Race Recap: Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon 5/14/17

I ran the Discover Bank Delaware Marathon Running Festival half marathon on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14, 2017. Oh, where to begin? Let’s sum this weekend up in three words: HILLS, BLOOD, LOVE.

I wasn’t one of the lucky 200 participants to sign up for packet pickup the day of the race, so my family and I made a separate trip from Dover, DE to Wilmington, DE (about an hour away) the day before the race to pick up my packet and meet my PlowOn Gum family in person finally! (For those who haven’t tried Plow, I highly suggest reading my product review.) The weather was horrendous—complete with downpours and wind—and I was surprised to see so many people at the expo on Saturday, May 13.

PlowOn Gum’s Chuan, Matt, and Brady were so welcoming, supportive, and all-around fun to chat with despite the wind and rain. I can’t thank PlowOn Gum enough for sponsoring my race and for the extra kick to help me PR!

It was a little odd that the area where you picked up your race bib was separate from the area where you picked up your Under Armour long-sleeve shirt. Conveniently, the Plow tent was situated on the side of the shirt pick-up area, so that worked out very well in terms of not having to slog across creation in the rain.

18446788_10212298555759572_5451481191901397872_nThe night before the race, I made sure that I packed everything and set up my supplies, since we had to leave so early in the morning the next day.  Superstitiously, I planned to wear the same sports bra that I wore for my first full marathon. I also typically wear my “lucky” orange Feetures socks. I safety pinned three Espresso Love Gu gels to my Tuvizo pack, grabbed a pack of Plow, and pinned my race bib to my pants.

I want to give a HUGE shout out to my husband Tom for quickly getting ready the morning of the race. He’s not a morning person (love ya, sweetie!), so I truly appreciate him doing this on Mother’s Day for me. I threw my running clothes on, got the Angry Toddler dressed (who was surprisingly in a chipper mood), and poured our coffee into travel mugs. I don’t typically eat or drink anything before a race, but I figured coffee would be OK as long as I found a porta-potty before the race started. We left the house just around 5:30 a.m. The Angry Toddler didn’t complain at all about being tired or woken up early. She happily munched on some mini donuts and sang songs. She did, however, turn into a hilarious back-seat driver while we tried to find parking. She gets very concerned when we seem to get lost (which we weren’t) or when we can’t find parking (which we could). We fairly easily found a parking garage two to three blocks away from the starting line.

I immediately pushed us toward the porta-potty line, because there were what looked like twenty people ahead of us, and I knew I needed to pee before the race. The line went quickly, and we even saw my friend Amanda from the Smyrna Clayton Running Club! With less than five minutes to go time, I said goodbye to my little family and made my way to the starting line.

18447087_10212298555799573_1469091982841028089_nThe half and full marathons started at the same time, and the race had no pace groups, so I tried to line up as close to the front as I could. I didn’t see any pace signs at all like I’m used to, but I didn’t think it was a huge deal. (I’m sure I just missed them in my excitement.)

As with my last race, I ran without turning on my Nike+ Run Club app (#NoWatchMe). I listened to an Another Mother Runner podcast episode, A Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast episode, and finally part of the Hamilton soundtrack. It was quite crowded at the beginning, and I nearly missed the second timing mat because I was following the person in front of me. I literally had to turn around and double back to make sure I went over the mat. Since I had no idea how fast I was running, I simply tried to run at a comfortable pace and keep up with the pack with which I started.  I quickly spotted my running buddy, Ryan, who was carrying the flag below, and said hello. He runs with the RWB group and always runs a strong race.

I k18424265_10212298556199583_2627017612051732888_nnew almost immediately that I had overdressed. Thankfully, I had my Wonder Woman tank top underneath my The Running Lifestyle Show half-zip. I’ve never run with a shirt tied around my waist before, so I tried to hold off as long as I could before taking off my first layer. Around Mile 4, I tried to unpin my first Gu and promptly stuck myself with the pin. Ouch! So there I was, running along with blood dripping from my right thumb. Great. What a brilliant idea that was, Becky.

