect. Sure, it was chilly as we waited in the corral, but by mile 4, I had ditched my gloves and was feeling comfortable in my outfit choice. By mile 20, I was happy it wasn't any warmer.

Cruising to a Sub-2 Half Split: There was a time, like seven months ago, that I would have killed for a sub-2 half marathon. And even when I finally accomplished that goal, it was tough (despite Tall Mom's best efforts to make it easy on me). But on Saturday, it felt like the easiest thing ever. I ran the first 12 miles of the race with IronJ and KC (they ran the half) and we chatted pretty much the whole time. It was so much fun to run with them and such an amazing feeling to look at my Garmin when we hit mile 13 and have it read 1:58. The coolest thing was that even though I knew we were racing, it never felt like it.

A new PR: One of my running goals in 2011 was to cut 30+ minutes off my marathon time. I knew as long as another catastrophe didn't strike on race day, I would be able to do it. Although I did have a few missteps during the race, my first half was strong enough to carry me through to the finish and I walked away with a 33:50 PR. And a marathon time I can be proud of.

Racing/Traveling with the Posse: I think this one's a given. Yes, running is an individual sport. And yes, on race day, you are the one who needs to bring it. But, I don't think there is anything better than sharing your running triumphs and struggles with your friends. Every single moment of our race weekend was awesome. From the expo ...

to the start ...

to the finish line ...

It was perfect.

Making it to the Start in One Piece: National was marathon number four for me. And it was the FIRST time I made it to the start without a total catastrophe. For my first and second marathons, I showed up with an ankle injury and walked miles of the races. For number three, I caught a stomach bug and spent 15 minutes of the race in the bathroom. But nothing was going to stop me this time ...

Our outfits: We looked fab. Obviously. (Note: there was a Yankee fan on the course who tried to hate on us. I beat his sorry butt.)

G "coaching" me to the Finish: Last November, I got the privilege of pacing G in the last 4.5 miles of her marathon. She walked away with a HUGE PR. I walked away able to take some credit for it. On Saturday, G got to do the same for me. And thank God she did.

The last four miles of the race were tough. Mentally, I was there, but physically, not so much. "The Quads" were failing me. And the hills weren't helping. But G helped me push through. She knew how to keep me moving. Even if that meant threatening me. (Note: I walk through water stations since I can't run and drink. She told me that if I didn't start running again that she would take a picture of me walking and post it for everyone to see. I'm going to show it to you anyway ...)

I couldn't be more thankful for G and all that she does for me. She is truly the best running partner EVER.
Meeting Bloggy Buddies: Although I failed to take a single picture, I did meet a few bloggers before and during the race. I ran into Katie as we were walking to the start. I spotted Jen in my corral. And Rachel introduced herself during mile 2.

Post-Race Recovery Drinks: Milkshakes. Enough said.

The Bad:

The Course (scenery):
OK, I will admit that I wasn't overly concerned with what was going on around me, but every time I think back to the views along the course, all I can think of is UGLY. I know we ran past several historical landmarks. I've been told there were cherry blossoms. But, the parts that stuck out to me were ugly and boring. Behind RFK stadium - ugly and boring. Along the water in Anacostia - ugly, boring and scary.

The Course (length): So, I know that most courses run long. But, this race was INSANE. When I finished, my Garmin read 26.48. Not too bad, but considering that my watch lost the signal at least three times while we ran through tunnels (one that was at least .3 long), this course was SUPER long. (Note: SpeeDee's Garmin read 26.9)

The Course (topography): I knew this course was hilly going into it, but I was not expecting rolling hills for the last three miles (most of the HUGE climbs were in the first half). My legs were shot at that point and I struggled. If you are going for a PR, this is likely not the course for it.

Failing to Pick Up G at Mile 21: After I split from IronJ and KC, I was looking forward to meeting up with G at mile 21. I was mentally prepared for it. I knew that I had eight solo miles and then she'd help me make that final push. But, when I got to mile 21, she wasn't there. And at mile 22, she wasn't there either. I was convinced that she thought she missed me and that she had left. But, rather, a crappy course map and a horribly placed Metro stop in Anacostia prevented her from getting there. When I finally saw her at mile 22.5, I felt like a new person. Such a mental boost.

The Ugly:

Almost Missing the Start: The logistics of getting to the start were horrendous. It took over a half hour to get our car out of valet. The traffic was crawling. Shuttles were running late. The Metro only opened an hour before the start. At 6:40 a.m., we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic about a mile from the start. All I could think was that this was going to be the catastrophe that ruined my race. Scared that we wouldn't make it in time, we got out of the car and walked. Total fiasco.

Hitting the Wall at Mile 13.5: I knew that running with my friends for the first half was going to keep me on pace. And I knew that splitting from them was going to be hard. But I wasn't prepared for what would hit me just after mile 13.

When the half marathoners ran to the finish, I was feeling strong. I saw Katye on the course and told her I felt good. Then she snapped this picture, and it must have sucked the life out from me.

