13 Races-10 Medals

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Not every race I ran had a medal but aren’t these a great collection!

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Iron Girl + Frederick Half Marathons = Titanium Girl

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Frederick + Baltimore Half Marathons = Maryland Double

Do you like to run for medals?  If so, what is your favorite one? What do you do with your medals?

Best Race Weekend Ever–BRF 2013

I did it! On October 12, 2013, I ran the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon and completed the 13 races in 2013 challenge! I promised myself that I would celebrate my new lease in life by running 13 races, including my first half marathon.  I ended up running FOUR half marathons!

BRF2013 finisher medal

What made the weekend awesome was not just the fact that I completed the race but that I got to run it with my run boos! Since it was a race in our own backyard, literally, we planned the weekend in a way to run well and recover well.  The girls met at my house at 7am to carpool downtown.  We were able to park at my job and walk over to campus.  The Dean had a special breakfast for all of the runners in his office where we had a great view of the start of the marathon, team relay, and 5K races.  The joy in this is that we got to use real bathrooms before heading down to the staging area for the half marathon.  A race without seeing a port-a-potty is a blessing for me!

On our way to the staging area, we stopped to cheer on the 5K runners on their way to the finish line.  There were quite a few Black Girls Run ladies out there.  It was great to show support to other runners even before we started.

The good and the bad of the start/staging area was that it was sandwiched between the turnaround point for the full marathon/ marathon relay route.  This meant ducking through runners already in the zone to get to our corral.  I was afraid that we would either get run over or throw someone off their game.  Neither would have been good.  The good thing about this start area was that once we were situated we could cheer on the runners while waiting for our corral to start. 

We started out together as a group with the knowledge that we would eventually split up to our own paces.  That being said, we all ended within a short time of each other.  Two of my girlfriends were running their first half marathons.  One of them like me is a hysterrunner who had run Iron Girl, Frederick, and now Baltimore.  So she too is now a Titanium Girl who completed the Maryland Double.  

BRF Collage

I may be biased but this half marathon was the best one out of the four I have run.  There was crowd support throughout the race not just in the start and end areas.  Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods and each neighborhood along the route had its own way of cheering and supporting us.  Because a part of the route runs around Lake Montebello and through our Twilight Tuesday route, it really was like running in our own backyard at one point! The great thing about this is that my two best friends stationed themselves to cheer at different points around the lake.  Then my husband and son were at the entrance/exit point. They ran with me from the lake for about a mile to coach  me on and keep me motivated.  Once they left me, the rest of the route really was all downhill.

The race food and fun afterwards was great.  But the thing that made this race weekend awesome is that afterwards we headed to the spa for ice baths and sauna time.  The day after I was sore but not as sore as I usually am.  Going to the spa after 13.1 miles was definitely one of my best ideas.

Have you had an awesome race weekend? How are you doing with your 2013 goals?

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.

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.

RnR half natl running day

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.

New Goals–What’s Beautiful?

Thanks to Mother Nature, I barely ran this past week.  Tuesday evening was stormy – thunder, lightning…so Twilight Tuesday was cancelled.  However, I found a TV exercise game online.  I did the exercises during Dancing with the Stars The Results show. 

I did get to Bikram Yoga on my lunch time on Wednesday.  I followed that up with a 2 mile run on Thursday morning before work.  All in all, not bad for someone who completed 2 half marathons in 8 days.  I probably needed the rest more than I realized.

Next week, I will be building back up my miles and beginning speedwork in preparation for my next challenge. Thanks to the encouragement of the wonderful Dr Shauna Harrison, I have signed up for the Under Armour What’s Beautiful competition.  If you don’t know, Under Armour Women “are redefining the female athlete by setting epic goals and pushing past where we’ve ever been and where we thought we could go.”  As a part of the challenge, you set goals for yourself with the hopes of crushing them.

I had already set a challenge for myself for 2013.  I planned to run 13 races in 2013, including my first half marathon.  Well, in the past few months, I have blown through more than half of my goals.  At this point,month 5, I have already run 6 races including 2 half marathons!!!  So for my challenge, I have upped the ante so to speak.  I am aiming for a sub-three hour half marathon! Yes, that means I will be running at least one more this year!  My specific goal is:

I Will run 13 races in 2013 including a sub-3 hour half marathon and rebuild my core.

I’m still working on my Summer/Fall race schedule.  However, I’m thinking Rock N Roll Philly and/or the Baltimore Running Festival will probably be on it.  One of those two will be my goal race.  This will mean running and training strong this summer to be ready to blow through this next goal. 

Classes are done for this school year so I get my Thursday evenings back.  That means 3-4 runs and 2-3 crosstraining sessions are back in the schedule.  Woohoo!  This week’s schedule looks like this:

Monday – Bikram Yoga

Tuesday – Twilight Tuesday Tempo Run 3-4 miles

Wednesday – ?

Thursday – Speedwork

Friday – Bikram Yoga

Saturday – Long Run 6-8 miles

Let’s see how I do this week!

What are your goals for this week?  Are any of you doing the Under Armour What’s Beautiful challenge?  Is anyone else sick of this crazy weather?

