Mainely Running
Join me as I train in Maine and race all over the world in pursuit of my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents

Friday, November 29, 2013


Last night as I was falling asleep, I thought about my Thanksgiving and tears came to my eyes. I was just overcome with gratitude for such a wonderful day and such a wonderful life.

My gratitude started early in the day. The BF got up at 6 with me (even though he worked until 1 am!) to help me with the turkey. He knows I hate having to take out the giblets and other stuff inside the bird. Plus that sucker weighed 22 pounds and I could barely lift it into the roaster by myself! This just confirmed for me, yet again, that he is a keeper.

I was then so thankful (and amazed) to set a 4 mile PR in the Portland Thanksgiving Day 4 miler. I came down with a cold earlier in the week, it was a cold, very windy day, and the course is hilly, so I went in with no expectations. But it was one of those rare days for me where running just felt effortless. My chip time was 32:18 for an average pace of 8:05. My garmin had me at a 7:59 pace with a total distance of 4.12. This race was also extra special because I convinced my brother to do it with me. He also did better than he expected!

staying warm inside pre-race
Being healthy enough to go rock and race and share the experience with my brother put a huge smile on my face.
Justin kicking it in at the end

Earlier in the week, I had a minor freak-out about hosting Thanksgiving for 10. But, I had prepped a lot in advance and everyone chipped in and it went great. We had so much food. I know how many people around the world, and right here at home, struggle with hunger on a daily basis. So, I give thanks just for the fact that I get enough to eat every day, much less for the huge feast I enjoyed yesterday. Having my house filled with my friends and family was wonderful. It was very cozy trying to get 10 people at the table, but that was part of the fun. I felt like my house was bursting at the seams with  loving, supportive, funny friends and family. 

Later at night, we had a girls night, watching a movie and drinking wine. While I watched the movie, I was patting the snoozing doggie splayed across my lap and thinking how grateful I am to have her healthy again. She has make a remarkable recovery. She is back to her old self- eating like a horse, begging for tummy rubs, and sitting in any available lap. I even made her some leg-warmers to keep her bare little legs warm (they had to shave them to put in IVs when she was sick)

I am incredibly lucky to live this life.  

How was your Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Family Traditions

The generations in my family are spaced pretty far apart so I only remember meeting 1 of my great grandparents. So sometimes I wish that I had gotten to meet more of my older relatives.

This morning I was baking squash rolls, using my great-grandmother's recipe, and it came to me how pretty cool that was. Sure, I had a microwave and a kitchenaid mixer to help me, but I was still using the same recipe and following the same process that my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother have followed through the years. Even though my great-grandmother didn't teach me to make the rolls in person, I still have that connection to her.

I will also be using some of her dishes on my Thanksgiving table.

This week I am thankful for these connections to my family history. 

What family traditions do you have at Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

that time I slept 3 hours, shopped all morning, ate a boozy brunch, and then did a long run.

The weekend before Thankgiving all the women in my family, and some close friends, all gather at my Mom's. Friday night we head to Robinson's, the island restaurant (literally the only one), for dinner. It is only open on weekends during the off-season and pretty much the whole town is there. We socialize, dance, drink too much and stuff ourselves with seafood.  And they we stay up too late talking and playing music. Oh and did I mention that I usually choose to sleep in the boathouse. It has no heat, insulation, or running water in the winter, but the view can't be beat. I just pile on the blankets.

Saturday morning we drag our tired selves out of bed at 5 am and head into Boothbay Harbor for the early bird sale.  Luckily there is no need to get dressed because it is a shop in your PJ's event. Then we pretty much check out every store in the town, which are all offering huge discounts to clear out their stock before the close for the year. Everyone is wearing funky PJ's and the shops all have free coffee and nibbles.

Hours later, we dump all our bags in the car and head down to McSeagulls for brunch. We take full advantage of their $3 mimosa specials and dig into to giant lobster omelets. Usually by the time we get home in the early afternoon we are all pretty done for the day.

Except this year when we got home, I had to go for a 2 hour run. Okay, I didn't HAVE to, but a 115 minute run is on my training schedule for the week and today was the best day to get it in. Tomorrow I have a pretty full day and it is supposed to be frigid and really windy. Monday-Wednesday I'll be working and trying to get ready to host Thanksgiving. Thursday is the turkey trot and Thanksgiving and then I have plans for Friday. So today it was! I was not looking forward to it. I won't lie. I am religiously a first thing in the morning runner. My stomach can be very picky about eating before I run and I am not used to running when I am already exhausted.

I limited myself to 1 mimosa at brunch (which is one more than I should have had) and dosed myself up on plenty of coffee. It was bright and sunny and not too cold, but the wind was intense. Plus, it is really hilly here. So I made a deal with myself, that I just had to get in the time on my feet. I wouldn't even look at my pace until I was done and I could run as slowly as I wanted. I went back over to town to run because I just couldn't face another run around the island. There is 1 road that makes an 8 mile loop and I have done it SO MANY TIMES.

