Monday, May 30, 2016

"I'm a Runner too, Mommy!"

I grew up fat (you can read more about that HERE) and because of that I am very conscious of what I say and do around my daughter when it comes to my own struggles with weight and body image.  She has a healthy sense of self and I never want that to change.

That being said, I make sure she sees all of the hard work I put into taking care of myself.

She watches me run, sometimes cheering me on from the living room window.  When I do strength training and yoga, she does strength training and yoga.  I never force her to join me.  I rarely even ask, but she sees mommy doing it so it must be what women do and she joins in.

Now I just started running less than a year ago, my "runniversary" will be July 5, and it was a long time before I saw myself as a runner.  In fact, I'm not even sure at what point I had finally convinced myself that I was a runner.  Yes, I run several miles a week, trained and completed my first half marathon, PR'ed in a 5K and invested in all the fancy timing gadgets, but was I a runner yet?  Meh.

Back in March I signed her up for her first run a "Leprechaun Dash" which was held before the Shamrock Shuffle that I pushed her in the jogging stroller during.  She bubbled over with excitement about it and in the weeks leading up to the event she told everyone that she was going to run and get a medal just like mommy.

When the big day came she nearly backed out of it.  The main race was quite large with 3,000 runners and there were even more people milling about with the St. Patrick's Day parade being held right after (attendance for that was estimated to be 12,000).  All of the excitement, crowds, and noise got to her and she wanted nothing to do with it.  Well, until she found a friend from school who was also running it and then she was all in.  She happily took her position at the start line.  When I screamed, "Go!" after the announcer started the race she took off with the biggest grin on her face.  At the finish line I greeted her with her very own medal that I had purchased from a virtual race company.  She beamed.  Her little 3 year old life had been made.  She finally had her medal just like mommy.
The medal I purchased for her.

Now that the New England weather is warming up and the Spring runners are back out on the road, Scarlett is quick to point them out.  "Mommy!  He's running just like you!  Just like you, Mommy!"

The other day, however, I saw a runner first and said, "Scarlett, look!  She's running just like Mommy."

Her response?  "Just like me, Mommy.  I'm a runner too.  She's running like me."

She's 3 years old and already she sees what most women, including myself, can't - she sees herself as a runner.

I hope that never changes.

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Boston Inspired Running Playlist

I recently ran the Boston's Run to Remember 5 mile race.  Coming off my first half marathon, my goal for this race was to have fun, take lots of selfies,and enjoy running through the streets of my favorite city all while listening to my music hence the reason I created a Boston specific running playlist.  While preparing for this race I scoured the internet for ideas and didn't come across a whole lot so I thought I'd post what I came up with here.  Bostonians love their sports teams, classic rock and The Dropkick Murphy's ever since they were featured in The Departed.  I added some fun, guilty pleasures to the mix too.

For those of you who are not Boston sports fans both "Sweet Caroline" and "Dirty Water" are played at Red Sox games with "Dirty Water" being the teams victory anthem.  The songs "Welcome to the Jungle" and "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" are played at Gillette Stadium home of the New England Patriots.  I also couldn't help adding a San Francisco Giant's anthem, "Don't Stop Believin'" since my husband is a big fan.

If you can think of any other Boston inspired songs to add leave a comment below.  I'd love to add more to my list.

  • Massachusetts - Bee Gees
  • I'm Shipping Up to Boston - The Dropkick Murphy's
  • Burning Love - Elvis Presley
  • I Walk the Line - Johnny Cash
  • Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
  • I Love It - Icona Pop
  • Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson
  • Dirty Water - The Standells 
  • Panama - Van Halen
  • Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
  • Let's Go Crazy - Prince
  • Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses 
  • Fight For Your Right - Beastie Boys
  • Rebel Rebel - David Bowie
  • The Final Countdown - Europe
  • The Distance - Cake
  • For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) - AC/DC
  • Hooked on a Feeling - Blue Swede
  • Killer Queen - Queen 

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Global Running Day!

