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Archive for December, 2011

Airplane Mode

Most of you think that motivation comes easily for me – as if I were super woman. I’m not. In fact, I struggle with finding motivation just like all of the rest of you. I just tend to push it into the back of my mind and carry forward. It’s tough and most people have no idea what I battle with day in and day out. I just make it look easy…somehow. I had one blog ready to post that I wrote on the plane ride, but just didn’t get around to it. Now as I’m sitting here with thoughts rambling through my head I’m trying to sort them into some logical reading material all the while thinking about whether or not I even want to post anything.

As I sat in an over crowded airplane heading to Orlando for Christmas with the family I was once again reminded by the flight attendants to turn off all electronic devices and use airplane mode once we were in the air. It reminded me of something that I need to be reminded of often…sometimes I need to go into airplane mode. I often find myself flying through life at the speed of light and have realized that I need to power down a little more often than I do. I mean this in many aspects of life; work, family, events and activities, running. We find ourselves moving faster and faster through life only to look back asking “Where did the time go?”.

In running I’ve found that the winter months are my “airplane mode”. It’s that time of year where I need to play it safe, stay healthy, and keep up good habits. It can be hard for me to power down. Some days it feels boring and mundane but I have to keep reminding myself that there’s a bigger goal in site. I also need to power down mentally. People cope with life, love, what have you, in a variety of ways. Sometimes we stay and fight. Sometimes we run away. We take our “cues” from the world around us.

It’s hard for me to stop and slow down and I’m okay admitting to that. For me, it’s easier to stay busy and not have time to sit and think or find other things to do. I will beat myself up if I don’t run when I know I should and that’s usually the biggest motivator for me, but I know that there are times when my body tells me “ENOUGH” – and I know that I need to slow down and hide away or find a quiet place to rest my body and sometimes my mind. I will make no excuses though. I will listen and live by no regrets. Sometimes it takes powering down to get the best out of life. Find a quiet place. It might not be easy, but it might be what you need.

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Namaste

It’s that time of year again when we all get ready to make our New Year’s resolutions. Most of us say we’re going to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise, etc. I gave this up years ago, but this year I’m thinking of  incorporating small changes that would benefit me mentally and physically. One of the things on my list for New Year’s resolutions (and currently the only thing on the list) is doing more yoga. I actually love doing yoga, but time constraints throughout my day and plain fatigue at the end of my day often lead me straight to bed rather than doing some pretzel-like yoga pose. So I thought I’d get a head start on my New Year’s resolution and do some yoga last night. With the addition of more snow to Colorado I knew I needed to work on flexibility to avoid injury while running on ice and snow.

This time of year is a struggle for most of us with trying not to gain those extra pounds. We put ourselves through this mental twister of guilt and justification from the week of Thanksgiving all of the way through the New Year. Essentially, a 12th of the year we’re spending our time trying to justify those extra calories and not exercising. So, are you up for a challenge? Get a jump start on your New Year’s resolution and work on incorporating the changes you really want to make a little sooner. We all have different things that are important to us. For some, a New Year’s resolution might be to spend more quality time with friends and family. For someone else, it might be exercising and eating healthier, but too often we sit back and wait for that perfect moment to do something. There is nothing magical about January 1st. Motivation is what gets you started & habit is what keeps you going.

Remember, it’s not who you are that holds you back; it’s who you think you’re not. Prove to yourself you can do it and go kick some ass. Namaste (and Merry Christmas!).

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Yes. I just blogged a Star Wars quote. This morning proved to be a Yoda morning. With very little sleep due to a late night department dinner, I found myself looking for that “out” this morning. Actually, I was thinking about my out before the night even ended. Funny. But even though I was trying to find a reason to justify not geting up early and run I really couldn’t think of one other than lack of sleep. Honestly though, would one hour really make a big difference in how I felt the next day? So, when I went to bed I had two thoughts running through my head. Run, or not?

My alarm went off at 4:05AM and I hit the snooze button just twice this morning (a real record). I actually wasn’t even tired. I had a lot that could have stopped me from getting out the door (the dryer tried to blow up last night so all of my normal running gear was sopping wet, I didn’t get to bed until 11:30PM, it had snowed…again…) but I had already made up my mind the night before that I was going to get my run in. I set aside some different running gear before my head hit the pillow and was already mentally prepped for an icy run. I knew I’d have to slow things down to be safe and not slip on the roads. Things didn’t go as planned though; after all that effort to make sure I got up and out the door.

