Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Winter Warrior Challenge

You guys, I am so tired of sweating. Maybe not sweating, but showering. And blow drying my hair. Yeah, that’s it. All the showers and blow drying.

Happy New Year, I know.


As a little New Year’s Resolution challenge to myself, I decided to take on the Winter Warrior Challenge from Marathon Sports, one of the major local running stores in the Boston area. For $7, I was set up with a RaceMenu account to track my Gold, Silver, or Bronze status for running 5, 3, or 1 mile(s) a day, outside, for the entire month of January. 31 days, in the elements, no excuses.

Originally I kind of thought I’d go with a mile a day. I can manage that, I (correctly) assumed. What’s 10 minutes, max, every single day? Then, the New Year started with my running club’s annual New Year’s brrrRUNch, a 5K jaunt through a neighboring town. On day two I figured, Hey, may as well stick to 3 miles for the weekend, which resonated again on day three.

Day four was tougher, I think, because it was too dark to run alone in the morning and I’m afraid of ice, so I took a really long walk on my lunch break (walking is allowed), step-by-step to get to three. I decided a 3:1 ratio was probably best – run three days, walk one. I have a totally tweaked knee right now, but for some reason walking and running is the best it feels, so I’ve tried to bury that excuse too. I ran three in a flurry, on a pretty warm morning with my running buddy before the sun, and in an absolute deluge on Sunday afternoon, squelching with each step.

Last night my sister was over to visit after her vacation, which meant I could get out for three guilt-free miles while she played with Henry (they’re best friends), but it was so much more tempting to pour a glass of red and catch up. Just go, she reminded me. At least try to do three a day til the halfway point. I had two glasses after instead. I didn’t go to bed until 4 AM this morning, up all night while H tossed and turned, wailing now and again, double-ear infected and feverish. I cancelled my buddy run for 5 AM as I finally drifted off for a fitful few hours; with Nik home for the sick day, I’ll sneak out for three more tonight.

It’s kind of wild what we’re capable of when we just do it, don’t you think? If I had decided on a mile a day, I’d be doing it, but facing the same exact wallowing, I have no doubt. Do I really have the time and I don’t feel like it would be replaced with Why bother? It’s only one mile, I’m absolutely sure. But something is better than nothing and coming up with 25 minutes to be active isn’t really that much time to find over the course of 24-hours.

It’s the sweating and the showering and the blow-drying that might just put me over the edge, though, not the miles. How weird is that? That the cleaning up from running becomes the actual work?

Are you challenging yourself this New Year? I’m working on some goals, but haven’t thought enough about it to spell them out just yet. 350-something days to go to figure that out; for now my countdown is at 19. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Cardinal Rule(s) of Running Buddies

A few weeks back, I took a little "me" time and left the boys for a morning to themselves. I met up with my sister and her fiance early to drive up to Cambridge for the Cambridge Winter Classic 5K, in which we ran with 20-something friends, family, and colleagues on team winter is coming. What a blast!

It helped that on the day we ran as team "winter is coming" it was 40-something degrees and sunny, and that as we ate tacos and drank beers after the sun was so intense on our table next to the window, I think a couple of our friends got a sunburn. Hopefully that doesn't mean that if we decide to run the spring classic in a few months, it's not along snowdrift and icy streets. Anyhow, a worry for another day.

Something happened mid-race that I wanted to talk about. I was running alongside my sister, Cait, and she kept saying, It's okay! Go ahead! You don't have to run with me! to which I replied, That's okay! This is fun! No, stop saying that. No, seriously, shut up!

Then, a few weeks ago, I started run-dating. Two mornings a week, I've been running with someone I've known sort of peripherally, but not quite personally. I knew we had stuff in common, were around the same age, and lived nearby, but without super specifics. Not to be totally shade: we knew one another, but we'd never really, really hung out. Anyway, she's training for a spring marathon and messaged me to see if I'd be up for a running buddy a few mornings a week.  No brainer at the house I usually head out: Yup! I mention this because, similar to the 5K with my sister, we had those first couple of runs, feeling out one another's pace and unfamiliar with the other's route, feeling slow and like we were holding the other back. We threw around a lot of generally unnecessary I'm sorrys. Geez, how far have we gone? she asked the first time around my go-to route. Do the hills ever end? I asked back a few days later on her's. Running a new route in the dark is so weird, apart from wondering if you're going to run out of things to talk about. Honestly, there's no other way to describe it: it's run-dating!

