Miles for Melissa -January

In October 2015β€²Β  I suddenly lost my beautiful sister; my best friend. My sister was a runner herself. She never raced, but loved nothing more than running the beautiful trails or her favorite loop around town after work or on a Saturday morning. We logged many miles together and laughed so hard together on our runs! I miss that so much!Β  Today; every mile I log is in memory of my sister and every month I set aside a day where I ask the running community to join me in logging #milesformelissa ! She may no longer be here to run beside me, but I know she will forever be running beside me in spirit.

miles for melissa

Sadly today marks 3 months ago I lost my favorite running buddy, my best friend ; my beautiful sister. ❀ In November I started “Miles for Melissa ” as a way to remember my sister! In November and December combined the #runnerscommunity from all over the world amazingly logged nearly 900 miles in memory of my sister who was herself a runner. ❀ Everyday I am so thankful for all the love & support from each of you who continue to run with me in her memory! Please join me beginning today (1/29) through Sunday Runday 1/31 in logging “Miles for Melissa” ❀ Swimming, biking, walking… it all counts! Please use the #milesformelissa hashtag on Instagram so I can add up all the miles logged!! If you already ran today and would like to include your mileage; please comment below or on my Instagram with your total mileage. ❀ Please join me and let’s meet my goal of over 500 miles for Melissa for January! THANK YOU all from the bottom of my heart, this truly means the world to me!

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“Running” When Injury Keeps You From Running – Staying Motivated through Injury

“Running” when injury keeps you from running! How can that be, right? 2 years ago today; 1/25/14 I was out on an early cold winter morning shake out run gearing up to run the Manhattan Half the next day! I was feeling great about my upcoming race! I was about a half mile into my easy paced run when out of nowhere I felt this excruciating, sharp pain through the top of my left foot near my toes. It stopped in dead in my tracks; hands down one of the worst pains I have ever felt. I stretched and attempted to run a few more steps. OUCH! There was no way I could go any further! What now? How would I get back home? Hubby isn’t home and nowhere near; how am I going to get back home? I managed to hobble back home in pain; putting minimal pressure on my left foot. I got in the house; immediately grabbed my coat, called my hubby in tears and headed off to the ER. When I got to the hospital I explained what happened. After being checked and having x-rays taken; I was told is was a sprain. That night I went to sleep with painful throbbing in my foot that kept me awake all night. When Monday arrived I saw an Orthopedic Surgeon who told me to stay off my foot and sent me for an MRI. The rests came back and it was exactly what I thought from the beginning; every runners worst nightmare – a stress reaction / fracture. I was told I could NOT run and I could do no weight bearing activities at all for 6-8 weeks! I had to wear a boot and be on crutches to take pressure off of my foot and allow for healing.

Of course the first thing I said to the doctor was “When can I run again?” “I’m training for my 7th marathon; will I be able to run it?” “What about my Spring races?” He repeated you need to be off your foot for 6-8 weeks then you can slowly work your way back to running! I felt the tears starting to fill my eyes, but before they could I remembered a moment in my life that helped me realize; I can get through this. I was no stranger to injuries being a soccer player in the middle and high school years. As a freshman in high school; I was on a breakaway to score a goal when suddenly I collided with another runner. I fell to the ground; breaking my tibia and fibula bones in my left leg.

broken leg

I was placed on home schooling; as I could not walk through the busy hallways on crutches. While I was injured all I could think about was getting back out there the following year and trying out for the high school team. I stayed positive; I believed and that following year.. I made the team! Here I was 18 years later and there was no reason I couldn’t be that determined, ambitious girl I was when I was 15! I wiped the tears from my eyes; I walked down the hallway where I was given my walking boot and my crutches and I left the office with only positive thoughts in my mind! I was determined to get through this and come back a stronger runner than I was before! I researched workouts that I could do! I realized that swimming would be one of the only types of cardio I could do at this point. I never swam before, but I knew getting in the pool was the only way I could learn so that is exactly what I did. I headed to the local YMCA and signed up.

I got and the pool and thought; now what? I got to chatting to a nice guy working at the pool. I told him about my injury and he told me how beneficial swimming was for runners! It was time to start my swim; I said to myself.. “you’ve got this!” At first it was tough to get my breathing right, my shoulders felt tense but soon I was feeling more comfortable.

