The Benefits of Going Slow

I learned this important lesson this week. It applies to so many areas of one’s life: trying to walk across an icy school parking lot while holding several bags and trying to look cute, driving in the snow (which happened a lot this week), reading an important contract (also happened), making a difficult decision (yup), and running any distance.

I read several blogs regularly, check out lots of running-related articles online, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am officially sick of people complaining about how slow they run when they can outpace me handily (or footily, I guess).

And yes, I’ve seen all those inspirational pins on Pinterest about only competing with oneself and you’re lapping everyone on the couch, blah, blah, blah. Technically that is true. But it is so annoying to me, who is speed-challenged, to read about someone’s ‘disappointing’ run when they would have kicked my ass twice over by the time I crossed the finish line. It annoys me and since this is my blog I get to vent about it all I want here. So there.

Alrighty…rant officially over. And so is my vacation. I went back to work this week and changed up my routine a bit. It actually worked wonderfully well I am happy to report. What did I do? I baked up a batch of banana oat energy bars for Bobby and me to eat for breakfast, thus eliminating the need to make a batch of oatmeal every morning. I also did a big grocery shop the weekend before, which we never used to do, preferring to shop several times a week instead (so wasteful of time, money, and most importantly food). I made my lunches the night before, packed and ready. So in the wee early morning hours all I had to do was shower, dress, walk the dogs, grab my lunch bag and go. It worked like a dream.

The other schedule issue was motivating my ass to run and/or strength train after school. So often I don’t want to (said in my best whiny voice) because I’m tired, but I have a schedule and I planned for it and I actually followed through! It’s quite an achievement. Pat. On. The. Back.

My view this week

My view this week

So let’s break it down:

  • Monday 1/5/15: Stretch and strengthen – I’m digging the Skimble app and Yoga Studio app for this – short and sweet plus push-up and squat challenges from http://www.shrinkingjeans.net
  • Tuesday 1/6/15: 3.5 mile run around the work neighborhood. Froze my ass off – figuratively. I wish it were literally. I think.
  • Wednesday 1/7/15: skipped 3 mile run to go to Kohl’s and buy thermal running tights. I think that was a smart decision.
  • Thursday 1/8/15: 3 mile intervals on the treadmill (because it’s -50 -freeze-my-ass-cold)
  • Friday 1/9/15: Ordered Chinese food and called it a week.
  • Saturday 1/10/15: 4 mile intervals on the treadmill (cuz it’s still ass-freezing cold and I have Netflix. Winning!)
  • Sunday 1/11/15: 5 mile intervals on the treadmill. It was supposed to be 9, but I won’t bore you with the gory details…it just wasn’t happening for me. I tried.)
  • Total miles for week/year: 15.5/27.8
  • Total number of push ups/squats for the week: 103/403

BOOM!

Next week will be more of the same, while also trying to figure out how to get to the hospital to see my Gram. Send her some positive vibes please.

Stay warm out there.

Happy New Year!

View

2015 is here and it’s time to reflect and readjust and reset my priorities.

2014 was a year that I crushed some goals. I got out of my comfort zone – like wayyyyyy out – by starting this blog and running my first half marathon. I was able to finally push past my run/walk 2-3 miles rut and run longer distances. I learned that I really enjoy running 6, 7, 9 miles at a time. Those endorphins cannot be underestimated. The feeling is fantastic! Not only that, it keeps me sane and relatively pleasant to others, which is important if I want to keep my job and husband.

I fulfilled a dream of running a half marathon, which took a lot of courage on my part to turn that idea into a reality. It was an amazing experience, and I learned a lot about myself: that I’m stronger than I think, that I can keep going even though I’m tired, achey, lazy, or just don’t want to keep running anymore. I can keep going. And that I can commit to a goal months in advance, work toward accomplishing it and actually follow through. No one forced me into this. I could have quit at any time, and wanted to, tried to, and did once or twice. But that was just fear. I overcame the fear and did it. No one can take that away from me. I proved to myself that I am not a wimpy baby. I’m a runner, baby.

So I ran all of 2014 – January to December. Yay! And although I didn’t stay true to my half marathon training plan (partly because I lost the dang thing during the kitchen renovation, and partly because I wasn’t that crazy about it). I slacked off some weeks. I didn’t do as much strength training as I wanted to. I skipped runs in the middle of the week. I have a way easier time when I don’t have work to deal with. But I have a job and I love my job, and I need my job, so I have to deal with it as an immoveable object.

