Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Check-In: My Journey Towards 26.2

     Any journey worth traveling is filled with unexpected twists and turns.  The journey isn't always about the end destination, but how you traveled along the way.  This journey I've undertaken towards running my very first 26.2 miles has been about finding a renewed strength and determination within myself.  

     The most challenging aspect of training for 26.2 miles is the mental endurance.  At times, I've questioned myself and my reasons for wanting to run 26.2 miles for several hours, out on roads in Maine with thousands of other runners.  I'm a mother and teacher, always pushing for my daughter and students to create goals for themselves.  I hear myself saying, " Setting goals is about your individual dreams that only you can own." Running 26.2 miles, for myself, is about owning my dreams and believing in myself.  One has to have the strength to believe in themselves, then goals will be accomplished and dreams fulfilled. Everyone is in charge of their own journey, which will then shape and reveal the final destination. 

     The last 7 weeks of marathon training have been filled with some twists, turns and hilly challenges.  I'm sure that Lewis and Clark faced challenges and uncertainty on their journey west.  Apparently, my Achilles' tendon and heel of my right foot have not gotten the message about sticking with the itinerary for the journey towards 26.2.  So, over the last several weeks, I've had to reevaluate how I approach my weekly runs.  In order to get in my weekly running, I've been focusing more on maintaining a steady, even pace for each run.  Not pushing my speed has greatly reduced the irritation in my achilles and heel. At this point, I'm going into week 8 and then onto 9.  I'm determined to see this journey through to its final destination. 

Reflecting on and jotting down my marathon training by weeks.  I'm pretty much following Hal Higdon's Novice 1 plan! 


     All journeys require some good tools and accessories!  Here is what I've been loving throughout my training lately! 

 I knew going into marathon training that I'd be increasing my mileage and training intensity.  I was concerned about finding and sticking with the right nutrition to include in my natural, organic and vegetarian diet.  On a recommendation from (MsFitrunner's Instagram) I chose the Pure Edge line of products from GNC.  I bought the complete package for before, during and after running. I love the chocolaty protein shake! Beets are an important part of my diet as well, so I've been eating this slightly tart beet yogurt by Blue Hill.  During this marathon training journey I've also been using the KTTape application for achilles tendinitis and my favorite Zensah compression calf/shin sleeves. I love Zensah because of the silky soft cool fabric.  

 Sue, from ThisMamaRunsForCupcakes, recommended the R8 Roll Recovery for calves and glutes. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS paired with the pink Superfeet inserts give me the cushion and support I need for my over pronation! 

Whenever I'm running longer than 10 miles, I wear this snug, Hydration Quiver pack from TheOrangeMud company.  Even though I'm tiny- only 5 feet tall and 96 pounds, this hydration pack fits me snug and isn't heavy.  

While in Annapolis this week, visiting the Charm City Run store, I grabbed these "new-to-me" bars!  I was totally amazed by the soft, chewy, decadent taste of these bars!  I loved that these bars didn't taste thick, dense and dry like so many other gluten free bars! These bars were filling, but easy to digest in your stomach.  I could see eating one of these for breakfast or for fueling before a long run!  I'm definitely stashing more of these in my lunches when I start teaching again in August! Here is the website! http://charmedbar.com

My big splurge! Not a neccessity for marathon training, but a great bag for being a mother, runner and teacher! Great inside pockets and liner, along with a mesh pocket inside the bag for a water bottle! 

Yup! I love my new Lululemon Happy Hatha Hour bag!! 

     So, there here it is, an update on my journey towards 26.2 on October 5, 2014 in Portland, Maine!  

So! Who's training?  Starting a journey? What are you loving lately? 

-Kara��





Monday, June 30, 2014

Recharge and Refocus: Why I Still Call Maine "Home"



     I needed this. . . A road trip, time with my parents and everything Maine.  I'll look back on this summer as the "summer of road trips to Maine".  Some people may find numerous 11 hour road trips slightly arduous and insane, but for me, these road trips are rejuvenating, full of nostalgia and sentiment.  

