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.

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.

 

Playing Catch Up – Part 2

Ok, so I’ve gotten up to speed with the Photo Challenge. I’ve put my winter clothes in the attic (finally!). I’ve hiked to the twin peaks of Mt. Piles o’Mail, and Piles o’Laundry and now it is Friday and I am feeling back in control of my house. I know it’s a fleeting feeling. What with the never ending doggie detritus, dust, fur, pollen, muddy paws, toys, etc.

So no time like the present to recap my running workouts. I have neglected lots of things as I mentioned, but not my running. I have been making an effort to get out there and pound the pavement at least 3 times per week. I am on week 10 of my 10K training plan, and my 10K is on Sunday! I’m feeling as prepared as can be. And I must admit I’m just a smidge proud of myself for making it this far.

My long runs the past 3 weekends have been at least 60 minutes. Last Sunday I did 75 minutes. Not fast, mind you, but I don’t really care about that right now. I’m more concerned with my endurance. And because of all this running, my foam roller has become my new best friend. It hurts so good.

Side note – This week I started using a great new app: Road ID. I just type in the length of my workout and it sends Bobby (or whomever – up to 5 people) a text letting him know I’ve gone for a run. He can then see where I am by following eCrumbs. It makes us both feel a bit better to know that someone knows where I am in case I fall and break my ankle. Or worse.

I’m also still into my kettle bells and made up a killer workout this week:

 

kettlebell workout (#innercouchpotato)

kettlebell workout (#innercouchpotato)

It’s a pretty good one – sore muscles guaranteed.

Today’s P.O.D. is to clean out my spare bedroom and return it from its current state of laundry way station to the workout room it used to be. Go for an easy-breezy 20 minute jog. Help Bobby with some yard work. Make some sort of sweet concoction to bring to my parents’ since my sister is in town this weekend. I’m thinking strawberry-cheesecake monkey bread…

And here’s today photo:

Day 27 (shorts) #shrinkingjeans

Day 27 (shorts) #shrinkingjeans

There’s all my running clothes drying on the line, and Dio, who is never far from me. You didn’t think I’d post a photo of me in those shorts, did you??

Playing Catch Up

So many things left undone. My last day of school was June 19th and I am just now starting to feel like I am on vacation (sort of). I have neglected many things in the mad dash to the finish line of the school year: my house cleaning, laundry, the photo challenge, and generally organizing/getting my sh*t together.

So, while I was certainly taking lots of photos, they didn’t make it to the page. Without further ado here are the photos from where I left off:

Day 10 (#shrinkingjeans)

Day 10 (Water bottle) #shrinkingjeans

Day 11 - Tracker (#shrinkingjeans)

Day 11 – Tracker (#shrinkingjeans)

Day 12 - In My Bag (#shrinkingjeans)

Days 12 and 15 (In My Bag and Workout Gear) #shrinkingjeans

 

Day 13 (How I Feel) #shrinkingjeans

Day 13 (Smoothie) #shrinkingjeans

Day 14 (Meal Plan) #shrinkingjeans

Day 14 (Meal Plan) #shrinkingjeans

Day 16 (How I Feel) #shrinkingjeans

Day 16 (How I Feel) #shrinkingjeans

Day 17 – Biceps. Please. We will not go there.

Day 18 (Playlist) #shrinkingjeans

Day 18 (Playlist) #shrinkingjeans

Day 19 (Throwback) #shrinkingjeans

Day 19 (Throwback) #shrinkingjeans

Day 20 (Guilty Pleasure) #shrinkingjeans

Day 20 (Guilty Pleasure) #shrinkingjeans

Day 21 (On My Feet) #shrinkingjeans

Day 21 (On My Feet) #shrinkingjeans

Day 22 (Sunshine) #shrinkingjeans

Day 22 (Sunshine) #shrinkingjeans

Day 23 – Triceps. Fugeddaboutit

 

Day 24 (Steps) #shrinkingjeans

Day 24 (Steps) #shrinkingjeans

Day 25 (Sweaty Hair) #shrinkingjeans

Day 25 (Sweaty Hair) #shrinkingjeans

Day 26 (Every Day) #shrinkingjeans

Day 26 (Every Day) #shrinkingjeans

 

 

Photo Challenge and Running Update

Aside

Hello Hello!