I remembered hearing ALOT about “Pool Running” and although I never tried it before I was curious! I heard there were many benefits to it and it helped to keep injured runners strong! I researched it online and decided I was going to give it a try! Luckily the YMCA that I went to had Aqua Belts so I did not need to purchase one. (I have been asked by many runners over the last couple years about “pool running” which is why I decided to write this blog!) Below is all I need to get in the pool and pool run.

pool running

I put my Aqua Belt around my waist, put on the swim cap and goggles; got in the pool and went for it. The aqua belt kept me floating in the water; where my shoulders were above water but the rest of my body in the water. I kept my back straight as I moved my arms and legs mimicking the running motion as I moved across the pool! It felt great! I thought “I think I could handle this for a bit!” So I continued with it! Every morning I would get to the pool at 5am; do some pool running followed by some laps in the pool! Being a distance runner; I was all about numbers so I needed a way to make my time in the pool a little more exciting! I needed way to translate my time in the pool into “miles”!Β  Being in the midst of marathon training; I was used to 2 – 3 hour runs on weekends! I thought how can I make my hours logged in the pool into miles? I got it!! So here is what I did!Β  If on my marathon plan it said 13.1 miles; which would take me approximately 1:45 to do – I decided to pool run for 1:45! If my training plan said 15 miles; I would pool run for 2 hours etc. This helped me to still feel like I was logging miles and kept me motivated and staying positive through the cold winter months and through this injury itself!

pool

I stayed positive and I kept on swimming! I also incorporated strength training into my workouts 3-4 days a week; doing all I could without putting weight on my left foot! 6 weeks later I saw my doctor for another follow up visit and he gave me the OK to start using the Eliptical machine and start biking. Within a couple weeks I was given the ok to use my road bike! Woohoo! I could finally get outside and enjoy this beautiful March weather! So Hubby and I took our bikes to one of my favorite trails!

biking

A few weeks later I returned to the doctor for a follow up and the doctor said to me “Do you want to run?” My reply, “OMG, can I run!?” He said yes, but very slow and only 20 minutes max every other day for a few weeks! I walked out of the office feeling excited, but scared at the same time! “Will it hurt to run?” “What if my foot breaks?” “Can I remember how to run?” The next day I went to the gym; took a treadmill next to my sister and took my first step! I started with 13:00/mile and within a few steps I was at 11:30/mile feeling a bit scared and being cautious. I did about 1.5 miles and it was the most amazing run of my life; it felt so great to feel the ground beneath my feet!

tread

A few days later; I asked my favorite running buddy (my sister) to join me on the trails for a run! My 1st outside run in over two months and I was scared. I knew with my sister there beside me; it would be OK and it was! We chatted, we laughed; I felt a little tightness in my foot but no pain. I was so thankful to be able to run again and so thankful to have my best friend running beside me (I miss her so much everyday, but I will never forget our runs together, the big heart she had and all the times she was there for me through the toughest of days. She took this beautiful photo that day.)

trail

I decided I would run my first post injury race 2 months later. It was a 5k by the beach IN May 14′. I had no idea what to expect but I knew just being able to race again would be AMAZING! I had been running for two months now with my longest run about 6 miles.

1st run back

I started slow then picked up the pace a bit without pushing myself. I finished the race at 8:19/mile a mile and I was so proud! Not the 6:24/mile PR that I ran in the past, but definitely a step in the right direction! I truly believe that all the pool running and swimming kept me strong through my injury. All the swimming even inspired me to complete another Triathlon in September 2014′; just in time for my 34th Birthday!

Converting time spent pool running to “miles” helped me to stay positive and motivated through my injury! If there is one lesson that I learned through this it is to take care of your body and your body will take care of you! If you are feeling fatigued; take that extra rest day! This is your journey and your journey alone; don’t compare your journey with anyone else because no one’s journey is the same! Today, when I need a rest day I take one! I have learned to incorporate more easy run days into my training and focus on getting more sleep when I need it. I am currently training for my 10th marathon and chasing my 4th BQ.

