Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blog Giveaway: Reveal the Path

I was lucky enough to catch a screening of “Reveal the Path” at one of our local Alamo Drafthouse theaters back in June. Lucky because this movie has helped to change/shape my life since.

By looking at the cover of the DVD you might assume that this film is about cycling.
You would be somewhat correct. Yes, there are bikes but this film is not about cycling per se.
I like to tell people that it’s not a cycling film, it is a film about life that just happens to take place on a bike.
A more eloquent description can be found on the films website:
“Reveal the Path is a genre-defying adventure film that contemplates what it means to live an inspired life using the bicycle as a mechanism to explore, dream and discover.” 26Sep2012.<>
An inspired life- that is exactly what this film will push you towards.
You don’t have to be a cyclist to enjoy this movie. The only thing you need to be is open to the idea of adventure, finding your path and living an inspired life.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Well for one of my lucky readers inspiration will be yours. The winner will receive an autographed copy of Reveal the Path. Mike Dion, the Producer/Director (and one of the stars of the film), has autographed a Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack to be given away to one of my readers. How awesome is that?
Side note: Mike is one of the coolest people I have ever met. I am honored that he spoke to me directly in working to set up this giveaway. Very awesome! Thanks Mike!
So let’s get to the good stuff; the entry details.
There are seven easy ways to enter this contest; one required and six optional entries. Yes, you heard that right- I am giving you a total of 7 ways to enter so make sure you take advantage of that.
Mandatory Entry
1)      Watch the Reveal the Path trailer or visit the website and leave me a comment below telling me why you would like to win. This one is mandatory.
Optional Entries
2)      Follow @RevealThePath on Twitter and leave me a comment below telling me you’ve done so.
3)      Like Reveal the Path on Facebook and leave me a comment below telling me you’ve done so.
4)      Tweet something about this contest including a link to this post and mention @Run_Ride_Repeat and @RevealThePath. Leave me a comment below with the URL to your tweet
5)      Subscribe to Run. Ride. Repeat and leave me a comment telling me you’ve done so.
6)      Like Run. Ride. Repeat on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you’ve done so.
7)      Follow @Run_Ride_Repeat on Twitter and leave me a comment below telling me you’ve done so.
Please leave a comment for each individual entry
Just to be clear there are seven ways to enter but you can only do each one once. Don’t leave me 50 comments as to why you would want to win. I will only count one of them.
Enter anytime between now and midnight CST Friday, October 5th, 2012. I will use a random number generator to select a winner and announce it here on my blog on that same day. Contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents and deployed military as well. Please note that if you are selected as the winner you will need to send me your address (I will contact you directly) so I can ship you the movie. And I must also note that I did not receive any compensation for hosting this giveaway.
I am so excited to share this film with you; it is one of my favorites. I hope you are excited as well and help me spread the word.

Mike Dion, myself, and Paul after the Reveal the Path screening 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

10 Running-Related Questions

The awesome ladies over at Another Mother Runner came up with some really fun running related questions and so I thought I would share my answers with you. I don’t know about you but I love posts like this. So much fun to write and read!
1.       Best run ever- hands down the best run ever was the day I ran one mile straight without stopping. That was the day I realized that anything was possible. That was the day I realized I could actually become a runner.
2.       Three words that describe my running: barefoot, empowering, humbling
3.       My go-to running outfit is: I am still a newb so I don’t really have a set go-to running outfit yet. BUT when I am out running it is in compression carpis/shorts, a tech tee or tank (cotton is rotten!), compression sleeves if I plan on being out more than an hour, and a hat or headband.
4.       Quirky habit while running: you know how I said that the No Meat Athlete tells you to visualize ‘dinosaur arms holding butterflies’ in regards to your arm movements. Well, I got the whole T-Rex arm thing down and my right hand is great at the grasping a butterfly part. My left hand, however, is in fight mode. I tend to make a fist when I run. I am sure I am a goofy sight to see.
5.       Morning, midday, evening: morning, morning, morning! It has to be morning. I have run in the afternoons/evenings and it was very difficult. I really prefer to run on a nearly empty stomach.
6.       I won’t run outside when it’s: in the 100’s. I ran an 8K one evening and it was 99 when we started. I felt like I was going to die. It was the most miserable running experience to date. If I ever live somewhere that has snow and wintry conditions I am pretty sure I wouldn’t run in that either.
7.       Worst injury—and how I got over it: KNOCK ON FREAKING WOOD- nothing to date since I started running but you should check out this post about my life before minimalist/forefoot running.
8.       I felt most like a badass runner when: I sat in an ice bath for 20 minutes after my first 9 mile run. Honestly, I am not sure anything is more badass than subjecting yourself to pure torture all in the name of recovery. I think the foam rolling peeps out there would agree.
9.       Next race is: I have three races on the calendar before my half in November; 2 5Ks and a 15K
10.   Potential running goals for 2013: marathon, trail run, and lots of fun events like a mud run, color run and maybe even a warrior dash or Spartan challenge.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 10 Recap

Week 10 is over. Already! Crazy! Only 7 more weeks until the half marathon! I cannot believe it. I am beyond excited!
For those curious- here is a recap of week 10.
Tuesday 09/18/2012: Dani Ryan Holmes-Kirk Birthday 5K (virtual)

