Big Sur Marathon Training

I am 5 weeks away from running my 8th marathon. Despite a very unpredictable New England winter, I have really enjoyed this training.  At the onset of training I determined my goals for this marathon as have done for each marathon. This was a bit different because I have no time goal. Big Sur is an experience from all that I have read about it. Runners make their way from Big Sur to Carmel along scenic Highway 1. Everything I have read about it from blog posts to articles imparts the same advice…look around, take in the scenery, and enjoy the experience. That is exactly what I plan to do. Of course I will run and do my best, but I will stop to take a few photos as well. I got into the race through a marathon for first timers so this is likely a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I want to remember it well.

Like most of my marathons this will be a family vacation as well. We will be spending our first weekend in Monterey for the marathon and then we will spend a week in San Francisco. It’s a first for all of us.  We are definitely open to recommendations?

My training began back in January. After the Manchester City Marathon in November, I continued running regularly and maintained a longish run each week of 8-10 miles. The winter was mild up to that point and I wanted to take advantage of the decent weather to run as much outdoors as possible. After the New Year I began increasing mileage almost immediately with a 12 mile long run. Big Sur is a very hilly course so there has been some hill work on shorter midweek runs. Although I am not focused on a particular pace for this marathon some speed work has been incorporated into my training. I love the variation of runs throughout the week because it keeps it interesting.

I have been working with a running coach for the last 4 marathons. I feel silly even saying that because I am not a professional athlete, but honestly working with a coach has been such an incredible experience for me. For the first three marathons I trained myself loosely following Hal Higdon’s plans. I think I did quite well for someone who never engaged in sports prior to taking up running. Working with a coach after my Achilles injury was important. I was nervous and anxious about becoming injured again. I was also slower and heavier causing frustration with myself and running. It was helpful to have someone guiding me through those ups and downs as I came back from the injury and began marathon training again. I had always trained by miles and the first thing my coach did was plan my runs by time. This lifted the pace pressure right off of my mind. The next big change she made was starting my training plans on Monday rather than Sunday. Seems insignificant doesn’t it? Well it made a significant difference in how I was able to plan my week because suddenly it allowed me the flexibility to do my long run on either Saturday or Sunday for that training week.

Having a coach also allows me to push myself out of my comfort zone. I love reporting back that I was able to hit the prescribed paces in a speed workout or that I accomplished a challenging hill repeat workout. It’s also great to have someone help me figure out why something might not be working. I learn so much about my own abilities as a runner and I am picking up skills that will help me coach others too.

Tomorrow morning I will set out for what will likely be my longest long run at 22 miles. I ran 20 last week. My long runs have (knock on wood) been going really well and I have been incredibly lucky with the weather. The 17 miler was a bit insane. We had snow a few days before and the roads in some places were still in bad conditions. I ran from my house to my mom’s house three towns away. The route is a rather busy one which I thought might work to my advantage because I assumed the roads would be clear. The roads were a mess, no shoulders to run in and sidewalks were untouched for the most part.  I had to stop at train tracks while a train passed. It was a disaster. I felt as though people driving by were annoyed by me running and I was annoyed by the splashes of wet slush flying up at me every now and then.

Overall I’ve enjoyed unseasonably “warm” winter weather. There have been some spring-like days recently. There has been a great deal of sunshine and some beautiful scenery. I have trained in freezing temperatures, extremely windy conditions, and rain. I have only done a handful of my runs indoors on the treadmill. Hopefully the next few weeks of training are just as awesome because the taper weeks will be here very soon.

I tried to capture some of the scenery from this training. These were all posted previously on Instagram. Each one brings back a memory of the run.

