Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bump In The Road

I posted this picture on facebook and didn't think it would need a lot of explanation, but many thought I was just posting a picture of my lady lumps, so I'll make this easy. I've got a new running buddy, and he's with me all the time!

Today marks the end of week 22 (yep, it's another boy), so I'm officially in the second half of my pregnancy and still hitting the road on a pretty regular basis. Along with running (galloway method running, with a 3:1.5 ratio), I've added a Tuesday spin class that is wicked hard and I make it to about twice per month, and bootcamp at 6am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This is the first pregnancy that I've really exercised through; the occasional walk on a treadmill or swim in the lap pool got me through the two prior, but weren't really challenging and certainly didn't stave off a massive weight gain.

I thought that I would feel terrible running while pregnant, but it's turned out that I feel a whole lot worse on the days I don't do something physical, than on the days I do. Bootcamp is on a three weeks on, one week off schedule, and the week off KILLS me, because I am clearly motivated by the herd mentality and do not do the workouts they give us to do on our own with any kind of religious fervor.

In addition to this running buddy, my darling H has shown me that he is a completely different kiddo in school when he's getting a lot of physical outlet in the other parts of his life. It's a good thing I've already established a love for moving my booty because this kids' gonna keep me on my toes! I'm planning to run a local 10k in mid-May, but realized that pushing the jogger with both kiddos on board is getting more and more challenging. Pushing about 100 pounds of kid and stroller, while 'carrying' another peanut is a challenge.

And he's off with a bang!
That established, I decided it was high time I made H pull his own weight. Literally. I bought him his first pair of 'real' running shoes, and he went with me to a local park today to jog around the trail. At each bench, for our OYO (on your own) workout, we were supposed to stop and do step-ups and push-ups, so that gave H a little break. Each loop is only .7 miles, but by the time we'd finished two of them, he was done and I was just happy he'd humored me for that long. Obviously, I'm not expecting him to do even half of that first 10k without jumping in the stroller, but any interval without having both kiddos to push will be a welcome respite.

One boy at my side, and one just along for the ride.
Today was also another first for me; the first run in which each footstrike on the ground brought with it the urge to pee. Time to invest in a good maternity support band to give the ole bladder a break. Any suggestions?

Until the next time I find a second to breathe and dash out a post, happy trails!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Everyday Inspirations

This morning as soon as the girls wake up, we will be packing up the car and heading to my parents for a long weekend. Ever since I made the plans about a week ago, I have been envisioning the roads by my childhood home, one of my favorite places to run. Around mid-week SallyHP emailed saying she and the boys would be coming as well, making me even more excited to get in a couple of runs over the weekend.

The "Why make time to run?" question can always be answered by a simple statement - it feels great. Yet, obviously, I still struggle making it a regular part of my life. I always enjoy inspirations that come at just the right time to help me keep working toward running more consistently.

Lately three have been standing out. I have been reading Slow Fat Triathlete, just like Sherri since SallyHP bought us both a copy. I also recently read a few posts that caught my attention - neither of which I came upon by skimming "running blogs".

I frequently check the A Year at Reading blog, which typically has education related posts; however, last year Franki posted about reading Run Like a Mother around the same time that I was reading the book. Recently (about one year later), she posted about her fascination with running, without ever actually running. This year she is determined to get started. I always love reading about people stepping out of their comfort zones and making healthy steps (as with Slow Fat Triathlete). I look forward to hearing more about Franki's journey this year. (Edited 1/16/12: I just noticed that Franki and Sara Kajder started a blog Reading Teachers Running - so excited.)

The second blog that caught my attention was one that a scrapbooking blog mentioned. Elise Blaha heard about the concept of running a mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Years and wrote a post to reflect on her experience. At the top of her post she has a great photo collage of her shoes in different locations - with fall leaves, on a treadmill, on the beach... It's a great post talking about creating a running habit.

