Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back on Track

Thank you all for your kind words on the last couple posts. I forgot that even when the school year starts smoothly, it takes some major readjusting. This week my legs felt better and I was able to get all my runs done!

I mentioned in my last post that I ran Monday evening with Kristin. After having such a successful night run, I chose to do Thursday's at night, too. I just decided that some extra sleep might help me get over the long run hurdle I've been facing.
It started raining as I paused to take this selfie. It was the perfect way to finish my run.
I did five miles, repeating the bridge twice. It had stormed earlier so I got out a bit later than I planned. I forgot my visor so I was pretty glad the rain had stopped, but it started again just in the last mile, which was perfect. I hit some of my fastest paces in awhile, and was able to maintain them. Color me pleased!
She sent me this picture like three times. Talk about good motivation! (Steph has Celiac, too, so it's always important to figure out which brand of bread is best to use for this kind of delicacy.)
Coming off that run, I was feeling confident about my long run Saturday. I knew I wanted to get back into the double digits but still didn't want to ramp up from the lapsed mileage to the full 16 that's still waiting to be run. 

At this point, I've decided to get back to where I was when I had that week off and build again. (I can do that, because my training plan is like 26 weeks long haha.) Technically this week was a cutback week but I used it as a normal building week, so I'm finally back on track.

So this morning I was smart about my long run. I did my first three miles without my fuelbelt, then stopped by the car to put it on and did my next six miles with it. I paused at the car again to drop it off and finished my last two without it.
Finally! A weekend run that left me smiling and confident!
Starting without the weight of the belt, and therefore being more comfortable, went a long way in helping me get through those first few warmup miles. And losing it at the end was amazing! As a result, my paces were more even and were about a minute faster than they've been this summer. I didn't have to walk at all, although I did pause to stretch my calves a couple times when I took fuel.

I ended up doing 11 miles total and felt really good the entire time. I think the slightly lower humidity helped with that. (It was only 76 with 96% humidity when I finished haha.)
Pretty much how I feel after my training this week.
All things said and done, this was a great way to start the long weekend!

Are you running long this weekend?
 Are you a French toast fan?
Running in the rain: yay or nay?


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Odds & Ends

1 - I'm like, the worst blogger in the world right now. Updates are slow, comments are behind...But it's not just on the blog. I've been kind of avoiding the internet in general. I've developed, overnight, it seems, some kind of phobia of checking my email or looking at Facebook. I think knowing how behind I am on it all just adds fuel to the anxiety, but I can't seem to get around it. It'll be nice when the school year isn't "new" anymore and things fall back into routine.
Yep. Serious avoidance issues right now.
2 - The other night Matt and I went to the gas station to get ice cream. They opened a frozen yogurt bar and we basically had the most ridiculous "date night" ever. But it was delicious.

3 - After ice cream, I ran. I might have skipped it because my giant helping of peanut butter yogurt, Butterfinger, and hot caramel wasn't the best fuel, but I couldn't leave Kristin hanging! I haven't seen her since June. It was amazing to catch up, and it was nice to remember that running with a buddy can be super motivating and fun.
After the best 3 miles I've had in awhile!
4 - My legs feel much better adapted this week. No more stiff joints or sore hamstrings. I think my long run will stand a chance this weekend. I have noticed that I keep waking up with a sore back, though. Am I just getting old?

5 - Speaking of pain, when I went home last weekend for Matt's race and saw my dad, he spent about an hour regaling us with tales of his most recent surgeries. Remind me that if I ever need a crown put in or a tooth drilled, I should be unconscious for it. Also, this man has guts of steel; when he had a tendon cut in his hand to deal with his arthritis, he was fully awake and watched the doctor do the surgery. Apparently watching your tendons move inside your hand is really awesome. Yeah.
I didn't take any pictures of his crazy surgery scars, so here's a picture from a much prettier scene from the weekend.
6 - Matt has been working tirelessly on our garage. The shelves are up, the paddleboards hung, his workbench built from scratch. I'm so glad I married someone who knows his way around power-tools!

7 - I took a bunch of sequins off a shirt last week and now we're finding them all over the house. I swear I threw them in the garbage, but they've managed to migrate all over the place.

