Archive for February, 2012


But I love you....kinda...okay, not really.

It’s been a tough few weeks for me physically and I’ve finally had to admit I need to scale back a bit on the running for a week or two. I’m not one to admit defeat, so let’s just say I’m…adjusting my outlook on running – at least for the next several days. My body just won’t keep up with what my brain wants to do. You don’t realize how physical your body is until it just won’t do what you keep asking of it. Only then do you realize that it is a machine and sometimes machines need a little time to reboot. You know, a little “blue screen” time. I’ve realized that no matter how desperately I want to get out there and run, my muscles are just struggling right now and are a tad bit slow in the healing and recovery process. I’m hopeful with new meds that they will get better blood supply, heal more quickly, and be more responsive to what I demand of them. Add into the mix a stressful few weeks at work, long hours, and sick children and you get one knotted up Mama who will do just about anything to hit the road for a few hours. (Let’s just say I’m ready to head to San Diego with my honey next week.)

I’m looking forward to letting things heal up this week so that I can enjoy running in a new city, in warmer temps, and at sea level. Commence motivation to rest. So, while I may be a tad bit anxious right now, stressed, somewhat overwhelmed, and exhausted, I look forward to sunshine & sea level, rest & relaxation, and a healthier mind and spirit.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself and find strength and healing in other activities like yoga, stretching, and core strength training. And while I might be anxious to get out and run now, I’d much rather save myself for sea level and the chance to run with healed muscles and a wild spirit.


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Silver Lining

I keep hoping for warmer weather for my long runs. The bitter cold temps of Colorado have made for a tough winter for this girl. I’ve had a challenging few weeks to boot, but was looking forward to a strong and solid run this morning. After falling asleep at 7:30 last night (yep, that’s right) I slept in until 6:00 and still felt tired. I decided it would be best to get up and get my run done, otherwise I’d start doing other things such as cooking breakfast and cleaning, and likely not get out the door.

12 miles was on the docket for this morning; the same mileage as the past few weekends. No big deal since Thursday’s hill run was a tough 9 miles and I faired okay afterwards. I started out the door and had a good start on my run. It’s been harder to get moving the past few weeks and my body has been retaliating for some reason, but I managed to get warmed up around mile two. By mile four I was done. I was already exhausted, my muscles ached, my joints hurt, my head hurt, and my hands and feet were numb. “So, it’s going to be like this again?” I thought to myself. Okay, let’s get moving then.

I headed down the country road for a change of scenery and to keep my mind on things other than everything that hurt. I powered down my watch because I didn’t want time to make me feel like I was failing. I knew if I could get through 12 miles then I would have had a successful run this morning. I had to re-vamp my goal for today. My goal was no longer to run a 7:30 pace. My goal was to finish.

Sometimes we have to change our plans and re-evaluate our goals. Life throws a few rocks at us and we have to move around, over, and sometimes through things that will in the end make us more adaptable, more confident, and stronger.

I’m not sure when 12 miles will feel like 12 miles again instead of 26, but I’ll be thankful for what I have today and am reminded that I should be thankful every day ~ not just the days when the pain reminds me. Maybe that’s the reason for it.

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Practice Makes Perfect

When I was 4 years old, I made a comment to my parents that I wanted to learn how to play the violin. Little did I know that my dad would soon arrive with violin in hand and I would begin taking lessons. Every week my mom would tote me to the local university for lessons, and I was “encouraged” to practice at least 30 minutes every day.

Though I do not recall requesting to learn the violin, I distinctly remember what it sounded like the first time I played it. I don’t know why, as a 4 year old girl, I thought that I would pick it up and make beautiful music with seemingly effortless glides of the bow but I can undoubtedly say it was the most horrific, bone chilling, goose bump raising, ear shredding sound my little ears had ever heard. I quickly put it down and went to go tell Mom that I no longer wanted to play. Her reply was “Tough”. She clearly reminded me that I was the one that wanted to learn to play and that I would need to stick with it long enough to learn it, and I must practice every day like my teacher instructed.

