Friday, February 14, 2020

Hey Valentine: You're the Run For Me

Mike: IllumiNITE Rochester Jacket
Sera: IllumiNITE Tahoe Jacket
I knew he was The One when he agreed to travel to Greece with me to run the Athens Authentic Marathon—his very first marathon—and then followed through by actually buying his plane ticket and training for the race. I fell in love with him while we trained side by side, running long stretches together, sometimes chatting, sometimes enjoying the silence. And I knew he loved me long before he said the words because he followed the new, restrictive nutrition plan I implemented and took our training schedule seriously. He ran every scheduled training run, including a few long distance runs without me because I was traveling for work.

While marathon training, we checked in with each other's physical and mental health on a regular basis. We made sure the other was getting the proper nutrition, getting enough rest, and stretching before and after running. We learned to rely on each other on the road or on a wooded trail. We reminded each other to drink water, eat food, and take walk breaks. We helped each other get through "bad" running days, whether physically or mentally. And we celebrated running milestones.

Sera: IllumiNITE Shortie,
Featherlite Packable Jacket,
Mike: Long Sleeve Warm Up Tee
When we crossed the finish line at the Panathanaic Stadium in Athens, both of us exhausted and sweaty and smelly and famished, I felt our bond strengthen into something bigger than life. Despite being much faster than me, he didn't leave my side during the entire marathon. We spent five-plus hours together, marveling at the beauty of a country neither of us had visited before. Five-plus hours keeping each other motivated, pushing each other to run our best but also slowing down when we saw the other struggling. Trust me, even though it was his first marathon while it was my tenth, I don't know how I would have finished without him. I was nauseous for twenty of those miles and struggled through many uphill stretches. He gave me the strength I needed, and the support, to push through to the end; his patience was unwavering. Five-plus hours of physical and mental exertion and exhaustion, and I still loved him. Hell, I still liked him; I wasn't even the slightest bit annoyed by him, not one bit. That's when I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
Sera: IllumiNITE Powerstretch Pant
Mike IllumiNITE Mercury Run Tight

Reflecting on those five months of training together, I realized that the relationship we developed as
runners carried over into the everyday life of our romantic relationship. We're not afraid to try new interests. We support each other through the toughest of times, and we celebrate life successes, even the tiniest milestones. Most importantly, we respect what we each bring to the relationship.

Running with a romantic partner nourished a part of my soul I didn't realize needed nourishing. It taught me that communication is key to meeting each other's needs without comprising our own needs. That it's okay to be vulnerable, and then to actually be vulnerable. That I have a lot more to offer than I realized, and what I have to offer is desired and appreciated. That it's okay to rely on someone else—I've always been independent to a fault!—and that accepting help makes me a stronger person (It also makes life so much easier. Who knew?) It taught me that having a supportive, equal partnership is attainable—something I never thought possible.

IllumiNITE Men's Early Riser
in Hawaiian Blue
Most of all, it taught me that the love I always dreamed of really does exist, and it's worth waiting for. All the years of believing someone like me wasn't worthy of real love—believing that no one out there would ever want to be with a girl like me—believing that the type of romantic partnership I dreamed of didn't exist, was all just a lie that fear fed to me. It took me a long while to open up and be ready for love, truly ready, and then even longer to find someone who was also ready for love. In fact, it took me seven months before I even agreed to let my friend give her family friend my phone number, and another two months before he texted me an invite to coffee. Spoiler alert: he was worth the wait.

The History Channel states that “Valentinus,” the Latin word that “Valentine” was derived from, means “worthy, strong or powerful” (Who was St. Valentine?) And while I know there is much angst about the corporate intentions behind creating Valentine’s Day, I do believe that taking time to celebrate loved ones is a worthy act.

IllumiNITE Love Tee
20% off, February 14 only
15% of entire order always
with code RunBrightly15
So this Valentine’s Day weekend, I will wear my heart on the outside and watch it glow bright as I
celebrate the love I share and cherish with my life partner. I urge you all to find a special someone to go on a run with this weekend. Whether that special someone be your life partner, a new crush you've been dying to ask out, your bestest friend, or a new friend, there is just something magical that happens between people when running together. You become your most truest selves, and your heart opens to endless possibilities.

Hey Valentine, you're the run for me. Today, and always. I love you. 

