Monday, June 30, 2014

Like a Girl

I know this commercial has been making the social media rounds lately, but I think it's worth sharing and talking about.
I hate to admit this, but I heard my husband use the phrase, "like a girl," while he was playing baseball with some friends the other day.  It felt like nails on a chalkboard to hear those words come out of his mouth and I wanted to jump up and start screaming at him all of the reasons why I never wanted to hear him say that phrase again.  Keep in mind, my husband is the kindest, fairest, most wonderful man I've ever met.  I know he doesn't understand the gravity of using a phrase like that and I know he doesn't mean anything by it.  But, maybe that's exactly what makes it so aggravating.  Somehow, being derogatory towards women is still so ingrained in our society that no one thinks twice about it.  How is that?  We've all come so far in so many ways, but still, women are viewed as less capable than....what?  Than everything??!?  Why is it that doing something poorly is automatically associated with doing something, "like a girl?" 
We all hear the phrase, "like a girl," and just let it roll off of our backs like it's no big deal.  But it is a big deal.  Women are strong and powerful and smart and funny and everything that a man is and in so many ways, so much more.  Are we different?  Of course we are.  But, we aren't less than.  We as a society have to stop saying it's okay for women to be treated (or talked about) as if they are less than.  And guess who has to lead the charge in this change?  That's right.  WOMEN.  We have to be the change we want to see.  There are too many young girls out there looking up to us.  Too many young girls who need to be told that there is nothing wrong with being "like a girl."  We have to let these young girls know what they are worth and I mean what they are intrinsically worth just because they are girls.  We have to let them know that being a girl is a precious gift to this world and we can't let them down.
Hell yes!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Orange You Glad You Went to the Gym

Just when I thought my morning run on the gym treadmill was going to be boring. 

Remember: Be loud. Be proud. Be bold. Be bright. Smile and make others around you smile. 

Happy running. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ghost Bikes

The other day, my neighborhood run took me past this:

This is a Ghost Bike and sadly, they are all over Houston. The Ghost Bike project is an international memorial to bicyclists across the world who have lost their lives in cycling accidents. The vast majority of ghost bikes represent a cyclist who was hit by a car. These stripped down, white bikes are placed in the exact spot (or as near to as possible) of the tragedies. Somber (and still beautiful) reminders of what can happen on the road.  Seeing so many of these recently pop up in Houston had been a sad awakening. 

What this particular bike reminded me is that we all share the road and we need to do a better job of it. I can't tell you how often I see people cruise through the stop sign near my house as I run up to it. I'm definitely scared of what could happen if a driver isn't paying attention while we share the road. I do my very bet to make sure I'm seen, always running on the correct side of the street, wearing reflective clothing, and even strapping a blinking light on somewhere. But, I know that it just takes one small lapse in concentration by a passing driver for things to go all wrong for me. And, if I'm going to be totally honest (and I promised you I would be), I am guilty of being an inattentive driver.  How many times have I driven, pulled up to my destination, and wondered to myself how I ended up there, unable to recall any details of the drive?  I think the point of this entry is that we all have room for improvement, if we are on our feet, two wheels, or four, we could all stand to pay a little more attention to one another. After all, we are all sharing the same road together. Let's just make sure we don't start seeing white running shoes piling up around our city. 

Monday, June 23, 2014


Well, it looks like I'm in for a pretty terrible day. Ran across (actually they ran across me) these two guys on my run this morning.  
How creepy does flash photography make this look?!?
You know what they say about a black cat crossing your path. Is two doubly bad?  Pretty sure it is. Pretty sure I should just call it a day and crawl back into bed. You know, for safety reasons...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Slowdown

Today marks the official start of summer. And for many reasons, I welcome it with open arms. More than anyone, I am ready for days at the pool, cook outs, flip flops, and summer vacations. I am a summer girl through and through. As soon as the temperature starts inching towards the 90's, my whole mood changes. I really live for summer months. 

