I Did It!

Running a marathon has been on my bucket list for a while. While it wasn’t easy, and took two years to actually get there and a whole lot of support from my friends, family and co-workers, I’m thrill to say “I Did It!”

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Here is a sweet round up of the best posters along the course: 23 Best Marathon Signs

I definitely remember seeing #1 and thinking of my sister-in-law Courtney, #6, #9, I didn’t see #12 but that song was on my playlist thanks to Matt, and a lot of signs like #14 (sorry Mom, I don’t know why people are so mean to you). The other sign I saw a lot of said “You are running better than the government” but it wasn’t included in this round up.

All in all, the marathon was a great experience (although I am still trying to recover). It was a great day to be a New Yorker, especially one who loves Boston. Thank you to everyone who helped get me across the finish line!

Conquering Fears

This weekend I participated in the NYC triathlon. The race consisted of a 1 mile swim, a 40k (24.8 miles) bike and a 10k (6.2 miles) run. Most of you would probably assume that for me, the race got more challenging as it went along . For the most part, you are right. My swim time was 7th in my age group (not going to lie, a slight disappointment), my bike split was 20th and my run split was 102nd. So yes, things got more difficult for my as the race went along — but that’s only speaking about the physical challenges.

Mentally, the swim was the worst. Ever since I was accepted into this race I’ve been panicking. I mean, swimming in the Hudson? Who wouldn’t be nervous?

Getting ready to brave the waters of the Hudson
Getting ready to brave the waters of the Hudson

But I’ve had a fear of open water swimming for years. Swimming in pools, fine. You can see the bottom, most of the time they don’t contain animals and the chlorine keeps out all of the “bad things.” But swimming in open water, that’s another story.

Some of you may remember this post blog I wrote about visit my grandparents in Florida. In it I mentioned my fear of open water swimming:

Abby and I spent a lot of time swimming in the bay in front of our grandparents house. We would blow up rafts and inner tubes, and see who could stand on them the longest without falling in the water. At the end of the bay, there was a mangrove island, no more than 150 yards away. When Abby was 7 years old, she decided she was going to swim out to this island. My dad jumped in the inflatable row-boat and paddled along besides her as she bravely made her way out to the island and back. When she returned, my grandfather gave her a sliver dollar for accomplishing this feat. Year after year, when we returned to their house, my grandfather would ask me if I was ready to make the same swim. Not until I was 21 years old did I actually do it; and I was freaking out the entire time. Sadly, I never received a silver dollar for my feat of bravery…

So for me, taking on the Hudson, which is fill with who knows what, was a feat for me. And it definitely gave me reason to smile the rest of the race, even when I was running/jogging/trudging at the end!

So happy to be out of the water
So happy to be out of the water
Going out for my bike on the West Side Highway
Going out for my bike on the West Side Highway
One mile into the run, pain is starting to set in
One mile into the run, pain is starting to set in
So close to the finish!
So close to the finish!

Thank you Matt for acting as my support crew. It was reassuring to see you running along the path as I swam, frantically swinging your arms around and telling me to go faster. It definitely reminded me of our days on Gators. Plus your hair looked amazing.

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Cold Process Coffee along the Hudson

Earlier this year I wrote about a coffee tasting that one of our friends hosted with a new line of gourmet coffee beans, Lamill. Well, I’m not going to say that my blog post gave our friend, Eric, the “press” and start he needed to take Lamill to a wider audience, but I will definitely let you think that if you want.

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Eric recently opened Cold Process Coffee & Tea as part of the redevelopment of Pier 57. Pier 57 is a 170,000 square-foot covered, open-air public market. Business are housed  in recycled and creatively refitted shipping containers. The market is New York’s first large-scale concentration of year-round, affordable work/sell space for artisans and other small businesses. Cold Process Coffee & Tea made their debut last month and have plans to be there through October. There are currently 4-5 other booths in the space with room to add more.

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Cold Process Coffee is a unique way of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for an extended period. This lends well to an espresso based iced coffee with more flavor and certainly more caffeine than regular iced coffee.