Friday, January 31, 2020

Balance: This is 2020

Feeling unbalanced
How is it already the last day in January? 2020 has been a whirlwind with starting a new full-time job and part-time freelance work, revising my novel, moving my son back to college, trying to keep up with my dating and social life...the list goes on. Happy New Year ! I hope yours hasn't roared in quite as fiercely as mine.

I've been trying to define my goals for the year. I even sat down and wrote myself a letter of the things I wish to accomplish in love, career, and health this year. But I've been searching for a word to use as an overall theme. A word that I can say to remind myself to stay on track if I go astray. I've struggled all month to think of this you can see above, I've been a bit busy.

Then three seemingly ordinary but actually significant events happened.

I never get postcards in the mail. Cards, yes. Letters, occasionally. But never postcards. I got two in one week from two of my illustrator friends wishing me a Happy New Year—both hand designed. The first postcard had the word "HOPE" incorporated into the art (check out @beautifullworldshop artwork on Instagram; Kerrita's designs make my heart happy!) The second postcard had an illustration of my friend, her husband, and children (check out @larissadrawsstuff on Instagram; Larissa's designs make my young self shine). Larissa addressed the postcard to the pseudonym she jokingly created for my writer persona. The words "FAMILY" and "WRITER" popped into my head.
Pondering, pondering

I mulled these words around in my head as I continued to struggle with MY word that would encompass 2020. Then yesterday, I had lunch with a colleague of mine that I hadn't seen in over five years when she left the publishing house we worked at to work at the college I started working at this month. As we updated each other on the past years of our lives, she said something like: "You're still as busy as ever. I've always envied how much you do in life." I laughed and swore I wasn't as busy as I used to be.

But as I walked through campus back to my office, the word "BUSY" bounced around my head. And then my mind quieted just before the word "BALANCE" whispered to me.

"Balance," I said out loud to absolutely no one. My word for 2020 is "BALANCE."

Diving all-in
I have always struggled with balance. When I do something, I dive all in...if I'm writing, I'm writing a novel AND a short piece of fiction on the side. If I'm running, I'm training for a marathon or an ultra marathon AND trying to strengthen my climbing ability or speed. If I'm reading a book, I read the WHOLE book in one sitting OR read multiple books at a time. If I'm watching a new show, I binge the entire Season AND have a second show I can watch on the side when I need a distraction.

Hell, I actually have trouble with my physical balance as well. You do NOT want to see me in a hot yoga class! I'm falling over with every single pose, even the seated poses.

Balance. How am I going to achieve balance in 2020? We're only 31 days in, and I'm already struggling. Deep breaths. Focus on the positive, Sera. Positives, right. I have been making small changes in my life, and although they are minor, these changes have been helping me find balance.

At a standstill brings
a different perspective
Some of these changes started last year when I lost my job. No money means saying "No" to so many things that I was involved in. No to races. No to lunches, dinners, or drinks with friends. No to driving long distances to visit people. No to everything whatsoever that cost money. Before I knew it, saying "No" became easier than ever. Having more downtime helped me rest and recover from the burnout I hadn't realized my go-go-go lifestyle had fueled.

Stopping everything for the last four months of 2019 really helped me reset in January with a clean slate. Yes, as above mentions, it's been a whirlwind of a month, but with change comes initial chaos sometimes. I'm settling into a new routine while I figure out what I want to fill my time with and how to allocate that time so I don't tilt the scales in just one direction.

I do not have all the answers about how to achieve said balance. But here are my priorities and where I want to focus my time:

  1. My Novel Revision—After being stuck for on how to fix this book for the last two years, it's all become clear! I am so happy my Muse is back.
  2. Trail Running, Mountain Climbing, and Strength Training—Being immersed in the thick of nature makes me my most happiest and truest self (yes, I know that's not grammatically correct, but in Sera World, there is "happiest" and "most happiest" haha).
  3. Clean Eating—I want to maintain eating whole foods, eating out less, and finding creative ways to make cooking fun (Whole30 blew my mind, but that's a future post).
  4. Downtime—Rest and relaxation with loved ones as well as alone-time are just as important as any other goal. I must remember that just as Rome wasn't built in a day, I do not need to finish everything at once. 
Finding balance
I've discovered that a strict routine is already helping me fit in writing time, downtime (yes, I schedule that in), and clean eating. But I still need to find a way to incorporate trail running and hiking into my weekly activities. But I'm not beating myself up about it. I'm trying to be more kind to myself (really helps with finding balance, I think), and realistically, I know that I am slightly less active during the winter. So I am taking small measures, like walking the 3/4 trek uphill to the dining hall on campus, going to the gym a couple days a week, and scheduling a hike when I can. I did sign up for Loon Mountain Race, and I can't wait to start training for it!