8 - Uplifting text conversations make my day. Seriously.

I'm so grateful that after last weekend's aborted long run, my running friends were there to pick me back up!
9 - Hilarious autocorrect situations also make my day.

This was in regards to the ice bucket challenge...My autocorrect is dirty!
10 - I had over 2200 photos on my iPhone and I deleted all but a dozen today because my memory was full. I kept photos of old students' notes on my whiteboard, important race photos, photos of my students doing Zumba last year, All Star photos, and some favorite family/friends pictures; now I have 204.

So, that's my life this week. I'll try to be more present! I hate putting the blogging world on the back-burner because I find it so motivating and I care about what you all are up to...but life is just a little crazy at the moment!

Do you delete old photos from your phone once you've uploaded them?
Is ice cream for dinner ever acceptable?
What is your favorite ice cream topping? I go for Butterfinger every time.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Highs and Lows

This past week definitely played with my emotions. 

Before I get into the details, let's review the week prior: I went back to work for teacher training and ran 2 Readjusting to 6am wake-ups and badly timed inclement weather made for a sub-par week. 
At 6am, nothing tastes better than coffee.
This past week, I was determined to get back on track. I woke up at 4:30 Monday morning and did my 2-miler before work. My first day with students went swimmingly...I think my confidence and experience is finally paying off. I never even got butterflies. 

We start earlier this year so I've been at work by 7:15 and I have stayed late everyday to make sure my room is ready each morning. And in case you've never really paid attention to how teachers do their thing, I'm on my feet for literally 8 of the 9 hours I'm at work. By Wednesday, my hamstrings were screaming. 

Still, I was determined to prove that I can run in the mornings before work and actually get my training done. Thursday I ran hill repeats, completing four miles before I had to leave to shower and get ready for work. (I need to work on timing and maybe wake up at 4 instead of 4:30.)
My bridge, long before sunrise.
I had paused to stretch my hamstrings on the bridge when Adria ran by me and stopped briefly to say hello; she's way faster than I am and we don't train together, but she's running the same marathon, so it was an awesome morale booster to see her!
6 repeats in the bag!
The week finished well, but this is where I hit a snag. Matt had a SUP race scheduled for Saturday, and I was due to run 16 miles. I decided to go super early so I could still make it to the start of his race. 

We didn't get into town until 11pm. In the back of my mind was an article I'd read earlier in the week; it said that when marathon training, if you take a week off for illness or whatever, the week after should be a little easier to help you ease back in. 

It wasn't a good thing that this piece of advice was rattling around in my brain when I started out for my 16-miler because I think it gave me an excuse right off the bat. My calves and feet were tight and cramping with the first step, tired from the week, I'm sure. My Fuelbelt felt ridiculously heavy even though I only had two bottles in it. Despite the slightly cooler morning, I was covered in sweat by the first half mile - stupid humidity. 
This is not the face of success.
Basically, I got about six miles in before I called it quits. 

Back at the house, I felt torn. I wanted to go back out and at least do one more 5-mile loop, but while the desire was there, the ability wasn't. My legs were shot.

I know beating myself up won't do me any good. It won't make me a better runner. I need to build a bridge and get over it, use the disappointment to fuel my runs next week...And I need to shake this weird mental block I have going on all of a sudden in regard to my long runs. I think the humidity has kind of scared me into thinking I can't complete them, even though just two weeks ago I did 12 with little trouble.

So, the highs of the week included a renewed sense of dedication and ability in that it proved I can wake up early and fit my runs in before work; but the low - not completing my long run - has got me pretty down. 

Next week I intend to foam roll and stretch every day to try to ease up my leg muscles. Standing and walking all day is rougher than running, I swear!

How do you deal with mental blocks?
 Does it still feel like summer where you are?
What were your highs and lows last week?


Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Nobody needs me until I have something that I need to complete, and then everyone under the sun needs my attention. (grumble, grumble)"

A few of you have asked after Caryn, wondering how her running is going. You have to love the running community - we're excellent cheerleaders and brainwashers. "Oh," we think, "a new runner! Let's make sure they stick to it long enough for the addiction to really get its claws in!"