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On Saturday, Matt and I decided to run down along the Hudson River to Eric’s new “office.” As you can see from the pictures, it is an incredible space (much too hip for Matt and me). The only suggestion I would make would be to add some delicious treats to the menu.  The counter space looked a little lonely and I bet a homemade chocolate chip cookie and would go great with the iced coffee… now I wonder who you could ask to make you some (wink, wink).

It was very inspirational to see our friend taking a passion and turning it into a business. We were psyched to support Eric and definitely encourage anyone to stop by and get your daily caffeine fix. And who know’s — you just might wait in line behind a celebrity!

A Mother’s Work is Never Done

In order to get to Telluride, Matt and I had to drive more than 6 hours from Denver. Technically we could have flown into Telluride, however it was much more expensive and would have complicated things since we were flying out of Denver on the way home. So, we decided to drive.

Neither of us were really bothered by this. We don’t have a car now and never spend much time in a car. Really the longest car rides we have taken in the past year have been in the taxi to the airport. And let’s face it – the scenery on the drive to Telluride was going to beat anything we could see on a drive in NY! Plus, in high school (the last time I had a car) I was known to do some of my best sing-along singing in the car . So, not only were we not bothered, we were kind of excited.

See – doesn’t Matt look excited?
Road Trip Supplies

Unfortunately, some people — I won’t name names — were less excited about all of this driving. It seems as though even though I’m nearing 30, the thought of me and my husband driving 362 miles is just too much for my mom some people. I guess the fact that in high school I fell asleep while driving (on the highway) to swim practice will haunt me forever.

I’m happy to report that after a quick lunch stop in Leadville (home of the Leadville 100 featured in Born to Run) to visit one of Matt’s college buddies, we made it to Telluride in one piece.

Not only did we take in some incredible sights during the drive, but Matt even got to enjoy some of my fabulous singing along the way!

IronMatt

Please excuse my recent absence from the blogging world. Last week was a big one in the Englehauer household.

On Saturday, my husband, along with 24 other Robin Hood athletes competed in the US Ironman Championships held in New York City.

They don’t call it an “Ironman” for nothing—the race included a 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson (that suffered from a sewage leak just days before the race), a 112-mile bike along the Palisades and then a refreshing 26.2-mile run that finishes in Riverside Park. Our athletes posted times ranging from 9 hours and 59 minutes to 15 hours and 48 minutes. All of the athletes were well ahead of the midnight cut off and all crossed the finish line with big smiles across their faces. Matt was no exception.

Matt posted a blistering swim split, 43 minutes, clearly channeling his days as a Bernal’s Gator. He then followed that up with a solid bike, averaging just over 18 mph for the 112 mile ride.

The marathon was definitely the most difficult part of the race – temperatures reached the high 90s, the first 14 miles of the course has an incredible amount of hills and just for fun at mile 17, there were stairs on the George Washington Bridge that you had to run up and down. And to make things even more difficult, Matt’s training consisted of short tempo runs and a 10 mile run in the Hamptons one weekend.

Matt overcame all of this to finish his marathon in 4:40 for a total time of 11:52 (well under his 13 hour goal!)

I was happy to cheer him on the whole way but there was nothing like watching him cross the finish line.

 

So while I am so proud of Matt and all he accomplished on Saturday – let’s not overlook all of the sacrifices I had to make to get him there.

1. For the past 3-4 months, Matt has used the Ironman as an excuse to get out of household duties. “I’m too tired from training to clean up the apartment…. I need to go work out, I don’t have time to cook…. I – I – I” While there is no “I” in team, it isn’t an accident that Iroman starts with the letter I.

2. To cheer on Matt on Saturday, my alarm went off at 3:00am. That’s early people!

3. We had custom-made Robin Hood cowbells for the race.

They were a big hit but I got a  blister from all the ringing. Looks like racing 140.6 isn’t the only thing that can lead to injury (this photo also brings up the fact that I didn’t have time to get a manicure this week with all of the running around I was dong for Matt).

 

So in the end, while I think everyone should be impressed with Matt I would like to ask for a little recognition myself. After all, I am an Ironmate!

I’m a Mooseman!

This past weekend, Matt and I continued our suburban tour — only this time we headed north.

