Hi folks,

How has your weekend been going? Mine has been a squishy, soggy, splish-splashy one thanks to the downpouring rain all weekend, including—as I had prepared myself for—today’s half marathon. But, guess what? It didn’t matter! As the subject line spoiler says I set a new PR at The Love Run Half Marathon in Philadelphia, finishing in 2:05:04 (my last PR was 2:07:54).

This race gave a lot of nice perks including a personalized bib, a tech shirt and a nice size coffee mug. And the finisher's medal had a little spinning part that I loved (the O of the word Love)

This race gave a lot of nice perks including a personalized bib, a tech shirt and a nice size coffee mug. And the finisher’s medal had a little spinning part that I loved (the O of the word Love)

I’ll give you the play by play and some insight into this inaugural race…

4am: Got dressed, made coffee and a small pb&j sandwich

4:47am: Took a quick selfie with my puzzled puppy. He still doesn’t understand these early rise Sundays.

selfie

5am: Walked dog quick. At this point the weather was just a drizzle.

5:15am: I headed down to meet up with Jane. I was fortunate that my friend lent me his fancy car since my Jeep is now leaking something and has to go back to the mechanic. I enjoyed the treats of said fancy car including heated seats and satellite radio. I kept it on the 80’s station for the entire ride.

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Ironically Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger (from Rocky) came on…how perfect for my Philadelphia race that finished at the Rocky stairs! (I’ll explain the Mountaineers reference later)

6:15am: Arrived at Jane’s where we hopped in her car and she drove us into Philadelphia.

7:00am: We parked the car and started to take care of our last minute pinning of bibs and such. Parking in Philly can be difficult so if you decide to do a race there it’s best to give yourself plenty of time. We scored one of the last spots in the daily parking lot closest to the start. (It was $13 for 12 hours which was great since we planned to have brunch after). There probably were a few spots on the street which would have been free but we preferred to use our last 30 minutes getting ourselves together rather than driving up and down streets to find a spot. At this point the drizzle became a steady rain. I had almost thought to leave the rain poncho in the car but once it turned into a steady rain I changed my mind and put it on.

7:30am: We walked over to the starting area, used the port-a-potty, took a quick pre-race photo and then hopped in the corrals about 7:45am.

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I have to say I was impressed right away as we approached the start/finish area. Gear check, Team Tents, Bags of food and hot chocolate set up for the finishers. All were fairly organized. There were SO many volunteers who were over the top friendly and helpful. (Boy they probably had no idea what they signed up for!) They continued to announce that runners needed to get into corrals so the race could start on time and it did. It was a decent size race of just under 10,000 runners but didn’t seem to feel too crowded. Unfortunately the grounds of the start/finish area became a very muddy and puddly mess! (I wanted to take pictures but had already safely placed my phone it its’ waterproof baggy in my SpiBelt.)

8:00am: The race began. My plan was a last minute plan. I wanted to shoot for a 2:10 finish. (the idea that doubling your half time and adding 20 minutes gives a good predictor for a marathon time and that would give me some self confidence that I can pull out a 4:40 next month).

Miles 1-6: The steady rain became a downpour just few miles in. I noticed my first couple of splits were low 9s and even an 8:58. I felt great and while I must have looked silly, my poncho was keeping the rain off my neck and shoulders and helping me to retain some heat.

I could hear everyone’s feet (including mine) splishing and splashing through puddles. (I didn’t bring music with me for this race). I sorta laughed and thought to myself “hey it can’t get any worse”.

The spectators were AMAZING! So many people standing with umbrellas cheering and holding signs. One girl had a sign that had a big red button on it that said “press here for more horsepower”. Lots of runners ran up to the sign and pushed the “button” for a “boost”. I don’t always appreciate the interactive aspects between runner and spectator but as I prepare to be a spectator at mile 20 for the NYC Marathon this year I was more in-tune with that at this race. Another spectator alerted us that there were pot holes in the street ahead and to be careful. Truly the City of Brotherly Love!

My pace for the first half stayed pretty consistent with just one split at 10:25 when we hit the only real hill of the race. I hit the half point at 1:02.

