Saturday, December 31, 2016

Some Thoughts on the Year's End

You know what's funny about running short for a year? You start to notice how many people set a yearly mileage goal and how weirdly arbitrary that is, especially when some of the mileage goals are really high but don't take any racing or training into account. I wonder if people who don't reach those rather lofty goals for yearly mileage feel bad about it as December 31st draws to a close.
But like...why?
Run 2016 miles in 400...Whatever. As long as it's bringing you joy and giving you a purpose.

This fall and winter have been hard for me mentally and emotionally. I am not a naturally optimistic person, so I've put a lot of energy into being more positive when it comes to running and fitness; over the last few years, this shift in mentality has really worked and been beneficial to my running, and it spread into other aspects of my life. It's frustrating to not be able to get back into that mindset after being knocked out of it a bit.
I don't think 2017 will magically bring a new perspective and easy optimism back into my life. I'm not that naive. But I hope this funk...this depressive episode...will lift. (I'm also not naive enough to think "hope" alone will do it, so if it looks like more is necessary, then I'll do more.)

Anyway, I do hope the winter holidays have given you all time to relax, unwind, and reconnect where it counts. I hope 2017 brings opportunities, joy, and purpose into your lives. Maybe this will be the year that you overcome whatever has held you back from realizing a dream, taking a risk, or going on an adventure.

Whatever you determine 2017 will mean for you, I hope you have a safe and happy New Year!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Chag Sameach & Happy Hanukkah!

It's rare that Hanukkah falls so late in December that it overlaps Christmas. It's even rarer that it begins on Christmas Eve, but this year, that's the case!

Matt and I are spending this evening making latkes, exchanging gifts, lighting the candles, and seeing my family.

Growing up, we got one present a night. My parents would always give us our biggest gift on the first night, but then we were allowed to choose what to open. We'd line up our gifts in the living room and wait impatiently for dad to get home from work so we could light the candles (the holiday begins at sundown, so I never minded Daylight Savings and early evenings!) and open gifts.
Here's a picture of my siblings and me celebrating Hanukkah in 1995. Be nice.
The best Hanukkahs were the ones when my sister and I both loved American Girl dolls. We'd circle everything we wanted in the catalogue and then each night we'd get a new accessory for our dolls. These days, we don't get eight gifts, but it's nice to continue the other traditions.

Matt isn't Jewish, but he likes celebrating with us. When he first did Hanukkah with us, I wrote down the prayers (which are said in Hebrew) phonetically for him, but now he remembers them by heart. I'm very proud.

If you don't know much (or anything) about Hanukkah, Mental Floss did a nice little write-up on some of the important (and less-important) aspects of the holiday.
Finally, I thought I'd leave you all with this, which made me laugh because it's just so damn accurate:
I hope you all have a joyous holiday, however you celebrate!

What are your holiday plans?
Do you have any unique traditions for the holidays?


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Year in Review: Running

This year, my "year of short distances and speed" was just what I needed. After three years dedicated to marathon training, it felt really good to let go of the "real runners must run long" mentality and get back to basics.
Marathon PR: I ran A1A with little fanfare, focusing on myself and the run I knew I was capable of, and it truly paid off. This was the redemption I needed after BDR, and it was the marathon that allowed me to get some sort of closure on distance and move comfortably forward with this year's focus on short distances.
Bonus highlight: running with my sister at mile 20!
First 5k PR since 2013: After lots of speed-work and cross-training, I refused to let myself back down from the challenge of the Sup and Run 5k. I was scared to really try to break my PR because I knew failure would feel so rotten, but I was blown away by my performance...I honestly did not know I was capable of breaking 27:00 in a 5k! And I made it on the podium!
Another highlight? This year I was brave enough to run shirtless!
Surprise 5k PR!: Close on the heels of the memory of the Sup and Run 5k is my Howl at the Moon PR. While Sup and Run showed me I could run faster than I expected, Howl showed me it wasn't just a fluke. This race was seriously hard and seriously gratifying.

Sanibel FISH 10k: This race totally sucked, but it was a major highlight this year because I ran it with Elizabeth - her first race ever! And at the end, I met a local runner who recognized us from my blog and said I inspired her! Esther, if you're reading this, thank you for salvaging a very rough day!
Soup'er Hero 5k: Even though this 5k was super short, I'll never forget running it with my colleagues, many of whom were first-time racers. It was really an amazing experience.
Teaching is our super power!

