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Runs Lately, Race Plans, and All Things Holiday!

Hi Friends,

Does anyone else feel like Thanksgiving was sooo long ago!  The week after a holiday or vacation always seems to drag for me, so I am happy it is almost the weekend…and the start of December!  Every weekend is December is packed with fun events (some of which include running), so I cannot wait for all of the festivities to begin.  I am also planning a small way to celebrate all the days leading up to Christmas with Dean, inspired by one of my favorite bloggers Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake.  More to come!

Running lately has been a little bit sporadic and I feel myself both craving a new training plan and also enjoying the flexibility to run morning or evening, short or long, slow or fast.  My mileage has been in the high 20s or low 30s.  I also ran the Cambridge Half Marathon with Sarah and a very fun Turkey Trot with Dean and friends on Thanksgiving.  These photos pretty much sum up my attitude to racing right now…have fun and plan yummy treats for afterward.

But I do need to start increasing my mileage and workouts up as I prepare for….

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I signed up for the New Jersey Marathon, with my friends Sarah, Caitlin, and hopefully Robin.  This will be Sarah and Robin’s first marathon, so I am so excited to make it a great experience for them.  And I am hoping to really work on my own speed and performance to get a new PR.

If you are looking for a spring marathon, you can save 20% on New Jersey with the coupon code NJMCyberSocial by this Friday!

I have to decide on my training plan and I am thinking of going with something more challenging and with higher mileage.  I have a few options in the mix and I will definitely share once I figure it out.

In other news Dean and and I also got our first Christmas Tree!  I love Christmas trees so much and having our own really feels special.  Now we can start our ornament collection, which already includes a few pug figurines (Meg) and a bicycle (Dean).

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Anywho…happy Friday Jr. and I hope you have a great end of the week!

Meg

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Tips for Being a Great Support System…a.k.a a “Race Sherpa”

Happy Hump-day Friends!

I hope your week is going splendidly!  Now that the cold weather has settled into Boston I am working hard to adjust to runs in the dark AND cold.  Dean and I made it out for 6 miles yesterday, which required a best, hat, and gloves!  Since I am really just trying to maintain my fitness rather than train for a goal race I am not putting too much pressure on myself to stick to workouts, but doing my best to get in 4-5 runs per week.

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Winter is coming!!!

So I have been meaning to write this post for a while since a huge part of being successful at any sport or hobby is having a great support team.  Dean lovingly refers to himself as my “sherpa” whenever I am doing a race and he is helping do all the other things that get me to the starting line.

The term “sherpa” broadly refers to an ethnic group from Nepal (according to this wikipedia page, which is definitely not the most accurate place to get information, but handy for quick reference :).  The image that most often comes to mind for me when I hear the term “sherpa” are the incredible mountaineers who help visitors climb dangerous peaks like Everest.  These skilled guides make incredible athletic adventures possible for visitors.

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In this spirit, I have learned that there are several things you need to do for friends or family who race in order to be a great sherpa.  Here is my list, inspired mostly by Dean’s example.

Be enthusiastic yet calm

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Race jitters definitely affect people in different races and if you are new to your sport or to racing it can be really stressful getting to the start line.  A great sherpa is there to keep the mood light and positive.  Lola exudes calm at Dean’s cyclocross races!

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Have snacks or “fuel” on hand

When you date someone like like Dean and “hangry” sets in quickly you learn to ALWAYS have snacks on hand.  Gus, granola bars, water, etc. are all good to keep with you while you spectate.  Make sure your racer knows what works for him/her and do not try anything new on race day!  You need quality fuel to get through a race feeling your best.  As well as some treats for after :0

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Identify the best spots for race photos and cheering

This is one I am still working on, especially for spectating cyclocross races.  But I suggest looking at the course ahead of time and figuring out where to snap photos.  If you are able to say high to your athlete, like in a road race, also let them know where you will be during the race.  This way your athlete can benefit from the encouragement.  This always helps me in long races when I look forward to seeing friends and family.

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Be at the finish with a big smile, not matter the outcome

This is super important!  As an athlete we all have good races and bad ones.  There are so many emotions wrapped up in competing and it is easy to beat ourselves up when things do not go according to plan.  Alternatively, when you have a great race you want others to share in your joy.  Great sherpas are there to encourage or celebrate.

