September Races #10 & #11

After not racing all summer and focusing more on training and fitness as a part of my scale-free summer, I have run two races so far this month — NFL Back to Football 5K Run on September 4th and Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon on September 15th!  Running both of these races has definitely shown me that my speed is improving daily.

Race #10 – NFL Back to Football 5K Race – September 4, 2013

For those of you who don’t know, I am a crazy football mama and a member of the Ravens Nation!!!  This means that when I found out that there would be an NFL Back to Football Race which ended on the 50 yard line of M & T Stadium I knew I had to be there.  I was very excited when the Black Girls Run! Baltimore crew created a team for the race.  What’s better than running a race affiliated with football?  Running that race with 100+ of your running buddies!

The stadium is walking distance from my job so I was able to change at the office and walk down with plenty of time to hang out before the race.  It was like tailgating with a run thrown in.  Besides my BGR crew, I also ran into one of my twitter buddies – Meghan.

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This race was loads of fun! Even though I stopped a couple of times along the course to take pictures of the stadium, it was still a PR at 40:40!2013-09-04 19.49.00

Race #11 – Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon – September 15, 2013

I have been looking forward to this race all summer.  Although my speed work &  training plan is focused on the Baltimore Running Festival in October, I was hoping that I would be fast enough by this “flat & fast” race course to PR.  This was also my first girls’ weekend race ever.  I got up early Saturday morning to take the bus to Philadelphia.  I was staying with my sorority sister and fellow runner for the weekend.  When she picked me up, we headed straight for the Expo at the Convention Center.

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I managed to stay within budget.  I scored some really cool earphones from Auria which hang on the ear and allow you to still hear ambient sounds.  I will be trying them out over my next few runs and reporting back to you on them.

When we left the Expo, we got mani-pedis and then headed back to the house for naps and hydrating.  I finally was able to do the least amount of running around the day before a long race.  A perfect pre-race day.

The next morning we were up early of course and rode along with another sorority sister to the race start.  After a quick stop in the Starbucks bathroom, we headed to the starting line.  I was assigned to corral 22 but in order to not be too far behind each other we all started in corral 14.  It was the first time I ever moved up from an assigned corral and will probably be my last.  I was overwhelmed by the faster runners when we took off.

I ran for about the first quarter mile then started my timer to do my 1:1 ratio of running and walking.  My Map My Run app clocked my first mile at 10 minutes which is really fast for me so I started to slow down.  Halfway through the race, my music turned on by itself and the app had me 2 miles ahead of what the mile actually was.  It turns out I had sweated into my phone case – oops! Because I didn’t realize that the app was malfunctioning until later in the race, I took a few extra walk breaks in the beginning to slow my pace down.  However, it turns out my pace was right and the app was wrong.

Good – The course through Philadelphia was beautiful.  It really was as advertised – “flat and fast.” The RnR team had inspirational signs throughout the course. There were bands and music.  There were also cheer leaders along the course encouraging us which was really cool.

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Bad – Some of the water stops were out of water and breaking down by the time we got there.  From what I heard from my BGR sisters who were in corrals further back, it was even worse for them.  The music was not spaced out well.  There was a lot in the downtown area but very spread out on the Eakin Loop.  Kudos to the lone drummer on the far side of the loop!

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Although I didn’t PR, I am proud of my time – 3:08 as it is definitely faster than my time at the Frederick Half Marathon in May.  After the race, we headed to 7-11 for coffee and took the train back to the house.  After a shower and change, we were all smiles as we picked up a well deserved chicken cheesesteak for the bus ride back to Baltimore.

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Have you run any races lately?  Drop me a line in the comments about your most recent run or race experience.

An Emotional Race 9 Recap–BWC

I have been trying to write this post since last week Monday, the day after the race.  However, every time I try to write this recap I remember the week after last year’s race.  It was the week I found out that I would need to have a hysterectomy.  Even now as I write this finally, I am having difficulty focusing on writing this year’s recap without thinking about last year.  I’m going to give this recap in mostly pictures as a result.

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Black Girls Run Group Picture in the Baltimore Times

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There were more than 400 of us running in this year’s Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K.  Truly, a takeover.

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Twilight Tuesday’s Hysterrunners! It was M’s first race!

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Being silly before the official group picture.

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Post-race smiles – I love my medal!