What everyday inspirations inspire you to start (and keep) running?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Take 2

Around this time last year my sisters decided to start this blog. I quickly jumped in to see if I could join them. 2011 was by far the best year of my adult life for incorporating more exercise into my regular routine; however, it ended up being hit and miss. There were months when I was doing great but at the expense of other aspects in my life. In an attempt to regain balance, exercise often went to the wayside. Then I would try to weave exercise in, and the cycle would continue.

Yet, I am determined to keep on trying, working toward achieving that balance and prioritizing in order to find a place for exercise. The girls went back to school this week, but my winter term does not start until next week. Originally, I was going to spend the week at the office, but Sunday night I realized that I would be able to complete what I needed to in two days, leaving the other three for the rare occasion when I get to be home by myself.

When considering what I would want to do during those prime hours, going for a jog outside popped into mind. This morning I laced up my shoes, put a scarf around my neck and headed out the door for a combo walk/jog. The last time I did so was back in September before fall term started. My husband's and my work schedules clash. It is still dark when I leave for work and by the time my husband gets home, it is once again dark. I'm either working or with the girls, and I haven't quite figured out how to get in some outdoor exercise on a regular basis.

This week I plan on one more outdoor jog Friday, and after that, it will be back to my regular work schedule. I know that it will be feasible to get in at least one weekend run before my husband goes to work. I just need to get myself motivated to do so consistently without letting obstacles get in the way, such as sleeping in or staying warm and cozy inside the house.

I'm looking forward to the spring when the day light hours will accommodate running more regularly during the week, but until then, I will enjoy my weekend runs and focus on cardio and strength work out videos at home during the week.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Follow that Sister!

I am not going to write another post about how lame and unmotivated I am; I've decided enough with the self-loathing already. I'm almost forty and I've done some pretty kick-ass things and been through some stuff, but my modus operandi has been to berate myself, flogging and lashing in all manner of a monk in that Name of the Rose book. To wit: I rationalized, for over a year, that I am overweight because my subconscious self associated being fit and thin with my unhappy times living in a one bedroom walk-up across from a bar and alongside the railroad tracks (you know which side). Therefore, once I moved away from my steady diet of gin and tonics, trail runs, and bad dudes, I got, well, you know...fat and happy. I repeated this logic out loud to a girlfriend this summer and she furrowed her brow, and said, "Or, it could be that you had a baby and did a doctoral program and you let your physical regimen slide along the way." Or that. And, she continued, it's normal. Life happens. We fall out of good habits even as we are forming other good habits. Well, now she went and got all wise on me, like a good girlfriend! I let this new logic marinate in my brain for a few months. Still not lacing up the running shoes, mind you, but marinating nonetheless...

Fast forward a couple months and I'm packing my running shoes into a suitcase along with my swim suits and sunblock because I promised one of my Sole Sisters that I would run on the beach with her on our trip to Aruba. This Sole Sister I'm referring to is the one who runs marathons, half-marathons, and races in which she sets Guinness World Records for most runners with Santa hats on. And, did I mention that she does it while wearing the most kick-ass, brightly-colored running skirts (yes, running skirt! She's that hip!) and a high-tech GPS system strapped to her wrist. This sister does not play. Did I also mention that this is the sister who, a little over a year ago was not a "runner"?

This same sole sister has sent me inspirational emails, phone calls, running maps in my neighborhood, and a books with titles like Run Like a Mother and Slow Fat Triathalete to send me not-so-subtle messages about picking up running again. I think she remembered, perhaps more vividly than I, that running was a big part of my life for a long time and that I can do it again.

