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Well, we did it! Most importantly, my little sister crossed the finish line of her first half marathon! This was a gorgeous route- I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been training on a bike path week after week or because this was the city I fell in love with running, but the miles seemed to tick by. I found myself repeatedly saying out loud that it was the most perfect day for this race; something I tend to do a lot in the mountains when hiking. I was thankful that there wasn’t a tiny percent of humidity in the air and that it was quite brisk when we started- my two favorite things about autumn running.

Here’s a little recap of the miles:

Miles 1-3: If you follow along with my training on DailyMile, you’d know that the past couple of weeks I have been running the biggest hills in Troy to prepare myself for the incline up North Broadway to Skidmore College. I remember running this route with Marla years ago and it would KILL me. I didn’t want to start this race dragging, or dragging my sister back, so hills have become part of my routine. This morning I could have flown up that incline. I could have flown up the two hills throughout the campus and breezed back down toward downtown. I could feel my body pulling myself faster but I stayed right along with Naomi, encouraging her the whole way. See, she hadn’t trained with hills. She did exactly what I told her to do: run comfortably up those hills and we’d gain our ground later in the race. Start slow and finish strong.

Halfway up North Broadway she gave me a look and asked me if there were people behind her. I said yes, but not many, and not to worry because if we were the last two people to cross the finish line, I’d let her go first. I knew we wouldn’t be the last two people and reassured her that she was doing great. I caught her looking at her Garmin far too much and she would ask why she was going so slow or how the pace felt to me- I just told her to STOP looking at that watch or I’d take it away from her. (Great words my friend once said to me last year during my marathon attempt.) I didn’t want her worrying about time; I wanted her to finish. We passed our family and were thumbs-up with smiles!

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Miles 4-6: The best part about this race was that I knew where all the hills would be and when to prepare her for them. She made it up the hill on Broadway heading toward the Saratoga State Park and I just followed her pace. She fell into a nice little groove and held that consistently until about mile 5.25. At this point in the course, we could see the runners that were MILES ahead of us and some were MUCH older than us. She had me laughing out loud when she made a comment about a “grandpa” who was beating us but I reminded her to run her own run and not to think about those people. To me, those people are inspiration. This was when I saw a No Meat Athlete and a friend named Gabe run by and had to give them a holler. This was also when I saw the competitive side of Naomi come out; she started to verbalize “targets” of whom she wanted to pass. I did this earlier in the race to her but backed off because I didn’t want to push her too soon. I reminded her that if she were to pass people now, she better hold it to the finish line; not a problem.

Miles 7-9: I refueled around mile 6.5 and started taking routine sips of water every two miles. Naomi also shared the water bottle I carried which was great because we didn’t stop at any water stations. We hit our last hill of the day and she passed people going up! These weren’t memorable miles for me until about mile 9.75 when we saw our family a second time… I’m still all smiles and thumbs-up! I think this was a huge relief for my mom because this was right around the time I was pulled from VCM.

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Miles 10-12: Once we hit ten miles and high-fived (we did that at every mile marker), I reminded her that we had just a 5k to go! She really started to pick up the pace and it was tricky for us to fall into a new groove because it was much more crowded and practically single file on Crescent Ave because of traffic. She let me know when it was safe to pass. She said mile 10-11 was her most difficult but I couldn’t tell. By this time, I had to pee but couldn’t imagine stopping. She told me all the better to pick up the speed and finish, so I did. Once mile 12 came, she kept asking, “where’s the Farmer’s Market?!”

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Miles 13-13.1: We booked it! As we were passing those who were walking, I couldn’t help but try and encourage them during the last mile. Once we rounded the corner near the police station and could see the finish, I really fell into stride; and she was right there with me. We passed her boyfriend, my dad who was on the phone looking for her boyfriend and then there at the finish line was the beau and my mom. I grabbed Naomi’s hand and crossed we did! My DailyMile friend John even announced the two of us and the fact that it was her first race! She looked like she was going to barf (sorry Naomi) and I couldn’t help but smile because I knew she gave it all she had in her. We found our family, including the beau’s! and relaxed for a while before heading home.

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It was a great day! Once the beau and I made it back to Troy, we sat down for a delicious meal at Carmen’s with a celebratory mimosa! That mix of spinach, seasonal veggies and rice were just what I needed to refuel. I got home and passed out to take a short nap and when I woke up, I was surprised to find out that the beau had made homemade tomato sauce (seriously impressed with the flavor), pasta and fried/baked eggplant… oh, and had a 12 pack of Saranac seasonal beers chilled! Isn’t he great?! I stuffed my face had a hearty serving of dinner while watching Sons of Anarchy- season five is getting better and better! It was a wonderful way to wrap up a busy weekend.

