Get to Know Alex | One of Our Chapter Leaders

Alex on vacation with her husband
Alex on vacation with her husband
1. What is your role in GMMRTT and what does it mean for our group?
I joined Sharon and Kendra 2 1/2 years ago, just looking to be involved, at the time I didn’t even know it was a national running group; I thought it was just a small group of women who wanted someone to run with, and I knew I wanted to not only be a part of it, but to help it grow and share how awesome it is. I started reaching out to local running stores, race directors and started trying to grow our group through branding and community outreach. My involvement now, is different day to day. I work with Kendra and Sharon on monitoring the board, meeting with them to see how we can grow effectively, trying to be involved in our community (Girls on the Run, Runner’s Alley Night, Cleaning Up Manchester on Earth Day etc). The three of us actively work together daily to make sure the boards are running smoothly, members are joining group runs, maintenance issues, and to run ideas by each other.
2. How has being a Chapter Leader for GMMRTT impacted your life?
Oh my gosh, I don’t know if words can describe what it has done for me. Women stopping me randomly to thank me, or because they recognize me, is something I will never get used to. I think the biggest impact is what you all have given me. I am a better person because of you, you all inspire me and drive me to be better. Explaining this group to strangers is always funny; how do you describe that we have a group of 1500 women that lift each other up DAILY, inspire each other DAILY, and aren’t catty? Women that you barely know and you share your deepest fears, darkest secrets, and biggest triumphs with. I would never be able to fully explain the impact you all have had on me.
3. Share WHY you run. What do you love about it?
I started running because I thought that’s what you did when you were in your 30’s. I continued running because I realized it tremendously helped my anxiety. Now I do it because I love it, and its my outlet.
4. Describe your proudest running moment. 
Ahhhhh I don’t think I can pick just one proud moment for running. Each of my big moments have lead me to where I am now, A sub 30 5k (27:57), two half marathons, running double digit miles for the first time, finishing that damn 10 miler. I can’t pick! lol

5. What is your favorite distance or race to run?

I think my favorite race distance is the 10K, there aren’t a lot of them, and I wish there were more.

6. Where is your favorite running spot?
My favorite running spot would be anywhere near the ocean, Rte 1 in NH, Old Orchard Beach, anywhere where the salt hits my face.
7. When you get the runchies what do you grab first?
I truthfully try to ward off the runchies. I am a very, very VERY bad eater if I let my hunger go. I don’t eat before I run, so I plan to eat after, and when I run long I make sure I eat every 2 hours(fruit, yogurt, picky bar etc)
8. What is the craziest, wildest or strangest thing that ever happened during a run?
While running Cigna last year a girl threw up on my foot as we were cresting the hill at the end. I wasn’t expecting it, and almost lost it myself, but due to that I finished very strong and earned my first sub 30 time! If that girl is one of you, you owe me a new pair of socks😉 lol
9. If you could go for a run with one person, who would it be, and why?
My husband. He is a non-runner, the guy that would put 0.0 on the back of his car. Chris is super supportive, but wants nothing to do with running. I am always so jealous of you all that have husbands who run.
10. What’s one running accessory you can’t leave home without?
My phone! God forbid I don’t have my nike app and music!
11. What is your current running goal or area you’d like to improve on?
My goal is to run happy and stay injury free. Coming off of a long 5 months with barely running taught me that cross training is a legit thing and every runner should do it. I have kept my mileage down and am giving myself the year to run for fun and not for time or distance.
12. What do you do for work?
I am the buyer for a large orthopedic group. I basically spend other peoples money for a living😉
13. Do you have any kids? If yes, how many, what are their ages and what is your favorite thing to do with them?
I have two children, a 7 year old and a 17 year old and I love to just be with them. We have a very busy schedule, like most of you, so just hanging around being goofballs is my absolute favorite thing.
14. Besides running and working out, what do you love to do?
I love to read, explore(driving, walking, hiking), and be with friends and family
15. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
My favorite vacation spot would be anywhere near the ocean. Florida, Main, North Carolina- doesn’t matter. I love them all.
16. When life and/or the run gets tough, what’s your go to mantra?
The 3 Cs in life, you must make the Choice to take the Chance or your life will never Change

Gear for the Long Run

Training for (and completing!) an ultra marathon offers many opportunities to learn a great deal about what is essential for a successful long run. As with anything, there will be trials and errors, but these are the “must haves” I discovered along the way.

