Monday, December 31, 2012

Momentum Monday: A New Year

The beginning of each year always seems to hold so much hope.  People gather and talk about their resolutions for the upcoming year with such confidence and resolve.  "I will quit smoking this year!"  "I will finally drop those 15 pounds!"  "I will find the love of my life this year!"  "I will get pregnant this year!"  (I personally don't make resolutions, I make goals, because people tend to laugh off the inability to keep ones resolution, but would support that persons commitment to a goal.)

These and many more resolutions are proclaimed every New Year's Eve, without even a thought as to how you will accomplish this resolution you now have your heart set on.  Many of these resolutions you have absolutely no control over.  You can't determine that you will find the love of your life this next year and settle down, unless you have someone in mind already.  You also can't say for certainty that you will get pregnant within a certain timeframe either, the body is a very mysterious thing and doesn't always do what you will it to do.

The other things, quiting smoking or losing weight, or getting healthier in general, is attainable.  But it's going to take work.  Just saying that you are going to do something doesn't make it so.  If that were true I'd be a billionaire and Victoria's Secret model, but I don't see that happening. :)

So today's Momentum Monday is true for your New Year's resolutions (or goals) AND for life in general:

Tomorrow marks the first day of 2013.  A fresh new start of a year for all. 

A time to make the baby steps of changing old bad habits, by replacing them with new healtier habits.  Investing a little extra time to plan and shop for healthy meals for the week, to pack workout clothes and have them ready to grab in the morning on your way out the door, to allow yourself to try new things that will help keep you on track (even if that means donating half the contents of your pantry so you don't derail your progress.)

A time to change your view of yourself, by first and foremost supporting and loving YOURSELF!  We find it far too easy to put ourselves down to safeguard us from others doing it, but never realize that we are the only ones putting us down.  Self-deprication does not help you to succeed in your endeavors.  Having faith in and love for yourself is the only way you can break that cycle and feel better about all your successes, big and small!

A time to open yourself to the possibilities of all the things you hope for.  Whether it be finding that special someone or starting that family with your spouse, you have to be open to all the possibilities that this pursuit will bring, however joyful or painful it may be.  These are life's lessons that have no rhyme or reason, but are there to test you and your resolve.  Keeping an open heart will allow you to embrace the experience and learn the lessons that will make you stronger.

A time to be with your family and friends and enjoy the simple things in life.  With the looming concerns about the Fiscal Cliff and peoples livelihood being threatened, it is tough to see beyond bleak outcomes.  This is the time where the things you can't buy become more precious, at least it does for me.  Having my family and friends safe and healthy is more precious to me than any piece of jewelry or electronic.  Having that connection and nurturing those bonds can help you even in your most dire of times.  Those bonds are stronger and more valuable than any coin made.

My hope for you is that this year brings you all that you strive to achieve and provides all the comfort you need to be successful.  Most importantly, I believe that you can do it and that you can take those baby steps, that you can look upon yourself more favorably, that you can open your heart to all the possibilities and that you embrace your family, friends and the simple joys in life.  In short, I wish you all peace, love and a very Happy New Year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Momentum Monday: Be strong and my 100th post!

This little saying above is pretty much right on with how I feel right now.  I have been battling a stomach/GI issue for three weeks now and I didn't know if I was ever going to feel like I could or would be able to run again.  I've had to be strong in my resolve to get better and be brave when I was at my lowest points.

I am now one day post run after an 18 day hiatus and it feels great.  To be sore again is, ironically, a wonderful feeling.  Though I am feeling very reserved about not "jinxing" the whole situation with how I'm feeling, I know that this is a personal victory for me, and I'm humbled by it.

It's been three weeks since I had done a long run of any sort and I am amazed and humbled at how the body can do such great things.  On Sunday, I was able to pound out 6 miles at about normal pace for me...and not fall apart.  Don't get me wrong, my hips were screaming at me.  But I didn't feel like I was going to die or that it was an insurmountable task.  I was able to run it and finish with enough energy to possibly run more miles, not like I would, let's not get too crazy now!  I am amazed at what my body has been able to accomplish and it still wows me.

I have 9 miles up next on my training schedule and I'm so excited to attach that run.  I felt amazing yesterday after my run and I loved how it feels to knock out those long runs again!

This post also marks my 100th post!  WOOHOO for milestones!  It has been a fun ride blogging in my little corner of the world and I've met some really amazing people along the way.  Thank you for following with me on my journey, I couldn't ask for a more welcoming, supportive and friendly community!  You all are amazing!  Thank you!!!

With that being said, I wish you joy and happiness on this Christmas Eve.  Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Race recap that never was

I should have had a race recap for you this week.  But I didn't.

Last Sunday was the Jingle Bell Dash, my raceiversary race and I had my outfit all ready picked and ready to go.  But my great little outfit was never put on.  My race packet was never picked up.  My bib was never pinned to my great little outfit.  And I never left the house for the race.