Less than a half mile later, I had lost my mojo. The course was desolate. And ugly. The marathoners were sent on a loop behind RFK stadium through the parking lots. There were no spectators and I knew there was a hill coming up. It defeated me. I couldn't imagine running another 13 miles. I didn't even know if I could make it to G at mile 21. It took me until mile 18 to get my groove (and my hope) back.

Cramping at Mile 24: When G picked me up at mile 22.5, I told her I couldn't quench my thirst. I had finished the liter of water in my hydration pack and had drank at the last two water stops. My face was caked with salt. My fingers looked like sausages. I needed some sodium, but there was none to be found. By mile 23, my quads were cramping up every hill. I did my best to run through the pain, but I didn't want to risk an injury either. I would make it 3/4 of the way up and need to massage my quads. And then I could start running again. It was rough. And I'm still feeling the burn.

Complete and Utter Chaos: I'm not really sure that anything ran smoothly with this race. From the disorganized start to the lack of mile markers to confusion at the finish, this race was a cluster. Unless some serious changes are made, I will never run this race again. And I wouldn't recommend it for anyone else ...

Up Next: Another attempt at a sub-1:55 half at the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon, 4/16/11

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Take That 26.2 ...

2011 National Marathon is over.

Official Time: 4:15:48

33:50 PR!

Full Recap on Monday.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 National Marathon Training Recap ...

This time tomorrow I will be toeing the line at the 2011 National Marathon. Getting to this point was a journey in and of itself, one that started back on January 1st. Since then ...

I have run a total of 521.47 miles
at an average pace of 9:21,
for a total of approximately 81 hours and 15 minutes,
which is 3 days, 9 hours and 15 minutes of running,
just to get one of these ...


12 weeks of training. 5 runs per week. 2 new PRs.
0 injuries. 1000s of laughs.

26.2 - YOU ARE MINE.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

3TT: Things I Love ...

I have been fortunate enough to test out some really great gear (and some less than great gear, but that's not the point). And I thought it would be fun, to share some of the things I fell in love with during this marathon cycle ...

1. Surge 2G Waterproof Headphones from H2O Audio:

The people at H2O Audio sent a few items from their product line to test out including the AWESOME Capture Waterproof Case for my iPod HERE (think swimming with your iPod) and the Surge 2G Waterproof Headphones.

Don't they look good on me?

The Surge 2G Waterproof Headphones are full of features. They are:
  • 100% Waterproof - H2O Audio's patented waterproof technology allows headphones to withstand heavy perspiration, rinsing after active use, and submersion to 12ft/3.6m underwater.
  • Personalized Fit - Includes 5 sets of Elastomer earplugs (XS-XL) to ensure a waterproof seal and comfortable fit while swimming, running, and working out.
  • Hydrodynamic Design - Ergonomic sheared shape sits flush with the ear and is designed to promote proper alignment of the earbud with the ear canal for superior sound and less drag in or out of the water.
  • Improved Bass Amplified Sound - The latest waterproof technology delivers improved bass quality, while sound-isolating, watertight earplugs provide warm sound and dynamic bass response powered by Surge 2G’s waterproof 8mm neodymium drivers.
  • Sports Performance - Precision engineered and individually tested to deliver high quality fit, function, and durability for long-lasting performance.
Personally, I love these headphones for two reasons.

1. They are WATERPROOF and I sweat A LOT. I have damaged numerous sets of headphones (and three iPods) due to moisture. The Surge 2G Waterproof Headphones are still working after a super-sweaty 22 mile, making me believe they can handle anything I throw at them.

2. They come with FIVE (5) sets of earplugs. You are guaranteed to find the right fit. Even if that means wearing two different sizes (like I do).

For more information on the Surge 2G Waterproof Headphones and all of H2O Audio's products, you can click HERE.

2. The Infinity In-R-Cool Long Sleeve and Infinity LD Short by Pearl iZUMi:

A few weeks back, Scott and Devon from OutsidePR hooked me up with some sweet gear from their client Pearl iZUMi, including the Infinity In-R-Cool Long Sleeve, Infinity LD Short and the Streak II, which I gushed about HERE.

Let me just say, the Pearl iZUMi apparel line is fantastic. Lightweight and comfortable, these pieces have easily worked their way into my Spring clothing rotation.

Here's what Pearl iZUMi has to say about the Infinity In-R-Cool Long Sleeve :

The lightweight Infinity In-R-Cool Long Sleeve features our innovative In-R-Cool technology to cool the body while you exercise and allows for full body UV protection.
  • ELITE Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool® technology provides superior skin cooling and moisture management when you perspire
  • Direct-Vent panels provide superior ventilation
  • 8" zipper for venting
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility
And the Infinity LD Short:

The Infinity LD Short features a full Minerale, liner which dries 50% faster than regular performance polyesters. The lightweight outer shell has a longer inseam and external pockets.
  • ELITE Transfer fabric is lightweight and provides superior moisture transfer
  • Smooth front panel with elasticized sides and back with stretch draw cord for superior comfort and fit
  • Two hook and loop and two zippered pockets
  • Fully-integrated Float liner uses Transfer fabric with Minerale, which provides optimal moisture transfer, faster dry time and odor absorption
  • 5"inseam [size medium]
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility
I can not speak highly enough about these pieces, especially the Infinity LD Short (I know, you're shocked).