Happy spring! Nice peaceful run on this gorgeous day. #bigsurmarathontraining2017
Scenes from my favorite running spot . The weather  was almost 60 degrees. I loved the contrast of the warmer air against the snowy scenery.
20 miles, hills, snow, ice, darkness, clouds, quiet, a little bit of sun ☀️ #winterrunning #bigsurmarathontraining2017
Sights from my 20 miler on 3/19/17. I ran two towns away up and over “the mountain” as it is referred to around here. That is Mt. Tom in the bottom left. Although I did not run the actual mountain, the road to the town below is quite long and steep. 
Today is one of my favorite races, the Holyoke St. Patrick's 10K. Good luck 🍀 to 1000s of runners! As always the luck of the Irish is with them as the sun peeks out of the clouds. It couldn't be more perfect running weather. I'm just finishing up an easy run before tomorrow's 20 miler. #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #winterrunning
A short 6 miler on the day of my favorite 10K. I decided not to run it this year in order to focus on marathon training, but I really missed it. I’ll be back next year!
So much for an early spring #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #winterrunning
Another nice day for an outdoor run.
The run that almost wasn't today. Many excuses-cold, snow, no school for Carlos, a ton of paperwork but the sun came out, the grandmother came over, and I hit the road. There's just something about running over bridges I love. #winterrunning #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #noexcuses
I love running over bridges.
It's hard to believe that after a day like today snow is on its way tomorrow. It was really windy but temps were in the 50s. Thankfully today was long run day. #workfromhomeperks #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #winterrunning
A lovely run along the bike trail turned into a powerful workout.
Morning run sun #marathontraining #winterrunning
An early morning run near Carlos’ school after dropping him off

Happy #internationalwomensday  I honored myself by going for a lovely lunchtime run on what was supposed to be a rainy day. Instead it was all blue skies, sun, and a tinge of spring. #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #winterrunning
Barely a cloud in the sky
When there is no path ahead create your own. I swore I wouldn't do another spring marathon and struggle through winter training, but here I am back at it. #bigsurmarathon here I come. This is a bucket list race and an opportunity I couldn't pass up. #winterrunning
On Instagram I wrote: When there is no path ahead create your own. I swore I wouldn’t do another spring marathon and struggle through winter training, but here I am back at it.
Why is the wind never at my back?!! #winterrunning #bigsurmarathon
It was super windy out on this day and I swear no matter which way I turned at the reservoir I had the wind in my face!

Looks cold but feels like spring. Taking the path less traveled on my way to #bigsurmarathon #winterrunning
I didn’t feel much like running on this day. I forced myself out the door at lunchtime. The run was horrible, but there is always a lesson in the run.

Long run day #bigsurmarathon #winterrunning
Taken during a fueling stop on one of my early long runs. That is the Connecticut River going by.

Time to get to bed. I have a very early wake up call before I hit the road. After watching the big rain cloud with 60-90% chance of rain on tomorrow’s weather forecast, it now show only a 20% chance of rain and a sun peeking out from behind the cloud. I will take it!

Rewind December 2016

When I was pregnant people with children would tell me how quickly time passes by once you have children. Sadly they were correct.

December is a reminder of just how rapidly time is passing. Not only is it the end of another year, it is the month of Carlos’ birthday, but let me not get ahead of myself.

On December 4th, Carlos and I ran another Hot Chocolate 5K fun run. This time we were joined by my friend M and her goddaughter. This is a big, local 5K and all of the money benefits a local women’s shelter. At the end you get a custom designed mug and hot cocoa. There is so much positive energy and happiness you barely notice how cold it is outside!

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Still working on our selfie
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Hot cocoa time!

For the month of December I challenged myself to run a 5K a day or more if possible. I knew it would be a busy month. I am not training for any races at this time. I really wanted a very manageable activity goal that would be sufficient to motivate me to move every day, but not so daunting that I wouldn’t be able to commit. Running 3.1 miles takes me no longer than 30 minutes. Allowing myself 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to get away from work, studying, and anything else that was going on in my life was truly a gift. Here are some photos from some of those runs.
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Last year we went to Mozambique for Christmas and I didn’t put my tree up. This year I brought it up from the basement the week after Thanksgiving and not surprisingly half of the lights were out. I bought one of those gadgets that is supposed to miraculously relight the lights. Well it didn’t! Orlando misunderstood me when I told him to cut off the broken lights and he cut every light off of the tree with wire cutters. I loathe putting Christmas lights on the tree, but my mom does it effortlessly along with folding fitted sheets, two tasks I thought would suddenly become easy after having a child. I was wrong! She not only brought over a bag of lights she was no longer using, but she also put them on the tree. Carlos decorates the tree and I put the bow on the top. We will not win any awards, but we all love the gentle glow of the lights and the sparkle of the ornaments.