I had my very first DNS and I couldn't be more bummed about it.  I've been sidelined with stomach and GI issues for the past two weeks.  So bad that at one point the doctor thought I might have appendicitis and I had to have a CT scan of my abdomen.  Tests were run on everything you could extract from the body, blood tests, urine tests and yes, even stool tests.  Warning oversharing coming!  I'm telling you, there is nothing more difficult/unpleasant than having to divide your poop into little tubes for testing.  Ugh. 

In the meantime the doctor advised that I go on a course of omeprazole and see if my symptoms got better or worse as we waited for the test results to come back.  Well the results came back and everything was normal.  Even the stool samples came back and the results were negative.  Lovely.  WTF is wrong with me!?!?!  So far nothing has been figured out and during all the waiting the omeprazole has been helping, I am feeling better and am hoping to begin running again on Monday.

That's the thing with this issue I've been dealing with, the doctor didn't want me to run in fear that whatever it is might worsen if I ran, especially since we didn't know at that time what the test results would reveal.  Since all that occurred the Saturday before the race, it was deemed that I should not run the next day.

I was shattered.  Heartbroken.  Destroyed.

This stomach/GI issue, whatever it was, had taken away something I had looked forward to for months.  It stripped me of my festive mood.  It robbed me of my joy, the one thing that is for me and me alone, my running.  I was devastated.  I know some of you maybe feeling like I may have been overreacting, but I don't care.  This was something that was important to me and something I worked for and wanted to celebrate, and it didn't happen.  

I awoke the morning of the race on my own, at the time that I would have been getting up to get ready, it's as if my body knew that I was supposed to be up.  No alarms were set, my body just woke up.  I stared at the clock, watching the minutes go by, thinking of what I would be doing if I was running the race.  All I wanted to do was go back to sleep, but I couldn't, my body was restless.  Then as the start time for my wave came onto the clock, I burst into tears.  I didn't intend on it and the emotions were just too much to hold back.  I sobbed silently in the dark.  Cursing my body for turning on me and keeping me from the race and cursing at it again for being awake at that moment so I could have another reminder that I'm not at the race.  It was my low point and I was deep in self-pity.

My lovely husband woke up when he heard me crying (he had taken to sleeping on the couch while I was sleeping propped up in the recliner, hoping that would help with my GI issues, he didn't want to be far away from me).  He helped me up out of the chair and gave me a big long hug telling me that I will get through this and that I need to take care of myself and that I will run and race again.  His never ending positivity is a light in my darkness and it may not have felt like it at the time, but he was right.

I have spent this past week off my feet and out of my sneakers and I have never wanted to get back into them so badly.  But no matter what my training schedule says, I am ignoring it, because getting out there too soon will send me back to where I was almost two weeks ago.  Last night was my first night back in bed in over a week, and it was the best night sleep I've had.  Each day the pain is a bit less, each day I make baby steps back into my "normal" routine, each day I get a step closer to running again.  It's painful to be making this slow progress, but I'm getting there.  All I know is that however short or long that first run will be, it will be done with a huge grin on my face, for I will finally have my joy back.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"The Jam" Thursday - What is blowing up my iPod

It's Thursday again and time for another installment of "The Jam" Thursday where I share the songs that get my booty bumping and my legs pumping.

I haven't been able to run for the past week due to GI issues and that's had me pretty bummed to say the least.  During this time though I have been listening to A LOT of Christmas music.  It is so festive everywhere you go and you can't help but get into the holiday spirit.  Last Friday I went to the annual Figgy Pudding Choir Sing-off in Seattle where they actually close down 3 blocks on Pine Street (in the heart of downtown) for about two hours and several choirs are stationed throughout that area performing Christmas songs for your vote.  They also fundraise for a local charity prior to the big event, so it is really a great way to get into the holiday spirit with a few thousand other people.  :)

So today's "jam" is Christmas themed and one that I always croon to when it comes on, and yes, I would run to this as well.

Hope you are all getting into the festive holiday spirit and are celebrating with your loved ones!  Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Momentum Monday: Fear

This week has been trying for me to say the least. I have been dealing with health issues that have kept me from doing something that I enjoy, something that I've been looking forward to and has me in a funk.  I've had to change how I sleep, what I eat and I can't run.  I'm pretty depressed to say the least. 

However this brief change in my life, while we figure out what is wrong, helps me to deal with today's Momentum Monday.

I have been feeling really down about my current situation and letting it get the better of me.  The moment you let something get you down, you give it power over you and it can control how you make decisions.  I have been letting fear take my confidence and my hope that things will get better soon with my health.  I need to let myself heal and get better, without all the worry and stress of fear.  

I've had the most incredible support while I've been battling with this issue from my husband.  He has been by my side every free moment he has (he works on the weekend).  He has even been sleeping on the couch in the living room while I sleep upright in the recliner.  I tell him to go sleep comfortably in the bedroom, but he refuses and says that he doesn't want to be that far away and he wants to take care of me.  He is such a good man and I love him so much.

