Friday, May 30, 2014

What I Did...Again

Attempt #2 (see previous post) at writing this blog is coming at you this morning direct from this baby:

Don't worry, I have not completely given up my running in order to write blogs for you. It's just that this is pretty much the only time and place I can find to write these days (which should explain the typos). I spent the first part of my morning on this bad boy running intervals:

**On a side note, I struggle with the discipline of intervals. I know the key to doing intervals correctly and maximizing the benefit is to really, really slow down (aka: walk) on the slow cycle, before taking it back up fast, but the inner crazy in me feels like I'm slacking on the walk part. Anyone else have this problem or is it just me?

Anyway, what I thought I would fill you in on is not what I'm doing now, but what I did on my month sabbatical from running. 

1. Cybex Machine.
Speaking of this lovely little cardio machine (pictured above) she and I have become really close in the last month and a half or so. Not only because I can blog and read while I workout, but because the Cybex machine, similarly to the elliptical, simulates the action of running without all of the pounding on my joints. Sure, I'm supposed to hold on to the arm handles and get an upper body/better workout, but then how would I type?  And sure it's kinda like running, but I go absolutely nowhere.  Do the hours and hours that I put in on the Cybex ever get boring?  Most definitely. But then, every now and then this happens and I find I can go on and on. 
I find there is nothing that helps pass time like SATC.
 2.  Bar Method. 
Most importantly, I took my time off from running as an opportunity to get back into the habit of attending Bar Method classes 3-4 days a week. I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back at it. Realizing how much I had let my muscles go without use during all of those months of marathon training, was a pretty painful process. But, it made me realize more than ever what Bar Method does for my body. First of all, with every exercise developed and reviewed by physical therapists, I never have to worry about injuring myself. But, beyond that, it is the way I feel after Bar Method classes: pulled in, pulled up (we literally work posture during the whole class), and strong. Nothing is as good for my self-confidence as a week straight at the Bar (and I don't mean the happy hour kind of bar, although after some time there I'm usually feeling pretty confident too). 

3. Yoga.
I tagged along with a friend of mine to her yoga class. I have to admit here, yoga isn't my strong suit. I do though, enjoy it for the amazing benefits that come with deep stretching. In fact, when I trained my first marathon, I was very disciplined about going to yoga twice a week and I would highly recommend it for anyone else in long distance training. My problem is, I can't seem to slow my brain down enough to really get into and grasp all of the mental benefits of yoga. I think running is for me what yoga is for a lot of people. That said, working out with friends is always fun. As is the dinner/wine afterwards. What can I say? I'm all about rewarding myself. 

4.  Weights.
So, I usually try to stay out of gym the weight areas for fear of getting hot on my creepy workout dude or for fear of looking like a total spaz when I can't figure out how to make the machine move to fit me. But, because I love working my muscles, I've been venturing into my gym's group fitness room when there aren't any classes going on and having space to myself to do some free weights. I'm not naturally a weights kind of girl. I think because of years of gymnastics I just prefer using my own body weight as resistance for strength training. But, there is something to be said for changing up your routine and I've found that I see/feel results even when I just throw in a few minutes of weight lifting here and there after a good cardio session. That said, I keep the load very light and prefer to do more reps. This is a personal preference and how I feel most comfortable avoiding injury. Everyone has to find their own happy place when it comes to strength training. 

5.  Bicycling
This has been the most fun for me to take up. My husband bought me a bike for my birthday and we've taken to going on long rides all over town about once a week. I am absolutely loving these long rides and we usually reward ourselves afterwards by stopping for dinner and drinks somewhere, which I am also loving. Bike riding is something I never thought I would enjoy but lately, if we haven't ridden by Sunday, I'm usually climbing the walls to get out of the house. Please note, I am a terrible bike rider. Just awful. My husband spends a great deal of our rides laughing at what a scaredy cat I am. But, what the hell. Sometimes it's okay to do things you are very, very bad at. 

Add caption

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Are You Kidding Me?!?!?

I specifically went to the gym this morning to write a nice long blog (don't judge- it's the only place I can find the time). I spent over half an hour on the Cybex machine writing all about what I had done on my month off. I  was nearly done when I went to add a picture to the blog, and somehow lost the entire thing!  So, now I'm pissed off, covered in sweat, and this is all you get. 

Here's to hoping it's all uphill from here. Is that even how the saying goes?!? Do I want it to be uphill (but isn't that harder work) or downhill??  I'm pretty sure staying in bed is what I should have done today. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Life of a Super Star

The other day my friend at the office was telling me how busy she and her family were for a couple of days with various activities for her daughter and the usual mix of an overwhelming workload and school requirements. My friend said that one night her daughter ended up tears saying she was too tired and didn't want to do any more activities and just wanted to go to bed. You know what my friend told her daughter?  She said, "Honey, this is the life of a super star."