On Friday, we loaded up the car with wetsuits, bikes and running shoes and drove up to the great state of New Hampshire for the Mooseman Half Ironman Triathlon.

We spent Friday night with my parents before heading up to Wellington State Park to check in and attending the athlete meeting. The entire day on Friday, it was pouring rain. Not really ideal conditions for a triathlon. Between the rain and the  insanely fit people all around me, I got ridiculously nervous. But thankfully my fan club of two, Matt and our friend Ryan (who were both racing as well) convinced me that everything was going to be ok and I wasn’t going to come in last. After a long, soggy day and a pasta dinner, we turned in for the night.

Now, I don’t really want to relive all 70.3 miles so here are some highlights.

1. Getting my wetsuit (thanks Jamie) on with only a minor amount of wiggling, pulling and yanking

2. The temperature was right around 60 degrees – sounds cold but it made the 62 degree temperature of the water seem much much warmer.

3. The pouring rain we experienced Friday slowed to a very light drizzle.

4. During the bike, the hills were so steep that my speed dropped down to 2 mph and I almost fell off my bike (but I didn’t!)

5. My feet were numb  from being cold and wet on the bike for 3 hours. During the first two miles of the run I felt like I was running on stumps. But I kept running.

6. The run was painful, but since it was an out and back run that we did twice, I got to see both Matt and Ryan a few times. It is surprising how far a fist pump can get you :)

7. I ran through the finish line with a smile on my face!

While the race wasn’t always pretty and my time wasn’t earth shattering, I was happy with it. Just getting out there and doing it was enough for me. However, for Matt and Ryan, this race is just the beginning… they are both competing in the Ironman US National Championships being held in NYC in August. I’m not going to lie, the thought of doing a race twice that length makes me throw up in my mouth a little. 70.3 is enough for me!

**See a recap of the race by this year’s winner, Alex Mcdonald. Congratulations on your big win!

The Power of Accountability

This year for my birthday Matt gave me a Garmin GPS running watch. I know what you are thinking, that doesn’t seem very romantic. I sort of thought the same thing.

However, when I opened the watch and realized that he purchased the version with the pink stripe and floral face, I knew I had married the most romantic guy ever.

I am a big believer that in order to feel good when you are working out, you should look good. That is why I occasionally allow myself to splurge on workout clothes from Lululemon and cute running skirts. When I was running the Disney Princess Half Marathon with my sister in celebration of her 30th Birthday, I almost leapt out with glee when I overheard another runner say “oh, that girl’s skirt is super cute.”

From that point forward, it didn’t matter if I got a person best time or even finished the race, in my mind, the race was already a success.

But back to my present – the fact Matt spent an extra second to pick out the pink watch truly warmed my heart. I think after 10 years of dating, he is finally starting to learn!

Since receiving this gift, Matt and I have gone on a few runs and I have been blown away with the results.  I now know, down to the hundredth of a mile, just how far I have run. I know my pace throughout the run, my pace per mile and my “real-time” pace during the run. I can track my heart rate and the elevation of the terrain. And with all of this data, I can adjust my pace accordingly and hopefully improve my running.

The watch holds me accountable. I no longer walk up the stairs that lead to the reservoir – I run them. I no longer get slower every mile – I aim to get faster. I no longer think I’ve run 4 miles, when in actuality I have only run 2.

I am pushing myself harder and I am getting faster. It is truly amazing what accountability does for performance.

Now, if only we could think of something like this that would help improve public education and teaching…

10 Miles a Week

When Matt told me that he was only going to run 10 miles PER week for the marathon, I was skeptical. He tried to reassure me that his CrossFit training would get him across the finish line, but I still couldn’t buy into it. About a month ago, Matt did a half marathon and finished in just over 1 hour and 40 minutes. I was impressed; but still, that was only half the distance of a marathon.

Well on Sunday, Matt proved me wrong. He ran his first marathon in 3 hours and 46 minutes. And while the last 5 miles were rough, he finished with a smile on his face. I am so proud of him and totally inspired to run next year!

 

On a totally unrelated note – be on the look out for the very first GUEST BLOGGER post. It is definitely going to be a good one. And if you want to write a guest blog, let me know!

