Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wallis Sands Half Marathon Race Recap

What a wonderful weekend! I think this was the first race where I was truly relaxed for the two days leading up to it. This race was important for me due to recent events, but also due to the fact that I missed out on my last half due to injury. I had to start from scratch after Thanksgiving with the Couch to 5K .... and man was I s-l-o-w back then.

Anyways, I ran the Wallis Sands Half Marathon in Rye, NH while my family worked the water station at mile 9. As our rental home was an hour away, I awoke at 5 a.m. to pack, clean, and ate breakfast en route. Thank god for strategic placement of port-a-potties! I don't have any pictures of this whirlwind, but I was awake and eager to start. This is where the race took place.....

My first oceanside race! As I was alone for the hour before the start, still no pictures. This was my first distance race running solo and I was a little nervous to begin. Compounding that anxiety was the fact that my wave didn't start until ten minutes after the gun! This race has a cap of 1,000 people as they leave the roads open to traffic and it is a small town.

As my third half marathon, I absolutely loved this race. It's just large enough for the excitement of a big event, but small enough that I kept calm and found a sense of community in other runners. My goal pace was 9:10 and I held steady for the first 8 miles. As my breathing became more labored during mile 9, I found I wasn't enjoying myself as much and reined it in a little bit. After all, this is only my first big race and I have many more events to get my goal of 2:00 finish. I ran into my cheerleaders at mile 9 and felt a sense of renewal afterward - definitely a big help!

Just after this water station is where I met the man who helped me keep up with my goal of a 2:00 - 2:05 finish. Him and I had ran alongside each other and talked for a bit around mile 4, and I told him he would catch up with me soon enough. We had similar goal times and, though he says I kept him going strong, I would have slowed way down if I didn't have a companion. Basically, we talked for the last 4.1 miles and maintained a steady 9:15 to 9:25 depending on water stops. At the end I had conserved enough energy for sprinting, and you can see him cheering me on in the back here...

My finish time was 2:02:03 which is a new PR! My first half was in June 2010, with a time of 2:07, and I would have been happy simply beating that. But training and racing on my own, I am pleased with the time that I achieved and think that 5 minute advancement accurately reflects how much training I put in. I'm weary of speedwork (hips) so my training has simply been small & mid pace runs, and long slow distance...with plenty of cross-training.

After finishing, I immediately chugged a bottle of water - it was hot under the sun - and was surprised by Tim! He ran to the finish line to catch me and I'm so glad he did. We took off for the ocean where I  gladly iced my legs. See - happy to lose feeling up to my knees!

I think the most exciting part of this entire experience is that it motivated others to dream big. Other than my running partner, nobody else I am close with has been in a distance race atmosphere. My mom and stepdad are now planning on running this race next year! And my boyfriend made me stop at the mall to get running gear - before I even ate lunch! He even went out and ran a speedy mile that same day. Another bonus, the awesome ladies cut tech shirts. You can see a little bit of it here...

I am very pleased with my experience and am so glad I decided to take the plunge early on in the year. I have never before maintained my fitness throughout the winter and it feels so great to be at this place in April! I have never had cheerleaders before and really enjoyed sharing my moment with others, including my impromptu running companion. My love for running is continually re-affirmed, and I am so glad I have carved my own little niche in the running world. I am happy with what I have achieved and thankful I have the downtime and health to continue working on my goals.

Next up? The Westfield Wave Sprint Triathlon in June........

Friday, April 26, 2013


Ok, so my plan was to write a little bit about proper fueling before a race. However, I need to interrupt my  schedule for today to share two important items with you.

One: Remember how I made almond milk the other day? First of all, let me clarify that it is not necessary to own cheesecloth or a nut bag. I have a mesh strainer that worked just fine, and my friend suggested using a pillowcase or tee shirt for straining. Once you finish the process, you will think "what am I supposed to do with all of this almond pulp?!" Well.....problem solved.

I did a little research online and found this recipe for raw vegan cookie dough bites that is to die for. It is really simple as you throw everything into the food processor, shape into "cookies," and then throw in the freezer. After ten minutes, you have these little morsels of goodness! 

The only thing I was unclear about, and the recipe site does not elaborate on, is that drying almond pulp requires more than letting it sit on the counter. As I do not have a dehydrator, I put the pulp in the oven on its lowest setting for a couple hours (mine only goes down to 170). Voila, almond pulp flour!

Two: I cannot stress how much my knowledge about food, from seed to table, has grown in the past year and a half due to a very good friend of mine. Last night we celebrated our final night together in Western MA before she heads off for new opportunities. 

I have had the desire to learn more about food for awhile now, but it took having a friend to share this passion with to cultivate my skills. As she is leaving, I have been left with the following to play with: strawberry plant, oregano plant, rosemary plant, yeast, scoby, and so many house plants that the air in my apartment is at least 50% cleaner now. I found my CSA because she shared the information with me, I know now that next time there is a food swap people will kill for my black bean brownies, and she has left a lasting impression on me regarding seasonal and vegetarian eating. Probiotics? Well....I'm getting there. Maybe when I eventually try fermenting kimchi it won't be as spicy as hers!

In summation, this post is dedicated to Arielle. When I signed up for AmeriCorps I knew I would find people who shared my worldview. But I had no idea I would find such a great friend and fellow explorer....I am grateful for the time we have shared together.

And on that note, I am off to Maine to race in my first half marathon since Nashville in 2011. I tried fueling a little differently this time so I look forward to sharing what has and has not worked for me once I return home. During this race I will keep my brother (as he recovers from surgery), my grandma (as she recovers from a stroke), and Boston on my mind. I am so grateful for the health that I have and I aim to revel in it this weekend.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Chapter


Creating a blog is something that I have been thinking about for a few months now. All of the blogs I usually read are still interesting, but they do not quite suit my needs anymore. A lot of the bloggers are having children, moving on from blogging, or focusing too intensely on the sports I love.

Me? I'm in my mid-twenties and enjoy a whole host of activities. While I do want children at some point, I am returning to school in the fall to finish my Bachelor's - so I have some time. As far as my athletic hobbies go, I like to be well-rounded and tend to not be too intense. My purpose in creating this blog is to fulfill my need to explore uncharted territory as I mix up my training without much of a focus on competition. I've been thinking that I cannot be alone in this mindset, yet I'm not seeing anybody writing from this perspective.

To be honest, I started blogging today because I did something big yesterday. Really big. I signed up for my first marathon. I will be running the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon on October 6th and I am so excited! I have completed two half marathons in the past and will complete another this upcoming weekend. I finally have the confidence, strength, and knowledge I need to properly train for a marathon.

Did I mention that I will be doing this as a vegetarian? I eat a mostly vegan diet and I am looking forward to prove to the naysayers that meat is not a necessity for athletes. I believed this myth for way too long and I love proving myself wrong! I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen so I will post when I explore new recipes. I have only adapted one recipe thus far and have created zero. I fully expect this to change as I get more comfortable in the kitchen and gain confidence in that area as well.

For the time being, I am off to play with the design of this blog and make some almond milk!