Except in one small area.... summer running!  I'm just gonna put it out there: summer running is a real bitch. No matter how hard I try, along with summer comes the inevitable slow down.  This time of the year, Houston is plain ol' hot and humid. Plain ol' hot and humid leads to plain ol' slow. I mean really slow. 

Yesterday morning on a five mile run I had to stop....twice. The day before that, I ran 3.1 miles and came home telling my husband it might have been the hardest 5k I'd ever run. It doesn't matter that I'm out the door running before 6:00 a.m.  Houston is already near 100% humidity and well into the 80's as soon as the sun rises. It doesn't matter that I've been hitting the treadmill intervals really hard lately or that I've stepped up my strength training game. None of it matters when I step out summer running. Once summer hits, runs feel less like a connection to the universe and more like a trip towards a slow death.  For me, summer running is not summer loving. 

Here is the thing: it's not just me. The summer slowdown happens to most runners and there is scientific reasoning for it.  The heat and humidity actually physically makes running more difficult by significantly increasing your heart rate and decreasing the evaporation rate of sweat (sweat is your body's natural cooling method). This leads to both perceived increased effort and actual increased effort.  Which, as I've mentioned, leads to some sever slowing of pace.  I came upon this chart the other day that made me feel a little better about myself. I've only been seeing about a 35 second her mile slow down, but it's good to know the slow down is normal.  
Of course, knowing it's normal is not much of a consolation. We runners (I can speak for you too now, right?) hate slowing down. Let's be honest, we live and die by those numbers on the Garmin. Seeing that pace number creep up and up is frustrating and discouraging. It's hard to know as a runner that you're doing everything right in your training, but not getting to see any of the results. 

Maybe that's the problem. We judge our results not by the effort we put into a run, but by the numbers we see on our wrist after the run. Maybe during this summer slow down the thing to do is focus on the  strength and endurance we are building and not on the speed in which we are doing it. Instead of needing the instant gratification of seeing an improved time, let's find the enjoyment in knowing that down the road, when the temperatures fall and the summer shorts are put away, we will be faster, stronger, better runners for having pushed on through the summer. 

In the meantime, I hear being red faced, covered in sweat, and crawling on your hands and knees is really in this season. What's that you say?  Oh, it's not?  Yeah, I figured. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Not A Bad View

My husband and I never go the gym together. I mean, really close to never. So, last night was a special treat when the stars aligned and we both ended up working out at the gym together. As I spent some time on the mats foam rolling (my quads have been trashed lately) I ended up with a pretty great view!

It was odd, he kept asking me how much longer I needed to foam roll. I kept telling him that I needed to roll a really long time. I don't think he ever guessed why ;)

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?

Let's see, I spent the first part of last week running in Indiana and the last part of the week running in Fort Worth. I've always been a fan of running out of town. I make it a point to never take a trip without my running shoes. I am telling you, if you ever want to experience a city like the locals, find a popular trail and hit the ground running. 

I thought I'd fill you in on my Fort Worth runs. 

First, the hotel gym. 
Hotel gyms can be pretty hit or miss. I've seen my fair share of tragic gyms (I once ran on a treadmill in a closet-sized room that was shared with the hotel ice machine. It was kind of awkward when people would come in in their PJ's to get ice and have to squeeze around me). I've also been able to sweat in some pretty great ones too. The Worthington Renaissance's gym was pretty darn nice.  I spent a good deal of time doing some pretty intense intervals. They also had some good free weight equipment that I used to spice up my strength training routine. My only two complaints of the gym were (and they are pretty much shared universally with every other hotel gym I've ever visited):
1. The pool - hotel gyms are almost always located right next to the hotel pools, which leads to a whole lot of people stopping in their bathing suits and testing out equipment. This might be one of the oddest phenomenon out there, but I promise you it is true. At almost every hotel gym I've worked out in, I've shared it with at least one or two people in their bathing suits and flip flops sitting on the cycle bike. Listen people, you will not lose whatever weight it is you think you need to lose before heading to the pool on that bike in those flip flops. Trust me. 
2. The hand weights - 

This is such a pet peeve of mine. Why are the weights always the super bulky old fashioned kind?  Come on hotels, we women lift too. But when the weights are the size of my entire arm, it makes maneuvering them a little (a lot) difficult. It also doesn't help that the hand grip of the weight is as coarse as sandpaper, which as we know, is lovely for the texture of our hands. 

