Monday, August 11, 2014

The BIG Move...

Months and months of planning, waiting, building, waiting, and excitement we are in the final stages of moving.  That means we have 3 kiddos and a dog plus 2 adults living out of boxes in an attempt to pack and prepare since it looks like we will be cutting it close and moving right at the start of school.  This whole process has been frustrating at times, exciting at times but overall an amazing experience knowing that we have had the opportunity to build a custom home for our family, and we are extremely thankful for this.

Along with an actual move, I am moving "virtually" to a "Like" page on Facebook during our transition since it is so much easier for me to post and communicate from my mobile phone this way.  You can find me at along with my daily posts on Instagram (smallstepssc) and Twitter (smallstepssc).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mohican 50 Miler Recap: Part 2

Continued from Mohican 50 Miler Recap: Part 1

Miles 26.9 - Finish

There is not much I remember about this second loop, and not just because it's a week after the race, but it was a very surreal experience.  After I changed clothes and filled up at the Mohican Adventures aid station I stopped at the indoor restroom and back into the woods I went.  Within the first 1/2 mile I had slipped going up a hill and was simultaneously lapped by a 100 miler.  Ugh, not only was I embarrassed but definitely took a punch in the ego.  Thankfully the 100 miler was really nice, she offered some encouraging words and was on her way.  Over the next 10/11 miles I walked when I needed to and ran when I could and rolled into the next two aid stations right on that 14 hour finish pace, even though I knew it was to late to actually make up that time and finish in 14 hours, I was sure going to keep giving it everything I had.  I continued with the Tailwind and Nuun, and at every aid station ate one solid food whether it was a handful of pretzels or a 1/4 of a sandwich.  My stomach felt great, my legs even felt decent at this point, other then a small spot on both my feet I really was holding up better then I expected.  As I exited the woods to head to the Covered Bridge Aid station I saw Glenn and Lindsey's car, seriously, these two were awesome! They were helping out at the aid station while they waited for me and as soon as I got in they had my bag and were asking me what I needed.  I also got a little help from Colleen, "The Purple Lady", who offered some help with my blisters and snapped a few pictures of the 3 of us.  Colleen is sort of a legend at the Mohican 100, she writes an article every year chronicling the race and leaving it's mark in history.  I got packed back up, threw on my headlamp.  Glenn and Lindsey grabbed my drop bag and said they would see me at the finish, seriously kid free and they are following my slow butt around a course Glenn had run earlier!
A note on my drop bag-It wasn't until the next morning I figured out it came from David who was running the 100.  Seriously my brain was not working at the time!
After leaving the Covered Bridge and before Hickory Ridge I was once again able to call home and say goodnight to the boys and talk to the husband.  It was nice, I told them I was taking forever but not to worry I was feeling fine.  As the sun set in the woods I was really happy I had my head lamp and tried not to spook myself, even after I ran by several deer and a family of raccoons (who I was convinced were going to jump out of the tree and land on my head).  I still tried to run during the last 7 or 8 miles, and it was nice only seeing the steps ahead of me.  I also enjoyed looking up and seeing the different headlamps heading through the woods.   I will say running in the woods at night is interesting and will take some getting used to.
The sun beginning to set in the woods
Those 2 eyes belong to one of the deer I saw.  The woods after dark is a creepy place in my opinion.
The miles in the dark went by rather quickly it seemed though and soon I was headed to the main road to make the turn to the finish.  Sure enough, there was Glenn and Lindsey cheering for me!  They pointed me in the direction of the final turns and said they would see me at the finish.  Similar to my Woodstock finish, I sprinted to the finish line, yes all on sprint, I needed the race to be over.   I collected my medal and water, saw Colleen again, who photographed the three of us once more, picked up my last drop bag and was given a ride to my car.  I said my goodbyes to Glenn and Lindsey and headed up the road to the McDonalds for french fries, a large coke and free wifi to tell those back home that I finished.
And DONE! Thanks to Glenn for the picture...crew/support and photog!
After texts and Facebook posts I headed back to the hotel for a much needed shower, toothbrush, and muscle rolling.  I enjoyed a "celebration" beer, rolled some more, and drifted off to sleep.  I will say I did not sleep well that night, my legs kept twitching, I was dreaming about running in the woods and I woke up several times and rolled my muscles out.