Because of some seriously out of place weather my scheduled run for Sunday morning (Dani’s Birthday [virtual] 5K) was postponed until Tuesday. This would be my first run since the move (RE: freaking tired muscles) and my first run through the new neighborhood. I didn’t have any expectations in mind just to have fun and not faceplant while running at 5a. Since I have already written about this run here I won’t re-hash the details. I will just say this- I love my neighborhood, I feel very safe running in the wee hours of the morning, there are other crazy peeps also running in the wee hours of the morning too, and since my weekday workouts used to take place on a track these hills (no one else anywhere in the country would call them hills) definitely had me feeling the burn. All in all I give this run a solid B.
Wednesday 09/19/2012: Interval A routine
5 minute warm up, 6X 1min fast/2min recovery, 5 minute cool down

Taking a cue from last week’s performance on this routine I decided to slow down my fast runs and try to job as much as possible through the recovery portion. I also jogged my warm up and cool down. I am pleased with the results. Since I was able to increase the amount of time I spent jogging my overall distance also increased; from 2.19 last week to 2.42 this week. Yay! Progress!
Thursday 09/20/2012: Tempo A routine
3 miles at a comfortably hard pace

For this run I decided reverse the route. Do you remember me saying how my running route was in the shape of a Y? Well, on Tuesday I ran up the straight bottom branch of the Y and then when I reached the intersection I went right. Going that way meant I ran on a flat surface and then once I turned right I went downhill. It’s a great way to begin the run but when I turned around to run back to head up the other branch it was all uphill. That was rough. These ‘hills’ will definitely take some getting used to.
So, for the tempo run I decided to reverse my route and go left at the intersection instead of right. I tackled the biggest incline first and then had a mile of downhill/flat which was nice. I did have to run uphill a bit coming back but it was nothing compared to the first incline. This route worked much better as you can tell from my times.
Saturday 09/22/2012: 7 mile long run
My last seven mile run took place back in week 4 on 08/11/2012. I ran it in 01:25:01.
Since I now had 6 more weeks of training under my belt I was hoping to see a decrease in the time. I didn’t have a number in my head other than something less than 85 minutes. Anything better than my previous time would have made me happy.

Well come Saturday I was beyond happy to see my end time of 01:19:10 for 7 miles. Happy for shaving 50 seconds per mile off my pace (12:09 vs 11:19) which to me is a nice little indication of the progress I am making. But also because I was able to pull out some solid times the last few miles of my run which was almost all uphill. See:

If it doesn't end up raining the latter part of this week, I will be doing my 8 mile run along this same trail. Actually almost every long run from here up to the marathon will more than likely be here since it is the longest paved trail in San Antonio.
All in all this last week was a great training week :)
Last week I said my only goals were to complete all four of my training runs (check), focus on the move- packing and unpacking (check) and make some meals at home (big honkin’ check) so I am pretty pleased with how this week went.
This week, now that we are somewhat settled, I have a few more goals:
-Complete all of my training runs:
·         3 mile easy run, Interval B routine (first time for this one- increasing intervals to 1.5 and 2.5 min), Hill B routine (also a first AND hopefully I will do this out on actual hills instead of the 'hills' on a treadmill) and an 8 mile long run
-At least 5 homemade dinners and all breakfasts/lunches during the week also homemade/not takeout
-Add my cross training back in; Sunday bike ride, Tuesday Thai Yoga therapy, and my nightly core routine
-Complete core routine every night; straight-arm plank, one minute crunches on balance ball, one minute leg raises, forearm plank, one minute crunches on balance ball, one minute leg raises
So, that’s about it. My plan for the week. Week 11. So crazy!
What’s on your agenda this week?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Do You Du???

In between my plan to run a half marathon, November 11, and a full marathon, February 17, I have snuck in plans for a duathlon on December 8. It’s nothing too crazy distance-wise. It’s nowhere close to IronMan distances which is a good thing. I am nowhere close to even thinking about an IM or even a half IM. The HelOfADu duathlon, 3.5 miles running/26 miles biking/3.5 miles running, is much more my speed.  
Not that I think that the HelOfADu is anything to scoff at. It is a big deal for me. A really big deal actually. This will be my first duathlon AND my first bike race. AND I will be doing it alone. The big ride is said to be a 26 mile loop with rolling hills and an almost 7 mile climb. 7 MILE CLIMB! What? Yikes!
Kind of wish Paul, or really anyone else, would be there with me. I may need someone to curse at during the 7 mile climb. Wowza!