Balance. How did I not think of this word sooner? I've been crying about finding life balance for years. It's been in front of me all along.

Do you have any tips that help you find work-life balance? I could really use some advice! And also tell me: What's your word for 2020? Leave a comment below.

IllumiNITE Photographs by Matt Francis Photos
I'm wearing: 
Halo Unisex Knit Hat in Flo Lime
Reflective Neck Scruff in Flo Lime
Piper W Long Sleeve Reflective Tee in Flo Lime/Graphite
Comet Reflective W Running Tight in Black/Flo Lime
Use discount code Sera15 for 15% Off you entire IlumiNITE order

Friday, January 17, 2020

Unstuffed: Digesting 2019

Goodbye 2019! New Year's Eve 2019
2019 was a very full year. Full of promise. Full of recovery. Full of hard work. Full of loss and sorrow. Full of love and joy. It took me all of December to fully process all I had gone through, to fully digest the year. Reset myself for a new year—a new decade.

So I took a hiatus from the virtual social media world to live in the here and now, spend time with my most cherished people, truly reflect on the roller coaster of twelve months, and prepare myself for some major changes. Looking back, I am amazed. Despite numerous setbacks and losses, I've achieved a lot.


I am still in shock at the steady progression of my running. In just one year, I ran two ultramarathons and two marathons in three different countries (USA, Scotland, Greece)! Whoa! Never in a million years would past Sera have believed that she would be an international runner.

Running Seth's Fat Ass 50k in December
Congrats on your 50k, Rich!
IllumiNITE Cold Weather Hood & Tahoe Performance Jacket
 I've run close to 1,000 miles for the year. I could have hit that 1,000-mile milestone, but in December I decided to cut back. Running two marathons two weeks apart in two different countries kind of did me in. So even though I signed up for Seth's Fat Ass 50k—a race where you run 10 loops of 3.1 miles—I only ran half of it. It was bitter cold, and even though my IllumiNITE clothing plus a bathrobe kept me toasty, I was so over winter running. Plus, there were sheets of ice over a large portion of the 3-mile loop, and I just didn't didn't have it in me to teeter across it for all ten loops. At mile 6, my hip was on fire and I was ready to quit. But I never give up just because something gets tough. So I made a deal with myself. I had to run at least half the course—25k. That felt like a reasonable distance to finish out my year of running. I completed 16 miles. I'm happy with that.

Sometimes taking a step back is the right thing to do. I found out a week later, my sciatic nerve was inflamed—hence the fire in my hip. I'm proud of myself for showing up, despite the 10 degree starting temperature, for pushing myself through it, and for listening to my body. So, ALMOST 1,000 miles for the year is fine by me, especially since I got to see miles and miles of Scotland and Greece by foot. Wow, what a year for running!


Avenue A Books, the imprint I managed, launched in the Spring with three picture books and one middle grade graphic novel. All in all, I worked on 12 projects before my colleagues and I were let go. I feel blessed to have worked with so many talented children's authors and illustrators. And I learned so much in my role as acquiring editor! I am ever so grateful to the kidlit world for teaching me everything about children's publishing along the way. I'm so proud of all the books I worked on, and I'm beyond proud that the middle grade novel I fought for—the very first project I acquired—was nominated for a Cybils Award. If you haven't read Alexis Vs. Summer Vacation by Sarah Jamila Stevenson and Veronica Agarwal, go read it now!

Love my handmade, black sheep wool
writing gloves from Tarbert, Scotland
It was the best career I ever had—so far. I'm still mourning this loss, but being unemployed gave me the freedom to find my own creativity again. As much as I loved, loved, loved working with authors and illustrators on their projects, I didn't realize how much it zapped my own creativity. I got swept up in the glamour of being on the other side of publishing—the side that makes dreams come true—that I forgot my own dreams.