What worked:

  • Nutrition-I used Tailwind Nutrition (200 calories per aid station variety of flavors and some unflavored Naked), Nuun (total for the day was 2 tubes of various flavors including Nuun Energy) & Picky Bars (total of 4 throughout the day) and I felt fueled and full.  I drank Coke & Ginger Ale at most of the aid stations, a handful of peanut butter filled pretzels, some pickle juice, had a couple 1/4's of sandwiches around lunch and dinner time, and chicken soup later in the evening.  I would say that Nutrition was spot on, at no time did I feel uncomfortable or have any gut bombs.
  • Hydration Vests-The combination of the Orange Mud Double Barrel and the Ultimate DirectionUltra Vesta worked nicely, I felt it distributed the weight differently for each loop and as a result my shoulders and back were not as sore later in the race and the day after.
  • Chatting along the way with other runners, even though this was one of the first races I threw in an ear bud, I had some great chats on the course with a handful of people.  As someone who is not very "outgoing", I had no problem talking with other runners on the course, mainly the basic where are you from, is this your first, etc etc.  It made the time go by faster and was nice when the conversation was there because overall it was a very lonely course.
  • Shoes, I would say that both the Lone Peaks and the Intuitions worked well for the 50, even though I ended up with one decent sized blister on my left foot, other then that I did not have any issues.
  • Headlamp: I really liked the Petzl Nao.  It was bright and I felt it lit the way nicely.  I will need to get another battery before Woodstock but over all I was happy with it, very comfortable to wear as well.
  • Training, even though I know time wise I could have benefitted from some more trail and hills in the cycle, the fact that I was only sore for the first 2 days post race and was able to run within a week was a win in my book. (I would have run sooner but a week filled with out of town family and out of town friends visiting, I spent the days with them and decided sleeping in was better for me then the 3/4 mile runs I would have gotten in)

What I learned:

  • Even though time wise I missed the 14-17 hour time frame I wanted to finish in it turned out to be a really good trail and training run.  I got 17+ hours on my feet, even though I ended up with Glenn and Lindsey I was solo on the actual course, so this was the longest run I had ever done and the longest run without a running partner.   It was my first real night time trail run and I feel pretty bad ass that I did it in an unknown woods by myself.
  • I really am stronger then I give myself credit for some days.  I really wanted to quit, but at the end of the day I would have taken Dead Last (DFL) over a Did Not Finish (DNF), because there was not anything "wrong" with me and I really did not have any issues that were life threatening, so I had no reason to quit. (I did have a massive headache the entire race, which I had attributed to the heat and humidity, and tried to solve it by increasing my fluids.  In reality, nothing I would have done would have fixed that headache.  It was my once a month hormone headache that decided to show up 3 days early, because I my once a month cycle showed up on Sunday 3 days early.  This actually was a relief, because it explained the fatigue and the headache that I could not shake.)

What I need to improve on:

  • Even though Woodstock is not as tough a course, I will need to add some more trail time in the next 66 days.  This should not be a huge problem since it was the weather keeping me away from them in the winter. 
  • Continue focusing on strength and yoga over the next 66 days, strengthening the core will help with the some of my fatigue.
  • Daily Nutrition: Honestly I ate like crap in the two weeks leading up to Mohican.  Between not running because of injury and nerves I was eating nothing but junk!
Want to help me say thank you to Lindsey? Vote for her until July 2nd to be on the cover of Women's Running: VOTE HERE (And tell a friend or share the link on Facebook/Twitter/whatever social media you choose :) ) Thank you!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mohican 50 Miler Race Recap-Part 1

Once again it has been awhile since I wrote, life was certainly busy at the end of the school year, add in 2 boys playing baseball, and packing up our current home.  Free time seemed nonexistent and when it was I spent it with the family.  After we are moved and settled, I plan to blog regularly, I have a list of topics I am already brainstorming!

