Winner, Winner & What’s In My Gym Bag?

Found out yesterday that I was the winner of Kim’s knock-knock give-away 🙂

I love the knock-knock stuff and could really use this after the past month I have had, so I was double excited!  What a great way to start off a Monday morning!  And a great reason to check my mail 🙂

Recently, Nicole posted that she would need some help with what to pack in her gym bag.  I realized when listing my items…mine might be a little ridiculous!  I use a simple ADIDAS bag; it is usually stuffed with little room for anything else.  No wonder it is so heavy!!!!  The thing is, I get ready at the gym so often (sometimes for work, sometimes for after work, sometimes on weekends) that I had to buy double of the important things to have when getting ready.  It just became too much of a nuisance to keep packing and unpacking.  And it was beyond frustrating when I would forget something; especially if it was something I couldn’t be without.

In my gym bag-

Main Part-

  • Extra socks, underwear, a regular bra and sports bras.  Pretty much the worst ever when you forget to pack those!
  • Sliders to wear in the shower.  I would rather go to work like a sweaty pig then dare step in a gym shower without shoes.
  • Hair-dryer and flat iron.  I wouldn’t subject anyone to what my hair looks like without them.
  • Lotion.  Big bottles. Two of them; in case one runs out.  Because I am obsessed with lotion.
  • Towels.  I forgot my towels once.  I dried off with a single t-shirt that I luckily had in my bag.  It was not fun.  I never forgot towels again.
  • Change of clean clothes.  Bet you had that one guessed.

Side pocket-

  • Hair ties.  At least 342 of them.
  • Shower needs: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor.  You aren’t supposed to shave in the gym showers.  But since the rules about walking around naked in the locker room and sitting on the benches without a towel get broken all the time by women who have disgusting hygiene, then I figure what is the big deal if I shave my legs in the shower?
  • Small bottles of lotion.  Listen, I said I was obsessed.
  • Deodorant.  I try not to smell.
  • Advil.  If I have a headache and plan to go from work to the gym, I won’t go.  But in the time it takes for Advil to kick in, my commute from work to the gym is over and I am ready to work out!
  • Gas-X.  Why more people don’t take this before running, I will never understand.
  • Make-up.  Sometimes, I get fancy.

Other side pocket-

  • Goggles, swim cap and fins.  I don’t like any of my swim stuff to touch anything that is non-swimming.  Oh, to be so Type-A.

 

Ok- so fess up!  Are you an over-packer?  Do you use a gym bag at all?  Pack and re-pack or have doubles of things?

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Racing in 2013

Last year, my race schedule was anything but a schedule.  The few races I did were mostly last minute decisions and I bagged quite a few of them last minute.  That doesn’t mean this year was without its highlights!

-I was 5th in the swim at the Life is Good Tri!

-My relay team took first place overall at the Belmar Tri!

-I finished the Philadelphia Half-Marathon with little training and was NOT injured!

With everything that 2012 was, I am glad it is over.  2013 has started off quite nicely in the fitness field.

-As a kid, and a teenager, I always wanted to take dance.  I never did but in December, at age 31, I began taking ballet classes. I love it!  It is an adult class and NO we do NOT wear tu-tu’s!  I am also doing Barre Fit and it has been amazing for toning up and getting fit.  I see such a difference!  I go two or three times a week and it is great.  Not only is it whipping me into shape but it is really helping with my core, balance and flexibility as well.

-In addition to the ballet and barre classes, I have been hitting the gym two times a week, no matter what!  Between two jobs, that can be difficult, but I know I want to get back to a fitter and healthier me this year.  One of the additional motivations to stick to this schedule, is that in March I will be heading to Mexico for a friends wedding and I need to be in bikini shape three months earlier than I am used to!

-I have been base building for my April half-marathon.  Short but quality runs, building back up my endurance and getting my legs back into gear!  The real training schedule starts this week.  I am really looking forward to nicer weather so that I can complete all my runs outside and only have to worry about the gym when I want to swim.

-I am continuing to see my Sports PT every other week or so for ART and Graston.  I use the foam roller every night and use a LAX ball for trigger point a few times a week.  I thought the foam roller was the enemy but as it turns out, the LAX ball is the devil!  It is worth it, though.  My very biggest goal of all, is to stay injury free!

