#GirlsGoneSporty Ambassador

Good morning!!  I am excited to let you all in on a little great news!  I finally got around to checking my email (it’s been a few weeks..I blame the Boston Marathon :)) and I was notified that I was selected as a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador!!

GGS

I was SO excited to hear this because this group of women are AWESOME!!  If you haven’t heard about GGS before, it is “an online editorial magazine and a social community for women dedicated to living and leading sporty lives. In addition to providing cutting-edge content, we’re committed to creating a support system for women who are striving to be their best selves.”

As an ambassador this is what is expected from me: Our Ambassadors form a network of sporty women who band together to focus on positive health. Studies have shown two things: 1) healthy living is contagious, and 2) healthy living is not just about weight loss. While we recognize that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is important, weight and appearance are not cornerstones of our belief system, and we want to encourage women everywhere to embrace whole health and an attitude of adventure – body, mind, spirit and lifestyle – right where they are now.

This is everything I love and advocate for so I’m really excited and honored to be a part of this awesome group!

 

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Question of the day

Anyone else here a GGS Ambassador?

 

 

What’s next?

Hey friends–Happy Monday!  I want to start off by saying THANK YOU!!  I read through each of your amazing comments after my Boston Marathon recaps and I cannot tell you how much they meant to me.  I have said this before, but I feel SO lucky to have met all you wonderful people, so thank you!!

So….I am sitting here 7 days post marathon and of course, I am thinking, what is next on my fitness journey.  Following a marathon, many runners fall into the post-marathon blues.  It’s really common because for months, we have had a training plan in place and a goal to motivate us, but now that you have reached your goal, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to do next.  I know for me, it’s not another full marathon (Boston was my last full.) I am planning on doing some other races this year and want to dip my toe into trail running, but I really want to focus on other things, not just running.  I will still of course run, just not the mileage I was pulling during this past training cycle.  I had been giving this some thought for the weeks leading up to Boston on my next steps.  I know that they most effective goals are SMART ones: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed.

Following my first marathon, I jumped into the Insanity program and absolutely LOVED it and got incredible results.  While I loved that program, I wanted to try something different that was a bit shorter and still allowed me to run and do other cross training activities I love, especially since the weather is getting nicer.  My last marathon was at the end of October, so I had all Winter to stay indoors and do my Insanity videos–now that Spring is here (I hope) and Summer is just around the corner, I want to soak up the good weather as much as possible.

I have been sitting on my T25 program for a few months.  I got it before the holidays but then started to train for Boston and put it away.  Well, I am pulling it back out and I have enlisted my SIL to do it with me.  We each have the program and we will keep each other accountable and motivated!

t25I already know I love Shaun T’s workouts, so I am hoping I love the whole T25 program.  I am a big fan of HIIT workouts, so I think this is a good fit.  I can easily do the T25 program (it’s only 25 mins a day) plus get some running, spinning, lifting, core work and yoga classes in during the week, and spend the weekends outdoors chasing after Ashton, hiking, and just enjoying the good weather, which is important to me right now.   The T25 program is broken out into 2 cycles that are 5 weeks long each.

The first phase is the Alpha Phase that includes:

  • Cardio  25 minutes of calorie-burning, sweat-drenching cardio.
  • Speed 1.0  Ignite your quickness. Burn the fat. Fast-paced for fast results.
  • Total Body Circuit  Focus on strength and resistance—without lifting a single weight.
  • Ab Intervals  Cardio and ab intervals that shred the fat from your midsection.
  • Lower Focus  Focus on your lower-body muscles—the key to burning fat

The second phase is the Beta Phase that includes:

  • Core Cardio This progressive cardio-core workout is about you getting shredded fast.
  • Speed 2.0 Rev it all the way up with Shaun’s calorie-scorching, core-focused speed drills.
  • Rip’T Circuit Cardio…upper body…legs…abs…repeat! This is how you get ripped in 25 minutes.
  • Dynamic Core  You’ll go from vertical to horizontal and back again in this dynamic, crazy core routine.
  • Upper Focus  Shaun will help you develop the upper body of your dreams. All you have to do is FOCUS.

There is a 3rd “expansion” phase called the Gamma phase.  I will make a determination once I hit the Beta phase if I want to add that in or move on to something else.  What I love about programs like this is that there is still a program to follow. I can cross off the days and workouts and I still feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose.  I am not one of those people who just just go to the gym and decide when I show up what I will do for a workout, so a program like this is ideal for me.

So, week 1 starts…TODAY.  I did the Cardio workout this morning followed by a nice 2 mile run.  Here is the first phase and I will recap the past week of workouts on Monday’s like usual.  I also want to get back into doing core work at least 3x a week, I fell of that bandwagon during my marathon training, so wish me luck and if you see me slacking on it, PLEASE call me out on it!!

Focus_T25_Alpha_Schedule_Page_1

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Question of the day

Have you done an “at home” workout program like this?  Which one? Love it/hate it?