But, I digress. My original point was that I spent some time in Fort Worth at the hotel gym. And can anyone spot what I forgot to pack?  Needless to say, I had to air out my shoes every night. 

On my last day in Forth Worth, I woke up early and headed to The Trinity Trails (with new socks in hand--err on foot).  This trail system was recommended to me by some friends who live up there (big shout out to Drew and Blake for helping me stay well fed and then burn it off while I was up there!). 

First thing I've got to say is, good on ya' Fort Worth!!  These trails were awesome! Honestly one of the best city trails I've ever run. Well developed, well maintained, and well utilized (lots of runner waves along the way).  There were even portions of the trail marked specifically for me:

My only disappointment in the run was that my mileage isn't up very high yet since taking my month off, so I didn't get to see as much of the system as I would have liked.  You can see the trails are pretty extensive and I was only able to see a few miles before I had to turn around and run back.  Now I'm looking forward to going back to run when I'm in shape enough to run significant mileage. It's always good to have fun ideas/goals to motivate you along the way. 

More information about the trails can be found here:

You know a city is serious about setting up good spaces for runners when they paint a giant running shoe mural along the trail. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I keep starting to type about how much I love my Daddy and then deleting it because nothing I write appropriately describes what a great dad he is. Just that sentence took a long time.  For me to be at a loss for words, you know it's something big. I love my Daddy more than any post could capture. 

Happy Father's Day to all daddies and kids of daddies out there. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why Do I Even Bother?

Why do I even bother trying to talk myself out of runs?  It always ends up that I enjoy them. I'm always happy once I get going. Yet, every morning, I lay in bed thinking of all of the reasons I DON'T want to run. Even once I've got my shoes on and the Garmen has located me, I am still trying to come up with reasons not to run. Why bother?  I like running. I really like running. I just must also really dislike the thought of running. So, why do I even bother thinking about it?  I should just do it.  I will be happy I did.  Geeing motivated to run, seems to be the lesson I have to learn over and over each and every day. I am apparently a very slow study. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Starting 30 Day Challenges....errr....tomorrow

Today is the start of several 30 day challenges for me. Except that I didn't start a single one of them today.  But tomorrow really will be the day. I'm sure of least pretty sure...

Bar Method - I've signed up for a 30 day challenge with Bar Method that started today. The challenge is to attend 25 class in 30 days. I'm pretty sure I'm set up for certain failure on this challenge seeing as I'm only in town 2.5 (less than) days during the whole first week of the challenge and today (day 1 of 2.5) I got stuck in a traffic jam so bad I missed class by half an hour (on a side note - I just read an article that said people hate when you tell them how bad traffic was, so sorry for putting you through that). But, I am still determined. Even if I can't meet the challenge, I fully intend to give it my best. You know, starting tomorrow. 

2. Diet - I am not normally a fan of "diets."  Mostly, because I can't stick to them, which is exactly the whole point and problem with diets. But that said, I've been in a bit of a rut lately and I'm looking to kick start my body a little bit (a very little bit - you all should know I really LOVE eating and could never give up the joys of good food). I found an online 30 day "diet" challenge that seems totally doable. And by totally doable, I mean partially doable. This next month is full of travel and jam packed weekends that I already know will make it impossible to stick to any strict diet plan exactly.  So, once again, I intend to give this 30 day diet plan a try, knowing full well that I won't be perfect at it.

3. Abs - What can I say?  I was intrigued by the 30 day ab challenge that took the social media world by storm this month. Not sure how much change I will actually see by following this plan, but I figure if everyone else is doing it, so should I. 

