An emotional day

On Tuesday morning I came into work like any other day.  I did my workout, showered and walked to my office, all very normal things for me to do during the work week.  However, as I turned the corner to my office, something was amiss,  I knew deep down something was wrong.  Within minutes, I knew this was not going to be like any other day.  It quickly became a day that would be burned into my brain, likely for the rest of my life, the worst day of my career to date and something I hope to not have to experience again.

I work in a very high risk, high reward industry.  I truly love my job and the people I work with, but intellectually, I understand things can change in the blink of an eye.  We knew our organization had our Q3 financial update call that morning and many of us were anticipating a 40-50% reduction in our sales force for one of our drugs.  This drug was launched less than two years ago and was a total game changer, it changed the way this disease area was treated, cured over 60,000 people and was and still is at this moment, the most successful drug launch in history of pharmaceuticals.  However, new disruptive therapies in this arena are coming to the market rapidly and we are in an area that has changed faster than anyone has ever experienced in any other therapeutic area.  This left us with a decline in our market share and from a business perspective, it did not make financial sense to continue support for drug promotion due to the future demand for our drug.  So,  the company announced the elimination of 370 positions, which is roughly 15% of our organization.  From a business perspective, I totally understand this.  We need to position ourselves for the future.

Emotionally, this is a much harder pill to swallow.  I lost my boss, my direct report, and a ton of very good co-workers and friends.  There were a lot of tears shed. My larger department was hit really hard, something that no one saw coming.  We have had to do some pretty quick, on the fly restructuring, which may or may not need adjusting as the next few weeks go by.  This is the first time I have ever gone through lay offs at work, and I hope it is the last.  During the day, as more and more names were being floated around, I found myself feeling nauseous.  I remember sitting in a meeting where people were discussing this situation and I could hear the conversation but I couldn’t process the information.  When I left that evening, I felt numb.  I needed some time to process and digest everything that happened over the course of the last 8 hours.

I’m now 2 days post experience and while I know I have to find my new normal, it is hard to walk through the halls and not see my friends in their offices.  I know that I am incredibly lucky to still have a job and doing something I love, but layoff survivor syndrome is real and it is a very hard feeling to shake off.  I feel guilt a lot during my day.  I know it is going to take some time and my new boss made a very good point when we were speaking.  She said that her husband often tells her that she needs to remember that it’s called work for a reason.  You are working to live, not living to work.  This is something I have had to remind myself of a lot over the past few days.  I know a layoff is not the end of the world.  I know that those who are no longer with us will be on to bigger and better things, as they are all so incredibly talented and this is just another hurdle in life, but it’s just going to take a little bit more time.  I have to just trust that this will all work itself out, even if right now, it doesn’t feel possible.

some things take time

 

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Question of the day

Have you ever been through a layoff? Any words of wisdom?

 

 

Fitsy Bitsy Spider 10k (virtual race)

Back in August, my friend Lauren let me know about this site that offered virtual races that you can register for. At first, I was a little confused.  I mean, how do you run a virtual race?  Basically, you join their site, pay a small fee (similar to a local 5k or 10k) and then they provide you a race bib and a medal when you finish the race.  You have a set time frame for which to complete the distance you signed up for and you just submit your time online.

My initial first thought was, why would I run a virtual race when I can just run a race in person? Wouldn’t it be just a like a normal training run?  How do they know that I did the run and what my time was? Then, I took a step back and thought about it a little more. It was actually pretty genius.  First, my time on the weekend is extremely limited and I don’t like anything interfering with the time I spend with my family, even races.  Second, I could do this run on any day at any time within the allotted dates for the race I sign up for.  Third, I could choose whatever route I wanted, as long as it covers the distance I signed up for, I could even run it on the treadmill if the weather wasn’t ideal.  Lastly, it breaks up my daily running routine and gives me more motivation to push hard during a run.

So, under a little bit of peer pressure, I registered for a virtual 10k ( a distance I have never raced before) through the Fit 4 Life Virtual Race Series. The race I registered for, the Fitsy Bitsy Spider 10k, needed to be run between October 28 and November 3.