   Maine really is the state where I grew up.  It's where all my most treasured childhood moments are buried; deep within the woods of Alfred, the streets of Portland, the kid friendly neighborhood in Gorham, and the sandy beach in Old Orchard.  I was born and raised in Maine until I was just shy of 13 years old.  Then, my family moved to the Mid Hudson Valley in Upstate New York.  However, my parents bought and owned a condo in Old Orchard Beach, Maine until 2002.  Summers and many holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas were still spent at the condo in Maine.  It wasn't until I was 18 and left for college in Maryland, that I really left Maine. While I was in college, my parents moved from New York to Massachusetts, and then just after my daughter turned one, they settled in southern New Jersey.
 
     Life is full of bumps and curves.  Sometimes I've felt like I've made some wrong turns. My parents and friends are quick to remind me of my college years and during that time, that "I ran away" from Maine.  Life is a series of phases and full of moments that remind us of who we truly are on the inside, even when it seems we are constantly trying to "find ourselves".  There have been some phases in my life where I was trying to figure who I was and where I fit in with life.  I think with age, comes a deeper understanding and wisdom for what truly makes us, "us".  I've now come full circle and sifted through the layers of my life.  Underneath all those layers of life, I'm still that little girl who will always call Maine "home". 

     Now, for the past 13 years, I bring my daughter (my redhead) to Maine. I share with my daughter all that I love and cherish about Maine.  It's a chance for me to help her see who I was as a child and how Maine shaped my childhood.  Our trips together to Maine help her see and experience my memories, as well as, creating new memories in Maine together.  Maine truly is my "Happy Place". 

Update: I started this post back on June 30th and then got busy with life and running.  Sometimes I hestitate to blog because I'm not sure I have the perfect "flow" of words or interesting enough topic.  The realization is that, most importantly, I blog for myself.  Just like running, blogging is about capturing what's important to me and finding strength in what most matters to me.  

     So, . . . My daughter and I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Maine this summer.  We've spent the week of June 23rd through the 27th and July 11th through the 16th. It's been a magical summer filled with rocky beaches, my favorite lighthouse, an island and many walks around my favorite "City by the Sea" - as Ms. Rumphius would say. 

     Here's a look back, in photos, of our ten days in Maine this summer.

Sand dunes and beach grass at Pine Point beach in Scarborough, Maine

The view from the bridge that crosses over Goosefare Brook that empties out into the Atlantic Ocean in Ocean Park, Maine

Overlooking Casco Bay from the rocky ledges at Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

My favorite lighthouse, as seen from a boat tour through the choppy waters of Casco Bay


The beautiful, working waterfront of the "City by the Sea" -Portland, Maine

Beautiful purple flowers leaping out from the rocky crevices near the shores of Portland Headlight

Lovely day of picking strawberries on opening day at Maxwell's farm in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. We picked 11 pounds that day! 

Beautiful Scarborough Beach, Maine

Watching the ferry arrive in Portland, from Peaks Island

A picnic lunch along the small sandy beaches of Mackworth Island near Falmouth, Maine

My magical little spot on Mackworth Island as the cool waters of Casco Bay lapped at my toes


Along the two mile stretch of trails that circle Mackworth Island, there are bench swings overlooking Casco Bay and the city of Portland

The view through the trees on Mackworth Island looking across Casco Bay to Portland

A fun fresh water ravine at Deering Oaks Park in Portland

The Piscataqua River Bridge that connects New Hampshire to Maine- as I cross this Bridge each time into Maine my heart swells with happiness, "I'm Home".  












  
     

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunday Musings:The End of Another School Year


     It's not the gift cards, candles, or other sweet, well meaning gifts that make a teacher smile. No, it is notes like this one that melt a teacher's heart.  Each year I have the most rewarding job of shaping and inspiring students' lives.  Each day is not easy; in fact, I sometimes wonder if I've really made a positive difference. Then, I receive notes and cards with words that sear my heart and leave my soul stained with the positive words and endearments from my students. 






     Another school year over. Time flies so quickly. I just finished my 16th year of teaching at the same elementary school since my college graduation.  An empty classroom, but full of 180 days of memories and the precious lives of students who I never forget.  In 8 short weeks, I will open my classroom and heart to another group of students. 