Damn I look good ;)

Since I am trying to squeeze it in between my two big running events I can’t forget that I need to train for this as well. Now, from what I’ve read (RE: this is my first so obviously I am no expert) I should be training 3 times a week for each event. As far as the run goes I’ve totally got that covered with the training plan I already have in place. However, I will seriously need to beef up my cycling training.
Sadly, once I decided to train for the half my morning run/cross train schedule prohibited me logistically from riding in to work. I mean I could wake up at 3a so I can do both but I am not that crazy. 4a is plenty early enough for me. So now I am down to riding only 1-2 times a week at best. This makes me sad. But then I realize how soon I will start training for the duathlon and that makes me happy.
Starting the week of October 21st I will beef up my cycling training to three times a week; Sunday mornings and then two evenings during the week. Thankfully I already have a ride in place for Sundays and there are group rides throughout SA on a daily basis that I can join up with if I want some company. I am actually excited to add to my training schedule. Training gives me focus, gives me a goal, and gives me a distraction- all of which I will need for the next two years. Seriously, without this you would probably find me on my couch, eating junk, and watching non-stop Netflix –probably Felicity, I’ve been stuck in season 3 forever.
Not to say that I don’t love cycling and running, I totally do, but without goals and plans and hobbies I could easily end up an emotional basket case.
That is why I have these plans in place now. I am being proactive. My friends probably think I am crazy with my training plan in place for the Austin marathon (21 weeks away) and trying to figure out if Paul’s graduation from OCS will conflict with my longest pre-marathon run, and if it does conflict what should I do (obviously I am not talking about skipping his graduation) and a million other thoughts in my head but that’s just who I am. I am a planner.
No, wait.
I am an uber detail-oriented, over thinking, over preparing, planner.
This is why you will find me with a week’s worth of gel/blocks/bars in my camelback when I run. Not only do I prepare for the worst (being stranded for days in the woods, apparently) I am also prepared in case I come across a fellow runner who needs some fuel.
But I digress…my point…what was my point???...
Ah, yes. My point is that I’m doing a duathlon (YAY!), I have a training plan in place (double YAY!) and because I am neurotic-these two things make me happy.
So, come December 8th you’ll know where to find me.

My baby...

Have you ever participated in a duathlon or triathlon? Any training advice? What was your favorite part about the experience?
“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”~ Lou Holtz

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's For Dinner??? Part 1

Finally I have a meal plan in place that I am able to share with you. Yay! Now you get to find out what I eat every day. I have been following a vegan diet for just over 11 months and I love it. I love the food that I eat, the way that I feel, and I love that as an added bonus I am saving animals and helping the environment. How cool is that?
As you know, last week was all about packing which was a necessity since we were moving but definitely made it difficult to prepare meals at home.  That was rough. I can only eat out so many days in a row before my body starts revolting against me. By Sunday I was ready for some home-cooked meals. I ran out to the grocery store in the morning with just a few meals for the week in mind and went from there. This is not how I typically shop. I usually make a meal plan and a grocery list from there but this week I didn’t have the time so I went to the store and planned the weekly meals out as I went.
Here is what I came up with:
Minnesota Winter Chili from Scott Jurek’s book “Eat and Run”. This is hands down my favorite chili recipe of all time. I make it once or twice a month even when it’s 100+ outside. It was the perfect dinner for a cold (for San Antonio) and rainy day.
Vegan sausages with sweet potatoes and green beans. I try to limit my intake of soy and fake meats as much as possible but I cannot help but indulge in these vegan sausages (smoked apple sage, YUM) from Field Roast made from vital wheat gluten. So dang tasty and the whole meal is on the table in under ten minutes.
From the Engine 2 Diet book- sweet potato bowls and black beans and rice; two of our favorites. Packed with fresh veggies, legumes, and grains these meals are super easy and super tasty.
Another quick dinner – grilled portobello mushrooms with baked potatoes and steamed broccoli
No dinner plans for Friday as of yet but now that I pass Whole Foods (and soon Trader Joe’s as well) on my way home I am open to the idea of picking up some ingredients day of and making a fun meal at home.
As for the rest of my day’s meals…
I have a Vega One shake for breakfast. I am pretty much obsessed with all Vega products. You will find their; energizing shakes, protein powder, pre-workout drink, recovery accelerator, electrolyte mix, gels, protein bars and endurance bars, along with the Vega One, in my kitchen.  All natural, plant-based, nothing artificial- I have yet to find a better product.
For my morning snack I have an apple and 17 almonds
I make a huge veggie salad from the salad bar in the cafeteria for lunch.  This week I brought a grain/seed mix from home to add to it; split peas, lentils, barley, bulgur wheat, red quinoa and sunflower seeds. Top the salad with WF no oil balsamic vinaigrette and a plum on the side- perfect lunch.
Hummus with carrots and pita and some grapes for my afternoon snack
Dinners are listed above
And I always have half a bottle of kombucha after dinner every night.
If I need a snack at night or even in the morning I usually grab a banana or some sprouted grain toast with almond butter. Actually one of my favorite snacks is toast with almond butter and banana smushed on top. Yum!
So there it is folks; that’s what’s for dinner….and breakfast…and lunch.

Oh, and before I go I wanted to share a quick recipe with you. Paul asked for me to pick up some prepared salads from the store to accompany his sandwiches at lunch time. I couldn't find anything I thought he would like so instead I grabbed a bag of the pre-shredded brocoli slaw mix and came up with this quick easy salad for him.

For the dressing I combined rice wine vinegar, Bragg's liquid aminos (soy sauce would work just fine here), agave, sesame oil and Sriracha sauce. I just eye-balled the amounts but if I had to guess I would say 2 teaspoons vinegar and Bragg's, 1/2 teaspoon agave, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of Sriracha. Mix to combine and then add in the brocoli slaw mix and toss it around until it is all mixed together.