I say around Mile 4, because A) I had no idea what my mileage was without the Nike+ Run Club app and B) I kept seeing mile markers that were confusing. I knew that obviously the higher mile markers were for the full marathoners, but I saw duplicates for Miles 4 and 5. (Again, I guess these must have been for half and full participants, but I’ve never seen markers so close together like that.) There was a time clock at what I thought was Mile 5 that read somewhere in the range of 48 minutes, so I figured I was doing OK, despite the fact that the course was challenging for me.

I had reviewed the elevation map beforehand, but for whatever reason, I had it in my mind that the only hill existed around Mile 6. Wrong-o! Take a gander at the map below.

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Just after Mile 6, I took off my first layer and wondered whether I would go faster walking or running up the next hill. For most people, they wouldn’t even consider these to be hills, but since I run in southern Delaware, where there are zero hills, it was a shock to my system. At times I took walk breaks, but it was fun to run through the different areas of Wilmington, such as Brandywine Park. As we entered the park, we ran on this very wobbly, shaky bridge that the course map calls the “Swinging Foot Bridge.” I’m surprised I didn’t go down for the count!

At one point, we ran next to the Brandywine Zoo, which was very neat. (I said hi to the animals, of course.) We didn’t spend a lot of time in Brandywine Park though, as the course exited the park and went back to a more residential area.  Some of the houses were gorgeous, and most of the trees were green and blooming. Good thing, because spectator numbers in spots were very low. I don’t typically care too much about that, but since this was a challenging race, it would’ve been nice to get more crowd support. I did have one volunteer yell out, “Go, Wonder Woman!” when I passed her a second time (after a turn around), which was very encouraging. During races, I always try to yell words of encouragement to others, whether they look like they’re struggling or they’re at the front of the pack.

Finally, just after Mile 12—you guessed it—we hit yet another hill. Who puts hills at the course end?! Time to pop a Plow! (Hey, can that be a new catch phrase?!) I think this is the steepest hill on the course, and I unabashedly walked up that sucker. Again, I had no clue what my time was at that point, but I wanted to save my energy for the last race to the finish line. Overall, though, I really felt good. My left hip hurt a tiny bit, but I know that’s simply because I hadn’t trained for this half; my left hip usually gives me a bit of trouble when I increase my mileage, so I have to make sure to do some extra foam rolling.

18449465_10212298653682020_8414570604362166840_oAs I approached the finish chute, I sprinted toward the finish line and beamed with pride when I saw the clock display 2:15 and change. My last two official half marathons were around 2:22, so my goal was to simply beat 2:20! I finished in 2:15:28 with a pace of 10:20. Surprisingly, I completed the first five miles in 48:52 with a 9:47 pace, which is wicked fast for me. I guess running more miles and running without a watch really does increase your speed! #plowon

xoxo,
Becky

 

Fat Mommy

Oh, hi. Did I grab your attention? That phrase hit me figuratively and literally as the Angry Toddler (our four-year-old daughter, Delaney) said it to me the other night during our nighttime book/songs/potty/songs/potty/drink/POTTY (sheesh) routine. I cuddled up close to her, with my husband on the other side, as we sang “Delaney Talks to Statues” by Jimmy Buffett. She hugged and prodded my arm as that phrase flew out from the mouth of babes. Can you hear the tires in my head screeching like a banshee yet?

Now, I know I’ve talked a bit about this before, but I’m an eating disorder survivor (because it really was hell, and it still is at times) of over a decade. My self-esteem isn’t where it should be, despite my amazing husband telling me that he loves me every day and that I’m beautiful or despite my mom and sister telling me that I rock (thanks, guys!). I don’t know how to describe it except to say you know how it feels if you’ve had an eating disorder. (I pray you’re never part of THAT cool kids club.) There’s always going to be that voice inside your head that rejects the positives about yourself. It spews hateful words to counteract your PMA (positive mental attitude) no matter how chipper you may be on any given day.

