Archive for January, 2012

My coach tells me it’s hill month (also known as “hell” month). Okay, I’m game. I took one look at my workout scheduled for tomorrow and was less than certain how I was supposed to run it. I thought I knew, but after he explained it to me I realized I had no idea what was in store for me this month. The workout looks something like this:

2 mile warm up

4x100m. Hill

  • 4×1 min. on/off
  • 1×3 min. on/off
  • 4xmid hill
  • 4×30 sec. on/off

2 mile cool down

Basically, it’s a hill workout on acid. I told him I wanted to be challenged, so no complaints here. It’s time to go beyond the normal boring winter routes and start getting race ready. The IT band is healed and ready to be put to work (with the rest of me). I’ve been climbing back up in mileage over the past month, giving myself time to heal and I’m glad I did. I really did not want to lose running time, but kept thinking about needing to be ready to put in some tougher miles over the next couple of months and knowing if I didn’t take it easy and let the IT band heal I would be sitting on the sidelines for much longer.

I’ve enjoyed getting the miles back in, but have noticed that I’ve had a few weeks off and with less mileage. In other words, I’m feeling it. I hadn’t been sleeping well before; no problem with that now as I collapse in bed before 9PM more consistently. My legs have felt like lead and my pace has been inconsistent, but with each day it gets better. I’m reminded of what it takes to get started in the first place and how not keeping up with your running plans can make it feel like you’re starting over every time you hit the road. Most people have felt how good it feels at the end of a run, workout, etc., but if you don’t keep it up it’s easy to lose and harder to get back on track.

Stay motivated. Stick to your plan. Maybe put The Righteous Brothers on your iPod.

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Saturday’s 10 Mile Run –

Distance: 10.01 mi
Time: 1:16:09
Avg Pace: 7:36 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 120 ft
Calories: 1,068 C
Avg Pace
Summary 1:16:08.7 10.01 7:36
1 7:46.2 1.00 7:46
2 7:36.9 1.00 7:37
3 7:35.2 1.00 7:35
4 7:24.7 1.00 7:25
5 7:36.6 1.00 7:37
6 7:34.8 1.00 7:35
7 7:44.1 1.00 7:44
8 7:34.9 1.00 7:35
9 7:35.3 1.00 7:35
10 7:36.0 1.00 7:36
11 :04.1 0.01 6:52

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I signed up to receive emails on local deals in the Denver area and had one come across my Inbox this morning that I just could not resist. You might recall a previous post about admiring your strongest assets and flaunting them. Well, I thought I’d live up to my own advice. We work hard at keeping up with our running plans, eating well, and staying focused on exercises and activities that keep us strong and healthy. Most people continue to look for ways to improve themselves whether that be physically, mentally, or otherwise, but as humans many of us lack the motivation to keep up with our plans and create a lifestyle out of our improvements. Sure, we can keep it up for a week or two or sometimes even a couple of months, but why is it that it’s so easy to fall back into old habits? Before we know it we’re eating more potato chips, refined and processed foods, and less of the simplest and most delicious things on earth – fruits and vegetables. It’s time to get back to the basics. Simplify your diet (and by diet I don’t mean skimp on food). I love to eat. I could eat all day long, every single day. For me, I need to stuff my face with apples, bananas, cucumbers, carrots and other simple foods like Greek yogurt and milk in order to not sit down and eat an entire bag of potato chips or M&M’s (yes, I’ve done both).

But let’s face it. Easy is, well easy. We don’t have to think about it, don’t have to plan anything, but we always seem to regret it. No wonder we never have the motivation to head out the door for a run or pack a healthy lunch. We’re always looking for the easy way out! This is not to say you shouldn’t enjoy food. You just need to retrain your pallet. Don’t let all of that hard work of running and exercising go to the wayside because your brain and stomach can’t work together as a team. Sometimes we just need a little incentive to help us along.

My current incentive is not for the upcoming races that I have on the docket. It is not even for my long run on Saturday. My current incentive is the fact that I just signed up for an hour long photo shoot of my derrière. Talk about finding some motivation to eat right and lace up my shoes every morning.

It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and get moving! Be adventurous and learn about yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you are capable of.

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Rocket Man

I read something the other day that was slightly funny but mostly true. It said, “Don’t worry about what you look like while you’re running. Think about what you’ll look like after.” Being a girl I thought it was funny because while I may be a bit of a girly-girl at times, I am so not a lady when I run. There is nothing beautiful or attractive about us when we run, typically.