 

Boston Marathon Recap Part 2

So, I left off in Wellesley.  This was probably my favorite part of the course.  When they talk about the screaming girls of Wellesley, they weren’t joking.  They were so loud and energetic. I continued my high fiving and was offered more kisses than ever before in my life. I  saw a lot of people stopping to give the girls kisses, I just watched and laughed as I passed by!

wellesley girls

There was a pretty steep decline and then an incline that comes quickly after.  I remember eating another GU at the 15 mile mark and I was still stopping and walked through every water station to drink, I was really starting to feel the heat around mile 15.

From mile 15-16ish are the Wellesley hills, they weren’t too awful, but after you cross Route 9, you hit a half-mile long descent that is the longest in the course.   Then you get to Route 128 and you get to climb for 3/4 of a mile until you reach Beacon St in Newton.  It was right around this point that my IT bands were tightening up (thanks hills) and I felt like I was starting to lose steam but I told myself to just keep moving.  I was now in the single digits for miles left to complete.  I was letting the crowd carry me and reminding myself that I COULD do this, that I TRAINED to do this and it was SUPPOSED to be hard.

I knew one of my friends Hung would be hanging around the mile 17 marker at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital area.  I remember passing the Power Bar stand at mile 17 and kept trying to find my friend, but unfortunately, I didn’t get to see him.  Before I knew it, I was running downhill for the next mile to the Newton Fire Station.  By mile 18, my left inner quad was spasming and seizing up.  I stopped quickly to try and massage it and had to keep moving. I was afraid if I had stopped for too long, I wouldn’t be able to start back up.  I didn’t feel tired, that was the worst part, my legs were just angry.  Again, I tried to turn my attention to the crowd, they were many deep and just amazing.  They were handing out water, banana pieces, and freeze pops.  Some were even spraying us with water as we ran by because it was getting so hot and some young kids were passing out Twizzlers and pretzel rods.

At this point, I looked up and noticed a fairly steep hill in front of me, I knew we were near Boston College as kids were all decked out in the BC gear and I was offered more than 1 beer.  Gotta love those college kids!! I was still really hurting and after I finished that hill, there was another that was about 1/4 mile long.  I was slowing down a lot and had to dig deep.  There was a fairly flat mile or so where I just kept telling myself that I had to make it to mile 20 to see my next set of friends on the course.  It was mentally really hard not to see people you know on the course, especially when you are struggling.  I knew my family was all at the end of the course so I was really looking forward to seeing some friendly faces earlier on in the course.

I remember passing the Newton City Hall and then was slapped with a third hill.  I made it almost to the top and had to walk the last few steps, I just couldn’t do it.  I had to collect myself.  I felt like I wasn’t even inside my own body.  I knew I wasn’t hitting the dreaded wall though.  I had fueled perfectly, I had done everything I was supposed to, but I think the combination of the heat and the course was getting the best of me.  I had lost track of the hills at this point, I thought I had two more.  I took a deep breath, gave myself a pep talk and told myself to just get this done.  I passed through a little town center of shops and saw another hill.  I put my head down and put one foot in front of the other.  I wouldn’t call what I was doing running, rather shuffling but I made it to the top of that hill without stopping.  When I finally crested that hill, I saw this huge banner that said:

heartbreak

The Heartbreak is over.  I was so confused…I thought I had one more hill.  Not that I was complaining at all!!  At this point we were at mile 20 so I took another round of ENERGYbits and a GU.  There was only a 10k left.  At this point I was taking the course fuel station by fuel station and kept chanting “You can do this” and “one foot in front of the other, DO NOT STOP!” over and over again.  After being relieved that HBH was over, there was a 1/2 mile downhill that just killed my IT bands.  I was cramping so much but had to keep moving.  I was looking for my friends after mile 20 but again, didn’t see them.  There were just too many people in the crowds to make out anyone.  I was thankful the crowds were still going strong though and they were great about looking right at you and saying motivational things like “You’ve got this” or “Do not give up, you just have a 10k left.”  I thanked them and tried to give them a smile, I wish they knew how much this helped.

We hit Brookline at mile 23 and after I drank some Gatorade, I continued to walk through the fueling stations and for another minute or so.  I had 2 more miles until I hit the Hotel Commonwealth where my family was going to be.  I HAD to get there.  I felt like my legs were not part of my body.  How could my IT bands and quad be hurting like this?  I knew the hills were going to be bad, but I think the heat and loss of salt played a large part in how I was feeling too.  Dead legs was the best way to describe how I was feeling.  I remember not feeling angry though, at one point, I looked over and saw one of the many blind runners tethered to their guide and said “Great job, keep going.”  I tried to say this to everyone who was running with a guide or walking/struggling to keep moving throughout the course.  I think it helped them as much as it helped me.