However I felt it was important that I take the few hours to sit down and write a recap of this weekends Mohican 50 miler, so here it is.

Training went ok for this race, due to weather conditions I did not run on the trails as much as I would have like from January - April, but I still made it work and got in all of my long runs.  The longest run I had done for this cycle was 32 miles (on trails), along with a 26.2, a 23, some 20's, some 18's and a handful of 13-15 miles.  The two weeks before Mohican I did not run though, my nagging shin pain had returned and I was not confident I would make the starting line if I kept just "pushing" through it.  This break probably was harmful to training, I did not do any jumping and only a few short runs and mainly focused on Isometrix & Yoga from p90x3.  The break however did help the shin, and I was able to run with only a minimal amount of pain at the beginning of the Mohican 50 miler.  Looking back I should have figured out a way to run a few more hills, even if it meant some parking structures or just trekking up stairs.

Packing/What I took:

Since I was going solo and without a crew I packed a little more then I needed just to cover every basis.
  • Long sleeve jacket
  • Capris Pants
  • Extra Pair of Running Shorts
  • 2 complete running outfits (tank/sports bra/socks/skirt/hat)
  • 1 head lamp & Headsweats Headband (left in Covered Bridge drop bag)
  • Fruit/Water/Peanut Butter & Jelly/Pickles/Peaches
  • Marathon Stick 
  • Beach Towel to change under/sit on
  • Ultimate Collection Jenny Ultra Vesta
  • Orange Mud Double Barrel HydraQuiver
  • Rain Poncho
2 Bear II Drop Bags and both contained:
  • Bug Spray
  • Body Glide
  • Monkey Butt Powder
  • Aspirin/Tylenol/Benadryl/Arnica
  • First Aid Kit (bandaids/neosporen/liquid bandaids)
  • Tailwind/Nuun/Picky Bars (portioned into ziploc bags so I had enough for each section)
  • Hair Ties
  • Comb
  • Colgate Wisp Portable Toothbrushes
  • Sunscreen
  • Baby Wipes
  • Kleenex
  • Gin Gins

Friday: Day Before

I spent Friday afternoon driving down in a rain storm.  What should have taken 3 1/2 hours took roughly 4.  I got into Mohican Adventures around 5:15 pm and picked up my packet.  They had a nice little set up under a pavilion, which is a good thing because it was pouring at one time.  At this point I was unable to get a signal on my At&t phone, I knew service would be spotty but did not know it was nonexistent.  I know it sounds silly but I am rarely out of contact with either my husband, my family or my children.  So as I started to worry, I knew that they would be worried at home as well about whether I arrived safely. (Friday was not as relaxing as I had hoped).  While I was still trying to find the two people that were running the 100 that I knew from one of my running groups, I met Amanda from Twitter and chatted with her and her friends for a bit and enjoyed the pre-race pasta dinner that was included with our registration fee.  There was also the Great Lakes Beer truck there for anyone that wanted to enjoy a nice cold one.  By the time the pre-race meeting had started, I had found Lindsey and Glenn from Out for A Run.  Both run with the Rusted Bears in Indy (which you may remember from last years epic Red Eye Relay adventure) and Glenn was doing the 50 miler on Saturday.  We chatted for a bit and listened to the pre-race instructions, and I followed them to the Mohican River Inn where they had also booked a room. (Good thing to because there was no service within miles of this place and I did not have directions to get there!)

Just a "little" rain-despite the downpour the course was surprisingly "dry" the next day
"Beer Truck" Provided by Great Lakes who is a race sponsor
I checked in and the desk let me use the hotel phone to call home and let everyone know I was safe and in basically the middle of nowhere!  I got everything organized, layed out, bought a bag of ice and filled up my bottles and coolers, watched a few innings of the Tigers game and then I was sound asleep.
"Flat Jess"


Race Morning

I woke up before my alarm, after what was surprisingly a restful nights sleep.  I changed, brushed my teeth and loaded up the car.  I headed down to the race early because I remembered passing a McDonalds in the other direction, and I had hoped they had free WiFi like the ones at home.  SCORE!!! Even though Katie was the only friend actually up and I was able to chat with quickly, I was at least able to send messages to the family and let them know I was ready and would contact them after the race since I now knew where to find WiFi!