My personal recommendation with this sauce- start with one teaspoon of Sriracha and go from there. Also, if you like your sauce sweeter or saltier or whatever taste it and then add more to make it suit your tastebuds. I keep all of these ingredients on hand in my pantry so when I decided to make up a salad/slaw for Paul I just pulled out what I thought sounded good. It turned out great.
What are you eating this week? Are there any foods you eat regularly to help with your training/recovery?
“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.” ~Albert Einstein

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Month

One month from today Paul will be leaving Texas and heading off to Rhode Island for Officer Candidate School (OCS) with the Navy. If you know me, then you know my husband is currently an enlisted soldier in the Army. He has been in the Army for about 3.5 years. His intentions when he joined the Army were that in a few years after joining he would apply for OCS (with the Army) and become an Officer. Then as his career progressed and he starting researching his options (he wanted to become a pilot) he thought maybe Warrant Officer was the route to go.
It turned out that neither OCS or Warrant Officer in the Army were going to work out for him (I won’t bog you down with the details) but he was determined to become an Officer so he reached out to an Officer recruiter within the Army. While investigating other avenues for him to take the recruiter suggested he look into the Navy. Lo and behold, the Navy needed Officers and a new path was opened for him. That was ten months ago.
The process wasn’t easy, there were moments of frustration for both of us, there were countless forms and letters and documents required but thankfully it all worked out. Paul was able to submit his OCS packet with the Navy. He applied for two different flight positions; Aviator and Flight Officer, and because he is an amazing person the Navy recommended him for both. Paul was given his choice and decided to go the Aviator route. For the non-military people here is how I see it; the Aviator is the pilot and the Flight Officer is the co-pilot. That may not be 100% accurate but hopefully it helps explain the difference.
After we found out Paul was selected for Aviator, this was April I think, there was more follow up paperwork involved. Actually this whole process seemed to me like run-around-like-mad-getting-paperwork-signed-by-every-member-of-the-US-Army-and-then-wait-a-few-months. Ah, I kid. Well, sort of.
Any who. We knew the Navy was taking him, the Army was letting him go, and now we just needed to know when. By June (maybe July) we found out he would be leaving in October but didn’t have a date yet. We also knew that after OCS he would be heading off to Pensacola to start the first few segments of his flight training. After Pensacola he will train somewhere else. More than likely (from what I have learned in this crazy process) he will be in Enid OK, Milton FL, or Corpus Christi TX. Or a few of those places. Maybe even all. Who knows? We certainly don’t because where he goes is yet to be decided. He needs to complete some of the training in Pensacola first before we know where he will go next.
So, what does this all mean? Well. It means that while Paul is in OCS and Pensacola and maybe even the remaining duration of his flight training (we are looking at 2+ years including OCS) I will remain in San Antonio. Because I need to work I don’t have the luxury of going with him when he bounces from one place to another. At least not if I need to have a good job with good pay, which I do. Trust me, if I could swing working a part time job at Barnes & Noble and still pay all my bills (even if it was paycheck to paycheck) I would do it. Unfortunately, I can’t. So I will stay here until we know Paul will be somewhere long enough for me to find a good job and stay there awhile.
It sucks.
It was a really tough day when we made this decision.
It was, sadly, the only option that would work for us.
So, in one month Paul leaves. And I stay. And it could be 2 years or so before we are living together again.
This will probably be our longest separation to date. So far we have only lived apart for 6 months and 7 months.
And even though I know what to expect, and I know I will survive, it still sucks.
I love my husband and I want to be there to support him and help him any way I can.
I also want to be with him to give him hugs and kisses and all the affection he deserves.
And because he is my best friend and I’m just not me without him.
And I lose the person who makes me laugh until I cry. The person who knows all of my weird behaviors and doesn’t judge me because of them. The person I can truly be myself around.
Life just isn’t as exciting. It isn’t as fun.
It sucks.
But I’m a big girl. So I will put on my big girl pants and carry on.
Life won’t be the same but it will still go on. I will make the best of it.
I will take advantage of the freedoms this ‘single’ life will bring me. Like not feeling guilty spending hours on the weekend running in order to train for a marathon.
Or watching Felicity.
Or eating cereal for dinner.
Even though I will make the best of this situation I know I will need my friends to help me get through this. I will have days where I just don’t want to get out of bed. Days where I cry non-stop. Days where I feel so freaking alone. And I tell you this not because I want your pity. But as a warning. I will need you now more than ever. So be prepared.
And if I fall off the face of the earth make sure to send me some words of encouragement.
And if I reach my quota of sappy, sad, woe-is-me blog posts let me know. Tell me to put on my big girls pants and go for a run.
Or tell me to put on my bike shorts and go for a ride.
Either option works

“In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.” ~ Hans Nouwens

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where's the Champagne?