I laughed when she told me that story, but I didn't think much of it after that. In fact, what I was initially struck with was how much I related to he daughter. Lately, I too have felt way too tired, not wanted to do anything more than to just get in bed. How many times have I found myself in or near tears because of exhaustion?  Probably too many. I don't know if it is that suddenly my load really is too much to bear or if I've suddenly become unable to appropriately handle any increase in stress, or what the problem is, but I can tell you that life has become really overwhelming and exhausting. I have a sneaking suspicion that it has something to do with the fact that I spent the last several years operating in survival (or maybe the opposite of survival) mode, where feelings of exhaustion and stress didn't or couldn't even register because so much was going on. I have a feeling that now I'm a little shell shocked and over-sensitive. 

Regardless of the cause, it was in this mindset that I started out on another dark, 5:00 a.m., dreary run. And, it was in this mindset that I stayed as I ran on, questioning my sanity for forcing myself through one more exhausting activity. And then a funny thing popped into my head. I heard, "This is the life of a super star."

It came to me so clearly and before I could really even process it, l felt my mood change. My arms were pumping and my legs started really moving. Instead of feeling bogged down with the long run, I felt determined and energized. I felt like, "yeah, this is what we super stars do.  We super stars do what it takes."  Of course, super stars also make millions of dollars and are adorned with fans and fame, but let's ignore that part of it. What I was focused on that morning was that, we super stars set our sights on a particular goal and we don't let anything stop us. Super stars push on, no matter what. 

Here's a little secret for you: You are a super star too. 

Now, if this doesn't scream, "face of a super star," I don't know what does. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's All About The Clothes and My Friends Are Amazing

Check out my new shirt:

Does my friend, Rebecca, know me or does she really, really know me?!?  The other night we met Rebecca and her husband for dinner and she showed up with this beauty of a running shirt for me. I love my wine. In fact, I could probably write a whole blog about wine. But, that might not be very motivational for people and would probably contain a whole lot more spelling and grammar errors.  

And, a couple of weeks ago, my beautiful friend, Denise,  surprised me out of nowhere, with the awesome bright melon colored Athleta pants I was wearing at Glow Bar.  These pants are quickly becoming my favorite, and not just because the glow so well in black light.

Seriously, how amazing are my friends?!?  They don't just know what I love. They don't just support what I do. They actually spend their money to give me sweet, thoughtful gifts that I can use day in and day out (okay, with wash cycles in between) on the long run. I really have the greatest friends. I would love to share them with you. I know you would love them as much as I do. I can only hope that everyone gets to be surrounded by a group of friends who are as loving, supportive, giving, strong, and caring as mine. I also can only hope that my friends think I am as good to them as they are to me.  For I know I am a better person because they are in my life. And now, a better dressed person too!

Speaking of clothing, since I skipped out on the one month of beautiful and mild Spring weather and have decided to pick back up on the long runs when it's 85 degrees and really humid out, I decided to give running shorts a try. You see, I am a running pants/capris kind of girl. It's been years since I put on actual running shorts. 

They are really cute running shorts (it's hard to take pictures of your shorts as you wear them, so you'll just have to trust me) and I really wanted to love them. But, I think it's going to take some getting used to. While I have to say that I loved the coolness of so little clothing (it really gets hot in Houston), the feeling of all that exposed leg was a little much for me. I try to be confident in who I am and what my body looks like, but I couldn't help but wonder what all that thigh was looking like at the point of highest impact, and to be honest, my hopes weren't high that it looked like this:

Not my legs.
I also didn't realize how much I'd come to love and rely on my compression pants. Compression pants (or socks or armbands - there are all kinds of different compression gear out there) are more than just spandex pants. Compression gear is designed specifically to enhance performance (increased blood flow and oxygenation being their main claim). There are lots of studies out there about whether compression gear really works (best I can tell only very slightly), but it doesn't really matter. I realize now that I like the feel of compression pants and I  more comfortable running when I'm all sucked into them.  But what does that mean? Do I have to sweat it out in pants/capris all summer? Or do I get used to all of that unharnessed leg (sorry neighbors!) and run free in shorts. What about you?  Do you wear running shorts or keep it all covered up?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Getting Fit is GLOWrious!

I had to share with you the GLOWrious event I attended this week:  Glow Bar!

A late night Bar Method class done in black lights with fun glow sticks and techno music. And okay, with a little highlighter writing thrown in (no need to ask how I know this trick).

The class was hard as ever (complete with shaking, sweating, and even some pretty loud cursing from one of my bar-mates), but still so much fun. We had a great time as a group getting fit and smiling the whole time. 