Throughout my childhood I struggled with practicing every single day, but as I grew older, went to college, and was given the opportunity to play in multiple orchestras, cathedrals in Great Britain, quartets, and a variety of other venues, I was thankful that my parents made me stick with it. I used to throw my share of tantrums, but regardless of how I acted I would always practice because I knew my mom and my teacher would hold me accountable each and every week. Looking back I clearly see a great deal of life lessons that I picked up along the way:

  1. Don’t give up just because you don’t want to try.
  2. Give it everything. A one-time try is the path to failure.
  3. Learn from your mistakes.
  4. Surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable and encourage your success.
  5. Be proud of what you accomplish.
  6. Never shy away from a challenge.
  7. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re learning.

These are just a few out of likely dozens (if not more) I could list. When you think about your training plan, reflect on the lessons that you’ve learned along the way and those that maybe need a little bit more attention and work. Don’t expect to be successful on your first attempt, whether it be the first time your feet hit the pavement, the first time you do a challenging workout, or the first race you run. But instead continue to move forward, learn from your mistakes, and realize that exercise is just like a lot of things in life – it takes a little bit of hard work, a little bit of planning, and a great deal of practice.

Today’s Hill Practice Summary

Total Distance: 9.05 miles

Average Pace: 7:37 min/mile

Hills + Tempo workout

Final Thoughts…ugh 😉

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The Praying Runner

Uh oh. I’ve scared some of you already, haven’t I? We talk a lot about motivation. Where does it come from? How can we keep it? Why is it so hard to make the lifestyle changes we need to make in order to live healthier lives? On my run this morning I started thinking about a running blog my husband sent to me called the “Praying Runner” (www.prayingrunner.com). I realized that for some, finding motivation comes from something very different than just wanting to be a better runner or being healthier.

I have always experienced motivation from finding out I can do more than I thought I could when I push myself beyond my comfort zone. I have learned valuable lessons from these life experiences and this is often where the base of my motivation derives from. This morning was different. I’ve become bored with most early morning runs and running the same route typically because of the dark mornings, and so I began to think about ways to keep my mind occupied on things other than how many laps I’ve completed. (Insert my “ah ha” moment) I realized I could be using this time much more wisely.

What if motivation to head out for a run came from the desire to spend time with God? Many of us struggle with feelings of selfishness for wanting to head out the door for an hour to exercise, but what if we use this time to pray for our family? Friends? Co-workers? (This one could be challenging.) There have been times I’ve spent a few minutes of my run talking with God. These moments are often created by watching a falling star against the black backdrop of the sky, or by feeling a sense of freedom or calm during my runs. But what if I intentionally spent my entire time on the road with Him? Would this time allow me to be used in ways I have never thought of? I realized that maybe for some of you finding motivation lies not within your own capabilities but in what you can accomplish in an hour alone with God.

We had a lot to talk about this morning; a lot to catch up on. It’s time to put the Devil to work. Stop letting the poor decisions we make come so easily. Pound the pavement with God and I bet you find more than motivation.

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That’s the Power of Love

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I don’t want the one I love to have to be reminded of me just one day out of the year. I’m a bit of a diva like that. I was perusing through a website for some stockings over the weekend to spice up a few outfits and found way more than I bargained for. It’s fun to have your own style and be a little different, and that can just make any girl’s day.

I was a whole different kind of hot this morning though. I seem to have trended back to the sleepless night and my body finally gave in at 2AM, though my alarm was sure to be consistent with the 3:45 wake up call. I put on the normal layers of clothes expecting a chilly bite to the air as I stepped out the door for my run, but was instead greeted by a somewhat mild morning. Huh? I thought the high was only supposed to be 35 today and it felt like it was at least 25 degrees already. What an unexpected surprise! I’m a lush for unexpected surprises.

