Back To School

It’s been a good break from classes.

I read a few books that were not at all school related. It was glorious.

The Fault In Our Stars– Quick, good read. Lots of tears. I recommend you read it alone, without your fiancé staring at you judging-ly from the other side of the couch.

Me Before You- A lot of people told me this book was incredible. To be honest, I just didn’t see it. It was an alright, quick read. Wasn’t crazy about it.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius– My all-time favorite book, re-read for the 30th time since I was 17. Still love it.

Monuments Men– I’m 10 pages in. So far so good.

Aside from reading, I also watched more daytime TV than I probably should have. Kathy Lee and Hoda is my new favorite show because they make it acceptable to drink wine at 11am with your girlfriends. I now DVR Friends because I forgot how much I love it. And, alas; that one chick on Maury still hasn’t found out who her baby daddy is after 7 appearances. So while I feel like there is unfinished business, I’m happy that I’ll be heading back to class this week.

Last semester was busy but I felt like I balanced everything pretty well. Clearly seeking out some sort of mental break, Jim and I had to add a few extra major life components into this mix for this semester.  On top of work, classes, substitute teaching, home life and those friends rumor has it I’d like to keep around; I’m not also in the midst of wedding planning, marathon training and puppy raising.

Awesome.

Really, I don’t even mean that sarcastically. My life is awesome. Every morning I wake up and know just how lucky I really am to live my life. Yes, it gets stressful. But would I trade any aspect of it for a little more free time? Never.

Buster is going to have more of an adjustment period than I am. His beloved ottoman is going to be taken over again.

Real life. With some deliciousness mixed in.

During the semester, this is my life

One of the keys to surviving busy weeks is meal prep. Last night I made this amazing (and SUPER healthy) crock-pot jambalaya that just gets better throughout the week.

Photo and recipe curtsey of http://www.preventionrd.com/ Some of my favorite recipes are from her!

Photo and recipe curtsey of http://www.preventionrd.com/ Some of my favorite recipes are from her!

Dinner is taken care of, house is cleaned, Buster is happy and I’m ready to face the first day of classes on Wednesday. Except for that whole blizzard thing. Which likely means classes start Thursday.

A snow day isn’t the worst thing, I guess.

 

What are your secrets to balancing the rest of your life during marathon training? Is there something I could be doing to make life way easier? Let me know!

Running to the Altar

It has been a pretty great weekend.

First things, first. My beloved Peyton Manning is headed to the Super Bowl. I cheered obnoxiously for him in a room full of Pats fans and even they were a little happy for me. Buster was so excited the entire experience just tuckered him out.

He's resting up for the Super Bowl.

He’s resting up for the Super Bowl.

Now, back to the rest of this wonderful weekend and all it was.

On Friday, Jim turned 30. He stayed in with Buster for the occasion.

Jim is not a fan of birthday celebrations. This was all he wanted.

I also made him a pretty badass birthday cake. And by “badass” I clearly mean a boxed Funfetti cake with can frosting. The decorations are being submitted to Food Network for consideration on Cake Masters

I'm just so talented in some areas.

I’m just so talented in some areas.

.

His cousin who serves as Christian Missionaries in Costa Rica were back in town to visit his wife’s family with their baby; so we made the two hour drive to spend some time with them. We met their baby, they met ours. The cousins met each other. It went well.

Besties.

Besties.

We answered lots of awkward wedding questions like “So when are you getting married?” or “Where do you think you’ll get married” that I still have no vague idea of answers for. I’ve started answering the question of “theme” with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All my bridesmaids will be a different Turtle. Clearly, I’ll be April.

That usually shuts people up pretty quickly.

There is one part of the wedding planning experience I have figured out, though. Which races I’ll run from now until Spring 2015. Turns out, there’s a lot of them.

A lot.

Marathon training I’m good at. I have a set plan that someone provides to me, I follow it to a T and reach the finish line on race day. Done and done.

Wedding planning is different. There is no plan. There’s not even a plan template to follow. Everything is based on my personal feelings, not data I can review and draw conclusions from. There is no “Hal Higdeon’s Guide to Brittany’s Wedding”. That I’m aware of. If you know of one, please forward it.

What I know of wedding planning so far is that most women become completely overtaken by it and forget about all other aspects of their lives for 18 months. I refuse to be that person. I do not want my life to be consumed with planning a single day.

Over whelming.

Over whelming.

I think major life events like engagements, weddings, kids and careers can be great for people. However, I’ve also seen a lot of people I love lose major parts of themselves when these things happen because they simply got caught up in everything society tells them is important to care about. Taking time out for myself is important and I think I found a way to do it.