So, here goes nothing. Honestly, as of today, literally nothing (it wasn't the greatest day today). But, as Annie says, "tomorrow, tomorrow, there's always tomorrow."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Indiana Randomness

It's cool to celebrate National Doughnut Day for two days right?!?  I've heard chocolate with sprinkles is the best running fuel out there. I am sure that Shot Bloks will be coming out with a chocolate sprinkle doughnut flavor really soon. 

We are in Indiana visiting family, so my run was significantly less hot and humid. But it was also significantly more uphill. As I tackled the hills, I ran past this mailbox and thought, "Yes, exactly. Ugh."  

Indiana is really pretty. Everything is so green and lush. It's crazy to think just a couple of months ago everything here was covered in ice and snow. You know what else I think is crazy?  Christmas trees just grow wild around here. All over the place you just see big huge Christmas trees growing wild.

 And it's only normal to stop and take a picture of yourself in front of a Christmas tree in June, right?

After my run the other day, I checked the weather where I was and the weather back home. I can't lie, running in the 60's is way better than running in the 80's. Oh, Houston summers. You are great poolside, but painful on the run. 

On one of my runs through an Indiana park, I came across this exact replica of the log cabin Abraham Lincoln grew up in. 

Not sure exactly of the relevance of this log cabin to that specific park since Abraham Lincoln did not grow up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But it got me thinking, is that why they are called Lincoln Logs???

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day

Happy National Running Day!!!!
I'm so excited that today is National Running Day.  I feel like we should all celebrate with cupcakes and balloons.
Of course, we should also probably take the day to think about why we run.  I know I write a lot about the various reasons why I run, but since today is National Running Day, I figured I would revisit a blog I wrote around this time last year.

Also, I found this and I would say that it is IT.  Exactly and in every way, this is it.

So, today on National Running Day, get out and go for a run.  Even if it's your very first time and you can't go further than the end of your street.  It still counts as a run.  Enjoy it.  And then go get that celebratory cupcake!

Me and my celebratory peach cobbler. 

Sweating It Out

Okay, so I may or may not have had a few too many drinks Monday night and I may or may not have woken up for my 5:something a.m. run with a splitting headache and feeling dehydrated as hell. And by "may or may not have," I, of course, mean, "definitely did."  This is the part of the story where I say do as I say and not as I do. I do not recommend an evening of beers and bar food before a morning run. What I say is to eat a whole and healthy dinner and hydrate like crazy the night before a run, especially now that summer is here and it is hot and humid out there on the run. But what I actually did was a different story. 

When that early morning alarm went off for the second time (yeah, there was some snooze button usage the first time), I wasn't feeling great and had trouble motivating myself to get up. But the thought that finally did get me out of bed was, "you will feel better if you sweat it out."  So, sweat it out I did. And feel better afterwards I also did. It wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't a record setting run, but I know I felt better yesterday after the sweat session than I ever would have if I'd just hit snooze again and stayed in bed. 

So that got me thinking about all of the other ways in which I use running to sweat it out.  It's not just unhealthy food and beverage that I've been able to detox on a run. In fact, more often than not, I use running to sweat out the toxic thoughts and emotions that come with every day life. The theory of sweating it out has come in handy for me many times over the last few years. When things at home were overwhelming and scary and I could feel everything inside of me bubbling up and ready to spill out, I would strap on my shoes and set off running. And, every single time, without exception, I felt better after.  On days when work is killing me and I feel stressed out and frustrated, I go for a run and by the end, I've been able to sweat out all of those negative emotions and come back at the situation calmer and happier. I can honestly say that I don't think there has ever been a time when I haven't felt better after a run than when I started. Of course, I'm talking mentally here. Physically, there have been some days when I've felt pretty trashed after a run. But, I've never regretted a run. The emotional clarity and peace that I've found, even if only temporarily, through sweating it out has been priceless. The hours I've spent sweating it out on a run have saved me hours on a doctor's couch. 
Here's the thing: we put into our bodies and minds a whole lot of pretty bad stuff.  Keeping it all in just leads to the inevitable explosion.  Letting it out in negative ways tends to make the bad stuff worse.  My suggestion?  SWEAT IT OUT.

