October Goals

I’ve been reading around the internet about the importance and benefits of goal setting. The problem is that I goals all the time, but my goals are more “big picture” and travel based. For example, I have a goal to visit India/China/Africa (aka somewhere BIG) by my thirtieth birthday. Is this the most sensible goal I’ve ever set? No, not really. But, it is something I like to think about. Given where I am at this very moment in my life, I’d say that traveling to somewhere like India is possible. My goal of traveling to India is not a bad one at all, but I do need to work on setting smaller, more achievable goals. Because really the best goals are ones that include a deadline. The goal (or is it a dream?) to travel to either India/China/Africa has a deadline of my thirtieth birthday, five years away. But, I can be more realistic and if I write it down I am held accountable to all of you.

So, without further adieu, I present you with my October Goals:

  • Run, slowly.
    In a little over a week, I should be okay to begin running again. Over the weekend, I started running super small snippets during my walks (from a fire hydrant to a fire hydrant, to the end of street, etc). I felt great as I was doing it, but I am nervous about re-injury. The plan is to start slowly – run for five minutes, walk for ten for the first few days and then start adjusting based on how my knee feels. I have a 5K at the end of the month that I’d really like to complete pain free.
  • Walk/Cross-Train.
    Walking and the elliptical have been good to me these past few weeks. I’ve  managed to keep my mileage up fairly well. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not at square one and my speed hasn’t slowed at all. Especially if I am able to run again, I need to make cross-training a priority.
  • Cook a new recipe each week (and blog about it)!
    I feel like I’ve been in a funk with food lately. What better way to shake it off than to try new things. I am totally open to suggestions as to what to make!
  • Drink water.
    Pretty self-explanatory. I definitely have not been drinking as much as I should.
  • Put my clothes in my laundry hamper, not on the floor.
    I am the person that will only clean when company comes over. And my bedroom floor is like one big laundry hamper to me… even I though I have a hamper. This is a lifelong habit, but I need to break it. Perhaps this will be the month when I finally get in gear.
  • Read a book.
    Suggestions, please!

And there you have it, my October goals. Mostly fitness related, but overall a good place to start. And they are totally do-able. I just need to be disciplined and focused.

PS — Pretty sure Chris will be super excited to constantly remind me about putting my clothes in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor!

Do you set goals for yourself? If so, what are they?

Are you dressing up for Halloween? Is it lame if I dress Penny up for Halloween?

Goodbye Fat Pants!

You know the ones I am talking about. The bigger pair that sits in the back of the closet in case you’re feeling a little bloated or just want some extra wiggle room. The pants you keep around in case you go out of town and let vacation get the best of you. Those pants.

Well, yesterday morning as I was getting dressed for work I looked through my closet. I’ve been feeling unhappy with my clothes for various reasons lately, but I think its just because I need to go shopping. (Really, you can only wear the same outfit so many times before it gets old.) I picked through my stuff, glancing over my typical fat pants and went for the pants that once upon a time ago fit. The pants I haven’t been able to wear for six months because of wedding stress followed by newlywed bliss coupled with a lack of regular exercise made me gain a few pounds.

I picked them up and looked at them.

It was going to be close. Like I could put them on, but I couldn’t button them. Then I considered laying on the bed to put them on because that works with just about anything (especially when you ignore the accompanying muffin top). If I sucked in would it make them fit better? Would I have to suck in all day?

No, I would not have to suck in all day. Because when I put them on the button clasped without force and I was able to exhale freely.

Success!

This feeling, this blissful feeling, is something I don’t want to lose. My next goal is to fit into the next size down from where I am now. To be completely honest, I’ve never been the next size down from where I am now. And that is slightly intimidating.

Though, for once in my life I feel like I am actually in the right frame of mind to reach that goal. My eating habits are getting a makeover. Training is coming along despite injury. And I finally understand that to change my body it is going to take time and dedication.

Quick Fitness Recap: The last week (and so far this week!) has been spectacular on the exercise front. To keep my mileage up for training I’ve started taking really long walks. My hope is that when I am able to run again it won’t be a huge shock to my system again. Also, if I am able to get faster in my walking then hopefully my running speed will improve as well. For example, on Saturday (my usual long run day) I went for an 8.25 mile walk. It took a little over two hours to complete but no complaints and no blisters. I took the day off on Sunday. Monday I did a quick 3.5 mile workout on the elliptical followed by my favorite pump class. Tuesday I went to yoga. And yoga is becoming a thing for me because it feels great.

Tell me about your workouts last week and this week. Are you shaking things up a bit? 

Cross Training Like A Boss!

I’ve been a busy busy girl this past week. Thank goodness because I definitely needed a boost in endorphins from not being able to exercise for the past few weeks.

By Monday, I began to get nauseous. Two weeks of no exercise made me an unhappy camper and my body was not pleased. I’m not sure if the nausea was brought on due to stress or lack of movement. All I know is that after I exercised on Tuesday, the nausea disappeared. Hallelujah!

Tuesday evening I took it slow. Like slower than slow. Forty-five minutes on the elliptical at a thirteen minute pace per mile. It felt good to be moving, but I was being cautious. I could not imagine finally being able to move again only to overdo it and be out of commission even longer.