I kept moving forward, hitting a bunch of little hills and feeling like the end was so close but still SO freaking far away.  Almost delirious, I hit the mile 25 fuel station, took another GU, drank some more and put on my game face.  I was about to enter Kenmore Square and I knew I was going to finally see my family.  I was exhausted, playing games mentally in my head, calculating how much time I had left to run, trying to gauge the terrain in front of me.  I saw a sea of Orange and knew I found the MMRF cheer group.  I moved closer to the right side of the street so I would be up close.  They saw me coming and started screaming so loud.  I don’t know how I managed, but I smiled as big as I could and I saw my Mom and sister in the group cheering and smiling.  I was just SO happy to see a friendly face.  They took these pics as I was running by.

mile 25 marathon waving

How I managed a smile I don’t know, I remember thinking, finally, I saw them, I am ALMOST there.  I was in a lot of pain, I was exhausted and I just wanted to be done.  I ran for a couple more minutes, went under the underpass that was filled was spectators screaming at the top of their lungs and took a right onto Hereford Street. That was one of the most crowded areas of the whole course as we start inching towards the finish line.  I had to stop and walk again for about 20 seconds and give myself another pep talk.  I had one more turn to make, a left onto Boylston Street.  I took that left and saw the finish line, but it still felt miles away.  I quickly tried to regain my composure.  I focused on the finish line and didn’t let it leave my line of sight.  I  kept telling myself that I couldn’t stop until I crossed that line.  It felt like it took 20 minutes, you know in the movies when everything feels like it’s playing in slow motion, well, that is how I felt.  Every step felt slow, every movement felt heavy, but I gave that road everything I had left and I crossed that finish line and everything around me went quiet.

0014t

Did I really just finish the Boston Marathon?

0027tYup, looks like I did.  I got my medal and had this picture snapped.  For the first time in my life, I took a decent race pic. I’ve never purchased a race pic before because I always look awful in every race pic, but I am REALLY happy there were a couple of great (for me) pics to buy!

0008t

After stopping my Garmin and taking off my headphones I heard my name being yelled loudly, I looked to the left and saw Robyn and my nephew Tommy with huge smiles on their faces.  It was SO good to see them.  I stood and just looked at them for a minute when I let the fact that I had just finished the Boston Marathon, the race that has sat in the #1 place on my running bucket list for as long as I can remember sink in.  I may have been in a world of pain, I may have wanted to collapse on the ground and stay there for the rest of the day, but I did it!!  I walked over to Robyn and told him that I would meet him at the family finish area and he said okay.  I got my warmth jacket and a water.  I bypassed the food (I can’t eat after I run) and headed to the family meeting area.  Of course, it was by alphabetical order so I had a long walk ahead of me.  Finding my family could take up an entire post as it was pretty messy and ended with me having a bit of a meltdown, but I ended up having to walk an additional two miles AFTER the marathon to get to them because they weren’t allowed to cross over to the family meeting areas?!? But when I finally got to them,  it was so great to see everyone.

marathon Collage

After we snapped some pics, we made the trek to Back Bay and got on the 5:05 train to Framingham.  Robyn dropped Erica and I off at my car in Hopkinton and he went to pick up Ashton at daycare with the kids.  By the time everyone got home, I jumped into a hot Epsom salt bath at 7:45 p.m…and it was over.  All the months of training in the cold, countless sessions with my PT, hundreds of miles logged,  and early morning wake ups led me to this:

finish time

I didn’t hit my 4 hour time goal but I did PR the course and given how hard it was…I will take it and call it a win all around! I truly believe this is the best marathon in the world and I hope that everyone who wants to run it can by either qualifying or doing it through a charity, it was just THAT incredible!  I have been on the cheering side for years, but there is NOTHING that can compare to running this race. I feel so incredibly fortunate that I was able to run Boston.  This will be my last full marathon and there was no better race to end this distance at!

If you made it this far, you are amazing!  I want to thank each and every one of you for all the support you have given me over the past few months.  I love you guys!! Stay tuned for what’s next…but until then, have an awesome weekend!!

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Question of the day

How was your week?  What are your plans for the weekend?

Boston Marathon Recap Part 1

Howdy friends….I started to write out my recap and realized it would be insanely long, so I thought I’d break it out into two posts.  Even then, it is probably going to be a bit long, so sit back, grab a cup of coffee and read along!!

Let’s start on Sunday, the day before the race. It was a super busy day, not only did we have Easter (we hosted and did our annual Easter egg hunt) but I also went into the city to pick up my bib number.

bib pickup

The expo could warrant it’s own post, it was so amazing, but for the sake of time, I’m just going to say, I could have stayed there all day, it was like a runner’s heaven.  The only part that made me sad was that they sold out of Women’s small marathon jackets so I am going to have to order mine online.  After I got my bib number and race packet (along with a nice long sleeve tech shirt,) I headed to the Hilton where I got to meet all the awesome people on the MMRF team for a small get together and dinner.

MMRF team
We finished up around 5:30 p.m. and by the time I got home, it was close to 7:00 p.m. and I knew I wanted to make it an early night so I put EVERYTHING I would possibly want or need in my car the night before, leaving nothing to chance.  I laid out my clothes and I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday evening to ensure I got enough sleep. I was up at 4:12 a.m., even though my alarm was set for 4:50 a.m.  I followed my PTs guidance for hydration the day before and consumed 120 ounces of water and electrolytes, which is A LOT of liquid for me.  I’m lucky if I get half of that on a normal, good day.  So, I was up early bc I had to pee. Thankfully, I’m up around this time everyday anyways so I wasn’t tired when I got out of bed.