It really wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The wind was pretty brutal when I was facing it head-on, but it was pretty darn pleasant in the sun and with a tail wind. I stuck to a 5:1 ratio and I felt strong the whole time. My foot started to get a little tired near the end. Mid-way through I really needed a bathroom (thank you 6 cups of coffee) and luckily I found a port-a-pottie in an yard where they had been doing construction (there are no public bathrooms here in the off-season).Even allowing myself to run as slowly as I wanted I still finished under a 10 minute pace, finishing 11.75 miles in 1 hour and 55 minutes.

After I finished my run, I headed home for a hot shower and then some amazingly well deserved laziness. I've been sitting by the pellet stove reading, playing the guitar, and stuffing myself on my Mom's fresh sourdough bread for the last several hours and it is heaven.

Do you have any special pre-holiday family traditions? How do your fit in longs runs during this busy time of year?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Do you Microwave?

Tuesday night I was cooking some sweet potatoes in the microwave when the microwave made some loud popping noises and then started to smoke and smell really terrible. We unplugged it, let it sit, and then tried it the next day. Same thing. So that's the end for my poor little microwave.

I didn't realize exactly how much I use the microwave until I didn't have one! I usually get up and make my coffee right away. I have a little while I check my email and get ready to run. Then I microwave the rest and have it when I get back and start working. My go-to cold weather breakfast is oatmeal.... which I microwave. When it comes to lunch I usually warm up left-overs from dinner the night before .... in the microwave. Since it is freezing in my house I also usually have a cup of tea in the afternoon, which I also heat in the microwave. I usually make the main part of dinner on the stove or oven, but I frequently use to the microwave to defrost something frozen first or warm-up frozen veggies. And since I have a raging sweet tooth, I always need dessert. But to keep myself from eating an entire pan of brownies, a lot of the time I make a single serve no pudge brownie in the microwave. 

So, I was feeling a little lost without my microwave and put a post of facebook asking if anyone had one I could borrow until I get a new one. I was surprised by the comments. Quite a few people told me I didn't need a microwave and they are actually bad for me and my food. 

When I was little I remember my grandmother running over to shut the microwave door if I left it open because she was convinced something bad was emitted from the microwave even when it was off. But, I didn't know so many people still feel that strongly about microwaves. 

So I did a little Googling. 

Opinions are mixed. But I think this article from Dr. Oz's website sums it up pretty well. He breaks the issue down into 2 different questions. 

Question: Are microwaves “bad” for food?
Basically, they aren't any worse than other cooking methods, and may actually be better! Most cooking methods destroy some of the antioxidant and enzyme content of food. But because microwaving has a reduced cooking time compared to other methods, it actually limits this destruction. A key is to limit the amount of water you use when cooking.

Question: Are microwaves “bad” for you?
Microwaves do emit radiation, however this is tightly regulated. And microwaves are only a small source of environmental radiation as many other devices in our lives including laptops, cell phones,and  tablets also contribute. However, it is important to use microwave-safe containers, such as glass and ceramics, and to avoid plastics, metal and aluminum. Using non microwave safe plastics can leach harmful chemicals into your food. He also recommended checking your microwave to make sure it is functioning correctly and to stand several feet away while microwaving.

I will be getting a new microwave and soon (I have Thanksgiving for 15 to prepare), but I did some new things about how to use a microwave more safely.

Do you have a microwave? How often do you use it? Do you ever think about microwave safety?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Three Things Thursday

I've been really struggling to come up with coherent and interesting ideas for a whole post lately. So, I will take advantage of 3 Things Thursday to just share 3 random things that are on my mind today.

1. I made such a good dinner last night that I already can't wait for left-overs for lunch. I can't believe it came out so well since I totally just made up a recipe and kept getting interrupted while I was cooking because I was on call.

I made baked squash with an apple cranberry stuffing. There were mushrooms, onions, rosemary, sage, and whole grain quinoa bread cubes in the stuffing too. Other than that don't ask me for more details.

2. I am starting to both get super excited and super stressed about Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. But this is my first year hosting it for a big crowd. I am running a race in the morning and have to have the meal ready early because the BF has to leave for work at 2:30. Plus, I am trying a new turkey roaster and I have no idea how it's going to work. I don't want to be the one responsible for 15 people having a terrible meal!

3. I do not understand my body and running. It never fails to amaze me. Tuesday I was working so hard to keep a 9 ish minute pace. I was really struggling the whole run and it felt terrible. Today, I just let myself run easy and didn't even look at my watch. I ran an 8:45 pace. And this is after absolutely trashing my legs at bootcamp yesterday.

