Monday, August 8, 2016

Race Report: 2016 Fred Meijer White Pine Trail 200 Mile Relay

2 vans.  12 friends.  38 hours and 6 minutes.  204.3 miles (16.3 were mine).  1 very cool teammate.  This isn't going to be my usual race report.  I experienced something very different with this year's Fred Relay.  
Team Screaming Thunderboxes at the start
I always have the best time on the Fred, if I didn't, I wouldn't have been back for round 3. But this year was different. I came into this knowing I was injured and horribly undertrained. I knew I wouldn't be running like I had the previous 2 years.   

I knew the night leg would be my favorite.  I don't run with a biker and this year I got to run the handoff leg around Lake Cadillac at midnight.  It was beautiful and my best run.  Something about running in the middle of the night and chicking a guy makes for a good time.
That's Mars in the sky!

Ready for bed!
I knew that the 3rd leg would be incredibly hard.  I wouldn't have been able to finish that 8.9 miles without Kaylee biking with me, being my water sherpa, and keeping me mentally strong. 
Very happy to check of that final run!
Van 1 DONE and ready to find beer (for at least 5 of the 6)
This year the Fred wasn't about me. It was about my girl. See that tall one in the picture up there?  She CRUSHED her first relay.  Being able to experience this race with Kaylee and watch her grow as a runner this year has been amazing. From her hating running, to having run a couple 5ks to sticking with a training plan while keeping up with her freshman year of college, to running her first 10k and then her first half and finally her first relay and covering almost 17 miles in a day and a half (faster than her predicted pace!) is what I will always remember from this summer and Fred 2016. Her other 10 teammates taking her under their wings and cheering her on was so fun to watch as well. 

I've always been proud of Kaylee - she makes it easy - but I'll never forget how blessed I am to experience things like this with her, not just as her mom but now also as her teammate.  The fun shirts, swag and bling are just icing on the cake.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Excellence vs Perfection

H. Jackson Brown, Jr, author of the book Life's Little Instruction Book, wrote, "Strive for excellence, not perfection."  That little quote has be thinking - thinking enough to write a blog post after staying away from here for the past two months.

I'm not gonna lie - running and me haven't exactly been getting along lately. It's been hard, it hurts (thanks to plantar fasciitis), and the heat + humidity of summer haven't helped. Constantly comparing myself to the runner I was a couple years ago also isn't doing me any favors.  However, I'm still plugging along & have decided to adopt the philosophy of Excellence vs Perfection. 

What is "excellence"?  Excellence means I'm doing the best I can in that moment. It is achievable with effort and planning and can result in a sense of accomplishment.  You are willing to be wrong and if you make mistakes, you can be accepting of those mistakes, determine  what you can change and what is out of your control, and what you can do differently in the future to achieve the excellence you seek. 

The idea of "perfection" implies there is nothing better & it's largely unattainable. Failure is inevitable and the belief that you'll never be good enough is a very real possibility.  News flash - I'm a perfectionist and my perfectionist tendencies have been doing a number on me in many areas of my life, not just my running.  I'm working hard to get past this.  It's not easy, believe me.

Today, focusing on the best I could do in that moment, resulted in 4 miles that finally showed some progress. I posted the insta with the hashtag #progressnotperfection because that's what today really was.  Maybe tomorrow or the next day the results will be different. In fact, they most likely will be. But in that 4 mile run this morning I worked toward achieving excellence & I'm happy with the result.

"Life doesn't require that we be the best, only that we try our best." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  For the foreseeable future, I am simply trying to do my best.  It's all I can ask of myself. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Where I've been Lately

For some bizarre reason, I still have the Facebook page associated with this blog and over the past couple days, I've received a ton of notifications of new likes and view, so I thought I should probably post something.

For those of you new here - welcome.  For those of you who have managed to stick around - thanks.  In case you didn't notice, I've taken a bit of a break from blogging.  By my calculations (or that thingy on the side), I've posted 5 times in 2016 - 6 if you count this one.  I really haven't felt like I've had anything to say.  At least nothing positive.  When I've blogged in the past and voiced my frustrations or disappointment in myself, I've gotten slammed, so I decided it was best not to say anything.