So, after a few days of playing on the beach, drinking fruity drinks in the kiddy pool while our kids splashed and played, and staying up late catching up, we set our alarms, laced up our shoes, and hit the beach at sunrise. I was nervous. I had not run with this sister in a few years, and I was scared that I wouldn't make it past the first grass hut without shin splints or side cramps. But, Sister assured me that "Garmin" would alert me with interval walking spells to make this first run bearable. Location calculated, shoes tied, and we were on our way, running on the packed sand as the tide licked our feet, my lungs opening up with each stride. My sole sister doesn't know this, but I was marveling at her with each step, looking at her tall, muscular frame, blonde ponytail swish-swishing back and forth and aforementioned kick-ass bright skirt moving with the breeze. As the tide came closer, we had to fall in single file and I followed her. I couldn't help but admire her as she run ahead, thinking of how far she has come in her journey to become a bona-fide runner. She looked so strong. I think we ran just a little over a mile that morning--far less than she would have run had she been on her own, but I was reminded that morning that the most important thing is to get out and move.

I've gone out once since then and did the run-walk method she recommended. I downloaded "Run Keeper" for my iPod, also her suggestion. Now to find a sassy running skirt...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

That's What You Get For Waking Up In Vegas

Never miss a sweet photo op.
Last weekend I ran in the Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon, or as it's been dubbed 'Strip at Night'. After not seeing my running buds from Massachusetts for over a year, we were going to get to run a race together with a few nights of debauchery and sight-seeing thrown in. Oh yeah, and an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

Friday morning, I got to the airport ready for fun! Three of the team met me at the airport and drove me to the host hotel, Mandalay Bay, where our awesome planner had booked us rooms.

Pulling up to the hotel, the Pam (as opposed to Garmin Pam) and Erin D. came running out to greet us. It was the best welcome! Thus began the whirlwind. After hitting the expo to pick up our packets, we got false eyelashes artfully applied in the Spa and went to see The Thunder From Down Under, which is a hilarious show of hunky Australians that's just slightly less cheesy than the Chippendales. We intended to walk back to the hotel and maybe get a drink on the way. Somehow we ended up in Cathouse, dancing our booties off until 2am and then chowing down plates of nachos, sliders and french fries. By about midnight, with the free champagne flowing, I decided that every picture would feature me with my mouth wide open. Thank God Erin (and her wicked sweet camera) is discreet, or we'd be in a heap of trouble!
All dressed up and somewhere to go
After a refreshing three hours of sleep, we were up and dressed and ready to make a world record attempt for the most people running in Santa costumes for the Great Santa Run (a 5k), which ended up being beautiful after a frigid wait at the starting line.

Back at Mandalay, we showered and changed into comfy clothes and made our way down to the spa where we alternately relaxed in any one of three different temperature whirlpools and slept on the chaises. Oh, and somewhere in there we had room-service bring lunch to us in the spa lounge; Because we're that self-indulgent. It was wonderful.

Alas, race day still loomed ahead and I was ridiculously dehydrated from a night of debauchery followed by a good part of the day spent in the moisture-sucking steam. We had a pasta dinner at another team member's time-share then it was back to the hotel where we turned on the TV just in time to fall into comatose sleep. And then it was race day.

After a glorious ten hours of sleep, I was sitting on the bed in our room scrolling through facebook when I saw on the feed from Run Like a Mother: The Book 'Don't forget we have another mother runner meet-up this morning at 9:30 at the Starbucks in Mandalay Bay around the corner from House of Blues.' Oh-My-Gosh! I had been so disappointed not to meet SBS and Dimity the prior day at the expo that I dressed and rushed down to the 'Bucks in a hurry. I felt like my race weekend was complete after chatting with them for almost an hour, except for that whole running 13 miles thing.
I knew they were tall, but these mother put my 5'9" bod to shame! It was so awesome to meet them and other mamas who were later featured on the blog for race reports. Yet another link in the chain of connection to other runner mothers!
I've not run many night races, and trying to plan all day for what to eat, how much to drink, and how to keep your legs fresh was tricky. Vegas involves a lot of walking, and I'd not yet found anything fun for my kids. A few of us walked to m&m world, then had lunch at the MGM Grand's Grand Buffet before heading back to the Mandalay to start pre-race prep. My outfit laid out, I crawled under the covers with the ridiculous idea that I'd get a little nap.