I had laid my clothes out in the second bathroom so I wouldn’t be making noise for Robyn when I got up. I fed Morgan and let him out, grabbed my pre-made drink in the fridge and hopped in the car.  Because I wasn’t driving into Boston to take the BAA buses, I had to get to Hopkinton before they closed the roads at 7 a.m. Hopkinton is only 27 miles from my house, but they said in every email communication that parking was EXTREMELY limited and once the lot was full, there was no other parking option, so I wanted to make sure I got a spot. Throughout the entire prep for the race in the last week, this was the only thing that was stressing me out.

Well, I flew into Hopkinton, there was no traffic on the Mass Pike and got a spot in the parking lot at 5:40 a.m.  Since I was not scheduled to start running until 11:25 am I had plenty of time to spare. I texted my husband so he knew I was there safe and started getting my gear together (putting on my Garmin, calf sleeves, socks, etc.) I listened to the radio, played on FB and Twitter and ate a Clif Bar. Around 6:15 a.m. the traffic picked up substantially and the lot started to fill up. At this point it was about 30 degrees out.  I checked the weather and when I was scheduled to start running it would be in the low 60’s. I stayed in my car where it was warm and talked to my sister in law Erica, read on my tablet and just relaxed until 9:20 a.m. then I hopped in the line for the shuttle. It took 30 mins to get through the line and security for the shuttle from the South St. parking lot to the Athlete’s Village. The bus ride was only 10 mins long and was so well organized and I sat next to a super nice woman from Salem, MA who was running her 4th Boston Marathon.  Once I got to the village, we wished each other well and that’s when things started getting real.

athletes village

I wasn’t nervous though, just excited. Once I walked through the entrance, it was like a sea of people.  I knew there was a lot of people running, 36,000, but I was instantly overwhelmed with the number of bodies spread out in front of me.   I immediately got into line for the bathroom and glad I did as I was in line for over 30 mins and by time I got through, I had about 5 mins until my corral was called to head out to the start!

When my corral was called out, we made the trek, about 1/2 mile,  to where we would wait for the gun to go off.  I talked to quite a few super nice runners, heard a bit about their stories and goals and one nice guy offered to snap a picture of me before we started.

right before start

I took my first round of ENERGYbits and decided to carry a bottle of water with me just in case I needed it.  The gun went off, I started my music and Garmin and we were on our way.  It was VERY packed.  The first mile people were walking.  Before we started I kept telling myself to go out slow and just enjoy this experience. I tend to get so caught up in trying to run that I don’t take in the scenery, I didn’t want that experience this race. I wanted to soak it all in, remember all the small and big moments.  I felt really good as we started out, my calves were great and I stuck in the right hand lane and decided to just stay there and not try and weave in and out as there were just too many people.  

The course starts with a decline immediately, so I knew I had to be conservative with my pace.  There was so much excitement and from the starting line, there were crowds on both sides of the street cheering like we were the elite athletes.  It was pretty awesome. Miles 1-3 went by and I was laughing, high fiving little kids and enjoying all the great signs.  I don’t think I heard one song playing through my headphones, it was just like white noise.  The crowd was loud and so amazing that they were the only thing I was focused on.  After mile 2, there were aid stations every mile.  It was much hotter than initially anticipated, so I immediately made the decision to hydrate at every single station.  I have never walked or stopped in a race before, so this was a first for me, but again, I wanted to play this race smart.  I really felt the heat kick in around mile 5 right before the Framingham train station, but I was still feeling great.  I took my first Roctane with some water and it was around this time as well when I got stung on the shoulder by something.  I didn’t see anything but something big and black flying fast into me, and then the burning sensation as I was swatting frantically.  I tried to stay calm and look down at my shoulder, but it was at a weird angle so all I was was a puncture area a bit bigger than a pin hole and the whole area around it was red.  It was stinging a lot at first, then it would come and go so I just tried to ignore it.  Luckily, I didn’t have any sort of reaction other than the stinging and redness (which is still red 3 days later.) 

 Even after the bite, I still hadn’t looked at my Garmin and was truly living in the moment.  I can’t lie though, I had to keep telling myself when the urge came to look at my watch that I needed to stay present.  I told myself I could look down at the half way mark or if I felt I was really starting to go too fast or lag behind, but I was feeling comfortable with my pace.  The crowds were still insane on both sides of the road and when we got into Framingham, the music was blasting and people were dancing and having a blast cheering us on.  By this point, I had to have high fived at least a hundred people and had a huge smile plastered on my face. I have never had so much fun during a race before.  The energy and love emanating from the crowd was just something that couldn’t be ignored. Just thinking back on this gives me the chills.

Before I knew it, we hit the half-way mark and I had made it though Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick and was entering Wellesley.  My half marathon time was 2:00:27 and I was still feeling amazing.  Here are my first 1/2 splits.

1st half

At this point, I realized that if I continued like this, I actually had a shot at hitting my 4 hour time goal.  

 

To be continued….

 

 

I’m alive

Hey friends! I’m going to keep this short and sweet, I just wanted to check in and let you all know I am alive and doing well.  I finished yesterday is 4:17:47, good for a PR.

I’m going to do a full recap this week, it’s just going to take me a bit to get it all written out, but overall, it was an INCREDIBLE experience.  Here’s a quick picture my sister snapped as I was passing her at mile 25.

mile 25

 

Thank you all for the twitter, FB and email messages, I appreciate them more than I can convey.  I feel so lucky to have such great cheerleaders behind me.  Now…I am off for a massage, manicure and so desperately needed pedicure.

