Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Towne Bethlehem Turkey Trot race report.

Well, no suspense here. I've already shouted-out about my race result. So, now, let me tell you about the race.

I was feeling pretty uncertain about the whole thing because my left hamstring/knee/calf had kept me off of running for a full week before the race. But, after that week of resting and icing and foam rolling, my leg was feeling better and I was confident that running a 5K wouldn't be a problem.

I met up with Bridget and Janis early Thursday morning and we were off to the race. For a new turkey trot (just in its second year) it was pretty crowded but the packet pick-up was well organized and we were in and out of the line quickly. We found Bridget's friend, Cortney, who was visiting from the DC area and hung out until the race started. Here we all are:

Keep your eyes open, Happy Runner! Ugh.
(That's Cortney, Janis, me, and Bridget)
I ran a quick mile warm-up and my legs felt fine. I lined up in the big crowd, chatted with another runner who was just coming back from knee surgery and then, 15 minutes late, we were off!

The course is quite flat but extremely twisty. In fact, just past the start line the course made a sharp left turn and that caused a bit of tripping and bumping but soon the pack thinned out and I was running a nice comfortable pace.

Let me point out that the Our Towne Bethlehem Turkey Trot is a very low-key, sorta old school race. There were no mile splits. No chip timing. Just a start line and a finish line with a clock. Record your own time, runners!

That was fine for me because I had no goal other than to run well. But, I admit that I peeked at my Garmin a few times. Toward the end of the first mile I saw my speed and told myself to pick it up. Sure, I was feeling the pain in my hamstring and knee a little bit but, otherwise, I felt great and was running a flat course, so there was no reason not to try to run faster.

So I did. After a 7:28 first mile, I ran the second in 7:08 and the third in 7:09. I picked up the pace at the end, running 6:51 pace.

Funny, I had just recently written about how I have a hard time running negative splits! Not on Thanksgiving!

I crossed the finish line in 22:05 -- Garmin time and clock time. A HUGE PR! (My previous best was 22:51.) But also an asterisk PR, I'm afraid.

As I said, this race was old school, with no chip timing. And, they didn't compile the results. So, my time is my time but I am the only one who knows for sure what I ran.

In other words, I'm placing it in the "unofficial PR" category. I know I ran 22:05 but there is no official record of that time. So, unofficial it is.

After I crossed the finish line, I grabbed a banana and some water and then went for a mile cool-down jog. I met up with Bridget and Janis, who both ran great races, and we headed home.

My leg feels more-or-less OK after the race. I still feel the pain on and off, but it is not even close to as bad as it had been. I'm still icing and stretching and foam rolling, but I am also running. On Sunday, I had a great 5-miler and then, yesterday, I ran another solid 5 miles while pushing my toddler in the jogging stroller. Today, my leg feels fine.

Overall, I'm happy that I didn't bag out of the race. After all, I would have missed out on a nice PR!

But let me ask: Would you count a non-chip timed PR as a PR?

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Friday, November 25, 2011

Trotting to a new 5K PR!

You know what I liked about yesterday's turkey trot? My new 5K PR!


My splits:
Mile 1: 7:28
Mile 2: 7:08
Mile 3: 7:09
last .1: 6:51 pace

Race report to come. Until then, have a great weekend everyone!

~ Felice

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trot on, turkeys!

After a week of no running, I'm excited to be running a local turkey trot tomorrow. My fingers are crossed that my hamstring/calf/knee issue is a thing of the past -- or, at least, that I don't make it worse by racing! It's only a 5K so, honestly, I should be fine.

Whatever happens, I'm 100% sure that I'll need some sort of run before I start guzzling gravy:

Yeah, don't pretend you don't love gravy!

Good luck to all the turkey trotters tomorrow! Trot ON!

~ Felice

Monday, November 21, 2011

What do you do when you can't run?

Me? I spend some time in compression shorts, eat a lot of waffles, and revel in the irony involved in registering for a marathon while nursing an injury.

My marathon? It's this one:

May 6, 2012

I did it. I hit submit. My money is theirs.

There is no turning back.

I am excited. And more than a little nervous. Rational Me knows that my hamstring injury is temporary and I'll be back running in no time. Irrational Me thinks I may be hobbled for life. Life! And how will I run a marathon if I'm hobbled for life?

(Irrational Me can get a tad dramatic.)

In all seriousness, my hamstring has gotten a little better since I stopped running and started my RICE campaign last week. As the acronym suggests, I've been resting, icing, compressing and, well, I haven't actually been elevating. Bit of a failure, there. I'll get on that.