The perfect running shoe for you and the miles you’ll travel.
The 55-mile Manchester to Monadnock Ultra Marathon was mostly paved road but with some trails (and two mountains). I heard a great deal about Hoka One One before I began my training and hoped it would be a good match for me as I was very attracted to the maximal cushion this brand offers. Thankfully it is a neutral shoe–I do not pronate when I run–and I fell in love with the Bondi model immediately. I’m in my third pair and cannot imagine running in anything else.

Of course this does not mean a maxi shoe is essential for everyone for long runs. What is essential is find a shoe you love enough to log those miles. Be sure to start at your local running store for a proper fit and lots of good advice.

Great Socks
For years my go-to sock has been Darn Tough. They keep my feet dry and warm in the winter and cool and blister-free in the summer. And they LAST. A better sock there is not, in my opinion. However, I am prone to blood clots and this has forced me to investigate compression socks as they are vital for me during (and after) longer runs. I still use my Darn Toughs for runs less than 10 miles, but after that it is all Pro Compression. They come in very cute colors and patterns and have kept their “squeeze” through repeated washing. I wear them when I’m not running too!

ChafeX
Perhaps you’ve only heard about chafing in running horror stories. The struggle is real, especially when the miles start to add up. There are a few products on the market that are designed to help prevent this painful condition, but I’ve found nothing works better than ChafeX. Based in Canton, MA, the owner stopped me at an expo right before a marathon last fall. Knowing I had that ultra in my future, I was willing to try something new. I’m so glad I did. ChafeX is a cream that “trains” your skin to avoid chafing as well as hot spots, blisters, and callouses by creating microlayers on your skin. Pro tip: put it on the night before a long run and then reapply in the morning for the best protection. This is especially important in the summer when it seem the additional sweating seems to really bring out the chafe.

Quality Underwear
Speaking of chafing, I’ve found the right underwear makes all the difference. I’ve run in EMS for years but needed a change. After trying both Moving Comfort and ASICS, I’ve found I like the fit of the ASICS ASX Bikini best. The satin-like material of the Moving Comfort is very attractive, but just a little too slippery for me and not quite enough coverage in the back. I have worn both running and both do perform well in terms of no chafing.

 A Quality Bra
This is where Moving Comfort has me. Their Juno Sports Bras are sized by actual bra size rather than SML, which makes a big difference in fit and therefore chafing. As someone who would buy one of those size L bras, I’m always looking for ways to reduce bounce and the Juno has that covered. I’ve had minor chafing issues on my mid-back in hot weather when I haven’t ChafeXed well (or at all), but even so this remains is my favorite bra and I intend to continue running in it as often as possible.

Hydration Vest
While I’d opted for a hydration belt for distances up to 13.1, I was never completely happy wearing it because it would ride up. The Nathan Intensity Hydration Vest changed everything. I love this thing and have my BRF to thank (and thank and thank) for pointing me toward it. I wear it whenever I will be running 10 miles or more (I use a Flip Belt for shorter mileage but that is another post altogether) because not only does it hold enough water, but also my iPhone, my fuel (usually a LARABAR or two) and my keys all with no bounce and zero chafing. It literally became a part of me while training for my ultra and it feels odd to not wear it when I run.

Now you know my secret to surviving long runs! Is there a gear must-have I missed? Tell us about it in the comments!

 

Get to Know Sharon |The Founder of Our Chapter

Sharon (right) with her sister after a run on the beach.
Sharon (right) with her sister after a run on the beach.

 

1. What is your role in GMMRTT and what does it mean for our group?
I started this group in 2013 really to help motivate myself to become a runner and carve out me-time from mommy-hood.  As I found my own balance and embraced running, my goal became to help support and motivate other new moms to find success on the same journey.  I would comment on every single post to make sure everyone felt supported.  We’ve grown so big and have so many great members, that for better or worse, I have left the supporting role to others in the group.  My role now is to make sure this group continues to a be a safe, supportive and positive place for women.   This includes background checking all new join requests and reviewing posts for content and kicking myself when I miss something!

