Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Highlights and Goals


December 28 - With three days left in 2011, it is time to start thinking about goals for 2012. I began this year by joining the Nike+ challenge Run 211 in 2011. My previous year of running was pretty UNSPECTACULAR so this was my motivation to do better. Happily, I met my goal in MAY and I have continued to run ever since. 

Before deciding on new goals, I thought about some of my favorite running moments from this year and made a list:

  1. Training with my husband
  2. My first winter weather advisory run
  3. Starting a running blog
  4. Participating in a 5K with my dog
  5. Completing my first Half Marathon
  6. Running across the Newport Pell Bridge
  7. Being asked to be a RhodeScholar for Cox Rhode Races
  8. Returning to Cincinnati to run the Thanksgiving Day Race 10K
  9. Dressing up like Santa and running a 5K
  10. GDTC Fun Run around MHT
When I read my list, I think of how much fun I have had this year pursuing my passion. I think of the hard work I put into reaching my goal. I think about the time spent with my family and friends. The places we traveled. The amazing people we met. The fact that I want to do it all again.

So as January 1st marks the day for resolutions, goal making, and to-do-lists, I too am putting together some things I want to accomplish:
  1. Keep running!!
  2. Run a race every month (at least one)
  3. Continue to improve my blog
  4. Add another New England state to the list of places I have run
  5. Keep meeting new running friends

What are your running goals for 2012?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Home for the Holidays 10K

December 24 - I woke up early Christmas Eve morning to take part in the Home for the Holidays 10K, a virtual race created by bloggers Ashley, Stephanie and Robin.  It is also training time for my second half marathon, so I worked in the 10K as part of my scheduled long run.

We still needed some last minute things for Christmas, so my husband dropped me at the school where I met up with my running buddy and he went off to the grocery. Our plan was to blend two of our running routes together and try to make an 8 mile run. Route #1: a 6.5 mile loop around the lake. Route #2: part of our hills workout run that we thought would add another 1.5 miles.

Here it is on GPS:

Did I mention that it was only 20 degrees? It was the coldest day we have gone running so far. All we needed was a little snow! Our run was slightly challenging because it included a few what-I-call-steep hills. I'm not sure if it was the cold weather or just an off day, but this run definitely required a lot of effort to push through. It was especially difficult to face one of the toughest hills at about 4.5 miles. My legs wanted me to keep moving down the hill instead of turning off and heading up.

We ended our run with 7.5 miles (so our estimations were a little off) and icicles in our hair! Participating in the Home for the Holidays 10K has been a lot of fun and I love that I burned a few hundred calories before the Christmas partying even began!

Virtual 10K - 1:01:10

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Virtual Running

December 22 - We are in the age of Virtual Running. A virtual run is completing the race requirements without being present in an actual race location. More and more events are popping up via social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Nike Running, DailyMile and more.

My experience with virtual running began in 2009 when I participated in the Nike Human Race 10K. Nike promoted this global 10K event for its users of the nike running sensor through Ambassadors, Challenge Teams, and Facebook. I was invited to join the event by one of the Nike Human Race Ambassadors and enjoyed weeks of training while interacting via the internet with my teammates and participating in contests. On race day, runners had to complete the 6.2 miles wherever they were, whenever they wanted and then upload their run using Nike+. Even though I wasn't surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other runners, I sported my Human Race running shirt and felt part of something huge.

This year I will be participating in the Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K put together by a couple of Twitter runners Robin, Stephanie, and Ashley. To participate all you have to do is run your 10K between Dec 23-26 then submit your time afterward. You are also encouraged to submit your stories and photos because they are giving out prizes from an array of brands for Best Holiday Outfit and just for participating. These runner girls don't want to let anyone end 2011 without one more experience of the "runner's high."

The 2012 New Year will bring the Inaugural Twitter Road Race 5K on Jan 21 created by Doug another runner on Twitter. Doug has successfully registered Bart Yasso of Runner's World along with hundreds of other Twitter runners. Doug's goal is simply to bring runners together to experience the camaraderie of running through the power of Twitter.