July Goals & Challenges

Today is also July 1st.  I have accepted the #ScaleFreeSummer challenge from Erika at Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss.  I weighed in yesterday and will not be getting back on the scale until July 31st.  I have been making good progress towards my fitness goals.  However, although I can see the progress in pictures, sometimes the scale does not feel like it’s moving fast enough.  Sometimes I get discouraged when I don’t see the difference in the scale.  For me, this challenge is a way for me to focus on my clean eating and fitness goals without worrying every few days about the scale.

As a part of my moving towards my fitness, I am doing the 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge over at Simple Green Smoothies.  I’ve been incorporating smoothies into my diet pretty regularly. I hope to replace one meal a day with a green smoothie on my rest days and light exercise days.  On heavy training days, I will have a salad or light fare with my smoothie.

The second challenge I’m doing for this month is for my fitness.  As you know I’ve been slowly rebuilding my core strength.  Ab work with my BGR ladies and Bikram Yoga has been a big part of that.  I also have been struggling to regularly do upper body strength work.  I found this great July challenge on Pinterest which focuses on abs, legs, arms & cardio.

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I will be splitting these daily workouts up across the course of the day.  Most of it will be done in the morning before I wake up.  The other half after work around my workout schedule in addition to my running and yoga schedule.  Also instead of Bikram, I will be doing Vinyasa yoga for my crosstraining this summer.  Swimming, hiking, AquaZumba and other summer activities will also happen.  I’m loving my summer body that was built with running in the Winter and Spring.  However, I know that I will love it more once I focus on my fitness and not the scale.

Are you doing any challenges this month?  How do you keep up with your fitness goals during the summer?

What A Difference A Year Makes…

Today is National Running Day 2013!

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Last year, after my high blood pressure scare, I was cleared to run on May 30th.  My first run with Black Girls Run was the next day – June 1, 2012.  It was a celebration run as BGR: Baltimore was celebrating its one-year anniversary with a fun run hosted by Charm City Run.  It also coincided with National Running Day.  I was just excited to be running again.  I did my first 3 miles using the Galloway method that day.  Two weeks later I ran my first 5K at the Baltimore Women’s Classic.

Today, I ran just under 3 miles in less than 40 minutes which after the year I’ve had is incredible.  I may have been sidelined by health issues but I have come back.  Throughout my recovery, running has been key.  Whether I run 1/4 mile or 13.1, I am a runner.  Running has helped me to stay sane despite my health challenges and to become healthier in the process.  I am several pounds lighter and my HBP is under control.

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The pic on the left is from 6/1/2012; on the right is from 6/5/2013.

To celebrate National Running Day, besides my run, I registered for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia.  Last year, I would have never thought anything longer than a 5K was possible for myself.  This year, I have already run 6 races out of my #13in2013 goal, including 2 10-milers and 2 half marathons.

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I am truly proud of how far I have come.  I am looking forward to continuing to become that fit chick!  I love being a hysterrunner!

Did you go for a run for National Running Day?  How has your running progressed in the last year?  Share your responses in the comments.

From Iron to Titanium in 1 Week!

This week I ran the Half Marathon at the Frederick Running Festival, one week after running in my first Half Marathon, the Athleta Iron Girl. I made it through the challenge and am now a Titanium Girl!

To recap, I travelled with my family to Frederick on Saturday afternoon. We drove straight to the Fairgrounds for the Expo to pick up my race packet. This was a relatively smooth process. I bought a Titanium Girl t-shirt and….

A special edition ViewSport tank just for the FRF! I can’t wait to wear it on a run when it warms up! When activated, the hidden image says “Run Frederick!” I love my purple long sleeve. Now I have a tank to rock.

We checked out the Kids Fun Run for a few then headed to the hotel. I set out my outfit for the morning. Then, we headed to Applebee’s for dinner. Nothing too fancy; just shrimp and pasta. When we got back to the hotel, I showered, checked twitter and hit the hay by 10. Sleep was a bit rough, though. Next time, I’m bringing my own pillow and sleep mask.

I woke up, got dressed and hubs dropped me at the start. I met up with some of my Black Girls Run ladies and took this pic.

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It was right after this that I realized I forgot my GymBoss timer back in Baltimore! Ugh! I rely on my timer to keep me at a 13 minute pace. Cue minor freakout! A few deep breaths later, I got on line for the bathroom which was ridiculously long. I barely made it to the start on time. As a result, I started at the very back as opposed to in the 13/14 minute pace group. That was ok, though because I got to see my Soror Cecily in the caboose section!