2. How has being a Chapter Leader for GMMRTT impacted your life?
I’m constantly amazed by what we’ve created and all the amazing women who have joined this group.  This group constantly reminds me how important community is and how wonderful the bond of running is.  I also stay up much too late reading posts!

3. Share WHY you run. What do you love about it?
I love to run because as a kid I was completely nonathletic and self-conscious about it, I want my kids to embrace an active lifestyle so that they can decide what they want to participate in and not have it decided for them.  I love to run because I can run, it’s my time, quiet time or social time, whatever I need it to be that day.

4. Describe your proudest running moment. 
My proudest running moment would be finishing my first 5K, I hit the wall after crossing the finish line, I couldn’t even walk but I had finished it and done something I never ever expected to be able to do.

5. What is your favorite distance or race to run?

 I love to run 10 miles.  Although I love to work on my speed, I don’t really care much about racing.


6. Where is your favorite running spot?
York, Maine  Long Sands Beach to the Nubble lighthouse

7. When you get the runchies what do you grab first?
Ice cream

8. What is the craziest, wildest or strangest thing that ever happened during a run?
Sorry to turn serious but that would be running from the Boston Marathon finish line (as a spectator) to my office to find people looking for me because they knew where I was and the bombs had gone off sometime during my 2 mile run back but I had no idea why they were so upset.


9. If you could go for a run with one person, who would it be, and why?
 My husband, we joke around like kids and then a hill will come and I take off to beat him up it even though I know he’ll do the same on the downhill.  We have fun and race each other constantly.


10. What’s one running accessory you can’t leave home without?
My headband and sunglasses

11. What is your current running goal or area you’d like to improve on?
I’m trying to get back to running 8-10 miles “easily”

12. What do you do for work?
I lead a companion diagnostics department at a pharmaceutical company.

13. Do you have any kids? If yes, how many, what are their ages and what is your favorite thing to do with them?
I have two girls, 4 and 7.  We love to read together, do puzzles and run of course!

14. Besides running and working out, what do you love to do?
I love to read and go boating.


15. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Maui in the winter, the Maine coast in the summer.
16. When life and/or the run gets tough, what’s your go to mantra?
I’ve got this!

5 Tips for Running in the Heat of Summer

One of the many amazing things about living in New Hampshire is experiencing the four seasons, for some amount of time determined by Mother Nature.  Unfortunately, for runners, that means having more running clothes and equipment than we know what to do with, as well as getting our bodies to adapt to the changing temperatures.

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Here are 5 tips to keep you safe while running in the heat of summer:

  1. Stay Hydrated. Being hydrated for your run doesn’t mean that you only drink something right before you run. Staying hydrated every single day is important all year long, but especially in summer, when we sweat more. Drinking 60-80 oz of water a day will keep those headaches at bay, flushes out toxins, and keeps those muscles happy.  The day prior to your long run be sure to alternate water with drinks that have electrolytes. You might want to consider carrying water with you on your run, or stashing it along the route you’ll run. If you feel thirsty, that’s a sign that you’re already dehydrated.
  2. Run Early or Late in the Day. Getting up before, or with, the sunrise when the day is at it’s coolest will keep you from melting in the high sun during a runch. If you’re only option is to run at your lunch break, opt for a treadmill indoors or find a shaded route. Running in the evening when the sun is low will also keep you from melting. The air might still be thick from the days heat, but you won’t have the sun beaming right on you. Our bodies typically warm up 15 to 20 degrees hotter than the outdoor temperature, so if it’s TOO hot, don’t run! Get some exercise in the pool or at the lake, or find another way to sweat-maybe you could use that gym membership you thought you’d use more than you actually do. One day of missing your run isn’t going to throw your training down the drain. An extra day of “rest” is better than heat stroke! If you set out to run a certain distance but start to feel sick or dizzy, it’s time to call it quits for the day! Also, don’t forget that SPF! 
  3. Wear Cool Clothing. Stay away from cotton! It’s thick and doesn’t breathe as well, making you feel hotter than you need to feel. Wear light materials in lighter colors to keep you cool on the run. Also, be sure to wash those clothes sooner rather than later! Peeew!
  4. Use a Cooling Towel. You can buy the workout towels, that once wet, stay cool for a long periods of time, and wear this around your neck for those longer runs, or must run days. You can then splash your water on it along the way and it will keep you cooler.
  5. Wear sunglasses and a hat/visor. Keep the hot sun out of your face with sunglasses and a hat! You won’t have to squint, you won’t get a sunburn on your face and you’ll feel cooler. Be sure the hat is lighter material and breathable!