Earlier in September, I received a package in the mail and had no idea what it was, since I usually track all my purchases and didn’t remember ordering anything that would be delivered at that time.  Well, the package was my medal for this race.  It was wrapped in bubble wrap and I kept it like that and placed it on my nightstand.  I decided I wouldn’t open it until AFTER I raced and registered my time for the race. I mean, I didn’t really earn the medal before I completed the race, so I shouldn’t open it and add it to my collection, right?  The thing with virtual races are that they are all based on the honor system.  I am an honest person and I hope others are as well, but at the end of the day, all that matters is I acted in an honorable way.

Oprah-on-Integrity

So, I ran my 10k on Monday, October 28th.  I was only planning on doing 5 miles that morning, but I was feeling pretty good so I figured I would finish strong.

fitsy bitsy 10k

Sorry for the blurry picture, it was hard to focus and hold my phone still while panting 🙂  6.2 miles in 49:31, so a 7:52 pace.  Overall, I was really happy with this time.  I had NO calf pain at all, so that was above all else the greatest part of the run.

My bib for the event was really cute!

bib-fitsy

I received this cool metal that I’m excited to add to my collection.

fitsy bitsy spider medal

And I even received a certificate of completion!

fitsy certificate

Overall, I thought this was a fun idea.  I definitely felt more motivated when I decided that this run was going to be for a race and that my time would be recorded versus me just going out for a regular run.  I definitely will do another virtual race again.  While the environment is of course, much different from an in person race, the concept is pretty cool and it was a  fun change of pace for me.

 

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Questions of the day

Have you ever run a virtual race? Thoughts?  If not, do you want to? 

Pumpkin carving…

I absolutely LOVE Halloween.  There is something about living in New England during this time of year, it is magical.  The cool, crisp air, the smell of wood burning fireplaces, it is all in full effect now. Since we went pumpkin picking last weekend, we had three pumpkins that needed carving.

I was really excited about carving pumpkins this year, more so than in years past because I thought Ashton would be really into it. My mom even bought him this great sticker set so he could put stickers on his pumpkin and be involved.  So, Robyn set up a table in the basement so we didn’t have to worry about making a big mess upstairs (again, anticipating bigger involvement by Ashton.)  You wanna know what happened?  Well here is a picture montage of the events as they unfolded.

PicMonkey Collage1

Ashton started strong and was really interested.  He ran into the game room, saw the pumpkin and his eyes lit up.  He even got into his chair, picked up his pumpkin and sat in the chair with it, it was adorable!  I was sure he was going to love decorating his first pumpkin.  He intently watched Robyn carve out the top.

PicMonkey Collage2

Robyn sat down with him and Ashton was unsure of what to do with the pumpkin.  He quickly learned he could pull the top off and he did it about 50 times.  He wanted nothing to do with pulling out the insides of the pumpkin, so I did that, but he did humor me and put some stickers on his pumpkin.

PicMonkey Collage3

Then, he pulled the stickers off the pumpkin and realized he could pull the top off and eat it, and it had flavor!  He proceeded to make Robyn and I eat it with him, for about 10 minutes.  Then, as if a light switch went off, he was done!  And that was it!

Robyn and I carved the pumpkins when he went to bed and I am really happy at how they turned out!

pumpkins

I love the way they look outside! I don’t know why the picture is so small, but take my word for it, they look great 🙂  This is our first Halloween in our new house and I look forward to so many more!!

outside

Now, while I loved how our pumpkins came out and we had a lot of laughs with Ashton while doing it, I think this was the best masterpiece ever carved…we took this last year and is one of my favorite pictures!! 🙂

 

ash in a pumpkin

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Question of the day

Do you carve pumpkins or have an annual Fall/Halloween tradition?

The most important workout to improve your running speed

If you want to become a faster runner, you have to train at a faster pace.  It seems pretty simple and logical right?  I am by no means an expert on running, I have only been running since March 2010, but I feel like I’ve learned quite a lot over these past few years and I read a lot on running everyday to become the best version of myself when I run.

expert in anything was once a beginner

Over the past month or so, I’ve been asked a handful of times about my tempo runs.  Now, in all honestly, I never incorporated anything but easier pace runs to build endurance until well after my first half and full marathon.  My goals were to just finish those races without stopping.  However, my goals are now a bit different so I have been incorporating tempo, speed work, intervals, hills, and anything else I can do to build my strength, speed and endurance.  As far as tempos go, I personally do these runs every Wednesday and really enjoy them.

