Race Recaps…

So to jump right back in…I’ve done three races in basically as many weeks. So here’s a brief rundown of the events. I ended 2016 with a bang by doing the Harmony Silvester 5k on 12/31 where I managed to eek out a PR for the end of the year–33:04, a little over a minute faster than my previous 5k PR and a great place to end the year. It’s a nice race, rolling course, which is my favorite (I never seem to do as well on flat courses), decent number of participants. Having run in Harmony before, I’ve definitely encountered worse hills on other courses (looking at you Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon). The race goes by gun time, which makes me even happier with my time. Overall a great event, and one I would definitely go back to.

Then on New Year’s Day we started off right with the First Day 5k. Not a gently rolling course, but a hilly beast that has kicked my butt now two years in a row. Finished two minutes slower than the Harmony race the day before, which I’m remarkably okay with as it was a solid 7 minutes faster than I did the same race and course the previous year, so I couldn’t be upset. It’s a tough course. I always underestimate the hills and end up walking (which, while there’s no shame in it, pisses me off a little). So hill work it is. Because if I hadn’t walked, I probably would’ve PR’d on that course, and now I want to do that. First goal for 2018, boom.

Last weekend I participated in my first group training run with the Steel City Road Runners–the Marathon Training Kickoff run. I’m doing the half at Pittsburgh this year, because I have a score to settle and honestly, I prefer the half to the full. I prefer to train for a full during the heat of the summer and end up rewarded with cooler temps on race day than vice versa. But I’m planning to run an ultra (and potentially now a full) in June, so doing the full marathon training makes way more sense. It was cold, and awful, and my pace SUCKED, but I got the miles done and had a good time. More group runs are in my future, for sure.

This weekend I did the Chilly Cheeks 5-miler up in Hermitage. Again, cold, which seems to be affecting my pace more than I want it to (and more than I want to admit it does). It wasn’t a tough course, but it *felt* tough. And my time was about a minute slower than the 5-miler I did in November, but when put in perspective of the fact it was significantly colder, I can accept it. Lots of work to do to hit my time goals, but I’m not starting off from a bad place.

Week is off to a solid start. Happy Monday, friends.

Catching Up: 2016 recap and 2017 goals

The worst thing about taking a hiatus from blogging–whether intentional or not, but especially if it’s not–is coming back and feeling like you have so much to catch up on, and so much to talk about. This was definitely an unintentional break. I got busy with the holidays and morning workouts have edged out the time I used to use for writing and I just never made the point to do it. I’ve thought about it a lot, I have a list of things I want to get caught up on and talk about, bits and pieces of podcasts that have made me think “blog post!” but nothing has come to fruition. So, new year, time to buckle down and make this blog thing happen again. I’m not going to try to do a massive post to catch up on everything, I’m going to try to break it down in to several posts over at least the next week so it’s not a massive brain dump and I can do each thing proper justice.

First things first, then I’ll backtrack some (if you want to call it that)…2016 year in review and goals for 2017.

I ran 18 races in 2016, the most I’ve ever done, edging out my previous record of 16 races in 2013. I definitely didn’t love running, or 5ks, when I set the goal to do a race a month in 2016, but somewhere along the way I fell in love with running again and learned to love 5ks as well. I started the year basically half-assing and doing the races for the sake of doing them, but after some soul searching and gentle nudging from a friend I started to actually *run* again. And I came back stronger and faster and I just want more.

Which brings me to my goals for 2017…

-PR at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon (I have a specific time goal that I’m not keen to share just yet…)

-Run a sub-30 minute 5k

-PR 50k time

-PR ultra distance

-PR at a fall full marathon TBD (again, I have a time goal, but I’m not keen to share it yet…)

-Press 16kg bell 5x each side

-Get back to racing weight and maintain within 5lbs

-Volunteer for a race

Serious goals. Steep ones, especially if you knew the time goals I’ve set for myself. But not impossible or unobtainable. I talked about Beast Mode last year, but my training this year pales in comparison to what I thought was Beast Mode then. I’ll share more about my training plan soon (because, accountability) but for me it boils down to what I’ve decided on for my word of the year:

Self-discipline: the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

This is my focus, and will be the key to achieving my goals. In some respects I am very disciplined (working out, going to bed on time), in others I’m not nearly as disciplined as I should be (diet, stretching/foam rolling, drinking water). And developing and improving that consistency with self-discipline will be necessary.

I turn 35 next month. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be an athlete when I turned 35. But I am and it’s time for me to act like it. The best is yet to come.

Wake Up Call…

I’ve been holding back, on here, in life, I haven’t quite been myself. It’s taken me awhile to realize it, and to realize that it’s my problem. I’ve lacked direction, I’ve gained weight, I just don’t feel like myself. For the most part I’m happy, positive, cheerful. I give the face of being driven and motivated but underneath I haven’t felt that. I struggle to do things that I know need to be done. I’ve made excuses for things without realizing I was making excuses.