I was really excited to get out and run through my new neighborhood Sunday morning but unfortunately the San Antonio weather had other plans for me. When I woke up it wasn’t raining so I got cleaned up and changed into my gear and when I opened the front door to leave there was a river running past the entrance to my building. No bueno.
If it was just drizzling I would have still went out but it was pouring. The downside of living somewhere that doesn’t get much rain is that when it does rain things flood very quickly. Since I had never ran through this area before I didn’t want to risk running through flooded roads and possibly injuring myself in the process. So I decided I would wait out the rain.
Sadly, by the time the rain let up I was just sitting down to dinner after a very long day of unpacking and I was EXHAUSTED. So…no run for me on Sunday.
I was kind of bummed about missing the run on Sunday because I was planning on running in the daylight- helping me to scope out the area, the road conditions/paths, the traffic, etc. I knew that by skipping it meant that when I did go out it would be during the week, in the dark, at 0500 when I normally run which could be treacherous the first time around.
But I manned up and headed out this morning for my inaugural Alamo Heights (where I live now, technically not San Antonio) neighborhood run.  Thankfully there were street lights the entire way which helped tremendously. I was nervous about the whole running blind thing but it turns out I had nothing to be worried about.
I started at the entrance of my apartment complex and headed out towards the main road. I turned right and ran down towards a very busy (well, busy during normal work hours) shopping area about .75 mile from where I live. The shopping area is great to run past since it is really lit up well even when the stores aren’t open. Once I hit the end of the shopping area I turned around and headed back towards home. Since I was out to explore, and I wanted to get in at least 3.1 miles this morning to make up for missing Dani’s 5K on Sunday, I kept running- past the street my apartment is on and continued towards another main road and more shopping centers. When I hit the next big intersection I turned around, ran back to the street I started on, turned to head home. I basically ran in a giant ‘Y’. The total distance was 3.11 miles; I don’t think I could have planned it any better.

I am so happy that I was able to get out and run through my neighborhood, even at 0-dark hundred. It is a really safe community and I wasn’t too concerned about running alone. However, any fears I may have had were gone once I passed the elderly couple out walking. Heck, if the 80 year-olds aren’t worried, why should I be? I also passed a man walking his dog (who I later saw walking in my apt complex so I guess we are neighbors) and then a whole bunch of runners heading out as I was heading in. Looks like I am not the only one who likes to get their runs in early.
I think this route will be great for my intervals, easy runs, and 3 mile tempo runs. I will explore more this week for areas to do my hill runs and my 5 mile tempo runs.
I feel like I need some champagne. You know, to christen this new route. Like it's a boat or something. Of course, I'm not too sure the neighbors would like me smashing a champagne bottle on the sidewalk.
Where do you like to run? Are you a road runner or a trail runner? Or do you prefer the treadmill?
“Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” ~William Faulkner

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Joys of Moving

I am so, so, tired. Physically tired and worn out.
Moving is exhausting
My body is so tired
Packing, ugh
Loading up the moving truck
And Paul’s car
And my car
Then unloading all the vehicles
Then unpacking all the boxes
And there are just so many boxes
Oh and I should mention we moved into an apartment on the second floor which made moving even more fun.
It was a rough weekend.
I am about 70% finished unpacking. Thankfully the main areas; living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, are pretty much complete which makes our new place livable. The only areas left to finish are the dining room, second bedroom, and balcony area which I am hoping to get through in the next few days.  It would be great to have everything unpacked by the weekend. I could really use a few days to rest and relax and I am hoping to do so this weekend.
Yesterday morning, while trying to motivate myself to get out of bed, I was thinking back through all of the moves I have made over the past 17 years. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane. 
In the 17 years since I finished high school I have lived in 9 states and at least 20 different residences- so many it’s hard to remember.
In our almost 8 years of marriage Paul and I have lived together in 6 states and 9 different residences.
You might think that is because we are a military family but the funny thing is that in the 3.5 years Paul has been in the Army the only place we have lived is Texas.  Not quite what we had in mind when he joined. We are hoping that Navy life will take us to some new and exciting places, hopefully even abroad.
I like moving. I like living in a new place. Especially when that new place is somewhere I have never lived before.
I am not, however, thrilled that I had to move for the third time since arriving in San Antonio but this move was out of necessity so I will make the most of it. Here’s to hoping the next move takes me somewhere new.
Until then, I will enjoy the time I have left in Texas (however long that might be) and make my new apartment my home.
“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Balcony at our new place

Friday, September 14, 2012

Week 9 Training Recap

Since I am moving tomorrow I ran my long run this morning. Thankfully this is a recovery week so my long run was 4miles and I was able to squeeze it in before work. Having completely this run means that training week 9 is complete and I can recap it for you today. J
I had four runs on the schedule this week; the Alamo City Beer Challenge #3 10K, intervals, hills, and a four miler.
This week was a really good week for me running-wise. I am actually seeing progress (I think having the Garmin helps because it gives me my mile times) and I am feeling more confident in my running. It makes me very happy to be progressing and it makes me very excited for the two big challenges I have in the next six months; the half and the full marathon.
Sunday 09/09/2012: Alamo City Beer Challenge #3- Mission Possible 10K
The morning of this run started off a little rough. My shorts kept riding up when I walked. We forgot the bug spray, which is a must when running along the river during a West Nile outbreak. I was wearing a new hat which was too big, sat too low on my ears and ended up giving me a nasty headache. I was kind of a mess and was kind of expecting this run to suck.  
Thankfully once I started running none of those ‘problems’ seemed to matter. Well, except for the headache. That was kind of annoying.
I was pretty pleased with my time and pace. This was my first official 10K  (I have ran the distance before but not in an actual race) so I didn’t set any time goals. All I wanted to do was finish and have fun doing it.