I am a skirt-runner through and through, but I LOVE these shorts. They are comfortable (I wear a medium), wicked cute, did not bunch or cause chaffing and have AMPLE pocket space. And as shocking as this might sound, if I had tried these shorts before I started wearing skirts, I don't think I would have made the switch. And I'd probably own 30 pairs of them.

To learn more about the Pearl iZUMi line, click HERE.

3. Pace Bands and MyName Bibs from Races2Remember:

Races2Remember sent me three pace bands (for National) and a MyName bib to test out. I opted for 3:58, 4:00 and 4:05 pace bands, each with my favorite phrase - "Runner First" across the top as motivation.

For the race on Saturday, I will be wearing both the 3:58 and the 4:05 bands in hopes of staying on target for my SUPER HUGE UBER GOAL, and not just my "walk away happy" goal of a 30 minute PR. Knowing that pacing has been an issue for me in the past, I'm hoping that seeing where I "should" be will help me from pushing too hard too soon ...

And then there's the MyName Bib. These personalized bibs can be customized with pictures, colors, and phrases, but I opted to keep it simple. I wanted something that would match any outfit in my wardrobe.

I'll wore this at the Disney Princess Half and will be wearing it at National as well, making it even easier to spot me.

You can check out all of Races2Remember's products HERE.

Do you have any new favorites you want to share?

Note: I was sent these products to test for free, but the opinions are all my own.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the reveal ...

And the moment you've all been waiting for. My 2011 National Marathon outfit (yes, that is the deck of my treadmill) ...

If you spot me, say hi. But remember, there's no promise that I'll slow down ...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

confidence ...

I think it is interesting how others see me. Recently, I have been told that I am intimidating, brave, stoic, determined and driven. And I have, on occasion, been told that I'm the type of person who you don’t like because I have it so together and at the same time you wish I was your best friend. Interesting. Perhaps, that explains my lack of friends.

I won't lie, all of those words describe me to some extent. But, I think above all, I am confident. And at times, confidence can be misconstrued as other things, often traits with a negative component to them. Unfortunate, but true.

In our household, there isn't a shortage of self-confidence. My girls think they are the sh*t.

Need proof? Well, just last week, I told Dilly that she was very pretty. Instead of saying thank you, she replied, "Not you. Only Dilly. Dilly beautiful."

See? That is a typical statement from my children. They will tell you are the best and that no one can top them. At anything. And I tend to agree with them. I will admit that, at times, we border on arrogance. I am not ashamed of this.

The thing is, I believe that confidence is the most important trait you can pass on to your children, especially daughters. Confidence will take you far. It will give you the drive to reach your dreams. It will push you past your limits. Confidence will keep you from settling for less than you are worth and show people that you have value. If you can't be confident in yourself, then no one else is going to have confidence in you either. And if you want to reach your full potential, you need have confidence that you can.


Monday, March 21, 2011

last long run ...

Yesterday morning, I ran my last long run of this training cycle. G, IronJ, KC, 3L, SpeeDee, A, R and I met up at West Creek for two six mile loops. When I arrived, I heard G talking about how she felt that it was a cheetah kind of day. And I knew, before I even saw her, that our ESP was in full force. We had somehow managed to show up in essentially the same outfit.

I look seriously ginormous next to G. I'm like a foot taller than her. It's insane.

Enough digression. Back to the run. We set out with an easy pace.

G is still recovering from an ankle injury and her pace is supposed to be "controlled." Yeah, about that. The four miles that she joined us for clocked in at 9:47, 9:11, 9:03, and 9:14 - not exactly controlled. But, I swear, I tried to slow us down.

At mile six, we picked up G (now on her bike), 3L and KC (who came directly from an overnight shift). Again, we said we were going to "take it easy." But, it seems that whenever you get us together and talking, we switch into autopilot and the miles tick away. Our last six miles were 9:11, 8:59, 8:56, 8:57, 8:48, and 8:48. It was effortless and the perfect way to end an awesome training cycle.

Now, just 9 miles and 5 days stand between me and the start line of the National Marathon. I don't think I could be any more excited ...

Friday, March 18, 2011

soccer ...

Soccer is pretty much my favorite sport ever. There is something about the strength, speed and footwork that I just love. I first started playing soccer, when I was three and I continued until I was 18.
(A six-year old soccer playing version of me.)

And then I picked it up again after Dizzle and Doodle were born. For a long time, soccer was everything to me. I played on both my school team and a travel team from the time I was 11. My family spent the weekends, both Spring and Fall, traveling to soccer tournaments. Looking back, I now realize what a HUGE commitment it was for my family. But, I loved it and I am really thankful that my parents let me do it.

