Friday, September 12, 2014

Back-to-School , Training Update and The Dream

    

Maine Marathon 2014






      Working and training does not come easy.  No matter what the job or hours, when you are trying to balance family, home, work and running; there comes a breaking point.   There is never an equal balance.  Something always "takes a back seat."

     I started back to teaching for the school year on August 13th and since then, my days and weeks have been filled with lesson planning, team leader obligations, fitting in my weekly runs (increased mileage) and keeping up with house and family stuff. 

     Training for my very first marathon has had its ups and downs.  There have been weeks during this training cycle where I've hit my goal paces and mileage.  Then, there have been weeks where I second guess myself and wonder why I want this marathon so badly.  So many weeks of running, working and family stuff.  I have followed Hal Higdon's Novice 1 marathon training plan. 

     Today, September 12th, 2014, I am looking back over the last 15 weeks of training.  This coming Sunday, if my right heel/achilles and my left shin feel good, I will run my longest training run and longest run of my life-20 miles.  I have reached out to my local running group and some amazing running/friends over the last several weeks to motivate and pull me through these last several weeks.  The last several Saturdays I have pulled through long runs of 12, 14, 16 and 18.  Each week I felt stronger and faster.  Fast forward to this week and my calves are feeling tight and my right heel/achilles is slightly sore.

No, matter what, I can honestly sit here typing and say, "I am so amazed and proud of the mileage and paces I have accomplished."   I never thought I'd be running a marathon 3 weeks from now. 

     This week, the fear and uncertainty have set in for me.  I want to run this marathon and finish.  I want to see this journey through to the end.  The end for me is really just adding another chapter to my storied love affair with a state, MAINE,  that I will always call home. I want to see 26.2 on my watch.

This is just a quick update to do a blog post.  I haven't really posted since my Beach2Beacon Race Recap.  I have been afraid to post training updates and other stuff, simply because I didn't want to jinx my training.  Have you ever wanted something, dreamed of accomplishing something so great. . . that you are so afraid to even voice it?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Saving the Best for Last. . . For Now: Beach2Beacon Race Recap


     The views of Portland Headlight, off the rocky coast of Cape Elizabeth, Maine are always stunningly breathtaking! This lighthouse is one reason for the name of my blog.  Portland Headlight epitomizes my love for Maine.  I feel my heart wrapped around every nook and crevice of this lighthouse that sits perched on the edge of big rocks, overlooking Casco Bay, which leads out to the vast Atlantic Ocean. 

     For the third year in a row I have been lucky enough to get through registration for Beach2Beacon.  Beach2Beacon is in its 17th year as one of the world's most prestiges road races.  This link to the Beach2Beacon website has a great description of the road race and the story behind its organizer, Joan Benoit Samuelson-http://www.beach2beacon.org/about  The registration for this 10k race takes place online in March.  The first day of registration is reserved for Cape Elizabeth residents. The second day of registration opens up to the world at 7:00am Eastern standard time. I wait at my keyboard with fingers poised and credit card ready!  Registration is a "race" in and of itself! Within mere seconds of registration opening, it fills to capacity in less than 5 minutes! 

     My training leading up to this year's Beach2Beacon was a struggle. I'd been plagued with plantar fasciitis for all of March and April.  May through July, I was training and even running races, but still dealing with lingering stiffness in my right foot/achilles and heel.  Leading into August, I truly debated driving up to Maine for the third time this summer and running this race.  I love the scenic Beach2Beacon course, but it is challenging. There are some rolling hills and then an incline in mile 5 leading to the finish line.  In the end, my heart won and I made my final summer trip up to Maine for the summer to run this race. I was also excited and thankful to be running this race again with my great running friend Lisa, from http://www.lisarunsforcupcakes.com

     On Friday I drove up to Maine from Maryland with my faithful and sweet golden retriever, Airiel.  She was my buddy for this quick weekend trip. Hours before packet pick up at Cape Elizabeth high school, we hung out Portland Headlight.  Airiel and I soaked up the warm sun, salty ocean air and gorgeous views. 


     Despite a line at 2:15pm at Cape high school, for the packet pick up which started at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, the line went smoothly once the doors opened. While waiting in line for my race packet and bib, I spotted and met Jennifer from 
http://www.runningwiththegirls.com It's so much fun to meet up with fellow bloggers! 

     The night before the race Airiel and I headed back to the hotel to get a good night's rest.  Beach2 Beacon has an 8:10am start time for the point to point race. However, with nearly 6,000 runners, it's imperative to get parking and then the school bus shuttles to the start line in route 77 in Cape Elizabeth. I prepared for my morning breakfast and hydration that night.  

I really love the BeetElite crystallized beet shot powder that you mix into your water bottle! It's a great boost of long lasting energy

     Running Beach2Beacon is a "Coming Home" race for me.  It's a race that has me running roads and scenic coastline that I grew up in and around for a good part of my life.  