These Virtual Races are great motivation for runners all over to get out there during these busy, hectic holidays and run. So whether you are maintaining your training or burning some holiday calories, virtual runs are an easy, healthy, fun way to do it!

What do you think about virtual running?
What virtual races have you participated in?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Twitter Happiness

December 18 -  Last weekend was my last race of 2011. In the last ten weeks I have run in seven races and one fun group run. My next race isn't until January 1st, which actually isn't that long from now, but for some reason feels like forever.

I love running. I love blogging about running events. What will I blog about until the next race? I'm not an expert on fitness, or weight management, or healthy eating. I don't have advice for injuries or training or running gear. I just have my experiences.

So as I have come to enjoy blogging about my running events almost as much as running them, I have been feeling a bit dejected wondering what topic would make for interesting blog reading?

Then yesterday, I saw this:

My first Twitter compliment!  Reading that made me want to write more posts, but there I was again wondering what do I write if I'm not running in a race?  Reading other blogs inspired me to post my last entry: Running the Sights.

Then, today, things got even more interesting when I saw this one:

What. An. Amazing. Offer!  I cannot express how thrilled I was to receive that tweet. Eager for more information, I went straight to their website. My eyes were moving quickly, trying to make sense of everything they were seeing, when they stopped on MAY 5-6, 2012. Darn. That is the same weekend as the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. My hometown. 

Now I had a big dilemma. I have been talking about running the half marathon with my friends for about six months now. My plan was to run the race and get a quick visit with the family at the same time. But now I was presented with this exciting opportunity that might not come again and it could lead to even more adventures. The Flying Pig will still be there in 2013.

So after weighing the pros and cons of travel, expenses, and work with my husband, I accepted the offer to become a Rhode Scholar. I don't know yet what it means exactly, but I am looking forward to being a part of the Cox Rhode Races event in May.    

Friday, December 16, 2011

Running the Sights

It is amazing what you might see when you are out for a run.  

I have seen some of nature's beauty:

Spectacular views:

New and old things merging:

Interesting yard art:

Strange outfits:

And pets of all kinds...


This post was inspired by fellow bloggers over at ON & OFF RHODES.  Check it out here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fun Run at MHT

Photo by Gary

December 11 - This morning I took part in my very first Fun Run hosted by a co-worker who is a member of a local running group, the Greater Derry Track Club.  What are fun runs?  They are friendly runs, rather than races, with participants taking part for their own enjoyment rather than competition.  It is an organized run that is a perfect way for runners to get together and find running companions for your pace and goals.  The fun runs are hosted by members of the running club who provide maps and support for varied distances, and afterwards arrange for food and socializing.

Today's fun run took place at the Executive Health Club at the Manchester Airport.  Gary, the host, planned three route choices of 4, 6.5, and 12 miles.  The four miler was an out-and-back, the 6.5 miler was a loop around the airport, and the 12 mile long run was a combo out-and-back with a loop south of the airport.  Maps were provided to the runners, although many choose to just follow the group.

6.5 mile loop - 1:00:45
I choose the 6.5 mile loop around the airport because it is in my current mileage range, but more importantly (to me) I thought it would be cool to run around the airport!   I use the Manchester Airport a couple of times a year to visit family and my husband is a pilot, so I really liked the idea of looping around the place with an airplane possibly flying in or out overhead.  And...I knew viewing the map later would look awesome if I used my GPS app to track the route.  I wasn't wrong.

Since this was my first time, I did not know what the 6.5 mile route was like.  It turned out to be a nice combination of hills and flats; enough to keep it challenging, but also keep it relaxing and fun.  Looking at my stats afterward, I was happy that I managed to increase my pace at each mile.

I really enjoyed this route and once again it was perfect running weather: 30s and sunny. If you are thinking about ways to finish out your year of running, fun runs are a great way to connect with friends both familiar and new!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jingle Bell Run 5K

bells - check!

December 10 - Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way...