I was just a few miles into my run when I turned a corner, lost my footing a bit and felt a pull on my knee. Hmm. That felt not so great. I stopped for a second to rub and stretch it since it felt like a muscle cramp more than anything. I kept running and on the straightaways just felt like I had a muscle cramp down my quad and to the posterior of my knee. Not terrible. More annoying than anything else. Then, I turned the corner on the other end of the block and wouser did I feel that one. So, I stopped again and stretched, rubbed it and continued on. Things were fine until the next turn. You’re probably seeing a pattern right about now. I slowed down the pace and wrapped up my run, the whole time muttering and grumbling about my stupid knee and incredibly slow run. My body wasn’t cooperating the way that my mind was telling me to, and I was getting a bit cranky.

Even with the best mental preparation and game plan I had unexpected issues arise and derail what I was looking forward to as a great run. There are days when you just have to roll with the punches, and I was feeling pretty crummy that my run didn’t go so well this morning. I’m trying to look on the bright side that at least I got out the door. So Yoda, today there was no “try” – I did. Tomorrow, we might have to revise our game plan.

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Performance Anxiety

Now. Now. We’re NOT going there, but let’s face it. We train. We plan. We do everything we think we are supposed to do in hopes of doing the absolute best come race day. Or, do we? I’m guilty. I run the same route almost every day and when it comes time for long runs I don’t typically want to stray from the norm because I know what my times should be and I try to stay within a target range. Running on dirt roads and hills does not typically help me stay within my target range. Over the past several weeks though, I’ve been trying to break out of my running routine. I’ve been trying some new routes and definitely enjoying the scenery, though my times have been slipping a little. It’s hard for me to stop looking at my watch and start looking at the views. So, do I really train well? The race course is most definitely going to be different than the route that I run day in and day out around my house. So today I ventured out, and kept the watch running.

I used to really enjoy my long runs and getting as far away from everything as possible. I would do an out-and-back route that would take me so far north of “town” that I would see nature in its most untouched and majestic state. I loved these runs. It was harder to plan for because I didn’t have water available so I would have to take a fuel belt with me, and running with a fuel belt, watch, headphones, etc., just really isn’t my idea of escaping. Today was yet another beautiful Colorado day with temps that managed to get into the 40s. I waited and planned my entire day around getting on the road early afternoon to enjoy the peak of sunshine and warmth. I went out with one route in mind, but somewhere mid-through I decided to break out of my normal pattern and push myself to become a stronger, more adaptive runner. I knew that running on dirt roads and adding in more hills wouldn’t help my time any today, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I made one 4-mile loop and then decided to branch out and see what was beyond my normal turning-around point. So I ran…and I kept running. It was beautiful. It was quiet. The only thing I heard was my heart beating and my feet hitting the dirt road. I could see the entire mountain range and was more focused on that than on my watch. It was a tough run, and there were a lot of “rolling” hills (don’t let that word fool you). I know that the run I did today will make me a stronger runner. I get so nervous before a race that I get sick to my stomach, lose my appetite and can’t sleep. It’s more than physical training; it’s mental training. And that little bug in my ear telling me that I didnt’ train well enough because I didn’t get outside of my comfort zone just got squashed today.

I read an article recently where a reader asked the question of whether or not they should even run in a race because they were worried that they would finish dead last, that the course would close, and that they’d be left there all alone. I loved the author’s response of “Who cares?”. You run for you! And, if the race course director has any experience and history putting on races, he or she would know that the course doesn’t close until the last person crosses the finish line. Unfortunately, we don’t always feel like we have that support, but don’t let the fear of not finishing stop you from starting. You never know, you might just stop long enough to enjoy the views around you.

Distance: 12.01 mi
Time: 1:31:41
Avg Pace: 7:38 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 161 ft
Calories: 1,281 C

Strasburg Dirt Road Run

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The ADD/OCD Runner

This morning was one of those mornings I really did not want to get out of bed. I hit the snooze button a few more times than normal, and somehow managed to crawl out of bed. It’s amazing how many thoughts go through your head from the time the alarm goes off until you’re actually out of bed. I thought about how tired I was, how good I’d slept, how warm I was, what laundry there was down stairs and if I should throw in another load this morning or wait until I got home, what Connor’s blood sugar would be since we did a site change the night before and he was running high, what I needed to pack for the baby since his 1 year appointment was this morning, if I needed to run the dish washer or if there’d be room for the breakfast dishes, and what kind of coffee I wanted to have…and if I should hit the snooze one last time. I saw this the other day (thanks Cuz!) and laughed so hard because it is pretty darn true of the thought train that runs through my head almost constantly and manages to wreck only once in a while.