I've also been gently stretching, foam rolling, and strengthening. I have high hopes for the next six months so I need my hamstring to get in line. Rogue hamstrings are not allowed. Nope, not allowed at all.

So, what do you do when you can't run?

Happy Monday, everyone!

~ Felice

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five things Friday.

1. I am ready for the weekend. The weather has been weird this week and, as a result, I've been all headache-y so I think I need to kick back. I'm not going to get much of a chance to do that, however, because we're having friends over for dinner on Saturday and then my whole family over on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it!

2. Since I seem to be in complaining mode . . . I've got a BIG one: My left hamstring has gone wonky. I believe that I strained it when running while pushing my (heavy) toddler in the jogging stroller. I think I was pulling back, or braking, when running downhill and that strained the hammie. For a while my hamstring was just a little sore. After my race last Saturday, the medial side of both my hamstring and my knee hurt.

Based on my research (go, Dr. Google!), I am diagnosing myself with a strained hamstring/potential muscle imbalance. I do not think that I have anything worse than that. If it was a true knee problem, I think my pain would be in a different area and would not have started out as hamstring pain.

So, my plan is to not run for a few days, do some strengthening exercises for my hamstring, and then run the Turkey Trot 5K on Thursday and see how I feel (I'm already signed up). After the race, I will probably continue to rest and strengthen and then get fully back to running at the end of December, in time to start marathon training in January.

3. I have a Yoplait yogurt smoothie giveaway going on HERE. Check it out!

4. Now reading:

Yup, planning the plan!

5. Good luck to all the Philly racers this weekend -- and everyone else who is racing or running, too! Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sea Change (review).

I should know better than to read anything -- anything at all -- that is even remotely related to the death of a child. I've done it many times -- picked up a book and started to read, only to be smacked in the face by the horror of a child's death as a central plot line.

Yeah, I really can't handle it.

And so it was with Sea Change, by Jeremy Page (the author of Salt). I was invited to review this book as part of the BlogHer book review program and the description sounded great. I was in. I'd never read anything by Page, so I was interested to do so.

Sea Change: A Novel

It was painful. Painful and . . . exhausting. And also somewhat beautiful and intriguing. [Spoiler alert: If you don't want to know any details about what happens, turn away now.]

Sea Change is the story of Guy, a divorced man who is living alone at sea burdened with "the unassailable truth that life has stopped but time has not." Life, for Guy, stopped with the death of his four-year-old daughter. After her death, Guy's marriage fell apart and he grappled with his grief. As the story unfolds, Guy is grappling while living on a barge, heading for the North Sea.

He's alone with the heavy, heavy sadness of a man whose life was changed in a horrible way. What could be worse than having your four-year-old die? But what Guy does to deal with that grief, is to keep a diary where he imagines what his life would be like had the unimaginable not happened. It's . . . interesting. And incredibly sad.

Every night, he imagines a life with an intact family. In his diary, he creates a parallel world where instead of life stopping when his daughter, Freya, died, it goes on.

Reading about Guy's imagined world in contrast with his sad, sad existence full of heartbreaking scenes where he aches for his dead daughter, made me feel like I was witnessing grief from the inside. Page truly takes readers into the mind of a very depressed, lonely man. The details of Guy's imagined life with his wife and daughter are vivid, at times, perhaps a little too vivid. Although the structure of the book worked to show the interior workings of someone dealing with grief after a tragic loss, it was also incredibly slow. There is little action in the book and the layers of observations and details from Guy's imagined and real life build on each other and the overall effect is to make the story slow, heavy and tiring. That, combined with the whole death of a child thing, made Sea Change a very difficult read for me.

It is hard for me to recommend Sea Change. Yes, much of the writing is brilliant. But spending page after page with depression and sadness is tough to do.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Have you read Jeremy Page's other books?

Back to running posts tomorrow!

~ Felice

Review disclosure: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are you negative?

Apparently, I am not.

And, in racing, that's less than ideal. In racing, negative -- as in, negative splits (running the second half of the race faster than the first) -- is a positive. I am rarely a negative splitter. At least not in any distance longer than 5K.

Take a look at Saturday's splits:

7:20 pace for last .2 or so

Not negative at all. But then, for my last 5K, I ran the right way:

6:17 pace for last .1

Started conservatively and then sped up. Just like all the training books, articles, web sites recommend. Granted, I ran a PR with those positive splits and just missed a PR when I ran negative ones.