Carlos has been very busy at school. As I’ve mentioned in the past he attends a small Montessori school. One thing I love about this unique education philosophy is how children are encouraged to really dig into a topic. Carlos has been working on the timeline of history. They literally stretch a physical timeline out onto the floor and allow students to see a visual of history as it has elapsed over the course of time. Carlos and two of his peers learned a little bit about Roman bath houses and decided they wanted to know more so they built their own version based on independent research. This photo doesn’t do it justice. The details as Carlos described them were amazing. What isn’t shown is the outside of the bath house which depicts the drainage system and little bundles of sticks used as fuel to heat the water. They made the people out of clay and fashioned towels out of felt.

On Thursday, December 15th, I took Carlos to school a little early and we stopped for an early birthday breakfast treat. Look at my baby! He’s almost 10 in this photo.

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I brought him to school and then returned a little while later to watch his class present their Mystery History performances. Carlos was Steve Jobs. He dressed up like him and spoke about his life. It was awesome!! The kids all did a fantastic job. His classmates were Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Cleopatra, JFK, and Harry Houdini. They performed in front of the lower elementary students and the upper elementary from a neighboring town’s Montessori school. Most of the kids did their presentations from memory. I was amazed at how calm they were performing in front of other people.

I returned to the school again at lunchtime for Carlos’ birthday celebration. He showed a picture from each year of his life and explained each picture. We brought popsicles for the kids to have after lunch. The school discourages sugary treats and with so many allergies to contend with I opt for all natural fruit popsicles. Carlos likes them and I know every child can safely eat them.

On Friday, December 16th my sister flew in to surprise her favorite (and only) nephew with whom she also shares a birthday.  We met her, my mom, her husband, my aunt, and uncle out for dinner before going to the Springfield Thunderbirds hockey game. Carlos invited his best friend Tyler to join us. It was a fun night and brought back loads of memories for my sister and me. We used to have season tickets to the Springfield Indians, as they were known back in the late 80s/early 90s, hockey games. I met my first and second boyfriend at a hockey game. We would walk loops around the civic center between periods with our big hair and jean jackets. We had crushes on at least one of the hockey players and we would watch them warming up hoping they would notice us eyeing them adoringly from behind the glass. Oh dear god!

The morning of Carlos’ birthday he was up at the crack of dawn. He asked for only one thing this year for both Christmas and his birthday – an Xbox One with Fifa 2017. Carlos is obsessed with all things soccer, not just playing it, but the players, the uniforms, and the history of the sport. He was ecstatic when he opened his birthday gift. He and Tyler had it set up and operational within less than 30 minutes.

We enjoyed dinner and cake at my mom’s. The birthday duo were all smiles as they blew out their candles. My sister would kill me for posting this, but she doesn’t read the blog.

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The next morning we had another surprise in store for Carlos as we set off for a short trip to Florida to visit my dad and spend more time with my sister. I had lots of time to take before the end of the year so it worked out perfectly. We spent most of our time hanging out at my dad’s condo complex. The pool area is very relaxing. The complex is well kept, clean, and tranquil. Carlos wasn’t even interested in going to the beach on this trip because he preferred spending time with grandpa swimming in the pool and fishing. I worked a bit from my dad’s porch overlooking the canal. I also went swimming and running. Honestly we didn’t do much which was exactly what we needed.

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View from the 4th floor
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View right outside of my Dad’s condo
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Rainbow
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Grandpa and Carlos

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Why yes those are socks Carlos is wearing!