A tempo run is a faster pace workout also referred to as a threshold run.  The purpose of this run is to improve our metabolic fitness by increasing our lactate threshold (LT,) which is the point that our body fatigues at a certain pace.  The physiology behind tempo runs are that they train the cardio-respiratory system and muscular systems to efficiently absorb, deliver, and utilize oxygen while removing carbon dioxide and lactic acid from the systems.   In doing so, we train our bodies to perform at a faster pace with less effort.

Tempo

According to Runner’s World, many running experts believe that tempo runs are the single most important workout you can do to improve your speed for any race distance.  However, they do go on to say that not all runner will benefit equally from these kinds of runs.  Those running 15k’s through marathons will see the biggest benefit because performance at these distances is determined by a runner’s LT pace.  So, if your goal is to run a faster half marathon, a 6-8 mile tempo run should be your goal, while if you are looking to run a faster  full marathon, 8-10 miles should be your target.

The most important aspect of these runs is finding and maintaining a specific and consistent pace, something I still struggle at times to master.  These runs are done at a “comfortably” hard pace.  A good rule of thumb for finding your target pace for these runs is to add 30-40 seconds to your current 5k pace or 15-10 second to your 10k pace.  Remember, these runs should be comfortably hard, so you should be able to talk in very short bursts, you should not be able to have a conversation.

So now that you have ALL this info, you may be wondering, how do I do a tempo run?  Well, you always want to warm up first. For my last half marathon, I was doing 6-8 mile tempo runs, so I would always warm up for 1 mile at around a 9:00 pace, then I start my scheduled distance at my tempo pace, which was between an 8:02-8:15 pace.  Once I hit my scheduled mileage, I would do a 1 mile cool down around a 9:00 pace.  The warm up and cool down is critical.  I would also recommend trying to do these runs on flat terrain, so it is easier to maintain a consistent pace.  If you live in a really hilly area, you may want to try a run or two on a treadmill at first to see how you should be feeling during these runs before you take it outside.  Incorporating these runs into your training schedule should help you get stronger and faster, and you may even find you enjoy this kind of training, I know I do!

Good luck and have fun!!

 

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Question of the day

Do you do tempo runs? If so, how often? Any additional tips or tricks you can add?

 

 

Getting back on track, trying something new and failing miserably!

Towards the end of my half marathon training I knew I wanted to clean up my diet a bit.  I don’t eat poorly by any means, but I was not eating as clean as I had previously and instead of eating a meal, I’d find myself all too often reaching for a protein bar or something else processed like pretzels instead of fruit or veggies.  While I am a big believer in everything in moderation, I think being smack in the middle of my busy season at work and at the end of my training led to some habits that to me, were unhealthy.  I had already committed to making November my month to clean things up in my diet (more on that later), but then this Groupon crossed my email for a  3-day juice cleanse. I have never been big on these fad diets or cleanses, again, everything in moderation is a good way to live, but I had a few friends who recently did the Blueprint Cleanse and really loved it, so I researched this particular Groupon a bit more. Then, in a moment of throwing caution to the wind, I bought it.  Why?  Well, I am willing to try almost anything (within reason) once and I was curious to see what the hype around it was all about.  Robyn made me homemade juice every single morning during my first trimester of pregnancy and I loved it, so I figured, why not?  I will get to try some new flavors of juices, maybe some ideas I can made myself with our juicer at home, get some good nutrients and get me ready for my November diet clean up.  Worse case scenario, it’s ONLY 3 days, so if I hate it, I know it will be over quickly.  Throughout the cleansing process, I took notes so I could fill you in on my thoughts.  So, here’s how it all went.

The Groupon I purchased was for a 3-day juice cleanse from Jus by Julie, a company out of NY.  I scheduled my delivery for Tuesday, October 22nd and was excited to come home and see it waiting for me. I opened it up and was excited.

jus delivery

It came in this great reusable zippered bag, which I will definitely be re purposing for grocery shopping.  Here’s a pic of all 18 juices.  They were banded by day, which made it really easy to pull out one day and repack for work.

all the juice

 

Day 1 – Carrying the juices to work felt like a little luxury. It’s amazing what a little change in routine does for the mind.  My juicing schedule was:  6am Morning Glory (a  green juice with kale, romaine, spinach, apples, strawberries and bananas), 9am Spicy Pome-nade (pomegranate, lemons, cayenne pepper and maple syrup), 12pm Sweet Spin (another green juice with spinach, kale, pineapple, bananas, and mango) , 3pm Chia Berry (Strawberry, lemon and chia seeds), 6pm Sweet Spin, and 9pm Island Coconut (coconut, date and cinnamon).