Dizzle started her fourth season of soccer last night. Doodle starts her first season on Sunday. We are going to be living at the fields this Spring.

Anyway, I was just as excited as she was. OK, maybe not. She was really pumped.

On the way there, she told me that she wished soccer was everyday, because she "loves it so much. It's the best sport. Well, other than running."

Have I mentioned how much I love that kid?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three Things Thursday ...

1. In case you missed my Facebook post yesterday afternoon, I found out my bib number for National. And you all know how I love to dissect my bib numbers. So, here it is.

419 and I am in corral 7.

The first thing I thought was corral 7. 7 is my favorite number (and my birth date). Good sign. Then if you add the numbers of my bib you get: 4+1+9=14. 14 is really two 7s. Really good sign. So, I've got three 7s, which is 777. And if you hit that in Vegas, well, you are going to walk away as a winner.

Oh, and then I realized that 4:19 is EXACTLY 30 minutes faster than my current PR. And a 30 minute (or more) PR is my goal. Try to tell me it's not fate ...

2. After I posted that picture from my first marathon (in which I didn't have my signature socks), I was asked about when they were added to my running wardrobe. And the answer is November 14, 2009. I purchased them the night before the 2009 Richmond Marathon and wore them for the race (risky, I know.)

They were a huge hit on the course and I have worn knee highs on every run since ...

3. I have also received several requests for my marathon outfit. And I promise a picture next week. But for now, I'll let you know that it is an homage to Red Sox Nation, which won SERIOUS points with J ...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

marathon flashback ...

Three years ago today, I ran my first marathon - Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA. (Yes, I know I look strong. Trust me. It's an illusion.)

I was completely unprepared. I had only been running for seven months. I had never raced a half marathon. I knew nothing about nutrition. I didn't respect the distance. I was injured. It may have been the stupidest thing I have ever done as a runner.

Looking back on my training and comparing it to my current marathon cycle, all I can do is laugh. I can't believe I made it across that finish line. But, I did - in 5:06:36. And despite how horrific the experience was, I decided to try it again. And again. And again.

In 10 days, I will run National Marathon. Marathon number four for me. And honestly, the first one I feel truly prepared for. I am 100% relaxed. I feel confident that I can shave 30+ minutes off my current PR. And I know (not think) that my ultimate goal is completely attainable. I am excited and "taper madness" is nowhere in sight.

So, how did I get here? What was so different between that first training cycle and this one? Well, let's see.

For marathon #1, I ran four days a week and peaked at 36 miles.
For marathon #4, I ran five days a week and peaked at 60 miles.

For marathon #1, my long run peaked at 18 miles. And I ran that once.
For marathon #4, my long run peaked at 22 miles. And I ran 20 or more, three times.

For marathon # 1, my average training pace was 10:35.
For marathon # 4, my average training pace was 9:14.

For marathon # 1, I had seven months of running under my belt.
For marathon # 4, I have three years and eight months of running under my belt.

For marathon #1, I had no race experience. I had previously raced two 5Ks, one 8K and one 10K.
For marathon # 4, I have a lot of race experience. I have raced one three miler, seven 5Ks, one 4 miler, four 8Ks, seven 10Ks, one 15K, one 10 miler, one 17.75K, nine half marathons, three marathons and three sprint triathlons.

For marathon #1, I thought that 26.2 miles was ONLY 26.2 miles.
For marathon #4, I know that 26.2 miles can fly by or feel like an eternity. I know that A LOT can go wrong over that distance. Or everything can be perfect. I know that preparation is key, but sometimes, luck makes all the difference.

For marathon #1, I underestimated the mental strength and determination it takes to you run your best race.
For marathon #4, I know that my mental strength will be tested. I am ready for that test. And 10 days from now, I will prove it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

one, two, three, four ...

Dear Doodle,

Four years ago today, you were born and you changed my world forever.

And every year since, I have written you a letter on your birthday. Maybe you'll never read a single one of them. Maybe you'll read them all. I'm not really sure. It doesn't really matter. Honestly, I think that I might be writing them more for me than for you.

Because, I know that years from now, I won't remember all of the little things you do. I know that the years will mesh together and the memories will fade. But these letters will be a snapshot of who you are at this exact moment in time. And they will represent exactly how much I love you.

Doodle, you are, by far, my most challenging child. Just two nights ago, you screamed at me and told me that you didn't love me. It broke my heart, even though I know you didn't mean it. In the past, I would have just yelled back, but instead I cried. And you cried too, knowing that you had hurt me. And I love you for that.

With each day that passes, I am learning more about you. I now know that your temper is not out of anger, but rather fear and passion. You are so incredibly focused on and intertwined with what you do and love. And when you feel threatened, even if it is unwarranted, you immediately become defensive. And I love you for that.

You force me to be creative. To find new ways to parent. You test my patience and make me stronger. You show me, through your expressiveness, that I too need to let my emotions out, good or bad. And I love you for that.