And that's what it's all about guys, having fun and enjoying ourselves. Sure, some mornings the work is plain ol' hard, boring, and repetitive, but that's why we need to take every opportunity we can to spice it up and have fun. We are here for a very short time and it shouldn't be just to take part in monotonous sweat sessions that don't bring you joy. This is also why I highly recommend working out  with friends. Everything is better with your girlfriends by your side (even Bar Method thigh work). 

Having a blast with Rachel, Bar Method Houston studio owner and awesome friend.  And, relax people.  It says, "Tuck."
Tucking and shaking is one of my favorite things to do with Rebecca...well, along with pretty much anything else.  Love her.
Here's my challenge to you: Find a fun fit event coming up in your area and sign up for it (added bonus if it's a glow in the dark activity!). Sure, working out is good for our bodies, but having fun with it is great for our souls. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Baby Steps

The blur makes it look like I was really moving....looks can be deceiving.
In the name of changing it up, I've decided to start my baby steps journey back into running. After having taken essentially a full month off from the long run, due to pain and exhaustion, I think it's very important that my re-entry into running begin with a few baby steps. 

And it was just a very few!!  From 13.1 miles to 1.23 in just a month. Wait, isn't that backwards from how it's normally supposed to go?

I'm determined to get back out on my long runs.  I'm determined to once again find the clarity and peace that come from pushing myself out on the trail, but this time, with no races that I "have " to train for, I'm determined to do it slowly and safely, giving my body some more time to adjust and then excel. 

The good news is that this is a very long run we are all on and there is plenty of time for starts and stops along the way. As long as the starts outnumber the stops, then we are moving in the right direction. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Little Too Comfortable.

This morning when I jumped off the Cybex Arc Trainer (my go-to morning cardio machine) and took a look at my set-up, which actually included several more items than pictured, I realized that I'm likely getting way too comfortable here. 

Some days I consider going to one of the other cardio machines (you might be able to tell from the picture, but almost all of the cardio machines are open - it's usually me and about 6 other people there early in the morning), but then I find myself saddling up to the ol' Cybex. What can I say?  Habits are hard to break and I am a creature of habit. 

But, old habits aren't where it's at. The real change comes when you change things up. Sure, sticking with the usual fitness routine is okay and will help you maintain, but where is the fun in that?  The fun comes from challenging yourself and trying new things.  Of course, by fun what I really mean is pain.  But, haven't you ever heard the phrase, "no pain, no gain?"  Running always gives me the feeling of being truly challenged.  Not running has left me stuck in a cardio rut.  I know I'm not really pushing myself and I now know it's time to make a change.  It's not easy to challenge yourself at the gym at 5:00 a.m., but "easy" and "workout" really aren't supposed to be used in the same sentence.
Now,could someone please call me before dawn tomorrow and remind me of this??

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Sometimes I wonder why in the hell I feel so compelled each and every day to run and workout.  Well, I guess I was just born this way. 

Throwback Thursday!  Please tell me I'm not the only one with fond memories of Get In Shape Girl. 

I've been working out for so long now, I really wouldn't know a life without it. And, even at 5:00 a.m., when I would rather be in bed, or at 5:00 p.m., when I would rather be at happy hour, I have to admit, I don't want to know a life without physical activity and a daily sweat. 

Happy TBT!  How long have you been physically active?  Have you ever thought of quitting?  What keeps you going?

Signs 4 (A Pictorial)

I haven't done one of these in a while. I think it's time for a reminder of what you can find when you get out on the long run.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say, but you've got to get out there and open your eyes to see the beauty all around you. The world will give you the signs you need. 

Wishing you a weekend full of beauty. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Be Your Own Best Friend

***Warning:  This blog has nothing to do with running.  Come back soon for more run-based blogs.  

Don't you love best friends?  They are the absolute best. I have been ridiculously blessed with an amazing group of best friends. I honestly could not imagine what my life would be without them. I can safely say it would not be as good as it is now. My friends have done and been everything for me. 

Best friends are the first to tell you what you refuse to see. They are your true reflection when the mirror you are looking in is distorted. When your eyes are clouded with poor judgement, it's your best friends who can show you the way.  They see you as you really are and they know you more than you know. Best friends care and support us in ways we refuse to do for ourselves.

I cannot tell you the number of in my life that I can look back on now and realize that my best friends were right. I wasn't so fat. I did deserve more. I was wasting my time with him. All of these lessons  my best friends were trying to teach me if only I had believed them. 

And the same can be said for me as a friend. I am the first to say (and truly believe) that my friends are AMAZING. I believe my friends are smart, funny, and beautiful. I believe they all have gorgeous bodies. But more than that, I believe that their worth as human beings is SO much bigger than the size or shape of their bodies. I want all of my friends to know that they are deserving of all the best this world has to offer and that they should never, ever settle for anything (or anyone) that does not make them truly happy or truly fulfilled. 