     




     Several weeks ago, maybe even a month ago, I found out about this company that enables you to design your own car/truck magnet! I read about this company on my running friend's blog which is 
http://www.runningwiththegirls.com/2014/06/customized-magnet-review-from-build-sign.html. I was so excited to design and order this "MaineGirl2" magnet with my own photo of PortlandHeadlight uploaded as an image. 



     Another exciting "find" for me this week was this OrangeMud HydraQuiver running backpack!  I had been googling the internet for "race recaps" of previous Maine marathons when I stumbled upon this blog- www.moorezilla.com. The blogger mentioned this running gear with a link in the blog post.  I am anxious to get my order and try this out for all my long runs for marathon training during the hot, humid southern Maryland summers!  


     Speaking of marathon training.  Well, after last Sunday's 200s on the track, my right achilles and heel gave me some soreness.  Since just recovering from 6 weeks of plantar fasciitis with physical therapy treatment, I decided to take off the entire week and weekend.  I was able to pick back up with week 3 of Hal Higdin's novice 2 marathon training plan on Tuesday { June 17th} I love this plan and it works for me. The schedule each week includes Sunday cross training, with Monday and Fridays as rest days. Long runs on Saturdays! Now, that I'm done teaching for the summer, I just have to get all my planned runs done early in the morning before the heat and humidity rise! 




     So, this is the Maine Marathon course! Lots of hills in the middle, but a flat start and finish! I'm nervous, but excited for the journey towards 26.2 miles!  I know my heart will always lay in Maine, so this is the absolute right choice of a course for me. 

Please share summer plans and training updates:)!! 

Well, until next Sunday! "Sunday Musings"!! 









Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunday Musings

      So, in an attempt to be more timely and consistent with blogging; I'm using "Sunday Musings" as a way of reflecting back on the week. I've written many times before that this blog is about expressing myself as a writer, sharing my passion for healthy, organic living and running that threads all the pieces of my life together. 

     As the school year winds down this coming week, I feel overwhelmed with "end of year" paperwork.  So much to do and so little time!  Of course, summer allows for more time to run and write on this blog.  I love the freedom of summer- no schedules and endless days and nights! 

    The week started off on a great, positive flow of runner endorphins! I was feeling accomplished at just having completed the Zooma Run half marathon the previous Saturday.  I am finally feeling like I am back in the "running game"! I ran 4 miles on the high school track Wednesday night and another 4 miles on the road Thursday night! I love the feeling of running on a high school track; it brings back great memories of my days as a high school 200 and 400 meter sprinter! Saturday I ran 6 solid miles despite it being 75 humid degrees!  Today, Sunday, I ran a 1 mile warm-up on the track, then ran a few 200s! I imagined myself "flying" around the track like I did in high school. Then, I looked at my stop watch and realized, "Umm, your 39 years old now!" and a little slower! 

  This week I loved taking my breakfast to school! I eat so much healthier when I pack breakfast and lunch from home! My new favorite, hearty, protein packed breakfast sandwich is delicious! 

 A fried egg on a bed of arugula in between two lightly toasted sprouted grain tortillas! This week I may even smear a little homemade hummus on the sandwich! 

     I love making homemade hummus in my Vitamix Pro 750 blending machine!!



  I came across this yummy, whole grain, gluten free cookie mix at my local organic store!  The mix required the addition of one egg, 4 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  As I mixed all the ingredients together, I still felt that it was a little dry, so I drizzled in some unsweetened Califiia Farms Almond milk.  The cookies are yummy, moist and full of chocolate chunks with sweet dried cranberries!  I will definitely be seeking out more mixes from Among Friends Baking

     


  Lately, I have had the opportunity to use the high school track while my 13 year old daughter (Redhead) participates in a summer track program.  I stepped back onto the track a few weeks ago and have been doing some mile repeats, sets of sprints like 200s and just running 3 to 4 miles on the track.  Being out on the track takes me back to my high school days of track and running for the joy or running.  I recall even now, that feeling of "flying" whenever my feet hit the track surface.  Sadly, I am not as fast as I was 22 years ago, but running on the track now, at the age of 39, still feels amazing!