I linked up with Jonesin' for a Run to answer some questions about Global Running Day! Because if there is one thing us runners like to do just as much as running it is talking about running.

Why do you run?

The short answer is I run for my health.

Before I started running I had gained 80 pounds during my pregnancy.  I lost 25 of it quickly, but the other 55 pounds stuck around for over 2 years.  When, during a routine physical, my doctor discovered high levels of inflammation in my blood I knew something had to change.  I had been experiencing migraines, intense shoulder and neck pain and excruciating stomach pains. It took a few months but I was ultimately diagnosed with leaky gut.  Prior to this diagnosis I had made small changes like cutting out soda and coffee, increasing my water intake to a gallon a day, practicing intermittent fasting and following a high fat, low carb diet.  It wasn't enough.  Over July 4th weekend 2015 I finally jumped on my neighbor's old treadmill that she said I could have and slowly jogged a mile.

I was overjoyed!  I was the fat kid in school and never ran a mile without stopping before in my life.  I averaged a 15 minute mile pace but I didn't care.  Besides, I didn't really know what pace meant back then anyway.  It wasn't too long before I was "training" for my first 5K.  Less than a year later I've completed 9 races including a half marathon.   

How do you plan to celebrate National Running Day?

I think this one is self-explanatory. I'll be running.

How many miles have you run so far this year? Do you have a mileage goal for the year?

Honestly, I have no idea. I made it a goal to keep track starting at the beginning of the year with the goal of hitting 750, but to me it is just one more thing to do and I don't care that much about tallying it all up.
What big events do you have on the race calendar so far this year?

Well, I just completed my first half marathon on May 15. I didn't run it as well as I knew as I could so I didn't know if I would do another one in the fall, but after 3 days I signed up for the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon in October.

Before I leave for a run I must have: 

Oh lord, where do I start? I'm a very ritualistic person and because of all of my health issues there is a lot of prep work I have to do before going for a run. I even blogged about it HERE.

Do you track your runs? If so what do you use?

I use a Garmin Forerunner 620 that my husband purchased for me for my last birthday.
Who is your favorite running partner?

My friend, Ang. She's been running forever and ran her first marathon in the fall. I was so proud!
What races have you run so far this year?

  • Lowell First Run 10K
  • Snowflake Shuffle 3 Miles
  • Fat Tuesday 5K
  • Shamrock Shuffle 2 Miler
  • Northshore 10 Miler
  • Cinco de Miles 5K
  • Gate City Half Marathon
  • Boston's Run to Remember 5 Miler
Up Next:

If you have to give someone one piece of advice about running, what would it be?

Start small by setting small, short and achievable goals. Then, go buy yourself some nice running shoes. Talk to your running friends and find a store that does professional fittings. Your feet and legs will thank you.
Me after the first time I ever ran a mile without stopping.  Took me 15 minutes.  I was proud.  

Describe your relationship with running in one word:  


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Monday, May 23, 2016

Memorial Day Recipes for the Low Carb/High Fat Lifestyle

 Memorial Day is right around the corner and soon Americans will be firing up the grill in anticipation of a three day weekend.  What better way to celebrate the unofficial start to summer than by barbecuing and cooking up some yummy treats?  Just because it is a holiday doesn't mean you have to stray off your eating plan.  Listed below are some fun low carb/high fat foods that everyone will enjoy.

If you make any of these I want to hear about it so leave a comment below.  While your cooking I'll be enjoying a locally brewed beer - my adopted home town does have 5 microbreweries after all.  

Creamy Lemon Ice Cream

Low Carb Spinach and Artichoke Dip Cauliflower Casserole 

Braided Garlic Breadsticks

Low Carb Almond Porridge 

Coconut Flour Chicken Tenders

Tomato, Avocado and Salami Bites

Artisan Grilled Chicken

Marinated Beef Kabobs 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Ran a Half Marathon. Now What?