I'm grateful for the four-month unemployment stint that allowed me to reconnect with my writing. I'm even grateful for the two weeks I holed myself up in my apartment, staring at the walls, racking my brain, trying not to rip out my hair, as I delved back into the fictionalization of my memoir. I may have gotten a few more grey hairs from the process, but this precious time allowed me to fully actualize my characters, plot, and timeline. It's not easy fictionalizing a life lived. It took a while for my brain to wrap itself around an altered timeline with altered people and events. But now these people and their journeys live inside me, and I couldn't be more excited to get them onto the page to share with the world.

See, I've been trying to fictionalize my memoir for two years now, but nothing I tried gave me that epiphany moment where everything clicks until now. I'm a firm believer that with loss brings opportunity, so I cherished that beautiful, temporary break from work. And although it was often tough to keep my faith that all would work out career wise, I treasured the abundance of creativity that flooded through me. I found my Muse again, and I'm so happy she's back. I've missed her so much, and we've been nonstop talking since. Thank you, Universe! Sera is back! 


Night run with my girls!
IllumiNITE Tahoe Performance Jacket
& Cold Weather Hood
A very exciting happening in 2019 was my partnership with IllumiNITE, a Massachusetts-based, family-owned apparel company. This partnership allows me to combine two of my greatest loves: running and writing! And now I can do both in style! I've had way too much fun trying out their different designs! I feel so much safer running in the woods and on the road at night knowing that I am lit up as brightly as a neon sign. I have so much fun talking with other runners (and hikers and walkers) about IllumiNITE's apparel. And if we're being totally honest, I love being so fashionable at races without losing comfort or performance! Thank you, IllumiNITE, for believing in me, and for all your support in my running efforts! I'm so excited to see what's to come for 2020!


We found these two hearts on the same
hiking path in Santorini
They say, whoever "They" is, that you find love when you least expect it. I've always rolled my eyes at that statement. It feels like an excuse you tell people for why love is unattainable. But I now see this phrase in a different light. I've been slowly hoping for love, working on myself—what I want, what I don't want, what my own issues around love are, and how to change negative patterns—but I never expected to actually find a healthy, loving relationship. I thought it just wasn't out there, not for me. I thought I had to accept that I would always be single—or settle for something less than.

But then I found love, or perhaps it found me, or perhaps it was just waiting until I was ready and he was ready—truly ready—for love. And I realized least expect it doesn't mean going about my business and bam! Love hits me out of the blue. Rather, I just didn't expect it to happen. I didn't even realize love had happened, not at first, until I went to visit my friend Mary in California. I told her I had met someone, and after talking for a while, she gasped. "Sera, are you in love?" I was so caught off guard by her question. We were sitting on the beach, and I stared out at the ocean waves for a few minutes pondering. "Yes," I said. "Oh my god. Yes, I am in love." I hadn't said such words in two decades. But I knew it to be true.

One of my all-time favorite books/movies is Perks of Being A Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky). The line that kills me every time: "We accept the love we think we deserve." It wasn't until I I searched deep down inside to figure out what love meant to me, what type of love I wanted, and to convince myself I was worthy of such love that I found true love. It's a love I never experienced with anyone. It's a love I've been searching for my entire life and never quite knew it because I didn't know it actually existed. Hence, I least expected it—especially now that I am in my 40s. But here love is, FINALLY. I feel so blessed. 

A New Focus

A symbol of our love
All of these changes in 2019, both good and bad, have helped me shift my perspective on what is
important to me. The career path I was on, the romantic path I was on, the go-go-go-too-busy-to-think path I was on took me away from the life I always dreamed of. It took a FULL STOP to help me reset my priorities, remember the life goals I've always wanted but somehow forgot about. I feel blessed to be starting off this new decade with a new career that enhances my creativity, a supportive life partner by my side, and a closer bond with my family. It might take some time to adjust to this new focus in life. But I'm ready for it.

Sometimes our dreams get sidetracked by shiny distractions along the way. Every now and then, the Universe tarnishes these shiny things so we can better see what's right in front of us—the path we're meant to travel. Time to take that next step back to the Sera I've somehow lost.

What did you learn in 2019? And what are you hoping to change in 2020? Please share your comments below! Happy New Year!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Hi From Greece!

This is a pre-written post to remind you to stay tuned for a recap of Athens Authentic Marathon coming soon!

I downloaded this picture from the Athens Authentic Marathon website. I'm guessing our start looked something like this! More on the race soon!