Let’s get real. Who doesn’t sweat when they run, stink when they’re done, or blow the occasional snot rocket? Don’t laugh. I know you do it too. But you know what? I can be as tough, as focused, as hard core as I need to be and I don’t care about anything but stepping up to the goal I have for that day. Sure, you have to think about the beginning with the end in mind but you also need to be able to propel yourself into reaching the goal that you have for today. Put everything you have into making yourself better at what it is you’re doing. Not just in running, but in every aspect of life. We put barriers and limits on ourselves because our heads get in the way and we start believing that there’s a ceiling to our success. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. If you’ve never run a race before, or even if you’ve never run before period. Don’t let your head tell you that you can’t do it.

If you need help determining what your goals should be, or even a little motivation, there are tons of resources from websites to local running clubs, coaches, friends…and running blogs. Guess what? You’re not the only runner out there struggling to lace up. So, while you don’t like the idea of getting up an hour earlier to run, or of having to brave the cold and wind during the winter, or if you just don’t like to get a little sweaty and having snot run down your face, you just need to get over it. Get your shoes on, blow some snot rockets and think about what you’ll look like after. 

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What the What?

I’m always amazed at how many Facebook posts, Tweets, blogs, etc., start out Monday morning with the expressive sigh and sadness that the weekend has ended and the week is off to another start. I enjoy Mondays myself. I look forward to a new week and a chance to be better than I was last week. I look forward to the opportunities that lay ahead and the weekend that will yet again follow to reward all of my hard work. I am a morning person by nature which certainly helps, but when asked how it is that I get up and run at 4AM my reply is simple “I don’t think about it. I just do it.” Very Nike I know, but it’s the truth. If I think about it I give myself the opportunity to think about how tired I am, how many times I woke up in the middle of the night (which recently has been more often than I have slept) and I look for any excuse to not lace up my shoes.

I’ve come to realize that maybe it is simply that I’m up so early and am in such a routine that my brain probably hasn’t figured out what I’m doing and I’m able to get out the door and into the chilly winter air before I’m fully awakened by the bone chilling cold. By this point I realize I’ve already managed to drag my bones out of bed and get layered up for a cold run and there’s no way I’m turning around now!

After a mile or two I start to get warmed up ~ usually. There are those days when the wind seems to blow in every direction and you can’t escape the stifling cold and bitter low temps. Every day is not like that though, and winter in Colorado means 10 degree mornings or 40 degree mornings (and a few sub-zero mornings when we’re really rolling the lucky dice). But what it breaks down to is habit and routine. Create a routine that helps support your plans and goals. It will take some adjustments and a little refining, but over time it will just…be. You won’t have to think about it, worry about it, stress about it. You will be prepared. You’ll get your shoes laced up and be out the door before your brain figures out what the heck you’re doing.

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Captain Awesome

We look in the mirror, usually first thing every day, and are quick to notice all of our flaws. Our necks are too thick, our waists too wide and our derriere is too plump. We all have something we identify as our worst “asset” and twist our face in dissatisfaction. Then, we start making agreements with ourselves as if bound by some magical force that will absolutely, without a doubt, make us “be good” and stick to our diet and exercise plans…at least for today. Come on – admit it. (Ladies, even the guys do this. We are not alone.)

It’s time to change the way we think. It hasn’t worked for us so far, has it? So why not make a few changes and see what comes of it? First, instead of looking in the mirror first thing in the morning and starting your day by pointing out areas that you don’t like, find one thing (or more if you’re feeling ambitious) and focus on how awesome that one thing is. Accentuate it. Flaunt it. Show it off! No one has your same awesomeness. It belongs to you and only you so own it.

Think about what it is that makes that part of you awesome. Then, start expanding your awesomeness. You are going to have to do the work. Nobody else can do it for you. Days will turn into weeks and weeks into months, but your awesomeness will continue to expand if not for the sheer determination and drive that makes you the awesome creature that you already are. Keep in pursuit of your goals and remember that nothing takes the place of planning, preparation and basic hard work. Stay focused and committed to your health and well-being. Think about it – have you ever regretted feeling better and being healthier?

Watch out Captain Awesome ~ we’re coming for you.


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Wish Upon A Star

I always say I want to win the lottery. My husband quickly reminds me that in order to win the lottery, I must first play the lottery. The same holds true for other things in life. In order to reap the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, you must first (wait for it…) eat healthy and exercise. What a concept. It’s funny that we expect to be healthier and look and feel better when we don’t put the work into it. We expect to be able to do something just because we want to and then get upset because we fail.

My son told us this weekend that he wants to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (he’s 12). Our reply was, “Great! Now how do you plan on preparing for that?”. He had to think for a while and then started talking about exercising more so that his body and mind were fit enough for the climb. He talked about learning how to rock climb and practicing by climbing 14-ers, and saving money so he could buy the tools and supplies that he would need in order to make the climb. It’s easy to say what we want to do, but a little more challenging to put thought into what it is that we actually need to do in order to see our wants and desires come to fruition.