-I am done doing triathlon.  Yup.  Done.  You know what…I really gave it a good try; I really wanted to like riding a bike.  But I just hate it.  I did four years of triathlons.  And I enjoyed it and I was good at it.  Except the biking.  And I don’t even want to be good at it, because I don’t even like it!  You know what I do like?  Running and swimming.  Relay tri’s are still going to very much be a part of my life.  And I am determined to find more Splash and Dash races so that I can still compete in both sports I enjoy.

I feel like for the first time in 5 years, I am doing everything right.  Looking back, I feel like something was always off.  There was never a time where everything was on point.  This year is going to be different; at least I am giving it my all to be that way.  Sticking to a strict training plan, increasing my core and flexibility, keeping my nutrition plan together and continuing ART and Graston to keep from getting injured.

So what is on the agenda for 2013?

Rutgers Half-Marathon

Spartan Race

Atlantic City Half-Marathon

Philadelphia Half or Full Marathon  (I’ll be deciding this for sure after the RU half.)

I am still looking for a May 10-miler and I know there are a few tri’s I will be swimming for as part of a relay and there is a possible 15k in the fall.  And of course some local 5k’s that will be week or day of decisions.  I am excited to be training and I am looking forward to racing, but the last thing I want to do is overwhelm myself.  I have to constantly remind myself that I am, in essence, starting over.  I don’t want to push too hard, or race too much or risk burn out or injury.

How is your 2013 shaping up?  Are you doing anything new this year?

Marathon Photos- Finally!

Ok first- thank you for the awesome comments, texts and emails.  It took a lot of thought coming back…but I am glad I did. Its awesome to see how much support is still out there.  So thank you.  And welcome new readers 🙂 I am working on quite a few posts that I hope with help me get through some of the stuff I have been going through.  Writing is good therapy…has always been my therapy.  I let the things that define me slip away for a little while and I am so ready to get them back.  One blog post at a time 🙂

It dawned on me as I looked back, that I never posted any photos from my marathon!  It’s kind of funny- when I look at them, I still get the excited feelings I had when I ran the race.  Some days, I still cannot believe I ran 26.2 miles.  But I did…and here is the proof:

My favorite of them all- coming into the finish!!!  (That’s my dad with his hand out!)

Expo!  And it WAS the best time of my life!!

Race morning with all my signs 🙂

Mile 14- R2 had quite the set up for me to re-fuel

Pure joy with my biggest fan!

My friends Dee and Greg who were with me the last 4 miles!

With my BFF Kate, who also ran the marathon!

Ahhhh…MUCH needed recovery!!!

Every time I think about the race, I smile.  It was hard work and took  more out of me than I ever could have anticipated, but crossing that finish line is one of the best feelings I ever had.  If I had to do it all over again…through the injuries, exhaustion, pain and even the last few months of rough recovery and personal strife…I would do it over and over and over again.  And again.  With that said, I have no actual plans of ever doing it again!

Best Time Of My Life! Philadelphia Marathon Race Report!

Back when the marathon was only a wee dream I had, I always said that if I ever did one, it would be Philly.  Having grown up in South Jersey, just over the bridge, I have always felt as though I related with Philly.  I grew up taking my class trips there, spent my high school years walking around different parts of the city and yes, even spent a few years in the “club” scene.  When I turned 21, I spent many a nights partying it up on the streets of Philly.  It was only natural that when I started running, I would race in Philly.  First Broad Street, then the Philly 8K, followed by the half-marathon two years in a row…and then…the marathon!

I started planning to do the Philly Marathon back in 2009- but the truth is, I just wasn’t ready.  For a number of reasons, I just didn’t think it was the right time for me.  Round two, I planned for 2010.  Then I got hurt.  The injury took away my entire spring racing season and as a result I packed in racing all summer and was burnt out by fall.  I completed the Philly Half last year and consider it to date my best half- marathon.  When I finished that race, I knew 2011 was my year for the marathon.  And when it came time to register on April 1, I clicked marathon.  And,I knew the third time would be the charm!