I like the idea of running more consistently during the week as well as improving my pace. That means strength work, running after school even though I’m tired, and perhaps getting a coach.

But for now my focus is on the Hyannis Half in February. My short term goal is to stick to the training program (that I really like, by the way) and have another strong finish. Or just finish. I mean I have no idea what the weather will do…in New England…in the middle of winter…but I know I can run 13.1 miles in the rain! Please don’t rain…

In 2014 I ran a total of 421 miles. A respectable number if I do say so myself. I also ran 4 races. I plan to crush all that in 2015, starting with this week.

I’m currently in week 6 of Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training (Intermediate):

  • Monday 12/29/14: Stretch (yoga video) and strengthen
  • Tuesday 12/30/14: 4 mile run
  • Wednesday 12/31/14: rest
  • Thursday 1/1/15: 3.1 mile run plus strength (and a yoga video)
  • Friday: 1/2/15: 3 mile intervals on the treadmill
  • Saturday: 1/3/15: 10K run
  • Sunday 1/4/15: rest
  • Total for the week: 16.3 (12.3 for the year)
My view from mile 3 of the 10k yesterday.

My view from mile 3 of the 10k yesterday.

Check out the view from my run yesterday. So this view + listening to “Serial” on my phone = 1 very creeped out chiquita. There was no one on the trail yesterday, probably because it was so butt-ass cold and dreary. And everyone else was someplace warm and toasty because they are all smarter than I am.

My goals for 2015 is to surpass my 421 miles, log my workouts on the blog every week to insure accountability, clean up my diet, and sign up for some more races. After the Hyannis Half, I’m contemplating some other possibilities…

Meanwhile, I’m just happy that 2014 turned out as well as it did, running-wise. There’s a lot of satisfaction knowing that I’m capable of more than I ever thought. What an incredible confidence-booster. I look forward building on that in 2015.

What’s So Great About Tuesday?

I don’t really understand the point of Tuesday. What’s it got going for it? It’s not the dreaded first day of the work week, like Monday. It’s not Hump Day, like Wednesday. It’s not Almost Friday, like Thursday. And it’s not close to the weekend. It’s just a second Monday I guess, and I am not ok with that. One is more than enough, thank you.

Well I’d like to change Tuesday’s bad rep (in my humble opinion anyway). How about Manicure Tuesday? That doesn’t work as well as Manicure Monday…Toenails Tuesday? I do need to take better care of my tootsies, especially the one that my running shoes have permanently disfigured…

Taco Tuesday? With a bonus Tequila Tuesday? Getting better…Of course if I start with Tequila my nails might not look so good.

I think I got it.

treat yoself

Treat Yo Self! Tuesday. I’m going to follow this excellent advice with a little tequila, a few tacos, some nail polish, and an afternoon run (will it be Treadmill Tuesday??), not necessarily in that order.

How will you treat yo self on this lovely Tuesday?

K

NU Hartford Half Marathon Recap

I’m so proud of myself. The race was last week (October 11th) and it was an amazing experience. One I will be repeating. To recap:

I woke up bright and early (4:30) because I’m a dork and also terribly excited and nervous. I was also super nauseous. I made the same breakfast I always eat before a long run – oatmeal with banana and peanut butter. I could barely choke it down. I had my bag packed and everything ready to go; even Bob was up and out by 5:45. Fun fact: we saw a herd of deer at the end of our road as we were leaving. Cool!

The trip to Hartford was uneventful, other than my queasy stomach and nerves. It was still dark out and the only other cars on the road were also going to the race. How do I know? All the 13.1 and 26.2 stickers. That, and there were supposed to be, like 19,000 people there, so the odds were good we all were going to the same place.

Once we got into Hartford, Bob scored us a great parking spot – easy in and out, and close to the start/finish line. Since we arrived super early we had no trouble at all.