I managed to get out the door this morning for a run, but began looking back at all of the things that could have stopped me. As a mom, spouse, friend, co-worker, sister (you name it, we all have our roles) there are things that will always be on our to-do list. Most of them we will never get to, and that’s okay. We learn how to prioritize. We learn what really matters. We learn to roll with the punches (cat puke on the floor, dog peeing in front of us on the carpet while we stare in disbelief, kids screaming and crying) and sometimes we laugh – sometimes we cry. Sometimes we manage to do them both at the same time even. But this is what makes life…life. How boring would our lives be if we knew what to expect all of the time? So, we clean up the puke, the dog pee, wipe tears from eyes and carry on.

My family is laughing while reading this, I’m almost certain. I have always been the one that has to have everything in its place, and order has to exist in everything all of the time. I have been working on maintaining order while maintaining sanity though. It’s easy to get caught up in the little things that can drag us down and wrap us up into little tight knots of stress and tension. Even our best laid plans of getting in our run can go out the door – without us. And, that’s okay.

Hi, my name is Luciana and I’m an ADD/OCD runner. What’s your name?

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Elevator Talk

It’s amazing what you learn about someone you’ve just met in an elevator. Every morning I pack my lunch in a reuseable bag from the pantry. We’ve collected tons of bags from campus orientations, meetings, conferences, and…race expos. I happened to grab a Rock ‘n’ Roll bag this morning, which prompted a brief encounter with a new-found running buddy in the elevator.

I barely stepped a foot in the door when I heard, “You ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll?”. I was taken a bit off guard and in trying to sort through races replied “Which one?”. I’ve run Denver a few times and the husband ran Vegas twice, and we just signed up for Nashville and San Diego. Come to find out, this fellow runner ran Denver as well as Las Vegas and in the time it took to get up to the 6th floor we’d already spouted off a slew of information about both races. I recalled my post from the other day about how we as runners sometimes feel like the minority, but I think the other guy in the elevator was the one that felt a little out of place this time.

I’d been struggling the past few weeks with enjoying my runs. It’s been bitterly cold and challenging to get good strides with what feels like a dozen layers of clothes on. Saturday’s long run was absolutely wonderful though because I was able to run in the middle of the day and enjoy the sun and warmer weather, and take a mental break from the chaos for a while. But I haven’t had anything on my plate race-wise to look forward to until recently. Getting through the winter months with training has proven to be boring at times, but I know that I need some down time and base running (as coach puts it) to stay healthy and ready for what’s on tap next.

So, what’s on tap next? Nashville in April…it sounds so far away but I’m already looking foward to it as this starts the full swing of race season – and warmer weather. What’s next for you? Let us know of some great races in your area. Colorado is full of them, but it’s nice to take a weekend getaway and go someplace new. Talk up your town and let’s get ready for racing season!

Denver Rock 'n' Roll October 2011

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It’s Tebow Time!!!

I was listening to ESPN Radio the other day and, as usual in Denver, they were talking about Tim Tebow and his “God-given abilities” to overcome in the 4th quarter. The same proved true in yesterday’s game with a late 4th quarter play, field goal, and overtime, chalking another win up for Tebow. Someone made a comment about his ability to win no matter what the circumstances and the joke began on how he even won his very first race (conception), and has been winning ever since. The conversation quickly turned into how all of us are winners. We all won our very first race into existence. Think about it – how many other potential “people” did you beat out to take first place? I was laughing so hard I was crying, but the conversation was so poignant. How many times do you hear “I never win anything”, or “I’m just not good enough”, or “I’m not worth it”. Well, you won your very first, and one could argue quite validly, the very most important race in your life.

Society has “dummied” us down. We accept mediocrity and provide medals and trophies to our children who finish 2nd, 3rd, last place. By doing this, we show that it doesn’t matter how you do in life you will always be rewarded. I don’t agree with this, but I agree with knowing that there are other forms of winning. Winning is more than taking first place. Winning is the ability to set all else aside for a few minutes a day for you. Winning is the ability to know when you’ve failed, but you look for chances to be better. Winning is recognizing that you’re not perfect and never will be, but unlike the mainstream concept of “Why Try?”, you try – and you try harder each day.

Sometimes we have to lose a few in order to understand and appreciate the effort that we put into trying. If it were easy we would never push ourselves to be better or try harder, or in some cases even try. What’s the old proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”? What if Tim Tebow just gave up once the Broncos reached the 4th quarter. Who could come back from a loss every single time this late in the game?

So, it’s 4th quarter and you’re down. You haven’t had a chance to get out and run all week or you’ve lost your motivation and beat yourself up because you want to get out there and run, but you just haven’t. What are you going to do about it?  I say, make it Tebow Time and go get yourself a win.