Here's where I've been lately....

I started this blog almost 7 years ago, on June 23, 2009, as a weight loss blog.  I weighed in that day at 165.8.  Guess what I weighed this morning?  166.8.  In the past 7 years, I managed to get down to a pretty happy weight around 140.  I became a runner and completed a shit ton of races - including 2 marathons and 2 sprint triathlons.  But...
I'm now heavier than I was in 2009 and my running is pretty much in the toilet due to injuries and being fat.  I screwed up my shoulder and now I can't really lift or swim without that hurting too. I can't run without pain and my pace is closer to a 13 minute mile than the 10s and even 9s I'd worked myself down to.  I know a bunch of people are going to say that it doesn't matter.  That what matters is that I'm still out there.  Forward is better than nothing.  Some would give anything to be 167 pounds and run a 13 minute mile.  Blah blah blah.  Sorry, folks.  It matters to me and all I see is failure.  I worked really hard to lose 25+ pounds and become a sub-10 min mile runner.  Now I'm back where I started - or worse.

On a related note, I'm supposed to go to the Fitbloggin' conference in Indianapolis in July.  I was so excited when they chose a city in the Midwest.  Finally, I could attend without needing a plane ticket. I'd get to see my friends, but do I really want to be seen 25 pounds heavier than the last time I went to Fitbloggin? To still call myself a fitness blogger? Definitely not. I've paid my registration but I can't afford to stay on site.  Room plus parking (because I'd have a car) is over $200 a night.  Sure, I could room with someone to cut part of the room rate down, but that doesn't fix the extra $200 I'll have to pay to leave my car there.  $40 a day for a car??? I could stay at a Motel 6 for that - only not in Downtown Indy because everything is HELLA expensive.  I booked a room about 1/2 a mile away for a little less money and free parking, but to stay off-site means I lose out on a lot the conference has to offer.  I don't think it's worth the $500+ it will cost for me to attend when I could spend the same to go visit my daughter in Florida sometime during the winter when I'm really hating being in Michigan.  Sorry guys, but I'm 90% sure I'm staying home in July.  If anyone wants to drive 4.5 hours north after the conference ends and experience Beer City, USA and some gorgeous Lake Michigan beaches, let me know.

So there you have it...I haven't been blogging because there's really nothing good to say.  I'm feeling sorry for myself and whenever I voice that - either here or on Facebook or wherever - I get a bunch of shit about how I should love myself and accept where I am right now and all that other bullshit.  I really don't want to hear any of that so please just don't.  Not sure when I'll post again.  It could be tomorrow or it might be 6 months from now.  Either way, if you are just finding this space, I'm sorry that it's probably not what you were looking for.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Race Report: 2016 #runDonna Breast Cancer (Half) Marathon

I've been sitting on this race report for a week, trying to decide how best to write it.  Spoiler alert: it wasn't quite the "comeback" race that I'd planned but I finished and that was the main objective.

My midwinter break from school was nice enough to fall on Donna weekend again this year so I started making plans way back in September or October to fly down to Jacksonville and run it again.  It's a perfect excuse to find some warmer weather in February and see friends I only get to see once or twice a year.

There was one problem with my plan...I wasn't running yet.  I had been fighting achilles and shoulder problems for months and was heavy into PT.  But with my PT's (overly ambitious, IMO) blessing, I was told to start "training".  I couldn't run more than a couple minutes at a time until around the end of November so I worried I would never be able to get my mileage up enough to complete 13.1.  Every week from the 1st week of December until two weeks before the race I ramped up my long runs.  By the beginning of February, I'd been able to complete two 10-milers using a run/walk strategy so I figured I was good to go.  Then the week before the race hit me with horrible leg cramps at night and I was seeing the chiro and a massage therapist literally the day before I flew to Jax.