Hope all of y’all had a lovely weekend. It was picture-perfect here where I am, and I did take a photo or 2 for my June Photo Challenge. I realize I haven’t posted a pic since last Thursday, so I have some catching up to do…couch potato strikes again.

But first! I must recount my workouts for the week (#7 of the 10K training plan). It was a week full of errands and obligations that totally messed up my training schedule, but somehow I did manage to squeeze in a treadmill run on Tuesday (2 miles). Then this past Saturday I ran 3 miles and Sunday I dominated a 60 minute run! Oh yes I did! Ok, dominated may be too strong a word. How about – I didn’t pass out or hobble my way to the end? I totally forgot to bring my phone, so I wasn’t able to track my mileage, but I guesstimate it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 5.5 miles. Sh*t yeah! I’m proud. Pat on the back. Can I run for an hour? Why yes. Yes I can. That’s a pretty decent accomplishment and I’d like to bask in that for a moment…Ok thanks. Moving on…

Photo challenge catch up! Last week I left off on Friday June 6th. That just so happened to also be high school graduation night, so I was a bit busy with all kinds of celebration and merry-making. I snapped this photo at the beginning of the day. I should have snapped another at the end because all that craptastickness was crossed off! Booyah!!

Day 6 (List) #shrinkingjeans

Day 6 (List) #shrinkingjeans

These are my new favorite weights. I just started learning how to use a kettle bell and it is a serious cardio and strength workout. I love that I can get a good, sweaty workout done in just a few minutes with these babies.

Day 7 (Weights) #shrinkingjeans

Day 7 (Weights) #shrinkingjeans

Here’s a great quote that I have totally been living by recently. Since running 4  miles and now 60 minutes (holla!), I have a new appreciation and respect for my legs. They’ve always been something I’ve been self-conscious of, but now I’m beginning to love them. My legs are strong and healthy and will carry me through that 10K in a couple of weeks. I just know it. (Of course they are also covered in itchy mosquito bites, but that’s just ‘cuz I’m so sweet. Or something.)

Day 8 (Fitspiration) #shrinkingjeans

Day 8 (Fitspiration) #shrinkingjeans

And today’s photo is of my peanut. My baby girl. My monkey. This is Lotus acting like the maniac that she is. She is a girl who cannot resist the lure of the hose. I just love this picture of her.

Day 9 (Movement) #shrinkingjeans

Day 9 (Movement) #shrinkingjeans

That’s it for now. I’m off to play connect the mosquito bites…

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Photo Challenge – Day 4

Yum. I love breakfast and never, ever skip it. Or I become crankier and more obnoxous than usual, and no one within 100 yards of me wants that to happen.

My usual weekday breakfast is oatmeal with cranberries, banana, and peanutbutter, eaten out of Tupperware on my way to school. Plus a gallon of coffee. That aint gonna make a pretty picture, though, so instead I thought I’d share what I typically enjoy before my weekend runs:

Breakfast (Day 4)

Breakfast (Day 4) #shrinkingjeans

Now that it’s starting to warm up around New England I’m trying to be more mindful of being well-hydrated prior to my run. It worked out pretty well to drink some water and coconut water before the big 4 mile run this past Sunday. And I love peanutbutter and banana on a whole wheat English muffin. It’s a no-fail combo pre-run meal.

Annnnd now I’m hungry…

June Photo Challenge – Day 3

The topic today is “New Challenge”. Hmmm… so many possibilities! Which one to choose?? My first thought naturally went to running, but I quickly ruled that out because: a) that’s not new, and b) I’m not going to take another picture of my calendar or training program, and c) I’ve got more going on than that.

Such as: kicking sugar out of my diet, cleaning my closets (yikes! The bags. The shoes! All that I can’t bear to part with is now spilling into and all over my office), getting rid of those bastard carpenter bees that are eating my house (I will get you, emmeneffers. Mark my words…), or how about not dying of EEE due to the 5 billion plus mosquitoes in my yard?

I could go on, but Couch Potato is looking for some attention, so I’m gonna make this short and sweet. If anyone out there knows how to help me with a rascally puppydog who gets into all sorts of non-edibles that he should definitely not get into, then let me know.

This is what I came home to today. Dio seems to be getting ready for Christmas a tad early. I also could have posted the photos of half-eaten mail, the stack of photos that “disappeared” but he left the bag as evidence, or the shredded dollar bill (we call him “fiftycent” now).