Of all the juices, the Morning Glory was hard to choke down, all I could taste was the greens.  It’s texture was really course and even after shaking it a lot, there was a lot of pulp, which normally I LOVE, but in this case made it worse.  Being that it was the first juice of the day, I was hoping the rest wouldn’t be a disaster too.  Overall, I felt fine just drinking the juices during the day and never felt famished.  This may or may not have been because I was also slammed at work and barely had time to think about eating, but either way I was okay.  I did continue to workout through the cleanse and did a 11 mile bike ride in the am and some stretching and felt good.

My favorite drink on Day 1, hands down was the Chia Berry.  OMG, it was delicious and I would love to drink it every single day.   Around 6 pm I did get really hungry, which was hard because I was just getting home with Ashton and Robyn was cooking dinner.  I started to feel a little bit light-headed so during dinner, I did have some lettuce and a few small bites of a homemade crab cake and I felt much better.  While I am up for trying new things, I wasn’t about to pass out for the cause!  I went to bed feeling fine.

Day 2 – I woke up feeling like I slept like a rock.  I am not sure if it was because I worked until 10 p.m. the night before or if it was the juicing, but I felt great.  My juices for the day were: 6am Morning Glory, 9am Spicy Lemonade (lemons, cayenne pepper and maple syrup), 12pm Sweet Spin, 3pm Acai Blend (Acai, Strawberry, and Banana,) 6pm Sweet Spin, 9pm Not so Chunky (peanut butter, banana and water.)

I couldn’t drink the Morning Glory. I took a few sips and gagged, so I ended up not drinking the first juice.  I got into work and ran almost 4.5 miles and felt pretty good throughout the day, but I was a little hungrier than day 1, likely because of the distance of my run.  I missed eating my food.  I was supposed to teach my weekly Group Power class, but had a conflict so I didn’t teach, which I am very grateful for, as I am not sure if I would have been able to make it through on so little calories, especially given I had already run in the morning.  The Acai Blend was really good and I’d definitely want to drink that one again.  I skipped the Sweet Spin at 6pm because I had a major headache and was feeling weak.  I ended up eating dinner with the boys, just a little bit of broccoli and some cheese tortellini. Clearly we are seeing a pattern here aren’t we? Only two days of this and I can only make it to dinner time.  I had the Not so Chunky drink before I went to bed and by far, that was my favorite.  I am a sucker for anything with pb and banana, so it’s really no shock that I devoured that drink in like 3 seconds flat and was left wishing there was more.

Day 3 -Once again, I woke up feeling like I slept much more than the 8 hours I actually slept, but I was HANGRY (hungry+angry).  At this point, I knew that it was my last day so I was going to try and get through the day as best as I could.  My juices for the day were: 6am Morning Glory, 9am Spicy Pome-nade, 12pm Sweet Spin, 3pm Chia Berry, 6pm Sweet Spin, and 9pm Almond Breeze (almonds, dates, cinnamon.)

Again, I didn’t even attempt the Morning Glory based on my last two experiences with it, so I substituted it with the Sweet Spin that I skipped yesterday.  I missed the 9am drink because I was at a Dr’s appointment but drank it when I got home around 11ish.  I got into a great groove working so I didn’t have my “lunch” until 2:15pm, but decided I was more in the mood for the Almond Breeze than another Sweet Spin, so that is what I had.  It was pretty tasty.  I finished up my day and went for a short 2 mile run with my sister-in-law.  I knew dinner was on the horizon and we were having my father in law over for pizza.  Every Friday night is pizza night in our house AND we were having company, so what’s a girl to do?

Eat pizza and enjoy it!  At this point, mentally, I was done with the cleanse. I have a few extra juices I will enjoy over the next few days, but as of 8pm on Friday, I was done!