Becoming a Skirt Sports Ambassador: This year, I became a Skirt Sports Ambassador. Representing a brand I totally believe in and becoming part of this community of strong women was a major highlight this year. I have enjoyed every minute of it, and I hope they keep me on in 2017.
Kristin's First Marathon: Our schedules have made it really hard to get together this year, but Kristin is still such an important part of my life, especially as a runner. In January this year, I got to show my appreciation for her amazing friendship by spectating her first marathon. I cannot put into words how wonderful it was to cheer her on and see her conquer this race. After my rough December marathon, seeing her cross the finish line in January really helped get me into the right mindset to try again, and I was humbled to be able to share her big day and cheer her on like she's always done for me.
Marco Island Half: Kristin and I ran this hilly half in March and it completely knocked my ego down a few pegs. I had gotten into the mindset that anything below a marathon was "easy" by comparison, but this race was mentally and physically challenging. It put me in the right mindset for the rest of the year: easy is relative and no matter how many races you run, there's still one out there that will hand your ass to you, so don't get cocky.
Sanibel FISH 10k: Ah, this race. It truly proved the adage "you can't control race day". No matter how amazing the preparation and how confident the runner, some days just aren't your day! It's important to be able to shake it off and move on.
This year gave me a much-needed break from distance. After awhile, you just get sick of running double digits every weekend and planning your whole life around a training schedule! In 2016, I loved that going for a run didn't have to mean fitting 60+ minutes of exercise into my day. It gave me more time to get used to cross-training during the week. I finally found the kind that I actually don't mind that much.

This year, Elizabeth and I set a schedule and worked out 5-6 days a week like clockwork. I've seen definite changes in my body and my paces, and I know I can credit our consistency.
We adjusted the schedule a few times to suit our needs, but having something to stick to really helped me stay focused, and having an accountability partner was invaluable as well!
While it took me awhile to get used to smaller weekly mileage totals, I definitely found my "happy pace" again and I know it will translate into longer distances the next time I'm ready to train for a marathon.

2017 will probably look similar to 2016 race- and distance-wise. I'm not looking at running many races, but I am looking to increase my mileage a little more (very, very slowly) while still making gains in my paces. That is, if my calves ever get back to normal!

How was your year running-wise?
Share a highlight or teachable moment from 2016!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Weekly Workouts 12/12-12/18 - A Wrench in the Wheel

I didn't really work out this week. On Tuesday my girls had their final volleyball game - we lost in the quarter finals. It's the furthest any of our teams has ever gone, so I'm very proud and happy with the season's outcome!
After the game they surprised me with this. They each wrote me a note and signed it! How sweet is that?!
I took five days off this week because of my cold and my calves; I ran Thursday and my calves were still bugging me, but I made it through the run more consistently (read: without any walk/stretch breaks).
Then, Friday, I paid the price; I had legit pain in my calves when I was walking around throughout the day. I've tried:

-massage/foam rolling
-my TENS unit

...Nothing is helping.

Friday, Elizabeth and I looked at our plan. I told her that if I were just training for myself, at this point I'd have rested for real, but I feel a responsibility to her. She told me she'd rather that I rested now than that I become too injured to run with her in February.

Obviously I agree, so I'll be cutting back for the next couple weeks and focusing on flatter runs, in case the bridge is exacerbating the issue. We've figured out an adjustment to our training that allows for some extra rest without derailing everything. But I'm frustrated and annoyed!

To recap, this week I: had volleyball Tuesday, a run Thursday, and dancing-in-heels Saturday. (Oh yeah, we had a holiday party so there was that.)
I thought you'd all like to see that Elizabeth and I don't only wear workout clothes!
A few weeks ago I bought most of my HRC-supporter friends the OPI nail polish "Madam President." We three all wore it to the party on Saturday.

Anyway, this was not the week I wanted, but the week I was dealt. Here's hoping additional rest helps my calves get back on track.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

That Time I Thought I Had Zika for About 5 Minutes

So, I'm sick.

It's nothing dire, but just bad enough that I need a couple more days of rest. Monday I left work a little early to get my throat checked out and make sure I didn't have strep. As is usually the case with walk-in clinics, it took me about two hours to be seen. This is the conversation I had with Matt to pass the time.
I also texted Elizabeth this photo. Her response was typical - she laughed her butt off at me:
It turns out they had a reason to make me wear a mask...which I kept on for almost an hour in the waiting room before deciding it was too annoying. I can only be so compliant.
Just to clarify, there were approximately 25 minutes between my dismissal of the chance that I had Zika and my freakout about getting a throat swab.
It all turned out okay, though. I survived and I don't have strep or Zika. I was given instruction to rest, drink lots of fluids, and come back if I develop a fever or sores in my throat (ew).

I'm self-medicating by watching Love, Actually and sipping hot toddies. Not much more you can do for a cold! I'm hoping I feel better in time for our long run Saturday morning and our school holiday party Saturday evening.

What's your favorite movie to watch while sick?
Do you go to the doctor, or are you a Matt?