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Brag about your racer, especially when they will not

It feels amazing when others praise you for a job well done, but some of us do not like to talk about our accomplishments in public .  This is where your sherpa gets to sing your praises!  Letting others know how special someone else is will help inspire your athlete to keep putting in the hard training work required to be a success!

A big hug goes out to Dean for not only being my number 1 sherpa, but also teaching me the tricks of the trade 🙂

Pug hugs!

Meg

 

 

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Runs, Podcasts, and Grace

Happy Thursday Friends,

As I have mentioned on the blog before I am a huge fan of podcasts.  Don’t get me wrong, I love listening to music when I work out and often have Spotify playlists going as I work on my weekly spin playlists.  But since I have a mostly walking commute I like to mix it up with podcasts. Here are a bunch (many running-related) in my current rotation.

There are more in the rotations, but these are the top ones right now. I use a free phone app called Stitcher that I would highly recommend. I think podcasts are also great for easy runs especially if you are someone who struggles with boredom on the longer workouts.

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So the idea for this post came while I was listening to an interview on the Runner’s World Podcast with Kristen Armstrong.  Kristen is a writer of the column ‘Mile Markers’ in Runner’s World, a mother of three, a marathoner, and also the former wife of Lance Armstrong.  

In the interview Kristen shares how runner saved her after a very difficult divorce and became a way for her to find inner strength and community (with fellow female run buddies).  I love these kind of stories because I identify so much with those who find running has healing powers for your inside as much as your outside.

One comment Kristen made that really struck me was her desire to apply grace to her running and her life.  She says that grace is something ‘so mysterious and transcendent…the gift of letting yourself and letting others off the hook…” She says it is about learning to see ourselves as enough.

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I was blown away by this idea.  I’ve definitely struggled during this injury to appreciate my body right now and be patient with the recovery process.  But I love this idea of trying to incorporate grace into my thought process.  When people use the common adage, life is a marathon not a print, I think about that idea that running is a journey and process not just a finish line.  While we each chase PRs and individual goals, it is the process of pushing ourselves, building a healthy routine, and being part of a community that really makes running a great sport.

So my challenge to myself and to you is to figure out how to bring more grace to your running or any other aspect of your life.  If you need some inspiration to get started, chek out Kristen’s interview here.

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Adventures with a Betty the Boot

Good Morning Friends and Happy Halloween!

I’m coming back from a long hiatus from the blog, which in some part goes hand in hand with my forced break from running. About 6 weeks ago I found out that I have a metatarsal stress fracture in my right foot, which resulted in my newest BFF, Betty the Boot. I’ll go into the entire story of Betty below, but the biggest lesson I have learned through this process is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!! I am actually pretty terrible at this, which has been reflected in my history of disordered eating as a teenager and adult, overtraining, stress, etc. We all have our own personal struggles and challenges, but this experience has definitely made me more aware of the incredible power of our bodies to tell us when something isn’t right. As I hopefully return to running (one of my biggest loves!) in a few weeks, I’ll need to work on this “listening to your body” business even more.

The Betty the Boot Story
Phase 1: Denial

It all started the week of September 12th…I had completed an awesome 20 miler a few weeks ago and was doing really well with my workouts, finally feeling like my plantar fasciitis was under control. But early that week I started to notice some pain in the mid-to-top portion of my right foot. I figured it was just sore, so I cut back on my runs. An easy 5 miler Tuesday of that week still hurt and it was bugging me on my walks to work. This should have been clue #1, because if walking hurts then running is not going to be good. I had a quick 5k planned for Thursday, my last day of work at BC. During the day on Thursday I was planning to skip the race, but I think a combination of emotions with leaving and other things going on in my life (aka lingering relationship feelings) made me just want to run.
So….I ran. And a mile and half in at about 6:50 pace I knew something was wrong.
Here is the place where listening to your body would mean…quit the race! A dinky 5k means nothing when you have big goals like a marathon. But my pride got in the way and I pushed through. This is something that we runners with. We are so used to pushing our bodies through pain, which often leads to great accomplishments (aka qualifying for Boston!). But this can also lead to injuries, of which I have had my fair share.
Following the race I knew something was seriously wrong. I hobbled home, put ice on my foot, and prayed that my PT would say it was just a stress reaction and I needed a week or so off. There was no way I would have to cancel Marine Corps or Philly…how could I be that unlucky?