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Have you ever tried pool running? What has helped to keep you motivated through injury? Thoughts? Please share! πŸ™‚Β 

NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10k – 1st Race of 2016′

1-9-16 – Goodbye 2015′! A new year = new goals right? Thanks to this blizzard; I have officially caught up on my race recaps! Woohoo! My first race of the year; Joe Kleinerman 10k! It would be my 3rd year running this race and since running my 1st half marathon in Central Park in 09′ Central Park still remains one of my favorite places to run! It holds a special place in my heart as it is where I found my love of running! πŸ™‚ My sister in law; Jess & her cousin; Heather had planned to run this year and were nice enough to ask if my hubby and I wanted to drive into the city with them! Of course we accepted; who would pass up hanging out with family/friends prior to a race? That morning I set my alarm clock for 3:30am (yes! 3:30am) got ready and we headed in the dark to my sis in law & brother in laws house to wait for Heather who would pick us up at 5am sharp! Heather arrived; the five of us got into the “Kleinerman Kab”and we were NYC bound! We arrived around 5:45am; grabbed a cab and headed to Central Park. Mike and Jess’ cab took them the wrong way, but they arrived just minutes later ready to head to the bib pick-up with us! The new year brought some changes to NYRR as far as bibs go. We were able to get on any line; show them the e-mail sent to us, they scanned it and gave us our bibs 1 – 2 – 3! No long lines; no waiting = just PERFECT! We found a spot on the grass; put on all of our running tech. from Garmins to Ipods and just chatted as we shivered in the chillier temps!

Central Park

The start time grew closer and we decided it was time to head over to the start! We made our last minute potty stops and we headed over to our corrals! I was in Corral D and Jess and Heather in L so I gave them hugs and good lucks & we lined up with the other runners. The Star Spangled Banner was played; important announcements were made and we were off! The start was a bit crowded so I used this time to just pace myself and find a comfortable pace! It kept me from flying out too fast and for that I was thankful! A half mile into mile 1 I found a comfortable pace and I was cruising. At that point averaging about a 7:40 pace. My only goal for this race; as with every race that I run these days is to run for my sister! As I raced; I just focused on enjoying each step and not worrying so much about the pace on my watch! I cruised up the hills feeling much stronger than I expected; I used the downhill to my advantage and just took in the beauty of Central Park. At mile 5 we came to an uphill; I pushed through strong as I repeated to myself “You’ve got this!” I got the top of the hill and there I was greeted by the downhill (YAY!) with just one mile left! I was determined; I looked down at my watch and knew this was going to be a decent race for me so I kicked it into high gear! I saw the finish line and I kicked it up another notch; I crossed the finish line; looked down at my watch to see that last kick through the finish was a 7:05/mile! I finished the race in 48:35 & was so proud! This meant a lot to me for one because I ran a strong race “Miles for Melissa” for my sister. I ran a pace that I haven’t been able to hit since before my stress fracture in early 2014′. I was proud of the way I conquered those challenging hills! Finally I felt that all my hard work over the last 2 years is finally paying off and that made me proud!

I crossed the finish; found my hubby and brother in law! I grabbed some post race snacks from the kind volunteers and cheered on the other runners as we looked for Jess and Heather in the crowds of runners crossing the finish line! πŸ™‚ I cheered and cheered & soon spotted Jess running to the finish! I tapped my brother in law on the arm “Jess is coming; here she comes!” I yelled and she crossed the finish line looking strong!! Congratulations on an AWESOME race Jess !! So proud of you!!

jess

We all met after the race; congratulated one another and took pics (of course)!!

me, jess, heather

Then we picked up our race tees! I was worried that there wouldn’t be any sizes left since now tee shirts are picked up after the race, but it was just fine! πŸ™‚ The shirts were an awesome color blue (my favorite color); it’s actually one of my favorite NYRR shirts and I run in it often!

joe k 10k

After the race I changed into warm, dry clothes and we started our walk back to the car. My one request after the race was a cup of hot coffee from Starbucks! I always crave a hot cup of coffee after a race! It was a beautiful day in the city; in the high 50’s! We walked down beautiful 5th Avenue and just chatted about the race; about are upcoming races and 2016′ goals!

 

We headed up to Columbus Circle and I suggested we stop at one of my favorite running stores; NYC Running Company! Of course the girls said “yes, let’s go!” We walked into the Shops at Columbus Circle; giggled going through the revolving doors and headed up to the running store! We shopped for a bit before heading to Starbucks so I could get my cup of coffee!! Just perfect! I sipped my coffee as we continued our walk back to Heather’s car! It turns out that according to the app on Jess’ phone we logged 15 miles that day (including our 10k race)! Great company + lots of laughs + a great race = another fantastic day in The Big Apple! Until next time NYC! πŸ™‚

15 races of 2015′ plus 2!

run like kale

Ended 2015′ with 17 races for the year (including 2 marathons – NYC Marathon and NJ Marathon) putting me at 75 races since I began my journey to a healthier Mere in 2009′ when I ran my first ever half marathon; More-Fitness Half Marathon in Central Park finishing in 2:25! Today my half marathon PR is 1:38:25!