I had a conversation with a friend at the end of last week when I’d slipped into a darker place, and he put things in perspective and snapped me back to reality. It was a kick in the ass that I needed much more than I realized. He called me out on my excuses.

I am not myself. I haven’t been running, at least not much. Not enough. My body isn’t where I want it to be and it doesn’t feel like mine. I felt most like myself when I was running most days of the week. I look at pictures from that phase of my life and that’s me. That’s what I look like, that’s what I feel like. And I miss me. A lot. Running has sucked for me for the past couple of years. I developed IT issues after my second marathon and I haven’t been the same since, and that became an excuse. And then we moved in together and got married and I’ve used that as an excuse. And my job situation sucked for awhile and that became an excuse.

And the conversation with my friend made me wake up and own up to all the excuses I was making, and made me realize that I need to shut up and run. It’s the piece that’s been missing. Ever since I was younger, long before I started running, I’ve envisioned myself as a runner, and that’s still how I see myself in my head. I know what it feels like to be that, and I want it back. And I want it back badly enough to do whatever it takes to get back there. If I can’t manage the IT issues on my own, I’ll go to PT and get help for it. Yeah it sucks and it’s slow going right now–I’m heavier than I should be and out of shape–but that’s not going to change unless I get off my ass and change it. I used to deal with my feelings by running, and that has gradually shifted to using food to deal with them–that has to change back. Now that I’m aware that’s what I’ve been doing I can change it.

The past few days since this conversation and the subsequent realizations have been so different for me. I ran both days. For the first time in ages I wanted to. And I packed my bag to potentially run after work (weather depending). I’ve had fleeting thoughts about missing time with my husband, but the fact of the matter is that girl–the one who ran all the time–is the one he fell in love with in the first place. And I’m missing some of my spark. If running more is what it takes to get it back, he’ll be supportive.

So this journey is finding my way back to myself. As I do that I think the other things I’ve been struggling over will fall back into place.

Out of Sorts…

I’m a little out of sorts at the moment. I’m scattered. All over the place. Nothing to explain why, I’m just having trouble getting and keeping it all together right now. The new position is good. I’m technically supposed to launch and be on my own as of today, but I started taking more of the responsibilities on at the end of last week to help when we were short handed and it seems to be going well. Outside of work, however, I’m having trouble focusing and maintaining forward momentum. Some of it is that I’m still not clear on what my plan is, and I need to spend some quality time with myself to figure some things out. My husband is on days this upcoming weekend, and while I have a few plans I should be able to carve out some much needed quiet time to figure myself out. Life has been a whirlwind for the past few weeks, between the promotion and training, our trip to visit my folks and best friend, the subsequent catch up from that, the holiday weekend, etc.

I recently read Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, which is a book about life-planning and goal-setting. I’m at the point where I’m really ready to sit down and hammer some stuff out. Probably not in exactly the way they intended, but I’m ready to get some focus and direction and figure out where my life needs to be headed. The brilliant part of their plan is that it requires and invites revision and updating so you aren’t stuck with something that may no longer fit your circumstances, but it is meant to keep you from drifting without purpose and to take concrete action towards your goals. And right now I desperately need that direction and a plan to follow, but I know it has to be self-guided.

Last week on the Jillian Michael’s Podcast (which I admittedly have a love-hate relationship with), one segment hit the nail on the head–sometimes you just have to take the chance and put yourself out there. And I think that’s where I’m at. I’m definitely at some kind of crossroads in my life, I’m just not sure what it is yet. I’ll keep you posted…

Revamping my routine

We’re all creatures of habit, but I seem to be especially so. I like structure and routine. I like planning and checking things off the list. I’m an early riser, not sure if that’s by nature from years of not having a choice as a kid, but at any rate I get up far earlier than most would deem normal or necessary. I also go to bed far earlier than most would find normal. But that’s my life and I like it. Though lately I’ve been feeling stuck in my routine and like it’s just not serving me.

I’m big into listening to podcasts on my commutes, I find them more stimulating than music and far more appealing than talk radio because I control the subject matter. One of my regular podcasts is the 5 AM Miracle podcast with Jeff Sanders. It’s all about productivity and geared toward getting the most out of your day by getting up early and hitting the ground running. He talks a lot about routines and your ‘ideal’ morning. Although frequently I’m not into the actual advice given, the spirit of the show is motivating to me. And this week in particular he was discussing 7 things to do before 7 AM. The big one for him is to exercise in the morning, and that resonated with me.

I’m an early riser, but I don’t always use my morning time well. I’m not an early morning exerciser. I’m just not. I wish I could be, but when I’ve tried I don’t get a good workout because I am literally just going through the motions. And while I can get up and go when the situation calls for it, I much prefer a more gradual wake up–I like my coffee and kitty snuggles. Still, I want to use my time well, I want to be productive and go into my day feeling accomplished. So I’ve realized morning is a good time for me to write, to get focused on the day and what I really want before I head to what pays the bills. I can do that with a cup of coffee on one side and a cat on the other.