Wordless Wednesday – 4 medals in 30 days!

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Can you tell I’m proud of my progress? Tell me about something you’re proud of.

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.

I am an IRON GIRL!!!

I am truly humbled by my journey over the past 8 months.  When I got the idea for this blog.  I was still on bed rest post-surgery.  In fact, when I decided to run a half marathon, I was in the middle of a hormonally charged crying jag and in extreme pain.  During the ugly cry, I was babbling about never being able to run again. My husband convinced me to take my pain meds which I was afraid of taking by assuring me that not only could I run but I would be able to run longer distances than before. (Long story short – I’m allergic to a lot of meds and am leery of them as a result.) Being that I had been hemorrhaging for the better part of the previous 5 months, I had been limited to 3-4 mile runs.

When my hormones started to return to normal and the pain subsided a few weeks later, I decided to run one 5K a month for 2013.  Then, I heard about the Iron Girl and the #13in2013 challenge and decided to go a bit farther.  I would run 13 races, including my first half marathon.  I planned my earlier races for the year to gradually build up to this distance.  The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler was actually my second peak long run for the training period.

So to recap a wonderful weekend…

Saturday morning, I was up at the crack of dawn not to head out for a long run but to take the mini to a Boy Scout STEM event which was actually held 20 minutes away from the start of the race.  I made sure to bring my water with me to stay hydrated.  When they broke for lunch, I left to pick up my race packet and hit the Expo.  I learned my lesson from the Cherry Blossom Expo and limited my time there to only about 45 minutes.  I picked up a magnet for my car and some cool arm sleeves. On my way back to base to pick up the mini, I ran 2 quick errands, including picking up some coconut water to aid in my continued hydrating, as well as to be prepared for post-race hydrating.  We headed home where I put my feet up for a few before heading to my girlfriend Betsey’s house.  She lives in Columbia so I stayed at her place to make race morning a bit smoother.  After pasta at Bertucci’s, we headed home and I prepared for a good night’s sleep.  Before going to bed, I posted the following tweet.

night before ig

Race morning, April 28, 2013 – I woke up, got dressed, and had oatmeal for breakfast. I hit the bathroom before leaving.  After a slight detour, I got to the start and needed to use the bathroom again.  I spent the next 20 minutes on line to use the Port-A-Janes and missed all BGR pre-race pics in the process.  I lined up with some friends in the 12-minute pace group just to chat but fell back to my 13-minute mile pace right as we exited the parking lot. My long slow distance runs were at a 14-minute pace with the intention of running at 13-minutes for race pace.  I was confident that this was pretty doable.  With the rolling hills of Columbia to slow me down at some points, I figured I could be done in about 3 hours.  I finished the first 5K and developed a slight stitch in my side, something that happened in longer runs during training so I was expecting it.  I lifted my arms and took deep breaths to get past it while I kept going.  At the 10K split, I was at 1:35 on point with pace and feeling pretty good.  Then came the serious hill.  Even though I trained on hills all winter, it was still hard.  The downhill had me staying in control but picking up the pace to make up for slowing down a bit earlier.  However, I run/walk on a 1:1 ratio and it was 3 intervals before I could stop running and walk.  You get to the bottom of the hill, turn the corner and have to go up a steep hill.  Most of us walked up that sucker!  The rest of the course was pretty much average rolling hills but my effort on those two steep ones definitely had me feeling the burn.  That being said, I finished strong with a final time of 3:06.12 just over my estimate but still a PR!!! LOL!!!

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Thirteen point freaking one baby! & yes, that’s a #RunChat tattoo on my shoulder!

Have you ever challenged yourself to do something new?  Have you ever run a half marathon?  Tell me about your experiences in the comments.

Six Months & Counting

Today marks 6 months since my hysterectomy! On September 20,2012, I had my uterus removed. After months of hemmorhaging, it was the only choice. It turns out that I didn’t have endometriosis or cervical cancer. I did have numerous fibroids and 2 rapidly growing  tumors which turned out to be benign. The surgery was truly a lifesaver for me. Life post-op has been interesting.

Thanks to my surgery, I went from being a sometimes mother runner to a badass hysterrunner. When I first coined the term, “No uterus, no problem,” I had no clue how true that would be.

Before my surgery, I ran 10-12 miles a week. After, it was a battle to run 1-2 miles at a time. Today, I’m averaging 25 miles/week! Why? Because I am thankful to be alive! Pre-hyster, I was considering maybe running a 5K a month. Now, I have challenged myself to run 13 races in 2013, including several 10 mile races and my first half-marathon!

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I used to read stories about people who have a new lease on life and chuckle. Now I understand how grateful it truly feels to be able to do something you may not have had a chance to otherwise. I run for all of the reasons in this picture. I run to thank God for giving me my body back. I am thankful for the chance to make it healthier day by day.

Day by day, day by day, oh dear Lord these things I pray. To see things more clearly, day by day. Love thee more dearly, day by day. Follow thee more nearly, Lord, day by day. – Godspell

What are you thankful for today? Let me know in the comments.

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

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