 

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Question of the day

How was your weekend? Anyone else race this weekend?  Tell me about it!

My goals for Boston and some thoughts on training

Happy Friday my friends..the weekend is so close, I don’t know how I am going to get through the day with all the excitement of this weekend looming!   I know I typically do a Things I’m Loving post on Friday, but this week I am going to shake it up a bit since I’m sitting here just 3 days from the Boston Marathon and have a lot on my mind!!!

Keep Calm and Marathon #keep_calm #bostonstrong

I wish I could fully explain to you how I am feeling.  It’s been a LONG road, I have been essentially training since the early Fall, mainly base building and then I started my official training the week of Christmas.  In many ways, 16 weeks flew by and in other ways, especially towards the end, the days are moving at a snail’s pace.  Here are some of my thoughts and stats around my training.

  • I have run a total of 471 miles since January 1 (that’s when I started tracking)
  • My longest run was 19  miles, my shortest was 3 miles
  •  I am on my 3rd pair of Brooks
  • I am on my 3rd training program during this training cycle, this was at first a curse, then a blessing and I have loved the final program I used. Here is some background on what happened here, here and here.
  • I trained entirely alone for this race, a first for me. I learned a lot about myself during this training cycle, and I am proud that I never missed a run and went out  alone when it would have been easier to make up an excuse and give up.
  • I ran in the snow, ice and negative degree temps on more occasions that I’d like to remember, but it did help me perfect my running clothing strategy!
  • I ran with strep throat 3 times!
  • I ran through a brutal stomach flu (17 miles)–not my smartest move but I got it done and felt pretty bad ass afterwards…after I puked that is!
  • I DNF’d my very first run (16 miles)–not my proudest moment, but a learning experience none the less and I realized that I have become a much smarter runner since I first started running in 2010.
  • I cut 2 runs short in the final month of training due to a problem with my left foot (again, being a smarter runner!)
  • I have gone to PT at least once a week since week 8 of training–I know without a doubt I could not have made it through training without Mike and Dan at Central Mass PT.
  • I have tried out some new to me products and found some things I REALLY love (Hydrapak, Soft Flasks, Injinji, ENERGYbits, Ignite Naturals, and FlipBelt)

A lot of people have asked me what my goals are for this race.  Well, I am clearly not a favorite in the books to bring home the olive wreath this year, but you know what they say, “On any given Monday…”  🙂  So, here are my goals:

Finish. Pretty simple right?  The marathon distance is tough, and this course is VERY tough.  The marathon distance can be relentless on the body, so being able to start and finish the race healthy is the #1 goal.

Run a PR. This will be my last full marathon, so I would like to PR over my last full marathon.

Run a Sub 4 hr marathon.  Everyone has to have BIG dreams right??  That would be a 9:09 min mile.  I can sustain a sub 9 pace for the half, but I just don’t think it’s in the cards for me for a full marathon, but who knows?? If I’m going to dream, might as well dream big right?

So there is it friends, this has been an incredible journey and I hope to run the strongest race I can that day, but no matter what happens on Monday, I will be wearing a huge smile because I have not only helped raise money for an incredible cause and organization but I was able to run a race I’ve wanted to run for years.  I want to thank each and everyone of you for your kind words and support over the past few months, whether you know it or not, it has been so greatly appreciated!  I feel so fortunate to have met such wonderful friends and cheerleaders through this blog, so THANK YOU and I love you all! <3

Lastly, a couple of people asked how to track me on race day…so if you are interested, my bib number is 27420 and I will be pushing off from Hopkinton at around 11:25am!  You can track runners three different ways:

1. Download the Boston Marathon App! Available on the App Store, search Boston Marathon, you’ll be able to track me in real time.

2. Text 27420 to 345678. You will get text messages as I cross 4 different checkpoints along the course.

3. Go to baa.org on race day, and you can track my progress there as well!

 

Wish me luck!!

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Question of the day

Any additional words of advice/wisdom for me on Monday?

A VERY special day and milestone

Today is a VERY special day.  One year ago today I sat in a full gown and mask in a clean room as I watched my mom undergo a  stem cell transplant at the Dana Farber/Brigham Women’s Cancer Center in Boston.  I am not typically a nervous person and I don’t usually second guess my decisions, but I remember standing in that room sweating bullets, hoping we made the right decision with this aggressive course of therapy.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer in August 2012.  For those who are not familiar with cancer or transplants, in a typical stem cell transplant, a patient gets very high doses of chemo (which makes them very sick and weak) and sometimes radiation to try to destroy all the cancer cells, but in doing so, this also kills the stem cells in the bone marrow.  Soon after this treatment, stem cells are given to replace the destroyed stem cells, via IV like a blood transfusion. Over time they settle in the bone marrow and begin to grow and make healthy blood cells.