This morning we drove to Concord, NH to participate in the Jingle Bell Run 5K and our last race of the year.  This race was a nice follow-up to our Santa Shuffle last weekend in Manchester. Instead of donning santa suits though, I attached jingle bells to our running shoes this morning before leaving the house.

Today we continued to be granted with great running weather with temperatures in the 30s and plenty of sunshine.  The race was a benefit run for the Arthritis Foundation and another fun and festive way to kick off the holiday season.  Registration and bib pick-up was in the Rundlett Middle School cafe, and hundreds of people were decked out in their holiday gear: reindeer antler headbands, santa suits, elf costumes, candy cane striped socks, you name it!

5K ~ 28:30
Gathering at the start line, more and more people arrived dressed in the holiday garb including canines who would be accompanying their owners on this Jingle Bell Run.

My running partners and I enjoyed a wonderful loop-like run around Russell-Shea State Forest being cheered on by the locals in the neighborhood and serenaded by the hundreds of jingling bells attached to shoes and clothing. Approximately 600 runners made their way along the roads and pathways to the finish line. This was only the second race I've ever run in December, and I was not disappointed.  I love the high-spirited, jolly atmosphere.

Even though I will still be running through the end of year, I am a little sad that the races are over for 2011.  This has been my most successful and healthy year of running, and it has been a blast. Tomorrow I will be joining a fun run around the Manchester Airport, but it won't be the same without the crowds of people clothed in holiday costumes. But, oh what fun, it is to RUN...

Next year I am looking forward to new goals and new experiences in running!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Claus Shuffle

My free Santa suit!

December 3, 2011 - Today was a fun run in downtown Manchester.  The Santa Claus Shuffle literally meant 1000+ runners in santa suits running three miles. The inaugural race launched the holiday season in the 2nd Happiest City in America beginning and ending at Veteran's Park.   Following the race was an awards presentation, tree lighting ceremony and holiday parade.

Check in at registration meant that the first 1000 runners received a free santa suit.  I was #626. With temperatures in the mid 40s, I was not sure I wanted to wear the entire suit which consisted of hat, jacket, and pants (later I found the belt hidden in the tip of the hat).  However,  one could not ignore the fun and festive atmosphere. Runners were not only dressed as Santas, but also elves, and Grinches, and Mary & Joseph!  I couldn't resist.  When else would I get to run a 5K completely made up like Santa?

Santa Claus Shuffle - 26:59 - 3 miles
After some Elf Runs (kid fun runs), the singing of the National Anthem, and the classic favorite Santa Clause is Coming to Town that got everybody dancing in their spots, the mayor of Manchester officially announced the start with a booming "3, 2,1, Ho, Ho, HO!"  The crammed coral of santa runners quickly made their way across the start line to the cheers from spectators and Christmas music playing in the background.

Glancing ahead was an amazing sight: a sea of red and white suits filled Elm Street for as far as the eyes could see.  Bells were ringing, children waving, and people laughing and enjoying the various costumes on the runners.  The easy out and back course was quick and mostly flat.  This fun race was a great way to start the Christmas season. My guess is that it will become a seasonal tradition in Manchester. At least, we hope so.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Race

Cincinnati, Ohio

November 24 - Cincinnati, OH - For the third time in my life, I started my turkey day with a 10K run through the streets of downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  In Cincinnati this 10K run/walk is on the list of Thanksgiving traditions along with turkey, football, and the Macy's Day parade.  Started in 1908, this race is the largest known in the midwest and the sixth largest in America behind century old races like the Boston Marathon.  This year over 15,000 people registered to burn a few calories before heading off to their big turkey feasts.

Thousands of cars made their way to the 50,000 free parking spots of Paul Brown Stadium hoping to make the 9 AM start.  I had to jump out of the car and dash to the stadium in search of the restrooms with only 15 minutes to spare.  Bad idea. The line was worse than on a game day! Instead I had to plan a stop at the port-a-potty oasis at mile 3.  I squirmed my way through the massive crowd back toward the starting line to look for my driver (husband) and mom: my cheering section.  Luckily I married the crazy guy who will park in garages that look closed and stand atop large orange traffic barrels waving like wild.