Christmas came and went very quietly. It was a low key weekend with just us and my mom and her husband. It was a welcome change to the typical stress of the holidays.

Orlando and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Cape Cod for the New Year. I found a really inexpensive condo in Mashpee, MA. I love offseason travel. We invited Carlos’ friend Tyler to come along. We drove down Friday afternoon and stayed until Sunday. The weather was unseasonably warm, not quite beach weather, but made for nice running and spending time outdoors. The boys were crazy enough to dip their feet in the chilly water.

On Saturday, New Year’s Eve, we drove up the coast to Provincetown. We stopped at a couple of beaches and a lighthouse. It was a chill day. We rented a couple of Redbox movies, made popcorn and enjoyed sparkling apple cider for the kids and Moscato for the grown ups. The boys tried so hard to stay up until midnight, but they conked out around 11:30.

On Sunday, we took the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. We had never been. I would love to explore it more just before the summer tourist season begins. I love the beautiful homes and the quaint feel.

 

This was a wonderful way to ring in 2017. I no longer make resolutions. I am committed to working every day to be a better person, wife, mother, nurse, friend, daughter, and sister. 2016 brought about change, challenge, highs, lows, new friends, fun, exciting travels, and new experiences. I am truly blessed.

Merry Christmas

The holidays came up so quickly this year. My mom caught me off guard wondering what we were doing for Christmas Eve. We don’t usually do anything with her since we spend Christmas Day together, but since it was just her and her husband this year I could tell she wanted to do something. So I invited them over for dinner. I was inspired to make something new, but light and with simple ingredients. I prepared a tomato and vegetable white bean stew from Minimalist Baker, this Oh She Glows salad with butternut squash instead of delicata, and apple cider sangria from the Kitchn. The sangria was a fun way to start the evening. The soup and salad were delicious. Dessert was a lemon loaf my mom brought and pineapple.

We ended the evening at Christmas Eve party with Carlos’ best friend’s family. We might have stayed longer if I hadn’t worked the night before at the hospital and still had presents to wrap for the morning.

Carlos doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, but he was still up at 4:45am! We convinced him to climb into bed with us and wait until 6. He lasted until 5:30 before he began puttering around in his room making just enough noise to remind us he was waiting.

I always try to make the gift opening last a little longer than 5 minutes. Carlos was really excited about each gift. There were nerf guns, Xbox games, books about soccer and the Illuminati (he’s fascinated!), and a Spy School book, a portable speaker, a Messi soccer ball, and the almighty Adidas cleats.

 

adidas Men's X 16.3 FG Soccer Cleats - Dick's Sporting GoodsMy 10 year old is wearing men’s shoes because boys sizes end at 6.5 and he’s now a 7.5. I bought the cleats in a size 8 because they won’t be worn until spring. This child is growing way too quickly!

There were huge smiles, lots of thank yous and hugs too. His birthday was a week ago and he got an Xbox. That was the big gift. He is obsessed with soccer and Xbox FIFA is amazing according to Carlos.

The morning was lazy. It involved lounging around under my new super soft blanket from Costco and coffee. Around 10ish I went out for a run. It was unseasonably warm for December. I ran and ran. It was glorious. The sun felt so great against the slight bite of cold in the air. The roads were quiet and the air seemed so fresh. I saw two horses riding down the street!

I wrapped up my 10 mile run with a family Nerf battle in our front yard.

We spent the rest of the day at my mom’s. Her husband made lasagna, one was vegan and the other vegetarian. My cheese-less lasagna was incredible. He does it a little better each time. It was chock full of mushrooms, squash, peppers, sweet potato, tomatoes and carrots. It was enormous! I have about 10 portioned out packages in my freezer now. We ate, drank wine, watched movies/football, and relaxed.

After a crazy 8 weeks of Nursing Theory and the most unbelievable work issues for my team culminating in our wonderful boss being let go for a horrible reason the week before Christmas, I desperately needed a stress free holiday.

Merry Christmas!!