     On race morning I arrived early, 6:00am early, at Cape Elizabeth high school to park my truck. I texted Lisa to see where she was parking.  I was also lucky enough to be catching up with one of my dearest childhood friends who was running his first 10k! Surprisingly, race morning was chilly, slightly misty and overcast.  I hung out in my truck with the heat on in Maine on August 2nd! I eventually caught up with Lisa and we sat in her car until deciding to catch the shuttle over to the start around 6:40am. 

Lisa and I hanging out on route 77 with approximately 6,000 other runners! There were plenty of porta potties lining the start area! Beach2Beacon volunteers were also stationed at tables giving out coffee and bagels

Me and my dear childhood friend! We've kept in touch for a long time! Many summers were spent hanging out in Old Orchard Beach! 


     The race didn't start until 8:10am.  Lisa, Aaron and I got to chat and warm up a little before the race.  We eventually made our way to the self seed section of the 8:00 minute to 9:00 minute pace section.  During this time and during the introduction of race directors and elite runners such as Shalane Flanagan and Meb Keflezighi and race founder Joan Benoit, I should have started my Garmin  GPS!  I didn't realize that the significant cloud cover would give me issues! Lisa and I are good at pacing each other and we were shooting for an average pace of 8:21.  

     Each year, I forget to get a picture of the Beach2Beacon start line that is painted in color across route 77.  As the gun goes off and thousands of runners are moving, it's barely noticeable under quickly moving feet. It's unfortunate though, because great care and detail go into painting the start line for the race. 

     So, just as the gun goes off at 8:10am, I realize that my Garmin GPS watch is not working! Thankfully I'm running side-by-side with Lisa and keeping pace with her.  My own watch didn't kick in until half way into mile 1, just passed the entrance to Crescent Beach state park.  My watch was .5 off the entire rest of the race.  Lisa and I paced each other until 3.5 miles.  Then, I went on ahead of her and during this time, I decided to turn in my ru keeper app on my phone.  I turned on the app at the mile 4 marker.  I wanted the last 2.2 miles to be accurate. It was during this time that I also thought it would be fun to take a few pictures! I am not usually a runner who takes pictures during races.  Of course, miles 4,5, and 6.2 are the hilliest, but most scenic part of the race! The views of the ocean along mile 5 are stunning! 

Cape Elizabeth residents really come out out cheer on and encourage runners! I also love the partnership of police from the surrounding Maine Towns! The Cape Elizabeth fire department hangs the America flag overhead of runners. Such beautiful patriotic pride! 

Coastal scenes from mile 5 going into mile 6.2 

More stunning views on mile 5, before a hilly road that leads into the entrance of Fort William Park and Portland Headlight. Runners should save some heart and leg power for about the last 1.5 miles.  It's a hilly climb to the finish! 

I captured this picture of my favorite lighthouse as I ran up to the hilly, grassy finish line!  The skies were overcast and a light rain was falling, but this view never gets old.  

For the 3rd year in a row, at the age of 39, I ran with my heart and my legs followed.  My heart lies here, at this lighthouse, off this rocky perch high above the ocean.  Even now, as I type these words, I can faintly here the call of the fog horn.  No other race matters more to me than this race.  Beach2Beacon with its sense of community, the largest, most epic road race in Maine, symbolizes all that I love about Maine.  Each year this race captures my heart.  

      To read more technical details about Beach2Beacon, go to this website 

www.beach2beacon.org 

  In October, hopefully, I return to Maine, to run my very first 26.2 miles marathon.  

Tell me about your most memorable, favorite race that captures your heart! 







Saturday, August 9, 2014

Marathon Training: Reflections from Weeks 8 and 9



     Loving this quote: "Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore." - Andre Gide, French author and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

-Running encourages one to take a risk in discovering a certain strength and courage that sometimes may lay buried deep within our souls. As a runner, we sometimes must dig deep to find what pushes and motivates us through the next mile.

-Failure is merely another stone to overturn, failure pushes us to overcome.  It challenges us to go further and seek success and achievement. 

     As I look back over weeks 8 and 9, there have been challenges to overcome.  Moments where I failed to reach a certain level of mileage according to a training plan. However, every mile ran is still one step closer to success and achievement, than no miles run at all. As I start week 10 of marathon training, I see my success, rather than my failures. 


             Week 8

 Saturday July 26th- 6 mile speed workout

Sunday July 27th- 4 easy miles

Tuesday July 29th- 7.5 miles

Wednesday through Friday- traveling to New Jersey and then on to Maine

Total miles: 17.5 miles

KTTape and Compression sleeves as I continue to work through some heel/achilles tenderness. 



          Week 9

Saturday August 2nd Run Beach2Beacon 10k (Race Recap Soon)

Rest heel/achilles Sunday through Monday

Tuesday August 5th -Cross Training 3.3 miles of Spinning

Wednesday August 6th-Cross Training 5 miles of Spinning

Thursday August 7th-Running 7 miles

Friday August 8th-Rest

Saturday August 9th-Running Long 12.08 miles

Totally Running Mileage: 25.58

     Going into week 10, I feel confident that I'll be back on schedule with my training and hitting my mileage.  I'll continue my journey towards 26.2.  The ocean waves may get rough, but I have to paddle through, in order to uncover the courage and strength I know exist. 

Do you have a quote that relates to running and life? 

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?