Every month from February until I walk down the aisle (if there is an aisle, we still haven’t decided what we’re doing); I will run either a half or full marathon. There are a few reasons I think this is a great idea.

It will keep me in shape for the wedding dress. Having upcoming races means having training runs, recovery runs and cross training. Added on top of my Pilates sessions with Erica once a week, and I’ll be in wedding shape in no time.

Running time = alone time. I never think more clearly or calmly than during a run. Considering how stressful I already think wedding planning is and I haven’t actually done much of anything, this is a major benefit.

Distractions are good. When wedding planning, in-laws, and life gets too hectic; sometimes a distraction is best. Having races to train for an occupy some of my time will be a guaranteed way to distract myself from the stress of real life.

It’s not that I couldn’t run or do this without committing to races, but the races make the runs non-negotiable to myself and everyone else. It’s a lot easier to say “Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t go to that bridal expo, I have a training run for that race coming up” than it is to say “I’d rater run”. Some people just don’t understand that one.

So far, this is the race schedule

February 23, Hyannis Half Marathon

March 16, NYC Half Marathon

April 21, Boston Marathon

May 4, Providence Half Marathon. This is the first race of the UHC Triple Crown series. I love this race series every year, excited to be doing it again. 

June 8, Runners World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon

July 12, Jamestown Half Marathon. Second race of the Triple Crown. 

August – Falmouth Road Race (not a half, but still counting it- deal with it)

September – TBD

October 12, Newport Half Marathon. Final Triple Crown race. 

November 2, NYC Marathon

December – TBD

January 2015- Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge Weekend

That’s as far as I’ve gotten with making the schedule. If you know of an awesome race in September or December let me know. Have sneakers, will travel.

How was your weekend? Did your teams win, lose, or were you too distracted by Richard Sherman to notice? Awesome training run? I want to hear all about it!

 

It’s Going To Be A Good Day

There are some days from the moment you wake up that you know are going to be good.

For me, today is one of those days. I hope it is for you too.

Why is it so good you may ask?

First, Buster slept until 8am. This may not seem like a huge deal, but I feel like a mom whose baby just slept through the night for the first time. All last week I was up with him every 90 minutes to take him out to pee, or because he just wanted to play and didn’t understand that normal people sleep at 2:45am. This morning, however, he got it.

We call this "the ostrich"

We call this “the ostrich”

He slept.

Which means I slept.

Which leads my outlook for the day to be unreasonably optimistic.

Then there’s the matter of my legs. I was expecting yesterdays 8 miles to take a small toll on my legs. Nothing too intense, but I expected to feel a slight soreness when I woke up this morning.

Maybe it was the full nights sleep.

Maybe it was the baked mac and cheese I made for dinner last night. I’m not sure why that would cause it, but really; is there anything mac and cheese can’t fix?

Whatever it was, my legs feel like those 8 miles never happened yesterday. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but since today is also my first day of Pilates training with my trainer Erica- I’m good with it.

I had to break up the run into two 4 milers. One on the treadmill, one on the road. It was a lovely 45 outside, but the wind was intense and I’m prone to ear infections.

Long run = slow run.

Long run = slow run.

I need to buy a light weight hat or headband that will cover my ears. Suggestions?

Today will be 3 recovery miles before my training with Erica. I hope she doesn’t mind me getting sweaty right before she has to push my legs behind my head. Word of advice- If you aren’t a fan of people touching you, or getting unusually close to your lady bits, Pilates is not for you.

Outside of a glorious 8-miler, this weekend was pretty low-key. Saturday was pouring rain and lightning storms… in January… so we gave Buster his first bath. He didn’t hate it. Ok, maybe by the end he hated it.

Not the happiest he's ever been.

Not the happiest he’s ever been.

Yesterday was glorious not only because of the run. In case you missed it, my future second husband killed it in Denver and now is off to the AFC Championships. I was of course dressed for the occasion.

That's an 18 when it's not in the mirror.

That’s an 18 when it’s not in the mirror.

Jim swears that the Superbowl is his favorite day of the year because it means 8 months until he has to hear about Peyton on a weekly basis again. It won’t surprise me if he threatens to call of the wedding a few times between now and Superbowl Sunday.

This week my mileage increases and I have my first double-digit run this Saturday.

My training week starts on Tuesday. I kind of love it.

My training week starts on Tuesday. I kind of love it.

Jim’s 30th birthday is also this weekend, so that run may be moved up if I can manage it. I love having my “short” runs becoming the same distance as my long ones from a few weeks ago.

I look back at my self from three weeks ago and say “Oh, your long run is 4 miles? Yeah, that’s my short run. No big deal”.