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Other highlights from this weekend: we finally got the record player up and running! I love looking through the box of records and dancing around the apartment. Now if only I was productive while dancing around, say, sweeping or picking up dirty laundry. Oh! And the beau ran his first (ever) 5k on Saturday! I loved to see him participate and I think it’s safe to say that he’s hooked: I’m pretty sure he’s going to run the Turkey Trot with me!

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In this week’s bag:

  • concord grapes
  • braising mix
  • broccoli
  • roma tomatoes
  • yummy snacking peppers
  • sweet corn
  • seckel pears

The beau and I were both super excited to see/smell the concord grapes in the bag because last year when we got them, I ended up making a big batch of fresh grape juice. It was delicious and lasted us a week or so; we diluted it a ton because neither of us is use to drinking juice on a daily basis. I may throw some into my morning shakes for an extra pop of flavor!

The sweet corn will be tasty in some sort of stir fry, possibly with the onions and peppers I plan on cooking up tonight with tempeh for “fajitas”.  The broccoli I’d love to steam up and enjoy with the eggplant parmesan I plan on making this weekend, layered with fresh tomatoes and basil. The beau tasted one of the peppers this morning and said it was good; paired with some homemade hummus and sriracha, they will become a perfect snack. Lastly, those pears. We were advised to let them ripen a few more days- after that, I’m poppin’ them in the oven for a sweet treat with cinnamon. Nature’s dessert.

This morning I ran my last run, five miles, before the race this Sunday. I ran alone and only spoke once to myself as I was nearing the top of Congress Street; no I’m not going to quit! My meals over the next 48 hours are going to be “strict”- as clean as possible with tons of vegetables, complex carbs (my favorite, short grain brown rice) and plenty of water. I am a no meat athlete and truly thrive on clean food!

I can’t wait to spend time with my sister and see her cross that finish line; this will be a tricky course for both of us (the hills!). Hope you all have a wonderful and rewarding weekend; send positive vibes!

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… for the Saratoga Palio Half- Marathon! Mark your calendars for September 15, 2013!

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I’m excited for this race for many reasons:

  1. I haven’t ran a half in years and my sister has never ran one; she’ll be joining in on the fun and racing as well!
  2. This will be my longest race distance since last year’s marathon attempt.
  3. I have ran hundreds of miles throughout this city (during my college years) but have never raced this race.
  4. It’s local (I grew up just five miles outside of the city) so our family and friends won’t have to travel to see us whiz by!

I know and have ran each and every mile of this race in previous years, while learning how to run, training for previous races and passing the time with my good friend Marla. I haven’t ran up there in years and I hope to change that over the course of the next nine weeks. It’s only thirty minutes away and if I’m doing my longer runs on Saturdays, I should be able to get up there and beat the traffic in the early mornings. I’m excited to possibly run again with Marla and have her push me harder to make me more confident for race day. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to help me cross the finish line; warning Instagram followers: I will be posting a lot of exercise posts from here on out.

A couple of people have already asked me if I have a goal and my simple answer is yes- I’d like to finish. Furthermore, I’d love to not come in last place. Yes, I came in dead last at my last half-marathon. Short story time: many years ago when I first decided to start running, during a seven mile long run, my good friend Marla suggested that I run the next week’s half marathon. Let me set the scene for you: it was the last week of December and I had never, ever ran a race before (not even a 5k). I had also never ran more than seven miles.

I don’t know what it is about Marla but she is motivational. I put my doubts aside, showed up race day (New Year’s Day) and finished the half marathon. I got discouraged. I walked some. I froze a little. But I crossed that finish line, last but not least. Two hours, twenty seven minutes and fifteen seconds- five minutes slower than a 76 year old. I can still remember getting passed by that woman; you better believe I didn’t let myself walk after that point. It was nine degrees with a fifteen mile per hour wind. Today, I prefer the cold over the heat, I think because of that race oddly enough.

A lot has changed since that chilly New Year’s Day back in 2009 and my goal is to beat that 11:15 pace time. As of today, I am on track and will work my little butt off to improve. I have a dream time that I will not be sharing with anyone because I don’t want bigger insecurities to rise- but I can tell you this, I know that I am capable of reaching that dream if I just don’t talk myself out of it (and run with all I’ve got).

I’m not following any specific training plan because I’ve found myself in a routine and am looking to gain confidence in the miles I’m running. I run four days a week before work and sometimes before the sun rises, to beat the heat. I’ll be slowly upping my mileage and even plan on running further than 13.1 miles prior to race day so that I know for a fact that I can bust out those miles. I’m planning on hiking as many peaks as possible this summer to cross train and I may start up p90x. I know, I know, I’ve said that before; the only thing holding me back is the fact that I’ll need to find an hour each day for an extra workout. We shall see.

Have you registered for any races this summer or fall? Have you ever trained for a race AND completed p90x?

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