In the meantime, check out my Instagram and Facebook pages for updates! Hopefully, I've had a chance to share a few adventures!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Marathon Bound: We're in GREECE!

Sera: IllumiNITE Tahoe jacket/
Powerstretch pant
Mike: IllumiNITE Mercury pant
This post has been pre-written because...

While you read this, we are in Athens, Greece, gearing up for the SOLD OUT official Athens Authentic Marathon THIS SUNDAY!  60,000 runners will be running the various races this weekend, 20,000 of which are running the marathon! That's a lot of runners!

Running Friends Are the Best Friends!

I cannot believe this weekend is finally here! My dear friend, Richard, and I have been planning this trip for over a year! Rich has been my running and destination-race partner since my very first relay back in 2015, and I'm so honored he asked me if I'd like to run the original marathon route!

Group training run back in August
Sera: IllumiNITE Eclipse headband/
Dovetail tee
I'm so excited we convinced our friends Juliette, Eric, and Cybele to join us. Races are much more fun with friends!

And I'm even more excited that my boyfriend, Mike, who has never run more than a 5k race or hiked more than 18 miles at once, agreed to let me train him for his first ever marathon! What better marathon to train for than the original marathon route from Marathon to Athens in Greece!

This is...Dating In Your Forties!

Sera: IllumiNITE Inspire Pullover/
Comet pant
Mike: IllumiNITE Hartford jacket/
Endeavor shorts

I don't know what I was thinking when I said I'd train Mike for his very first marathon! Mike and I have spent hours upon hours of running in the daytime, nighttime, rain, sun, heat, and cold! Long gone are the dress-up dates at fancy restaurants with cocktails and fabulous food! These days, date night consists of running in sweaty, smelly clothing and then devouring massive amounts of food before crashing on my couch to mindless shows. Somehow, we still like each other! Thank god!

I did make one rule while training him. I said: "As your girlfriend, I don't expect you to do whatever I want whenever I want. But as your coach, you better do as I say...or else!"

Mike, being the ever-so-intelligent man that he is, often asks: "Who is speaking right now: my coach or my girlfriend ?" hahahahaha

Friends! Trust me when I say, if you'd like to put the strength of your relationship to the test, train for a distance race together!

Track Us Live!

Sera: IllumiNITE
Savannah short sleeve tee
All joking aside, I feel so blessed to have a partner by my side who is willing to go on new adventures with me! I'm so honored to run by Mike's side on the original marathon route! It will be so amazing! We are not going for speed because we want to be tourists and take tons of pictures along the way! But you can follow our progress by tracking my bib number: 18638 on the official Athens Marathon App!

Mike: IlumiNITE
Sentinel short sleeve tee
And now, without further ado, I present to you our team IllumiNITE race shirts! Thank you, IllumiNITE for outfitting us on race day! Love these colors and the design is so fun! And let's not forget REFLECTIVE, too!

Stay tuned for a recap of Athens Authentic Marathon and other Greece adventures when we return! In the meantime, if you're looking for new running gear, be sure to use my discount code Sera15 at IllumiNITE for 15% off your entire order!

Where are you running this weekend? Comment below!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Just Us Gales: 2019 Cape Cod Marathon Recap

Always running late! That's ME!
I just ran the worst race of my life! And I'm so glad I did! And yes, I want to go back and run Cape Cod Marathon again!

Not all races can be blue skies and rainbows. In fact, I believe that it's the terrible races that remind us that we are stronger than we think, that we can endure so much more than we think we're capable, that we really can accomplish anything we put our minds to.

What made this marathon the worst race of my life?

30 mph gales of wind that knocked my feet together and threatened to tear out my contacts! Freezing cold rain that down-poured, up-poured, and side-poured (craziness!) Giant ocean waves that crashed onto the marathon route and soaked us unknowing racers!

But first, let's talk about what made this weekend so great!
RYH Group Photo!

On Friday, Run Your Health gathered together for poster-making, team-building activities, and a group photo! It was so great to see everyone and connect! My schedule doesn't allow me to socialize as much these days! Thank you, Laura, for organizing such a fantastic weekend!

On Saturday, we all set off to support the Half Marathoners! We had a blast waving signs, high-fiving runners, and dancing in the street as we cheered everyone on! I even ran into my friend Dave Jenness, who I met at this very race a few years ago! That was a great surprise!