Anyway, here's her latest email, complete with my responses. There are a few things I'm sure you all could help her with better than I could!


I swear, nothing happens at work for weeks at a time, but as soon as I sit down to write an email to you, EVERYBODY NEEDS ME and whatever they have has a swiftly approaching deadline because they procrastinated. I now have two signs hung up in my office that read: "RUSH! You mean you want me to rush your rush job ahead of the rush job that I'm rushing to rush?" and " Lack of planning (on your part) does not justify an emergency (on my part)." 

Ugh these people.

That said, here is my update.

So far, the running bug has most definitely bitten me! I have reached the point where once I get out there I am so happy that I did. To be perfectly honest, getting out there sometimes requires a large amount of personal goading and motivation, but once the music is bumping in my ears and I can see the shadow of my pony tail bouncing, I just feel everything come together. Why didn't I start doing this sooner?! (I ask myself this same question ALL THE TIME.) 

My progress to date is running about two miles consistently with about a mile walk warm-up. The dogs are loving this and I swear Boomer, my oldest dog and the greyhound/lab mix, is starting to develop her greyhound muscles. She is such a good pacer! Maulie, my gifted child as I love to call her, is coming along. She is much more of a sprinter and heaven help me if there is a squirrel or small bird, because she immediately flips into stalk mode and either slams on her brakes or goes bolting toward the offending creature. We are gathering that she is definitely part hound and 100% special friend. 

I still have yet to sign up for a race. As I had mentioned in previous emails, I was considering doing the color run as my first 5k, but due to a hospital visit, I missed the deadline to register. Boo. I am still training for one though, I just need to research one to ease myself into, because I am too scared to commit to a serious one. (Not to say 5k races aren’t “serious”, but there are so many people that run them for fun and without real training that you shouldn’t feel intimidated. Find one that’s for a good cause – that automatically means there will be plenty of participants there just to fundraise!)
Caryn after completing her first 3-miler!
Here are some questions for you though that have come to mind during this part of my running journey.

1. When is the best time to hydrate before a run? I feel like if I drink water right before a run, I get the worst side stitches. Hydrate way ahead…as in, days ahead. If you’re running in the morning, drink lots the night before. If you’re running in the evening, make sure you’re drinking all morning. You shouldn’t feel like you want to chug water right before you head out. Especially in the summer (and in the south, no less) it’s important to think “prevention” when it comes to hydration.

2. How on earth does one get rid of side stitches. Those assholes appear and then NOTHING I do will get rid of them and my run is a loss. Thankfully, this has only happened three times. I’ve heard all kinds of theories, like exhaling when your left foot hits the ground, or breathing by counts of 4…but honestly, all I’ve found that helps is to slow down a bit and breathe regularly/deeply. There are lots of articles out there on conquering stitches. Here’s a slew from Runner’s World.

3. What is a good price for running gear, not necessarily shoes, because I know those cost an arm and a leg?  I found these running tights I love, but they are $70. On the opposing side, I found some at Target for $12. But they already have a hole at the waist line. I really do not know what a good baseline is for buying workout clothes, or for that matter what I should be looking for in them (materials, stitching, etc.) I love TJ MAXX for running gear. They have good brands for super cheap. Once in awhile I’ll splurge, and it’ll mean $50-$70 dollars for bottoms and at least $25 for a top. My favorite running tops are all from TJM, but my favorite shorts are expensive Nikes. The bottom line is that brand name stuff at box stores and running stores will cost the appendage you bought said item for…A splurge here and there is nice, but I prefer to try to keep it economically savvy, because I spend too much on races to drop Benjamins on clothes. (I’m so hard, yo.)

4. Can you recommend good running ear buds and a method/product to hold my phone/ipod? The shorts pocket is not deep enough and I can't hold it while holding a leash with two dogs. I freaking love my Yurbuds. They stay in perfectly and never hurt, allow for ambient noise so you’re not deaf to the world, AND if the buds don’t fit your ears (each box comes with two sizes), they’ll make you a specialized pair for FREE. They’re about $20-$30 and worth every penny. As for holders, I use a LifeProof case so my armband is LifeProof as well…I know there are a few different belts you could try, but I've never experimented with them myself. I’ll ask my readers to offer some suggestions in the comments for you!