I proceeded to start, and on the way dropped off my bag for the Covered Bridge Aid station and my finish line bag.  I was uneasy, not because I was nervous, but I knew I still had no contact with my family and that was very unsettling to me.  After a quick restroom break and a quick before race picture with Glenn, we were lined up and headed out.
Glenn and I before the start
Loop 1 (Miles 0-26.8)

The start includes a small run through the camp ground on pavement before entering a single track, and it did not take more then 100 yards for my shin to start aching.  At this point I immediately went to the "what are you doing, this is stupid, why are you running this if it hurts" place.  I knew that if I was really serious about Woodstock 100, I needed this run, I needed to know how my body would handle 50 miles.  I needed to know how my stomach would hold up, how my nutrition would work.  I told myself to slow down, take my time and run when I could, walk if I had to and play it safe.  With a 31 hour time limit I knew that I could take a nap if I needed to before finishing.  I made it through the first two aid stations right on target for the 13-14 hour finish I had secretly been aiming for despite the nagging shin issue.  However between the Fire Tower and the Covered Bridge the wheels fell off for the first time (Yes the first time, this race was not a positive experience for me like Woodstock was).  I was physically feeling fine, but emotionally I was lonely, even though I had found several people to chat with along the way, I really just wanted to talk to home.  For a small portion of this section I was distracted by the beauty of the course and the amazing waterfall and hand climb.
Just a little muddy, this was actually better then I expected
One of the many hills
Water fall
Hand Climb
Rock formation
The "trail"
Down the steps to re-enter the woods to get to Covered Bridge
Covered Bridge
Upon arriving at the Covered Bridge aid station, I changed my socks and used the restroom again for the 3 time in the race.  It was really humid, so I was drinking 24 oz of Tailwind and 24 oz of Nuun (2 tablets), between each aid station, but this meant I was also using the restroom every time there was one, because I did not want to have to use the woods.  As I headed back out into the woods I actually threw in one of my ear buds and started listening to a little bit of music.  I rarely listen to music when I run but I really wanted to bust out of this funk and have a good race.  However, it seemed every song made me miss home even more and wish that I had someone there for me. (I was the one that thought it would be easier to go alone, since 5 people in a small hotel room is often more work for me, I did not however anticipate being that lonely)  When I got to about mile 18ish, I was at what appeared to be the highest point in the forest, and took a chance that I could get a signal.  Sure enough, one tiny little bar on my phone, but it was enough to call home!  At this point I did not even care how much time I was wasting, I did not care if it was a race I needed that conversation.  I needed to express my desire to quit and I needed to be talked out of it.  I needed to hear the voices back home and know that they were ok.  At this point I was seriously considering dropping after the first loop, I did not care I had made the trip, I was just done.  I felt defeated as my time had gotten slower after the first two aid stations despite the terrain being tougher, and me taking it safer.  At that point a DNF was looking better then a ridiculously slow time.  After the chat with the husband, who specifically told me not to quit and just finish, I knew quitting was not an option, I had come to run 50 miles and I was going to give it all I had, even if all I had was slow in comparison to so many out there.

As I continued on my first loop and ran when I could, walked when I had to I was lapped by Glenn.  He was flying! (I later learned he finished 6th at 8:06!! AWESOME!!)  As I came through the first loop and passed the finish line heading to the Mohican Aid Station, Lindsey (who was cheering at the finish and sitting with Glenn who was already done) spotted me and ran across the street to walk and chat with me for a while until I made it the extra 1/2 mile to my drop bag.

I decided I needed to switch my hydration vests, I liked the Orange Mud Double Barrel, it was the first time I had ever worn it, and it was working great, but it was so sweaty and gross I want something dry.  Same with clothes, I wanted dry clothes, everything was drenched (I love being a heavy sweater it's great!).  I had my Ultra Vesta in the car and decided I did not want to wear the shorts I packed but wanted the skirt instead, so I made the trip to the parking lot, not ideal, and at Woodstock this will not be an issue since my car will be right there, but I was not going on until I changed and swapped vests.