Are you lost?

I should have cut to the chase ages ago to mention that the point of all this is the Cardinal Rule(s) of Running Buddies.

No apologies. When you agree to do some training together, you gotta stick together on those runs or you need a new plan. No "sorry I'm slowing you down" or "it's okay if you want to run ahead" because the point of the buddy is to cover the distance together, to push one another, and to accomplish whatever workout is slated for the day. If your buddy is slower, make those workouts your easy days. If s/he's faster, push it! But don't apologize.

Once you've experienced "intestinal uncertainty" on a run with a bud, it's whole-new-level buddy-ness. Not a lot of explanation needed on this one. Trust. There's a solidarity in one or more miles of crummy tummy alongside a friend. Be there for your bud. Usually silently.

If you aren't truly racing or doing some sort of super deliberate workout, screw the pace and run with your friend. Running alone in a neighborhood 5K to finish a few minutes faster doesn't trump running with good company unless it's because the plan says so or you're going for the victory.

On the flip side, when race-racing, running buddies exist exclusively for moral support. No one's day and no one's race plan counts but your own. Side by side, start to finish, no questions asked is awesome in training, but on race day, you gotta do your own thing. If that ends up being step for step with your buddy -- AWESOME -- but usually someone has to make adjustments to be side by side and it doesn't really work if it's the goal race for both people.

So, tell me, what have you learned from running with friends. Always music? NEVER? "Don't worry, go on without me?" I want to know what I'm missing, and what works best for you! Any of these that you read and were like "Heck no!"? Let's hear it!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Excuses

Excuses.

Let's be real: I'm full of 'em.

You want the fitness-related ones, or the food? Too tired, too busy. It's dark out, the baby... the baby... the baby. Just a tiny bit doesn't hurt, or a little, or some. I'm sore, I'm cranky, I'm tired. "But she doesn't have to..." "But she has access to..." Should I go on?

I'm five weeks back into BBG this time around and I have to tell you, back in spring I remember feeling way stronger, leaner, and fit by this point in the circuits. I take a progress photo every four weeks because sometimes actually comparing one alongside the next is the only way to see something happening, so this weekend meant I had to smile for the camera and hope for the best. I was terrified I'd actually look bigger instead of fitter, but luckily I simply looked the same... maybe slightly trimmer if I squinted.

I've been completing my workouts -- 5:01 AM alarm three mornings a week -- but my eating has just been trash, and because it's dark out! (oh! There it is!) I haven't been running on the off days and I'm hibernating with junky snacks in the evening. That seasonal shift is killer. Oh! Another one. It's killer if you let it be. Here I am blaming the weather for poor choices. Blaming that I "have to" (get to!) hang with the babe in the evening and now we can't take the jogger out for a date.

Try this on for size:


Yowza, right?

It doesn't. feel. good.

Tell me, what are your excuses and how do you work to bust 'em?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thanksgiving

About that easing in period. It takes awhile, I guess.

My timing for jumping back in is pretty poor. It’s not like things have let up a bit, or I’m twiddling my thumbs looking for another activity. Like all of you – like everyone – things are so busy. Not in a glamorized busy kind of way, just matter of fact. Worse still (in the spirit of keeping it real), I moved within my office a couple months back and my new work space is hyper-public and not super conducive for privately typing away in this little space when the mood, free moment, or epiphany strikes. I’m trying, though, and aren’t we all just doing the best we can?

On the drive to my parents’ last week for Thanksgiving, a group text buzzed back and forth. Was anyone running in the Turkey Trot the next morning? Anyone up for it? How much? $25? $30? Is there a free t-shirt? With a family so big we constitute or own field at any small town running event, we decided to nix the organized race and meet up for a boardwalk run/walk instead. 10:00ish. Come one, come all.

Gotta admit: I was kind of nervous. NERVOUS! I had days before passed my 10-year run-iversary and was well on my way to almost a month out of practice. November mileage: 26.2.


