Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gearing Up

Since it is getting to be crunch time with the whole upcoming-wedding-business, I have decided that Matt and I are going to do one active/healthy thing together each week on top of our normal exercise routines. The goal is to do something that is fun, but that is still keeping us active when we are just hanging out together. I have also adopted, somewhat unsuccessfully so far, the mantra; cravings are temporary, but wedding photos are forever. I was really thrown off my routine with our trip home, and I am having far more trouble with the bad food detox than I thought I would. I am also having trouble with my previous six meal schedule. Ehhh, c'est la vie.

Today was the first installment of Matt and Michelle's Mandatory Activity Time. We went for a bike ride at a local state park. Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE state and national parks? :) It's the first time we've been back to the nearby park for bike riding since the "day I got my bike debacle." And let me tell you, putting a bike rack on your car together for the first time ever is sort of its own form of pre-martial counseling.

After the residual bike-rack-annoyance wore off, I started to finally figure out, with Matt's help, how to properly shift my gears to make things less impossible for myself. There are some seriously killer hills at this place, and my quads were on fire. I finally figured out why there are shifters on both sides! The left one is for the front gears, and the right one is for the back gears. Low gears are not very powerful, but they make going uphill easier. Higher gears are more powerful, and better for downhill and flat ground. Matt helped me get it all sorted out. I think it is difficult for me in the same way that playing a piano is impossible for me. I just can't process that many things at once, but I am getting better!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

Training for a marathon for the first time is enough to make anyone feel a bit like Alice lost in Wonderland. It seems as if you are on a journey that you don't really understand, and the people who try to give you advice all seem to be speaking in riddles. This morning, that feeling was amplified when I saw not one or two, but six rabbits on my run. When I saw the first one, I thought, "Well, rabbit's feet are lucky, right?" By the time I saw the third or fourth one, I knew that was just a little too much luck for one day, and it seemed as if they were instead saying, "You're late! You're late!"

Then I saw a turtle. When I ran with my brother last week I saw a turtle as well, and the animal symbolism changed again. I figured out that the story I was actually in was really the fable of the tortoise and the hare.
And the moral of that story is slow and steady wins the race. I just kept repeating the new but old mantra. As the temperature rose, and I started getting tired, I realized that the old phrase was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I don't know where that tortoise and that hare were racing, but it surely wasn't Pennsylvania, Delaware, or Missouri because I've been to those races, and slow and steady does not win the race.

I ran on, irritated, and I was not enjoying myself at all. I was irritated that I didn't wake up earlier. I was irritated that I didn't bring water with me. I was irritated that I was passed by an old guy yesterday, and I was irritated that we go around teaching kids that slow and steady wins the race when that is absolutely not true. Boy, I was on a roll. Then I realized that I was almost done. That's when it dawned on me. Slow and steady finishes the race. And sometimes, that's all that matters.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Family Fun Run

Last week I fell in love with running all over again. I took a trip home to visit family, and I knew that I would need to keep running while I was there, so I called up my brother and asked him to run with me while I was there. We put an 8 miler on the books for Father's Day, and I was glad I had a plan to hold myself accountable.

 Katie, Joe, Matt, Me
 (Big thanks to our favorite spectator, my sister Noelle, for taking the picture)
When we set out on our run that morning, I had so many doubts running through my head. I had left my good running shoes at my dad's the day before, it was muggy, and I knew there were so many hills on the route he had planned. It didn't take long though for us to fall into a good rhythm, and I had this amazing energy running through me. We carried on conversations about random stuff with little bits of "wisdom" from my brother mixed in. It was also the first time I really ran in my hometown. I was on the track team briefly in high school before I quit because the only event open was 2 mile, so I decided I had better things to do. It's funny in retrospect that I didn't want to run 2 miles.

The next day, I went on a small group run with my brother, sister-in-law, and fiance. It was so much fun! I think we all had fun...mostly. There were moments of laughter, and maybe a couple of irritated moments, but we stuck together, and we knocked out a quick 3 miles. We laughed as we caused some minor road blocks in our small town, we debated the smell of the local dog food plant, and we waved at all the passing cars. It was one of those runs that is simultaneously relaxing and energizing. 

If you are a veteran runner or just starting out, grab a few friends or family members and head out for a run. Short or long, it doesn't matter. Just get out there and have some healthy fun.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Out of Focus

"Contemplative simplicity isn't a matter of circumstances; it's a matter of focus."-- Ann Voskamp

As I went out for an evening run last night, I was just sort of off. Night time runs have a different set of obstacles than day runs. There is the heat radiating up instead of beating down, plus the bugs that go up your nose or in your mouth, and all of that is on top of having likely used up some of your energy throughout the day. I know some people love night runs because you can run the day away, and that would normally be the appeal for me too, but I didn't do anything yesterday, and I was able to stay on sidewalks that are cooler than asphalt. I did swallow several bugs, I stopped counting around 5, but that wasn't the problem either.

I kept playing over and over again in my head the things I have been seeing and hearing about a lot lately. I think that the tragedy in Boston has brought running to the forefront of peoples conversations temporarily, but the conversations went from outraged and inspired to do something, to apathy and downgrading. Honestly, I run for me. I am running in my grandma's memory this year as well, and even though I started out to prove my brothers wrong, in the end, I am running for my physical and mental health. However, it was really getting to me for some reason that I have seen people posting things and saying things about running being stupid.