To be continued....

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ultra Vesta is the "Besta"

Last year I used a backpack hydration system for all of my long training runs and also the first 16 miles of the Woodstock 50K.  Did it work? Yes.  Did it serve it's purpose? Yes.  Did I love it? No.  Was it the ultimate pack for me? No, and considering I have scars from where it chafed I knew I needed to find a solution.  This is not to say it was not a good pack, it was well built, but it did not fit the curves of this women and I never could get the adjustment "just" right.  It also had a reservoir, and during Woodstock this was a huge pain to refill, so I knew I wanted a bottle option that was easily refillable at aid stations.

In my search I found the Jenny Collection Ultra Vesta from Ultimate Direction.  Made by a woman, for women and worn by Jenny Jurek and 2014 Female Ultra Runner of the Year Michele Yates.  Points for Ultimate Direction, they did not just take a vest, make it purple and call it a women's vest.  The biggest problem I had was that I found this vest on the internet in late fall and had to wait until it's release in January to actually order it.  After waiting so "patiently" (aka stalking the website and Ultimate Direction twitter account for the launch), I really was hoping that the Ultra Vesta did not disappoint and leave me chafed like the last one.

I have had the Ultra Vesta now for 3 months, and have worn it for my long runs including several 18's, a 20, several 3+ hours on the trails and a handful of runs over 12 miles.  I have worn it in -15 degree whether and 70 degree weather (thanks Michigan for that weather swing so I could do a full review).

Initial thoughts: 

  • After unpacking the box of course I had to hop back on the treadmill and run a few more miles just to try it out.  My first thoughts were it was well made, sturdy, easy to fit right with a few pulls of the straps and lightweight.  I got a M/L since I was right on the edge of the sizes and I am glad I went up a size b/c it fits perfect with summer clothes and also over layers of winter clothes.
First test run on the treadmill in a tank top & no extra Body Glide w/ no issues
After testing it out over the last few months....
  • Front zipper pocket: This is actually large enough to hold my iPhone in a LifeProof case & chapstick (I like to have easy access to my phone, mostly for pictures but also in case I need to use it)
  • Adjustable front straps: Not only do they adjust length wise but they slide up and down the piping as well so the straps are in the perfect place for a women's body (read not directly across the chest region and smashing the "girls")
  • Adjustable side straps: With 2 side straps as well it makes it easier to get the fit that is right for you.
  • Bottle placement: The small lightweight bottles fit nicely right above the chest and right below the shoulder blades when adjusted properly.

Once properly adjusted the bottles sit much higher so it's not squishing anything and the straps can be adjusted to go above and below the chest.

  •  Sleek: Seriously without the bladder in the vest, even with other stuff like TP, Picky Bars and spare gloves it fits nicely against the back and is not bulky or have a "back pack" type feel.

No added bulk even when it has stuff in the back pouches
  • Storage: There are tons of pockets, including a front zipper pouch, front velcro closed pouch, 2 large compartments on the back and a small zippered pouch for a key or other little objects
Front Pockets/View
Front w/ pockets "packed" -The 2 straps on the front of the vest slide up and down the piping for the perfect fit
What is packed in those closed pockets

Back compartments & bungee for clothing storage:

Small zipper pouch & the extra hair tie included (it's the little things people!)

  • Chafing or lack of: So far I have had no issues with chafing and now that it is properly adjusted for warm weather running (tank tops and humidity) I do not see an issue in the future either.  The material is soft and does not have an harsh seams that rub which makes it really comfortable to wear.

3.5 hour trail run in a tech shirt w/ no issues
  • Bottle Size/Fluid Capacity: Because of where the bottles sit you are limited to the smaller sized bottles.  This is not saying you cannot throw a 20 oz bottle in there, it just may jab you in the chin a few times.  The 10 oz bottles will not be a problem on race day either since aide stations are close enough together that 20 oz will be enough.  However, on unsupported long runs 20 oz is not enough unless you are looping several times.  There are 2 fixes for these however both do require separate purchases.  The 70 oz reservoir, then I could fill the small bottles through out the run or the new Body Bottles that are 14 oz (adding an extra 8 total onces, and possibly carry 2 spare bottles in one of the back compartments so I would have 48 total oz of water)  This is a minor detail though in my opinion since it can be remedied with the additional purchases. (I will update my review once I pick up these items and try it on a few unsupported, non looping long runs)

Overall I am really happy with the Jenny Collection Ultra Vesta, it was worth both the wait and the money in my opinion. I would recommend it to any women looking for a new hydration system.