Dodging some walkers in the crowd!
The race started and ended on Second Street.  It probably took me 8+ minutes to even cross the starting line.  There were so many people!! Once the horde surrounding me began to move, I was off. I had set a goal to finish in under one hour.

With so many runners (and walkers) it was hard to take in the sights of the city during the run.  I spotted my cheering husband around mile two before heading over the Ohio River via the Taylor Southgate Bridge into Newport, KY.  Runners were spreading out at this point, so I did get some pretty views of the riverfront.

I did it! 10K - 59:08

The remaining four miles took me past Newport on the Levee before my two minute visit at the "Oasis" then over the Licking River Bridge into Covington. Lots of supporters and great music lined 4th street in Covington providing the perfect motivation for facing the last "rolling hill" on the run.  The final mile took me over the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge back into Cincinnati and toward my destination.  Passing by my cheering section, I made my way to the finish line in 59:08!

It was a wonderful trip home to Cincinnati, and the added bonus of being able to run the 102nd Thanksgiving Day Race with thousands of others made it even better.  I am looking forward to doing it again!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Inaugural Newport Pell Bridge Run

Photo by Bird's Eye View
November 13 - Today was a beautiful day to run across the Newport Pell Bridge in Newport, Rhode Island. The Veteran's Day Weekend event benefitted several local charities and gave participants the chance to experience spectacular views.  This was the first time in over 25 years that runners were able to run across the bridge since its opening in 1969.

Beginning at 5 AM shuttles transported over 2500 registered runners from downtown Newport to the other side of the Narragansett Bay into Jamestown.  Using bibs as boarding passes, we were loaded into the rented school buses.

The starting line and waiting area was prepped with coffee, water, bananas, port-a-potties and MUSIC.  Standing around in the pre-dawn darkness, people were talking, laughing, and bopping to the lively tunes being DJ'd.  It was hard to remember that we had all probably crawled out of bed before 4 AM.

Daylight reached its peak as the first runners made their way through the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority toll station.  Runners occupied the two lanes of eastbound traffic, while motorists making their way between Jamestown and Newport had to share the remaining two westbound lanes.

Along the way, everyone took advantage of the opportunity to capture the breath-taking views of the sunrise, the Narragansett Bay, and the bridge itself.  It was so amazingly beautiful that I quickly forgot about the chilly breeze and the impressive incline as we made our way to the midway point of the bridge.  Crossing the bridge took just over two miles out of our four mile run.

Coming into downtown Newport after crossing the bridge, runners were met with cheers and clapping from spectators lining the streets leading to the finish line.  The finish line area gave runners a chance to mingle with friends and family while munching on the yummy blueberry bagels from Panera.

On a picture perfect November day, I not only crossed the finish line of another race, but also got to cross over an iconic landmark.  The Newport Pell Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in New England.  Every time we go to Newport, I will probably get chillbumps thinking about where I was at 6:30 this morning!

4.2 miles ~ 42:00

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Witch Way to the 5K

October 29 - A friend invited me to run a 5K with her as part of a fundraiser for her son's middle school.  With the event occurring so close to Halloween, runners were invited to wear their costumes for a pre-race parade and costume contest.

Temperatures for the 11 AM start time barely made it to the mid-30s and a winter storm warning was in effect for the afternoon, but that did not stop hundreds of people from coming out and participating.  Kids, parents, and even pets dressed up and joined in on the fun activities leading up to the start.  
The out and back course circled the school campus before leading out onto the neighborhood roads.  One challenging hill to overcome leading into mile 2 interrupted an otherwise quick and easy 5K course.  28:27

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Dogs Are Barking 5K

Booney's first official race. 31:13
October 16 - took Booney on a fun run in Bedford to benefit the Animal Rescue League of NH.  The 5k road race took place on Joppa Hill starting at an educational farm.

Hundreds of people, many with their canines, showed up to enjoy the clear brisk autumn weather.  As if on cue, dogs of all shapes and sizes commenced the race with a chorus of barks and howls.