Regardless of what is going on right now, it will make me stronger and wiser for the future.  This is only a bump in the road and I need to keep perspective and keep my eyes fixed on the horizon.  It will get better, I will get better and I'll be out there soon feeling the road pass under my feet.  And I will be smiling the whole time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"The Jam" Thursday - What is blowing up my iPod

It's Thursday and December is FLYING by for me, how about for anyone else?  This week has been busy with the ramp up to holiday gatherings, shopping and in my case, continuing with training.  I have my race-iversary is this Sunday with the Seattle Jingle Bell Dash and I'm both excited and nervous for the race.  Excited because I will be re-running my first race, but nervouse because I will be re-running my first race and I'm hoping to have a good finish time.  I also realized that this is the last race of the year and last race before my half marathon in February. 

So today's "jam" is one that I'd heard for the first time on SNL when he performed it when he was hosting.  I was on the fence about the song when I heard it then, but it has grown on me to the point where I'm belting out the song right along with the radio and iPod.  This has been a fun addition to my list and I'm excited to share with all of you.

So I bring to you todays "jam":

I love his soul and funk beats that he brings into this song.  He's got a real natural talent that makes you appreciate singing and showmanship, not the contrived or auto-tuned "singing" we get with artist nowadays.  This is a fun and good energy pumper when you need a pick me up during a longer run.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Race Day Do's & Don'ts: "Beginner" lessons learned!

Since my race-iversary is on Sunday (Seattle Jingle Bell Dash), I thought I would share some tips with everyone and especially those of you new to racing and running.  These are all from experience, so I lovingly bestow my mistakes as ways to help keep you from the same pitfalls! (Please note: this is a general list and not specific to any distance in particular.)

Do: Pick up your race packet before race day.  If they have the option to do that.

Don't: Be the first one in line to pick-up your packet the morning of the race.

          Yeah, I was that person on race day morning of my very first race ever, the very first person at packet pick-up, 2 1/2 hours before the race start.  Ugh...  They weren't even completely set up yet and I'm hovering over them wanting to get this thing they call a "packet".  I was thinking "Give it to me because I have to figure out what this bib thing is and how to put it on!"  Then I was at the wrong bank of tables and had to go and get my packet from somewhere else, then I put my bib on my was a mess.  Just remember this, packet pick-up day before (if possible) and bib on the front. 

Do: Set out your outfit the night before the race. 

Don't:  Wait until the morning to choose your outfit.

          I can't stress this one enough, it is so much easier, less stressful and reassuring to have everything set out the night before a race.  You will sleep more soundly knowing everything you need/want to wear is prepped and ready to go.  You may need to wash something or find a particular item that you might not have the wherewithall to find early in the morning.  There is nothing more stressful than sleeping through your alarm (or five) on race day, and if your gear isn't prepped already, you are feverishly tearing through your place trying to find everything you need just to be clothed for the race, let alone anything that matches (or fits).  Yes, even shoes, I've heard of many horror stories of people running with mismatched shoes (even two of the same foot) because they hadn't set up their items the night before and were in a mad dash to the race.  Do yourself a favor and set everything out before you go to bed.

Do: Dress appropriately for the weather.  Layers.

Don't: Wear clothing too warm for running in that weather.  Again, think layers.

          This can be a tricky thing here.  You don't want to freeze your butt off while waiting for your early morning race to start, but you also don't want to have to run with your favorite hoodie tied around your waist the whole time.  If you dont't have family/friends to hold onto your clothing while you run, then bag check your warm items and wear either items you don't mind shedding before/after you start (most races donate left clothing to charities or shelters), or a garbage bag.  Garbage bag?  What?  Hear me out...a large heavy duty garbage bag helps to keep your body warmth trapped close to you and you can shed it when you are ready to run.  Just cut a hole out in the bottom seam and invert it over you (empty, preferrably).

Do: Be festive and dress in costume.

Don't: Wear the race t-shirt.  Think DNS and DNF.

          Part of the fun is dressing up in costume and getting into the "spirit" of the race.  Dress in green for your St. Patty's day race, dress like a turkey for your neighborhood Turkey Trot, wear a mustache for your cities Mustache Dache.  I like to "sparkle" during my races, so I highly recommend Team Sparkle skirtsThey are my FAVE and I love how I feel running in them!
Wearing your race shirt during the race, there is a long debate about this and the simple way to deal with it is to treat it as a reward not just an accessory.  Show off your race shirt with pride for finishing the race and participating in the cause afterward.  There are two phrases runners hate to hear, DNS (did not start) and DNF (did not finish).  Superstition is tied to those acronyms and wearing your shirt prematurely (before you finish the race), so do yourself a favor, wear it after. :)

Do: Hydrate, even in the cold/wet weather races

Don't: Go to the first table of the water stop, go to the far table, better service.

          Most people equate needing water to how much you sweat, well yes, that is true, however people don't realize how much they sweat during cold weather races.  They can see and feel during warmer weather races and tend to actively hydrate.  However I cannot tell you how many people I saw coming in from the Seattle R&R this year that were suffering from dehydration because they hadn't hydrated enough over the course of the race because it was wet and cold.  Some mistook wet for rain wetness, not sweat, meaning they were loosing vital fluids and not replenishing.  Please, even if you don't think you need to, take some water, it will help more than you know. 
ALSO...don't be a part of the crowd that can essentially stop a race in its tracks by stopping at the first table of a water station.  Keep running past that clamoring crowd and go to the very end, it's almost always empty with plenty of water easily accessible!