After the start, I couldn’t find my rhythm for the first mile. Then, just as I did, I realized I was a bit too hydrated. I had to make another pit stop at the Mile 3 water stop. When I came out, I literally ran into one of my professional mentors, a fellow PhDiva who happens to be an ultrarunner. She was pacing another Titanium Challenge girl. I decided to run/walk with them for a bit.

At about Mile 8, we got a police escort. Although we were on pace to finish within the course time limit, the cops starting moving people off the course and on to the sidewalk. I stayed with them until Mile 11. Then, I took off. I ran past the police and caught up with the turtle pack. As I came onto the track, my family was there waiting with signs which was just the push I needed to finish strong. I came in slower than last week but I still finished.

My time wasn’t impressive but for a hysterrunner going from 0 miles to back to back Half Marathons, finishing is a blessing!

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The turtle with the gecko.

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The turtle and the caboose - Finishers!

Have you ever feared the sweeper? How were your runs/races this weekend? Tell me about it in the comments.

My Medical Progress & Monthly Goals

I haven’t written official monthly goals in a few months.  But, it’s May, the month for mothers, especially mother runners Smile! So I ‘m writing them down.

I still have some twinges of pain in my incision from time to time, especially with extra exertion, like in a race.  In fact, after I was finished with the Iron Girl, it throbbed for a while to a beat which felt like my run pace.  I spoke to my Gynecologist at my follow-up appointment last week about this.  He said that I should expect to feel throbbing for up to a year.  He said it would be ok if I worked on abdominal work, though.  I had been trying it intermittently, with the exception of Bikram Yoga, because it hurts.  The night before my surgery I did 175 different types of crunches because I could.  Now I can barely do 10.  However, I have no adhesions and have healed well so I can focus on building back up my abs. Woohoo!

I had my follow-up general practitioner doctor appointment on Monday, the day after the Iron Girl.  I wore my medal to the appointment, of course.  My BP is down to 120/80!!! We were both very excited to see those numbers.  I still need to stay on the single medication for now but we will be reassessing in 4 months.  My task until then is to take my pressure before and after a few runs as well as to do a few test days without medication and take my pressure on each of them.  The research scientist in me is looking forward to collecting this data. LOL!!!

Now that I have a clean bill of health, here are my goals for this month.

Running – Frederick Half Marathon on May 5th ~ Race 6 of #13in2013 then to maintain my distance and do some speedwork to be prepared for the Baltimore Ten Miler in June.

Abdominal Work – I’ll be adding 15-30 minutes of ab exercises to our post-Twilight Tuesday runs starting in May.  Looking forward to working with my sole sisters of BGR on a common goal.

Bikram Yoga – Get in at least 3 sessions this month.  I love Bikram.  It helps me to be more flexible and I always feel centered after these sweat pink sessions Winking smile!

Strength Training – Help! I need to figure something out that is consistent.  This is my weakest link!  My goal this month is to figure out how to be strong.

Do you set fitness goals?  Have you dealt with coming back from illness?  Share your experiences in the comments.

Three things I LOVE!

Of course, I love myself first. If I didn’t, then nothing else would matter. It is because I love myself that I am aware of the three things I love the most.

Family– My husband and my son truly are my heart.  I focus on getting better every day so that I can be the best I can be for them.

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I come from a decent sized family.  Talking to any of them – my parents, sisters, brother, cousins, etc – is usually a joy and a blessing that I don’t take for granted.

Faith – I can do everything through my God who strengthens me.  Battling back from my hysterectomy has taken a lot of faith that I would heal.  Daily prayer and going to Mass regularly helps me to remain connected to God.  I hope that sharing “Faith & Fitness Fridays” with you helps you to connect as well.

Fitness – I may not be an elite athlete.  But, I truly love becoming that FIT CHICK.  Whether I am running, doing Water Aerobics, or shaking it in a Zumba class, I love pushing my limits and getting physically back to the way I used to be.  I have been enjoying this journey back to fitness and look forward to the next stage.  Speaking about running…

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The guys over at the runchat have asked this week for us to post things you love about running.  So to elaborate on one of my 3 things I love, here are the things I love about being a HYSTERRUNNER!