Doodle, I love every piece of your being. I love your striking blue eyes and your curly blond hair. I love that when I look at you, I can see my smile. I love that when you are trying to be sneaky, you always say, "Um, we're just talking about snow." I love that my favorite moments with you are when we do things as simple as snuggling on the couch or jamming out to Train's Soul Sister in the car. I love that we are so alike, yet so different. You give me more reasons to love you than I could ever list. And I love you for that.

So, today, 1,461 days after you changed my life forever, I wish you a happy 4th birthday Doodle. I love you a hundred million and twenty.


Monday, March 14, 2011

solo weekend ...

In case you haven't picked up on it yet, J travels a lot for work. And due to the nature of his job, he often travels over the weekend. I'm not particularly a fan of his traveling. Especially, weekend travel. I always thought you got a 9-5 job, so that you could do that - work 9-5. Yeah, not so much.

Anyway, this weekend, J was in Denver (he's flying back now) and I was in Virginia honing my multitasking skills with our three very loud and very, um, spirited children in tow. (Note: my spirited children were amazingly well behaved this weekend. I am beginning to believe someone brainwashed them.)

Somehow, and I'm honestly not sure how, I accomplished EVERYTHING on my to-do list over the past 48 hours. And I did it all while managing to keep my children alive, fed and uninjured. I deserve a freaking medal.

This weekend I (we, if you want to include Dizzle, Doodle and Dilly too):
  • Cleaned the house
  • Washed and folded all of the laundry
  • Attended ballet class (OK, that was the girls, but I was their driver)
  • Balanced our household budget and input all of our spending into a spreadsheet
  • Read Body by Design
  • Drafted my training plan for Mid-April until the NYC Marathon
  • Researched an upcoming project
  • Wrangled three children through Dick's Sporting Goods to purchase soccer equipment
  • Successfully took three children to a restaurant without backup
  • Single-handedly managed a bathroom trip in said restaurant (childless readers - you'll understand when you have kids)
  • Made and shipped 20 TMB Endurance Bands
  • Baked cupcakes for Doodle's Birthday (it's tomorrow!)
  • Ran 16 miles on the treadmill
Did you catch that last one? Oh, you did. Well, did I mention the part where I averaged a 9:01 pace (faster than goal marathon pace, might I add)? Or the part where the last four miles were at a 8:49 pace? Sweet, right?

It's OK. Be jealous. I completely understand.

Friday, March 11, 2011

peer support ...

Making the choice to be healthy is challenging. We live in a world where inactivity and poor nutrition are fostered. We drive everywhere. There is a fast food restaurant every five feet. Fewer and fewer schools have a quality PE program. Obesity levels are at an all time high. Did you know that there is only one state with an obesity level of 20% or below? I didn't either. (It's Colorado, in case you were wondering).

We are an unhealthy nation. And it bothers the heck out of me. Because it wasn't inevitable. It was caused by a series of choices. Choices that each and every one of us is presented with.

Last night, I started reading Body by Design. In the early chapters, the author discusses the effect of our peer groups and support systems in the choices we make. Apparently, research has been done that shows that if an individual has obese friends, they are more likely to fall victim to obesity as well - even if they don't have face-to-face interactions with each other (think social network sites).

When I thought about it, it really started to make sense. As a teen, I was overweight. And so were my friends. We fostered each others negative behaviors. We (as a group) chose eating out over eating healthy and movie nights over workout sessions. Then, when I decided to make a change, I found myself drifting from those people, maybe intentionally, maybe not. And as I drifted, I formed new connections with people who supported, agreed with or shared my passion for health and fitness. And now, I am surrounded (both virtually and in real life) with individuals who "get me" and what I am trying to do. They understand why I would want to run a marathon or be a vegetarian, even if they don't aspire to do the same. They understand that my choices are intended to improve the quality of life for me and my whole family. They see the big picture.

Sure, there have been speed bumps along the way. I've encountered people who I thought were there for me, but their negativity was too great to overcome. So, I've left them behind and I'm better for it. It hasn't always been easy, but every struggle has been worth it. And I will continue this journey with the support of my peers (especially my loving husband who supports me 100% regardless of what I throw at him). And I will do my best to inspire the people around me to do the same, if for no other reason than to give back some of the support I have received ...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Three Things Thursday, speed edition ...

1. Since I am tapering right now, it's only natural that I feel like I could run forever but that I am being held back by the limited miles on my training plan (everyone feels this way, right?) Well, since I am sticking to the plan and cutting my mileage, my stored up energy seems to be manifesting itself in the form of speed training.

Yesterday morning, IronJ (awesome article about her brother and injury prevention HERE), G (on the bike) and I took the strollers out for a six mile run. It was nice. We chatted. And laughed. And the kids behaved. And when we finished, we had somehow managed an 8:50 pace. WITH THE STROLLERS. Really not sure how that happened.