Tom and I have been trying to teach the Angry Toddler not to use the F-A-T word toward people. We try to gently and wisely explain that it can be a descriptive word for, y’know, cute, cuddly puppies or the like. I don’t know. But just not people, OK? And I think she truly does understand that for the most part. But in that moment, all she felt was literal fat on my arm. I get that. It is nice and pillowy. I really can’t fault her for it, but those words were like a tiny cocktail dagger in my heart for a split second. I quickly explained (as did Tom) that all people have that on their arms, as I slipped in, “And Mommy’s working on it, right?”

Slow down, killer. Hold the phone. Why did I feel the need to add that last bit? It wasn’t necessary. She doesn’t really understand why I lift our little five-pound weights while watching Doctor Who or The Leftovers. Why isn’t it enough that I just, well, am what I am?!

That was a huge mind bender for me as I thought about it later that night. As she grows and matures, I’m not always going to be able to side step my real reactions around her without her noticing. I need to come to grips with my body and realize that I’m so much stronger than I think I am.

All I can do is fuel my body with real foods, keep my running game alive, and show her how to properly take care of her body. I hope I’ve done a fairly decent job of that so far, but I know it’s only going to get harder as she grows up.

xoxox,
Becky

Race Recap: Inaugural Blue Earl 5K Shuffle Run/Walk & 1-Mile Fun Walk

bMy running club—the Smyrna Clayton Running Club—hosted the Inaugural Blue Earl 5K Shuffle Run/Walk & 1-Mile Fun Walk on Sunday, April 9, 2017. The weather was gorgeous that day—sunny and in the upper 60s if I remember correctly. I hadn’t been to this particular race location before, but I immediately knew where we were, because it started in an industrial complex next to a kids’ jump/bounce place called Leaping Lizards.

Thankfully, as moms of toddlers know, the race started at 10 a.m., which wasn’t too phenomenally early like other races. It’s hard to get out the door with the Angry Toddler sometimes. My amazing husband Tom got us to the race location with about 15 minutes to spare, which was perfect timing.

delI grabbed my bib, said hi to a few SCRC members, and we also got a balloon unicorn from Snippy Doodles the clown!

The race started just about on time, and I tried to line up closer to the front of the pack. I’m not a fast runner, but I wanted to try and get a sub-30 5K, so I thought I should move up toward the front to bypass the walkers or strollers.

As the race began, I fumbled with my Nike+ Run Club app. For some reason it wasn’t working correctly, so I shut it off and focused on getting the Amazon Prime Music app to start so that I could listen to the Hamilton soundtrack. After Kelly Roberts (Run, Selfie, Repeat) talked about it in one of her podcast episodes, I’ve been hooked and obsessed! It’s intellectually stimulating and has just the right beat.

The course itself wasn’t all that interesting, because it started and ended in the industrial park. I was hoping that we would be running in downtown Smyrna, which has a lot of local flavor, but I didn’t mind all that much. I love racing for the comradery and cheering fellow runners on.  I’m the crazy runner who cheers on the race leaders as they’re heading back to the starting line while I haven’t even hit the half-way point yet. I’m the runner who cheers on people who look like they’re struggling and thanks police officers for blocking traffic for racers.

At some point during a 5K race, I inevitably think, “This is silly. I feel like I’m dying. Maybe I should just start to walk. I can’t do this.” But then I look around at everyone else, become a psychic vampire, and pull energy from the crowd. I visualize the next sign post or runner that I want to catch up to, and I just keep going.

I didn’t feel like I was giving 100%, but I was close to it. I knew I was pushing myself, but I also felt more energized than I have at previous 5Ks, which was a new feeling for me.

I hit the 3-mile marker and rounded the corner to the final stretch. I was sucking in air like nobody’s business, but I also felt strong. Strong?! That’s new. I looked at the time clock to see 28-something minutes.

“Hmm…well, that’s just the gun time,” I thought. That can’t be my actual chip time.

Lo and behold, I ended up pulling off a 28:36 total time with a 9:14 average pace. There’s something to be said for “running naked” without a watch or app to tell you your pace.

I’m very proud of myself for this new 5K PR. What’s next?