Oh, and I should add that Paul also ran the 10K. He hurt his ankle earlier in the week and told me on the morning of that he was going to just jog it. Take it easy. Well, mister-I’m-just-gonna-take-it-easy passed me when I was at mile 2.5 and he was at 4-ish. I gave him a sideways glance and screamed ‘yeah, you’re going really slow’ and laughed. He finished in 51:40, second in his age group. What a rock star.  He won a beer mug. How fitting...

My official time was 01:11:15- woot woot!
Tuesday 09/11/2012: Interval A routine
This interval routine is 5 minute warm-up, intervals; 1 min fast/ 2 min recover x6, 5 minute cool down

What I noticed this week was that my overall mileage was less, my recovery was at a slower pace (I think I walked for each one) but my fast was faster.
Thursday 09/13/2012: Hill A routine
Since the only hilly part on post is currently under construction I have to settle on doing hills on the treadmill. It’s better than nothing, right?
I did 36 minutes of a pre-set hill program on the treadmill at the gym. It’s called ‘Around the World’ which is just hill after hill at various inclines. I think lowest was .7% and highest was 4.3%. I set my pace at 5.2 mph and kept it there the entire time. That’s the one nice thing about a treadmill; it allows you to maintain a set pace easily.

I will be moving into my new apartment this weekend. The surrounding neighborhood is pretty hilly so I am thankful that now I will be able to do my hill work on the roads instead of the treadmill.
Friday 09/14/2012: 4 Mile Long Run
I woke up this morning to the sound of rain. I had two options; go back to bed or go to the gym to get my 4 miles in. I opted for the gym even though you know how I feel about that dang treadmill.
Earlier this week I was talking with Tricia at my Thai Yoga therapy session about running. She too is training for a half marathon. During a discussion about pace she said that she thought I could probably run a sub-10 minute mile. So since I had the ‘opportunity’ to be on a machine that would set my pace I decided to see if I could.
And I did.
Two of them, actually.
Does that count if I did it on a treadmill?
Well, since I proved to myself that I could do it on a treadmill I will attempt to do it on the road this weekend when I run Dani’s Birthday 5K. My treadmill 5K time this morning was 31:48 so I will try to see if I can do that off the treadmill, too.
My mile times this morning were:
Mile 1: 9:31
Mile 2: 11:09
Mile 3: 10:31
Mile 4: 9:49

Not too shabby, if you ask me J
I am very happy with how week 9 went. No complaints here.
Let’s see what week 10 has in store…
Sunday 09/16/2012: Dani’s Birthday 5K which I will be participating in virtually. Wish I could be in MA for this!
Tuesday 09/18/2012: Interval A routine
Thursday 09/20/2012: Tempo A routine (3 miles)
Saturday 09/22/2012: 7 Mile long run (previous 7 mile time 01:25:01)
Not sure what cross training I will get in this week. Things will still be pretty hectic because of the move. Unpacking counts as cross training, right?
Goal for this week: complete all four training runs, unpack and make at least a few meals at home. Wish me luck!
"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."  ~ Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Barefoot, baby!