Do: Check a bag or have a loved one hold a bag for you with warm clothing to put on after the race

Don't: Assume you will be fine with the clothing on your body to keep you warm, especially during cold weather races

          This goes hand in hand with what I said above.  Don't assume you will be able to stay warm in the same clothing you just ran a race in, especially if the weather hadn't gotten significantly warmer since the start of the race.  You sweated and your clothes are damp, you will get cold.  Regardless, you should always try to keep warm after you've exerted all that energy and sweat.  :)

Do:  Enjoy music during your run

Don't:  Tune out everything around you, be cognizant of any announcements being given on course

          This is important to remember.  We want to be able to zone out during our race so that we can concentrate on having a good finish time or just being able to finish.  However there were points on almost every course I've run on that there were volunteers barking out information to passing runners.  Please always be cognizant of these possibilities.

Do:  Use the zip ties provided for your timing chip (if applicable)

Don't: Tie it to your shoe lace as shown on the insert, the volunteers won't untie your shoe for you to get the timing chip back.

          I was guilty of this one time only and that was all I needed.  Because when I bent over to untie my shoe to get the tag off, not only did I nearly fall over into the volunteer, but I also almost puked all over her.  No Bueno!  Make it easy on yourself and the volunteers.  They have snippers and a foot stool, it takes 10 seconds, just use the zip tie.

Do: Enjoy the post race refreshments and fuel options

Don't:  Be greedy!  They got enough items for the racers in attendance with minimal leftovers, be kind to the people finishing behind you, take only what you need.

          I am still a slower runner, so that means I finish after a good portion of the other runners, so I've been victim to this issue.  I get into the finish chute and all there is left is bottled water.  The granola bars were taken (by the boxful) by previous racers, the boxes of bananas was empty and the volunteers were packing up the tables as the rest of the racers were still finishing.  Poor planning on them and greedy participants as well.  Please take only what you need when you finish the race and enjoy the little fuel pick-up that you need for a race well done.  Oh and dispose of the banana peels responsibly, I can't tell you how many times I've seen them on the ground...and it's not funny.

Do:  Eat a carb heavier breakfast before the race.  Your body needs the fuel to carry you through your race.

Don't:  Drink caffeine before the race.  The caffeine constricts your blood vessels making it difficult for the blood to pump and puts strain on your vessels.

          If you have been training and have found a carb heavier breakfast that works for you, awesome, have that before the race.  If you haven't, my suggestion (and favorite) is a bagel (I have a wheat one) with some kind of nut butter and banana on it.  I also add some fig spread on top of mine for that added good sugar.  It is said you should consume your breakfast no sooner than one hour and no less than 30 minutes before you race.  I've had friends that had their breakfast a couple of hours before the race and had to consume their during race fuels earlier than anticipated because they had run out of energy reserves.

Also, caffeine constricts the blood vessels so your body has to work harder to pump your blood more efficiently.  I'd read about this when I first started running, so as a precaution I don't drink caffeine before a race and if I drink it on a day that I run, I make sure I leave a 2-3 hour window between end of consumption and beginning of run.  I thought it was interesting information, but I know tons of runners that drink coffee and then run, so do whatever floats your boat.

Do: Eat complex carbs the night before the race to sustain your glycogen levels for the next day

Don't:  Eat greasy food, try to avoid food high in fat, cooked in oil and very spicy items.  It isn't pretty when it wants to come out and when you are pressing hard during a run, it may not be a good situation for you.

          Everybody knows about runners "carbing up" or "carbo loading", what ever catch phrase you use, it does happen and in many different variations.  Depending on the extent of your run, some runners increase their carbs over the span of several days in order to keep "reserves" for the race.  Most, load up the night before.  Experiment with it and find what works best for you.  For me, pizza is my carb of choice the night before a race and the only time I get pizza, so I look forward to it every time!
In the same token, please watch your intake the night before when considering greasy/fatty foods.  Your body goes through turmoil when you run and your intestines can make a mess of things, no pun intended.  If you don't want to hit the porta-potties (or worse, trying to find a bush) during and immediately after your race, ditch the fried/fatty stuff and stick to things you know your body can handle.  You'll thank me later.

Do:  Stretch and warm up before the race.  Limbering up your legs and stretching your muscles is essential to keeping your legs from being too stiff or cramping up.

Don't:  Do extensive warm ups that you could over do and put unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints.  Do what you have done during your training and you should be golden.

          This should be pretty much a no-brainer.  Keep warm and stretch your muscles before AND after the race, it helps with your performance and recovery.

Do: Get plenty of rest the night before.  At least 8 hours is the recommended amount.

Don't:  Stay up too late and spend lots of time on your feet.  Your legs and feet need rest in order to be fresh for the next day.