Race Day – This post inspired by The Vermont City Marathon 5/29/16

You calmly walk to the designated course. The crowd is an eclectic mix of people who at some time or another decided that today, at this time and location, they would pin a bib on their shirt and race. You know your “why” for being there and it is pretty much guaranteed that every.single.person you can see has their very own too. The atmosphere is both calm and chaotic at the same time. A true enigma. You can feel the energy generated from the strength and determination of those around you as it radiates inside you and surges between nervousness and excitement.

The race starts and your heart pounds with anticipation. The roar of people yelling motivational sayings, clapping and the ringing of cowbells is deafening but oh so exhilarating. Where else do strangers encourage strangers with such gusto just for showing up? You are instantly glad you came and are part of such a joyous group of people. The positivity is infectious and you can’t help but smile. What if people treated each other like this all the time?

Soon you begin to tire and sweat from your efforts but you are all in and in it ‘till the end. At this point, some are cruising along what appears effortlessly, others are conquering previously unknown territory far from their comfort zone of training miles, some are pushing themselves to just keep moving forward, and others are struggling, things are not going as they had planned. Yet, you cheer for ALL of them with the same amount of ADMIRATION and ANIMATION because every person you see inspires you in many, many ways.

This is what it is like to be a spectator. And another way the running community can make you a better person.

marathon faith

 

Chocolate Protein Ball Recipe

These days it seems like when we aren’t pounding the pavement we are constantly running from one activity to the next, one job to another or from work to the gym. In order to fuel your body properly to perform your best, and to stay healthy, it is helpful for you to have your snacks prepared for you to grab and go. One snack that has made a huge difference for me is these Chocolate Protein Balls. They fill me up and are so easy to take with me and eat in the car! Lauren P. shared this recipe with a few us a long time ago and when I tried them out I wondered why I waited so long!  Try them out and let us know what you think!

chocolate protein ball

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (I bought mini chocolate chips and they worked fabulously!)
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate flavored protein powder, or to taste

Directions:

10 minute prep

Ready in 40 minutes

  • Stir all ingredients together in a bowl until evenly mixed
  • cover bowl with plastic wrap
  • refrigerate for 30 minutes
  • Scoop chilled mixture into balls
  • Keep cold until serving

If you have a recipe you think the group would love please email it to: gmmrttblog@gmail.com

Going BIG with Big Sur Marathon | A Race Recap

When I decided years ago that I would run a marathon I decided my first one would be a BIG one.  I didn’t necessarily mean in terms of people in the race, but I wanted something epic.  A race that people would recognize.  A race that would inspire me through whatever challenges lay ahead.
After having my second child in February 2015 I decided to start looking into chasing my next big scary goal.  I looked at a few lists of Marathons to run and found a race that sparked my imagination and my first marathon goals of:
  1. Scenic
  2. Big enough to have company but not a crowd
  3. Reasonable temperatures
  4. Well supported
  5. Memorable
Big Sur was like a checklist.  I had my name in the lottery as fast as I could despite the fact that I didn’t think I would be running the race in 2016.  After all tried to get in to NYC marathon for 4 years before deciding I didn’t want to run it my automatic entry year.
Then Mikaela posted about how we had both gotten into Big Sur.  I was in shock, I was in awe, I was beyond excited.   I trained as best I could despite getting injured due to stepping on an ice ball during our relatively mild winter and prepared to travel to California for the race.
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On to a more traditional race recap.
Big Sur Marathon 
 