2. Since I had 10 on the schedule yesterday, I needed to finish up my miles after the girls were in bed. My legs were feeling pretty strong, so I decided that I would throw a one mile time trial in the middle of my four miler. I hadn't run a time trial in almost a year (2 miles @ 7:24 pace), so I just kind of guessed what I thought I could hold and followed Dorothy's tips HERE.

I did a mile warm up, followed by a 1.2 mile time trial (just to be sure) and a 2 mile cool down. That mile was my fastest recorded mile EVER - 6:33. Yeah, I killed it. And it was wicked hard. I can't imagine holding that pace for one step more than I did. Crazy.

3. And considering I took it SO easy yesterday, I woke up bright and early for another 5 miles in the pouring rain and wind. When I left my house, I didn't really remember which Posse members said they were running today, but I was going to "take it easy." Um, about that.

It just couldn't happen. The only other people who showed up were speedy pants, 3L and the Illusive Dave. I knew I was in trouble. I told them I ran hard the day before and to feel free to leave me, but they protested and instead ran what was an "easy" pace for them and a kick in the face for me. When I finished my five (they ran six), my Garmin showed an average pace of 8:30. I'm going to need a nap today ...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I love you Pearl iZUMi Streak II ...

A few weeks back, the nice people at Outside PR gave me the opportunity to test some of the new product line from their client, Pearl iZUMi. When the package arrived, I was in heaven. Because inside was the Infinity IN-R-COOL LS, the Infinity LD Short (more on those pieces in another post) and the Streak II ...

Ah. The Streak II. I was so very hesitant to try them at first. My current shoes have treated me so well. But look at the Streak II. They are beautiful.

And the specs were appealing.
  • 1:1 Seamless Upper creates an unparalleled fit with a seam-free interior
  • 1:1 360° Lacing anatomically conforms to the foot for a tailored fit regardless of foot shape
  • NEW 1:1 Energy Foam cushions the forefoot upon impact and then returns energy back to the runner
  • Outsole-grade EVA and blown rubber outsole combines for great cushioning and weight savings
  • Segmented forefoot for a smooth, efficient ride
  • NEW Ortholite® sockliner for amazing step-in comfort and long-lasting cushioning
  • NEW 100% recycled lace webbing and laces
  • Heel/Toe offset: 19.0mm/10.0mm
And Pearl iZUMi says that "This is your go to PR shoe."

But, was it all true. I had to see for myself. So, that's what I did. Remember that 22 miler I ran last week? Well, the first seven miles of that long run were logged in these shoes. And from step number one, I WAS IN LOVE. And here's why.

The Streak II, which retail for $110, are perhaps the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn. (Note: I needed to size up one full size from my normal running shoes.) Lightweight and minimalistic, with a large toe box, these trainers reminded me of running in slippers. I could feel my foot hitting the treadmill bed, without feeling unsupported. I instantly became more aware of my form and foot strike and was running with ease. I have no doubt that the Streak II will become my new race day shoe.

With that said, I do have one concern with the Streak II. As a larger runner (150+ lbs), I tend to burn through my shoes rather quickly (250-300 miles). I fear that although Pearl iZUMi says that you can train in these shoes, I would not be able to get as much mileage out of them due to the minimalist design. Obviously, I won't know for another 200+ miles or so, but I am interested to find out. But for now, the Streak II get my seal of approval ...

Note: I was sent these items free of charge to review. However, the opinions are solely mine.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

tattletale ...

Doodle has a temper. She's quick to overreact. And when she gets angry, she screams. Oh, and did I mention that she doesn't like to lose? Because she doesn't. Doodle has been known to flip the game board once she realizes someone else is going to claim victory.

And you know what else? It's NEVER her fault if she loses. Either you "got lucky" or you "made her lose." Makes sense, right?

On Sunday, Doodle was playing a computer game. I was sitting next to her checking my email. And although I wasn't actually paying attention to what she was doing, she turned to me and said, "Don't look at me. When you look at me, I lose."

I shook my head and told her I wasn't looking. She went on playing and I got back to what I was doing. And then it happened ...

Doodle: "Damn."
Me: "What did you just say?"
Doodle: "Damn"
Me: "Doodle, that is not a word that we EVER say."
J (from the other room): "What did she say?"
Me: "You go tell your father what you just said."
Doodle (screaming at the top of her lungs): "You ALWAYS try to get me in trouble. STOP BEING A TATTLETALE!"
Me (laughing while trying to keep a straight face): "I'm not a tattletale. I'm your mother."

Sometimes, I can not believe this is my life. Where the heck did I get these kids?

Monday, March 7, 2011

60 ...

Last week was the final peak week of this training cycle. As of today, I am officially tapering. But, like I said, last week was a peak week, which meant lots and lots of running. I had 56 miles on the schedule (plus five sessions of P90X Ab Ripper X). And a husband who was out of town from Monday until Saturday. Fantastic!

On Monday, I rested. After a weekend filled with lots of excitement, little sleep and a new half marathon PR, I needed a break.