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Socks and the City

It’s amazing what gets us excited to run. We’re like little kids in a candy shop when we put on our shiny new tennis shoes, or when our fancy new watch arrives in the mail, or we get our tech t-shirt from the race expo. My husband bought me a pair of socks from his Las Vegas trip and I can’t wait to put them on and go for a run. That is seriously demented, right? But it gets us out the door sometimes. I’ve had people tell me they don’t like to run because it’s boring. Running doesn’t have to be boring. If the wind in your face, sun on your back, or view of the Colorado mountains or eastern plains aren’t exciting enough to keep your mind occupied (if you live in CO), then find out what it is that excites you to run. Is it the feeling of conquering something? The knowledge that you overcame the desire to do nothing, or the fact that you know you’re giving your body what it deserves?

We went to San Francisco in October and my husband had a long run to plan for, which for most people to plan an 11 mile run in a strange city can be daunting. Not for him! He mapped out a route that would run him across the Golden Gate Bridge; a run that I dare say might have been one of his most memorable to date. That doesn’t mean it was an easy run, although there’s something to be said for sea level when you come from Denver, but what it means is that the desire to run overcame all fear of the unknown. I struggled the first few days running in San Francisco. I wasn’t familiar with running in the city and got completely annoyed at all of the traffic and stoplights, and very nearly gave up on the first day until I rounded a corner that led me down a path along the bay and I saw the Golden Gate Bridge gleaning in the sun. Running in San Francisco from there on out was a no-brainer. I knew what was around the corner and even though I dreaded the mile and a half it took to get there, I knew it would be worth it.

As humans, we don’t like to stray from the norm. It makes us feel uncomfortable and out of place. Sometimes that’s how it is when we run. Whether you’re a beginner just getting your feet on the road, or you’ve been running for as long as you can remember, there is always some element that sets us aside from the rest of the world. But we know we’re not alone. There are other runners out there going through the same struggles. Other runners who have lost their motivation to lace up. Other runners who, regardless of how well they’ve planned and prepped for a long run, still bonk and end up walking home. And, other runners who are heading out the door, about to round the corner and see what lies ahead.

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It’s a Hard Knock Life

I came across a running quote I thought put things into perspective a bit. It said, “If you think life is tough, try running a marathon. If you still think life is tough, run the next one faster.”  I couldn’t disagree with this quote more. Obviously, the person who thought up this genius quote never had to run while serving in the military and avoiding life-threatening conditions, or is the person who has a condition that will never give them the ability to walk much less run, or the one who can’t even afford a pair of tennis shoes.

We spend countless hours giving ourselves excuses for not doing something, and only a fraction of time giving ourselves an “excuse” to get out there and do anything. What is it about our human nature that always prods us to be minimalists in everything that we do? We can’t cook food fast enough because the microwave is too slow. We want our on-demand movies from the cable company NOW, and we push the speed limit going down the road because it will save us so much time.

If getting out there and running doesn’t motivate you alone, find something that will. A buddy (Alex Ross) is running the Leadville 100 to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Find a charity, an event to support, a person in your local community you can help raise money for, or a kid to coach and mentor, and find your motivation to get out there and move! Then, turn around and be someone else’s motivation – pay it forward. It’s the best get rich scheme ever.

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The Great Bambino

Babe Ruth is thought of by many as the greatest baseball player of all time. We all know about the “curse of the Great Bambino” and the Red Sox trading him to the Yankees in the off season of 1919 and not seeing a title for decades to come. Baseball is a great game. We take the day off of work and pull the kids out of school to go to Opening Day every year. We don’t realize what a mentally challenging sport baseball is though.

Our oldest son plays competitive baseball and over the past year we’ve seen him develop immensly as a player, but it’s always interesting to see a team crumble before your eyes and wander what on earth is going through these boys’ heads. My husband put it well. He said, “Baseball is a game of failure”. He’s right. How many times do you strike out, or a fly ball caught, or are thrown out at the bag? Every time a batter steps up to the plate, we hope and anticipate (if we’re rooting for that team), that they’re going to hit a homerun, but how many times does that happen? Yet, we continue to play the sport. We continue to go to the games, and we continue to haul our kids across town three times a week for practice just so that they can continue to play a sport that ends in failed attempts time and time again.

We experience the same with running. We go to races that don’t function the way that they should. We get frustrated that our times are worse than we thought, and aggrevated by the elements. We get leg cramps and have to walk, or stomach cramps and end up puking, but we continue to get out there and run. It doesn’t always work out the way we think it will or should every time. We feel like we have failed, but truth be told we only fail if we never try. So go out there and knock one out of the park. You might strike out a few times before you get there, but eventually you’ll hit that homerun. You might even pick up some fans along the way.

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