I qualified for Boston in my first 3 marathons; running my first Boston in 2013′ and continue to chase my dream of qualifying for the 4th time!

Read about 15 of my 17 races of 2015′ through a Run Like Kale ‘s blog series that I had the honor to be a part of: 15 Races of 2015

Of course after Run Like Kale did this blog series; I squeezed in two extra races to end the year because that’s the kind of crazy gal I am!

What races do you have planned in 2016? What were your favorite races of 2015?Β 

 

Ending a Tough Year on a High Note – Polar Bear 5K

12-27-15 – Needless to say; it was a tough, tragic, challenging year! After suddenly losing my sister; my best friend, my running buddy in late October I wanted nothing more than to say goodbye/peace out to 2015′!

Running; more than anything has helped me to cope and find peace through this tragedy. My sister was a runner herself; however she did not like the idea of “racing”. For me; running also helps me to feel closer to my sister. In 2013′ after my hubby had a heart attack and after crossing the finish line minutes before the Boston Marathon bombings running helped me push through the toughest of days and it continues to do the same today.

DCIM113GOPRO

The end of 2015′ grew closer and I decided to squeeze in one last 5k to end the year! This would be my 17th race of the year and 75th race since I started this journey 6 years ago! I registered for a local 5k; The Polar Bear 5k which took place right along the beautiful shoreline!

 

It was another unseasonable, December Day so by no means was this a “polar bear” race. I arrived early in bright colors (as always πŸ™‚ ) grabbed my bib & race tee and I was determined to end this year on a high note! The beach is one of my favorite places to run/race! I love nothing more than the wind in my hair and the ocean breeze on my face!Β  I took my place on the boardwalk at the starting line and within minutes; we were off! The wind heading south on the boardwalk was fierce so I decided to pace myself so that the wind wouldn’t tire me out! We headed 1.6 miles out into the wind then looped around to head back. On the way back; the wind was at my back and I literally felt like I was flying! I continued to pace myself and somehow by this point a pace of 7:17/mile felt comfortable! I saw the finish line, I held strong and I flew through finishing strong (as always the first thing I did was check my watch)!

I found my hubby, he gave me the usual post race high five and kiss and we headed over to the convention center where the results were posted. I was very pleased with how I ran, but I wasn’t quite sure if I placed but secretly hoped to! I checked through all the names; found mine and my face immediately lit up with a huge smile! I placed 2nd in my age group!!! πŸ™‚ 12th female and 59th overall out of over 250 runners! I seriously couldn’t ask for a better way to end this tragic year! I was completely on a runners high and so thankful that I could do this in memory of my sister!

After the race all runners were invited to a local Pub; Kim Marie’s to warm up with some complimentary Tomato Bisque and Chili so Hubby and I accepted the invitation!

restaurant

We relaxed, chatted with other runners and warmed up a bit before headed out and doing some exploring as well as shaking out my legs a bit! πŸ™‚

I was so thankful I could end this tragic year on a high note! I hope that 2016′ brings better days my way! Follow my journey as I train for my 10th marathon; Yuengling Shamrock Marathon !

What was your favorite race of 2015? What motivates you to push that extra little bit?

 

Toys for Tots 5k – A Jolly Good Time

12-13-15 – It’s not often I run a race 2 times in one weekend, but this weekend I made the exception. This weekend; I had the opportunity to run a 5k with my sister in law! I never did a holiday fun run before and never dressed up for a race so I knew this would be a different experience! My sister in law purchased the fun socks and hats for our Thanksgiving run so this time it was my turn to shop for all the goodies! I headed to the local Five and Below store and found so many fun props for our race from socks to glasses with reindeer antlers and red noses; SO FUN!!

costume

We arrived to the race bright and early all dressed and ready to Run Jolly!

me n jess

We found our spots at the starting line; secured our red noses (mine kept slipping off my nose and over my mouth, lol) and we were off!