Cost: $160 if you get in through lottery, $320 if you want to pay an extra charitable donation to get in  + flights, hotels, food etc
Location:
Big Sur Marathon runs 26.2 miles from Big Sur Station to Carmel California along the gorgeous coastal route 1.  I had driven the road during my honeymoon in 2007 so I knew it was a gorgeous race.  The race also offers a variety of other distances if you have any friends that want to race, but don’t want to run a marathon.  My best friend who lives in California ran the 9 miler.
That whole area is gorgeous too, we made the race the focus of our yearly family vacation.  We went on marine life viewing boat rides, played on the beach, went hiking in Pinnacles national park, went to a discovery center, it was worth the trip out there.
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Course:
The course may be gorgeous and straightforward (kind of hard not to follow the only road running along the coast) but it is not easy by any means.  Conservative estimates of the elevation gain are 1700ft, my strava reported a gain of 2000ft.  As a comparison strava reports Manchester City Marathon as being about 1200 ft of gain.  As part of the race one must run a 500ft gain hill over the course of 2 miles to a point called hurricane point.  On race day this point was so windy that I think I still have flashbacks of being in some crazy weather.
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Bib Pickup/Expo etc: 
Smooth and easy in downtown Monterey a short walk away from fisherman’s wharf.  They had a separate tent for bib pickup and for the Expo.  After we picked up our bibs we went to get our tickets for the bus where a volunteer gave us such a complex and long winded explanation of where we had to park and where we had to go to get our bus that we got a little nervous.  We went over to the expo and picked up our shirts.  The expo was relatively small but nice.  It took us a while to find the Big Sur backdrop and we stood in line for it when we did.  Big Sur also has a lot of merchandise available to purchase.
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Logistics:
Coastal Route one is not very heavily developed south of Carmel.  Because there are limited places to stay most people stay in Carmel or Monterey and you must take buses down to the start of the race.  Warning: Hotel costs are insane during this weekend, and with a 3:30am bus loading time it’s hard to avoid staying in a local hotel.  We did have to wait in line for the bus (because we didn’t have the VIP option it was a school bus) but it wasn’t too long.  We had no problem parking and going to the Starbucks that opened at 3:30 am to serve us.
When we got to Big Sur Station it was a bit of a mess.  There was lines going everywhere by the time we got there and we needed to use the rest room.  We worked our way through the crowd to find that most people were in line for coffee and bananas, the porta-potties were quick.
The staging area was crowded and confusing because it was a really small area for 4000+ people.  I did find a small patch of ground to sit down and tape my ankles.  Then we dropped off our drop bags and promptly missed the loading of our intended pace group’s corral.  We got quite confused but made our way as far back as we felt like going.
The Race
The race was fantastic.  There were pace groups for every 15 minute goal time up to 6 hours (the cutoff).  I mostly ran alone but did chat with a few people.  The temperatures were perfect (I think in the 50s) but the winds were I.N.S.A.N.E.  I was trotting along at a 10:30 min/mi pace.  As soon as I started hitting wind I looked down to see the same effort was now giving me about a 12 min/mi.  In a way the many hills were a respite from the headwind.
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There was plenty of aid stations along the course and they were very well manned.  We got water, Gatorade and a medical table every few miles.  I grabbed some Vaseline from a board being held out near the edge of the road a couple times once I realized I was getting chaffed under my arms.
Your family can only come see you at the finish (probably the only real disadvantage I can think of other than the hills) but the course organizers made sure to have musical acts all the way along the course.  My favorite was the group playing war drum type music as we were about to head up the worst hill on the course and the piano signifying we had come down that hill and reached the half way point.
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The half way point was immediately after a famous and historic bridge known as Bixby bridge.  I actually found that area to mess with my head a little.  There were news vans and people hanging around taking pictures.  I just wanted to keep enjoying my run and the nature.
I planned the race with a few key hills that I would walk.  Other than hurricane point, most of those hills were in the second half of the race.  Actually the last hill was right at the 25 mile mark.  Are you kidding me!  I managed to get to the top of that hill, found the aid station that was handing out strawberries and enjoyed the last stretch near the ocean.  Then a girl I had run with earlier (who lives in Merrimack NH), came up to me and said, “lets do this”.  I flew at the end I was so excited and emotional.  I couldn’t wait to see my parents, my kids and my husband.  They were there… but they didn’t see me run by.  I guess I was just going too fast for them.
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Post-Race
The post-race village was nicely set up.  You picked up a box of food and were funneled into a large center courtyard with a family reunion area.  There was a beer tent, entertainment, some more food, massages etc.  Only problem was that you couldn’t see the rest of the finishers unless you had a VIP package.  So when I wanted to go see Mikaela finish, I had to hobble all the way around this village to go stand in the commoner section and watch her finish.
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And finish we did🙂
Miriam