My mind would not shut off! I had initially thought that since I got a PR in Walla Walla that I wouldn't really care about my time in Vegas, but as it approached, I thought it would be fun to get just a little bit faster. Pam had already told me that she planned to stick with me, even though she's a lot faster than I am now, but we hadn't been able to run together in so long, it's what she wanted to do. I was so excited to run with her and have the time to catch up. We decided to go sans iPods and I'm really glad we did. There was so much congestion that the people who had iPods, and listened to them loudly, were not able to get over when runners coming from behind announced their presence.

There were a lot of kinks, from woefully understaffed water stations to a congested finish line that made you come to a dead stop all the way to some late finishers who didn't even get a finisher's medal, that will need to be worked out for upcoming years but having a night race that closes the Vegas Strip, has a marathon that converges into the hot mess in mile 14 and has 44,000 participants is bound to have some bumps in the road. Literally.

Zappos and RnR are being very proactive and have been collecting data via particpant surveys since the day after the race. After 13.1 miles of stutter steps, shuffling around other runners and a zig-zag pattern that added two-tenths of a mile, I was just 2 minutes off of my PR, so I'll take it. I honestly almost cried as we were nearing the finish, because it felt like it just kept getting further away, as you had to zig-zag through the parking lot to get to it, but it did finally come.
With my beloved Pam!

Post race we hobbled to the showers and then wandered from Casino to Casino trying to rustle up that dinner we'd been talking about since about mile 3. After walking through three casinos and finding every restaurant either closed or with a three hour wait, we decided to head back to the buffet. We were starving. The post-race food was terrible, in a word, with bananas so green you couldn't even get the peel off. We made a stop at a daquiri vendor and I have to say that it was the best Pina Colada I've ever had. It's a good thing, because after finding the buffet closed, room service with a 3.5 hour wait and no pizza places that would deliver due to the hot mess that was the strip, we finally called it a very hungry night at just past midnight and went to sleep with rumbling bellies. The next moring, we hit the buffet, and we hit it hard, just in time for me to get a massive stomach ache that was barely 'cleared up' before heading to the airport. 

Overall, I had a fabulous time with my girlfriends. I got home Monday night just in time to do a quick session of no-mercy decluttering with my mom, (eight garbage bags of donation from the playroom and random linen closets and drawers, wahoo!), throw up a few Christmas decorations so that my mother would stop hounding me about the fact that my still-up Halloween decorations were giving her 'seasonal confusion', pack again and head off two days later for our family vacation to Aruba; which is where my sweet laptop is perched this moment. More on that (and the epic flight that got us here) coming up!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Half-y Feet

Mission: Accomplished! (and the famous pink triple jogger!)
After several months of training, the morning of October 16th carried a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time running a half with a training partner (actually running it with them and not just training with them), my first time trying the Galloway Method in a race, and my first time running a half-marathon without the assistance of an iPod. J and his sister ran the race as well, with awesome times, and it was fun to have she and her husband stay with us for the weekend. (The wine consumed the night before may not have been the best idea, though.)

It was perfect running weather, starting out with rain that reduced to a drizzle by the starting gun, then further reduced to light mists for the remainder of the race. The course was great, the conversation better and the companionship that pushed me to a PR was the best.

It wasn't all rosy, though, there was a point about 6.5 miles in that I thought; oh, lawd, what did I get myself into again? Maybe I'm not cut out to run this distance afterall! Then, a few more strides and a deep breath and I was fine, but running without music was both a relief and a serious challenge for me. E is a great running conversationalist, so I've grown accustomed to running without it, or else I'd have been begging for a little Cake with some White Stripes thrown in around mile 7.