          This can be tough if you are away at a race location (not close to home) and especially for those races at theme parks (ahem...Disney), but sleep is SO important!  No amount of fuel, coffee or training can help you if you don't get a decent amount of sleep the night before a race.  You may be meeting up with friends and want to have an all night gab fest, but resist the temptation.  You may also need to start climatizing your body the week before if there is a time zone change involved with the race location, ie. you live on the West Coast but the race is on the East Coast.  That 3am EST alarm is going to be BRUTAL if you don't get used to the time change beforehand! 
Also, take it easy the day before, or if it's a night race, the day of.  Make sure you spend enough time off your feet and legs, get plenty of rest and stretch as much as possible!

Have anything else to add?  I'm all, eyes.  :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

End of Week 9 Half Marathon training

I promise I will keep up on my training recaps, this is for last week's training, so I'm on the right track, right?  Right!  Now let's get on with it.

Last week I was reeling off the good vibes from my 7 mile run the Saturday before, so I came into this past week of training with a renewed sense of accomplishment and appreciation.  My training schedule for this week was pretty standard:

Tuesday:  30 minute run/walk
Thursday:  30 minute run/walk
Saturday:  8 mile long run (again, my longest distance)

The wet and rainy weather really moved into the Seattle area this past week and it made its presence noticed.  The Tuesday I was set for a run, the rain was so significant that most roadways and sidewalks were overrun with huge puddles and "land lakes" that it was just not safe to be out on the streets until the drains were cleared up and the water had gone down.

Wednesday was looking more promising and surprisingly dry in the morning, so I jumped on the chance to take a noon time run.  I suited up and went out for a good 30 minute run.  I was happy to be out of the office and let my legs stretch a bit.  I was reveling in the fact that I was now able to cover longer distances in the same amount of time I had previously, it was such a great feeling...until my shins started screaming at me!!

It was so painful to the point that I HAD to walk, running just wasn't an option and walking was a bit of a chore.  I was so disappointed.  I really wanted to have a good run and was poised to do so.  Stupid shins!  So I finished out my run and got it done in the prescribed amount of time, showered and got back to work.  I felt good about getting my run done and all before the rain started up again.  WOOHOO!

Thursday I was meeting up with my friend Danielle to do a track workout.  This would be my first time doing this type of running workout, so I had no idea what to expect.  The intervals she had us running at were ones that she had learned from a speed work class she had taken a few months ago.  Man did it ever push the boundaries of my lungs and legs!  Whew!!!  It was a 3 mile workout, but boy did I ever earn the sweat I was covered in!  We did series of sprints and faster running sections and then another series of sprints and more faster running sections.  It wasn't until the second set of sprints that my legs really started to stretch out.  I had a bigger lung capacity and my strides were long and quick.  It was fun actually.  But boy did I feel it the next day, phew!

Saturday I got together with friend Danielle again for a long run.  I had 8 miles planned and she had 6 miles, so I was going to drive over to her place, run two miles on my own and then do a 6 mile loop together because I knew I would need the encouragement of another runner during my last couple of miles.  Only, I woke up not feeling well AT ALL!  My tummy was upset and I was feeling SUPER sluggish, almost like I was coming down with something.  I contemplated calling in on the run and doing it on Sunday, but I was meeting with someone and I'd eaten almost half of my pre-long run breakfast, so I decided to just do 6 miles and make up the other two later. 

When we set out on the run, it wasn't so bad, well other than it was really breezy, cold and starting to rain.  Yay...or something.  So we mostly ran to keep warm.  The miles started going by pretty quickly and before I knew it, we were half way through the 6 miles and I was feeling great!  My body had fought off whatever yuckiness I had going on in the morning and was really taking to my run.  At that point I made the decision that I was going to continue on with the extra two miles after Danielle had finished with her six.  So I began fueling accordingly during the rest of the run so that I had plenty of energy to make it through the last few miles.

When it was time to finish the last two miles the rain really started coming down, but I didn't stop, I didn't turn back, I kept going.  Kept the legs churning and getting that mileage.  It was tough, my legs were toast and my body was just done with the run.  My form was slipping and I was getting really cold from being soaked.  I finally finished and felt this amazing feeling of "badass-ness", I had kicked those 8 miles and I was still standing.  A bit water logged, but still standing!

And of course, just as I was finishing, the damn sun came out and it stopped raining.  Figures.

Sported my new baby blue argyle pro compression socks.  So stylin'!  Loving my baby blues!

It was an amazing feeling getting through those 8 miles.  I had never run that far before in my life and I was amazed I was able to do it.  The body is quite an amazing thing.  The rest of the day I took great care on hydrating and fueling myself accordingly so that I didn't have issues like I had the weekend before with my 7 mile run.