Phase 2: Diagnosis

I woke up Friday morning with a very swollen foot that could not bear any weight. I had PT scheduled for that morning, so I figured I would see what Adam said and go from there. I limped my way to the office trying to keep the tears at bay and not think about the worst case scenario (STRESS FRACTURE!).
Adam took a look at my foot and was pretty confident I had a stress reaction. He massaged the area for a while and asked me some questions, but when he told me to walk and could see that the foot couldn’t even support my weight he was worried. I knew at that moment that Marine Corps was out and likely Philly as well. Ironically, Friday was also my day to register for Boston 2017, which luckily I got into! Silver linings 🙂
So with this information, I knew I needed to go to the hospital and confirm the diagnosis. My wonderful sister Kate drove over to pick me up and take me to Faulker Hospital where my podiatrist is. He ordered me an x-ray, which confirmed an actual stress fracture, not just a stress reaction. This is like a death sentence for a runner because it means absolutely no running for 6-8 weeks. So Kate and I made our way over to Orthopedics to pick up my Cam Walker Boot, which I affectionately named Betty.

Phase 3: Embracing the Break

I got home from the doctor and had a few hours before my mom was picking me up to go to the Cape for the Weekend. Sitting alone (with Lola and Louie nearby) I broke down. I cried out of anger for not pulling back when I felt something was off and for working so hard in PT and my training to have all of that derailed. I was able to defer the Marine Corps Marathon, but that was not an option for Philly…so I lost a few hundred dollars between fees for races. I also cried out of fear knowing that something I love so much, that has gotten me through pretty much every challenge in my life for the past 8 years, that has become a key part of my identity, would not be possible for 6-8 weeks!!!
After about 15 minutes of feeling really bad for myself I realized I had two choices. I could remain angry, frustrated, and negative for the next 8 weeks or I could use this time to recharge and invest energy in other things are equally as important. I know that running is something that brings me joy and connection, but at the end of the day it is just running. In focusing on distance and time goals I often forget how lucky I am to be able to run. To have a body that allows me to do something I love and that will recover and be stronger.
So I decided that Betty the Boot was going to be that annoying friend who tells you to get it together and refocus your priorities.

Phase 4: Moving Forward

Since getting Betty I have dug into my new job at Northeastern which is going really well! I love the challenge of a new environment and imagining new projects and ideas. Having a more creative professional space and new people to meet has definitely helped me stay positive. I have also been exercising as much as I can, doing some Beachbody workouts (which are actually pretty great and super convenient to do at home).


And over the past few weeks I could finally return to spin! I missed the high-intensity cardio so so much so this has been an absolute blessing. And as much as I miss running and addictively listen to my running podcasts, it has been pretty nice to give my body a rest. 


I have so many fewer aches and tight spots, which also proves that I need to be better about recovery and cross-training down the road. I also started seeing this great guy, which has brought new joy into my daily routine. I cannot wait to get out there for some hikes and runs with him and prove that I’m not all talk as an athlete haha.
So all in all, this break has both sucked and been a gift. This is probably the longest I have gone without running in years, but I would never have given my body a true break without being forced. And while I am absolutely dying to get back out there and just jog at a snail’s pace, I also want to come back healthier and stronger both physically and mentally!

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Friday Hug: Annie and Brian

Happy Friday Friends,

This week’s hug goes out to my dear friends Annie and Brian, who are getting married tomorrow! Woohooo!

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Annie was one of my first friends in Boston when we met as new office mates at the Lynch School Grad Office in Boston College.  Annie helped me get through my master’s program and the good and bad days at work.  She provided endless entertainment over gchat and is one of the most vivacious, giving people I know.  She and Brian are one of those couples that you instantly see are better together than apart.  I’m so excited to celebrate their special day with my partner in crime, Lindsey, for the weekend!

Congrats Annie and Brian!

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While I’m at the wedding in New York, Lola is spending the weekend with her buddy Louie at my parents’ house.  They were a little sad to see me go this morning, but a treat quickly fixed that problem!