I’ll be running the Discover Bank Delaware Marathon Running Festival for the half marathon distance thanks to my sponsor, PlowOn Gum. I’m so overjoyed and humbled to be able to run in Plow’s honor. It would be amazing if I could attain a new half marathon PR there, but I know it’ll be a hot day, and the course is not flat. I don’t challenge myself as a runner like I should do with hill repeats or tempo runs, so this will be interesting. I ran the relay option a few years ago, so I am somewhat used to the course.

I’ll also be running in honor of Joh’Nya Lewis, a nine-year-old girl who has a synovial sarcoma (tumor) on her wrist. Her mom, Juaniece, and I talked on the phone late last week, and she and her entire family are so strong and inspiring. This started out in early March as just a bump on Joh’Nya’s wrist from what they thought was jumping on a trampoline with her siblings. No one in Joh’Nya’s family had ever had cancer before or really any major illness to speak of. She’s receiving radiation until May 31, and her doctors will see what the status of the tumor is then. I’m raising funds via the Snowdrop Foundation at my Team Miles for Smiles fundraising page here for Joh’Nya and pediatric patients nationwide.

Please consider taking a minute to look at our team page and potentially donate. It would mean the word to me and my entire Team Miles for Smiles group!

xoxox,
Becky

Change Is in the Wind

CaptureIt’s been a little while since I’ve mentioned IRun4Ultra on my blog or on social media, and that’s because I left my ambassadorship for the group. Without going into too much detail, I didn’t feel like my running was making an impact, and I didn’t like the way the group was run or represented. I’ve never resigned from an ambassadorship before, and I didn’t take the decision lightly, but it was something that in my heart of hearts I knew was the right thing to do for me.

Since then, I’ve joined forces with an amazing group of people to form Team Miles for Smiles via a nonprofit organization called the Snowdrop Foundation. This is their mission statement: The Snowdrop Foundation provides scholarships for college-bound pediatric cancer patients and childhood cancer survivors while raising awareness and funding for continued research to cure childhood cancer.

I’ve experienced a lot of cancer in my family. My aunt passed away from breast cancer, my grandpa passed away from lung cancer, my grandma passed away from ovarian cancer, and my dad passed away from kidney cancer. This cause is near and dear to my heart, and the folks at Snowdrop have been so incredibly responsive and informative. Oh, and professional! The way a nonprofit portrays itself is very important to me.

I love Team Miles for Smiles, because literally anyone can join. If you walk, hike, bike, run, swim, or move in any way, shape, or form, you can join! You don’t have to be an ultrarunner or go to the gym every day. You can even join with your children if you’d like! You just have to want to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients.

The Snowdrop Foundation will assign Team Miles for Smiles a child and his or her family to represent. Since we just formed as a group, it generally takes about two weeks for Snowdrop to assign a child/family to a team, and we’re waiting patiently.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in joining our team, please join our Facebook group or email us at teammiles4smiles@gmail.com. We’ve put together a preliminary team roster and are still collecting pictures to create a team collage.

xoxox,
Becky

Not a Joke

Every new month I struggle with negative thoughts. As some of you know, I had an eating disorder (ED-NOS) for roughly a decade, and the effects are ever-lasting. That mantra of “a new month, new you” wreaks havoc on my brain. I think that that gives me a pass to eat whatever I want on the last day of a month and to start fresh on the first day of a new month, like today. But that instantly leads/translates to thoughts like, “Eat as little as you can,” to start off a new month with a bang, which is still disordered and downright impossible. I used to go hours, sometimes days without eating, but I just can’t do that anymore—nor should I! I’m the epitome of getting “hangry” if I’ve gone too long without eating. I get anxious, grumpy, and short-tempered.

I’ve been listening a lot to the Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast lately, and the mantra that comes across in nearly every episode encompasses the word strong. So I think my thoughts should be “strong and lean” for this month. What do you think? Can those two descriptions live in the same head space?
As a runner, I have a chance of improving my pace a bit if I’m at a more optimal weight, so ideally I’d like to drop ~10 pounds. But I also want to do it the right/smart way, and in a way that my daughter can understand as Mommy becoming strong and not deprivating.
I want to be a good role model to the Angry Toddler, but I also want to feel comfortable in my own skin. It’s a never-ending battle. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you make yourself a positive role model for your children!