Now my sights are set on a different goal this week, my raceversary is on Sunday with the Jingle Bell 5K in Seattle.  I'm so excited to be running this again (and this time I'll be chipped for timing!) and see how I do compared to my first time last year.  Considering that was the first race I had ever ran and I had trained for only 7 weeks beforehand, I hope it's a better showing this time! :)  Good thing my schedule calls for only 3 miles this weekend because I'm going to make every single one of those miles count with extra exertion!  OH!  Did I mention that I was going to debut a new Team Sparkle skirt?  I'm so excited to add some extra sparkle to a fun race!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Momentum Monday: I Am A Runner

Labels can be general, they can be limiting, and they can also be intimidating.  Why are we so hung up on labels?  "Wife" "Mother" "Manager" "CEO" "Badass" (that's one of my faves).  My guess is that they serve to identify and project or proclaim to the world that we are someone doing something important.  It could be done in an unconscious way, other times in a very deliberate way.  The recognition is what we look for, the validation that we have achieved something, not that no one else has done before, but rather becoming part of a group we have worked hard to be a part of.

I'm not one to label myself or even really seek other people's validation.  I tend to get embarrassed when I get recognized for an accomplishment.  Mostly because the completion of the task is the reward for me, anything above and beyond that is just gravy. :)  I think that is why I am enjoying running so much.  It's an instant gratification accomplishment.  As well with racing, finishing is the goal and reward for your hard work, and if you happen to get some bling for doing that, all the better.

This weekend I feel like I added a "label" to me and who I am as a person.  Not because I feel like I need to validate myself or my accomplishments, but because I finally feel like I am this person as well.  So I will have todays Momentum Monday tell you for me:

It scares me to say this, and surprisingly that I would be, considering I blog about this very thing; but I am a runner.  This weekend I felt it, I lived it and breathed it.  I crossed that threshold from the casual runner to someone who is dedicated to their goal and to the sport itself.  Now I'm not a svelt lanky lady that can grace the cover of Runner's World, but that doesn't mean I'm any less of an enthusiast or participant. 

I pushed my own limits during Saturday's long run.  I ran even though I was in pain from running so much (for me), I ran even though I wanted so badly to stop, I ran through the driving rain and biting wind, I ran even though I was soaked to the bone, my feet were squishing inside my shoes and rain was streaming down my face and body.  I did it and I didn't stop until I was done.  Because I am a runner.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

End of Week 8 Half Marathon training

A week late in the recap, so I apologize, but it did have some significance!

The previous week was my 8th week of half marathon training.  Wow...I've been at it for two months, it's freaky to think that.  Anyway.  My training looked like this:

Tuesday:  30 minute run/walk
Thursday: 30 minute run/walk
Saturday: 7 mile long run (aack! My longest distance yet!)

So this week of training happened to fall on the same week as Thanksgiving.  Awesome, I could still train and feel good about indulging in my Thanksgiving faves!  Um, yeah...about that.  That didn't happen.  My runs on Tuesday and Thursday, didn't happen at. all. 

Tuesday I was covering for another person at work at the same time of doing my insane amount of work, so I couldn't get out for a lunch time run and it was way too dark to run after work.  I refuse to run in the dark by myself, too many lady bloggers have posted some scary situations they've been involved in or their friend had been involved in. Now that it's dark earlier, I run at lunch or if I don't have a group to run with after work, I don't run.  Period.  Safety is way too important and more important than my training.

Thursday I had the day off with the hubs and instead of going for a short run, we decided to take my parents dog for a 5 mile walk to help get her yeh-yeh's out before all the company came over.  We took the walk at a nice pace and came back nice and sweaty...and hungry!  Oh and for the dog, yeah, didn't work.  She was still a bucket of energy, even immediately after coming back from the walk, she was running laps in the house!  Crazy!

Saturday I was determined to not let the past week deter me from hitting a new mileage distance and getting closer to that 13.1 miles.  Saturday's distance was 7 miles.  I had never run 7 miles and running a new distance is always a daunting feeling, there are always doubts.  Regardless, I geared up, strapped on my hydration belt with water in one bottle and Nuun Tri-berry in the other and brought a new fuel (to me) to try during the run, Watermelon flavored Sports Beans.  (I'm experimenting with different fuels to see which works the best for me during the longer runs.)

The sun actually came out so I was wearing a short sleeved shirt, my Brooks vest, capris and Adreneline shoes, and also rocking these lovely compression socks from Pro Compression.

The argyle is just so fun!!!  LOVE IT!

So I set out for 7 miles nearby my place.  Now I kinda stacked the deck against myself because my area is pretty hilly, but I wanted to be in an area that had lots of traffic and I knew fairly well.  So I trucked along and ran into issues the first half of the way.  My shins were SUPER STIFF!  Oh goodness.  I had to stop a few times during my first two miles to stretch them out.  Because of this, I was trying a new change to my stride and lifting my knees a bit more so I can land more mid-foot.  It felt pretty good actually!  It really worked my quads (more on that later) and the mid-foot strike was much easier.  I also found that my gait got a bit longer and I was running faster without much more effort.  I know that because when I started running like that and looked down at my Garmin, it was clocking me at 9:30/mile!!!  Holy cow!  I've NEVER been that fast, so I reigned it in and slowed it down.  I never would have been able to run that fast for 7 miles, I know that much about me.