 

Born To Run

I have to admit it, I don’t LOVE running. It is hard. And unlike biking, where you can coast and soar downhill, it is always hard. Unless you walk – but then, that isn’t running. But despite my sometimes negative relationship with running, there have been a few moment where I have loved running. The problem is, I had to suffer through weeks of hatred to get to that point. Weeks where I forced myself to get out the door and run the 4-5 miles, every step a challenge. But slowly, my body got used to the act of running and eventually, I found myself enjoying it. And I could time, I even thought, “hey, this is awesome.” Unfortunately, I am not quite at that place right now. And considering I am overseeing the Robin Hood Marathon Team, that isn’t a good thing!

During the honeymoon, Matt read the book “Born To Run.” I picked a much more advanced book… “Mini Shopaholic.” After finishing our respective books, Matt couldn’t stop talking about how good his book was, while I was slightly embarrassed to even tell him the title of mine. I decided that I needed a little more substance in my life (I don’t want to be the weak link in our marriage), so I decided that I would read Born to Run as well. And who knows, maybe I would learn how to enjoy running again.

The book is written by Christopher McDougall, a journalist for Men’s Health magazine and casual runner. The question “Why does my foot hurt?”  leads McDougall on a journey into Mexico’s Copper Canyon.  In his quest for answers, McDougall discovers the Tarahumara Indians, who are quite possibly the and greatest distance runners on the planet.  Their real name “Raramuri” translates into “The Running People”.

The Tarahumara are literally born to run and from an early age Taramuhara children play running games which continue well into their old age.  It is not uncommon for 80-year-old Tarahumara to run literally all day long through rough, mountainous terrain on little more than Pinole (a corn mixture used as a type of superfuel – There are no gels in the Copper Canyon!)  Not only are the Tarahumara excellent runners, they are also known for incredible health, long lives, serenity, and their peaceful nature.

Born to run tackles many issues, including why are so many runners injured every year (some data suggests as many as 80% of runners get injured every year), does running make a great man or woman or does a great man or woman make a great runner, and ultimately – aren’t we all “Born to Run” by our very nature, history and bio-mechanical makeup?


The book details facinating stories that include many of today’s well-known names in ultra running such as Scott Jurek, Ann Trason (there is a great account of the history 1994 Leadville 100 showdown between Ann and the Tarahumara), Barefoot Ted, Jenn Shelton and Luis Escobar, among others.   All these runners (aside from Ann) are involved in the final climatic story of this book which centers around the first ultra-distance race in Mexico’s Copper Canyon. 

In the end, the book was both educational and motivational. Mid-way through the honeymoon, Matt took me on a 3 mile trail run that wound along the cliffs lining the ocean in Kauai. And while I have a very long way to go before I am able to participate in an ultra marathon, it was inspirational. Not only was I inspired to run; I am now on a search for Pinole (the magical corn superfuel that keeps the Tarahumara going!)

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who runs, even casually. And even if you aren’t a runner, it is a very interesting story, filled with unique characters.

Below is a rather long video that tells the story of the Tarahumara that was shown on the Discovery Channel. I got to say, I LOVE the dramatic narration!

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

Hello. My name is Molly and I am addicted to the Olympics.

It doesn’t matter the season, the sport or what year. I love the thrill of the competition, the pride and spirit you feel for your country, and the Olympic creed:

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
– Baron Pierre de Coubertin founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894

Every two years,  athletes more than 200 countries come together in celebration of a sport, their nation and our world. Spectators glue themselves to their tvs to see how many gold medals their country can win, or more simply, just to see if their country can win one medal.

Today marks the 2 year count down to the 2012 Olympics in London. It will be the first time that a country hosts the olympics three separate times since the modern games were started. The presence of the Olympics is already felt in London, with the construction of stadiums and various sports venues well underway. 

They celebrated this two-year milestone, with top athletes Sir Chris Hoy, Michael Johnson and John Amaechi, showcasing the latest progress on the Olympic Park. They will be joined by local school students to ride the first lap of the Velodrome; sprint on a temporary track in the Olympic Stadium; and shoot the first hoop in the Basketball Arena respectively.

So while the celebrations begin and the construction continues, the athletes continue to train for the biggest stage of their lives, the Olympics!