     
   My weekend also consisted of plugging in all my runs and workouts from Hal Higdon's novice 2 marathon training plan to my iphone.   Yes, I am taking this journey towards running 26.2.  A distance I never even dreamed of contemplating a year ago.  However, 4 half marathons later, I am feeling ready to tackle this next challenge.  Running is a constant journey of self-discovery.  Finding strength mentally and physically deep within your soul.  This year, is the year of 13.1s, 26.2 and turning 40.  It will be a year of milestones. 
 
Well, this all I had on my mind as of Sunday night.  Until next Sunday friends!
 
How does every one else decide when and what to blog about.  Is your blog solely about running or is it a mix of life and passion? 



    

Friday, June 6, 2014

Zooma Run and 13.1: Feeling Renewed



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      Leading up to the Zooma Run Annapolis Half marathon was wrought with injury and lack of good, solid miles under my feet.  Most of March and all of April I dealt with plantar fasciitis in my right foot arch.  Several weekly sessions of physical therapy, including ESTIM therapy, and cross training on the elliptical were all that I had really accomplished going into the 13.1 miles on Saturday May 31st in Annapolis.  The first two weeks of May I was able to do a few solid runs on the road.  I loosely followed This Mama Runs for Cupcakes Running Come Back Plan.  The Friday leading into the last week before Zooma Run Annapolis, I was able to run 10 miles which felt really great!  This run gave me back my confidence.  I knew that the Zooma Half wouldn't be my fastest, but I would finish! 

     Friday, May 30th, I left school early to drive up to Annapolis.  I had been looking forward to a night filled with relaxation, meeting up with wonderful running friends and the Zooma Annapolis Honest Tea Mocktail Party at the Loew's Hotel The Loew's Annapolis hotel on West street graciously hosts Zooma Run runners, however, in order to get a room for the night before the race, one must book reservations early!  I booked my hotel room back in December! 

     Prior to arriving at the hotel, I drove straight to the Whole Food's Market on Sommerville street in Annapolis for some yummy, hydrating drinks and a bit to eat from the various hot and cold foods bars.  It's funny, all my friends say that Whole Foods is my "Disney World"!! 

    


 I grabbed two bottles of this delicious pina colada flavored hydrating drink.  There were samples being given out in the store that Friday! 


  I also love sipping on almond milk cappuccinos from the coffee bar!  If only the local coffee bars in Leonardtown Maryland offered organic coffee with almond milk!  I love that Whole Foods serves Allegro coffee which is part of the Rainforest Alliance and Whole Trade organizations!


     Finally, after lingering in Whole Foods a bit too long, I made my way back to my truck so I could drive over to the hotel!  I was really excited to check-in and meet up with Natalie from NattieRuns  She and I have become great friends and would be sharing a room the night before the race! Once arriving at the hotel and using valet parking, I met up with Natalie.  She and I had arrived at about the same time Friday afternoon!  We checked our room, unpacked and then strolled down West street for some delicious appetizers at a local restaurant!
       
     Later on at the hotel, we all hung out with other Zooma Runners.  I was so excited to see my dear friend and runner Lisa, from Lisa Runs for Cupcakes  She and I have run several races in Annapolis and Maine together!  We will be meeting up again to run Beach2Beacon on August 2nd in Cape Elizabeth, Maine! 

 Zooma Run had a poster that outlined the 10k and half marathon course set up in the Running Expo.  Any course always looks easy enough on paper!  During the race I felt there were plenty of hydration stations evenly spaced!  My only wish is that Zooma Run would team up with NUUN hydration !!  That would be a fabulous partnership!

     Friday afternoon and evening, Zooma Run, had a running themed expo set up with various vendors and small businesses!  I felt that the past running expos had more vendors, but one vendor really caught my eye!  The jewelry at the Scott James Jewelry Table was gorgeous sterling silver!  I didn't purchase anything that day, but will definitely order in the near future!


My favorite local, Annapolis running store, Charm City was at the expo with great last minute running needs as well as other cool running gear and apparel!


 Race day running apparel and gear had a blue theme this year!  I am loving all the blue running tanks from Lucy Active Wear My running shorts were the Lucy Endurance Long Run shorts with a roomy back zippered pocket that fit my iphone, hotel key and license!  There were two deep front pockets with easy open access for stashing energy gel and runner beans! 