 

Happy Halloween

I took the day off today because Carlos has the day off from school due to a teacher in service day. We had breakfast with my cousin who is visiting from Arizona. She came into town for her baby shower this past weekend. She is due with her first child, a baby girl, in February. My mom has one sister, and they both have two children. The four of us were very close growing up. I am the oldest and this cousin is the youngest. She is the one that inspired me to begin running. She was a Team in Training coach when she lived in Florida. She has since abandoned running and joined the Cross Fit movement along with her husband.

On Saturday after the shower my mom and my aunt were trying to get my cousin to divulge possible baby names. I never give parenting or pregnancy advice because it’s annoying. Seriously, everyone’s pregnancy is totally different, and people are going to parent in their own way. However, the only thing I suggested to my cousin was to consider keeping the name to herself. When I told my family I was going to name the baby Carlos if it was a boy my grandmother actually said, “Oh I don’t like that I’ll call him Carl!!” My mom and my aunt gave a little eye roll at the time too, but once Carlos was born it was such a suitable name for him and everyone loved it. My grandmother did call him Carlos every now and then and Carlos would say, “Noni, my name is Carlos!” There is nothing worse than deciding on a name, loving it, and having someone ruin it for you. Despite my mom and my aunt putting the pressure on my cousin, she stood her ground and didn’t tell us anything.

Let me backtrack for a moment to Friday night. I am the designated scary attractions chaperone for my son and his best friend, Tyler. Last year we did Six Flags Fright Fest. We went on two ghost tours in Gettysburg in the spring. This Halloween season they really wanted to do a haunted hayride at a local farm. The only issue is that the line can be many hours long. So when I saw an ad for Fast Pass tickets on Facebook this summer I grabbed 3 tickets. We were all ready to brave the hayride last Saturday night and it got rained out. Luckily this past Friday was perfect weather. We jumped to the front of the line and got right on the hayride. The boys and I were unimpressed and disappointed with it. It was basically people with masks jumping on and off the wagon, getting into your face, and then making some kind of noise. There was one section with creepy clowns. It wasn’t scary, but clowns bother me. At end after you get off the ride you enter a haunted house on foot. Now that was scary! It seemed as though it was never going to end. We were spooked every time we turned a corner. The boys had a blast and so did I. They are really such fun to be around. We decided we will try to do one scary/haunted attraction every year.

I finished my first graduate course two weeks ago. It was challenging to do it between work, Carlos’ schedule, Orlando’s schedule, marathon training, and a trip to Chicago. I spent many nights at the library until it closed at 2AM. I got an A, and two days after the course ended I began the next one. I contemplated taking time off, but after discussing it with my student advisor, and a couple of reasonable people in my life, I knew that breaking the momentum right now could potentially be the end of my studies. This course follows the same rhythm as the last one, assignments due on Wednesday nights, and follow up comments to classmates due on Saturday nights. This is not quite the graduate school experience of my dreams. That one didn’t have work and family balance to negotiate. I am doing the very best that I can to balance everything.

Work has been an absolute nightmare. Computer issues across the state. They fix one thing and three more issues arise. Enough said!

Running is my sanity. Fall running is probably one of my favorite activities in the whole world. It’s crisp, the air smells so clean, and the colors are striking even when they begin to dull like right now. My friend and I have enjoyed mild temperatures on our last few early runs. I still can’t believe she is willing to meet me at 5AM and run with a headlamp. We laugh a lot, and the runs go by so much faster. She never complains and will even run in the rain.

I will be going to Manchester, NH this weekend to run my 7th marathon. I will be with another friend who was supposed to run the marathon too. She has been injured since early on in our training. I feel so awful for her, but I am grateful she is still willing to take a road trip to cheer me on in the race. I still cannot even believe I am doing this. The shortest time I have ever had between marathons was 4 months between Vermont City and Hartford last year. My training plan since Chicago has been surprising low in mileage. The Manchester City Marathon is a bit hilly so the emphasis has been on hills and flexibility training. I have really enjoyed the change in training over the last few weeks.