On Tuesday, I hit the treadmill for six miles. Easy pace. Nothing special. Just wanted to shake the post-race soreness I was experiencing.

On Wednesday, it was back to the hamster wheel for the now infamous 22 miler. I knew that if I didn't get my long run in early in the week, I was going to have to spend my first day with J in over a week running and recovering. So, I did what any less than sane individual would do and ran three and a half hours on my treadmill while watching NCIS.

Most of Thursday was spent debating whether or not to run. I had a rest day to play with, but I wasn't sure if I would "need" it later. I opted not to take it, and ended up logging four miles before I was interrupted.

Friday was definitely going to be a rest day. Definitely. Well, it was until I logged onto DailyMile and realized that thanks to the four miles that I had run the night before, I would be able to hit 60 miles for the FIRST TIME EVER as long as I completed the rest of the miles on my schedule. I had to channel my inner Katie A.

I mean, how could I say no? It's not like I was going to stumble upon this opportunity again any time soon. After National, I plan to bring my mileage back down to the 38-43 miles per week range. I NEEDED to do it now. There really was no choice.

So, with that, I scheduled a date with my treadmill for the fourth day in a row. And 1:35:43 and 10 miles later, I was done. 42 miles on the 'mill in four days.

J FINALLY got back on Saturday and I was able to sneak out for a late afternoon run with my friend, Earth Momma Mer.

She wanted someone to join her on the first six miler of her training plan and I REALLY wanted to run outside. It was perfect. And we took this really sweet action shot ...

Cool, right?

Then, yesterday, I was scheduled to run 12 miles with the Posse. It was supposed to be extra rainy, but instead it was just extra humid. It was totally one of the worst runs I have had in a long time. And to top it off, the last mile was straight uphill. Like bring you to your knees, uphill. It sucked. But, it kind of ROCKED too. Because, no matter how much it hurt at the time, once I was done, I got to post it to DailyMile and saw this as a reward ...

6 days. 60 miles. 100% sheer awesomeness. And to think, this time last year I would have told you that running 30 miles in a week was impossible ...

p.s. Are we DailyMile friends? Because we totally should be. Just click HERE

Friday, March 4, 2011

comfort zones ...

Comfortable is good. And comfortable is nice. Shoes should be comfortable. And so should pants, your sofa and your pillow. But if you live your life in a bubble of comfort, you'll become stagnant.

I was once told that, "if it's not uncomfortable then you're not making a change." That statement couldn't be more true. Take for example, the long run. When you first start running, a mile might seem like an eternity, but over time you add distance, pushing past the point of comfort (what you know) and before you know it three miles is short and six miles is "kind of a good workout." Your mind and body have adapted to the stresses placed upon them and you have evolved. You are changed. Stronger. Better.

Change is never made by standing still and staying in your comfort zone. And making a change is never easy. If it were, we would all be successful in every aspect of life. I truly believe that ANYONE can make ANYTHING happen with enough hard work and determination. But, I also believe that EVERYONE is stopped by self-imposed limits. We all have our "thing" that we just can't do. Or won't do. Or don't want to do. (For me, it's cutting out sweets, it's a nice thought, but I don't want it enough to put in the effort.)

At the end of the day, the only thing that stops us is ourselves. Don't let yourself get in the way of your successes. Push your limits, until they fall ...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Last night, my Facebook status read,

"Tonia is about to attempt something crazy. Lots of NCIS on the schedule ..."

Within seconds, people (mostly other runners) were commenting/hypothesizing about my run. Heather threw it out first, "a marathon on the treadmill?"

Um, no. But, I was going to attempt my last REALLY long run of this training cycle - 22 miles. It went a little something like this ...

Turn on NCIS. Run 7 miles (1:06:41). Reset the treadmill (my 'mill only lets you run 90 minutes at a time). Drink some water. Run 8 miles (1:15:50). Reset the treadmill. Take a GU. Drink some water. Run 7 miles (1:05:11). Reset the treadmill. Drink some water. Contemplate running another 4.2 miles.

Ultimately, I decided not to add the miles. Although I felt like I could handle it, it was already after 10 p.m. and I wanted to go to sleep. So, that's what I did. 3:27:02 after I started, I turned off the treadmill. (Yes, I realize I am insane.)

2. I have been thinking a lot about my food choices recently. As you may know, I eat a pescatarian diet (think vegetarian who eats seafood). The transitition to this way of eating has been quite easy for me. In fact, I don't feel like I am sacrificing anything by cutting beef, poultry and pork out of my diet and I have very little trouble meeting my protein requirements. For me, it's a sustainable way of eating.

But as simple as that change has been, I realize that there are some dietary changes that I don't think I could handle. For example, I am a sugar addict. I crave sweets and I LOVE chocolate. I consume some form of "junk" everyday. I honestly wish I had the willpower to have cookies or chocolate or ice cream in my house. I don't. If it's there, I will eat it. J thinks I'm crazy. I think I'll always be wired to binge.