Hundreds . . . thousands of running experts can't be wrong! Right?

I know running negative splits is the right thing to do and I wish I was better at it. So, as I start looking forward to my marathon training, one of the things I plan to focus on is running negative splits. Most of what I've read recommends shooting for even splits in the marathon -- something that is easier to do if you regularly run negative splits in your shorter races.

I'll be practicing what I read, and here's a small sample of some of what I've read:

Let the Tempo Come to You
Negative Splits Equal Positive Results
The Positive of Negative Splits
Race Pacing Calculator

I've got plenty of time to refine what works for me. Maybe by May I'll be consistently negative.

Then again, I might just end up staying positive. We'll see!

What about you: Do you run negative splits in your best races? 
Or, do you eschew the advice and start out strong and just try to hold on?

~ Felice

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rockville Centre 10K race report

Normally when I have a race coming up, I get a little obsessed. I worry about the weather. Worry if I'm prepared. Worry about reaching my goals.

Not this time.

On Saturday, I ran a low-stress (for me) 10K. But let me backup so you can see how really low stress the whole thing was.

On Friday, Owen, the kids and I went to Long Island for a family visit. When we planned the trip, Owen mentioned that it was also the weekend of the big local race -- a 5K and 10K that runs right by my mother-in-law's house. He suggested that I run it. Hmmm . . . not a bad idea.

So, a week or two ago, I signed up and planned to race on Saturday. As it happened, one of Owen's friends was playing guitar at a bar in town on Friday so we decided to do that, too. We put the baby to bed,  left Grandma with the kids and headed out. To a crowded bar. Yay, us!

Owen knew every other person in the bar so it was a great time. Two drinks and a few hours of standing on pointy-toed boots later, I left him at the bar with his pals and I went back to my MIL's house to try to get a decent night's sleep before the race.

No such luck.

Owen got back -- late -- and that woke me up and kept me up for a good hour. Then, the boys woke up  -- early --  and had no interest in going back to sleep. So, we were all up and at 'em by 6. I couldn't really spend much time worrying or preparing because I had all sorts of mom stuff to do.

At 9:40, Owen drove me to the starting line and I fell in with the crowd. I knew that I wanted to run a PR and was hoping for a sub-48 minute finish. But, I didn't know exactly what to expect, given that I had stayed out later than I had planned to the night before, and had worn those completely impractical pointy-toed boots.

I didn't worry. I just went for it.

The first two miles of the 10K were run with the 5K and I told myself -- repeatedly -- not to get caught up in the 5K pace. That's just too fast.

I did it anyway. I definitely ran too fast for the first two miles. Bad move, Happy Runner.

Shortly after the 5Kers split off, I came upon my cheering section by my MIL's house. I crossed the road to get a high-5 from my little guy:

Just past Mile 2 in the Rockville Centre 10K.

Yes, I was in a long-sleeved shirt when I should have been wearing a short-sleeved one. Ugh.

The high-5 gave me a nice boost and I ran on through the pretty neighborhoods of Owen's hometown. I was going strong and feeling very good about the race, confident that I would set a new PR and hopeful that I would come in under 48 minutes.

Then we made the second-to-last turn at about Mile 5.

Holy wind, Runman.

Yeah. That was a lot of wind in the face for a long way. Seriously, about a full mile of wind. Smack in the face. I kept telling myself that I could do anything for 7 minutes. 6 minutes. 5 minutes. 4 minutes. 3 minutes.

And then some dude ran by and yelled out, "Just over 600 to go!"

No freaking way.

I looked at my Garmin and there was No. Freaking. Way. I could make 48 minutes if there were 600 meters left. No way.

He had to be wrong.

He had to be.

And he was. Because here's how I finished:

Finishing the Rockville Centre 10K -- in PR time!

Officially, 47:38. A GIGANTIC 3 minute and 3 second PR!

(And, btw, my old PR was set when I was a spry 32 year old. This one? Yeah, set at 41.)

Not only did I PR, but I finished 3rd in my age group and got a very nice bronze medal. Hooray!

My race stats:

Overall time: 47:38 (7:40/mi pace)
Overall place: 70 out of 452
Overall female place: 12 out of 202
Age group (40-44) place: 3 out of 32

It was a great race and I'm so glad I ran it! I think this low-stress thing works for me.

The rest of the weekend was very nice, too. Hope yours was as well! Thanks for reading.

~ Felice

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Last week, I made a proclamation. On Facebook, because that's where those things happen these days. I wrote (proclaimed!) that I was going to run the New Jersey Marathon next May.