My mom had an autologous transplant, so the stem cells came from her own body before she was administered the chemo which destroyed all her cells.  We sat at Dana Farber and they collected her cells over a 6 hour period and they were harvested and frozen.  After she received the high dose of chemo, they were thawed and given back to her.  The process before the actual stem cell transplant for us was 3 days.  After the stem cell transplant, she stayed in the hospital almost a month while she recovered in a highly sterilized room where you had to mask and gown up every single time you entered the room.  After that she went home and had to stay inside and away from people for 3 months.  Slowly the restrictions were lifted but she had to be incredibly careful with everything from the food she ate to where she went and who she was around.   The first year is critically important because it’s the period when complications of a stem cell transplant are most likely to happen because the chemo not only kills the diseased cells, it also kills the good cells, which eliminates the immune system. This left my mom at high risk of infection during the first year after transplantation, so she was on anti-viral medicines and had to go to the doctor a lot to be monitored.

It was a very long year full of ups and downs.  We were all on edge trying to make sure she was safe and doing everything she needed to (it’s a very intense recovery full of lots of do’s and don’ts that will make your head spin.) My mom was a ROCKSTAR.  I don’t think I would have been as strong as she was, even when she was so weak she couldn’t sit up, she fought.  Today, she celebrates one year of remission.  They call this her new birthday since she was basically reborn with the transplant when she received a new immune system.  This comes with having to get all the same sets of shots that my little guy had to get when he was first-born, determining if you have any new allergies, etc.

We still have a long road ahead, there is a lot of monitoring and monthly tests to see if the Myeloma has come back (we know it will, we just don’t know when.)  But, this is a HUGE milestone for my mom, my sister and I.  A year ago, I didn’t know if we would make it to this day.  I cannot convey how thankful I am today.  I am thankful that she fought instead of giving up, I am thankful for her incredibly amazing oncologists and their support team, I’m thankful for the care team at Dana Farber and the Brigham who were so generous and kind the entire time we were there and of course, the MMRF for pushing so hard to find a cure for Multiple Myeloma.  I am thankful that my sister and I got another year with our Mom and that Ashton, whose favorite thing to do is to pick up my phone and call “gramma,” got another year with his Gram.

I will definitely be thinking about this milestone and all the people who had a role in this process as I cover those historic 26.2 miles on Monday.  I’m running for my mom, but also for all the other myeloma patients and their families, so they can continue to celebrate more birthday’s.

Happy, Happy birthday mom, I love you so much!

happy birthday

 

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Question of the day

Tell me something you are thankful for today…

 

A day of remembrance

A year ago today I woke up and was SO excited for the day. It was Patriot’s Day and for anyone living in MA, it means it’s all about the Boston Marathon.  I had the news on watching the coverage of the marathon and was impatiently waiting for Ashton to wake up, as it was gorgeous out and I wanted to take him into the city to watch all my friends run the marathon.  Watching the marathon brings about such a wave of excitement and awe in me every single year.  However, when Ash woke up, it was clear he had a cold and was generally not feeling himself, so I made a last-minute decision to stay home.  At first I was a bit bummed as I was excited to share with him an event that I look forward to every year, but trekking into the city with a sick 1 year old was not a great plan.

So, we cuddled, we went to the park for a bit for some fresh air and then my phone starting going off with multiple texts and call. At first I just ignored all the notifications as we were enjoying our time at the park but as my phone kept ringing, I decided to see what all the buzz was for.  Texts were asking if I was safe and okay, voice messages asking the same thing. I was confused.  Of course I was fine, I was at the park pushing Ashton in a swing and it was gorgeous outside.  Then, my sister’s called and I answered and after I told her I was fine and near home, I learned that there was a bombing at the marathon.  I think I asked “what?” a few times because I just didn’t understand what was happening.   I quickly got Ashton into the car and headed the mile or so down the road back to our house and immediately put the  news on.  It was chaos.  I remember holding Ashton and just crying.  I was confused and sad.  I couldn’t really comprehend what was happening, it was just so shocking.  I immediately went into planner mode and sent out texts and messages to all my friends I knew were running the race this year.  I worried for their safety.  People were using social media to check in and give status updates about our loved ones.  It was such a blur.  It took hours before I learned that all my friends were accounted for and uninjured.  For this, I was eternally grateful.  However, we all know that not everyone was that lucky.

Today, please take a moment to honor all the first responders, the true heroes who, instead of running away from the blasts, ran towards them to save lives and help all the victims.  They were selfless and brave.  Pay tribute to the families and the survivors of this horrific act of violence, but also remember that while the day started out innocent, this horrible day could not ruin Boston, it showed how good and charitable people are and it only made Boston stronger.  I am so proud to be running the Boston Marathon this year.  Today at 2:49 p.m. there will be a moment of silence in order to remember those lost in the tragic events of April 15, 2013; to pay tribute to the survivors and all they have overcome over the past year; and to give thanks to our brave first responders.  I’d love if you would all join in.

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Question of the day

How are you feeling on the 1 year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings?

Boston Marathon Training: Week 15 Update

Hi friends.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  This weekend was seriously the best weekend I can remember.  The weather was INCREDIBLE, in the 60’s and low 70’s and we spent almost the entire weekend outside.  Watching Ashton explore our new backyard, playing with all his new outdoor toys and soaking up the sunshine was SO good for the soul.  It’s been a brutal Winter here in MA and the cabin fever was getting to us all.  But this weekend we were able to eat outdoors, play with the dog in the yard, go to an Easter egg hunt in the town square, and color Easter eggs with the windows and doors open.  I never felt rushed and even though I am just a week out from the Boston Marathon, I felt a sense of calm and clarity this weekend.  It was truly wonderful.