Two days ago I ran the race I'd been training for 4 months to run.  I put in 99,572,390,571 training hours and 200,369 miles.  I even had to buy new running shoes because I wore my 6 month old Brooks Ravenna's down (I'm kinda known for holding onto gym shoes for a good 5 years before tossing them out).

During this time,I learned how to fuel my body by researching pre-workouts and endurance fuel.  I saw a nutritionist who convinced me my body needed more vegetables (blech!).  I took countless tests to check my body for inflammation, food allergies and sensitives.  Turns out I have a lot of those although the level of inflammation in my body went way down from a year ago.  After learning how many foods my body doesn't like, I actually considered becoming a vegan.  Yes, me Sabrina, the red meat loving pro high fat, high protein lifestyle lover considered, at one time, just eating plants and veggies. I'm not sure how smart that would have been considering how many vegetables and fruits I am actually highly sensitive to now.

For awhile I woke up an hour early before work, 4:30 am people, to get 5-6 mile weekly endurance runs in.  That worked out well until I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and couldn't sleep even when it was before my alarm went off although I could have put my head down on a table and taken a nap around noon every day.

Slowly, my weekly long runs grew from 6 miles to 11.  I once ran 11 miles on my rickety old treadmill because I just couldn't take one more run in the cold.  It was hell.  I watched movies, listened to music and podcasts to pass the time and all of it was mind numbingly awful.

Speaking of running on treadmills, I can't remember how many times I would put in 5 miles prior to a race just to get in my weekly long run that day.  Yes, you read that right.  I once ran 5 miles before a 5K that I ultimately PR'ed in.  Before my first 10 mile race I put in one mile on the treadmill to get my long run of 11-13 miles in.  Who was I?  I couldn't even run a mile in high school!

The point is, I was dedicated, and committed. I had a plan outside of my other daily hum-drum commitments. I had a goal that I spent 4 months working on achieving.

On Sunday, I ran my first 13.1 miles ever in the Gate City Half Marathon.

The longest run I ever got to in my training plan was just 11 miles.  Miles 11-13.1 were uncharted territory for me during this race.

To say that terrified me was an understatement.

But I did it.  I had put in the time and work to train for a half marathon and I did it.

I'm a highly organized, detailed oriented person.  I like plans.  The Train Like a Mother 13.1 challenge that I followed from Another Mother Runner spoke to me.  It kept me on track, it held me accountable, it gave me a clear goal to achieve.

Turns out I really like goals.

On Sunday, I met that goal.  I am very proud of that fact.

Now what?

As much as I cursed that plan when it had me out there running 10 miles on a Sunday when I really just wanted to stay in my cozy pajamas or 6 miles on a Wednesday when snuggling on the couch sounded so much more fun, I needed that plan.

Dare I say I'm kind of lost without it?

I think I am actually feeling a little sad that it is over.

Do we mourn the loss of achieving our goals?  Is that a thing?  Is that what I am feeling?  I'm definitely having a hard time sticking to my nutritional plan and I am a classic emotional eater.  I really just want to stuff my face with pizza and ice cream while pouring myself another glass of wine.

When I'm ready I'll find another goal race to train for.  Until then, pass the bottle of Pinot Noir.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Half Marathon Music Playlist

I have to listen to music when I run. It inspires me. It motivates it. It allows me to escape from my surroundings.

I'll be sure to make some last minute changes before the race and I'm looking for any suggestions for songs that will fit in with my eclectic genre. 

Below is a list of the songs and their artists that will be listening to during my first half marathon on Sunday, May 15. 