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Weekly Workouts 12/5-12/11

Monday: Volleyball game. The girls had a definitive win to close out the regular season!

Tuesday: 3.33 miles in the morning (we had to cut it short from our usual 4 due to timing) and the first round of volleyball playoffs in the evening. (We won against a team we haven't beaten in the 8 years I've coached the team, so it was a huge deal.)
Wednesday: Round two of volleyball playoffs (another win)!

Thursday: Volleyball practice and 4 miles over the bridge. My calves were bugging me again.
Friday: I ran solo because I was attending Shabbat with friends and needed to be done early.
My calves were still bugging me. Is it all the volleyball? I'm beginning to think it's my Benadryl! Maybe it dries me out like Mucinex, which gave me really bad leg cramps during Space Coast. I'm going to cut out the nightly Benadryl and see if that helps.

Saturday: some much-deserved rest.

Sunday: I woke up throughout the night having trouble breathing - lots of asthma issues - and my calves were still sensitive when I woke up at 5:30, so I backed out of our morning run. I ended up stretching and foam rolling...I'm not thrilled to have missed a long run, but it's important to get my calves and body back in order so I can continue training.

Total Miles: 12.

I'm loving volleyball, and I'm so proud of my girls for moving on to quarter finals this year, but I'm a little ready for it to be over so I have time to actually cross train. My arms and core are desperate for some work!


Thursday, December 8, 2016

I'm Over Resolutions

Guys, this week has been kicking my butt! We've had volleyball four days in a row. I mean, it's a good thing - it means my girls are winning and are moving through playoffs to semi-finals - but I am exhausted and so behind on blogs. Oops.
My Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this practice on Thursday. We've gone further this year than ever before!
At this time of year, I usually start planning my New Year's resolutions. This blog was the result of one of those resolutions; for those of you who don't know, learning to run was my resolution in 2009. It was the first resolution I ever truly kept.

It was such a roaring success that every year since, I've put a lot of time and consideration into my resolutions. Then, last year, I took a step back and simplified.
This year felt good. I've felt more consistent and stronger than ever. I think simplification really worked for me. So I'm sticking with it.

I'm not focused on a particular distance and I only have one race lined up (A1A), so for the first time in years I have a lot of freedom. I'm going to keep running and cross-training and getting stronger. I'm probably going to pick a marathon for 2018...Probably. We'll see how I feel!

Anyway, I think I've finally gotten to a point in my running and fitness where I don't feel I need a resolution to help narrow my focus or keep me motivated. There aren't any other areas of my life that need direction or a major overhaul, so this year, I'm over resolutions.

That said, I have some important goals; it's just that my focus has changed. I plan to stay aware and actively involved politically. I plan to keep up my monthly donations to SPLC, HRC, and the ACLU going. I plan to use my privilege to help others as we gear up for the big fight we have ahead of us for the next four years.
I'm putting my money and time where my mouth is. I hope you do the same.
But as far as running goes? Yeah, no resolutions this year...and it feels damn good.

Are you making running/fitness resolutions this year?
Are you making other kinds of resolutions for 2017?


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Weekly Workouts 11/28-12/4

Monday: Four miles over the bridge. I had to stop to stretch twice; my calves and shins just felt really tight. Like...hard. You know when you've got lactic acid buildup? And then a muscle cramp and the muscle is literally cramped up into a hard little ball? Yeah. Like that. I have no idea what caused it but I was really unhappy with it, obviously.
Tuesday & Wednesday: Volleyball game and practice, respectively. The season is almost over and then I can get back to normal cross-training!

Thursday: Four mile bridge run. I wore KT tape, compression sleeves, my Kayanos instead of my Ravennas, and took a salt tab before this run. I still had some aches, but we slowed it down and my calves and shins felt moderately better.
Friday: Four mile bridge run. I was in my brand new Ravennas. I did take salt again and was still taped, although less drastically than Thursday, and my legs felt 90% better. No pauses to walk or stretch needed.
My purple Ravennas have 204 miles on them; they really shouldn't be done yet...but maybe that's the contributing factor here. Or maybe I've just been dehydrated and stiff from volleyball and walking around at work. Who knows?

Saturday: Rest. I made sure to foam roll my calves; I also had Matt massage my left one, which had a sensitive hot-spot. I re-taped that calf and wore a compression sleeve to bed.

Sunday: 11 miles - no calf pain! I was so relieved to have a pain-free run. We kept a steady pace, stopping at mile 5.25 (bathroom, Gu, water) and 7.7 (water). I shouldn't have had water the second time; I felt so full and sick for the rest of the run.
I had some calf sensitivity after my post-run nap, but none during the run!
I know on race day I won't be stopping like that (water stops are faster, for sure), and if we want to keep a solid pace and have a realistic idea of our finishing time, we need to stop pausing my watch on training runs. I think I'll plan to wean us off bathroom breaks over the next few long runs.