So I got half way through my run and took my fuel.  The beans were alright, a bit tough to chew and didn't really get the surge I was hoping for from them.  Maybe a different flavor pack will yield different results?  By this time I sent a pic to Twitter and Facebook about how I was feeling good more than half way through my run!

I even managed a smile!

So I trucked along jamming to music and finishing up my run.  I'm not going to lie, that last mile and a half was brutal.  I was ready to be done and I couldn't wait to get home.  My quads were BURNING at this point from the new stride adjustment, my hips were stiffer than a plank of oak and my knees/calves/shins were protesting HARDCORE!  But I pushed on, I didn't stop and here's the proof.

I did it!  7 miles!  WOOHOO!!  I can't believe I did it and other than the soreness I was feeling, I felt good about it!  But I knew I needed to do something when I got home that I was NOT looking forward to, but would help me recover much more effectively.

ICE BATH!! was freaking COLD!  But I submerged my legs and hips to help out with the stiffness and hopefully reduce the inflammation.  And it did!  The ice bath along with another pair of compression socks for recovery, I felt good the rest of the day!  Until I committed the rookie mistake of higher mileage long runs.  I didn't fuel properly afterward.

During my ice bath I was drinking a protein shake with Bluebonnet protein powder, milk and a banana blended in my blender.  It was SO tasty and I felt like it was a good way to get high quality protein into my body immediately.  Then I had an appointment right after I got home, so I showered, got ready, grabbed a carb heavy snack and headed to my appointment.  Well after that I ran some errands and one thing after another, I realized I was extremely sluggish, light headed and SUPER grumpy.  At that moment I'd realized that all I'd had to eat all day was my pre-run bagel, the post-run protein shake and a hand full of peanut butter filled pretzels and no water...and it was almost 5 in the evening.  ::hitting hand on forehead::  At this point I was at Costco and got myself a big water and a slice of pizza.  I sat in my car and inhaled that thing.  A minute or two after I was done I felt infinitely better and my mood was lighter.

Lesson learned!  You need to eat something substantial not too long after a long high mileage run.  Especially if your body has never run that distance before because it is using up energy stores that you have never used before.  This creates a huge deficit that needs to be filled with good quality carbs and protein.  I'm now more cognizant of making sure I eat and drink water routinely through the day after these longer runs.

So a disappointing and invigorating week all together!  I'm glad that I got my long run in and that it was a success, well completion of the run is a success in my book!

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Foodie Penpal Reveal!

It's the end of the month and you know what that means, Foodie Pen Pals reveal!  What is Foodie Pen Pals, well just read below!

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

This month my box came from Gail in Chicago.  In her email to me she asked what I liked and didn't like and I asked her to send me things she gets locally that she loves!  I love local foodie finds so I was excited to see what Gail loves!

I was greeted with this note as I was opening the box.

When I opened it up I saw the bounty!  All cleaverly marked with notes on what she uses these items for or what she loves about them!  Nice touch!

I had had these before, but not in years.  She said that her kids eat these after X-country.  PERFECT!  I need a good snack for after my runs.  BONUS!

How did she know I LOVE pumpkin!  I'd seen these before but never got them.  They go brilliantly with coffee!

This one intrigued me the most, I'd never had chai in my life and I hear it being ordered at coffeehouses all the time.  So I'm really excited that I get to try it and make it myself!

Gnocchi!!  My favorite to cook with, I have a fabulous "stoup" that I use it in that is perfect for this time of year!  I can't wait to make it this week!

Lastly, was this beauty!  Cranberry Walnut loaf which sounded so delectable that I wanted to just tear right into it and make some toast.  Unfortunately with the cold damp weather we've been having, it molded during shipping.  Bummer!  Now I have to keep a look out for it at my local TJ's, it really sounded amazing!

Thank you Gail for sending me these awesome goodies!  They will be consumed with great appreciation and pleasure!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"The Jam" Thursday - What is blowing up my iPod

It's Thursday and it's been a tough week.  Juggling family, work, training, blogging and the's a stretch to get everything in.  As a result, some things get left by the wayside, like my blogging.  I've been missing it, but have had no energy this week to post.  My apologies.  I still need to recap my training from last week, a BIG week for me.  But I digress...

Today is Thursday where I feature a "jam" for the week, a song that gets my booty bumping and my legs pumping.  Today's "jam" is a song that I'd been listening and rocking out to long before it hit the airwaves.  I love the DJ and I like/listen to almost every song on this album.  The singer/rapper on this track have had their share of controversy for sure, but I can't help but love the hits that Chris Brown releases.  The next Michael Jackson he's not, but he definitely gets me moving when his songs come on!

So without further ado, I present todays "jam":

This song has always been one where it gets me moving and I totally rock out to it.  When ever it comes on the radio or my iPod I turn the volume up.  It's got a great beat and gets you moving when you feel sluggish, that is why I normally put this song towards the end of my playlist when need driving beats to help me going.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Thursday

Usually my Thursdays are about music and what "Jam" is blowing up my iPod, but today is a special day where the focus is on family and giving thanks.