Total Run Time:  2:41

  • Misirlou- Dick Dale and His Del-tones 
  • Daft Punk is Playing in My House -  LCD Soundsystem
  • Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen
  • Heads Will Roll - Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
  • Hooked On a Feeling - Blue Swede
  • I'm Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphys 
  • Let's Dance - David Bowie
  • Let's Go Crazy - Prince
  • Lust For Life - Iggy Pop
  • Berlin - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  • Paper Planes - M.I.A.
  • The Dope Show - Marilyn Manson
  • Elephant - Tame Impala
  • Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
  • Got Your Money - Ol' Dirty Bastard 
  • Tighten Up - The Black Keys
  • Spirit in the Sky - Norman Greenbaum
  • Kashmir - Led Zeppelin 
  • Howlin' For You - The Black Keys
  • Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
  • Flagpole Sita - Harvey Danger
  • The Beautiful People - Marilyn Manson 
  • Long Cool Woman - The Hollies
  • Dog Days are Over - Florence + The Machine
  • Rock and Roll - Led Zeppelin 
  • Highway to Hell - AC/DC
  • Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses
  • Stronger - Kanye West 
  • Work Bitch - Britany Spears
  • I Want It All -  Queen
  • Sabotage - The Beastie Boys 
  • Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen 
  • Dancing With Myself - Billy Idol
  • Turn Down for What - DJ Snake and Lil Jon
  • Love You Like a Love Song - Selena Gomez 
  • Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
  • Darude - Sandstorm 
  • A Little Less Conversation - Elvis
  • I Love It - Icona Pop
  • The Final Countdown - Europe

Sunday, May 8, 2016

10 Tips to Surviving the Week Before Your First Half Marathon

So you're running your first half marathon.  Good for you for being only half crazy!  Ideally, you've put in some serious training over the last 3-4 months and you've followed your training plan to a T or modified it so it fits you to a T whichever the case may be.  Below on some last minute tips to help you survive the final week before the big day.

1.  Hydrate!

Aim for a gallon of water a day.  If you're worried about being up all night to use the bathroom then guzzle most of your water in the morning hours.  Add some Nuun Hydration Tablets so you get the electrolytes without the sugar.

2.  Check your gear. 

Make sure everything is in working order.  Ideally, everything you are using come race day has been broken in so there are no surprises.

3.  Pick Your Mantras.

You will be chanting them in your head, or out loud like a crazy person, when the going gets tough.  

4.  Set Your Playlist

The right music can inspire and motivate you right when you need it most.  Some of my favorite running songs are:

  • Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
  • Can't Stop Me Now - Queen
  • I'm Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphy's 
  • Let's Go Crazy - Prince
  • Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
  • Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses
  • Stronger - Kanye West
  • Work Bitch - Brittany Spears 

5.  Clip Your Toe Nails

This one should be a no brainer.  No one likes bloody socks during a race.  Clip those talons.  

6.  Protein Up!

The week before your big race your nutrition needs to be on point.  Ideally, you've been doing this all along with your training so there are no surprises on the big day that lands you in the long porta-potty lines doing a crazy dance.  Protein is important because it helps build and repair muscles.  Carbs are great for a quick burst of energy, but red meat will deliver the nutrients your body needs to feed those muscles that are deep down inside.  While your at it, add an egg a day, I prefer hard boiled, to clean out your liver.

7.  Rest

This is probably the most important step.  Don't overdue it.  You don't want to risk an injury or deplete yourself this close to reaching your goal.

8.  Make a Mental Plan

Think about how you are going to pace yourself.  Research and plan which water stops you are going to stop at and which ones you might even want to walk through.  For longer races, water stops often include fuel like Honey Stinger Chews.  It's a good idea to know which ones those are so you aren't making any unplanned stops and in the process add valuable seconds to your finish time.  

9.  Stick to Your Plan

This one goes back to #7.  Run when your plan says run, rest when it says rest and cross-train when it says, well you get the idea.  The last week before your race is not the time to start adding in extra runs.  

10.  Pack Your Bags

Dress rehearsal time!  Make sure you've picked out what you are going to wear from your socks to your headphones and that you have some experience using them.  Again, to avoid surprises on race day everything on your body should have been worn before.  

Put everything you are going to need for race day into your bag.  Pack extras!  For women, I suggest packing a few extra hair ties in case they break because who wants to deal with a sweaty mess of hair while you are trying to focus on your form?  After my 10 miler I had packed flip flops and my feet were so thankful especially since we had an hour car drive home.  