  Race Day Morning Selfie!! 

    

RACING 13.1 through ANNAPOLIS


     Race day morning felt cool and the mile or so walk to the Naval academy from the hotel was a great chance to "warm-up" my legs!  Natalie and I had plenty of time to use the porta potties, take pictures with other Zooma runners and just hang a bit before the race started at 7:00am!  I knew going into this race that my core was strong and I would finish the 13.1 miles, but I also knew that this half marathon would not be my PR or even close!  Thankfully, I would have Lisa and Natalie to keep me motivated and running even when the weather got humid.  The hills, out and back, along with twists and turns keeps this course very challenging.  Running over the Severn bridge at mile 5 and again coming back at mile 10 was tough!  Throughout the whole 13.1 mile race my legs felt strong, but I hadn't really built up enough long runs to hold a good pace for the entire race.  Running this race was important though, because it got me back into the mind set of long runs and wanting to reach for bigger goals with 13.1 miles.  I really enjoy the half marathon because it is a challenge I love to tackle! 

     The awesome thing about Zooma Run races is all the fun waiting for you at the finish line!  Lovely foam rolling stations, massages, and plenty of Muscle Milk to replenish the protien and glycogen!  I also enjoy eating the boxed snack lunch of either hummus or chicken salad.  Runners can enjoy glasses of Barefoot Wine as well!  I love the fun of Zooma Run races and really appreciate the time and effort it must take to organize these running events!  This race was my fourth with Zooma! 


My parents live in New Jersey and drove down to see my race.  Since high school my dad has video taped, photographed and really just been my greatest "cheer leader" for running! 





After the race I met my parents for lunch at the Annapolis Whole Foods! 

Feeling Renewed: Final Post Thoughts
  


     Taking time off from running miles on the road in March and April, reminded me that running is also about taking time to strengthen the mind and body from within.  Sometimes, setbacks are really just opportunities for renewal and growth.  A chance to deepen our understanding of our own bodies.  Running is a constant journey of self-discovery; finding strength in places we didn't know existed. I needed this recent 13.1 mile race.  Turning 39 in April, dealing with an injury and "coming back" are all just part of this journey.  This post was about a few thoughts, perspective and getting reacquainted with my long runs.  The Zooma Run Annapolis half marathon has put me back on the road towards really training for my next half marathon.  I've got my sights set on a PR for the Portland, Maine Shipyard Half on July 13, 2014!


Has anyone else recently comeback from an injury and used a race as a good, solid run to get the mind and body "back-into-the game"? 

What's everyone's' next goal/PR race? 






Saturday, May 24, 2014

April Moments and May Updates

Keeping my feet comfy and supporting my arches with Orthaheel slippers:)



 6 weeks of strength training and ESTIM physical therapy for Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot arch.  As of May 1st, I'm finally back to running on the road with weekly miles around 22 to 25 miles.  


Finally made salads in a jar for lunches at school! I love all things in clear glass jars! So many possibilities. 

Loving Overnight Oats!  My favorite is a bottom layer of dried cranberries topped with shaved dark chocolate, then a dollop of StonyField Farm vanilla yogurt, rolled oats, chia seeds and Califia Farms almond milk. So yummy and no fuss cooking for early school mornings! 



Went home to Maine for April break. Maine will always have my heart:). 

The views from Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth, Maine never get old. Timeless beauty captured. 


Loved capturing this sunset on the beach in Old Orchard Beach, Maine back in April.  I spent so many summer days as a child and young teen strolling this beach! 





Lovely, breezy afternoon on the water in my favorite City-by- the Sea, Portland, Maine. 




Watching my 13 year old daughter, my redhead, running with her 4x400 relay team. So many emotions- proud #motherrunner, memories of my own 4x400 relay days; precious moments. 


I feel like I had so much more to write in April and May, but time just slipped away.  Looking ahead to the last day of the school year on June 16th. Running Zooma Run Annapolis half marathon on Saturday May 31st.  As the school year comes to an end, I'll be back to more consistent blogging.  


How has life been for everyone else lately?