I ran my first two mile loop and realized I was just flat out roasting in all of my layers so I ran up the driveway to the house and ditched half of them. I felt like a new girl! My legs could actually move and running felt so easy. I had forgotten what it felt like to run when my legs were free from layers of clothes and I could get some decent strides in.

It’s amazing the difference a few degrees can make (and the lack of gusty winds for a change). I was able to clear my head and even opted for a new route. The moon was reflecting off the clouds and the fog bounced light in every direction. There was nothing phenomenal about my run other than my feet actually making contact to pavement because enough snow had melted, I finally felt warm on a winter run, and I was running a new route.

I guess that’s the power of love ~ no matter how harsh and brutal the long run was this weekend I was granted a morning of sheer running bliss. It’s a give and take relationship with running. Sometimes it takes everything out of you and sometimes it gives you more than you bargained for.

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Negative Ghostrider

You wish today was cancelled, right? It’s Monday and all you can think about is the past weekend and looking forward to the next. After a challenging long run on Saturday and biting the pavement once again (you’d think I’d learn) I was ready for a relaxing day and getting to bed early tonight. After wrapping up the to-do list for the day I hit the sack at a decent time. The only problem is I couldn’t seem to stay asleep.

Fresh snow and a frozen layer of ice underneath from the previous snow storm made for yet another exhausting long run on Saturday. It was one of those long runs where you wanted to give up after four miles…getting to 12 works every mind game strategy in the bag. Add a nice little one-on-one time with the pavement at mile eight and all tricks go out the window. I needed to change my game plan. Sometimes the hardest runs are not the most challenging physically, but rather mentally. I realized I was thinking about how cold I was and how much I really did not like snow at that particular moment in time, and that I should instead be thinking about someplace I wanted to be and warmer temps. I had a long run not too many moons ago in the warmer weather of fall and the entire run had the song “Knee Deep” stuck in my head. It drove me absolutely batty at the time but now I began to think about sandy beaches, getting lost in the sunshine, and how good it would feel to be running in shorts and a tank instead of three layers of clothes feeling like the Michelin Man.

I got through my run one mile at a time and headed home where I crawled up the stairs (somewhat literally) and into a steaming hot shower. Ahh, the rewards of hard work which included a hot shower, staying in my pajamas the rest of the day, and enjoying some quiet time. I know you don’t have to run 12 miles to enjoy those things, but they seem so much more rewarding knowing how hard you’ve worked for them.

Monday is on the horizon and there’s still ice and snow on the ground. I have eight miles to greet me on the road at 4AM, but unfortunately can’t put my pajamas on and head back to bed afterward. I’ll get through this winter and I’ll be stronger because of it. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. It doesn’t always get easier ~ sometimes you just get better.

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There’s nothing quite like having a Neil Diamond song running through your head at 4 o’clock in the morning. I must have been desperate to find my motivation. A busy evening turned quickly into a late night. No sooner did my head hit the pillow when my phone went off – work. I replied to the crisis at hand and hit the pillow again – baby. Okay, I’m sensing a theme for the night. After a few rounds I was finally able to doze off before waking up shivering cold and sweating again for reasons still unknown. Got up, changed jammies and headed back to bed. Round two – I clearly have no idea what time it is, only that I’m cold and have sweat dripping down my neck and back and change jammies again.

3:45 rolls around and I managed to find my phone and shut the alarm off. I pulled my tired body out of bed giving myself every reason and excuse that I should just go back to sleep. I really was not looking forward to a long hill workout this morning. It was incredibly cold (single digits) and I’ve been having vasculitis issues with  joint pain and numbness in my hands and feet, and wasn’t looking forward to being cold. I thought about how nice a treadmill sounded…

I got up, dressed in so many layers the abominable snow man would be jealous, laced up my shoes and still thought I should just go back to bed, but headed out the door instead. I got my two mile warm up done and headed for the hill thinking the whole time about just turning around and heading home. I was tired, sluggish, and cold. The roads were slick and “my” hill was covered in ice and all I kept thinking about was how frustrating the run was just trying to get a good footing. Halfway through the first set of hills I realized I was just kind of doing my workout and focusing more on wishing I was done versus focusing on what I had set out to do. I finally said (aloud) “Listen, you didn’t drag your butt out of bed to just give up. You came out here to work on becoming a better runner so snap out of it.”