 

Final thoughts: 

The Good

  • Convenience: It was really easy to not have to think about what I was going to eat for 3 full days.  It was delivered to my front door, banded together so I knew what to drink when and there were no dishes to clean.
  • Motivation:  I think this was a great way to kick-start my plans to get back on a healthier eating routine and I feel more motivated than ever after spending money on this cleanse to keep up the healthy eating.
  • Variety: Variety is the spice of life and I was excited to taste some really great combinations that I wouldn’t have necessarily tried if I hadn’t done this cleanse and I am looking forward to recreating them in my kitchen with our juicer.

The Bad

  • Cost:  This 3-day juice cleanse was priced normally at $150 plus $35 shipping, so broken out, it costs about $62 a day. This clearly is not a cheap activity and I can guarantee that if I didn’t have a Groupon plus an additional discount from Groupon already in my account, I would not have tried this.  I also think that if you do enough research and have a juicer, you could make these juices yourself for MUCH cheaper, but you of course would lose out on the convenience factor.
  • Decreased Energy, headaches:  While I still worked out during the cleanse, I definitely didn’t have the energy I am used to when working out and was thankful that I didn’t have to teach my normal weekly Group Power class, as I don’t think I would have had the energy to power through it.  The headache that came on the 2nd day was pretty bad too.  Overall lethargy is not something I enjoy, hence the reason I did eat some dinner each night.

Overall, I’d say my juice cleanse was an interesting experience. I thought I would feel revived and refreshed from it, but I honestly don’t feel much different than I did before the cleanse.  If anything, it did give me the motivation to continue with a cleaner, healthier diet and try to recreate some of the recipes at home.  I am glad I gave this a try, since it was something that had piqued my interest for quite some time, but I personally don’t think it is something I will do again.  I mean, come on, I ate something every single day when I was only supposed to be drinking!  It’s pretty clear that drinking all my meals was not ideal for me.  I didn’t like the headaches and light headed feeling I had and I also feel like such drastic calorie restrictions is not good for anyone, especially those who love to exercise like me.

 

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Question of the day

Have you ever tried any sort of cleanse? If yes, did you like it? If not, do you want to try one?

Things I’m loving…

Hi!! Happy Friday! This has been a very demanding week for me at work and I have felt fairly scattered and spread thin.  I have a good post scheduled for tomorrow once I am finished with the activity (stay tuned!), so I thought I would talk about the things I am currently loving and maybe it will be a reoccurring post.

 

 

birchbox

I’ve been getting Birchbox for about a year now and I absolutely LOVE coming home to find a little gift waiting for me each month.  I get to try out products, 90% of which I have never hear of before and would likely never have purchased for myself.  It’s such a treat and it’s only $10 a month.  Well worth the price for a little bit of pampering if you ask me!

 

I wear these flats almost everyday at work.  I love how comfy, classic and versatile they are.  I especially like that I can throw them on in the morning after a long, hard run and they never hurt my feet, always a plus when you are running back and forth between meetings all day long.

 

netflix

We have had Netflix for about 3-4 years now, so clearly we like it, but I have found myself watching a whole host of new shows via the online streaming. I especially love this when I am running on the treadmill, it makes my runs go by SO fast!  Plus, some of the new shows I am watching are SO addicting!

 

  • Fall Foliage

MA foliage

I’ve said it a million times before, but I truly believe I live in one of the most gorgeous states.  The crisp, cool Fall weather coupled with the foliage is indescribable.  There is nothing better than seeing this every single day, it just makes me smile and appreciate the day.

 

 

Runner’s World Announced this week on the Facebook page that on June 6-8, 2014 they are coming to Newton, MA for the inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half  & Festival.  This is right in my backyard so I am SO excited!!  I had some friends who did the festival last week in Bethlehem, PA and raved at how great it was, so I was over the moon when they announced this. They have multiple-race options: the Hat Trick (5K, 10K, and Half Marathon) or the Five & Dime (5K and 10K).  How cool is this?  I cannot wait for June!

 

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Question of the day

What are you loving right now?