What's on your mind today?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Suffering is Optional

It's interesting doing my yoga teacher training and training for a marathon at the same time. My long runs give me a lot of time to ruminate over what I am learning in yoga training. I'm also realizing just how much the principles of yoga can be applied to everything else in life, but in my case especially to running. 

Yesterday I went to an awesome workshop, "Open Hips Open Heart Open Life." In trying to open up our hips we were holding deep poses for 3-5 minutes. For many of us, myself included, this was not always comfortable. In fact, sometimes was downright painful. But our teacher Larissa encouraged us to work through this, saying "Acknowledge this discomfort as part of the experience, but don't make it the whole experience."

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional

This morning as my foot started to hurt during my long run this pearl of wisdom came back to me. Normally when something hurts during a run, that is all I can think about. I dwell on how much pain I am in and how I can't wait to stop. But instead today, I thought about what Larissa had said yesterday. I tried not to make this whole run about the pain. I acknowledged that my foot hurt, but not so badly that I was risking injury. And then I moved in. I admired how beautiful the marsh was. It was a calm morning and the tide was high. The water looked like glass. I enjoyed the crunching of the leaves beneath my feet. I listened to my music. 

It really worked. I'll be interested to see if I can keep myself disciplined enough to keep thinking that well during a marathon as compared to a 10 miler. 

How was your weekend run? Did you have any revelations?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Eat and Run

I've had a bit of a crazy week. I got back from Nashville late, late Monday night and since then I've been trying catch up at work while also dealing with a sick dog, a Mom who had dental surgery, a flat tire and dead battery in my car, and organizing a volunteer event at the Ronald McDonald House.

So the name of the game this week was short, effective workouts and crock pot meals.

Tuesday morning, I dragged out the crockpot and the breadmaker and within 15 minutes had food cooking for the rest of the week.

In the crock pot I made my favorite vegetarian french onion soup.

image source: New York Times. Mine doesn't look this pretty.

I based it on this recipe from the New York Times. Except I made it even easier by making it in the crockpot. I added the onions and olive oil and cooked them on high for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Then I added the water, miso, thyme (also addded sage and rosemary), salt and pepper and cooked on low for 7 hours. Easy peasy!

In the bread maker I tried something new, quinoa bread!

I followed this recipe from Beautifully Nutty exactly. This bread was great. The quinoa just added a little crunch and heartiness without making it too heavy.

image source: beautifully nutty. I devoured my loaf before taking a picture.

In terms of running I resorted to the treadmill. I find I have better luck actually doing speed work when I am forced to keep up with the treadmill belt. Outside on my own, I tend to drift back to my comfy pace. 

I saw this work-out on Pumps and Irons and used it as inspiration.

I made a few changes because a) my little stumpy legs can't run 10 mph and b) I wanted to make it longer. I did the workout as follows. Also did 10 minute warm-ups and cool-downs on the elliptical.

What are you eating this week? Any fun new workouts?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Long Weekend in Nashville

I got to spend the long weekend in Nashville with my Mom, my aunt, and my cousin Lindsay. Lindsay has been down in Nashville for a few months doing a college internship at a natural dye and fabrics studio. We all love music and talked all summer and fall about going down together to visit, but never quite pulled it together until now.

I loved Nashville. It was easy to navigate, the people were so friendly, and there was BBQ and live music EVERYWHERE. The whole weekend was great, but here are the highlights for me.

-The Grand Old Oprey: This is an institution in Nashville and so many amazing musicians have gotten their start here. It was just the best atmosphere. We had popcorn and margaritas in our seats and we clapped and stomped our feet. They absolutely pack the 2 hour show with musicians. It totally inspired me as a musician. It is currently being held at the Ryman Auditorium Downtown, but we also went and walked around Opreyland. The hotel there is amazing!

-Seeing the extended family. We have a cousin who lives in Ohio that I haven't seen in 10 years. In that time she's had 2 adorable kids that I was dying to meet. We convinced her to drive down to see us. We had so much fun catching up and getting to know the kids. And it was an excuse to do all the fun kid stuff in town, like the Adventure Science Center. Lottie and I even got to walk on the moon!

-BBQ: I may be a loyal Mainer, but I love me some BBQ. Put me in the south and my inner carnivore comes out. I packed myself full of BBQ shrimp and grits and pulled pork smothered in sauce. These indulgences were balanced out by also trying quite a few of Nashville's vegan places since my cousin is a vegan. 

-The Music City Bikeway: I love exploring new cities on my runs, but I especially love finding trails when I travel. This was a good one. It went through the woods and along a golf course. It was well maintained, well marked, and I felt totally safe running by myself. I even saw a huge buck deer. Unfortunately, I only got to run on it once, and I probably shouldn't have done that. When I went to get into my running stuff on Saturday morning, I realized I'd forgotten my sneakers. So that morning, I hit up the elliptical in my sandals. That afternoon I found an AWESOME local running store, Team Running Store, and grabbed a new pair of sneaks. Unfortunately, I didn't have my custom insoles that my physical therapist has designed for my current foot issues. My foot has been so much better lately that I figured it could handle 6 miles without them. Wrong. I made it even worse by coming back and racing the kids around on the cement path in my sandals. Every since my ankle/foot is back to crunching at the ankle joint and rolling outward on every step. 