We chugged up the hill on Kendall, the only 'real' hill on the course and after that I knew we were home free. Once we rounded the park, and were within sight and sound of the finish line I felt invigorated, as I always do, and had that tickle in the back of my brain saying maybe I could have pushed it a little harder in certain points. I looked at the clock as I was coming in the last stretch and my heart sank; 3:09?! How did that happen? I thought for sure I was great on time and that I was going to PR! Then I realized my error as the clock on the left hand side caught my eye and I realized that the marathoners had a fifteen minute head start on us. Wahoo! Under 2:55; Goal Achieved!

E worked so hard in training, often pushing a triple jogger while I pushed my double, and that hard work paid off. I know in my bones that she could have busted out and sped ahead, but she set out to finish with me (or just really likes the interval timer on my garmin, ha!) and  stuck with me until the last block where we broke off and she was almost 20 seconds ahead when we crossed the finish line.

Although my knees were a little achy the next morning, I wasn't any more sore than I've been after other training runs, and it made me see that I could be pushing myself harder on race days. I know that consistent attendance at bootcamp is helping me a lot, and I'm now registered through January.

Next up is Vegas and I'll get to run with Pam, Jill and the girls again for the first time in over a year; I'm giddy with the thought. I would love to PR there, and think that with their encouragement, and that of Cheap Trick of course, I'll rock the 'Strip at Night' on December Fourth.
Yep, that's Jill! (My own personal WWJD on my fridge motivation montage :))
This weekend Pam and co. are running their second full marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in DC, and I can't WAIT to cheer them on virtually, as their splits will post in real-time to Facebook. Send good thoughts their way. Although, I'm sure they'll have plenty of their own good thoughts as actual hottie Marines will be manning each water station. Hoo-ah!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shake that Body For Me

Last month, I finally decided to jump on the strength training band wagon. While I've always fallen in the 'big girl' category, it used to be because I was tall and strong. I used to love weight training, and seeing  the definition of my calves and quads (and the smooth lines on the back of my shirt that have been absent since I acquired backfat along with my college diploma and a state job), so I got on the Cardio Strength Bootcamp website and put the month of September in my cart. It only took one week before I went back and paid for October as well (and earned November for free because I'm out of control). Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning church bells toll from my iPhone at 5:20 am and I'm up and at 'em. If you know me, mornings are not my strong suit so the fact that I have not even been once tempted to hit the snooze button says a lot about this class.

It's a fantastic group dynamic, the workout is fast and furious and I felt sore in places that running hadn't touched. I initially made the mistake of trying to squeeze in a long run the same morning as bootcamp and it just didn't work. But, I'm finding the the days I run 3-5 miles are perfect for pairing with it. I am definitely done by the end of that day, but it's the best kind of tired. I have been falling into bed between 9 and 9:30 and waking feeling rested and ready to go. Really?! Really. J said that he knew it was the thing for me after I got up without missing or finding excuses for a whole month. He calls it my booty bootcamp. Methinks he likes the results.

After a month of faithful attendance, sticking to my running training plan and eating really well I was down almost 10 pounds and feeling stronger. I've still got a long way to go, demonstrated by the fact that I was doing a Turkish Get-up this morning and one of the trainers advised that I 'really tighten your core'. Um, sadly this is my tight. Shall I unleash the beast to show you the full glory that is two babies and too much Ben and Jerry's without proper strength training for about a decade? Okay then, let us resume.

So, what's the point of the title you may be asking yourself about now. How long has it been since you did full-on jumping jacks, jumped rope, or stood with your feet planted while flicking large gauge ropes up and down or side to side. Let me tell you, it's some jiggle-tastic times for me in that gym. All the miles I've put in haven't tamed the tummy so from here on out three mornings a week for the first three weeks of every month, you'll see me sweating it out with a bunch of other suckers because public shaming and herd mentality really work for me. Yes, I'm harkening back to my good Catholic upbringing. Now, if I could just make myself be as faithful about it for our week off...