Then, I realized “Where was the love?” (Commence Neil Diamond) I began singing “Turn on your heartlight. Let it shine wherever you go. Let it make a happy glow, for all the world to see”. I was grumpy and I needed to turn my frown upside down. I had to get past my immediate discomfort and frustration and focus on what my next race would look like with the work I was putting in now.

Sometimes we just need to get our heads out of the moment and think ahead long enough to remember why we’re out there in the first place. Do we get grumpy and cranky? Sure, but next time you’re feeling a little frustrated during your run, turn on your heartlight and think about the reasons you’re on the road. Time to show a little love~

Distance: 9.14 mi
Time: 1:10:33
Avg Pace: 7:43 min/mi
Avg Speed: 7.8 mph
Elevation Gain: 139 ft
Calories: 969 C

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So, hill workout was a blast. No really. Don’t be fooled. I run the same route usually most days and am quite familiar with every step, slump in the road, uneven surface and even the clumps of dirt left by construction crews. I usually run this route on early morning runs because I know it well which tends to make me feel safer and less prone to twisting an ankle or tripping over something in the dark. It’s hard enough to run in the dark, but add in a new route and a little bit of dirt road and it becomes a whole new experience.

I had to leave for an early meeting and knew I had to be ready to hit the road earlier than normal. I needed to be organized and not waste a minute of my morning getting out the door. I wrote down my run since there were so many segments, found my head lamp, and gathered my running clothes the night before. I thought about taking my sticky note on my run but didn’t want to be distracted trying to read my notes or fumbling to get it out of my pocket, so I spent a few minutes before bed memorizing it and running it through in my head.

3:45 came and it was time to get moving, but I was t-i-r-e-d. A poor night of sleep and it’s easy to find an excuse (any excuse) to not get out and exercise, but I spent my time the night before planning everything so that I would be ready and I didn’t want all of that effort to go to waste. So, out the door I went. It was definitely a challenging workout and there were times I felt myself slacking a bit, but I could hear my coach in my head yelling “Get up on your toes!”. On I went.

My legs didn’t feel too bad after, but I was certainly ready for a nap come mid-morning. Last night was no better for sleep and with a massive blood headache and a pending snow storm I knew I wouldn’t get any more sleep and wouldn’t feel any better lying in bed. My legs felt heavy and my head hurt.

My mom used to give me grief every time I complained and would say “Aw, my heart bleeds peanut butter”. I’m tired and it’s easy to think about everything that hurts or that didn’t go as well as planned. I can dwell on those few and really minute things, or I can look back and know I really kicked it yesterday on my hill workout and I’m tired for a reason. I might be tired now, but come Saturday’s long run I’ll be ready. Somedays you just have to give it everything you’ve got, regardless of many things can get in the way of making it even happen. Nobody said it would be easy. Besides, if it were easy everyone would do it right?

Mom, this one’s for you.

Wednesday’s Hill Workout Summary:

Distance: 8.15 mi
Time: 1:01:10
Avg Pace: 7:30 min/mi
Avg Speed: 8.0 mph
Elevation Gain: 126 ft
Calories: 867 C
Split Split
Hours:Minutes:Seconds Time
Miles Distance
Minutes per Mile Avg Pace
Summary 1:01:09.7 8.15 7:30
1 7:43.8 1.00 7:44
2 7:33.7 1.00 7:34
3 7:26.2 1.00 7:26
4 7:35.5 1.00 7:36
5 7:23.0 1.00 7:23
6 7:14.1 1.00 7:14
7 7:33.5 1.00 7:34
8 7:33.8 1.00 7:34
9 1:06.1 0.15 7:12

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