Sue from IllumiNITE and me at the Expo
 After the race, I stopped by the expo to pick up my bib and to hang out at the IllumiNITE pop-up store for a bit! It was so much fun helping runners find windproof and water resistent clothes for the incoming storm!

While at the expo, I got to hear global advocate for amputee rights, Adrianne Haslet, talk about surviving the Boston Marathon bombing and share her journey to recovery and beyond. Then she gave us marathoners a fantastic pep talk. I'll paraphrase because I was so engrossed in her speech I didn't write it down:

Adrianne said that when someone tells you that you cannot do something, they are coming from their own limitations, not yours. Adrianne said to ignore this advice, even if it's your own voice that's speaking. Her words carried me through the last few miles of the marathon on Sunday when everything in my brain told me to QUIT! Thank you, Adrianne, for inspiring us runners!

Saturday night, I had a wonderful dinner with my sponsor Sue from IllumiNITE. It was so great to just sit back, relax, and share stories about running and life! And the food was amazing! We went to La Cucina Sul Mare, who made sure that my meal was Whole30 approved. I'm officially finished with Whole30, but I'm trying to stick to clean eating while I'm training! I highly recommend this restaurant!

Before I knew it, it was Sunday morning! The weather held off for the most part—early on. I walked the mile to the start in my IllumiNITE Windbrite pants, IllumiNITE Featherlike jacket, and IllumiNITE Velocity gloves...and my big, fluffy bathrobe for extra warmth so my muscles could properly loosen up!

Almond-encrusted Salmon and shrimp
on a bed of greens
My goal was to run this marathon under five hours! My fastest Cape Cod Marathon was in 2017 when I did the Chowdah Challenge. I came in at 5:33:06. My fastest marathon ever was Green River in 2018 at 4:38. I knew I wasn't Green River speedy this year, but I felt under five was a good goal to push myself without pushing too hard since I'm running Athens Authentic Marathon just two weeks after Cape Cod.

Then we were off, and I felt the surge of energy from the 1,200 racers and thousands of supporters cheering us on! I hit 13.1 at 2:23, and I was going strong. Most of my miles were under 11:00 minutes (moving time), and I was only walking to quickly eat my fuel! I was set to finish under five!

Then the weather took a drastic turn (as you'll see in the video). Gales of wind hit so hard I could barely run! At mile 24, the conditions got so bad, it was too dangerous for me to run. I had to give in and walk. I was at about 4:30-sh at that point. It was really frustrating to know that the finish line was just 2.2 miles away, but I couldn't get there in under five hours!

Until that point, my IllumiNITE gear kept me warm and protected from the wind. But after walking for a mile, even the awesomeness of my windproof clothing couldn't stop the cold from seeping through. When I finally turned a corner and escaped the gales of wind, I tried to run. My legs locked up from fatigue and cold! I was forced to walk the rest of the way. I cried the last two miles. I questioned the insanity we runners must have to do this to ourselves.

Race Director, Jack Afarian, walks me in
But then, something amazing happened when I turned onto the final stretch and saw that finish line. Despite the bitter storm, the community of Cape Cod stood along the sidelines cheering! Friends screamed out my name! People hooted and hollered and clapped! It was just what I needed to make this final stretch.

And then a man walked over to me. He asked if I was okay. I told him yes, I was just cold. He said, "May I walk you in?"

He told me how proud he was of me finishing. He said I was almost there. I did it! He said a bunch of other encouraging words that I don't remember because I was so miserable and I had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other so I could finish! I found out later he was the race director. Thank you so much, Jack Afarian! Your dedication and support and all your hard work is so appreciated! I am honored that you stood outside all day while we ran in this crazy storm and cheered us on to the end.

When I crossed the finish line, my dear friends Rich and Juliette welcomed me in the warmest hug as my friend Dave took video of my finish. Watching that video later, I see that I look so much happier and stronger than I felt inside. Further proof that that little voice in my head that said I couldn't do it is a liar! Thank you, again, Adrianne. I needed your words of encouragement! and thank you Dave for capturing this epic finish on camera!
Grateful Me, the morning after
Thank you EVERYONE for your support!