Product Review: Munk Pack Maple Pear Quinoa

IMG_8505Guys, seriously. How have you not tried Munk Pack oatmeal fruit squeezes yet?! I’ve been keeping this Maple Pear Quinoa pack in my cupboard for a few weeks now, because I wanted to savor it at the exact perfect moment. Y’know, when you’ve just completed a run and you’re so hungry that you could eat your arm, but you’re too tired to lift a finger?

That moment actually struck me out of the blue after work yesterday before picking up the Angry Toddler from preschool. The feeling of hunger overtook me, and I didn’t know what to shove in my mouth first. I knew I wanted to make a wise decision, so cue Munk Pack to the rescue! Pear is one of my favorite flavors, and it paired with the hint of maple was out of this world. The quinoa tone wasn’t overbearing, as I suspected it might be.

I was also impressed with how much came in one pack. I figured I’d slurp it down in thirty seconds or less, but I kept squeezing the bottom of the pack, because it kept on coming!

Next, I’d like to try the Munk Pack Sampler. These handy-dandy packets would be a great choice for parents and kids on the go. I know I go a little loco when the Angry Toddler’s asking for her millionth baby doll in the middle of Target, late in the afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday, when all I can think about is how hungry I feel! Thanks for being a lifesaver, Munk Pack!

Recipe Review: Serena Marie, RD’s Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Serena Marie, RD, has finally found the secret to a good-tasting, well-made pancake trifecta—lower in carbs, high in protein, and gluetn free. I’ve tried different pancake recipes over the years that involve protein powder or Shakeology, and they’re vomit inducing and not toddler approved.

A few weekends ago I felt crafty, so I asked the Angry Toddler if she wanted pancakes for breakfast. She of course said yes, so I set out to gather a few simple ingredients for Serena’s recipe.

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I didn’t have any stevia, so I simply went without. I didn’t think it would affect the taste of the pancakes so much, especially since the Angry  Toddler likes to drown hers in pure maple syrup.

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I’m always nervous with nontraditional pancake recipes, because they tend to be very watery and don’t make actual solid pancakes.

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The recipe says to cook on one side for about a minute before flipping, but I found I had to cook them for a lot longer (at least three minutes) in order for them to solidify and become easy to flip. Yes,  I did burn them slightly, but I’m impatient and had the heat on too high. (Whoops.)

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I drizzled mine with a little pure maple syrup, because I didn’t have frozen berries on hand. They were actually delicious, and the Angry Toddler ate all of hers. She has a BS detector when it comes to weird foods that we try to pass off as normal, so these get an A+ in my book! Next time, I’ll definitely add some frozen blueberries or strawberries to the top, because it would make these pancakes even more heavenly!

Product Review: HOTSHOT

Courtesy of my IRUN4ULTRA ambassadorship, I was given two bottles of HOTSHOT to test for muscle cramping. The origin story of HOTSHOT is thrilling, but let’s get to what it is first.

According to the HOTSHOT site, it is “the proprietary formulation that controls your Neuro Muscular Performance (NMP) and stops muscle cramps where they really start. At the nerve.”

The ingredients are as follows:

Filtered Water, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Gum Arabic, Organic Lime Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Organic Stevia Extract, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Ginger, Organic Capsaicin

I like the fact that it’s a fairly small list of organic ingredients. I’m not sure why it has both cane sugar and stevia, because I sure didn’t taste sugar. But we’ll get to that in a second!

HOTSHOT’s origin story is unique to say the least. “After surviving life-threatening muscle cramps while deep-sea kayaking off the coast of Cape Cod, [Dr. Rod MacKinnon] discovered that existing cramp remedies—that target the muscle—didn’t work. Calling upon his Nobel Prize-winning expertise on ion channels, Rod reasoned that preventing and treating cramps began with focusing on the nerve, not the muscle.”