Although Booney did not receive his own bib, he was an excellent running companion setting  a manageable pace as the course wound through the beautiful roads of Bedford.  Despite not coming in first place, we all enjoyed a wonderful run.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Rock 'n Roll Providence

On Sunday August 7, 2011, I completed my first half marathon.  Chris and I drove down to Providence, RI on Saturday to attend the Health & Fitness Expo where we checked in, picked up our goodie swag bags, had our pictures taken, and loaded up on lots of free stuff.  We got to see two cast members from The Biggest Loser who were also running and the start/finish area of the race. It was a beautiful Saturday in Providence, so we had dinner on the river walk at Water Place Restaurant.  Unfortunately the weather forecast for the Sunday morning race would not be as nice.

We were up at 5:00 AM and out the door by 5:30 headed to breakfast. A quick stop at DD and we were off to find a parking spot in the Providence Place Parking Garage.  Luckily we planned our times right and avoided most of the runner traffic. After making our way through the mall and out the doors, we wandered out into the cluster of runners getting ready in the pouring rain.

After checking our swag bag, we found some shelter to stretch and wait before heading over to our start corral for the 7 AM start.  I choose this race because it was only two hours away from home, a beautiful city, and featured live music along the course with a free concert at the finish by Sugar Ray.  In my head I had pictured bright blue sunny skies, warm summer weather, and light breezes coming off the river.  Looking around as we waited for start time, I felt bummed by the amount of rain and a little stressed about whether or not I could finish.  I knew I would be pushing my shin pain to the limit.

The 7 AM start actually became more like 7:30, after the delay in closing the course and the wave start, but once we started running, it was great.  The downpours were refreshing and helped keep our bodies comfortably cool throughout the 13.1 miles.  Despite the wet weather, live bands continued to play nearly every mile creating a party-like atmosphere among the runners. Family, friends, locals, and cheer squads lining the streets and sidewalks never stopped yelling words of encouragement from start to finish.  Most of the course was flat and easy running with only minor puddle jumping and dodging.  There were a couple of hills, but we pushed our way up and then down them.  The scenic water views of Seekonk River were amazing and the historical neighborhoods were filled with beautiful, massive, colonial homes.  It was especially fun running along India Point Park and right by our hotel.  With the help of well-placed port-a-potties, water stations, and GU stands, we were able to push our way to the finish line without running out of gas in 2:24:54.

Half Marathon - 2:24:54
Crossing the line with Chris beside me was one of the most fun things I have ever done. Chris and I stuck together for the entire run.  We trained together so it would have been weird to not complete the event side by side.  It was comforting to know that he was right there with me the whole way, to the finish.

Between the pouring rain and my painful shin and calf, we opted not to stay for the concert.  We had our medals, snapped a photo and grabbed a handful of post-race snacks and a bag of ice.  That was good enough for me, this time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Long Runs: done

When I started running a few years ago, I always thought it would be amazing to lace up my shoes and head out for a really long run.  Images of runners cruising by as if on auto-pilot left me envious.  They appeared peaceful, free from the constraints of daily life, relaxed.  I viewed pictures of people running in the most amazing settings begrudgingly.  I wanted to be able to do that.

This year I set out to make it happen.  Eleven weeks ago I set the goal of completing a half marathon, and began an official training program.  It has taken commitment, motivation, and knowledge to get to where I am today.  Each week I have experienced something remarkable: running with family and friends, new routes in new places, and longer and longer distances.

12 miles - 1:59:32
Yesterday, I completed my longest run so far, and the longest run of my training before the half marathon.  The route was the usual trail that took us by two gas stations, so I wasn't worried about water or bathroom options.  Still, I was nervous, yet excited.  While getting ready for the run, I was recalling when I called a long run 6 miles, and here I was about to attempt 12.

Two hours of running later, I was worn out but ecstatic!  Despite the threat of some rain in the beginning, high humidity, and some tightening calf muscles, I was able to finish my longest run ever.  My husband tells me I have the running bug, and I think he is right.          