I’m a barefoot runner with a forefoot strike and I attribute the fact that I can not only run but run for long periods of time to this fact.
Never in my life have I ever come close to being able to do what I do now.
Ok, so you are probably thinking that of course it was impossible for me to run before when I tipped the scales at nearly 300 pounds. Yes, my weight certainly didn’t help the situation. But it wasn’t the only reason.
When I was in high school I was quasi-athletic. I played sports year-round. Tennis in the fall, basketball in the winter, and softball then track & field in the spring. I even played soccer one summer. I probably weighed less than I do now. However, I was a mess when it came down to what was happening in my feet and legs.
Due to my fallen arches, plantar fasciitis, shin splits and a bevy of other ongoing ailments I was prescribed custom orthotics. I went to PT for ultrasound treatments multiple times a week. I had to have my feet, ankles and shins taped up before games and practices. I had to go to the trainer’s office to soak in ice after. I wasn’t allowed to run suicides (sprints), laps only. I was a mess but I pushed through it all and played on even though every day was pure torture.
When it came time take our yearly physical fitness test (the President’s Challenge) I could never run that damn mile. I could run for about 400m and then I usually walked the remainder.
So, even at a healthy weight as an active youth I could never run.
These problems continued through adulthood, too. Just four years ago when Paul started running I too was on a quest to get healthy. I wasn’t running but instead walking on the treadmill beside him trying to lose some weight. Unfortunately what ended up happening due to ‘overuse’ and ‘stress’ put me in a walking boot for months. Plus a new pair of custom orthotics, for when I was out of the boot, to be worn at all times. Let me just tell you how uncomfortable those things are. No fun.
Fast forward to February 2011 when I decided that I would get healthy and lose weight and swore to stick to this plan and make a lifestyle change. Wanting to become a runner I decided to start interval training. I was mostly walking but was working up to jogging in short bursts. I went out and bought the best sneakers I could afford. The specialist at the running store recommended a pair for stability to help my over-pronation. They had tons of cushioning and great arch support to help with my flat feet. These babies were supposed to make running pleasurable for me even with all my ailments.
Now, I don’t blame what happened next entirely on the shoes. I think it was a combo of the shoes, how I was running (heel-strike) and the fact that I had no gauge to tell what normal soreness/pain felt like versus injury pain. Running (even in 30 second bursts) hurt. But I thought it was normal pain being that I was a physical mess. It wasn’t. I ended up with a knee injury that made it next to impossible to walk for a few weeks.
Dreams of becoming a runner were shelved.
It wasn’t for me.
Well, at least not then.
I thought that injury was entirely caused by my weight so I figured that when I lost a bulk of my weight I would try again.
When I recovered from my knee injury I took up walking. I walked and walked and walked. That too was painful. I would soak my sore feetsies in a foot bath after every walk. I had to ice my feet, ankles and knees nightly. But I pushed on.
I added in the recumbent bike into my workout because it was far less impact and that really helped me start to lose some weight.
Then I started boxing. Not too much running was involved in that other than some sprints during the workout but still I needed to ice regularly just from being active while on my feet. I was losing weight but really felt hopeless that I would ever feel healthy, fit or even know what life would be like without daily pains.
That was until I had my revelation.
I started attending classes at the Synergy Studio- Nia, Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga and later Journey Dance- all of which were done barefoot. All of which caused me no pain whatsoever. If you don’t know what Nia or Journey Dance are think of a dance class but you are doing it barefoot.
Could that be the answer? Could it be my shoes?
Walking in sneakers= pain, dancing barefoot=pleasure.
So, when I decided to incorporate walking back into my routine (with hopes of one day running) I did so in minimalist shoes.
Guess what? No pain.
And when I started running – forefoot strike not heel strike- guess what? Still no pain.
I should add that you can wear any shoe and forefoot or midfoot strike but it is easier to do so in a minimalist shoe. Traditional running shoes are designed for you to heel strike but you can adapt how you run in them. You could also heel strike in a minimalist shoe but I don’t recommend it. It will hurt.
Anywho, let’s fast forward to June 2012. Two 5Ks under my belt and I am thinking about extending my mileage. I had signed up for a 4-miler, 5-miler and an 8K, and a 10K and had a thought in the back of my mind that I may want to try a half marathon. I thought before I start tacking on the miles I should make sure that I was running correctly. I had learned how to forefoot strike from Paul (who transitioned over to Newtons a few months before he ran the RnR marathon) but I wanted an expert to do a gait analysis. If I was going to run I wanted to do it right. I wanted to take every measure possible to help prevent unnecessary injury.
The gait analysis was awesome. The results were eye-opening and surprising.
Surprise number one – my form was pretty good. I only needed to make 2 minor adjustments; I was too upright so I needed to lean forward (NOT bend at the waist) and I swung my arms too far. To paraphrase No Meat Athlete- visualize dinosaur arms holding butterflies. That’s how you want to keep your arms. Short strides, short arm movements.
Surprise number two- I had a neutral foot with a strong arch. Not only had my foot gotten stronger and my arch muscles became more developed (which also led to me wearing a smaller size shoe) but my over-pronation was corrected! I now had the feet I once dreamt of; feet that allow me to run and do so comfortably.
And it turns out that this foot miracle I experienced was a completely natural occurrence. That’s what should happen when you run the way your body was designed to run.
About 6 months after I started running I picked up Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run”(*see note) and everything in that book told me what I was doing was right.
Weird how my body knew what it needed. Thankfully I came to the realization early on before I even started running because if I hadn’t I fear I wouldn’t have otherwise and I would never have developed this passion for running.
I have since moved from the first pair of minimalist shoes I started running in. Now when I run I do so in my Merrell’s(**see note), my Luna sandals, or barefoot.
These shoes/sandals make it so my foot can feel what is happening underneath it and react quickly. I take short, spring-loaded strides and try to stay as light on my feet as possible. Who would have ever thought that a cushy running shoe designed for stability and support would hurt but running in a pair of sandals or even completely barefoot would feel wonderful?

“If you don't think you were born to run you're not only denying history. You're denying who you are.” ― Christopher McDougall, “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
***Warning: feet photos below J***

*If you haven’t read “Born to Run” yet you must do so immediately. Even if you aren’t a runner or don’t like running or whatever, it is a really great book with some amazing stories that I think anyone would enjoy.
**If you have ever thought about running in Vibram Five Fingers but don’t like the idea of the little toe slot thingies then you should think about Merrells (or Luna sandals or New Balance) because they use Vibram soles but don’t have the toe slots.