Foot issues aside, it was such a fun weekend. I loved Nashville, but mostly it was so nice to have so much time with my family!

How was your weekend? Do you find that you eat differently when you travel?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three Things Thursday

Happy Thursday! I am particularly excited that it is almost the weekend, because I have fun plans for the weekend. Which brings me to my first thing...

1. I am headed to Nashville this weekend with my Mom and my Aunt. My little cousin is studying there this semester so we are going to visit. The four of us have never been on a trip together before but I think it's going to be a blast. Anyone know of good places to run in Nashville?

2. My donut problem is back. I had gone a week without one and finally gotten to the point where I wasn't craving them anymore. Then the BF and I walked to go vote on Tuesday and he suggested a donut afterwards. Once I set foot in that bakery, I was done for. No way I could resist.

3. Poor Dixie dog is getting stuck in the cone of shame today. She got a minor scratch on her face last weekend, but she keeps clawing at it has made it much worse. We've tried everything to keep her from scratching at it, but nothing has worked. Well not everything, I wanted to put socks on her legs and duct tape them on. But R said no. So into the cone she goes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tokyo Training Weeks 1-3

I am doing a long, slow build up for Japan so I won't bore you with a weekly update. But, I will try to do a training update every few weeks.

I covered levels 11-13 (I started at level 11 based on the distance I was already running for my year round base training) in my Level Up Training Program.

my log probably makes no sense to anyone but me!

Week 1: 
4 of 4 runs for a total of 21.59 miles in 3:17:23.
Longest run: 60 minutes
Cross Training: 4:17:00 (1 bike ride, 1 swim, 2 bootcamp classes, 1 step class, cardio machines)
Felt: Physically strong and glad to be starting "official" training.

Week 2:
3 of 4 runs for a total of 19.46 miles in 3:05:10
Longest run: 70 minutes
Crossing Training: 4:55:00 (1 swim, 3 bootcamp classes, 1 step class, cardio machines)
Felt: Broken. My knee and foot were both bothering me a lot so I skipped my shorter run for the week and replaced it with the elliptical.

Week 3:
4 of 4 runs for a total of 22.79 miles in 3:33:49
Longest Run: 72 minutes
Cross Training: 4:15
Felt: Much stronger and happy about the cooler weather!

My first impressions of Level Up are really positive. I like the variety of the workouts and feel like I am building a really strong base. In the past I felt my training plans over emphasized the long runs and scrimped on the other runs. Although my long runs are not very long yet, my other runs are a decent distance so my weekly mileage isn't to pathetic. I have ended every run feeling really strong. I do however need to work on my clothing- I have been having serious chafing issues.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Because you will fail

Last week I went to a yoga class at the Breathing Room, my favorite local studio. At the beginning of class our teacher, Jacquellyn, asked us to focus on our breath, especially breathing through transitions throughout the class. When we were only about 10 minutes into the class when she asked us to check in on our breath. "Notice if you've lost your breath yet........ because you will."

Wait what? I was thrown for a loop. Did she basically just tell me that I am pretty much guaranteed to fail at the intention for the class? What kind of inspirational teaching at that? But as I thought more about it, I realized that this is one of the most important lessons yoga has for me. It teaches me to notice, but not judge. It teaches to expect that I won't be perfect, and to expect that and continue moving forward.

This is certainly applicable to my life in general. But as I am starting marathon training I started thinking about how it applies specially to my life as a runner.
My training break down for October

Like many runners, I am obsessed with numbers, and data, and performance. I wear my Garmin on all my
runs to measure my pace and distance. I log all my workouts and make graphs out of my results. I keep a list of my PR's for all my race distances and am always excited to set a new record. I follow a progressive training plan when training for a marathon and like to post it on my wall so I have a visual reminder of progress I've made. It is also about running faster and farther.

But the thing is that you can't always run faster and farther than the day before. Your body will get tired. Maybe it is raining or snowing, maybe you didn't sleep much the night before, maybe you have a cold, maybe you've been living on coffee and donuts. Whatever the cause, you will have bad runs. There may be days when you need to plod along at a snails pace, days when you have to give up and just walk home, and even days when you never make it out the door.

In the past when this happened, it totally demoralized me. I felt like a failure and doubted myself as a runner. Now, I am starting to realize that this is natural. I need to simply notice what my body is trying to tell me that day, accept it, and move on. Failure is a part of life. It is how you deal with it that really defines you.