You say you want to find the motivation to exercise and eat healthier. What are you going to do to prepare yourself for that? Here are a few ideas to get you started. Take time to make your own list and post it somewhere it can be a constant reminder. Planning takes practice, but the more you do it the easier and more natural it will become.

  • Get feedback from others and learn from past experiences.
  • Plan your grocery list and spend most of your time on the outside aisles where the freshest foods are at.
  • Take time to cook healthy food and sit down long enough to enjoy it.
  • Pre-determine what time of the day is best for your runs and then plan the rest of your day around it. 
  • Ask for help.

All of these things require a little planning and preparation. Take the time to prepare your mind and body and stop wishing upon a star, because it might not be there tomorrow night.

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Today I saw a man about a guitar. Sounds strange, I know. I used to have a guitar years ago but sold it when I got married, had kids, etc. I thought I’d never have time to play it and rather than it just taking up more space I’d let someone else get some use out of it. This winter seems harder than most, and I’ve just been struggling to keep my sanity and get out of the rut of the normal routine of life. As a result, I’ve started yet another blog www.chateauderouge.com which is specific to cooking and food (yet another passion of mine). As I was blogging away and listening to music one night, I thought about how much I missed playing music. I started playing the violin at age 4, taught myself how to play the piano, then picked up the guitar, cello, bass ~ most of the “normal” stringed instruments, but I haven’t played anything for longer than I can remember. After looking around and getting feedback from various people I came across a unique instrument. A guy was selling a 1980 Martin, one of the brands recommended to me.

Our week has been a tough week. Our son lost a very close friend and our hearts have been torn wide open. My son impresses the hell out of me though. He retreated for a while, but has emerged through creative outlets, finding ways to cope with his loss. He is a very tender-hearted young man, only 12 years old, but he has something many of us lack; the ability to pick up the pieces and move on. He is finding avenues to express his grief in ways I could have never imagined. Music has always held a spot in his world, and meeting a genuine angel today could not have happened at a better time. It’s one of those times where someone steps into your life just briefly, but leaves such a huge footprint.

I was finally able to meet the owner of the guitar this afternoon. We talked about where he and his wife were from, the fact that he was running his first triathlon this Spring, the same marathons we’d run, and the places we were heading in life. Then, he started talking about the guitar. It was his first guitar, given to him in 1980 by his parents. The instrument itself is not only unique and beautiful, but the sound is crisp, clear, and full of life. He wanted to make certain that it was going to someone who was going to take good care of it. We talked about my son and what he was going through, and that this guitar was for our entire family. I told him about upcoming camping adventures and that we wanted something that sounded sweet and mellow, yet was solid and good for the ride.

It was a five minute conversation that will leave a lasting impression on my life. He was my angel this week. His words of kindness, encouragement and life picked me up and brought my head above surface just long enough.

Today I saw a man about a guitar.

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My First Time

Wide awake I sit once again with nothing but my Mac, an old t-shirt of my husband’s on and my reading glasses. Oh Mac…how I love you. You’re always there, always warm, and always full of great ideas. You never talk back, and thank goodness you don’t have an autocorrect feature.

My husband and I switched vehicles yesterday, and while on my way to a massage appointment I was looking through the glove compartment for something to put my hair up with. You know girls, we leave hair things all over the place. Surely I could find something in a 13 year old Saturn. I didn’t find any hair clips, but I did find my very first marathon medal! Oh my stars!!! I couldn’t believe it. How the heck did that get in there? At first I thought it was one of my son’s wrestling medals but after closely looking I saw “Steamboat Springs Marathon” embellished on the old worn medal.

I remember that first marathon almost 11 years ago. Boy, do I remember that first marathon. I wasn’t new to running but I was certainly new to running a marathon. I read up on different training plans as best I could (the Internet wasn’t all that easy to navigate then), but I was far from ready to run a full marathon. In fact, the longest run I had before the event was a 15-miler. It was a boring 15-miler at that because we lived in a small little neighborhood in a not-so-safe part of town at the time, so I didn’t want to stray too far from the house. I remember quite vividly how that 15 mile run felt, and how the marathon felt.