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kickoff to Summer 5K

5k - 28:06
Kickoff to Summer 5K is a race that benefits the local school PTA program.  I ran this race for the first time in 2009.  The course is a flat winding loop along the Piscataquog River and through the fairgrounds.

In 2009, my time for the 3.1 miles was 32:13 and I was 109th out of 156.  My goal for this year was simple: do better.

Two years ago I wasn't training; I thought I was, but I really didn't have a clue what I was doing.  Following a proper training program has made a huge difference. I feel like a runner now. I can run distances farther than I've ever run before without injuries.

My race results for this year's Kickoff to Summer 5K were better: time 28:06 and 95th out of 203.  It was a good day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bedford Rotary Memorial 12K

On National Running Day I registered for the Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half Marathon!  In a little more than nine weeks, I will be running 13.1 miles in my very first half marathon.

Since my last entry, I have continued my training by following the half marathon schedule provided by the coach program on the Nike website.  I signed up and ran my first 12K, 7.5 miles, and did pretty good.

12K - 1:14:13
As the summer season finally moves in, I am facing a new running challenge: the heat.  A couple of my runs were cut short of the goal distance because I was unable to finish.  One run was a road route without water, so I thought I could fix that on the next warm day by switching to the trail and carrying water. Nope.  I find it extremely difficult when the sun is beating down and not the slightest breeze blows.  I have been told that I will "get used to it" but I am worried about running the half in August.  I am hopeful that the early morning start and coastal location will alleviate some of the heat issues, but I am still trying to figure out to complete warm weather runs. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Longest Mile

That's right. Seven miles. Done.

My husband and I met my friend from work for a Saturday morning trail run.  The weather was cool and overcast, but close to perfect for running.  Heading into the run I was excited because I was about to complete a personal record.  My previous recent longest run was six miles and I had felt pretty good completing that one.

We had a set pace of ten minute miles, but for whatever reason we either ran too fast or too slow.  Maybe it was because we spent the majority of the run chatting and not really focusing on running.  I have to admit though, it felt really good to be able to run and hold a conversation at the same time.

When we reached five miles, my mental challenge began.  My body is just not acclimated to the longer distances yet, and begins to anticipate that the end is near, or should be.  I was still feeling pretty good, so I knew I just had to concentrate on not giving up.  Training my muscles to run for longer periods of time is, ironically, more about what I'm thinking than the activity itself.  I reached down inside me for the strength to keep my legs moving.  

At mile six, in the home stretch, we faced a small incline.  On a short run, this incline is barely noticeable.  When your legs are getting heavy and your muscles are screaming to stop, the incline is torture. I found myself staring at the ground to avoid seeing how much further we had to go.  I refused to look ahead knowing I would only notice the rise of the road.  Impatient, I did peek only to be slapped with the realization that we still had about half a mile to go.  I wanted to speed up to make it end sooner, but my legs couldn't do it.  It was warmer now, and I was tired and thirsty.  I kept thinking, "are we there yet?" and spoke up, "I'm struggling."  Fortunately, my friend, a marathoner, had the needed motivation for the both of us and offered words of encouragement all the way to the end.

Most days I either run alone, or if my husband joins me, finish alone as he usually runs shorter distances.  I am used to talking myself through the mental challenge.  This time, I needed the support to get through the last mile, the longest mile. Mile seven. Done.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Road to 211

Today I met my goal of running 211 miles in 2011.

In 2009 I ran 188 miles. Last year, a measly 59. So when I saw the challenge of 211 miles in 2011, I knew it was just what I needed to jumpstart my running...again.

My track record with running has been a lot like the roads around here: up and down, up and down.  I lace up the shoes, put in the time, add on the miles and then...ouch! shin splint!  Discouragement sets in behind the pain like a giant incline ahead of me.  Instead of slowing down and shortening my stride, I let frustration overpower me until I gradually come to a stop.

This time I vowed it would be different. I would follow the training program faithfully running when scheduled and sticking to the assigned distances.  I researched techniques to prevent shin splints and improve muscle strength.  Impatience would not overpower me this time.