Luckily, Thursday morning was spectacularly beautiful and I was in great company and, to cut to the chase, we ran five easy miles to tip my monthly total just over 30. Some hard work, I tell you. 10 or 15 of us showed up to the boardwalk (have I mentioned before, our "boardwalk" is like literally boards ya walk on, not the carnival-type) and while most headed south for a walk, four of us went north to run (a longer straight stretch instead of doing the back-and-forth thing).

Leigh and I ran together -- to reintroduce my cast of characters, you'll remember Leigh as my virtual training partner, my cousin who lives in NJ -- and two of our cousin, Dan and Owen (brothers), started with us, but then took off to do their own thing.

It felt so good to run so comfortably and alongside someone so easily. So at ease. To catch up and ramble and debrief our New York races. There have been some road blocks and hurdles and hurricanes across our family recently, too, so we talked about those. I've written before about how running creates such a safe space and once again, it's true. There's a security and comfort in talking honestly while looking straight ahead, not having the pressure or weight of looking someone in the eye.

I wore capris, I think, and a sleeveless top, peeling off my top layer in the first half mile and then basking in the late November sun. Unexpected, but welcome, right? The weather as much as the run.

Gratitude. Sometimes it really bowls me over. Oftentimes in hindsight, though in especially just-right moments there's no mistaking it. For health, family, a strong body, a happy soul. For sunny Thursdays, stretch pants, and a passion its so easy to tap into: just lace up and go.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

A quiet, did-ya-miss-me? return.


You knew I'd be back, didn't you? Maybe not sure when, but sometime, right?

It's funny, for awhile I was a little twitchy, automatically logging in to write. Then I abandoned the blog world all together -- not reading, not writing, hardly thinking about it at all. Blogs have kind of jumped the shark, I thought to myself. Over-saturated, mostly meh-content; I wasn't inspired.

What do I have to say? I wondered. I remember writing a year or more ago that even though I'd had a baby, this wasn't going to become a "mom blog" and my reflections and writing wouldn't be exclusive to mooning over my handsome baby boy. Then they sort of were, but it was indicative of what was going on in my brain: thinking about parenting, recounting his latest milestones, cracking myself up with baby fashion on repeat, over and over and over. I used to think about real things, I lamented. Running used to make my mind wander. It seemed to have become time for a mental to-do list, or a time when my mind was clear, but clear to think about the little dude I was so often pushing in his stroller out in front of me.

So, I'm not going to lie: nothing has really changed. H is older (a year!) and he babbles to me as we run. I think about him a lot and about how I want to parent and about what our time together and apart looks like. About Nik and me and how we've gone from a family of two to a family of three; trying to imagine what a family of four could ever possibly look like. Prematurely wondering and worrying how I will possibly keep running with H as he grows bigger and heavier, or even crazier to imagine, pushing a double stroller. Someday. Maybe.

I ran a PR half marathon this fall, a 1:43:something, crushing my New Year's Resolution of going under 1:50, taking more than eight minutes off my previous best and cracking the top 8% of runners. I ran the New York City Marathon November 1, set another PR, and had the time of my life. I'll write a recap and reflections on the marathon. Maybe on the half, too. We'll see.

You guys, I go back and forth. This little world is like the web-connected notebook beside my bed; my private journal with entries not-so-personal that I don't mind, or am even glad to share. There are dozens of other places to read about faster, more talented, or more accomplished athletes/ladies/moms. There are hundreds more well-designed than this, more photogenic than this, certainly more editorial and well-planned than this. But it's not such a bad place to kill some time, right?

What would you like to see? Like to know? What else could I share, or not? More practical stuff, or more thoughts and observations on the go?

For starters, I'm back to the beginning on BBG, two workouts down, 34 to go -- the exact same as last time I posted about it, I think. In the nine or 10 weeks of workouts I completed in the spring and early summer, I saw a definitely change in my body and grew absolutely, certainly stronger. I've backslid, for sure, but have found a tremendous and supportive network of fit ladies on Instagram (on my *secret* Instagram account, no less) that inspire and motivate me when I can hardly walk my legs are so sore (um, Tuesday) or debating cold pizza or roast sweet potatoes for lunch. It's fun! So, I'll include some of that, too.

Let me know what else.

It will be good to hear from you -- it's been awhile!