It was cold, dark, and starting to rain as we walked up to the Capitol to meet my friend and our pace group. All of that stuff went surprisingly smooth considering there were a crap ton of people there. But everyone was pretty friendly and excited. There was great energy buzzing around despite the worsening weather. We ended up standing around for a good half hour before we lined up to start, and I was ready to go already!! Or throw up in anticipation…

Our pace group (2:40) lined up in the back and waited. There were announcements, the National Anthem, all of that got us amped up, then they fired the starting gun and we were off, slowly.

Hartford Capitol in the background

Starting line with the Hartford Capitol building in the background

I used MapMyRun (I love that app) because I wanted to add this run to my weekly miles, plus I just wanted my own record of it. The time and everything isn’t completely accurate because I started it too early (before I went over the starting line), and I forgot to turn it off at the end. But that’s ok. That’s what the chip timer is for.

The course was great. Plenty of variety – through parts of the city, into various neighborhoods (the Brazilian restaurant smelled so divine!), past all kinds of cool landmarks: the Wadsworth Antheneum, Mark Twain’s House, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s House, plus a pretty park, and UConn. There were a few good hills (and by good I mean bad), but nothing I couldn’t handle!!

The pace group was a great choice. We lost them at the beginning, but connected with them somewhere in the middle. The pace leader was great – super friendly and encouraging. She would say things like “we’re almost to the park, and I think of that as the last leg of the run” (we were nowhere near the park at that point). And “this is the last hill” (it wasn’t). And “we’re in the home stretch now (with a good 3 miles to go). She was great because I believed her and just kept going, thinking that we were almost done when we had quite a bit left to do. It was a clever strategy. Somehow she was able to keep my spirits up despite the constant rain and chill.

Halfway!

Halfway!

The rain sucked. No lie. I was soaked and freezing by the end (hell, by the beginning!!), but I was not miserable at all. Right before I went into the chute to the finish line, I saw Bobby. He snapped a photo of me. I was so happy to see him. Hell, I was just so happy I was almost done! But to see him cheering for me, freezing his ass off, and to know I was so close to the finish, I almost started to cry. My goal, my dream to complete a half marathon, to do my best, it had come true. And it was as wonderful as I could have imagined. I’m so glad that Bob was there with me to support me and cheer for me. That made the moment even more special.

So close!!

So close!!

Feeling the endorphins!

Feeling the endorphins!

Bob keeps calling me an athlete. I like the sound of that.

Our Kitchen Renovation in One Short Post

If only a kitchen renovation was as quick and simple as a blog post. We started the process at the beginning of July and I’m just now starting to feel like I have our home back to normal. But I suppose ours was not a horror story at all. Everything went pretty smoothly. The contractors were really good – they showed up on time and finished the job (except for a couple of small things; more on that in a minute).

We knew what we wanted and needed, and we also knew how much we wanted to spend. Part of the reason we hadn’t done this back when we moved into our little home seven years ago is that we didn’t want to shell out the money we knew we would have to pay to have the kitchen we want. But circumstances have a way of forcing one’s hand. And in this case I had grown so frustrated with our ugly kitchen that I refused to have people over to the house. In all honesty our kitchen was falling apart: broken cupboard doors, broken dishwasher , tile counter top cracked, and on and on…well, here are a few snaps of the old and ugly kitchen:

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As you can see, these pictures were taken as we were dismantling the old cabinets, dishwasher and range hood. But you get the idea: ugly, outdated, dysfunctional and small.

We didn’t change the size of the kitchen, but we did take care of the outdated, ugly, and dysfunctional.

Here is the work in progress (check out the doggie photo bombers):

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We lived in various states of disrepair for about a month. We had dishes and cookware all over the house, no matter how I tried to keep everything organized. We kept a good sense of humor about it all (honestly!). We used lots of paper plates, like we were camping. We also grilled most nights or had takeout, or just went out to eat. It seemed like the house was never going to get back to normal. But we toughed it and out and the end result was totally worth it (I think):

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We didn’t change the floor because it’s in decent shape. We intend to improve the lighting (I know it doesn’t look that great in the photos) one of these days.

It’s really difficult for me to pick my favorite thing about the new kitchen. It’s so easy to keep clean, the dishwasher is a dream, the sink and faucet….amazeballs. I love it all and we are so happy with how it came out.

The only things we need to do now are to fix and stain the window trim and replace one of the cabinet doors (it arrived with a small hole in it). Those are such minor things, and we can still use the kitchen, so I’m a happy little camper.