5. Running app vs. Garmin type watch. I use runtastic right now and it is just getting me by, do you know of a good running app or is it better to go ahead and fork out the money for like a fitbit or a garmin or something along those lines? I am loyal to Nike+. I started using it when I first began running and it has all my data going back to 2009. It’s intuitive to use, plus their support team is amazing if you ever run into a problem with the app. I do like the Garmin I’ve been using, but since I run with my phone anyway, it seems like overkill to wear a GPS watch unless I need to be watching my splits really carefully. FitBit is a pedometer, not a GPS, so it’s not going to be as helpful for tracking your pace or miles.

Look forward to hearing back from you! Also your classroom looks awesome, I saw the pics on Facebook! Hope you have a wonderful school year!"

Caryn also tagged me in that "share five pictures in which you feel beautiful" meme, so here are mine:
I feel beautiful when...I'm dressed up with friends, being ridiculously goofy for my students, hanging with Matt, finished with a hard run, and being active and social with people I love.
So, readers, help a new runner out!

How do you banish side stitches?
How do you carry your phone/iPod? 
I challenge you to post five pictures that make you feel beautiful...because damn it, I think you're ALL beautiful and it's about time you basked in it! 


Sunday, August 17, 2014


Well, this week didn't go as planned. Monday morning I woke up at 4:30 and got my run in before summer officially ended...Yes, my back-to-school training was all last week.
Clear skies and the super moon meant a good run Monday.
Even though I ran Monday and cross-trained on Tuesday, I missed every other run scheduled this week. Although I woke up to run, there was thunder and lightning every morning. I don't mind running in the rain, but I don't like to run in rain if it's pre-sunrise, so I missed those runs. By the time I was done with work every day, I was too tired to fit the runs in during the evenings.
Friday we had our yearly Summit, where I received my 5-year service award.
Saturday I had Open House, so I planned to move my long run to Sunday, but by the time Sunday rolled around, I was too wiped to go. (I went to bed at 9pm Saturday and slept 'til nearly noon. I guess I needed it.)

I'm just going to call this week a bust and move on. I think now that I'm in the "wake up early and go all day" mode, it will be easier to get back on track.
My countdown hit this milestone this week!
On the plus side, Open House went well and I'm really, really excited for the year to start! One of my homeroom kiddos is the daughter of a Ragnar teammate, so that's kind of awesome, and I recognized many of the students and feel good about my class lists and schedule over-all.

Also, a bunch of students from previous years came to visit. It's so fun to see how tall they've gotten and how adult they look! 
My "About Me" board this year is dedicated entirely to running and my All Star experience. Also, I listed my favorite foods as: Sushi, chocolate, coffee, and cheese. Is that weird?
Here's to a better running week and a wonderful school year!

What was your favorite class in middle school?
As a student, what qualities did you appreciate in a teacher?


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reebok ONE Cushion Review

A few weeks back, Reebok opened the #runwithone campaign promotion looking for brand ambassadors interested in trying out running shoes. 

The survey was brief, and just days later I received a confirmation email that my shoes were on their way!
I immediately did a little research on the shoe Reebok had chosen to send me. 
From their website
  • Structured textile upper designed to support the foot over the center of the platform, plus spacer mesh for breathability
  • Low-cut design for added mobility with technical upper construction for fluid, seamless motion transition through the shoe
  • Three-foam midsole with ultra soft layer for shock attenuation, lightweight layer for foot guidance, and a responsive layer to help with propulsion forward
  • Stable and flat lateral arch area for maximum ground contact for runners with a neutral gait
  • Outsole release zone for pronation control and stride integrity, plus outsole progression groove for longitudinal flexibility
  • High abrasion rubber heel with decoupled outsole durably isolates shock absorption at the heel strike
I'll be honest: before getting the shoes, I was a little skeptical. Of all the brands I've run in, Reebok has never been one of them. I was also nervous to learn that these were shoes for neutral runners, and I tend to over-pronate, especially as I get tired on longer runs.