3. Yesterday, while we were eating dinner, Dizzle refused to stay in her chair. So, after several warnings, being the hard a** mother that I am and all, I took the chair away from her and made her stand at the table. She will be standing for all of her meals until she can figure out the correct use of a chair. Harsh, maybe. Effective, yes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Rewind ...

2 months down, 10 to go. Here is my recap of January 2011 ...

Miles Planned/Miles Ran: 194/176.51 (I cut 16 miles in one week when I had the stomach flu)

Rest Days Planned/Rest Days Taken: 8/8

Highest Mileage Week: 2/13 - 2/20: 52 miles

Long Runs Planned/Long Runs Completed: 4/3

Current Book: There was no reading this month. Just running. And puking. Not the best combo.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Teen Mom 2. That show couldn't get any more absurd, yet I am glued to it EVERY week ...

Current Colors: Pink and Black

Current Drink: Diet Coke. It seems to really settle my upset stomach ...

Current Song: Like a G6 - Far East Movement

Current Triumph: My 1:57:06 Half Marathon PR this past weekend at Princess. I was under the weather, dehydrated and hadn't really eaten in the 24 hours prior, but through mile 7, I was still on pace to break 1:55.

Then I ate a GU, bad choice. I know that sub 1:55 is mine if I can make it to the start line in one piece.

Current Goal: National Marathon is this month. I'm looking to take 30+ minutes off of my current PR (4:49:36)

Current Blessing: Well, last weekend was pretty amazing. But in all seriousness, pretty much everything in my life is a blessing. And I don't take that for granted.

Current Excitement: National Marathon - obviously. And officially committing to running the NYC Marathon with Ethan Zohn and his foundation, Grassroot Soccer. Now for the fundraising ...

2011 Goals - Status Update:

  • Clean up my diet - I am tracking my food religiously at SparkPeople and am currently sitting at my happy weight. Eventually, I'll get to my "racing weight."
  • Eat no more than 25 cupcakes - As of March 1st - 4 cupcakes eaten
  • Pay off our consumer debt by the end of the year - We have paid off over half of our consumer debt and are on track to be credit card debt free in 10 months. Plus, we are on track to have our student loans eliminated by February 2013, five month ahead of our schedule. And 10 years faster than if we let it go to term.
  • Spend $0 on clothing - As of March 1st - $0 spent.
  • Run 2,000 miles - As of March 1st - 376.47 miles run.
  • Run a sub 1:55 half marathon - Next race - 4/16, Dismal Swamp Stomp Half
  • Take 30+ minutes off my marathon - Next race - 3/26, National Marathon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Disney Princess Media Mixer Recap ...

In 2010, I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon and it instantly became my favorite race. The course was magical. The medals were adorable. And the experience was amazing. I told every runner that would listen that they should partake in a runDisney race. I knew that I'd be back. Eventually.

It didn't look like it was going to happen in 2011, but then Wifey contacted me with an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. She asked if I wanted to take part in the Disney Princess Media Mixer hosted by the Walt Disney World Resort in association with The Blogrollers' Get Moving! Initiative.

Um. Yes! (Was it even a question?)

Heading into the weekend, I had no idea what to expect. And to be honest, I couldn't have ever imagined all that was in store for myself and the other fabulous women who were invited.

We started our weekend with a visit to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where we were given a facility tour followed by a trip to the race expo.

And once we had shopped ourselves happy, we were treated to a welcome reception (talk about VIP treatment), where we chatted ( and became BFFs) with Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca from Survivor and had a Q & A session with the amazing Jeff Galloway.

(Note: I was in rough shape for most of this part, sitting on the sidelines trying not to puke up my crackers.)

Our evening ended with dinner (a.k.a. food coma) at Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios. Laughter filled the air and carbs filled our bellies. It was perfect.

Day two began at the far too early hour of 3 a.m., when I woke for the race. We boarded the shuttle to Epcot at 3:50 and headed over to the VIP tent for a few minutes before the start. (Full race/VIP tent recap HERE)

After the race, we headed back to our host hotel, Disney's Polynesian Resort, to clean up and relax before the onslaught of afternoon events. I took this time to call my friends and family to brag and to take in the views from the balcony of my room.

At 1 p.m., we headed back to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the Atlanta Braves Spring Training Season Opener and a delicious lunch.

Our baseball adventures were followed by an hour long private golf lesson at Disney's Palm and Magnolia Golf Course (Note: My golf skills are CRAZY. Be jealous!)

and a Disney Dining and Nutrition presentation by Chef Gary Jones, Culinary Dietary Specialist and Ironman.

We ended our night with an extravagant dinner at Bistro de Paris in Epcot, followed by a private dessert party (think lots of chocolate and specialty champagne) where we watched the IllumiNations firework show.All in all, it was a DREAM weekend. And I would like to give a HUGE thank you to Walt Disney World Resort for hosting such a magical event and a special thanks to The Blogrollers for inviting me to partake. I couldn't imagine a more amazing experience.