I've been bothered because recently I've had several talks with several friends and it has become very clear to me that they do not see themselves the way their best friends see them. They do not realize how worthy they are. They are settling for less than they deserve.  These are the same exact people who wouldn't (and don't) hesitate a second to tell me how worthy I am. They are the same people who would never let me speak about myself as they speak about themselves. And, if I was settling for or putting up with the same things they are allowing themselves to settle for, they would grab me by the shoulders and shake some sense into me until I could see what they see. Yet, they refuse to see the truth about themselves.  

So this is my challenge to those people and to all of you....and if I'm truly honest, to myself:  

Be your own best friend. 

Don't just tell others how amazing they are, tell yourself (and believe) that you are also amazing. Respect yourself as you respect your best friends (they seem to love you, why is it so hard for you to love you?). Do for yourself what you would not hesitate to do for your best friend.  You are every bit was wonderful, beautiful, and worthy as those around you.  Don't just hear what your friends have to say about you, listen, repeat, and most Importantly, BELIEVE it about yourself.  Be the voice that tells you how amazing you are. Be your own best friend. 

My wish for all of you is that one day you can say this to yourself:

It's All Worth It

Some mornings, I wake up thinking about how much it sucks that I get up before dawn, while it's pitch black outside, to go sweat it out at the gym before starting a full day of work. I'm not training for anything. No one is paying me to work out. Why do I do this to myself?  

But then, I walk out of the gym to this sunrise and realize it's all worth it. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Best Laid Plans

"The best laid plans.... often go astray."

Not so long ago I filled you in on my plan to take a month off from running. And so far, I've been really good at sticking to The Plan (she writes as she blogs from the elliptical machine). Buuuuut....I had to make an exception yesterday. Yesterday was our Girls On The Run 5k. You have to know that there is nothing I'd rather make an exception for. 

I love the GOTR program and all it stands for. And I love all of our wild, honest, and sweet girls. I am so glad I found the GOTR program last year. Volunteering with young girls and trying to teach them lessons like self-confidence through running has given me so much perspective on my own life. 

What you don't know is that almost two months ago, I had to quit teaching at GOTR. I took a new job further out of town, which made getting to the classes in the mid afternoon pretty much impossible. I sometimes don't know how much I miss it until I see the girls again (I've been able to pop in and visit a couple of times). 

Yesterday's 5k was so much fun. It was great to see the girls experience a true race day. So many of the girls pushed themselves faster than I had ever seen them train. And they laughed and talked and held hands the whole way. I'm telling you, you've never seen such a happy group of runners.  It was awesome to see all of the families lined up along the course with signs and whistles cheering the girls on. I've written before about how awesome race spectators are, but yesterday's group was pretty darn special.  I was proud to get to be a part of it. 
A dad running the whole way with his daughter - melts my heart. 

So, I strayed from The Plan. That's okay, I've never been happier to break my own rules. 

If you would like to learn more about or donate to the Girls On The Run organization, follow this link (I'm sending you to the Houston chapter, but there are girls on the run programs all over the country, just google Girls On The Run to find the closest to you):

One of the medals I am most proud to have earned. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Happy First Birthday!!

Happy first birthday to me!! 

Today marks the first birthday of this blog. Exactly one year ago, I made my first entry and declared to the world that despite all appearances, "I am a runner."

Writing that first blog wasn't easy. Deciding to take that small step forward out of anonymity was scary and intimidating. Putting myself out there to be judged by strangers was something I wasn't exactly thrilled to do. But more than the fear, I felt a calling to put it all out there. After each long run, I would be tugged with the thought that I should share what I was learning. I tried to shake it for a long time, but the more I avoided it, the more it ate at me, until I finally caved and started writing. 

When I started, I made a commitment that I would continue my jogging and blogging for a least one year and then re-evaluate. In the last year, I've logged a lot of miles and learned a lot of lessons. I've enjoyed sharing these lessons, and a lot of totally random, pretty useless information too. I am proud of what I have done over the last year and I've decided to keep at it. I haven't had a ton of feedback on this blog, but I have had a number of people tell me that this blog inspired them to try to go for a run, register for a 5k, or even tackle their first half marathon.  The joy that this has brought be is indescribable. 

I hope I can continue reaching out and inspiring people with this blog. At this milestone, I've decided to really take a look at the blog and see if there are any improvements to what/how I write. Do you have any suggestions?  Formatting ideas?  Content you would like me to add?  Things you wish I would or wouldn't do?  Let me know what you think. Yes, this is my blog and I would like to stay true to my original calling, but I also write it for you and I would love your feedback (I think?). 

Oh-- and this is pretty cool: recently I was chosen as an IDEA inspired blogger. I'm so excited to be included in this list of awesome ladies (and gentlemen) who are  doing such great work.

Now let's party!!  
I've been loving birthday cakes forever.