Total miles: 23.

This was a solid week despite my leg issues. I haven't figured out what's causing them yet, so I'm just going to continue as many treatments as I can until they're totally gone.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday Five 2.0 - Things I'd Buy Again

Today's Friday Five 2.0 topic should be called "things I do buy again over and over and over" because once I find something that works for me, I stick with it!
Shoes: You all know how I went through the hardest time finding new shoes once my first "buy them over and over" style changed too drastically for me to continue wearing them. My new repeats are the Brooks Ravenna 7. I just ordered my second pair and I can't wait to break them in! If the 8s change significantly I'm going to be really pissed.
I can't wait for these babies to be delivered this weekend!
Accessory: I probably own six or seven different running belts, but once I found the FlipBelt, I haven't look back. It's the only belt I ever wear now, and I wear it on 90% of my runs. Within two months of buying my first, I bought two more because...why not!
These are so comfortable and spacious. They never ride up. The water bottles that fit in them are comfortable. I don't know why I waited so long to try them!
Headphones: I haven't had to buy new headphones since getting my Jaybird Bluebuds X, but if they were to break and I needed new bluetooth headphones, these would be it. They fit so perfectly, have great battery life, stay in my ears, deliver great sound...I just love them!
I just learned these are discontinued which is so sad because they're the best!
I've had them for so long (since 2013) I can't even find the post I wrote when I first got them, but they're still in perfect condition. Matt even dropped his in the bottom of a lake once, and when he found them they still worked!

Socks: I have so many Pro Compression socks it's a little embarrassing. I won't run in anything other than my PC Runners or Marathon Elite socks, and I love the sleeves for recovery; I bought some Feetures on a whim once and hate them. I literally never wear them.
In my sock drawer, I have a special bucket of Pro Compression socks. I think maybe they need to take over the main drawer and the bucket can hold the socks I never wear.
Clothes: I think I own the Lioness skirt in almost every print it comes in! It's my favorite skirt. Those pockets! Those pleats! Those prints! I will buy it again...and again...and again.
Aren't they pretty?! I can't wait for the winter prints to be released.
Reviewing this, I think maybe I have a shopping problem! But I'm definitely brand-loyal once I find something that works for me, so it doesn't surprise me that I tend to hoard running stuff that I love. I mean, who doesn't?!

What are some of your repeat purchases?


Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Other Sport (#tbt & TOL!)

Today, I'm thinking out loud about my other sport: volleyball.

I am really not a naturally athletic person. When I was younger, I was much more into indoor hobbies. I loved to write and read. I liked to draw. I took singing lessons and went to drama camp during summer when my friends went to sports camp.

But when we moved to Florida, my mom wanted me to meet people, so she encouraged me to sign up for volleyball. In 8th grade, everyone made the middle school team, but I immediately realized I loved it and had a little bit of natural talent.
My JV team; I think I was a sophomore here. Can you spot me?
Varsity players had much cooler uniforms, as you see here. This was junior or senior year.
I played all four years for my high school, attended summer camps, and joined a traveling team. I even played for the local junior Maccabiah Games one year. (I wish I had a picture of that!)

I was never talented enough to play in college, so I settled for intramural and played with my sorority.
Playing some intramural volleyball with my colleagues for our inter-school tournament for teachers.
For awhile after college, there were no opportunities for me to play volleyball. I took up running in grad school, and then started teaching. That first year, I co-coached the girls team with another teacher. When that teacher moved out of state the next year, I took over.

I've coached our team ever since.

I love watching the students play; they are so enthusiastic and have such a good time. They really learn to depend on each other, support each other, and gain confidence in their own place on the court and within the team. Running is a great sport, but I really believe team sports (especially those that include a bench) are one of the best ways to teach life lessons.
Our girls (in red and blue) playing a fantastic game while I nervously pace on the sidelines.
I've developed some habits from my high school coach; I never sit during games, instead choosing to pace outside the court and shout instructions and encouragement. My coach used to eat an entire tin of Altoids when he got nervous; the smell of Altoids still makes me think of him!

So  far this year our record is 2-1 with one more regular season game and then playoffs. Some of my girls have been on the team since 6th grade, and for the last three years or so I've had returning players. It gives me a chance to have a different kind of mentoring relationship than with teaching, and this year especially - because I have no students of my own - I especially appreciate being about to coach them.

I love running, but volleyball was the first sport I ever played, and the first that showed me I could be athletic if I wanted to try. It will always be a special favorite of mine.

Do you play a sport besides running?
What was the first team you belonged to?
Do you consider yourself a natural athlete?