I wasn’t sure when to use HOTSHOT, because I typically don’t suffer from muscle cramps while running. Last night, however, I was hit with the most random hamstring cramps imaginable while doing the bridge pose from a free Amazon Prime yoga video. Holy mother of all-get-out, it was painful.

I immediately ran upstairs to grab my HOTSHOT to see if I could continue on with twenty more minutes of yoga cramp free.

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When I first opened the bottle, it almost looked like bubbles to me, and I was surprised to see that it was clear (although it’s hard to tell, since it’s in a black bottle). I’ve heard from other IRUN4ULTRA ambassadors that it tastes like cinnamon Red Hots hard candy, so I figured it had to be red in color. I took a whiff, and it definitely smelled hot.

I made sure to double check the directions before consuming, because they seem oddly specific to me: Drink a 1.7-ounce HOTSHOT 15–30 minutes before exercise to boost your Neuro Muscular Performance and prevent muscle cramps. For best results, avoid food or beverages that may coat your mouth—such as peanut butter, protein shakes or dairy—10 minutes before, and a few minutes after drinking HOTSHOT. A clean palate allows HOTSHOT to activate TRP channels in the sensory nerves in your mouth. Tastes even better cold.

I hadn’t had any dairy or food that would coat my mouth that night, so I figured it was a go. (I was doing this yoga video at 10 p.m., mind you.) Here goes nothin’ . . . !

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Here’s a picture of my reaction right after taking the shot.

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I’m not going to lie—it has quite the kick! It wasn’t quite as spicy as I thought it would be, but my tongue was definitely on fire for about thirty seconds or so. I didn’t take it chilled as recommended to dampen the bite/kick, but it really wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated.

I continued on with twenty more minutes of yoga, and although I experienced one foot cramp while trying to do a ridiculous split, I didn’t experience any more hamstring cramps, which is praise worthy.

I took HOTSHOT at the first sign of cramping, while the directions say to take it 15–30 minutes before exercise if possible or at the first sign of cramps. I’m curious to see what happens when I take the second bottle before doing yoga this week.

All in all, I would definitely use HOTSHOT again, although I don’t think I need it in my running arsenal in regular rotation. If you experience muscle cramps frequently, I would say to definitely give it a shot (get it?!)!

Product Review: LaceLocker

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I received a pair of LaceLockers® (which retail for $7.95) in my IRUN4ULTRA swag bag the other day and instantly began to sweat and have horrific flashbacks to a similar product that I’ve used before.

I had been meaning to take my Lock Laces® (which retail for $7.99) off of my old shoes to put onto my current Brooks, but they were so hard to originally put on that taking them off seemed like a daunting task that I’d rather avoid—oh, hey, is that a pile of laundry that needs folding?!

Clearly I’m a weakling when it comes to shutting that darn little plastic clasp on the Lock Laces, so putting my Lock Laces on my shoes was a nightmare. I also reused them on various pairs of shoes (which I’m sure isn’t the intent), so taking them off one pair and putting them on another required some imagination. (Think a knife, a lighter, my husband’s help, and lots of swearing.)

I love the ease of being able to pull my sneakers on and off without re-tieing, and I hate stopping to tie my shoes during a run or race, so I figured I should suck it up and put on my new LackLockers.

The instructions were incredibly easy to follow (with pictures for us visual learners, yay!), and I even enlisted the help of the Angry Toddler at one point, although I really didn’t need help.

LaceLockers are basically Velco-wraps of goodness that envelop your tied shoe laces so they won’t get in your way. It took me all of three seconds to apply to each shoe, and I’m diggin’ the fact that I can remove them with ease and put them on my next pair of shoes. Now there’s some bang for your buck!

I would highly recommend LaceLockers to any runner, and they even come in different varieties that include reflective material and colors!

If that weren’t enough to entice you, did you know that all net proceeds from your LaceLocker purchase provide underprivileged young women the opportunity to attend college? How’s that for a worthy cause!