My shoes arrived in a timely manner. Out of the box, I was pleased with the color and style. I tried them on with two different running socks, my Thorlos and my Pumas, and they were comfortable with both. I waited for a training day that called for a short run because - being the cautious runner I am - I didn't want to try a speed workout or long run in brand new shoes. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the ONE Cushions. They were soft in a way that made my feet feel comfortable on my run, but not so soft that I felt I was lacking support. They felt light and were extremely easy to run in. They weigh 9.9 oz (a touch heavier than my current shoes) and the fit was roomy at the toe and snug at the heel. In fact, there seemed to be extra padding there to avoid slippage, which was wonderful. I wear a size 7 shoe regularly, but in running shoes I wear an 8.5, and that's what I ordered - these fit just how I like them! 

Overall, I definitely think I'll add these to my regular rotation for short runs, but because of the flatter arch, I don't see them becoming a long distance shoe for me.

I received these shoes free of charge as a Reebok brand ambassador for the purpose of writing a review. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own and I was not compensated for my review. An error in my order meant I received two of the same pairs, so I'll be sending one back for a different model, which will receive a separate review.

Have you ever run in Reeboks?
Do you get nervous to try new brands/models of running shoes?


Race Options & Hydration Packs

The 80-mile relay my Ragnar van was going to run has been canceled. It was going to be October 18, but they moved it to the 25th...I'll be in Seattle for a wedding that weekend (hopefully!), so I had to back out.

That leaves me with some options. The race director refunded our money because of the date change, so I now have to decide how I want to use it. I promised myself I wouldn't sign up for tons of races willy-nilly while we're trying to pinch pennies for the house, but it seems like these are funds meant for races and it would be a shame not to use them!

Option 1: Registration for the 22.4 Challenge, which I completed and loved last year, has opened. The first price increase is looming, so I need to decide quickly if I'll plan to do this again. It's a little pricier, but it's three races instead of just one!
Three races from December to April, which will keep me motivated all year.
Option 2: The original weekend of the relay has two races to pick from. One is a 10k on the 18th, and there's a 10-miler on the 19th. Technically my plan calls for a 20-miler that weekend, so I could just choose to race both and call it even.

I've never done a 10-mile race, so that could be fun, and I love the Race for Fish 10k. I've run it twice and really enjoyed it both times.

Option 3: Pocket the money, put it into house stuff, and do the training run as my plan calls for.

I haven't signed up for any races before the marathon, and I'd like to get a few in so I feel ready. There are so many fun fall races I'd love to do, including the 15k I did last year, and if I could somehow manage to fit some into my schedule, I'd be a happy camper!

On another note, I'm also deciding on which hydration vest I want to get. I need to get it soon if I plan to adjust to it by the time I'm running my 20-milers. Right now I'm between:

The Nathan Vapor Shadow
A bit heavy by the description, but I like the specialized women's fit.
Nathan Firecatcher
Much lighter and less expensive, but uni-sex fit concerns me, although it does have great reviews.
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Really light and cut for a woman, designed by Jenny Jurek, but expensive...and maybe with more bells and whistles than I need.
Some of these are priced a bit better on Amazon, but I can't find them in stores to try before I buy, which kind of stinks. Maybe I should buy all three and return the two I don't like!

Which race-refund option would you choose?
Is it in poor taste to register for "housewarming" gifts that are actually marathon gifts? Because the thought has crossed my desperate mind! I'm kidding...Promise.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Memory of Robin Williams

The death of Robin Williams hit me like a physical blow. I know it seems like overreaction, but it's true. He is an actor that defined much of my childhood. The minute I heard, the first person I told was my sister. We grew up watching his movies, laughing and crying and basking in the honest humanity of every character he portrayed. He had a way of making even the funniest characters truly human; he knew how to make people feel. Some of my favorite movies of his are the lesser-known ones, or at least the ones that don't get as much attention or acclaim, like What Dreams May Come, Death to Smoochy, and Bicentennial Man. And of course, as an English teacher, I absolutely adore The Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. 