New Challenges (Day 3)

New Challenges (Day 3)

He’s on the naughty list for sure this year.

But the truth is, he’ll eat the coal too.

Last Week’s Workouts

Hello!

I am training for my first ever 10K in June, and so I intend to stick to my training plan like peanut butter to a bagel. I just completed Week 4 of the plan I’m currently using (courtesy of http://www.marathonrookie.com) and it went as follows:

  • Monday: Run 35 minutes (2.76 miles)
    Tuesday: Run 2 miles (in 22 minutes)
  • Wednesday Thursday Friday (rest? What happened???)
    Saturday: Run 30 minutes (2.64 miles)
    Sunday: Run 3 miles (in 34 min)

In addition, every morning before school I walked/got dragged by my dogs.  And I planned to get to a yoga class and do some strength training, but somehow that didn’t happen. Whomp whomp. Excuses, galore if you’re interested. But ultimately I got my 4 – count ’em! – 4 runs in last week and that feels pretty effing excellent.

I did invest in a new pair of kicks last week too. Back when I first started this running thang I went to a running store and had my gait evaluated and my first pair of shoes ended up being Asics. I loved them but replaced them with lots of other brands since then. All in the name of saving a few dollars. The fact is that Asics are the best running shoe I’ve tried to date. When I started to feel pain on the outside of my foot the other day (running in Sauconys I bought on super sale at TJ Maxx), I realized I have to go back to what works. So I ordered the Asics Gel Nimbus 15 from zappos.com and got them in 2 days. And my two runs this past weekend were great.

Lest you think my inner couch potato has been neglected, I’ll have you know I also finished watching seasons 3 of Downton Abbey (Matthew! Really?!?!), and started season 1 of Grimm (so far so good), finished the Divergent trilogy (meh). I guess I don’t really understand why those books are so popular because they didn’t really do it for me.  And The Fault in Our Stars (Love. So clever. So witty. So sad. So lovely. Read it. Please.). So I guess I’m looking for a new book too. For when I’m resting my hard-working legs after my runs. Or something.

BOOM! Bring on week 5 baby!

 

An Open Letter To My Nemesis: Fear

Dear Fear:

Since I signed up for the 10K and the half marathon, I have been running regularly two-three times per week (yay!), which is more than I’ve run in several weeks months. But I have also been FREAKING OUT. What have I done???? Who do I think I am? I can’t run a half marathon. I’m not a runner. I’m certainly not an athlete. AAAHHHHH!!!!! What makes me think that I, lowly couch potato-like human, can actually follow through and run 13.1 miles? I’m too old, too weak, too lazy, too _____.

And then…I took a breath and I got over myself.

I banish thee foul thoughts! And while it is true I cannot run a half marathon at this time, that’s why I have a training plan. Can I do the training run scheduled for today? Why yes I can. So does that make me a runner? Why yes it does. Does it make me an athlete? Welp, we’ll have to wait and see. I want to think so. If only being an athlete was just a state of mind…

As for the foul thoughts about my age, my strength, and my willpower…I can’t do anything about my age. I’ll be 44 when I step into the corral to run the half marathon in October. I could quit, give up, not bother to try because I think I’m too old. But I am running now (at 43 and 3/4), and there are lots of people a lot older than I who run marathons and ultras and all kinds of things. I did not see an age limit listed when I signed up for the race, and I know I won’t be oldest person there. There was no box to check that said “If you are over the age of 43 and 3/4 then go sit on your couch because you are TOO OLD”. They wanted my credit card info mostly. And another thing…if I chicken out now that will make me even older when I summon up the courage to try again. As for the strength and willpower…those are skills. I am improving – getting stronger both mentally and physically. I’m working on the willpower not to eat an entire pizza in one sitting, for instance. Then BOOM! Look at me! I am kicking ass and taking names.

So, Fear, this letter is part thank you for the gift of being afraid and part middle finger because I will not bow down to you. I believe that this insecurity, this anxiety, this temporary freak-out will only help me. I am not paralyzed with fear of failure (or success?) I am motivated by it. I have to focus on the mile I am running, not on the whole. I can do that. And maybe stick to two slices of pizza.

run the mile

So thank you Fear, but with all due respect go eff youself. I gotta run.

Karen