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These two will get plenty of relaxation in while I’m gone.  My sister always teases me that Lola loves being with Louie because they factor in lots of naps and snuggles…and shorter walks 🙂

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Running this week has been a little haphazard, but I have a 10 miler planned for tonight (fingers crossed it isn’t too hot) and then two shorter runs over the weekend since I’ll be away.  But hopefully next week it will be back to a routine!

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

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New Project: Run Fast, Eat Slow

Happy Hump-day Friends!

This is really only my second workday this week (yes, I’ve been a bit of a slacker with this quiet summer schedule at work), but I’m still happy it is Wednesday!  Yesterday I took the day off just because and got my long run that I missed from the epic heat wave done.  I realized that these fall marathons are creeping up and I need to get into a long run cycle.  My goal is to complete 3 20 milers before Marine Corps, with the first one next weekend.  So yesterday I got out and did 16 miles at about my old marathon race pace.  It felt pretty good, but I definitely have some work to do in order to set a new PR.

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The good thing is that I am staying pretty consistent with my pace on these long runs that are mostly flat.  I definitely need to get some additional hill work in though to build more muscle and keep up my PT exercises.

But onto my new, tasty project…cooking recipes from Run Fast, Eat Slow!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this new cookbook from one of my running idols Shalane Flanagan and her good friend and nutritionist Elyse Kopecky.  So I decide my new fall project is going to be to try and cook every recipe in the book.

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Not only do I love to cook, but I also really want to be thoughtful about my nutrition and reaching the best possible weight and fitness level for my two marathons this fall.  Yesterday and today I tried out two smoothies as well as a kale and farro salad with a lemon miso dressing.  I’m going to try and leave recipe reviews as I go so check back (and buy the book because it is awesome!).

Can’t Beet Me Smoothie–A+

I LOVED this recipe and will definitely keep making it for post-run recovery.  It is a little sweet, but you can still taste the beets.  I also love that it has coconut water for hydration.

Kale, Ridicchio, Farro Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing–A+

I made this salad last night and it was fantastic!  I didn’t have the exact miso it called for but the dressing was still great.  It is a hearty salad and definitely a good balance of veggies and carbs.  Farro is also one of my favorite grains because it has more texture.

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Coconut0-Kale Smoothie–B+

I did modify this recipe a bit and threw in some blueberries, but overall I thought it was good just not super thick.  I chose the option with honey instead of dates, so next time I will try dates to see if that helps the texture.  But, I love the coconut water for the liquid.

I’m not sure what I will be making next since I am out of town this weekend for a wedding, but I’m sure next week will feature some winners!

What are your favorite cookbooks or blogs for recipes?  Any recommendations for recovery fuel?

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Friday Hug: Ashely and Dave!

Happy Friday Friends!

I am happy to be off work today and on my way to my cousin Dave’s wedding to his beautiful bride-to-be Ashley!

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Ashley already feels like part of the family, but I am so excited to celebrate them and the start of this new, exciting chapter in their lives.  We have such a fun family that I know the wedding is going to be a blast!  Here we are at Ashely’s bachelorette a few weeks ago…

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Mom and I are heading to Providence today to get the weekend started.  I’m hoping to get a long run through the city in tomorrow, but it is like swamp central here with the weather!  Not fun at all!  My 9 mile fartlek run yesterday left me sweaty in all the places if you catch my drift…

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Lola and Louie are spending the weekend with one of their favorites, Jose, so I know they are not going to miss us at all.  I’ll be back with more recaps from the weekend!

Hope you enjoy your weekend too!

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Belated Triple Threat Race Recap and Other Ramblings

Happy Wednesday Friends!

So I’ve been on a bit of blog hiatus lately.  I’ve just had a lot of different things going on that have left me feeling a bit scattered and unmotivated to blog.  Truthfully, this is really just an outlet for me to keep track of my running and life at this interesting 20-something junction, so I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it.  That being said, I have read other bloggers talk about the ebbs and flows of their writing, which makes me feel a little better about my recent slacker status!

But onto running updates…

This past Saturday I completed the Triple Threat Challenge in Rockport, MA.  The race included a 1 mile sprint, 5k, and half marathon, which rounded out my summer goal to complete a half marathon per month (check!).  Last year, I completed the 5k on a whim and then the half, but this year I decided to run all three and test out both my endurance and speed.  I ran with my friend Caitlin, who is also doing the Philly Marathon this fall!  Cailtin’s husband Jon and our friend Allen took care of the cheer squad along with Lola.