So that’s the story, morning glory. Anyone ever renovate? Did it go well or was it a horror?

Changes

In case you didn’t notice, I decided to change my blog name. Maybe part of the reason I haven’t been writing much is that I wasn’t feeling it with the “Inner Couch Potato”. While I am a couch potato and certainly feel the inner struggle to get off the couch to exercise, the name just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.

I have spent the past several months training for a half marathon that I completed just 5 days ago. That experience changed me. For the better. I’m hooked on running now and want to keep that going for as long as I can. Plus, I’m not a spring chicken, and won’t be getting any younger, sooo… I think this name fits me better.

It’s not that my overall¬†goals have changed from my humble beginnings with this blog a mere 10 months ago. I’m still striving to get my ass off the couch and build my confidence with fitness.

But now that my *first* half marathon is in the rearview mirror, I am thinking about setting a new goal or 2. While I am still pondering that I will leave you with my favorite boy dog and his favorite red ball…

Dio

Where Have I Been??

Oh man, have I totally neglected my little blog. Sorry! In all honesty I have been feeling ambivalent about it. Do I want to keep writing? Does anyone even care if I do or not? More importantly, do I even care? And I guess, after some soul searching, I do.

So how to sum up where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing since my last post in July?? Hmmm…how about a haiku?

Ahem…

Kitchen remodel
Running lots every week
Half marathon done!

Ok. So that about does it…

In all seriousness, though, I do wish I had documented more of all of that. So I guess what I will have to do is play a little game of catch up. I’ll fill y’all in on the kitchen remodel, complete with before/during/after photos. And the half marathon, which (spoiler alert!) was ah-mazing! Truly fantastic. But I don’t want to give too much away yet.

I just wanted to come back and say hi. So, hi…what’s going on in your world? Anyone care to haiku back?

Spa Day

Once again it is hazy, hot, and humid. In other words, a typical July day in New England. I wanted to go to the beach, but it isn’t very sunny either. So I opted for a few water games at home.
Before I get to that I should say that I went to the gym to run 4 miles. I did the interval training that I posted yesterday. It was a decent workout again today too. And then I did about 10 minutes of stretching:

running stretches

Lotus and Dio

Lotus and Dio

When I got home it was time for these two monkeys to get a bath. We started with a good brushing with the Furminator, which is the best tool if you have double-coated pets. After I brushed a shopping bag-full of fur off of them, it was bath time.

While we waited for Bobby to come home and help me – there’s no way I can bathe these two monsters by myself – I put all their toys in a bin filled with water.

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Dio loving the brush

Dio loving the brush

Lotus enduring the bath

Lotus enduring the bath

 

They are nice and clean now, cooled off from the heat of the day, and waiting for their beds to get out of the laundry. And I’m ready for a spa day of my own…

What a Difference a Week Makes

If last week had me questioning what the hell I am doing training for a half marathon, then this week was just the boost my confidence needed to keep me moving forward. Here’s how the workouts went down (via http://www.halfmarathons.net. I jumped in on week 6):

Monday – Rest. (along with a pouty pity party)
Tuesday – 5 mile run through the neighborhood. The weather was hazy and hot with 75% humidity. This run was slooow, slower than usual. I took lots of walk breaks so I didn’t die while I was out there. I was soaked by the time I got home.
Wednesday – I made up a strength routine that involved balance and improving strength on both sides of my body. I didn’t write it down though, so from memory I did 15 reps of: bird dogs, planks (30 seconds), mountain climbers, deadlifts, bridges with leg lifts…basically lots of ab and leg work on the floor because it was too effing hot to be outside.

Thursday – 4 miles on the treadmill at the gym with this workout:

via popsugar.com

via popsugar.com

It was a great boredom buster and I sweated buckets, so I’ll definitely use this one again. Maybe tomorrow…

Friday – Rest with some strength but I just wasn’t feeling it. It was a very rainy and cool Independence Day, and we went to my in-laws’. I got some much needed baby nephew snuggle-time, and really tried to moderate the booze-facing because I knew I had my long run scheduled for the next morning.