I started going to yoga again on Tuesday mornings with my favorite instructor. The studio closed and she is now doing a class close to Carlos’ school. It is a Vinyasa flow class. I love the class and her teaching style. I am the worst at yoga. I feel like a big clunky elephant in the room. However, I love it, and I want to get better at it. Like running there is such a powerful mental aspect to yoga. I love pushing myself beyond the limits I once thought existed.

No political commentary from me. I am keeping my nose out of those conversations. One neighbor has huge Trump and Make America Great Again signs in front of his yard. They have been vandalized a few times. He repaints them and puts them right back out there. To each their own I say!

Carlos and I have a giant pumpkin to carve and then major trick or treating to get to in a few hours.

Happy Halloween!!

Chicago Pre-Marathon

We are in Chicago!! I pulled an all nighter (because I like to pretend I’m still an undergrad) Wednesday night to finish a healthcare policy paper. I have 3 weeks left of this first grad class and I’m honestly surprised I haven’t quit. I have spent every night in the library. But anyway that’s boring. The paper is done. I turned it in 11 hours late. The professor knew I wasn’t going to finish on time. She’s really forgiving thankfully. She is also brutally honest, but I have a lot to learn so I will use the feedback to improve.

In the midst of trying to finish the paper I actually had to work at my job. Thursday mornings we have a webex meeting. I packed while listening to that and then responded to work email. Our horrendous new computer software was acting up so I really couldn’t do much anyway. I am so backed up with my paperwork because of the computer issues. Everyone is, and it’s becoming a serious problem. We do full, tedious, time consuming assessments only to lose them somewhere in the save process. It’s so frustrating, but I am sure as hell not going to complain to my boss about it. She knows!

I was so relieved to get to the airport. Although I have a ton of work to do in any spare time I get here in Chicago, it’s just nice to be away. After checking into the hotel we went to dinner. I had a blogger meet up planned with Biz from mybizzykitchen.com and Jacky from Jax House. Unfortunately something came up and Jacky was unable to meet. Biz met us just around the corner from our hotel at Native Foods. Native Foods is a vegan cafe. Biz is not vegan so it was really kind of her to brave a menu full of tofu, seitan, and tempeh! I tend to eat very simple foods prior to a marathon so I enjoyed the sesame kale macro bowl. Although we said the place was vegan a few times, Carlos still doesn’t seem to know that his chicken strips were not real chicken. He even asked for a second order!

I can’t quite remember how I found My Bizzy Kitchen, but it was at least 6 years ago. Biz was doing a holiday challenge to encourage herself and anyone interested to stay on track with health goals throughout the holidays. I loved it. It was just the support and accountability I needed. I found myself becoming very active in the comment section. I read Biz’s blog daily because I felt like I could have written many of the posts myself. Finally someone who got it!  The weight struggle, the ups and downs of Weight Watchers, the frustration of losing only to gain some back…I hate seeing anyone else go through that, but it was helpful to know others understand. There was a real genuine nature to the blog. I wasn’t surprised that when I met her in person it was easy to fall into conversation and chat away. Please visit My Bizzy Kitchen to see a photo of us at dinner and read more about our meet up. Thank you so much Biz, it was a fun evening!! Next time I make it to Chicago I’m counting on a foodie tour with Jacky and Biz.

My first full day in Chicago started with a 5 mile run along the water. It was a gorgeous day. I didn’t realize how much I truly needed a change of scenery. Look at this! It would take me a lot longer to get sick of this view.

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While Carlos and Orlando explored the waterfront on their own, I took the train to the expo. It was massive! I wandered around collecting lots of freebies. It was so smoothly run I didn’t wait at all to pick up my packet.

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The afternoon was spent on an architectural river boat tour. It was fascinating. We all really enjoyed it. Our guide, Jim, was the best. He was knowledgable and funny, but not in an obnoxious way.

After an early dinner at Navy Pier we took our time walking back to the hotel. We stopped by Milenium Park to see the bean.