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Going into the race my goal was to do the mile under 6:30, the 5k around 7:15 pace, and the half around 7:45 pace.  I haven’t felt super speedy lately, but I know that I had the endurance.  I finished up with these results!

1 mile: 6:45 (watch said 6:17)

5k: 22:03 

Half: 1:43:38

I ended up placing as the 2nd female in the mile and 3rd female overall for the three-race challenge, so I felt pretty good about that!  The rest of the weekend involved great time in some floats, delicious food/beer, and relaxation with friends.

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After all the excitement of the weekend though Lola and I have been dragging this week to get out of bed!

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This week is also technically my first week of marathon training, but I’m still trying to let my body recover a bit.  I have two weddings for the upcoming weekends, so it might be a little challenging to get the long runs done.  But I’m hoping to attempt a 20 miler the last weekend of August and see where I am at pace-wise.

And…I am SUPER excited that my Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook just arrived!

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I think a fun fall project might be to cook (and eat) my way through this entire book.  There are some delicious looking recipes, so I will absolutely report back with my favorites.  The beet smoothie is definitely one of the first I plan to try.

Have a great rest of the week!  I’ll be back with a weekly hug and some training updates.

 

 

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Day in the Life of an Injured Puppy

Happy Hump Day Friends,

As you may know, my sweet Lolita is a little injured puppy this week.

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My mom noticed that she was limping over the weekend while I was away, so my parents took her to my vet on Monday.  It turns out she has a cracked toenail, so she had to get a little bandage to protect the foot from infection.  This also means she has to wear the cone of shame when I am not watching her.

Those little sad eyes kill me!  Luckily, she seems to be doing totally fine and is getting in lots of naps…pretty much anywhere…

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Lola is going back in for a consultation on Monday, so hopefully she can get the bandage off and be back to normal.  In the meantime, I’m just going to give her as much TLC as I can.

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Today is also registration for the B.A.A. Half Marathon!  Make sure you register at 10am 🙂

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Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon Race Recap

Happy Monday!

I hope all of you had a great weekend.  I spent mine in Portland, ME with my friend Jill for the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon.  We had an awesome time on the trip and a very successful race, which was a surprise for both of us.  Here is the full recap!

We left for Portland Friday after work and had a really easy drive.  I forget how nice it is to go on vacation and not sit in Cape traffic!  It was wonderful to catch up with Jill and have some girl time together.  We used to work in the same school at BC, but now that I am over in Biology I don’t get to see her as often.  Once we got up to Portland, we picked up our bibs and then headed to Flatbreads Pizza for some carbs 🙂

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The weather wasn’t looking great for the race and both Jill and I have not been feeling great about our running, so we didn’t have super high hopes for our performance.  But we got up early and headed to the start with an optimistic attitude.  Luckily the rain held off until about half way into the race, so we were not soaked for the start.  Being the honing device that I am for coffee spots I found a Starbucks that was open and we grabbed coffee, used the bathroom (of course), and walked over to the starting line.

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I was planning to run a 7:40 pace given that I had such a rough run last week.  But somehow I managed a 7:05 for the first mile and I was feeling ok!  I always get caught up in the excitement of races and start a little fast, but I figured I would just hold my pace until I couldn’t.  That is actually my race mantra…run your pace.

The course had some pretty epic hills around mile 3 and 6, so my pace slowed on those.  I actually found the toughest part of the race to be the downhills.  With my foot issues I just get so nervous pounding on steep downgrades.  But overall, my body held up!  I found this really nice guy in his 40’s (later found out he is named Rob and also an Ironman) and we paced each other for about 5-6 miles.  I finished with a time of 1:34:48, beating my Run to Remember PR by over 30 seconds!

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It was a great race and I would definitely recommend it to others.  After the event, there were free massages, beer, live music, and all kinds of good food.  Definitely a great day all around.

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While I was away, Lola was getting some TLC with my parents, brother, and Jose.

Lola is actually at the vet today because she cracked her toenail and has to have it removed…poor pup!  She will be in a cone this week, so both of us will be getting lots of rest as I take a week, yes and entire week, off from running.

Hope your weeks are off to a good start as well!