That said, I’m also an avid exerciser. I love fitness. But even my habits in that realm have slipped. When I was single and my time was purely my own I had a regular routine that I was very diligent about. Flash forward to new marriage with a husband to work around, new day job, new home in a different area (with a substantial commute), and I’ve struggled to create a new routine–in part because I’ve tried unsuccessfully to make it happen in the morning. I take a kettlebell class twice a week after work and most of the time that seems to be an ideal time for me to work out, I have energy, I can get out frustration from the day, and I feel good when I’m done. While many will say the best time to work out is in the morning, and I hear their points, I’m a firm believer that the best time to work out is when you will do it (and the best workout is the one you will do). Doing beats not doing. So for now, post-work workouts will be the plan.

I’m working to accomplish two goals–to write more and to work out more consistently–by flipping my schedule and being intentional. I’m hoping that making my goals and plans public will also encourage consistency by keeping me accountable. Let’s see how this works, shall we?

For the first time in my life I can actually imagine myself at my goal weight. I have never in my life been able to see a number so clearly, or to picture the events leading up to it, the actions that result because of it and the things I need to do to get there.

I’ve always had a hard time just trying to come up with a number. I’ve always thought I’d ‘see how I felt when I got there.’ But I have a number now.

I don’t like time deadlines with weight loss, but (one of) my best friend(s) is getting married in August and it is not inconceivable for me to reach my goal by then. So that’s what I’m shooting for. It works out to just under 8 pounds a month and just under 2 pounds a week until the wedding. Not perfect, not necessarily even likely, but certainly not impossible. If I don’t make it, that’s okay, but I like the idea of the challenge.

It feels…real. It feels like I can WILL do it.

[sometime soon I’ll start sharing numbers with you, I promise. I’m just not there yet.]

Did I set goals for February? I don’t know as I’m wicked bad at tagging and I lack the patience to go through my archives. So, March then?

March Goals

  • Kiss the 160s good-bye.
  • Step up the cross-training (and by “step up” I mean “actually do”).
  • Stick to 100 push ups/200 sit-ups training.
  • Drink MORE water!
  • Drink LESS seltzer.
  • Actually take my vitamins on a daily basis.
  • Go to all my WW meetings.

So, I have a membership to a very nice gym that is very convenient for me. HOWEVER it doesn’t offer classes. And as I really need to work on getting some cross training in, and I’m not as hardcore as Stacey who is the queen of all things DVD, I really want to take a few classes. So I’m thinking of joining a second gym. Just on a monthly group fitness class membership as I’m not likely to go there for anything else. I’m looking at a Zumba class some friends are also taking and a Kick & Strength class (I’m dying for some cardio kickboxing). So I’m looking into that. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Who am I? Running. Running outside. Two gyms. Really? Me?

2011 is going to be AWESOME! (Running edition)

Goals for 2011:

  1. Pittsburgh Half Marathon!–It’s on! They have my money! I just want to finish, that’s my goal, I’m not going to stress about time (other than beating the cut off). But I’m psyched. I do better with training when I have a goal. And if this goes well, I plan to do the CHAD Hero Half up here in late-summer/fall.
  2. Food.–I don’t eat like a runner-and I don’t run enough (yet) that I can use running as an excuse to eat. But a half marathon is serious business. I need to step up my game in the food department and actually fuel my body instead of eating whatever is easiest. I know how I should be eating, and what I most certainly should NOT be eating-time for me to stop talking and just do it.
  3. Learn to like running outside.–I actually don’t think this will be that hard. When I was running the ill-fated Turkey Trot I was enjoying the outside running (on a cross country course). The parts of outside running I don’t like are (1) the cold and (2) the pavement. If I run trails (easy to do in my area) and stay on the TM until the weather gets better it shouldn’t be so bad. I’m sure I will eventually even not mind the cold.
  4. PR at the Run for Empowerment 5k.–Again, this shouldn’t be hard, as last year’s race was AWFUL and I’ve only done it twice. I will also have done the half by then, so PRing at this will be a piece of cake.
  5. Run at least 3x per week.–(barring illness or injury) Now, this doesn’t sound like much as there are many of you who run everyday or almost everyday. And I will be running more than 3x per week for much of my training. BUT, when life starts getting crazy, when I’m traveling, etc. running is the first thing to get shifted out of my life. And 3x a week is a manageable amount to shoot for, so I’m going to promise myself that (barring illness or injury) I will run a minimum of 3x a week for the next year.
  6. Keep my training log.–I know that a real training log is a valuable tool. I will keep mine up-to-date for the whole year. I may not post everything online, but I will keep my paper version up-to-date and accurate at the very least.