 

 

 

 

 

First post race run

Following my half marathon on Sunday, I cross trained by biking for the past 3 days.  Today, I decided I was going to give running a try.  In my head, I was expecting my legs to revolt, so my expectations were low.  I knew I was going to run on the treadmill because it was just too cold for me this morning and I haven’t been able to swallow without discomfort for a few days.  I was hoping to get 2 miles in and then I would bike, but something magical happened….one mile passed with no pain, then two, then three…I ended up deciding not to push my luck and stopped at 4.33 miles.  I finished in 35:48, which included a warm up and cool down, not too shabby!  And this is exactly how I felt…nail a workout

I had NO tightness or pain while running!!  I don’t know if it is because I allowed my body to recover over the past 3 days, if it was all the foam rolling, icing and stretching I have done, a combo of all of the above, or just luck, but I will take it!  I needed a run like this this morning.  My work has been insane, I worked until 10 p.m. last night and that is a long day considering I leave my house by 5:30 a.m. everyday.  Right now, I am smack in the middle of my busiest time of the year and I have been very stressed, so to be able to get all my stress and anxiety out before I walk into the office just makes me able to do my job with a smile.  I cannot begin to tell you the high I am still on right now as I sit here writing this post!  I hope you have a wonderful Thursday, only one more day until the weekend!

 

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Question of the day

Have you felt like the little boy in that picture above recently?

 

A Fall Tradition: Pumpkin Picking

I love the Fall, Halloween and creating traditions, so pumpkin picking is a given in our household.  Robyn and I have been going pumpkin picking for years and we have a pumpkin carving contest every year to see who carves the best design–we love a little healthy competition, although I will admit I have NO artistic talent!  Last year we took Ashton pumpkin picking, but he was far too young to understand or engage in the activity so I was really excited for this year, knowing the experience would be much different.  We go to this little pick your own pumpkin farm called Breezy Gardens.

pumpkin sign

We like that this is a small, family owned farm.  It offers free hayrides to the pumpkin patch, a place for the little ones to decorate their pumpkins, face painting, a bouncy slide and some goats to feed.  We arrived and immediately jumped onto the hayride.  Ashton paid very close attention to where we were going.

Robyn-Ash hayride

Once we got to the pumpkin patch, Ashton was off like a bolt of lightning.

Ash running through patch

He loved running up and down the tarp looking and pointing at all the pumpkins.  Robyn eventually had to step in and corral him a bit because he kept running through the patch and tripping on all the vines on the ground.

Robyn-Ash walking

Eventually, Ashton came up to a group of pumpkins that caught his eye.

Picking pumpkin

Ash grabbing pumpkin

It doesn’t take much for me to give into those green eyes, so we found ourselves with a trio of perfect pumpkins to bring home and carve and decorate!

We are going to wait until this weekend to do our pumpkin carving/decorating because we did it too early last year and we had to throw out our pumpkins before Halloween because they went bad.  My mom bought Ashton this super cute pumpkin decorating set this year, so I am looking forward to his very first decorating session, one of many more to come!  I have always loved the traditions Robyn and I created when it was just the two of us, but now having Ashton there to participate makes it so much more fun. He finds so much joy in the little things, and that is what life is all about, right?  I hope you are enjoying the little things!

 

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Question of the day

Do you have any Fall holiday traditions?

Anyone else love carving pumpkins?

A Spooky date night

Robyn texted me and asked if I was interested in going to Witch’s Woods, and of course, my response was “YES!”  My reaction was no surprise to him, not only is Halloween my most favorite holiday of the year, but in the almost 20 months we have had our little monster, we have only been out once, yes, I said ONCE without him!!  I was in need of some adult only fun so, I got in touch with my sister-in-law and arranged for my niece Ariella to come over and babysit,and we were in business.  We ate dinner, gave Ashton and bath and read to him, then put him asleep before sneaking out of the house for a double date with our friends Jay & Michelle.  We drove the 30ish miles to Witch’s Woods and I was excited to see what they had in store for us.  I wanted to take pictures, but of course, it was super dark, so all pics are courtesy of Witch’s Woods.

Witches_Woods-51-1024x682

Witch’s Woods is a Halloween theme park that has three haunted houses, a haunted hayride, and a little carnival.  When we arrived, we went to go pick up the tickets we ordered online in advance.  We quickly got our tickets, took a few pieces of Halloween candy from the bins (they got serious brownie points there) and were off.   Since we were already in the middle of the majority of the entertainment, we decided to start with the 3-D Keeper’s Crypt.  We waited in line for about 10 minutes but between talking and watching the horror-movies on display, it went by quickly and it was finally our turn.   We put on our 3-D Glasses and entered.  I have to say, this was my favorite of the haunted houses.  I was actually scared and screamed a few times, as was Michelle, who said my name loudly, which in turn made me the center of all the characters attention as they chanted my name until we were through the rest of the attraction, good times!  The 3-D aspect was really, really cool and they did a great job with it.