I am thankful for my family and my husband who are infinite sources of encouragement and love.  I would not be here if it weren't for them.  I am also thankful for each and everyone of you, not just because you share a part of my world by supporting and reading my blog.  But because you are important and loved very much by people in your life.  You give them the hope, love and support they need, even if you don't realize your contributions.  

So today on the day we give thanks, I wish you a wonderful day for you and your family.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Race Recap: Mustache Dache 5K

Saturday November 17th I ran in the 1st Annual Seattle Mustache Dache.  It's a 5K race to benefit Movember, aimed to raise money for awareness and treatment for Prostate Cancer.  This is DEFINITELY a fun way to get people moving and involved in a cause, by making the source of the fundraising jovial and light.  EVERYONE was encouraged to wear mustaches during the race and festivities, costumes were highly encouraged!  I'm never one to intentionally draw attention to myself, but for some reason I really wanted to dress up in costume for the run, I felt compelled for some reason.

I LOVED the bib design!  Wasn't it just so much fun!?!

I was especially excited about this race because I was getting to meet up with some local blogger ladies, some again and most for the first time!  It is always so intriguing to meet people in real life whom you only know through words on a page.  See their characteristics, their demeanor, how they carry themselves and how they treat others.  People watching is very interesting to me, though they were probably thinking I was stand-offish.  But I digress.

The rain held off for the morning which was nice because most of where the race route was would be through mud and fields, that could have made for a pretty nasty run.  This fun run could have easily turned into a Mud Run! HA!  I wore a costume that had a fun mustache that conveniently clipped to my nose and miraculously did not fall off when I ran!

There was quite a lot of people at the race, the start area was PACKED with people! It was crazy!!

Fun touches were all over the place.  From the signs to the mechanical bull, to the giant hairy 5 foot long mustache you could pose with, it was just a fun time!

The race was fairly flat, some dips and low grade inclines, but nothing bad at all.  The terrain was a bit muddy in spots, but it kept mostly to a trail that was either paved or a rocky walk way.  There was one HUGE bottle neck about .5 miles in where everyone screeched to a stop and walked for a bit because the trail had narrowed so much it was only two by two space across that part of the trail.  I think that messed with a bunch of people's times!

 There were some great costumes.

And some non-existent costumes.  Was his made out of invisible thread?

I kept a pretty even pace and just enjoyed myself.  I was treating this as a fun run, but running up to speed as much as I could, I certainly wasn't racing this.  I think I would have been more full out if I was racing this for sure, but I was mostly just taking in the fun aspects of the run and enjoying a new trail/route I've never been on before.  It was quite nice.  Then as I was getting closer to the finish I pushed it just a bit more, I wanted to stop, but I was SO CLOSE.  So I pushed on, then as I was approaching the finish line, I saw the photographers taking those horrible finish line pictures.  

These were my pictures from the finish, they aren't stellar, but then again when are race pictures good.  They were free to download (yay!) and the first time I'll actually have race pictures on a race recap, go figure.  Oh and what was my costume?  Why...I was the Swedish Chef!

This was approaching the finish line.

See the intense look on my face!  I was determined to finish strong, I wasn't going to stop for anything.

Not even for a smile!  I just look confused here though.

At the finish, all sweaty (sorry, I mean glistening) holding my finish line Refuel chocolate milk (my recovery fave!) and a box of Zico coconut water (not pictured, but another of my recovery faves!).  I got people commenting on my costume throughout the whole time at the race, all positive but not quite getting who I was until the very end when a guy standing there with his kids took one look at me and said "Swedish Chef!".  I thanked him and told him he was the only one who'd guessed right the entire day.  Too funny.

All the bloggers had met up again at the end to talk a bit about the race and most were getting together for brunch.  I didn't want to intrude on their gathering so I headed home to watch the UW Football game (which they won, just in case you were curious).  But not before we took a great picture!

Borrowed from Sarah's Twitter

It was really great meeting all these ladies, I felt empowered by them, humbled by their accomplishments and motivated to go after my own goals.  These ladies are great and I hope to get to know them better in the future!

The real shocker of the day came when I got home and checked the results.  My time had been posted online already, boy they were fast putting those up!  This was my first 5K since my last one in April where my official time had been 40:47.  When I checked my time I was so excited I was jumping up and down, literally!  My official time for this 5K was 35:31, not only did I PR, but I beat my previous time by 5 minutes and 16 seconds!  WOOHOO!!!  SO STOKED!  Not only did I have fun running this race, but I also brought home a PR, that makes this race a win-win in my book!

I was skeptical at first about running this race and I did it only because there was a coupon deal for the entry (and I was going to meet up with some great blogger ladies), but I think I'm sold on this race.  The race was put together really well, the location was beautiful, the vendors were awesome and the theme couldn't have been more fun.  It encouraged people to have fun and be silly, what's not to love.  Would I run this race again?  Heck yeah I would!  And I would encourage anyone else I could to sign up for it as well, it was just that much fun!