Today is day 123.  I have been loyal to the running schedule and staying healthy.  Running is becoming my thing, my passion.  I am looking forward to seeing how many miles I can run by the end of the year.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trail Run

Today I discovered that I like running on trails.  This morning I read an article in the monthly town newspaper about the New Boston Rail Trail.  I was planning to complete my run along the main road in town, but the trail sounded better...

A deserted railroad bed from the Boston-Maine Rail line has been converted into a trail that makes a perfect location for long runs.  The trail runs parallel to the river approximately four miles to the neighboring town line.  Instead of running along the road dodging and worrying about traffic, you can cruise along the path and through the trees, listening to the birds and the flow of the river.

About three miles down the path is an 80' footbridge that spans the river.  It was built using the original granite abutments from the rail line.  Crossing the arching timber decking connects you to the second half of the trail path.  It is a beautiful sight.

Running on the trail was amazing and it made me think about the children's story, The Little Engine That Could.  Running or more specifically running in New England has been my mountain.  I have been doubting my ability at times to increase the distances and conquer the hills. Today was a day where I got to say, "I knew I could, I knew I could" because I completed a six mile run that felt smooth and easy.  My hard work and determination, mixed with a little optimism, made me the little engine.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

500 miles and counting

My first 5K time. Before Nike+
My running began in 2006 as a New Year's Resolution. I completed my first 5K in March of that year and my first 10K on Thanksgiving Day.  I continued running and training through 2007 completing more 5Ks, a 4 miler, and another 10K on Thanksgiving Day.  Other than battling an on & off shin splint, I was in the running groove.

I started using the Nike+ sensor in 2008 after a friend gave it to me as a birthday gift.  A few days ago, after syncing my run on Nike I received a video notifying me that I have logged 500 miles using Nike+.  I consider myself a competitive person and I have fallen in love with the ability to sync my runs and login to the website to SEE my results.  I get a thrill out of joining challenges, setting goals, and using the Nike coach program to train.  Seeing my results posted keeps me motivated and is a little internal reward to myself even if no one else is particularly interested.

The Boston Marathon is tomorrow and we are planning to be at the starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to cheer on the runners.  Despite the fact that I am not a marathoner, I am inspired by the dedication and sacrifice these runners have given to their passion.  This year as I am attempting to become a new england runner, I am learning what it takes to be a true runner - to follow a schedule, put in the miles, and to face the hills.

River Road ~ Piscataquog River
My run today certainly did not include Heartbreak Hill, but I did face supreme wind gusts that shook my pace by about 30 seconds.  The 5 mile route was a new one that I sweet-talked my husband into joining me on so that we could enjoy the beauty of the river while we ran.  The first half of the run was just like drifting along with the flowing river - relaxing, rhythmic, and effortless.  After the turn-around, it became a battle against the current.  The tumultuous winds were like fighting upstream against the rapids.  Another test in my training quest. I conquered.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The "Loyal" Hound

My husband calls our dog, "the royal hound." He clearly believes that he is kingly: he expects a treat every time he returns from a potty break, he assumes we will drive him all around town, and he demands to be pet by shoving his nose under your arm - even when you are holding a cup of coffee! He doesn't care. Ah yes. He perches on his sovereign pillow watching, waiting.

Then with one shove of my foot into a running shoe, he becomes "LOYAL HOUND!" He doesn't understand yet that you still have another shoe to put on or some warm-up to do; he is ready. He will turn multiple circles, whine a little to get you to hurry up, and stare between you and the door. If you walk out of the room, he is on your heels trying to pass you as if he knows exactly where you are going. Ah yes. He is the perfect running partner.

Loyal hound is always excited to go for a run. He will never turn you down. I love that he always wants to go. If I am feeling a bit under-motivated, his energy can become contagious. A little pick-me-up to make sure I don't falter on my running schedule.