So fast forward a few months from signing up and the training began…and it was not easy.  As always, I was fighting through injuries.  There were many moments where I questioned what the hell I was doing and if it would all be worth it.  But I kept training.  In the rain, on the treadmill, without music and always alone.  I knew from the start that it would be vital to me to be mentally prepared for hours of running.  To be mentally prepared for anything and everything.  I knew from my first long run…really long run…that none of this would be easy.  But I was determined to make it fun.

And then it was November.  And before I knew it, it was race weekend.  One of the best decisions I made in this process was getting a hotel room.  We had a room for my parents and R2 and I had a room.  This could not have worked out better.  I was .5 miles from the expo and .8 from the race site.  Perfect!  The expo was good but fast for me.  I was disappointed that the K-Tape people weren’t there as I hoped to get my calves taped, but they weren’t and I got over it quick.  We were at the expo for about an hour and then for me it was back to the hotel for rest, rest and more rest! After getting all my things laid out, some dinner and a bath it was time for sleep.  I was stunned to have slept as well as I did.  I woke up feeling calm and ready to go.

We left about 30 minutes before the race start and headed down for some photos.  The nerves were kicked in and I was feeling stressed out- but before I had too much time to think about it, the race was starting.  My mom and R2 headed down to mile 1 where I would see them first and I got in my corral.  The plan was for my mom and R2 to see me at Mile 1, Mile 6 and Mile 14.  My dad and teammates would meet up with them at the finish.  Knowing when I would see people made getting from point to point a lot easier.  I think the best way to break it down is to go a few miles at a time.

Miles 1-5:  I totally missed my mom, R2 and my friend Brian at Mile 1.  I wasn’t too concerned though as it was the beginning and I was feeling great.  I had started with the 5 hour pacer but realized quickly that (probably due to my training) I wanted to run alone.  Around Mile 2, I saw a few teammates and I was so happy.  I wasn’t even listening to my IPOD at this point because the energy from the crowds was so awesome.  I skipped the first water stop and headed into Mile 3.  I took my first walk break at the second water stop.  My plan all along, like my training, was to walk the water stops.  At least for the first half I was hoping to do no other walking than through stops.  At the same time, I also told myself that if I had the urge to slow down or walk, that was okay too.  Mile 4 was uneventful except that I had to pee.  I tried to ignore it but I knew I had to stop and go.  I saw my chance at the next porta-potty and felt thankful that there were only three other people in line.  I was glad I stopped because I felt a million times better having gone.  As I headed into Mile 5, the magnitude of what I was doing was starting to hit me.  I could feel that I was going to fast and I started to feel overwhelmed.  The 5 hour pacer passed me and I had a moment of feeling like I needed to catch up but then quickly determined that if I did that, I would not be running my own race.  So I stuck to my guns and kept moving at my solid, comfortable, slow pace.

Miles 6-10: I received a text from my mom letting me know where to look at Mile 6 and before I knew it, I was there.  I spotted her sign like four blocks away!!!  I threw them my jacket, flashed a smile, got a pic and kept on moving.  I was feeling AWESOME!  The awesome feeling stuck around until just into Mile 7 when I started to feel a blister.  It would have been too easy to focus on the pain so I stuck my IPOD in and put it out of my head.  Miles 9 & 10 were the toughest for me in the first half…I was running slow and I had to stop again to use the bathroom…but I was feeling good and running happy.  By the time I reached Mile 10, I could hardly believe I only had 16.2 to go.  I was trying to take it all in, but the time was ticking fast!

Miles 11-15: The person who designed the split at mile 13 should know that there is a special seat in hell waiting for them.  Not only do we have to head the guy on the megaphone tell us “You are almost there!” as he yells out to the half’ers but the split is on an UPHILL and I had to watch as not only the half’ers finish but as the marathon leaders come into finish as well.  This was mentally the most difficult part for me.  I was so thankful that I had decided to have my mom and R2 at Mile 14.  I went through the half point at 2:38 and was thrilled.  My goal was to get through the half by 2:45 so this was a huge boost for me.  (My half PR is 2:23.)  Just before the Mile 14 marker I saw my mom…and to my surprise my Uncle Mark was there and my best friend Jessica.  What a great surprise!!!!  The other surprise was that R2 was not there- I felt crushed…I immediately started to get upset.  He went to get food and I could not believe he was missing me.  Knowing I wouldn’t see him again until the finish made me so sad.  Luckily, my mom had texted him and he was able to get back in time.  I took this opportunity to take some advil, eat a banana and take a few photos.  I was so glad I did this- not only did I need the real food but it was such a lift to see everyone.  As they sent me into Mile 14, I felt so strong.  It was getting hot out (high of 64!!!), my feet were tired, I was tired, I was sick of GU already but still, I felt strong.  Mile 15 was a run/walk mile and it was here I met Kristy.  It was also her first marathon- and her plan was much the same as mine.  We chatted for a few minutes and then went on running.  Meeting people along the course would prove to be one of the most helpful things for me getting to the finish.  Especially as the time progressed.