UPDATE:  The Jenny Ultra Vesta has done a good job in all of the training runs and the self supported 50k on a looped course.  It still has not caused any chafing and held up well so far.  My concern is still the smaller bottles (I did purchase both the reservoir and the body bottles and have used both).  As I pack and plan for the Mohican I am having issues trying to figure out where to put the Tailwind Nutrition, where to put water and how to carry as little as possible since there will be aid stations ever 4-8 miles.  As of now it looks like I will have Tailwind in the front 2 bottles and carry the water in the reservoir, this is not actually ideal, 20 oz of Tailwind is not enough to get me to my 2nd drop bag so I will have to mix at an aid station or on the trail, which can be a pain with the smaller bottles.  I had thought about just carrying the reservoir with Tailwind, but then what happens when I want to rinse off or just want water, I wish it was a double chambered reservoir.  I will update once I finish the Mohican, by then I may have it figured it out.

Have you checked out the new Jenny Collection Ultra Vesta?  Do you have any questions about the vest that I missed in my review? 

(Note: I purchased the Ultra Vesta with my own money and reviewed it without compensation from Ultimate Direction)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rock CF Race Week!!

I am so EXCITED! It is Rock CF race week, in fact it is less then a week away now, and I am over the moon excited.  Originally I had high hopes for this race, since it is fast and relatively flat, I was really hoping to shave off those last 4 seconds and break 2 hours.  I let go of that goal last week though, I have a goal of completing a 100 miler this year and this is my primary goal, so that meant letting go of the official sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon (I ran a sub 2 on a training run last year, but it was not "official").  It meant dialing back the mileage and laying of the speed work to allow my nagging shin pain to subside.  I am at "peace" with this decision, since the long term goal is more important then a temporary win.  I am looking forward to having fun along the course and leaving my Garmin 310XT at home once again, allowing me to run by feel, not by a number.

Why is this race so exciting?

  1. The funds it raises for Cystic Fibrosis!
  2. Smaller scale, beautiful course on Grosse Isle, great community support.
  3. NUUN is the official course drink!!! (WAHOO!! A race in Michigan that is serving Nuun!!)
  4. Cookies at the finish line.  Seriously these cookies are amazing and homemade.  The ladies on Grosse Isle work hard making these tasty treats.
  5. El Guapo food truck at the finish line.  Ok, do you see a trend? Food and drink always gets my attention.  El Guapo is one of my favorite food trucks that can normally be found at Eastern Market on Saturdays, so I am excited it will be out on a Sunday, and that might just add some pep in my step.
  6. Forecast: I know the forecast can change several times between now and race day, but fingers crossed it really is 50 degrees and sunny.  That would be the best way to kick off the spring racing season here.
Night Before Race Day Plan:

I do not have much of a plan for the night before, other then volunteering at packet pick up in the afternoon and then returning home to watch The Last Mile.  Not only is it an inspirational running movie but the race director and founder of Rock CF, Emily Schaller, is featured in it.  If you want to get pumped up the night before a race (or even race morning if you tend to get up super early) this movie will do it.   

Race day plan:
  • Outfit: Not sure at this time but I am hoping that it will be skirt and t-shirt weather, so my outfit will most likely include arm sleeves, Nuun visor and maybe some throw away gloves.
  • Nutrition: Since this is a half marathon I will be relying on Vitality Bits and a Picky Bar before the race and 3 Island Boosts and Nuun to fuel me throughout. (and because Nuun is the course drink I do not have to carry my handheld!)
  • Gear: I will be trying out a Race Number Belt from Fuel Belt.  I am looking for something to wear during Woodstock that can easily be worn and transferred when I change clothes. (I would like to avoid safety pins for my race number)  I may or may not have my iPod Shuffle with me.  I have been enjoying running without music but if I end up in funk music might help if I'm on the course alone.
  • Leave the Garmin at home and run by feel. (Good thing it's a certified course so it won't technically be over on mileage, just what I make it since I can't cut a tangent.)
Are you racing this weekend? Are you putting in the last of your long runs for an upcoming spring race?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life and Running….