  • I can run! It doesn’t have to be fast or far.  But, I can do it.  I have come back from 0 miles/week to just under 20!
  • It has helped me recover.  Being in decent shape because of running helped me to manage pain better immediately after my surgery.  Getting back to running post-surgery has helped me get my body back.  Slowly but surely!
  • I don’t need much equipment to do it.  A good sportsbra & my Sauconys are all I need.  Of course, being that I run mostly outdoors, I have invested in some tech gear/cold gear/etc.  But I can just get out there and run – anywhere, anytime, anyhow!
  • It’s the one thing I have TOTAL CONTROL OVER!!!  My body still has its issues.  I don’t always know when I wake up if my incisions will twitch or if I will have swelly belly and not be able to fit in what I thought I could wear to work that day.  But I do know that if I get out and run even a little bit, I feel better mentally and spiritually which is better for both my FAMILY and my FAITH.
  • I love the running community.  The online community helped me to focus when I was lying in bed recovering and could barely walk much less run.  My Black Girls Run group encourages me and pushes me to run even when I am not sure what my capabilities are.  My Road Runners Crew is always there with tips, tricks, etc.  My offline running friends are always there with personal support.

So there you have it – the Three Things I love combined with what I love about running! How’s that for a Valentine’s Day!

runners_valentine_card_i_heart_love_running-p137917693705586184bfmxk_400http://www.zazzle.com

Half-Marathon Training Check-In

This year I am aiming to complete 13 races in 2013.  Key among these races will be my first half-marathons.  I will be running the Iron Girl Columbia in April and the Frederick Half Marathons a week apart which will make me a Titanium Girl.  Yeah, this Hysterrunner goes BIG! LOL!

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Ever since I started running again in November, I have been going one step at a time.  I am not an elite runner by any stretch of the imagination.  My first run back was barely over a mile long.  Even before my surgery, my long runs were 4 miles.  So choosing to go BIG requires a plan.  I couldn’t go from 1-2 miles a week to 13.1 overnight.  So here is what I have been doing.

I spent November 2012 getting myself back to being comfortable with running again.  It was a slow and frustrating process to get back to 3 mile long runs.  There was a lot of internal struggling and crying.  But, I kept at it.  At the end of November, I joined the Road Runners for additional training in addition to my regular runs with Black Girls Run and the Resolution Run training I had started to work back up to 3 miles.  The Road Runners of Baltimore are doing a middle distance training program to get members ready to run a 10-miler in February.  I felt that working with these awesome runners was just what I needed to get my base up in a supportive environment.  It’s because of RRCA Baltimore that I learned how to properly do speedwork.  Books and online training plans are great but sometimes you need to learn from other humans.

Over the past few months, with training from RRCA and support from Black Girls Run and my other running buddies, I have built my weekly base up to 16 miles and gotten down to a 14 minute mile.  I am well on my way to a less than 12 minute mile by the time of the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in April which is my aim.  My long run is up to 6.5 miles! This lines up perfectly with the Train Like A Mother Half-Marathon Finish It Plan.  After I finish at the RRCA 10-miler in February, I will be able to pick up the TLAM plan and keep going right to the finish line! WOOHOO!!!

Unfortunately, life is about to get in the way.  In my non-hysterrunner life, I am a prevention research scientist who teaches at a University.  My class for this term is on Thursday evenings which conflicts with speedwork evenings with the RRCA.  I’m  not giving up on speedwork, however.  I hate gyms BUT the gym on campus has an indoor track complete with a track only membership.  I have paid for that and will be doing my speedwork on the track as well as using the track for occasional indoor runs when the weather is really yucky this Winter.  In order to not take too much time away from my family, indoor track runs will be done at lunchtime.

Next week will mark my first 7 mile long run, I am hoping to do it in about 90 minutes! Wish me luck!

Resolution Run 2013 Recap

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My first race of 2013 was cool! In order to prepare, I joined a training group specific to this race with a great group of people.  The group started in November about 2 weeks after I was cleared to run following my hysterectomy.  I felt that I needed the support in starting to actively train again.  My Twilight Tuesday runs with BGR were used as a part of this training.  There were a lot of BGR ladies running yesterday as well, many as their first race.  I am proud of everyone that I ran with as it was New Year’s Day.  My time was slow (50:22) which is fine being that I was tired after the New Year’s Eve festivities. Basically – Fried food, 4-inch heels, and fruity drinks -> Fun time was had by all!

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For this race, I was more focused on finishing and not losing the mini in the crowd of runners.  I abandoned my regular race pace and ran when he felt like running and walked when he stopped to walk.  At one point, he took a break to climb the rocks.  I jogged in place until he was ready to catch up.  Here’s a pic of the two of us at the Finish line.

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The Resolution Run was a great way to kick off 2013! It helped me to meet many of my goals early on – spend time with family, focus on my fitness, and help others by donating to a good cause!