There was Gatorade available at every other water stop. The first one I took was lemon lime and very dilute. Not sure if it was the rain or just mixed weak. But then the next two Gatorades I had later in the race were orange and super sweet. So who knows. I guess it’s not a super big deal but I didn’t bring any fuel with me and was feeling rather desperate for some electrolytes/sugar.

Miles 6-12: This is where I realized I could PR. Other than that one hill the course was fairly flat and felt like it was downhill more than anything. It’s also where I realized that I was getting soggy and uncomfortable and my sneakers were getting heavy. I didn’t want to be a wimp so I immediately decided I needed to remind myself of others who didn’t choose discomfort (as I basically had). I thought of this girl Meggan who I met last February when I was part of a photo shoot for Dicks Sporting Goods.

She’s been battling metastatic breast cancer for a few years and most recently is undergoing brain radiation and chemo as they found lesions on her brain :( I only spent 48 hours with her but she was so positive about her situation and it really inspired me. And so silently I chanted to myself “Meggan Meggan Meggan J.  Let’s make those cancer cells go away.” As I visualized her undergoing treatment and feeling crappy, all of a sudden my squishy shoes really didn’t bother me anymore.

Mile 13: I pushed as hard as i could and can honestly say I felt such a sense of pride as I crossed the finish line. What a difference compared to the NYC Half I did 2 weeks ago. My mindset was positive and I successfully kept any frustration about the rain at bay.

Jane had finished about 8 minutes before me and after we met up and got our hot chocolate and food we quickly took some post-race pics before going back to the car to change out of our wet clothes. Also, let me mention that Jane did a stair climb yesterday in that very building behind her (to the right). She’s young and spry!

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my lucky poncho! I’m actually probably going to have nightmares that i am still wearing it tomorrow at work. lol! The medals were really nice!

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After changing into dry clothes we headed over to a cute restaurant for brunch where we met up with my friend Laura and her hubby Kevin. Laura and Kevin live just a few blocks away and brunch is a typical Sunday morning for them so it worked out great that we could meet up with them. The food was delicious! I copied Jane and ordered the same, a salmon and cream cheese and red onion omelette with potatoes, some greens and toast.

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OK so here’s the Mountaineers reference. My hubby was a huge West Virginia Mountaineers fan. After I got serious about running (about 7 years after his passing) I always wondered if he knew that I found something to be so passionate about. I wanted to know he’d have been proud of me. Ironically I think I got my answer. It started at my first full marathon back in 2011. I was chatting with a girl in the corrals. When we were about to start she walked in front of me and I saw the WV logo on the back of her shirt! Turns out she was from WV and went to that college. I knew at that moment he WAS proud of me and that he’d be with me in spirit as I ran that first full.

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The following year I ran the Philly Marathon and sure enough as I was walking to the start area I saw this guy:

311320_4924928162716_910507273_nSo this afternoon when we were driving home and I saw that WV bumper sticker it really made me smile.

OK well, I’m falling asleep as I type this so I better head to bed.

Hope your week starts out great!

Question: Do you believe we can get messages/signs from loved ones who have passed away? Did anyone race this weekend

Well as much praying I did to little miss mother nature, it looks pretty clear that I’ll be running a half marathon in the rain tomorrow. This is what the weather forecast is for race time…

weatherforecast

And so I spent some of today preparing my plan of attack for how to stay as dry as possible for 13.1 miles. And this is what I ended up with:

rainessentials

Lots of anti-chafe cream!!! And a waterproof ziploc bag to put my phone and money in…

But what would I wear? My waterproof running jackets are all winter weight and with the temps hitting 50 degrees I would definitely overheat. Then I remembered this lightweight poncho I got at a local race a few years back…

raingearThe “perfect” solution! Combined with a visored hat to keep my eyes free from raindrops, I feel a little less stress about tomorrow. The only thing I really worry about is how my sneakers will handle the water…Will they get heavy and soak the water like a sponge? I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

I’ll be leaving my sunglasses and my ipod/earbuds at home tomorrow. And I’ll be gear checking dry clothes for sure!

I’ll let you all know tomorrow how this all goes down. At least I know there will be brunch with friends afterward!

Duncan didn’t escape my overthinking of raingear…I took him to the pet store for a little adventure since we’ve been trapped in the house all day and while I really had only planned on getting food and treats for him I discovered this cute raincoat.

raincoatdog

It has a hood too! Oh he’s not happy. I had to get him an X-Large because the large was really tight in the armpits. Maybe he’s just embarrased he needed such a large size?