I was excited and nervous before the marathon, that hasn’t changed. But these days I’m a bit more prepared. I enjoyed the first 10 miles of the marathon and even hooked up with a new running buddy and we ran in tandem through mile 13. Then, I stopped for a water break…worst mistake ever. My running buddy had moved on and my legs began to cramp up. I kept telling myself, “You can do this. Just run six miles at a time and you’ll be done.” That mantra ran out quickly though and by mile 20 I felt my ankle bones crunching with every step. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. I relied on the crowds along the sidelines, cheering me on (don’t ever take them for granted), and finally…FINALLY…reached the finish line in 5:42:51. Just a few minutes to spare before the course was closed. From mile 20-26.2 I swore up and down I’d never EVER run another marathon – EVER. And then I crossed the finish line. Every muscle, joint, ligament, fiber of my entire body hurt but I had a smile on my face (a few tears in my eyes) and I said “I can’t wait to do this again”.

Since then I’ve completed a few more marathons and have trained a whole lot better because I don’t want to ever feel like that in a race again. My last marathon was over two hours faster than my first at 3:32:02. I enjoyed that little walk down memory lane and looking back at how far I’ve come. I always felt like I missed the boat in my youth to be a runner, and thought I might be getting too old now. But as I look back from where I came from, I can only think “It’s just gonna get better”.

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Center of Gravity

As I sat in an overstuffed leather chair awaiting my massage appointment, I realized how calm and relaxed I was. (In order to properly get the full effect of this blog you really should put some meditating music on.) I was forced to sit still. Something I don’t tend to do very often. In a matter of seconds my mind was clear and I felt like I was finally centered and focused again. Something that had been missing for a while it seems. My thoughts were organized and new ideas came to me more quickly than I could type them into my phone. I had title after title light up in my head for my next running blogs. I’ve been going through a bit of a dry spell, with not running and all, but yesterday I was given the green light by my physical therapist and coach. It’s go time! Well, not exactly, but over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be as good as new. Still, a three mile run is certainly better than nothing. Throw in a massage and I’m a new girl!

So what does it take to bring us back to “base camp”? We get into our daily routines and the to-do lists, sports practices, work, school concerts, etc. We spend so much of our time committed to those people in our immediate circles that we don’t often step out long enough to refocus. As parents, everything we do revolves around educating, supporting and raising our children. We try to set good examples and work hard to ensure that they are taken care of and nurtured. There are times that we need to step out and re-group though. Everyone is different. Some people call it charging their batteries, but I call it getting back to my center of gravity. I get off-kiltered by events of the week, stress of work or family, or so involved in the details that I can’t seem to get my head on straight. We end up in the rut of normalcy and begin living a mediocre life.

To find my center of gravity, I just need some time alone. In a perfect world my alone time would come from getting away from everything that is normal. I would take just a few days, go someplace secluded, with no technology, no noises, just the sounds of nature and my own heart beating. We feel guilty if we want to “escape”. We feel we are inconveniencing those around us, and that things just won’t go right if we’re not home to make sure they do. But I’m learning. My roles in life have revolved around the home for so long I’ve forgotten who I am. See, this is where society has shaped us into creatures of habit and routine. It’s okay to break the mold. It’s okay to take a time out for you. It’s okay to find your center of gravity. The more centered you are, the better you will be to those around you. We need time to reflect, mentally reorganize, and recharge ~ it has been neglected for too long.

We are without limits if we can just get our minds out of the way.

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No Holds Barred

I’m feeling a little spunky this afternoon. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to lay off the running and I’m getting a little pent-up energy. Or, maybe I’m just feeling a little feisty. It’s been one of those days where your world does a quick 180 and you either have to keep up or beat it to the other side. Today, I think I’ll beat it to the other side and take you all along for the ride. So, let’s get to the nitty gritty of things.

There are those days when our worlds just get turned upside down. Everyone handles these changes and obstacles differently. Some face the problem head on and look for solutions to make everything normal again as quickly as possible. Some hide away and shut down, taking time to process and re-group. Some rebel. Some laugh. Sometimes, we do a little of each all at once. When there is something that I need to sort through I look for the quickest route to an open road for a run. I usually find myself chatting up a storm…with myself. It’s not uncommon for the words in my head to come out of my mouth, but I’ve found that this is how I process things. Sometimes there isn’t really anything to say and it’s just quiet.

I posted a running mantra the other day which got me to thinking about mantras in general. The word “Mantra” literally means “Instrument for thinking”. When I’m going through something difficult or painful I’m reminded of something my Mom used to always tell me, “This too shall pass”. It puts things into perspective and gets me out of that immediate moment and helps me look for ways to get to the other side. In running, there are all types of mantras you can use, but you need to find one or create one and own it. If you own it and make it yours, then it will become a part of you. It will become of part of your determination, motivation, of who you are. Too often we let ourselves get in the way of…ourselves. Break free and stop restricting your abilities. The gloves are off. No holds barred. Time to get real.

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