2013 Race Goals

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In the spirit of looking back and forward, I am presenting my goals for the New Year.  These are what I aim to do with the hope of continuing to improve on myself.  After my health scares in 2012, I am blessed to be alive.  Every day that I am able to wake up, spend time with my family, and run is precious to me.  With that being said, I am grateful for the experiences that I had in 2012 and am looking forward to new experiences in 2013. 

12 months year of you

I will be aiming to run 13 races in 2013.  My cardiovascular strength and endurance has been building since my return to running post-hysterectomy.  I am up to ~15 miles a week.  I actually exceeded my 10 mile/week goal for December!  With this base, I am well poised to reach my race distance goals for 2013.  I have set up my races for the first half of the year to gradually build up to a half-marathon.  One year ago, I just wanted to run a 5K.  Now, I’m looking forward to becoming a Titanium Girl/Half Fanatic!!! Here are my January – June Race Goals.

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January 1 ~ Resolution Run 5K

January 19 ~ Winter Runnerland: Moms Run This Town Virtual 10K

 

 

 

February 24 ~ RRCA Club Challenge Ten Miler

March – ?

April 7 ~ Cherry Blossom Ten Miler 20121116203347

Isn’t this a cute pic of Amanda of the awesome blog www.runningonwaffles.com and I at the Cherry Blossom Kickoff?  Amanda is one of the social runners for the race.

 

 

 

 

April 28 ~ Athleta Iron Girl Columbia Half Marathon

This will be my first half marathon!!!! WOOHOO!!!

May 5 ~ Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon

2 races, 7 days, 3 medals = ONE TITANIUM GIRL!

 

June ~ Decisions, decisions, decisions…

There are 4 races that I want to run in June!!! I’ve already registered for the previous races which puts me at 5.  I can do 1 or 2 races in June and still be on pace for 2013.  But, I am not sure if I should race 4 times.  That being said, here are the ones I am considering.

June 1 – Zooma Annapolis ~ This is a Black Girls Run goal race for 2013 which means lots of my sole sisters will be running this one.  I’m trying to decide if to push for a third half marathon or the 10K.

June 15 – Baltimore Ten Miler ~ I volunteered at a water stop for this one last year.  I need to decide if to volunteer again or run it.

June 16 – Road Runners Club GPS 5K ~ It would be nice to do another RRCA race and it’s around the corner from my house!

June 23 – Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K ~ This is more than likely a definite.  The BWC was my first race in 2012.  I’m thinking of coaching newbies like I was last year.

Regardless of which races I choose in June, for 2013 I will be a …

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Never Say Never November Goals Update

With 2 days left in this month, it is time to assess how I did on this month’s goals.  Overall, despite a few setbacks, I did pretty good.  I didn’t hit my goals exactly but I did make really good progress back to fitness.  Here’s how I did:

  1. Running – This month I aimed for 10 miles a week by running 3 times a week, especially Twilight Tuesdays with BGR.  I started November just relearning how to run with my “new” body.  I did manage to get a run in 3 days a week; however, I didn’t hit 10 miles yet.  As I wasn’t consistently ready for 3 miles at a time when we started the month, it wasn’t as realistic as I thought. Most of my runs averaged 1-2 miles with a “long run” of 3 miles each week.  However, yesterday I got almost 4 miles in and felt great! I have joined in on the Runner’s World Holiday RunStreak.  So I’m going to keep this goal and potentially aim higher in December.
  2. #LungesforLeftovers – Girls Gone Sporty had a cool challenge this month.  “Earn our Thanksgiving Leftovers” by doing as many lunges each day as you can.  I started out doing 20 static lunges – 10 on each side.  I really took to this goal.  I am able to do not only static lunges but walking lunges and lunges in the pool!  I definitely can feel a difference in my booty!
  3. Strength Training – This is the one area that I fell short.  In getting back to work and life, it was hard to fit upper body exercises in as well as my other fitness goals.  I barely did this once a week this month.
  4. Aqua Aerobics – AWESOME.  I absolutely LOVE my Wednesday evening class!  It is more than just aerobics.  It also includes water running and lots of upper body strength exercises with water weights.  When it is done,  I definitely feel it all over!

I may not have hit my goals exactly but I definitely feel like I accomplished a lot fitness wise this month.  Compared to the end of September through October when I was on bed rest and recovering, I did really well! I’m looking forward to next month as I will start training for a 10-miler with the Baltimore Road Runners Club in preparation for my half-marathon training which starts in January.

How did you do on your Never Say Never November goals?  Leave me a comment to let me know! 

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15th, 2013
Aiming for a PR!