Wednesday night, I hit the elliptical again. This time for thirty minutes, but higher intensity and resistance. My knee didn’t bother me at all, not even a teensy bit. After the elliptical, I went over to a muscle mix class to get some strength training in.

It was good to be back!

I didn’t work out on Thursday due to a social event. Though, I broke my personal rule of “no exercise Fridays” due to the missed workout. Friday evening I spent an hour on the elliptical going as hard and has fast as I could for an hour. My pace matched my running speed. A lovely workout to kickstart the weekends festivities.

On Saturday, Chris and I went into DC. We walked somewhere between four to six miles all over the city. More on that later.

Sunday morning I went to two gym classes: Body Step and Body Pump. I used to go to Step all the time before I started running. The up and down motions of the step had me concerned about my knee but luckily, no problems! Doing Pump after Step is not always the smartest decision. My lower body was so fatigued from Step, but I pushed through the workout. The only issue I had occurred during the lunge track. My left knee was done and it hurt. I spent the song stretching out my leg.

Monday I went to Spin class. It has been a hot second since I went to spin. I always forget how much I like spin until I’m sitting the class increasing my resistance.

Tonight I did a Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD and it kicked my butt.

This week has been consistent and I love it. It is so amazing to be back in the gym.

I am only slightly (okay, majorly) upset that I haven’t been able to get outside as much. I feel like if I go outside I will be too tempted to run. And that would be no good. Unfortunately (for me), the weather has been ridiculously beautiful this week. It’s not fair. I spent all summer training in the humidity and the heat to be cheated out of the beautiful Fall weather. But I’m trying not to focus on that. Cross training will make me a stronger runner… just in time for Winter.

How did your workouts go this week?

Did you try anything new? How’d it go?

Did you eat anything particularly yummy over the week? Share the recipe!

Guest Post: From a Half to an Ultramarathon

Seriously. I really did just go there.

Today’s post comes from one of my best friends, Kristen. She is a simple, 25 year old who isn’t passionate about much besides cats, Christmas, craft beer, Disney, food, and running! (And some might say making alphabetical lists!) When she’s not pounding the pavement with me, you can find her at Dogfish Head or at home with her cat attempting to cook. I wish I was joking. 

She has been my biggest influence in running and I could not thank her more. She is patient when I am moving ridiculously slow and when I want to walk. She encourages me to keep pushing, to keep moving, and to sign up for more races than I can count. I remember when I saw on Facebook that she had completed her first half marathon and thinking there was zero chance I would ever be able to do that. Little did I know that her finishing a half marathon would inspire me to compete in my own.

A big hello to Sarah’s readers! I was seriously stoked when she asked me to write a guest post! My first thought was, yes, someone is *finally* asking me to talk about my love of running instead of just putting up with it (hi mom…and my coworkers…)

If you told each one of my gym teachers spanning from kindergarten to high school that I’ve just finished an ultramarathon, they’d collectively blink their eyes, look at you in disbelief, and insist you have the wrong person. “Kristen isn’t a runner,” they’d say. “The furthest we’ve seen her run is from the gymnasium to the school buses to go home.” The girl who feigned mysterious stomach aches, her period, chicken pox (without the rash, of course), ebola, mad cow disease, and any other off-the-wall illness to get her out of running the dreaded mile around that quarter-mile track, is now the girl who runs marathons. What?!

In May 2011, one of my best friends and I were so stressed out at work, so we said screw it, let’s run a half marathon. I had never run more than a mile before this point (and begrudgingly at that). For the record, I do not recommend this approach! Despite the lack of training (and my giant Chipotle feast a mere three hours before the start gun), we finished the race in 3:10:09, which is nearly a 15-minute per mile pace. Even after three-hours-ten-minutes-and-nine-seconds of straight huffing, puffing, and death crawling to the finish line, I was willing to do another race just to prove I could do it and wasn’t a fluke.

I immediately signed up for the Disney World Half Marathon to be held in January 2012 and the DC Rock n Roll Half Marathon to be held on St. Patty’s Day (And yes, green beer was served at the finish line!) I trained intermittently, but not seriously for these events and was able to finish the DC Half in 02:32:43, a 37ish-minute improvement over my first time. Not bad. *Now* I was hooked. Despite salty sweat stinging your eyes, shivers, hunger pains, and cramps and aches all throughout your body, nothing can touch the feeling of accomplishment you get after crossing that finish line.

My race day gear!

Running through Cinderella’s Castle at Mile 6 and a Post-race Mickey bar

I ran a few half marathons after that (including re-running my first ever race exactly a year later in May 2012 and coming in 42ish-minutes faster at 2:28:35!) I also completed my first marathon. Barely. However, thanks to that addicting feeling of accomplishment, adrenaline, and major life stressors such as a new job, new apartment, and nasty breakup, I truly committed myself to running. What better way to demonstrate this commitment than by signing up for an ultramarathon. In the desert. At midnight. Under a full moon. At an elevation of 6,000 feet. Right outside the ominous and mysterious Area 51. Done!