In response, one of my friends commented, "That's dedication to train in the winter."

Oh, right. Winter.

Yeah, the marathon takes place on May 6th, meaning my training starts January 2nd. The coldest, snowiest months in upstate New York? Those would be January and February. In other words, I will, without a doubt, be running -- far -- in snowy, windy, frigid conditions.

That's dedication.

I'm not too worried -- a little worried, sure, but not too worried. Last January, with a 3 month old baby, I started training for an early April half marathon. Yes, I understand that training for a half marathon is not the same as training for a full. It is, after all, 13.1 miles to a marathon's 26.2. However, my point is that I trained through a tough winter while sacrificing my sleep for the 'round-the-clock breastfeeding needs of my son. It was all worth it.

So I know that I can do it. I have a treadmill for days when the weather is just too crummy. I have friends who are training for the marathon with me. I can do it.

And I'm a little excited about it, to tell the truth.

Bring it, winter!

And, watch out, New Jersey Marathon, because I'm coming at you full of dedication!

Have you trained for a big race during the winter? 
Do you have any tips you could share? Lessons learned?

~ Felice

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shutterfly winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Shutterfly giveaway. I picked 3 winners, using random.org and they are:

Kara Tubbs
J @ Morning Runner
Britton @ It's a Beautiful Thing This Life of Ours

Congratulations!! Leave me a comment with your email address and I'll email your codes to you so you can get started on your cards! I still have to work on my photo of the two boys and then I can get busy designing. For some reason, I don't think this will cut it (coordinated though they may be...):

Yeah, I know, the toddler is pantless. It happens!

Thanks to Shutterfly for this giveaway! I hope to be posting some other giveaways soon.

Have a great day!

~ Felice

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cushy ride.

My love affair with my Somnios has come to a bit of an abrupt end. It's not that I fell out of love with them, because I didn't. I loved them to the end.

It's that they left me. Left me high and dry.

With 460 miles on my shoes, I went to the Somnio web site (the shoes aren't sold locally) to order another pair but had no luck. Every shoe on the site was listed as out of stock. So, I went to their Facebook page and read a bunch of comments about how the company was out of business. An email to the company went unanswered.

High and dry.

Time to move on and switch shoes!

Sunday afternoon I hit my local Fleet Feet, slightly nervous about having to pick out a new pair of shoes. I shouldn't have worried because I had a great experience, as usual. I tried on several pairs of light stability shoes, running in each pair in the parking lot. After a lot of back and forth and adjusting this and that, I settled on these slick cats:

I don't think I've had a pair Nikes since I was in college. Dunno why -- just was never a Nike runner. I love the Nike Tempo shorts and the sports bras are good. But I've worn other running shoes for years, never Nikes.

I'm a convert.

For real.

These Nikes (Zoom Structure?) kinda rock. They are light and cushy and make my feet feel like they are being lovingly swaddled by all sorts of running gear goodness. I've worn the shoes on two runs so far and they've felt terrific.

Yay for new running shoes!

Have a great evening, everyone.

~ Felice

PS: Last day to enter the Shutterfly giveaway!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The glamorous runner.

So . . . way back in 2010 when I was very pregnant, I entered HealthyLife magazine's search for cover models. (The magazine is published by the Albany newspaper, the Times Union.) 

I had to submit a photo of myself doing something healthy (a sent in a running photo -- of course!) and write an essay about my healthy life. I wrote about how I was running during my pregnancy and how I started the new runners group to train several non-runners for their first 5K.

Whatever I said, worked, because I was chosen! I had my photo shoot in September and "my" issue came out last week. Here's the cover:

That's me!
I feel like such a glamour girl!

The whole thing was a ton of fun. I was pampered at a local salon where I received highlights, lowlights and a new hair-do. Then I had a few fun outfits picked out for the shoot. The day of the shoot I had my hair and makeup done at that same salon (thanks, Kimberley's Day Spa!), and then spent all afternoon being photographed. I've never had so much hair spray in my hair, nor have I ever spent so much time in front of a camera!

Like I said, it was fun. I even got to wear some kickin' high boots:

Yeah, I need a pair of high wedges!
And a lot of clothing that I could never, ever wear in my current day-to-day life. Can you imagine what would become of this white coat after living just one day with a toddler and preschooler?

Yeah, there's no way I could keep that clean!

Anyway, if you're interested in the article you can check it out HERE and HERE. You can even see a few "behind the scenes" photos, like me getting my makeup done. Ooooh, exciting!