Juliette and Teresa helped me get food and took me to the medical tent to warm up by space heaters while my friends Kim and Rich got the car for me. A very special THANK YOU to you all for your extra support and care after my race. Your love and support made all the difference to me! It means more than you could possibly imagine. And thank you to everyone else who encouraged me and helped me along the way. Apologies if I missed your name. My brain was not working that well and most of that race is now a blur! But trust me, I appreciate ALL who supported me.

When I got my race results, I was floored! My marathon time was 5:10:57. I have no idea how I finished so fast, despite walking the last two miles! I am so proud of myself! I may not have met my goal, BUT I still ran my fastest Cape Cod Marathon in some pretty crazy conditions! Also, I'm proud of myself for not quitting BUT making sure I didn't injure myself, which is most important. Yay, ME!

All in all, Cape Cod Marathon weekend was a blast! It is still my favorite race weekend of the year! And now I feel so ready for my Athens Authentic Marathon on November 10th! Stay tuned for our IllumiNITE team race shirt reveal happening in the next few days!

Without further ado, I present to you my Cape Cod Marathon Weekend video!

Where is your next race? Comment below!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Falmouth Bound: Cape Cod Marathon

IllumiNITE Long Sleeve Reflective Women's Piper Tee in Flo Lime/Graphite
IllumiNITE Long Sleeve
Piper Tee in Flo Lime/Graphite

Comet Running Tight
As you're reading this, I am Falmouth bound, and...I am so excited to be running the Cape Cod Marathon THIS Sunday! This is my favorite race weekend of the year, by far! Why, you ask? Because it's truly a weekend-long event!

A Facebook memory popped up the other week, reminding me that just three years ago I had completed my first ever 20-mile run. I was following Hal Higdon's Novice 1 Marathon Training Program (I still do!), and 20 miles was the farthest distance I had to run before marathon day. I remember that day clearly. It was rainy and dreary out and my right foot hurt like hell (I had flexor tendinitis), but I was excited. I ran with my coach Laura, my best friend Loretta who got me into this running nonsense (Read my I HATE Running post), and another running friend who was also training for her first marathon. I told myself: If I can run 20 miles with an injury, I can run a marathon. And I did!

IllumiNITE Unisex Velocity Mitten
IllumiNITE Unisex Velocity Mitten
Disclaimer: I'm not recommending anyone run with an injury. Injuries are no joke and should be taken seriously. I consulted with my physical therapist first. She put me on a strict no-running until marathon day respite after my 20-mile run. She also said she couldn't medically clear me to run the marathon. BUT she never knew anyone who had permanent injury from flexor tendinitis, so she understood if I chose to run it anyway. She was a runner so she got it. But I digress.

IllumiNITE Long Sleeve  Reflective Women's Piper Tee
IllumiNITE Long Sleeve
Reflective Women's Piper Tee
This will be my fourth year returning to Cape Cod Marathon. The first year, I ran the relay. The second year, I ran my first marathon. The third year, I did the Chowdah Challenge, which was my favorite! Thanks to my sponsor IllumiNITE, I'm returning this year to run the new marathon course! I heard this new route is much flatter than the previous course that had 17 miles of rolling hills. Phew! This will be a great training run before my Athens Authentic Marathon in just two weeks, which I heard has hills! I also heard Cape Cod's new course includes more running along the ocean. I LOVE running by water, so this is an added bonus for me.

What do I pack for a New England marathon in October? 

IllumiNITE women's reflective Bling Vigor Singlet in Charcoal
IllumiNITE Bling
Vigor Singlet in Charcoal

& Shortie in Black
Good question! I truly bring enough clothes to start my own pop-up store because New England weather is so finicky, as I've mentioned before. So I bring: 
  • tank top
  • short sleeve shirt
  • long sleeve shirt
  • shorts 
  • capris

  • post-race outfit and Oofos sandals

  • skeleton knee-highs for the Halloween Spirit!

