Thursday, July 23, 2015

Throw Back Thursday! Napa Valley Marathon 11'

I've never actually participated in a TBT.  I see people post stuff on Facebook or Instagram, but honestly I just never saw the appeal.  I have been tagged in a few TBT photos and lets just say those are usually photos I'd like to forget!  But I thought I would share with you an exciting thing that happened after my first marathon finish in March of 2011.  I was contacted by Sarah Bowen Shea, the author of :Run Like A Mother and they wanted to feature me on their blog.  I was totally elated and of coarse said yes!  They sent me a series of questions to answer  and just a few weeks later I was featured!!  It made my first marathon experience that much more exciting!  Here's the link to the original blog post interview....

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We want her arms: Deana Boucher running her first 26.2, earlier this month
Deana Boucher, a mom of three in Woodbury, Connecticut, would agree with my mother, who often says, "No matter how many pairs of shoes you have, you never have the right pair." Deana owns up to her shoe obsession, but since taking up running  two years ago and running the Napa Valley Marathon this month, the pair that matter most to her are her running kicks. See what this newbie blogger has to say.
Best recent run: Although my marathon finish is on a whole other level of accomplishment, I think my best most recent run was when I completed my first 24-miler in training. It was the day before my 40th birthday, and the weather was windy with snow showers. I was terrified to go alone. I never in my life thought I could run that far. Finishing was one of the most empowering moments. I now feel anything is possible.  
I run because: Three years ago I had been told by a trainer that I would never be a runner because of a poor stride; he said I’d risk injury.
Deana ("Dean-a") in her first race, the NJ Half
 Instead, I signed up for my first half marathon, asking a new trainer for help with my stride. We worked on form, and I completed my first half five months later! Running now is a daily part of my mommy-sanity. Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you cannot do something!
No dampened enthusiasm: Marathon morning, it was raining when I got up. Ugh: I’m not one of those people that trains for “any weather condition”; instead, I cross my fingers and pray for good weather. It was a steady downpour through mile 12 and showers to the finish. Whenever I felt disappointment creeping in, I repeated my favorite motto: “You take what the race day gives you.”
Only one pair: I am a self-proclaimed shoe addict. I have more than 50 pairs of heels and 8 different running sneakers. I love shoes because they instantly change my mood: I might feel sexy in sling-backs, sassy in peep-toes, carefree in ballet flats. But if I could only have one pair, I’d have to pick my running sneakers.  Although pretty, flirty shoes make me happy, running makes me feel strong, sane, and sexy. I’ll take any shoe that can deliver those results!
Now what? I have two half marathons planned for this spring, and I'm awaiting the lottery decision for New York City Marathon in the fall. If NYC is not in my future, I may do the Hartford or Philadelphia marathon in the fall. A Boston qualifier marathon result is definitely in my sights: I plan on being a lifetime running mom.
Can’t run without: My iPod with cool, “not kid friendly” tunes is my guilty pleasure. I’m addicted to my Garmin—I’m a pace freak. Lululemon running gloves and a hand-held water bottle with Propel water. The gloves are the perfect fabric weight for chilly mornings and have a key holder. I am not a huge water fan so Propel makes drinking it more palatable. High maintenance, maybe…loves running, yes!
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Deana and the fam in FLA on vaca 

So there you have it my first official TBT!  Happy Thursday Running Peeps!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Laying A New Foundation

Have you ever worked so hard for something only to have it slip away?  It doesn't take long for weeks and months of hard work to be crushed.  It's not easy to put your heart and soul into a goal only to have it desintigrate faster than a blink of an eye.  I thought about this a lot on Monday as I mentally prepare myself for another marathon training cycle.
My run on Monday took me alone some of the most beautiful and the most devastated beaches on the NJ shore. A small town called Mantoloking found itself front and center in the path of hurricane Sandy in 2012. Three years later glorious beach front homes....(multi-million dollar homes) have been condemned or worse reduced to mear rubble.  Dreams of the good life washed away in an instant. No warning really, just gone. The only thing left is to walk away and forget the dream or lay a new foundation and start anew.

Isn't that what our training seasons are like? Always building up....sometimes we reach that goal but sometimes we don't.  My favorite mantra of racing is "you take what the race day gives you".  Sometimes that can be pure joy of reaching your goal or sheer and utter disgust that all that hard work and energy didn't amount to what you intended.  But with every PR comes a moment of disappointment.
The crushing realization that your goal is unattainable at this time.  What do you do in that moment?  Do you walk away and forget the dream ever existed? Or do you rebuild? Take stock in what you have learned and relay the foundation?