I saw a comment saying that marathons are especially stupid because anybody can do it, and everyone just says, "I finished." There was a little more to it than that, but it just kept swirling around in my thoughts as I ran. I know there are a lot of people who think it's stupid that I run in general. I know people who think it's stupid that I keep doing it even though I am slow. I know other people who just think the marathon distance is ridiculous. I just kept thinking to myself, "What the heck am I doing?" I was starting to think they were right, and that I should just give up.

I eventually put it out of my mind, and then today I had a thought creep into my head. I realized that part of my year of thanksgiving in 2013 was to be a more positive person. And the specific comment on a social media site that was plaguing me? It wasn't even posted by someone I knew. Why did it even matter? Why was I thinking about that? I could have spent that whole run thinking about how thankful I am for all the amazing things I have! Why wasn't I thanking God that I have the ability to run in the first place? In the end, I know how much discipline it takes to train. I know how running has the ability to help me appreciate nature, mobility, and life. My focus was off. I shouldn't have been annoyed with the comments and conversations, and I definitely should not have let them get me down. I have so much to be thankful for, and running is one of those things. It's all a matter of focus.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

National Running Day 2013

I was so pumped at the beginning of this week. It was supposed to be my first week of my break, and I was so excited to get in some quality beast-mode time. On Monday morning, I pulled my hip flexor a little. I tried to rest up and do some yoga on Tuesday. There was a little bit of soreness still this morning, but I wanted to run so badly after taking yesterday to rest up. I started off with a little bit of stretching and walking and more stretching. It is a beautiful day here in PA, and I was ready to soak it all in on a short run.

I have two different 5k routes that start/end at my house, so I decided to run the route that I haven't really been running lately to shake it up. I also set out with my old school Timex sport watch since I already knew the distance, and I just wanted to run without constantly checking my pace on my Garmin. Sometimes it's nice to just run without a specific goal in mind.

I had a few hiccups along the way today. I had to deal with crews working on power lines and road resurfacing. And then there were the more startling encounters. I saw a little bunny as I was running, and when it finally saw me, it quickly darted back out into the road, but there was a truck right there, and I may have shrieked, "NO!" as they narrowly missed the little guy. I was so scared that the bunny was going to die, and I think the driver in the truck thought I was going to die based on my reaction, but we were both fine, and I pressed on. About half a mile later, I saw a street sweeper going down a cross street, so I slowed some, and then the driver waved me on. When I was in the middle of the street directly in front of the sweeper, it suddenly lunged forward scaring the bajeezus out of me, and I sprinted faster than I have in quite awhile. (Probably not since I got chased by a schizophrenic woman.)

All in all, I guess I owe a thank you to the bunny and the street sweeper for getting my heart rate up and my feet moving because I ran my first sub 30 minute 5k today despite the soreness in my hip flexor. I am just wishing I could run that in a race. I have never been fast, and I still don't claim to be, but it was nice to run sub 30 when I really wasn't even aiming for anything other than a nice run on a beautiful day. Happy running to everyone on this National Running Day and every day after that.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Runner's Rambles: Two weeks down!

It may seems as if I've been MIA lately, but spring is a busy time for people in the education field. Now that my program has wrapped up for the year, I am ready for a one month break from work! This means that I will have lots of time to really get in some quality training and blogging! I will even be doing some of my first running while traveling, which I am sure I will have some wonderful stories from. So how have the first two weeks of marathon training been going? Of course I will tell you!

Week one was easy-peasy. I had three short runs for the week, and I managed to fit all of them in. It was only 3 miles a day, but I didn't skip any just because they were short, which I sometimes talk myself out of a run when I'm being lazy. I did have to run one of those runs in the evening after I ate dinner, but I still made it out for the day. My long run during week one was only 6 miles, and it was the cushiest 6 miles of my life. I have the best fiance in the whole world. He has agreed to help me with my marathon training by riding his bike along with me for long runs when I just don't feel like doing it, or to help out with hydration and motivation along the way. I didn't really need him to help me for 6 miles, but he volunteered to come along anyway, and I am glad that I got such a nice start to my training.

Week two was a different story. The runs were still low miles, which in theory is easy, but it is apparently summer now. I have to face the facts after this week; it is just too hot to run after early morning. I will have to really get a schedule going to get some early runs in because it is just too hot. I waited till 8 or later to run my three short runs this week, and I regretted it every time I stepped out the door. I even waited till 8 to leave for my 7 mile long run this week. I slowly plodded out 3 miles and stopped. I decided I would head out for 4 more miles in the evening when the sun wasn't beating down on my back.

There were some good parts to my week two runs though. I left inspirational messages with sidewalk chalk because last week I saw a rude message about someone written on the ground near a school. I rubbed it out with my shoe, and I knew when I saw it that part of my "year of thanksgiving" would be using my attitude of gratitude to hopefully spread some cheer to strangers, I carried the chalk in a plastic baggie that I tucked into my SPI belt. I am hoping to leave messages every once in awhile when I run now. I feel like you never know when you might brighten someone's day. And with that, I say, "bring on week three!"

National Running Day is June 5th! I will be running! Will you?