Once again it has been awhile since I sat down to write.  I have been spending the last month focusing on being a better mother/wife and a more present mother/wife.  I really felt that I was missing so many moments in our daily lives trying to be a part of social media and the blogging world.  I know I was searching for a purpose outside of the home because that is what I was used to, and that is where I believed my worth would come from.  However, what I have discovered over the last couple months is that every day with my boys, even though it does not earn a pay check, has a purpose.

I spent a few nights reading "Hands Free Mama" (both the book and the blog) by Rachel Mary Stafford awhile back.  Really, it was exactly what I needed.  It has helped me shift perspective, love & forgive (mostly myself even though I am an imperfect mother who makes mistakes) and most of all I have put down my phone and stepped away from the computer. The memories we have created over the last few months having "Hands Free" meals and being "Hands Free" while we wait for the bus or appointments are so wonderful, they are not amazing, in fact many would just call them ordinary.  But it is in the everyday, ordinary conversations and moments that I am finding the greatest joy in these days.  It is in the hand holding, uninterrupted conversation, the giggle or smile, the little discoveries they make each day as they explore this new world.  All of the things that I can honestly say I was missing as I read blogs, checked various social media, and focused more on the laundry and dishes then the kids.  That does not mean we live in a messy house, in fact laundry is on it's way to being caught up daily and cleaning is getting done as well.  I have found the patience to incorporate the boys into these tasks even though they do not do them "perfect" or even the way I would.  I have learned to breathe, take a moment, just sit and snuggle and be in the moment without worrying about the to do lists or all the things I "need" to do.  Becoming "hands free" has been and will continue to be a journey.  There will be days that I make the right choice, some days I will not, but every day I am trying to make memories and remember to breathe.


Mother Nature has not given up.  She continues to make this winter one of the worst I can remember.  It is cold and exhausting to go for a run, in fact a quick run takes almost all of my running gear and turns into a load of laundry.  February will end up being less then 100 miles for the month (90ish depending on if I get out tomorrow or not).  A few weeks ago my treadmill literally started smoking and it needs a new motor.  On days that I am the solo parent I have resorted to strength training and using the elliptical.  It's not running, but it works.  I have managed to get all my longer runs in outside including a back to back double digit weekend, some 18 milers, and a 20 miler yesterday.  I still am amazed that almost 2 years ago I dropped down to a half marathon because I could not handle a 15 mile training run and now 15 is almost "normal".  Consistency has paid off, I am still not the fastest, but I would definitely consider myself a runner.

As of now the plan is to run the Mohican 50 miler in June as my training run for Woodstock, and at least 1 to 2 unsupported 50k's before then once the trails become decent again.  I have had some fun over the last few weeks trying out my new Ultimate Direction Jenny Ultra Vesta (LOVE! This vest fits fabulous, no bouncing or weird back chafing), experimenting with my Tailwind nutrition (Other then Nuun and the occasional Picky Bar before I start), this is all I have been using for fuel and so far am loving it.  Not stomach issues and drinking it every .5/1 mile it helps me avoid crashing) and even tried out some Zero Drop Altra.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm still here...

I have not posted for some time now.  Seriously it has been a few weeks.  Not because I do not have anything to say but lately I am trying to figure out what I really want to say, need to say and how to say it.

Life is good right now.  Running is going really well even though the Polar Vortex is putting a cramp in my style and forcing me onto the treadmill more then I would like and away from trails.  Each week I feel stronger and ready to take on the challenge of a 100 Mile Race in September.  The rest of life is going well also, the Polar Vortex is cramping my oldest school routine and we have faced a record number of "snow days" which leads me to some creative camp counselor like behavior when the oldest is home unexpectedly and we are stuck inside.