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This post is based solely off of my personal experiences. As with any activity make sure you consult a physician first and practice good habits such as stretching in order to help prevent injuries.*

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Saying Goodbye

After 18 months on the program I have decided to close my Weight Watchers account, at least for the time being.
I have been debating about this for some time now and to be honest with you the only reason I stayed with it for the past few months was the idea of reaching lifetime and not having to pay. That and the fact that I had lost almost 120 lbs while on the program- could I really quit just ten pounds from goal?
Apparently, yes I can. Because I am not quitting living a healthy lifestyle or quitting trying to lose those last ten pounds. I am just quitting Weight Watchers.
You are probably wondering why after doing so well on WW I would want to walk away from it. Well, there are multiple reasons that brought me to this decision. The first being money. Not that WW is a huge expense but I wasn’t using what I was paying for and it was wasteful.
I hadn’t been to a meeting in about a month and when I had been going previous to that I just wasn’t into it. I really liked my leader, this isn’t on her. I think the group just has a weird dynamic. I hear about people who love their meetings and they bond with members or receptionists or leaders and it’s this fantastic experience. I never had that. Actually, I was starting to become resentful at times because our staff was not great about awards/recognition and that kind of bothered me. But I don’t want to open that can of worms; I don’t want this to be a bitch-fest about my meetings.
Anywho, with Paul leaving and my budget being cut in half I needed to tighten my belt a bit. I just couldn’t justify the expense anymore. That is the main reason.
Another reason is that I don’t think I will be losing weight any time soon. I have read numerous articles/blog posts saying that you shouldn’t expect to lose weight while training for a marathon. Since I have started training 2 months ago I have maintained the same weight, give or take 2-3 pounds. Since the half marathon is in November and the full marathon is in February I don’t anticipate any big changes weight wise in the next 6 months.  And I am ok with that. Right now my priority is training and eating good, whole foods that will help me recover quickly and keep me healthy. That’s it. If I wake up on February 17, 2013 and I weigh 160 pounds I will be a happy camper. I don’t mind being ten pounds overweight if I am able to reach my goal of completing a marathon.
After the marathon…well we’ll just have to wait and see. Maybe I will go back to Weight Watchers maybe I won’t. I think this is the best decision for where I am right now. We’ll have to see what the future holds.
I don’t want you to think that my leaving WW means I don’t believe in the program. I do. It really helped me when I was first starting out. WW taught me portion control, moderation and accountability- three things I needed to be successful on this journey. I still have those tools in my toolbox though and will continue to utilize them throughout the next 6 months of training.
But for now I will say goodbye.
I leave thankful for the 118.2 pounds you helped me say goodbye to.
Thankful for the amazing friends I have met because of you.
Thankful to have this life I had only ever dreamed of.

“You must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be.”~ David Viscott

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Learning to Love the Run

I can’t tell you why or how or even when but one day I woke up, went for a run, and actually enjoyed it.
You should know that I only just began running January of this year. For the first 5 months of the year the running I did was primarily done in short bursts followed by a lot of walking/slow jogging since I was doing the Couch to 5K program which is almost entirely intervals. I did a bulk of my training for my first 5K on a treadmill which I hated.
I hate the treadmill. It annoys the shit out of me. But I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t sure how I would manage intervals on a track/road so I kept at it. Like a stupid hamster on a wheel.
I finished the C25K program and ran my first 5K in May. I was beyond happy to have achieved that goal. It was an amazing day. But you know what? I didn’t enjoy the run.
I enjoyed finishing, for sure, and enjoyed knowing I could actually run for 3.1 miles straight but the running- eh, it was for the birds.
That was it. I decided that running just wasn’t for me but since I stupidly signed up for another 5K in June I would keep at it until after that one. I couldn’t let my money go to waste, could I?
So I spent the next month running. Off and on. When I could fit it in. I wasn’t committed to getting better because I was going to give it up. But I did finally learn how to become comfortable running outside and spent the little time I was running on the track or trails.
I ran my second 5K in June and surprisingly it didn’t suck. I mean it wasn’t a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination but I actually kind of enjoyed myself. I was exhausted and sweaty and felt like that 5K took every ounce of energy out of me but I walked away feeling like I could actually like running.
So, I decided to keep at it. 2 miles at a time, 3 miles at time. I think I can, I think I can. Like the little engine that could.
People say if you are running then you are a runner. It doesn’t matter the distance.
I don’t think you would call what I was doing running. I would call it struggling. Every few days I would head out to the track for a nice early morning struggle. That’s really the best way to describe it.
But I kept at it because it was getting easier and I enjoyed it a little more each time.
Through the process of attempting to develop my running skills I read as many books, articles, blog posts as I could in search of advice. I found a lot of useful stuff but this one piece of advice really changed things for me:
Slow the eff down!
Ok, it didn’t yell or curse at me but I did learn that my pace was way too fast. I did not have the fitness level needed to maintain that pace. Even though my legs could move that fast it was just too much on the body- my heart rate was way too high.
So I got over that pace number I was working so hard to keep and focused on a different number- my heart rate. And most of my easy runs I was running slower than I could walk but I kept that pace so I could keep my heart rate down.
And wouldn’t you know- that made a world of difference.
One day I woke up and running wasn’t so difficult. I crossed over from struggler to runner.
And now running is fun. I feel great during and after. It’s not so freaking hard.. It feels like what it should feel like. And man it is great!
Now, all of my non-speed work runs are done at a pace that’s comfortable for my body and it has made all the difference.
Thinking back on it, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am that I signed up for that second 5K.
Do you love to run? Was it easy from the get go or did you struggle too?
“Most people run a race to see who is fastest.  I run a race to see who has the most guts.”  ~Steve Prefontaine

Me and Paul after the Freedom 4-Miler on the 4th of July