I tried to take pictures of how much better I felt after sweating it out. Can't you tell how awesome I was feeling?


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Somebody Stop Me!

I just opened this email from the Houston Marathon Committee...

Please, somebody stop me. Remind me of the torture I experienced in January. Remind me that I vowed to move on. Somebody please keep me away from a computer for a while.  I really shouldn't be left to my own devices...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getting Started and Getting Better

Now that I find myself essentially starting over again with mileage after  having taken a month off to let everything reset itself, I can't help but think of when I first started down this running road.  
I remember vividly training for weeks just to be able to run one mile.  I remember running that mile without one stop and how proud I felt.  I have no idea what time the trainer called out when I finished, I just knew I'd finally run one mile without stopping (**in full disclosure, this was not the very first mile I ever ran.  Of course, I ran many miles growing up as a child.  I also ran several times in college.  But, this was the first time I had run a mile as an adult and this was the first mile that started my long run journey). 
I remember the first time I attempted to run a three mile loop.  I say attempted because I ended up run-walking about halfway in.  I knew then that I would practice that loop until I owned it.  And own it I eventually did.  Of course, by "owned it", you realize, I just mean that I managed to drag my body gasping and gulping and sweating and dying one full time around that loop without stopping and, oddly, it felt good.  I even remember the day I decided I was ready to run that dang loop twice and how that twice actually came easier than expected.  I remember my first 10k, my first half marathon, and my first marathon. 
This long run has been one long journey that started the day I decided to tackle the idea of one short (yet, oh so long) mile.
Recently, I've had several friends tell me that they have decided to take up running.  They've told me how they've strapped on their shoes and set off on their running journey.  I am so excited for them.  I know they are destined for their own long run lessons and I can't wait to hear all of their struggles and successes along the way.  These friends have asked me advise on how to improve their distance and speed.  A few things on that:
1. There are a million online articles about how to increase your mileage.  One overwhelming theory is the 10% rule.  It says you can safely increase your weekly mileage by 10% every week.  A convenient theory, but not always applicable, in my opinion.  The most important thing  I would say  is to listen to your body (not your mind, that thing will quit on you early if you let it).  If you are having pains or feeling overly fatigued, take it down a notch, let your body rule.  There is no giant rush to increase your distance or speed.  This is a long run and there is nothing wrong with taking your time along the way. 
2.  Now that I am a more experience runner and know that I am capable of some pretty high mileage, I feel safe increasing my runs by one or two miles at a time.  But, that's only because I am confident that I can do so without causing injury and because I have tackled those miles before, so my brain and my body know what to expect.  Here is what I did when I first started training for those early miles:  I ran one more minute each time.  When I was little, my coach would say, "anyone can do anything for one minute."  My mantra became, "I can do anything for just one minute."  So what if that meant each run wasn't getting me significantly farther?  Like I said, there really is no rush to run farther.  But, before I knew it, those "just one more" minutes were adding up and I was actually running.  When you start, one minute will feel like an eternity.  Trust me, it's still just 60 seconds.  It's just 60 excruciating seconds.  But, eventually, the seconds start flying by and you'll feel comfortable pushing it to two minutes and then three and so on.
3.  Don't get frustrated.  It's supposed to be hard.  It never gets easy.  But, you can never give up.  Sure, three miles is really hard for you now.  It might even be impossible for you now.  But it won't always be.  You will get where you're going.  But it won't be easy.  My miles are still really hard for me years after I mastered that first mile.  I have good runs, but I've never had an "easy" run.  Running is hard.  Period.  But, that's why we do it.  We don't run because we are really good at it and it came really easy.  We run because we aren't so great at it, but we want to get better.  We run because we take pride in doing hard things.  Hard things are where it's at.  Hard things are where change happens.  Out of the hard things, we find out who we really are.  We learn what we are capable of.  The joy in running comes from pushing it that one extra minute, especially when you don't think you can.