I know he's had a profound impact on so many people...Matt, who has never cared about celebrity deaths, actually felt moved to the point of posting a Facebook status about it...and that says something, believe it or not. 
"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer: that you are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?" - Robin Williams as John Keating, The Dead Poets Society
What strikes me most about his death, beyond how talented and beloved he was, is that it shines a light on depression as something that is sometimes bigger than we are. It's sometimes out of our control; sometimes it just sneaks up and takes hold of us, even those of us who have the money - the means - to "fix" ourselves the way that society wants us to be fixed. Williams had the money to get the best help available, had proof through his amazing body of work that he was successful and loved throughout the world...and yet he got to the point where he could no longer go on. Sometimes we can't escape its grasp. 

I've talked on my blog before about my history and relationship with depression, and it's not really something that I want to go into in depth, but Williams's death is definitely something that hit home. I feel very lucky to be married to man who may not understand depression personally, but who at least understands that it is very real for me, who is willing to be there when I need him to be, and who helps me work through things in the way that I need to work through them.

Running has had a huge impact on my mental health, just as it has on my physical health, but I want to make it clear that often you need more than just a loving family and a healthy outlet in order to beat depression into submission. Please, please, please if this is something that you battle, get the help that you so deserve.

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline - US. Canadian Mental Health Association - information and help for those in Canada. Befrienders Worldwide - to learn how to provide support for those considering suicide.

Williams still had so much to offer the world, and we've truly lost a great man and a huge personality. But I do hope that we can learn from his death that depression and mental illness are real, and they're things that we need to destigmatize so that those who need help are no longer afraid to seek it.

Take care of yourselves.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another Week Down

This week was good practice for when I'll be back at school...starting next week. I may never be a natural morning runner, but I've gotten into the habit over the last few weeks.

I've decided to move all my Wednesday runs to Thursday. I like the idea of doing my cross-training earlier in the week and taking a full rest day Friday before running long Saturday. Maybe I'll actually do some cross-training if it's after an easy run instead of after speed work.

Monday I had two easy scheduled, but because I missed my five on Saturday I decided to do a bit more. I pushed the pace and did four over the bridge. It was a nice little speed workout. I think I'm going to use the bridge and do repeats when my plan calls for speed; I prefer working on the incline and it makes me faster without as much work, it seems.
It was sunny and hot when I finished, perfect for a dip in the pool!
That's probably all mental, but what can I say? When you figure out what works, you work it!

So I planned to do my five mile bridge repeats Thursday; I had a leadership retreat to be at and needed to be ready to go at 8:30. Of course, I had forgotten to change my alarm from Wednesday to Thursday, so I overslept. I barely got in three miles.

I was glad I fit something in, but annoyed at my poor planning. Still, maybe it was for the best, because I was having some foot pain.

Saturday I had 12 scheduled. There was a time when running long alone was a deal-breaker for me. I had to take a minute to pat myself on the back when my alarm went off at 4:30am and I dutifully climbed out of bed.

I haven't gotten a hydration pack yet, so I used my belt for the first time in months. The water was appreciated, but the belt was annoying. I need to get used to it again...or get the pack I'm coveting.
16oz of water and 8oz of caffeinated Nuun. This was my first time using the Honey Stinger chews and I really liked them; they're less sticky and easier to eat than Gu Chomps.
 When I first began my run, it was pitch dark and I was the only one out.
Morning runs are the best. I feel like I'm the only one in the whole world.
Actually, I didn't see many runners Saturday, which made me wonder if I had my days screwed up again. The first six miles were wonderful; I stopped at the park to refill my water bottles and use the bathroom. The second half of the run was pretty rough. The minute the sun came up I was guzzling water and paying the price for it.
All done! This was my longest run since February.
I was glad I remembered a beach I was absolutely dripping.
I guess "sweat-wicking" is all relative in Florida.
I made sure to stretch better this week than last, but I'm feeling some normal aches. The run was slow toward the end (nothing slows me down like a full stomach), but I got it done.

So, not a bad week over all. Starting Monday, I'll be back at work full-time for teacher in-service days, so all my runs will have to be earlier. I guess it's time to get reacquainted with 4:30am!

How was your week of running?
Are you a morning or evening runner?