We ran the whole race side by side; we laughed, we chatted, we sang to the Christmas music playing on the course and we just enjoyed every step.

reindeer

A big thank you to Damian and Mike; our hubby’s for getting up early and for being there to cheer us on!

us

Thank you guys for sharing this experience with me and for bringing cheer my way through a tough holiday season! Jess I can’t wait for our next adventure! πŸ™‚

Have you done a fun run? Do you run in costume? What has your favorite holiday themed race been? Please share. πŸ™‚

 

Ted Corbitt 15K – A 15K PR

12-12-15 – My 3rd year running the Ted Corbitt 15k in Central Park! My goal was to go out there have fun and run for my sister! That day; I secretly wanted to beat my 2013′ and 2014’times and wanted more than anything to make my sister proud! I have only run 3 15k’s; all in Central Park in this same race. I made sure I fueled properly leading up to the race; got to sleep early the night before andΒ  arrived to Central Park bright and early to pick up my race bib. It was a warm morning (in the low 60’s) and felt nothing like a typical December in NYC should!

Hubby wished me luck and I headed over to my corral; I put on my IPOD and within minutes we were off. The start was a little crowded so I paced myself until I could get a comfortable pace. I felt great! I kept looking down at my watch and thinking ” I can do this!” “I will do this for my sister!” As I came to each challenging hill Central Park is known for; I pushed through. I thought about my amazing sister and how no matter what obstacles came her way; she always found a way to get through! I gave it everything I had that day and guess what? I did it!! I crossed the finish line if 1:15:42!! A 2 minute PR from 2014′ and nearly a 3 minute PR from 2013′! I couldn’t believe it!

I was so thankful that I could get out there and run one of my last races of a very tragic/challenging year with a new 15k PR. I dreamed, I believed and I achieved. I hope that I made my sister proud that day! Every race, every mile I dedicate to my sister!

pr

A big thank you to this guy; my hubby (my biggest supporter) for all of his support in everything that I do no matter how crazy it may be! This is how he keeps busy while I’m racing; photographing what he finds interesting. πŸ™‚

hubby

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot

 

11-26-15 – Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot and believe it or not; my 1st ever!! It was a rough month and I knew the first holiday without my sister would be extremely tough. My sister in law;Β  @jessrunshappy and I decided to do a local Turkey Trot. She found these AWESOME turkey hats and fun socks for her to wear! Our only goal for this race was just to have fun and that is exactly what we did! We chatted, we laughed and we ran the 3.1 miles side by side! We crossed the finish line holding hands and all smiles! Running is a metaphor for life; there are ups and downs; good times and bad! In the end; it’s about who is by your side and there to help you through the toughest of times but also there to put a smile on your face ! Thank you Jess! Definitely a race I will never forget!

turkey

 

 

 

Gore-Tex Philadelphia Half Marathon

11-22-15 – Half Marathon number 25 – I woke up early and headed to Philly. I had one goal; to run in memory of my sister. I wore a top that was hers and the back my shirt read “running in memory of my sis Mel”. phila

I did not know what to expect as far as pace as I just ran TCS NYC Marathon 2 weeks prior, but I gave it my all! As always; I went out way to fast but this time I caught myself (it was like I could hear my sister saying “slow down Mer”) and I slowed down. I enjoyed every step of this journey; just taking in the beauty around me and remembering exactly why I was running; for my sister! As I crossed the finish line, I looked up and said “this one is for you sis!” I hope I made her proud that day! Today every mile I log is for my sister; my angel.

philadelphia

TCS NYC Marathon – “A Race Like No Other”

11-1-15 TCS NYC Marathon; my 9th marathon was unlike any other. I suddenly lost my sister 3 days prior to the marathon and decided to run it in memory of her. In the months leading up to race day; I was soo excited that she was planning to be there at the finish line that day. She had secretly planned to have my whole family there to surprise me. I decided I had to run because that is what she would have wanted me to do and I wanted her to see me run NYC. I ran 26.2 miles in memory of my beautiful, amazing sister. I knew it was going to be soo tough. I promised myself I would not put pressure on myself to run a certain time because my sister was never the competitive type so I ran watch-less. She ran, but never raced. I ran with no music because I wanted this race to be dedicated to her. I promised my parents I wouldn’t push myself. As we ran; I thought about all the amazing, unforgettable times we had together. I stopped to hug and cry with friends I saw along the course , met friends before the race for lots of hugs. A big thank you to our friends Diana and Rob for coming out to cheer me on and for making me an amazing “Dream. Believe. Achieve. sign. As I ran I gave high fives to kids on the course and took it all in. I broke down a few times while running but never gave up. My legs felt so strong today I know my sister was right there looking over me.Β  I crossed the finish in 3:56:26 and I know my sister would be so proud of me for never giving up!