Miles 16-20:  As I headed into Mile 16, I became emotional for the first time.  It dawned on me all I had left was a Broad Street Run.  It was also when the 5:30 pacer passed me.  I had held them off for 16 miles- that was the bright side.  And in this race, there was nothing other than bright sides.  Into Mile 17, I met Donna.  Donna was running Philly for the 19th time.  She was older, and had come into the race wanting to BQ as she had a few times in her past.  At Mile 12, she got a cramp and watched as her pace group passed.  She was still so happy to be running, so energetic and still loving the run.  She was, without knowing it, reassuring me that I was running the right race for me.  I ran with Donna for a little over a mile, mostly quietly but chit-chatting at times.  Eventually, we came upon her husband- she stopped and I went on.  Miles 18-20 were tough.  As I headed downhill into Manayunk, all I could think about was the uphill back out of Manayunk.  I was slowing down even more, and for the first time starting to feel down.  That changed real fast when I realized that at Mile 20 I was entering uncharted territory.  I had no idea what to expect beyond Mile 20 but I knew I needed to snap back into my strong mental game.  The timing was perfect because the energy in Manayunk was great and I was really feeling it.  I texted my mom, “I think I’ll for for a 10K today :)” and put my positive mental game into overdrive!

Miles 21-26.2:  Just before Mile 21, I saw my friends Greg and Dee.  They had planned to run with me and I couldn’t have been happier to see them.  It gave me such a boost and we all started running together.  Then came Mile 22 and the unexpected- a foot cramp.  I had been prepared for hip pain, knee pain, ITB pain, PF pain and shin pain.  But this was the top of my left foot.  Hello marathon curve ball!!!  The pain was so bad, I couldn’t run.  At all.  I was relegated to walking until I could get it out.  Greg gave me some advil and we kept going one foot in front of the other.  Greg and Dee were amazing- kept telling me how awesome I was doing and kept my spirits up by asking me about the race to that point.  Eventually though, I had to stop.  My foot was screaming.  It happens that Greg is also my podiatrist (lucky me!) and he was able to assess quickly after I took off my shoe that it needed to be re-laced.  I was swelling so bad that my show was cutting off the circulation in my foot.  From this point I did almost all walking.  It was a tough pill to swallow but having come that far already there was no stopping me.  I was going to finish!  At Mile 25, I decided come hell or highwater, I was running.  And run I did…for the last 1.2 miles.

The finish line: It is hard to describe how I felt at those moments.  The experience was bigger than myself.  I could see my friends, parents and R2 all at the finish, screaming with excitement for me.  It was a long journey but I had done it.  There really is no feeling like it.

The best thing I did for myself was mentally prepare.  I relied on that many times throughout the race.  The other best thing I did, was go in without a real time goal.  I mean, of course I did have goals, but I truly did not care.  I wanted to finish happy.  That was most important to me- to cross the line with a smile.  Because of my mental preparation and my desire to have a fun race, I took all the pressure off myself and was really able to enjoy the journey.

All my goals were met.  I did have fun.  I finished running and with a smile.  It was truly the best time of my life. I have zero regrets.

Oh and also, I have no itentions of every doing another marathon!

 

PS- for some reason, WordPress is not letting me upload photos; hopefully soon!!!

Marathon Motivation

As my training cycle begins to get real serious, and the marathon begins to peek its head out from the horizon…and I begin to be exhausted every day and on the verge of eating my own hand every minute…I decided over the weekend that I need a motivation overhaul! 

Here are some of the photos that I have been posting on my mirror, bedroom walls and work desk.  Whatever it takes, right!

 

 

How do you best motivate yourself?  Do you use quotes or photos or certain mantras?