Next we went to the Nightmare Mansion which was basically an insane asylum, home to a cursed family who have gone insane and don’t like visitors.  Again, we waited for about 10 minutes to go in, which went by quickly as we were all catching up and laughing at the boys making fun of our love of running and protein shakes.  This house was good, there were some parts that gave us a good scare, but it was definitely not as great as the 3-D house.

We had about 40 minutes before they stopped accepting people on the haunted hayride so we quickly made our way to the last haunted house, which was the Castle Morbid, a Medieval Castle where people chase you throughout the halls.  We waited about 10 minutes to get in here as well, but thankfully the weather was unseasonably warm in the 50’s, so the waiting outside wasn’t terrible and the lines were long, but moved fairly quick.  We also got to watch the awesome fire performers, which I am always in awe when I see!

Witchs woods

 

We went through the final house and then walked down through the woods on our way to the main attraction, the 20 minute long haunted h.  I absolutely LOVE haunted hayrides, so I was really looking forward to this part of the night.   On the way through the woods, we came across a Jack O’ Lantern village while displays rows upon rows of professional carved pumpkins which was REALLY cool!  They had everything from a Pumpkin carving of Obama to Sponge Bob and everything in between. I have NO artistic talent, so to see what people could carve into a pumpkin was beyond cool to me!

 

Witches_Woods-jack o lanters

We finally made it down the path to the haunted h and we got the last 4 seats on the tour.  We were sitting at the very back of the hayride, which at first I thought were going to be bad seats, but ended up being the best seats in the house!  Bella Donna was our hayride conductor and she was amazing.  She spoke throughout the entire 20 minutes, giving us a great story about the town, the people, etc.  Her voice was magical and you could tell she really loved her job!

bella-donna hayride conductor

As we drove through the town, the actors came out from every angle.  Being in the back was great because they actually paid the most attention to us and were chasing after us a lot.  They decorated the town perfectly and had life like scenes all over the place that complemented the story being told.

 

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The guys with the chain saws are always my favorite and they didn’t disappoint.  Overall, the hayride was my favorite, and everyone agreed!  While at first, I thought the tickets were a bit pricey ($32 a piece,) we all felt in the end, it was worth it.  We all had such a great time and it was a much-needed night out with friends, filled with lots of screaming and laughing…what more can you ask for?
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Question of the day

Whats your favorite holiday?

Do you like being scared? 

Baystate 1/2 Marathon Recap

I went to bed around 9:45 on Saturday night and set my alarm for 5:00 a.m., but ended up waking up at 4:45a.m., so I tiptoed out of our bedroom to the spare room where I laid my clothes out the night before.

race outfit

I quickly got dressed, brushed my teeth, and got ready so I could get on the road.  I had packed my bag and food in the car the night before so I could get on the road by 5:30 a.m.  I was pretty hungry on the ride to Lowell, so I ate my peanut butter Clif bar and sipped on some water.

I arrived in Lowell at 6:30 a.m.  and quickly found the garage I wanted to park in.  We were strongly encouraged to arrive 90 minutes early due to traffic.  I was able to get a prime parking space since I didn’t park at the Tsongas Arena parking garage.  I got my back and set out on my 1/2 mile or so walk to the Lowell High School so I could warm up.  The school was already buzzing with energy as there were quite a few hundred people already gathered in the cafeteria and the hallways.  I wanted to get in line for the bathroom so I didn’t have to use a port a potty outside, but after waiting in a line for 30 minutes only to reach the front and find they were out of toilet paper AND paper towels, I ended up in a port a potty.  I also made a last-minute decision to switch from shorts into my CW-X tights and that was one of the smartest decisions I made since it was pretty windy and cold outside.