 

It was a nice night out and I would have gladly kept exploring, but I was developing a blister on the right 4th toe. I wrapped that sucker in a blister bandaid immediately. I’m hoping it goes away by Sunday morning!!

Goal for Saturday – some photos to prove that I’m actually here too!

Rusty

I’m taking a much needed 5 minute break from the 2 chapters of Delivering Health Care in America I have to finish by tonight. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. In my first week of grad school I have completed two assignments, read more than I have in months, and became reacquainted with APA format. In my first few years of undergrad many moons we used MLA to cite references. In my last year we were required to use APA. I haven’t written a paper with references since 1996! I am rusty to say the least.

The general format of the class requires us to post our assignment on a discussion board by Wednesday. The assignment must be completed in APA format. Once posted we have to comment on two other posts by Saturday using a well thought out, researched reply with references. There will be a couple of group projects and a final paper. I truly do not have enough hours in the day to complete the reading required to keep up with the class.

The professor seems kind. She is demanding, but very available and offers insightful feedback. Her responses are prompt and she encourages us to reach out to her. My classmates have a variety of experiences and interesting backgrounds. Although we will never meet face to face they seem very open to communicating and helping each other.

Despite one mini breakdown this week I am not throwing in the towel yet! I had a little internal heart to heart on my extremely boring 18 mile run today. I am going to do the best I can and learn as much as I can during this experience. I love learning, but I also have always felt a sense of inadequacy in everything I do as if I’m never good enough or smart enough. Just today someone asked me if I was even an RN. She didn’t understand how I could be in a Master’s program if I was an LPN. I am a registered nurse.  I know that part of my desire to obtain a Master’s Degree is to lend legitimacy to my role as a nurse and an educator.

Carlos had an excellent first week back at school. He really loves his new teacher. His class has only 8 children which is fantastic. I managed to have a successful week of marathon training. Today was my long run. To save time I decided to just run from home instead of driving somewhere for a change of scenery. Unfortunately both of my running partners were out of commission, one is injured, and the other has been sick. I could not have chosen a more mundane, ugly route! Needless to say the 18 miles did not fly by, but I got them done. I stopped in to a McDonald’s for water at mile 10 and the staff there could not have been more friendly. They allowed me to refill my water pack for free. A couple of elderly women were absolutely fascinated by my CamelBak and asked to look at it, see how it worked, and wanted to know where to buy to use on their walks! I get antsy sometimes during a long run and just want to finish it, but I am reminded that I am also doing this to set a healthy example to others. I try to smile when I run so I don’t give the impression that running is really awful, and I am always happy to chat for a few minutes.

I suppose I should get back to reading. It’s not the most captivating reading!

What’s New

Where do I begin? Do you have a few minutes…hours? It’s been a busy summer, and sadly it’s almost over. School starts on Monday for both Carlos and me. After researching programs and thinking about going to graduate school for a few years now I finally found a program that feels right. I was accepted into Sacred Heart University’s MSN program with a specialty in Nursing Education.

We have been in Florida since last Friday visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and my father who live in the Ft. Lauderdale/Pompano Beach area. My sister and brother-in-law moved here in May, and my dad has lived here for years. It has been wonderful spending time with them. Carlos has enjoyed some long awaited quality time with his auntie and grandpa.

Despite the heat and humidity I kept up with marathon training while on vacation. For my long run I ran 14 miles up the coast to Boca Raton. It was steaming hot when I left around 6:30AM and it only got hotter and more humid. It was a slow run, but the change of scenery was a welcome treat.

I ran, worked, and took a couple of vacation days. We went to Rapids Water Park on Saturday, spent time at the beach, and I got a much needed manicure with my sister.