I was faced with that question last fall. I was struggling to make mental peace with the events of my Boston 2013 experience. After a crushing failure in 2014 I was trying anything I could to reclaim some type of victory. But if I'm honest with myself I didn't lay my foundation properly and I failed. Taking stock in the events of last year, I didn't train for Boston 2014 properly.  Mentally my head wasn't in the game.  I got my long runs in, but that was about it. I ran a ragnar race 2 weeks after Boston & started training for a 50 mile ultra in July.  My body hurt, IT band, hips.  It wasn't fun.  In Sept I ran 20 miles of a 50 mile trail relay in prep for my 50 miler.  I fell around mile 15 and fractured my ankle.  That fracture mentally destroyed me.  I felt as though I was a pile of rubble cast aside.  I felt maybe my time was up.  I'm 43 and no spring chicken.  Was I too old and too weak?  Heck I'm not really an athlete, maybe I'm not even a "runner". 

But after the dust settled and I had time to reflect and be truly honest with myself I realized I didn't lay a proper foundation. First off I didn't allow my body any recovery.  I was so hell bent on being victorious at anything that I ignored signs of fatigue my body was giving me.  I realized wasn't training to my full potential.  I had cut corners, missed runs, didn't strength train.  Given those factors how could I expect to PR or trail run successfully when I didn't train properly.  The answer was, I couldn't. 

My ankle fracture was a total wakeup call.  It allowed me time to totally allow my body to recover.  It gave me space to think about what I really wanted.  In October a friend asked me if I was running Boston, I said no.  But then I thought why am I not running?  Don't I deserve one more chance to reclaim my race that was taken in 2013?  I knew right there and then I wanted to run, I needed to run. I immediately called the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club to see if they had any charity numbers available.  I had run for them in 2013 so I thought I'd try them first.  They had one number left and it was mine if I wanted it!  I didn't even have to think about it.  I received the paperwork & faxed it back within 30 minutes and just like that the dream was renewed.

In order to succeed I needed to rebuild myself. I knew I needed to fully commit to my training. No half fast workouts.  No skipping runs because of the weather or other plans.  I was either all in or all out.  Just like the people rebuilding here on the NJ shore.  You can't rebuild either wipe the slate clean and rebuild with a new foundation or you walk away.  I had my best training season for the 2015 Boston Marathon.  I used the Hanson Training Method and came upon race day uninjured feeling mentally and  physically stronger than I had in years!  I beat my 2013 projected time, which was my ultimate goal.  But if I'm honest I was also disappointed.  I knew in my heart I could have done even better.  All of my training runs had predicted a finish 12 minutes better but circumstances on race day and fueling issues didn't allow for that.  So when I crossed that finish line and the medal hung around my neck I let the reality of my Boston 2015 experience sink in.  I celebrated my victory with family and friends and reflected on what I needed to do differently and what I had learned.   I didn't immediately sign up for another race, which is usually my M.O. right after a race.  However this time I allowed myself time to think and reflect.  I didn't even write a Boston race re-cap yet because I wanted to fully understand my emotions.  Boston 2013 kicked my butt mentally for 2 years and I needed to process it.

It wasn't until June that I decided I would try another marathon in October.  I had been trying to decide if I try my hand at another 50 miler or if I try another marathon.  The reality is I really want to see if I can reach that secondary goal.  I love road running and I feel I'm on a good path to take myself to the next level.  It's not going to be easy, I find summer training grueling.  The Hanson Training Method is intense and the weekly mileage is high.  But it got me to my goal in April and I am hoping that this foundation will take me to my goal in October.  Relaying a new foundation is never easy.  Putting your faith in a new training plan, (a contractor) so to speak takes guts.  But if your boards are rotted, if the nails are rusted shouldn't you replace them with new?

Have you ever had to take a step back and re-lay a new foundation?  What is holding you back from starting new?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

And On The 9th Day...

In 9 days I will lay it all on the line.  I will pour my heart over the Boston Marathon course for the third time.  This time I am here for me.  Me...and me alone.  This year I will be racing it for a win for me.  No, I'm not the fastest runner out there.  No, I'm not going for a BQ, (although that would be the cherry on top). But I am I'm running this year to take back the joy of running and racing that was stolen from me on that fateful day in 2013.  (You can read about my 2013 experience here and here)  Last years race was all about just crossing the lucid finish line on Boylston Street.  Do I have a time goal for this year, Heck Yeah I do!  Do I think I'll meet or exceed it? I plan on it!