I’m snarky like that.

Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you all have an amazing outlook on your day/week. Did you kill your long run this weekend? I want to know!

The Last 100 Days

100 Days sounds like a long time.

More than three months. A whole season. 100 days ago I was not engaged, I was 27 years old instead of a much older sounding 28, and I hadn’t started really thinking about how I wanted to train for Boston. I had all the time in the world. 100 days can change everything.

Today is 100 days until the Boston Marathon. The days following the marathon this year seemed to drag on forever. I would watch the news for hours on end in a seemingly endless tunnel of terrifying images and testimonials from that day. Then came the lock-down and manhunt for the suspects, the subsequent round the clock news coverage of the arrest and backgrounds of the terrorists; and shallow “how’s” and “why’s” about the events. The 32 days from race day to finding out I would run again in 2014 seemed to take forever, so I guess I thought that April 21, 2014 would always remain a distant date in the future.

Now, we are 100 days away. In 100 days I will be standing at the starting line in Hopkinton with 5700 other runners with something to prove. Something to prove to ourselves, our friends and families, and anyone who thought we would not return to claim what was taken from us.

We have 100 days to prepare out bodies and our minds for what we will face on that day. The hills. The spectators. The girls dying to kiss EVERYONE in Wellesley. The crowds who will without a doubt be screaming at the top of their lungs everywhere; but nowhere louder than on Boylston Street as we near the Public Library.

In 100 days, we’ll finish.

Training for Two

As I’m writing this the clock says 3:18am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to be blogging and keeping in touch with you all. I just thought I’d do it at a normal hour and with more than two hours of sleep behind me.

It turns out that having a puppy is like having a starter baby. He wakes up every couple hours through the night. He cries when he needs something. He has accidents. And we still love him with every fiber of our beings… because look at that face!

20140109-100521.jpg

Their love for each other is adorable.

Their love for each other is adorable.

Trying to train Buster and getting him on a schedule has made me realize the flaws in my own training lately. I don’t run at the same time every day or the same days. I run when it’s convenient and when the weather allows. Not having a set time or schedule is starting to really impact my motivation and improvement goals. Kind of like Jim allowing Buster to sleep in the bed made the crate seem like hell on earth. Why would he want the crate when the bed is so warm and cozy? Why would I want to go out for a training run when the bed is so warm and cozy and I have this little guy to hang out with?

This season I’m using the Nike+ apps new “Coach” feature to guide my training. There are a few things I really like about it so far:

  • It looks at your weeks by mileage and analyzes all your data by week. Having a clear picture of how you’re improving week-to-week is really motivating for me.
  • The program isn’t incredible aggressive, but is challenging enough that I feel myself getting stronger already. I’m not worried about injuring myself by over-training which was a major concern with the past two years programs.

Each run has a specific goal in mind and the voice over encourages you at each significant milestone in your run which is corny but actually really motivating. I like hearing the Nike lady say “You’re halfway there, keep it going!”. Yes Nike+ Siri, I will keep going. Thank you for the moral support.

Update: It’s now 9:30 am. Buster fell back asleep and apparently I followed suit pretty quickly. Love when that happens. Ok, so where was I…

Yes, marathon training in a Polar Vortex (I stand by this is not a real thing. It was what caused the world to end in The Day After Tomorrow). I’m trying to get myself to go outside as much as possible, but the weather this week has just been completely ridiculous, which I’m sure you know if you A. Own a TV B. Have looked at a weather report, or C. Have stepped outside at any point. No matter where you are, it’s cold and it sucks.

Not wanting to suck on Marathon Monday and also not wanting to die of frostbite, I had to improvise. Instead of running the distances the days Nike+ tells me I need to, I’m comparing the distance of each run to the forecast.

Have I mentioned my love of Nike+?

Have I mentioned my love of Nike+?

The 6 miler that I was supposed to do yesterday? That will be happening today when it’s slightly warmer. Todays 3 miles are going to be moved into the place of cross-training tomorrow. What about Sundays long run you ask? That’s going to happen on Saturday when  Mother Nature graces us with a tropical 55 degree day. It’s a little all over the place, but it’s getting done and that’s what matters.

I’m accepting that this is New England and this is winter and I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s bone-chillingly cold while I’m running. I’m getting creative with my treadmill runs and workouts and finding new ways to motivate myself instead of watching The Real Housewives of Wherever Happens To Be On The Gym TV.

20140109-100725.jpg

I’m coming back for you Boston.

How is everyones training going so far? I’m hearing from tons of friends training for Boston that they’re having a lot of difficulty finding motivation this year? Please tell me, I don’t sleep much these days. I’m sure I’ll need them soon!