One thing I will say is that I wish the article included more about my running while pregnant. I really wanted to convey how important I think it is to stay active when you are pregnant -- and I wanted to show that running is not something pregnant women should be afraid of. It's so healthy to keep running during pregnancy (provided, of course, you were running before getting pregnant and you don't have major complications). But, the article did touch on it, so I'm happy about that.

Overall, it was a great experience. Now, back to my real jeans-and-fleece-pullovers life!

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shutterfly holiday cards (review and giveaway).

I have been a fan of Shutterfly since my first son was born and I got into the whole photo Christmas card thing. For the past 4+ years, I've been uploading my photos to Shutterfly, buying prints here and there, making keepsake photo books and designing my holiday cards.

This year will be the fifth year that I've used Shutterfly for my cards so you can believe me when I say I like what they have to offer.

Last year, I went a little mad for plaid:

This year, I'm liking a few different designs including this one:

Not my family :-)
Before I can pick a card, though, I have to struggle through the photo shoot and since my guys are squirmers it really is a struggle! Wish me luck getting a decent a photo :-)

While you're doing that, I'll wish you luck with my giveaway!

The giveaway

I have a great giveaway for you all. THREE lucky winners will get 25 FREE Shutterfly holiday cards of their choosing. To enter, leave me a comment letting me know you'd like to win!

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):
  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment) 
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment) 
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time) 
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment) 

This giveaway will run through Tuesday, November 8th at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Wednesday.

Good luck!

~ Felice

Review/giveaway disclosure: I was provided with free Shutterfly cards as part of my review and giveaway. I was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Are you a blogger? Want a chance at 25 free cards this holiday season? Register here: http://goo.gl/DDw7Q

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Interval training ~ life-with-toddler style.

Yesterday was a beautiful, warm sunny day. But I didn't get to run outside. Sure, I got to enjoy playing baseball-hockey with my boys in the driveway and going for a nice li'l walk but I didn't get to run.

Instead, I ran in the basement on the treadmill.

On the schedule? Easy run.

In reality? Interval run -- life-with-toddler style.

Started smooth -- nice and easy 3/4 of a mile at a warm-up pace of 10 min/mile. Hopped off to retrieve the toddler's soccer ball from under the trampoline.

Bumped up pace to 9:30 min/mile for almost a quarter mile. Hopped off to put together popper "thingy" so toddler could play.

Back on the 'mill, right back to 9:30 min/mile then down to 9 min/mile for just over a half mile. Hopped off to demonstrate -- at preschooler's request -- the "jack-knife" on the trampoline. 

Two dozen jumps later, I was back on the 'mill. Bumped up the pace and ran fast for almost another mile. Hopped off to pull toddler off the stairs.

Back on for a tenth of a mile. Pulled toddler off stairs, again.

Just over a quarter mile -- fast! Back off to demonstrate -- again -- the jack-knife. And a straddle jump. And re-start the popper "thingy." And retrieve the toddler's water bottle from under the couch.

On again for a mile. Nice and easy. Off to console crying toddler.

Back on at a walking pace, while holding toddler (cool-down and weight training!). Hopped off when toddler started squirming, wanting to play again with his big brother.

I did not get back on. After my "cool-down" I was more worn out than my almost 4 mile run would suggest.

That, my friends, is how treadmill running goes for the Happy Runner these days. Run, run, jump on the trampoline, run, run. Yup. That's life with a toddler.

Fingers crossed for an outdoor run today!

~ Felice

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just fun!

First let's get to the good stuff: The Rudi's Organic Bakery giveaway winner!

I used random.org to pick a winner and that lucky person is Karyn Murphy (no blog)! Congratulations, Karyn! Now, by the way, Karyn is lucky because not only was she the winner, but we're also friends in real life :-)

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway -- and thanks to Rudi's Organic Bakery for the review and the giveaway. For those of you who didn't win, be sure to get your hands on a Rudi's coupon HERE.

*     *     *

And now, some pics of the Halloween that was:

My little not-so-happy Jack O'Lantern, waiting for big brother's Halloween parade to start.

Commander Conal! Astronaut boy at his preschool Halloween party. Loading up on the goodies.

Trick-or-treating! That's me with the baby (he was slightly happier there) and Janis.

All the kids, ready to trick-or-treat!
We had a fun, exhausting day. Today, I need to hit the road and run some good miles!

Happy November, everyone!

~ Felice

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