I have spent 15 weeks pouring over my plan and I have stuck to it like glue.  Snow, sleet, rain, it didn't matter, I am like the mailman, and I got it done.  My instagram feed proves I will not  be defeated by Mother Nature.  My treadmill and I had become serious BFF's for a few weeks.  But it's these last 2 weeks of training called "The Taper" that are killing me.  During this taper phase of training your mind has way too much time to think and that's when fear and doubt creep in.

"Taper: the practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition. Tapering is customary in many endurance sports, such as the long-distance running and swimming. For many athletes, a significant period of tapering is essential for optimal performance."

My hormones are all over the board from the lack of endorphins and nervous energy.  I feel anxious, irritable, even weepy at times.  I just want to go out and run...I want to show myself I can do this.  But it's a proven fact, you need to rest and recover and be slightly under trained to preform your best.

Yesterday my emotions got the best of me.  Tons of self doubt crept into my mind and I couldn't shake it.  I needed to get good thoughts in my head and stomp out the negative ones.  I love running quotes and if you search google there is no shortage of things to read, but nothing seemed to resonate with me.  Sitting at my desk I decided I needed something more personal so I created a vision board.  It wasn't anything fancy or even planned.  I just grabbed a piece of card stock and magazines out of the recycle bin and began cutting words and sentences that felt meaningful.  I haven't done something like this since high school and at first I felt silly.  I mean, here I am a 44 year-old mom of 3 and I'm cutting words out of a magazine. Seriously who has time for this?  But for me it was a reminder of not only how far I've come over the past 15 weeks, but what I have overcome since 2013.  A symbol of what is in store for race day and beyond.  I have to admit it was pretty cathartic and will now serve as a visual reminder of who I am, what I've accomplished and best yet, where I'm headed....
Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston! Boston here I come!

If you had a vision board what words would you choose?  How do you calm fear and anxiety before an important event?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Has it been that long?

So sad I don't post more often...I swear I come up with the most excellent posts at the weirdest times of the day.  Most of my inspiration comes when I'm running.  I think of a topic and write it out in my head but somehow it never makes here to my tiny space on the Internet.  I'm going to try to get better at that.  But lots to share here.  First my lovely fractured ankled is all healed.  Whoo hoo.  It took a long time.  But I can actually say it was a blessing. I didn't feel that way when I was in the midst of it. But I had the pleasure of having a friend visit recently.  She's one of those friends who knows my heart inside and out.  She asked me with caring eye's how I was doing, how I was feeling about my running.  She truly wanted to know.

You know what I mean...there are people who will ask "How are you? How's training?" and they  really don't care or at least don't want intimate details, which lets be honest we as runners LOVE to share!  I told her how last year was so difficult for me mentally.  Having run Boston and having my worst marathon time finish. Then running the Ragnar Cape Cod 2 weeks later, feeling sluggish and having it reek havoc on my body.  Into trying to train for a 50 mile ultra where from the start my body was revolting.  Hip pain, IT Band issues and then just feeling mentally beaten down.  Lastly too running my first trail race in VT with my running coach who is an experienced Ultra Runner and falling, fracturing my ankle.  The year just sucked.  Sucked with a capital S!

But I perked up and said I feel great this time around, stronger than I have in years.  I can't figure out why....She looked at me and said with the utmost compassion.  You really don't see it?  Your body was begging for a rest.  I mean look at what you put yourself through. You needed it both physically and mentally.  It's not surprising to me at all....Not surprising to her at all? Wow! That comment kinda knocked me on my butt.

It was that light bulb moment and I thought "Hell yea, I needed it!"

Since being given the green light to run in December I started slow.  As much as my mind wanted to dive into longer runs I knew I could not risk it.  I built up my mileage. I listened to my body...what a concept.  I have been faithful with stretching and rolling my legs after running.  I have been doing strength training and incorporating spinning back into my mix.  My body has responded in kind and I feel stronger than I have in over 2 years.
find me on instagram: solemomma

I will be taking my third and final attempt at Boston this year.  In 2013 I was running my best marathon ever before the bombings....2014 saw my worst....2015 is my year to own it, crush it for me and feel like what I've put in is what I got out!

Have you ever suffered an injury only to come back physically and mentally stronger?