Booney, the loyal hound, waits patiently to resume running
Our run today was a four miler to a new place near the pond: Scobie Point. On the map it looked like a side road that led right down to the water. I was hopeful that it would provide some pretty views. On the back road, I let the loyal hound off the leash and he became my pacer. In the beginning of the run I had to call him to heal several times because his pace was too fast for me - especially on the hills. Ever faithful, he slowed down to rejoin me. Nearing the two mile mark, we still hadn't come upon Scobie Point. The loyal hound was unfazed. He looked at me as if to say he could run forever. Eventually we had to turn around without finding Scobie Point. The loyal hound, steadfast in his role of running partner, remained anchored at my side all the way home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March in like a Lion - out like a Lamb

Today was the start of my second week of running outside trying to master the hills of New Hampshire and it began with a "winter weather advisory." Perfect.  Here was my first big test of becoming a New England runner. I promised myself that once I moved my runs outside, I would not falter if faced with bad weather.  Countless times I have passed runners out on the road in frigid temperatures, snow, rain, and immense heat.  It can't be all that bad if they do it, right?  Bonus for me, my husband and the dog were both available to keep me company today.  This was a huge boost for my motivation.

With snow flakes finding a landing zone on my face and my support team in tow, I found myself thinking about the old weather belief I was taught growing up that if the month of March starts out cold and stormy it will end warm and sunny: in like a lion, out like a lamb.  On a day like today, as I watched my running shoes disappear into the snow covered road, I am hopeful that this classic lore holds true - not just for the weather, but for my running also.  Right now my running is still rough and wild completely lacking the smooth gentle calm of the more experienced runner.  Each day will advance to potentially better weather, and each run will hopefully progress my abilities.  Maybe by the end of the month the huffing and puffing will become the mere exhalation of hard work.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chasing waterfalls

One of the great perks to running outdoors is the unsuspecting little wonders you stumble upon.  Take this waterfall for example.  On a dirt road among the quiet of the snow-filled landscape and not another person in sight is this beautiful gem.  As you near the bend in the road, you can hear the crashing of the water long before you find the source.  Roaring and bubbling, the splashing waters create an uninterrupted steady pattern of endless rhythm. Louder and louder it rumbles like a wall of thunder pounding out the sounds of the world.  Suddenly the sparkling frothy water appears nestled between the granite, timber, and snow and you have to stop.   

Scobie Road

I admit, I chase waterfalls.  Sometimes I go after things that are too big for me, out of my league.  In the end, I might be overwhelmed, exhausted, disappointed or even hurt, but I also might be surprised by what I can accomplish.  Running is my waterfall.  It is a formidable and powerful thing yet graceful and alluring.  Natural runners pound the pavement with sleek powerful movements. When I run, it is work.  I am awkwardly heavy and I struggle to find my rhythm.  The terrain of NH makes it all the more challenging - no matter which way I turn, I am going to face a hill.  As I have now completed a couple of outdoor runs, I know that at the top of the hill is the crest. And even though I will probably encounter another hill before I am ready, I know that I am only getting better and stronger.  I am going to continue chasing waterfalls...  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

211 in 2011

So, I started the year with a running goal: run 211 miles in 2011. Since January 1, I have run 129.2 miles - almost all on the treadmill in our basement. You see, I live in New Hampshire, transplanted from southwest Ohio three years ago. I have not yet adjusted to the winters here in New England, nor the hills. This winter there was snow piled up and over the mailbox! Even without the snow, I have a hard time running on the roads because there really isn't an edge - you are pretty much stuck running on the yellows. Now if the roads were straight and flat like my old routes in OH this wouldn't be a big deal. NH roads are hilly, curvy, and intimidating. So I have spent the better part of 2 and a half months running on what "real" runners call the "dread-mill". I have been using a program on that schedules my runs and distances for me. My longest run has been six miles. It hasn't been so bad. I use some old yaffa blocks (left over from my college days) to set up my Mac and some speakers right in front of the machine and watch my favorite indulgences off while I run. Some of my favorites have been watching "Brad the Bachelor" make another attempt at love and "Biggest Loser" contestants work their butts off. Although I have enjoyed my runs in the confines of the frigid cold basement, it is time to head outdoors. This year I want to become a New England runner. Welcome to my running escapades!