Speaking of rain…time to go walk the dog in his new raincoat…

Happy Saturday!

Hi! Today something wonderful happened. Actually 2 things. No wait, make that 3.

1. THERE WAS NO WIND!!!! I ran 7 glorious miles in sunny 30 degree weather but no friggen wind!!!!!! After weeks of what felt like never ending windy days…this.was.wonderful.

weather

2. It’s that point in my marathon training where I have started to realize improvements in my endurance and that I’m getting so ready for race day! I noticed today that I felt relaxed and enjoyed what felt like an “easy” pace for 7 miles… I averaged a 10:20 pace which is 20 seconds faster than the pace i’m shooting to average for the marathon. I should be feeling easy runs are more in the 11:00 to 11:15 range. The run ended with me feeling like I could keep running another 7 miles. I am really looking forward to April 6, when I’ll be doing my longest training run (20 miles) along the course of the NJ Marathon. It should be a good predictor of where I’m at and what I can hope for come April 27.

free-the-curls

3. I let my curls run free…yep, that’s right! Commando curls! no hat, no headband, no ponytail, no visor….AHHHH! I hardly ever do that but it felt great. While it’s not feasible to do that for a marathon (sweat drips in my eyes,) it sure felt great not to have my head trapped under something =)

Well, I’m gonna take this lingering runner’s high with me now and head to the park to meet my friend and her 2 dogs. We’re going to do our usual 2.5 mile loop and catch up on life and the pursuit of happiness.

Catch ya later!

That’s how old I am today! =)

I hit the gym on my lunch break today to run 4 miles.

i have a twin! Nah! It's just smoke and mirrors

i have a twin! Nah! It’s just smoke and mirrors

I JUST discovered that you can select virtual workout destinations! I chose the Grand Canyon. I made a little video that I posted to Instagram.

While I was running I got a text from my friend telling me what her 2 1/2 year old daughter said.

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I’m all fuh-klempt! The feeling’s mutual sweet Nicolette!

Today was supposed to be 6 miles according to god my training schedule but I knew that I just wouldn’t have the time since I was on my lunch break so 4 miles was the compromise.

4mile

After a quick shower I returned to work and whipped out my lunch. The first time in my life that the pit in my avocado broke in half. First I discovered the virtual workout destination option on the treadmill and now that the pit of an avocado can be broken in half.

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the more you know

And while we’re on the topic of new discoveries…My boss has been keeping a secret. All these years I never knew he wore wild socks.

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Checker socks: Check!

I stopped at the mechanic tonight to pick up my Jeep. Yep, this time it was the catalytic converter work. The repairs are really adding up and exhausting me to no end (pun intended…get it? the catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system). But I’m optimistic that this jeep will be around for many more miles. I had them change the oil too. And they placed a sticker on my windshield to remind me when my next oil change is…..

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Can you believe it???!!! I’m so close to hitting 100,000 miles!

It was still relatively early (5:30pm) so I went home to grab the doodle and we drove to the park for a nice walk. We covered 1,354,321 things to sniff 1.5 miles in 30 minutes.

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Running is my therapy (as I overuse in hashtag world) but lately I’ve been noticing that my anxiety seems to be getting the better of me. First it was some binge eating and frankly, just stuffing my face to suppress emotions. Today I noticed my mind was obsessed with time. I left work at 4pm on the dot. I had to walk 7 blocks to catch the bus. I had given myself 12 minutes to get to the bus stop which is plenty of time. I would walk one block and then count in my head how many more blocks to go and how many minutes left it’d take me. Seriously?! We’re talking 7 blocks….not 20! Sheesh! I just didn’t want to miss the bus and subsequently arrive at the mechanic after they closed. Needless to say all worked out well but these are some hefty red flags. I’ve got to add some other outlets…I’d run more but I don’t want to injure myself physically just to feel better emotionally =)

And so I might just cue up one of those yoga programs that I DVR’ed and try and calm that brain of mine.

Question: How do you manage anxiety? Anyone meditate? Do you reach for food when your stressed? Anyone wear wild socks? If you have a car, how many miles are you up to?