So I promise I will be blogging regularly here soon when I get everything organized and all of the jumbled thoughts together neatly so they make sense.

In the meantime I stay active on Instagram (Smallstepsseriouschafing) and Twitter (@Mywalkonmoon) if you would like to follow me there.

All smiles after a recent 18 mile long run in my new Jenny Ultimate Direction Vest & fueled by Tailwind and Nuun

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Logging the miles on my treadmill...

After we had our second child the husband and I rejoined the fancy gym by our house.  We had high hopes of attending all the classes and getting our workouts in while our two bundles of joy played happily in the state of the art child center.  See that is not really how it worked out, child #2 hated the child center (and bless the hearts of those workers because they really tried to calm the tears) and making it to the classes never really fit into our schedule.  After awhile we stopped even attempting. Adding child #3 to the picture did not help our gym experience and basically we kept it only so our oldest could take swim lessons.  Last summer though we came to the decision that we were going to cancel the gym membership and put that money towards a treadmill.  It was better then nothing when an outside run was not possible for whatever reason, but I honestly loathed the thing.  I used it a handful of times up until recently when I decided that it if I really wanted to run a 100 miler this year, run a 4:20 marathon and a sub 2 hour half marathon I would have to get to know my treadmill and start logging the miles.

Over the last week I logged 30 miles on the treadmill, including a 7 mile interval run, a 4 mile speed work session, a 4 mile easy run, and a 15 mile long run (and I still have a 6 mile easy on the schedule for today).  Was it ideal? No.  Did it work? Yes. Was it hard? Unbelievable hard, both physically and mentally.

How I have made "friends" with my treadmill and actually started enjoying the miles:

1. Running while the kids are sleeping/napping/happily entertained by daddy or the electronic babysitter (This is big because a run is not really relaxing if there are fighting kids or nagging kids hanging on the gate asking for things.)

2. Finding a new movie/TV show to watch.  I have a list of TV shows I would like to see but don't have time for, so now that I am spending some time on the mill I can catch up or watch some of those must see TV shows.

3. Being caught up on housework.  It was hard at first for me to run on the treadmill knowing that 100 ft away was a sink full of dishes, or that just upstairs there was a pile of laundry.  In the past there were times the guilt of choosing running over housework was overwhelming and I stopped runs early.  (Guilt was self inflicted and I know taking the time to make myself strong and healthy is just as important as the laundry being put away.)

4. Reading a new book.  On the easy runs I find that I can read on the iPad pretty easily if I make the text bigger.  This has been nice since normally I do not have time to just sit down and read.

5. Spotify and Itunes have provided music for several of the miles when I wanted to zone out and just listen to music.

6. Playing with speed and hills throughout the workouts has helped with the boredom and gives me a mental game to play.

7. Knowing that I do not have to worry about cars or my surroundings allows me to focus on my form throughout the run.  I can take the time to "reset" and "realign" throughout the run.

8. Changing my attitude and perspective.  Instead of looking at it as the "dreadmill" I started focusing on all of the positives of being able to have/use a treadmill and just like most things in life when my attitude towards it changed, so did my experience.

9. Found inspiration via Twitter.  There are some insanely awesome people on twitter that I follow and anytime I want to talk about how tough a 6 mile treadmill run is I just hop over to Run EMZ and check out one of her 100 mile treadmill runs, or when she got off the treadmill and kicked serious ass at the Javelina Jundred 100. (And I also may have "stole" her catch phrase to repeat in my head when things get tough "You've. Freaking. Got. This.")

10. I have practiced my counting skills.  Seriously I start counting with the 100th place value in the miles towards the end or doing speed work.  I have gotten really good at counting by 2's.

I am starting to see my treadmill as a valuable tool in my training and I will most likely log a good number of miles on it in the coming year.  While it is not a true replacement, since nothing beats being outside and running in nature, it will work and will allow me to log the necessary miles to accomplish my goals.

Do you run on the treadmill? Avoid the treadmill? How do you fight treadmill "boredom"?