Cheesin’ in the elevator at my hotel. Ready to do this thang!

At the “Black Mailbox” before the start!

Fast forward to August 5th after a spring and summer of training, and I’m toeing the sandy, desert-y start line of the Extraterrestrial Area 51 Midnight Marathon and 51k. Oh crap. We had just made the 2.5 hour trek from Las Vegas to Rachel, Nevada and everyone was pumped! It’s midnight under a full moon with clear skies and stars for miles when the race director yells “Go!” Quite a humble start with zero pomp and circumstance. Just a sea of runners with their headlamps, glow bracelets, reflective tape, and Camelbaks.

Days earlier, I had met up with an incredibly nice group of fellow runners online where we decided to follow the Jeff Galloway method of running and do 2:1 splits. (This means two minutes of running for every 1 minute of walking. This would give us an 11-minute per mile pace. Totally respectable for a midnight marathon held at high elevations!)

Our fearless leader, Dave, hit the lap button on his watch and off we went, exchanging nervous glances and hooting into the night! We were ready to conquer this:

Source

After only a mile had passed, I naively yelled out, “This is so much fun!” Laura, another member of our 2:1 clan replied, “Let’s see what you say at Mile 26.” But see, it *was* so much fun. Despite the almost literally neverending hill, cramps, elevation, and night sky, I was happy. The girl sitting in the nurse’s office with a fake stomachache during gym class was running an ultramarathon­ and actually holding her own!

As we slowly took down the miles, we began to gain and gradually lose members. People would stick with us for awhile, but would eventually fall back and walk. Dave and I stuck together the whole time, running most of the 13.1 miles up to the halfway point. Along the way we spotted cows, heard coyotes, gazed at countless shooting stars and rocky canyons, and talked about our families, cats, and post-marathon dining (and drinking!) traditions. Why run if you can’t eat?

At Mile 20, we started to approach the finish line at the Little A’Le’ Inn. (Literally the only business in a town of 54 as of 2010). But before we could cross that line, the marathoners had to run 3 miles past and 3 miles back, and ultramarthons would run 6 past and 6 back. Ouch. I held it together until about Mile 26 and then started walking. My aching legs just couldn’t keep up with the 2:1 splits anymore.

But then around 5:30am, the sun started to rise over the canyons and rocks and for the first time, I could see the road ahead of me. Incredible! I got a jolt of energy and was able to run a little more, enough to get me over the finish line.

Scenery from the race!

Mile 30. 1.67 to go!

I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face at 7:39am. 31.67 miles in seven hours and thirty-nine minutes for a 14-something minute per mile. Ouch.

Crossing the finish line!!

Iconic!

As I was beating myself up, I realized several things:

1- I had run 13.1 miles straight uphill. I could now tell people I ran an entire uphill half marathon!

2- I had PR’d at the marathon distance. My previous time was 6 hours; I was at the marathon point for this one in 5:50.

3- I ran all night. Literally. And had been up for nearly 27 hours by the time the buses brought us back to Vegas.

4- I didn’t get attacked by a rattlesnake or abducted by an alien. I win!

After arriving back in Vegas, I took a cold shower (it’s good for your muscles!), assessed my wounds, ate a miraculous Kind bar (oh, that is a post for another day!), finished the last few chapters of Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run,” and slowly drifted off to sleep. For the first time in a long time, I finally felt like myself again. I might have started the summer running away from something (everything!), but had now run my way to irrevocable happiness. From now on, as long as I have my sneakers, I know I’ll be able to confidentially outrun whatever life throws my way.

My two new favorite things…

The Kristen I knew ate McDonald’s or Taco Bell everyday for lunch. Funny enough, she still does this quite often. And she is an ultramarathoner. Wow! 

I am so lucky that she chooses to run alongside me. 

Who inspired you begin running? How so? Do you know anyone that has completed an ultramarthon? Which one? What were their thoughts? Let’s discuss!

Two Week Countdown

In two weeks I will be competing in my first half marathon. Wow did these last two months fly by. I feel like just yesterday I was writing this entry, all nervous to put myself out there and afraid of what everyone else would think. It’s really crazy to think of how far I’ve come in running from reading over my entries. There have been loads of mistakes, missteps, and quite a few personal victories.

And dare I say that I actually sometimes enjoy running now. Goodness.

And I now sort of kind of consider myself a runner. Eep.

So weird.

Kristen peer-pressured me to sign up for a local race I had been eyeing for a little while now. So, last night, I took the plunge and just signed up for it. This Sunday I will be competing in the Leesburg 20K. Or how I marketed it to myself, a little over a half mile shorter than a half marathon! From what I’ve read, the course is hilly and while that intimidates me a little it ultimately wasn’t enough to deter me. Also, I figure I am going to be out running twelve miles this weekend, so I might as well get a shirt from it. Clearly, my reasons for doing this have not changed.

Honestly, even the half marathon is a training run for me as well. The goal at the end of this is to run the Richmond Marathon, which I officially signed up for recently as well. The goal is to be a marathoner. To reserve the right to say, “Yeah, I did it. Jealous?” And to get a medal and put stickers on my car.

I can’t wait!