If you have any other tips to add, please share them below!  I've found that the best advice comes from other runner's mishaps because  it's the little things, like hair ties, that can make or break a race for you.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How I Found Joy While Running My First 10 Mile Race

Sunday, August 24 was a pretty special day for me. No, it wasn't the day my daughter was born or even the day I married my best friend.

But still, it was important to me.

It was the day of my first ever 10 mile race, a truly monumental day for me in my young running journey. Prior to this race, I had only run 10 miles three times in my life. There was a part of me that felt like I had no business running a race of this length yet, having just started running 8 months prior, but I placed all of my trust in my training so I knew running this race was exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

Probably the smartest thing I did was to mentally prepare a plan for how I was going to run it which calmed my type-A personality. Miles 1-5 I was going to stay as close to an 11 minute mile pace as I could even though I knew I could run a 10:35mm and still make out ok.  Since I was running this without my training buddy and the best runner I know, I wanted to make sure I was safe and I could finish it STRONG.   At mile 5, I planned on grabbing Gatorade from the water station that I was going to walk (gasp!) through and then take off running again while quickly chomping down my Honeystinger gummies.  After that I was free to pick up the pace as much as I could with the goal of making my last mile my fastest.

It helped that my music was perfectly timed to either slow me down or speed me up based on what mile I was on. Knowing this really allowed me to enjoy the run.

Yes, you read that right. I ENJOYED running a 10 mile race!  Even with Queen, Prince and Guns and Roses blaring over my headphones I was able to take in the coastal scenery as well as the beauty of what my body is capable of doing.

Miles 1-4 were truly peaceful. My mind was at ease with the task at hand. I knew I had awhile to go before I would be done so why not relax and let my legs take over?   I had plenty of time to think about how my running has changed both the shape of my body and my overall health. I no longer struggle from terrible stomach pains (hello, leaky gut), migraines and neck/shoulder pain on a daily basis. My last blood test results showed the inflammation that was tearing my body apart over a year ago was almost all gone. Not to mention my wonderfully high triglyceride level that my doctor was genuinely amazed by. "See that number?" he questioned at my last visit,  "That's what all your running has done."  

Miles 5-7 were spent thinking about my mom and how she can barely walk. She long ago chose to not take care of herself full well knowing our family history of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Knowing I don't want to suffer like she is with her many ailments, pushed me to keep running even when the little voice in my head snarked, "You know, when you run your half marathon in 3 weeks you won't even be halfway done yet."  Ugh, shut it, girlfriend.  

One of the many reasons why I've learned to love running is because I can set goals and test my limits. I've slowly learned how to be alright with being uncomfortable. On the flip side, I believe running has a meditative quality to it. If you can get in that peaceful zone then you feel like you can run forever and that is a beautiful thing for your mind and body to be so connected. You forget about that uncomfortable feeling.  You do what our bodies were designed to do - to move, breathe deeply and sweat. It's very freeing and empowering to get to that point in your running when the endorphins take over and you're just happy. 
That brings us to miles 8-10. I was still in a good mood, flying by everyone at the remaining 2 water stops. I knew I'd see my family soon which gave the little boost to push harder.  At that point, I was also dreaming of a cold beer and a cheeseburger. Mile 9 included a hill which was rough on my tired legs, but the view at the top of the Massachusetts coast was worth it. When I hit the final quarter mile Queen's "I Want It All" came blaring over my headphones.  It was my cue that this race was nearing the finish line. I gave myself a cheer and a fistpump, because, let's be honest, if you can't do one for yourself who is going to do it for you?  I was overjoyed to see my family waiting for me at the finish line and to hear my 3 year old yell, "Go Mommy!"  

The best part was I felt great!  I could have kept going if I needed to, but I was thankful to be done. 

I started, ran and completed that race with a smile on my face and a mind and heart full of joy.

I'm ready for my first half marathon now.  I know my mind and body can handle another 3.1 miles because really, after you've run ten miles 3.1 is only a 5K.

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