Saturday – 6 mile run. It was a gorgeous day, with tons of wind and no humidity at all. Perfect for my long run. And I made a few new friends:

005 These chickens – there were probably 30 or so of them altogether – followed me everywhere I went. I thought they were going to get on the bike trail with me to do my run, so I had to enlist someone’s help to divert their attention away from me. It was very funny, but so strange at the same time. Like, who did they think I was? Mama Chicken? The Pied Piper? The Chicken Whisperer?

Sunday – 2 mile walk with the pups.006

So, this means I am back on track with my training. My setback from last week was just a hiccup. I’m good. I’m motivated.

As for next week, well, I’m back to work teaching summer school. Honestly, I’m looking forward to getting back. The two weeks off has been wonderful and I love vacation, but I am glad to have the structure back in my schedule. And I’m looking forward to seeing my students again, of course.

Since I am starting to get into longer runs (more than 1 hour), I can’t ignore my nutrition any longer. I bought some Vega Protein Powder for smoothies after my runs. And I’m going to start counting my macros I swear. Soon. Meanwhile it is still summer vacation and I have oyster shooters and burgers on the grill waiting for me.

Enjoy the week, peeps…

 

 

 

 

Race Day Recap and Photo Challenge Wrap Up

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Day 28 (My Gym) #shrinkingjeans

Day 29 (Virtual Race)

Day 29 (Virtual Race)

I couldn’t have asked for a better day, weather-wise. It was sunny and warm, with a nice cool breeze. A perfect summer day for a 10K. Except that I didn’t run 6 miles. I had been taking it easy all week in preparation for my 6.3 mile run this Sunday. And in my infinite wisdom I thought it would be a good idea to do a little kettle bell workout on Saturday. Annnnd that’s when I hurt my back. Strained muscle, nothing serious, but had me hobbled all day Saturday and definitely not in race-ready shape on Sunday. Despite this setback, I started out on my route, fully intending to do the 6, but my back had different plans. I suffered through the 3 miles then had to walk the 1.3 miles back to my car. Utterly defeated. Technically it could have been considered a Did Not Finish, but since it was a virtual 5K, 10K, or 1 mile fun run, I gave myself a 5K finish. Am I disappointed? Unfortunately yes. Is that cheating? I hope not – well cheating myself, I guess.

Ten weeks spent on that training. Ten weeks I (mostly) followed the training plan. Ten weeks of highs and lows and commitment and enjoyment and pain and fun. All thrown out the window because I did not finish the 10K.

My confidence is gone. I’m starting to think I cannot do the half marathon in October. I don’t even know if I want to anymore. Maybe I can defer my payment on the race to another race, maybe another 10K?

As Bobby, my wise and wonderful husband, would tell me, “this is a first world problem”. And he’d be right, of course. This isn’t necessary to my survival. This is a hobby, something I do for “fun”. I do this because this is how I want to spend some of my time. [Side note – other first world problems: venting on your blog, photo challenges, and kettle bell injuries]. I shouldn’t give up. I’ve had a setback, but I made a commitment and I ought to keep it.

So, no more pity party. Back in the big girl panties… I am starting a new training plan this week, and this week’s runs include two 5-milers and a 6-miler. Here’s my second chance I guess. Can I do it? Probably… Yes… I don’t know!!

OK…time to get a grip. I’ve got 15 weeks until the half. Plenty of time. Take a breath – the race isn’t this weekend. I honestly thought I was being smart, planning a 10k early in the summer to jump-start my marathon training. And it was a good idea. I’m there. I can do it, just because I didn’t yesterday doesn’t mean I couldn’t tomorrow. I can. And I will. Shake off the bad run and keep moving forward. Regroup and make a new plan.

 

Moving on to the last photo of the month! It’s supposed to be a Before/After of me, but since I never took a “before” photo, I had to come up with something else.

Day 30 (Before)

Day 30 (Before)

Day 30 (After)

Day 30 (After)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When all else fails, a snap or two of my D-Man always makes me feel better. He was the cutest puppy. Look at that beautiful puppy face. We thought he was so sweet and calm. Little did we know that he was all tuckered out when we met him. He’s 4 now and just as sweet, with a devilish side to him that I am both infuriated and amused by (most of the time).

I guess it’s time to get over my first world problems and make a new playlist, choke down a few ibuprofen, hug my puppy dog, and get my butt back out there. If anyone out there has any advice for me I’d love to hear it.