So far, the first week of tapering went well. I think since I was still putting in decent mileage I didn’t feel bad.  I wasn’t really famished like I may be this final week, I have had a lot of extra time to foam roll, hang with my PT and I can’t remember a time where I have slept better or deeper than this week.  I’ve felt refreshed and have so much extra energy (I even tacked cleaning and organizing my entire closet, my husband was thrilled!)

So, here is what my week looked like:

Week: 4/7-4/13

Monday: I did my normal lunch time Yoga class.  My legs felt a bit heavy and I couldn’t get into the deep leg poses as easily as usual, but it felt great to stretch everything out!

Tuesday: I had to run in the afternoon during my lunch because I had a very early morning offsite meeting.  It totally threw me off my schedule and I forgot my headphones in my car, so I didn’t listen to any music and didn’t bring my phone with me to take a picture.  Double fail for the day! 🙂

Wednesday: I took my morning Spin class and got in just over 18  miles in 45 minutes.  We did a ton of speed work, which I really love. 

Thursday: They switched around a few classes at my work gym and now offer Yoga in the morning on Thursdays so I took Yoga in the morning and taught my last Group Power class for the next couple of weeks. My members were awesome, wishing me luck and telling me that they would be rooting for me at the race and would miss me, it felt so nice to have so much support.

Friday: I did my final “longest” run of 9 miles on the work treadmill. I felt really good after I got to mile 4, those first few miles I am always trying to find my groove and warm up my stubborn calves.

fri 9 miles

I had my standing Friday evening appointment with my PT for some Graston and felt really good leaving the office.

Saturday: Saturday was a rest day, although I did a ton of running and playing outside with Ashton and cleaned and reorganized my closet.  

Sunday: I had a split run of 14 miles on the books for Sunday.  I got up early and ran 7 miles at 6:30 a.m.  It was 40 degrees when I went out and it was so nice to only have to wear a long sleeve tech shirt and capris.  No hat, no gloves, it was wonderful. I even wore my new Rock CF race shirt, I LOVED it.

sat am run shirt

The first few miles my legs felt really heavy and my first 2 miles were in the very high 9’s, so I was happy I was able to average a 9:16 pace overall.

sat 1st run 7 miles

I had my mandatory 2 meals in between runs and then headed out at 1 pm after Ashton went down for his nap and did my second 7 miler. At this point it was 70 degrees out so I was able to test out my race outfit.  I got a great package from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) this week that had my race shirt and other goodies in it.  It was the perfect opportunity to try out the shirt and see how it felt. I am also going back and forth about wearing shorts or capris.  I know I love my capris, but when I wear my calf sleeves or compression socks, it looks funny to me.  I have never run more than a half marathon in shorts, so I just don’t know yet.  If I go with shorts, I may get some body glide just in case I need it, I’ve heard it works great.  Here is what I looked like before going out on my run.

race outfit

I didn’t realize how different it would feel running in 70 degree weather, since it was so brutally cold all winter on my long runs.  It was also super windy out and I was running against the wind almost the entire run. I felt good though, only having to stop once to stretch my tight calves.  I went out telling myself to run a pace that felt comfortable and only looked down at my watch to start it, at around the 4 mile mark and then to stop it.  Here’s what my run ended up looking like.

sat 2nd run 7 miles

Not too shabby. I am not naive enough to think I could keep this pace for the marathon though, even though I can for a half, but considering that I wasn’t able to do speedwork during this training, I am happy I can still run in the 8’s and it feel okay for shorter distances.  And man, oh man, was I a sweaty mess afterwards.

post long run in race outfit

I was literally soaked, my body is nowhere near adjusted to the warmer weather yet…but I’m not going to complain, running in 70 degree weather felt pretty damn awesome..although for race day, I’d be happier if it were a bit cooler 🙂

So that’s it, that was my weekly recap.  My final week of training won’t be much to report on, so I don’t know if I will do a recap or not yet.  The blog is going to be pretty heavily focused on Boston for the next week or two, so bear with me.  There is a lot of preparation to do this week, so I’ll be sharing some of that with you all!

Total mileage: 28 miles

Plan for Next Week

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 3.5 very easy miles

Wednesday: 35 min cross training with no resistance on legs- ONLY cadence work

Thursday: Yoga, not teaching Group Power

Friday: 3 miles (each mile faster)- start easy, middle mile at marathon pace, last mile at 10k pace but no straining.  I have an hour long PT session scheduled to do a lot of tissue work on both my legs so I’m ready for the race.

Saturday: Run 2.5 miles same as Friday but last .5 mile at 10k pace

Sunday: Rest

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Question of the day

Do you race in shorts or capris?  If shorts, do you use Body Glide?  Does it work well?

 

My first Stitchfix experience

So, I’ve made no qualms about telling you guys that when it comes to fashion, I will never win any awards.  I have never been overly fashionable, choosing to wear pretty basic clothes that are easy for me to put together.  I mean, if we are REALLY being honest here, I still have my instructional soccer t-shirts that I wear from when I was 5 years old.  Yeah…moving on.