I made my way to the right hand side of the street when the half-marathoners were supposed to start.  They didn’t have official time corals which made things a little unorganized in the small area that was designated for us, rather they had signs for 6:00 pace, 7:00, etc.  My goal pace was to stay in the 8’s as much as I could, so I lined up in that 8:00 corral towards the middle.  I did my dynamic stretches, ate a Gu and wished for the best.  After a moment of silence for those affected in the Boston Marathon bombings, we were off.  It took me about 45 seconds or so to cross the start line .  Mile 1 was pretty good, while it was congested in the streets because of the sheer number of people and the fact that the lanes we had to run in were small, I was thankful for the slower start.  I have  tendency to go out faster than I should, so even though I kept telling myself to slow down, I was happy for the crowd of people who wouldn’t allow me to speed ahead.  My calves felt tight, but not awful.  While I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I had in the past 2-3 weeks of training, on a scale of 1-10, I was probably at a 6.  I was constantly reminded of them with every step, but as I looked down at my Garmin, I was surprised that I was maintaining a pretty decent pace.

The course itself left something to be desired.  It was a double loop.  While I have never done a race with a course like this, I can now say, they are not my favorite.  Seeing an area and knowing I wasn’t even halfway done is not something I enjoy.  It was also tough to see signs saying mile 12 for half marathoners when you are just on the first loop is tough.  The terrain of this race is touted as  flat, however, there are definitely at least 4 hill climbs that I can remember in this course, especially as we ran the bridges crossing the Merrimack River.

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However, while the course wasn’t ideal, the spectators and the volunteers were UNBELIEVABLE!! We couldn’t have asked for better, seriously, those kids who were handing out water and Gatorade at the stops and all the people who were cheering everyone on, not just their loved ones were amazing!  I was so thankful to have them there cheering for me like I was the one they were there for.

My goal prior to my calf problems was to run a sub 1:50.  I ran my last half marathon in October 2010 (I cannot believe it has seriously been 3 years since I have raced) and finished with a time of 1:55:57.  I had the perfect training plan put together to achieve my new goal, but, I had to modify my expectations going into this race.  So, my revised goals were to run a sub 2:00 (with the hopes of every mile being in the 8’s)  and not stop running.  Simple goals that I hoped I could accomplish.  Below is a shot from my Garmin Connect of the race. baystate half splits

Overall, I am fairly happy with how this looks given how I felt.  I can’t say I am thrilled, because I am disappointed I had to readjust my expectations, but such is life.  I stayed pretty consistent in my pace throughout, although I wish miles 9, 10 and 13 didn’t have 9’s in the front, but what can you do?  Between mile 7 and 8 we had to stop running due to a medical emergency.  The cops wouldn’t let us pass as they kept the road open for the ambulance to show up and pass through.  I think it had to be someone on the full course as we had split from them around mile 5.  Nevertheless, I estimate I lost about 30 seconds, but you can never anticipate these events from happening and I hope whoever was in distress is okay.  I was really hurting when I hit the 10 mile marker.  I had taken Gu’s at miles 4.5 and 8.5, so I was hoping my last Gu would kick in, but I never felt that surge I was hoping for.  I just kept telling myself only 3 more miles to go.  The last few miles were the toughest.  I was tired, my calves and hip flexors were tight and I just wanted to be done.  When I took the final left turn to the finish line I was so happy to be almost done.  I passed through the finish line as fast as my legs could muster and was immediately given a bottle of water and my space blanket and walked a little further to get my medal.  My official time was 1:56:16.

email from baystateNot a PR, but I was nonetheless happy I finished, I ran a sub 2:00, I didn’t stop once (with the exception of a forced stop) and almost all my miles were in the 8’s.  That is something to be celebrated!

baystate medal

I made my way down to the food area, even though I didn’t think I could do anything but sip a little bit of water.  I was FREEZING though, so I grabbed a hot bowl of minestrone soup to warm up (what a perfect post race idea) and grabbed a PowerBar for later. I tried to stretch, but at this point walking was enough.  My calves were tight as a rock and trying to stretch them was too much at the moment and my hip flexors were also really tight.  I decided to just head back to my car for the drive home.  After sitting in the car for an hour, I thought I was ready to consume a bit more calories, so I stopped into my favorite place for a tall, non-fat, sugar free Salted Caramel Mocha.

post race treat

Ahhhh, it hit the spot.  When I got home, I was greeted by my two favorite guys. I got some snuggles and kisses before Ash took his nap and I took a glorious shower, iced my calves and got caught up on a few of my favorite tv shows!  I finally felt like some food around 2:30 p.m. so I had a snack and then we went off to pick some pumpkins.  All in all, a great Fall weekend!

 

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Question of the day

Do you like to eat immediately or do you need time before eating post race?