 

More running news:

  • Marathon training is in full swing. It’s going really well. Lots of running, some speed and hill work, improving my tempo runs, and a new emphasis on warm ups and could downs. I am learning to run with friends. I am certainly becoming heat conditioned should it be hot and humid on race day. I am worrying less about my pace and more about injury prevention, enjoying the run, and taking care of myself.
  • Back in July I attended a two day Road Runners Club of America Coaching Certification Course in Portland, Maine. It was two full eight hour days of learning about running, coaching, training, dealing with injury, nutrition, and so much more. It was an intense training after which we had 30 days to take a 100 question exam. I passed with flying colors! I have no immediate intentions of formally coaching anyone, and even if I change my mind about that I don’t think I could ever take money for it. I took the course more for my own knowledge, and also to lend legitimacy to the answers and suggestions I offer to friends and new runners who ask for advice. As luck would have it one of my new running partners has registered to run her first half marathon this fall, and she is putting her training and faith into my hands. I’m honored, and a little nervous. Fortunately she’s extremely motivated, very positive, and open to this new experience. She is going to do great!
  • Speaking of registering for races…I entered the lottery for the Big Sur Marathon. It’s been on my race bucket list since I first heard about it. A friend who has run the race as part of the Boston to Big Sur challenge messaged me to let me know about the random drawing for First Timer’s. I don’t play the regular lottery, but perhaps I should. On April 30, 2017 I will be running the Big Sur Marathon. Orlando is looking forward to his first trip to the west coast. I will once again push myself out of my comfort zone as I face winter training again, something I swore I wouldn’t do after two years of training for Vermont City, and I will have to learn how to run long distances without the comfort and companionship of my music. Big Sur does not allow headphones on the course. I feel ridiculous admitting that this was the one factor that had me on the fence about registering, but ultimately I decided that this is something I need to do.
  • The Olympics…Usain Bolt is superhuman. Meb’s finish made me tear up. He is such a class act. Galen Rupp’s bronze medal finish had me torn with mixed emotions of excitement, and a little bit of skepticism. My heart went out to Kate Grace during her 800 meter race. The women’s 4×400 meter relay team were on fire and won their 6th straight gold medal. There were so many more inspiring moments.

On the topic of the Olympics, I had the pleasure of watching the final soccer match between Brazil and Germany with my soccer obsessed son and my Brazilian brother-in-law while in Florida. It was a nail biter and ended in a shoot out. We went crazy when Neymar scored the winning goal for Brazil. It was such an exciting game. I can’t imagine how insane it must have been in the stadium.

I love the Olympics. This year in particular, it was a welcome break from political talk. I really enjoy the inspirational stories of the athletes. It’s fun to come together as a family in the evening to watch whatever event is airing.

The beginning of August was two weeks day camp for Carlos and a busy work schedule for me. We still made time for get togethers with friends. There was a quick trip to the Connecticut Shore, a baseball game, playgrounds, and Carlos went on a whale watching trip with a friend and his family.

I went to see Pitbull in concert in Hartford with a friend. I wasn’t planning on going to the show, but at the last minute my friend had an extra ticket. It was a gorgeous night thankfully because we had lawn seats. The show was fun, energetic, and got me dancing…something I absolutely love doing, but I haven’t done in ages.

Where was Orlando in August? Fortunately Orlando has been very busy with work. As a mason he relies on the summer months to not only make money, but to accumulate hours for our medical insurance. As a mason in the bricklayer’s union he is required to work at least 1000 hours per year to maintain his benefits which are far better than mine so we prefer to keep his active. The intensity of his summer work hours is balanced by a 2-4 month winter layoff. We miss him over the summer, but it’s a trade off that we’ve been living with for many years. Today is actually Orlando’s birthday and we are looking forward to seeing him after almost a week away.

We are on the plane flying home. JetBlue’s wifi is by far the best of any airline I’ve been on in recent years and it’s free! We should be in Hartford in about 90 minutes and then it’s back to work this afternoon. Carlos has soccer practice later today. Tomorrow will be a full work day and an afternoon play date at the park. I have a 16 mile long run on Saturday. I work Saturday night at the hospital. Sunday morning run, and my friend’s baby shower later in the morning.

The summer break will officially close with my birthday. I will be 43 years old this weekend. All I ask for is another 43 years to keep living life as fully as I have this past month.