I have seen over the course of the past few months a lot of talk about Stitchfix but never really thought much about it.  I already have a monthly subscription to Birchbox and we have one for Ashton for toddler things, so I filed it in the back of my mind.

Many of you probably already know all about it, but for those of you who don’t – let me show you the light. Stitchfix is a personalized styling service that delivers five hand-picked clothing and/or accessory items to your doorstep each month (or at the predetermined times you choose).  You go online,  fill out an extensive style profile, you can even link to Pinterest boards and then write in detail the what your needs/wants are and the stylist works their magic to find things that fit your preferences. .

stitchfix1

Then the clothes are delivered to your house (or work) and you can try them on at home, when it works for you.  It doesn’t get much more convenient than that.  Once you have tried on your clothes, you determine what items you want to keep and you send the ones you don’t want back in the pre-paid envelope they provide. You MUST send the items back within 3 business days, which is really important to know so you aren’t charged for anything you didn’t want to keep.  So, here is the skinny on the cost structure.

stitchfix2

So, it costs $20 a month, which is a styling fee charge.  However, if you keep one item, you can apply the styling fee towards the price of your item(s) and if you keep all the items, you get 25% off your entire order.  So, you only lose money if you don’t keep anything in your box…pretty good deal if you ask me.

So, I signed up for my box in mid-March and it was delivered a few weeks later.   Of course, I barely got into the house before I was ripping into it to see what they sent me.  First, I love how they packaged everything.

stitchfix packaging

They even put a personalized note in there mentioning the Pinterest board I referred them too!

letter from stitchfix

Here is what it looked like out of the box along with the style guide card.

stitchfix

So, here  is what I got:

1. Clark Striped Stud Detail Sleeveless Blouse ($68): I LOVED this shirt, everything about it was perfect, the fit, the comfort…everything BUT…I had just bought one similar to it and couldn’t justify the price.  Status: Returned.

2. Jena Basket Weave Print Faux Wrap Dress ($128): This is a PERFECT wrap dress for work.  It was so comfy it was like wearing you favorite t-shirt and shorts and it fit me like a glove.  When I put it on, my husband said, absolutely, you must keep it. Status: Kept.

3. Karson Textured Pencil Skirt ($58): I really liked this skirt and was in need of a classic black skirt, but for some reason, the front left corner puckered when it was on and I just couldn’t get past how that looked. I really wanted to keep it because it fit perfectly everywhere else, but had to pass.  Status: Returned.

4. Jaclynn 3/4Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan ($38): I LOVED the bright, happy color of this cardigan, but it was the only item in the box that didn’t fit.  Cardigans rarely work for someone like me who is busty, when the rest of me is small.  Status: Returned.

5. Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse ($58): Another shirt that I absolutely adored, but I had two that were almost the same style in different colors, so again, while it fit wonderfully and I liked it, I couldn’t justify the price when I had two more just like it.  Status: Returned.

As you can see, I sent back 4 of the 5 items in my Stitch Fix, HOWEVER, it was not because I didn’t love them.  The stylist nailed my style perfectly.  Two of the items I had already had something similar in my closet, one item didn’t fit and the skirt had a weird way of falling in the front.  If all the items fit/fell correctly and weren’t replicas of things I already owned, I would have purchased the entire box.

So here is my overall thoughts about Stitch Fix so far:

1. I love the convenience of having clothes delivered to my doorstep.  As a working mom, its really hard to find time to go to the mall and go shopping for myself, so having a service like this makes life super easy for me.

2. I love that someone else is picking out clothes for me. I am the WORST when it comes to shopping. I second guess myself and pick fairly classic clothes in the same colors. Boring–I know!! I love that someone else is picking things out based on what they think I would like and the dress I ended up keeping was not something I would have picked if I were out shopping but once I tried it on, I fell in love with it…so it’s opening my fashion horizons.

3. I love that there isn’t a monthly fee like other “boxes” out there.  You only pay when you get a box.  Yes, there is a styling fee, but I have a hard time believing that I won’t like at least 1 item in a box of 5 items, so in essence, I won’t be paying a “fee.”

4. What I didn’t like was that a lot of the items are more expensive than what I would normally spend for clothes. However, they do seem to be good quality and I don’t mind spending a bit more for good quality clothing, but spending over $50 on a tank is going to be a tough sell for me, especially when I can find similar ones for 1/2 that price.

5. I wish you were able to buy the clothing that they show on the style cards they send with your fix.  The style cards show multiple ways to wear the items they send you in the fix.  Of course, the outfit options look great, I just wish there was an option to buy the items they show you so you can create multiple outfits from each piece you buy.  I emailed them about this and their response was quick, but they stated “Unfortunately, I don’t have the list of designers to give to you at this time. They will most likely be private label or from brands like Kut from the Kloth, Pomelo, etc.”

***Please note, I was not paid for this review. I paid for all Stitch Fix items on my own. However, an affiliate link is included and for each person that signs up through my link, I will get a credit through Stitch Fix to use towards a future purchase!***

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Question of the day

Has anyone else tried Stitchfix? Tell me about your experience!