IllumiNITE Tahoe Performance
Softshell Fleece Jacket In Graphite

IllumiNITE Graphic Tees  Grim on Black and Power Stretch Capri
IllumiNITE Graphic Tees
Grim on Black
(post race)
and Power Stretch Capri
IllumiNITE Waterproof Reflective Women's Colorado Jacket in Mimosa Floral
IllumiNITE Waterproof Colorado
Jacket in Mimosa Floral

IllumiNITE Ambition Reflective Women's Hoodie in Coral Glo Black
IllumiNITEAmbition Hoodie
in Coral Glo/Black

& Unisex All Over Glow Glove
When running distance, it's truly better to be over prepared than freezing cold for miles and miles. I just received my latest IllumiNITE shipment that includes warmer clothes, so I will definitely add the following to my suitcase to be safe:

  • hooded pullover
  • rain jacket
  • heavy duty jacket (for when I'm not racing)
  • gloves 
  • head covering 

IllumiNITE Waterproof Colorado Men's Reflective Jacket  in Graphite/Flo Lime
IllumiNITE Waterproof Colorado Jacket
in Graphite/Flo Lime
I never truly know what I'm going to wear until the morning of the race! My decision is always based on a combination of the weather, my mood, and what feels most comfortable at that moment. We marathoners are as finicky as fall New England weather, and it's most important to avoid any clothing regrets—the mind gloms onto the zaniest things when running for hours on end.

I also pack my hydration pack so I can carry:

  • my 2-liter bladder
  • 2 handhelds for electrolyte drinks
  • my albuterol inhaler
  • a second pair of contacts (once, a contact popped out during a 50k! I got it back in, but whoa!)
IllumiNITE Reflective Halo Unisex Knit Hat
IllumiNITE Halo Unisex Knit Hat

  • rewetting eye drops
  • chapstick
  • salt tabs

  • ibuprofen
  • acetaminophen
  • naproxen

My hydration vest also allows me to stow away any layers if I get too hot!

IllumiNITE Hartford Reflective Men's Jacket in Red/Silver
IllumiNITE Hartford Men's Jacket
in Red/Silver
& Endeavor Long Running Short 
I also make sure to pack:

  • Flovent inhaler
  • wireless headphones and back up plug in headphones

  • bacitracin and bandaids

Why do I LOVE Cape Cod Marathon weekend:

2016 Cape Cod Marathon
The Expo is so fun! I always run into all my running friends here because we're all heading to pick up our bibs and our tee shirts. Cape Cod Marathon shirts are my fave race shirts ever! I wear them all the time! The Expo also has vendors galore! So if race jitters made you forget to pack something vital, don't worry! You can easily find what you need at the Expo!

I love exploring all the various running essentials and discovering new products to try. This year, I'll be hanging out at the IllumiNITE pop-up store, so come on by and say Hello! I'll show you my favorite products and chat about all things running—and whatever else you'd like to discuss!

Run Your Health Cape Cod Crew
The Running Community is strong! About 30-50 people from my very first running group, Run Your Health, come together this weekend to run. It feels like we're taking over Falmouth. Relay teams, half marathoners, full marathoners, and yes, even the Chowdah Challenge runners. Our families and friends cheer us on with the signs we make Friday night! And we eat pre-race and post-race meals together. I don't get to run with this group often anymore because I moved to another town, so I really cherish seeing so many RYHers in Falmouth! I've also made quite a few running friends while running Cape Cod Marathon, including @trainerhelice and @2018bostonmarathon4dad and @btrfli4u. We stay in touch via social media throughout the year to keep us motivated. It's great to maintain a strong online running community to stay inspired!

The Falmouth Community is so supportive! I've run many, many races, but the Falmouth community is by far the most supportive of race communities! Hundreds, maybe thousands, of residents line the streets on the course offering water, oranges, Halloween candy, and other refreshments to us runners. Many of them dress up in costumes, play music, dance, and cheer us all on! One guy even let us runners pose on his lawn with his elaborate Halloween display. Falmouth residents, I love you!

The Food is the best! I'll admit, when I first heard that clam chowder was served at the end of the marathon, my stomach felt a bit queasy. But come race finish, when you're stomach is rumbling and your sweat is running cold now that you've stopped moving, hot clam chowder is just what you need—followed up with those amazing apple cider donuts! Cape Cod Marathon has the best post-race food I've ever had in America! I must give a shoutout to all the Falmouth restaurants who gracefully handle feeding the thousands of people all weekend. Food has always been superb and service has always been provided with a smile!

IllumiNITE Long Sleeve
Piper Tee in Flo Lime/Graphite

Comet Running Tight

What distance will you be running this weekend and where? Leave a comment below!

And don't forget, if you'll be at Cape Cod Marathon, I'll be at IllumiNITE at the Expo on Saturday or somewhere along the marathon route on Sunday! Please find me and say HI!

IllumiNITE photos by Matt Francis Photography

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