Not in the plan at all.  Add to this a 3 hour flight delay in Chicago and I was worried I wasn't even going to make it to the expo to register.  (Because weather in the Midwest in February is quite unpredictable, I didn't register in advance in case I couldn't make it there - I never anticipated multiple mechanical problems to ground us.)  Thankfully, I made it to the expo with about an hour to spare, rushed in and registered, and then headed to my hotel to chill before meeting friends for dinner.
Little did I know how prophetic this would be 
Just a few days before the Donna, I was chatting with my friend Krissy about the race.  She decided rather last minute to run the half marathon and we made plans to run together for as much as we could.  Krissy is a freaking ROCKSTAR for running a half only 9 weeks after having her adorable baby girl.  I think I was barely functioning at that point.
Requisite pre-race hotel selfie
I was up bright and early Sunday morning after just kind of throwing my gear out the night before.  I headed to the race in plenty of time to hit up the port-a-potties and meet up with Krissy.
Hanging in the ambassador tent with Krissy
It was pretty chilly race morning - in the high 30s - so I was very thankful for the cheap Walmart jacket and my daughter's old track sweatpants.  Those suckers stayed on until about 5 minutes before the start.  Krissy and I discussed race strategy as we hung out in the ambassador's tent.  We were both running Garmin-free but I was planning to call out our intervals (1/2 mile run / 45 second walks) as they played through my headphones.  Our goal was somewhere in the 2:30-2:40 range.  We both agreed if either wanted to change up this plan and do their own thing at some point, we were completely cool with this.  

Even with my lack of training, I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to complete the race using the intervals I'd set up.  My two 10 milers went well and our loose time goal should have been very attainable.  The race is self-seeded so after one last stop at the potties, we positioned ourselves toward the 2:40 pace group.  Krissy found a few other friends in the corrals so we chatted a bit before the start.  Off went the warm-up gear (it was in the 40s at this point) and off we went.  

The first few miles flew by as they typically do when you are having fun and chatting.  BRFs are awesome for that :)  We were keeping to our intervals and it wasn't too crowded, so moving to the side for walk breaks was pretty seamless.  I saw one of my friends around mile 5 and grabbed a quick swig of beer.  Yep, that's how I roll.  I was feeling pretty good although noting I was feeling a bit more winded than usual - probably because I was talking a lot and I rarely talk while I run.  (A peek back at my splits in runmeter also revealed we were averaging about an 11:15 pace with run segments in the low-10s through the first 7 miles or so, which was faster than I'd been training by about 30-45 seconds per mile).  Maybe this was the start of troubles to come.

I ducked into a port-a-potty at mile 6 to deal with a wardrobe malfunction (ie, chafing boobs are the devil but given the theme of this race, I'm thankful to still have them).  The wind from miles 5 to 7 was straight into our faces and it was really kicking my butt.  I was so thankful to hit the half/full split at mile 7 so we could have the wind at our backs for at least a couple miles.  We even got a hug from our friend, Marcia, who I didn't think we'd see.  Around mile 8 we ran into another one of Krissy's friends who was spectating and had the most delicious brownies.  We both enjoyed a brownie and continued on our way.

Having not run with my Garmin, it's hard to remember some of the "stops" except for when runmeter showed stopped time but I know it was around this point that I mentioned to Krissy how my calves and shins were starting to cramp up.  After the bad night cramps the week before, this was one fear going into the race that maybe I should have taken more seriously.  We saw my friend again at mile 9 and someone at the house gave me pickles and pickle juice.  Bless that sweet girl.  Side note - the neighborhoods go all out for this race and there were people grilling and cheering and having a 13.1 mile block party.  It's one of my favorite parts of this course.  The pickles helped a little with the cramping but I was definitely slowing down and starting to hurt.  Just before mile 10, Krissy was feeling amazing and I gave her a hug and sent her on her way.  (Girlfriend crushed her first postpartum half with about a 2:30 finish!)
Headed up the Butler Intercostal Bridge
The last 3 miles of this race are up and over the bridge on Butler Blvd.  With each attempt to run from about mile 10.5 on, my calves and shins cramped more and more.  I even stopped at another bathroom on the bridge because the pickle juice was not making my insides happy.  The wheels had fallen off the bus.  I talked to my friends to let them know what was wrong and that I was definitely not finishing in 2:30. I kept trying to run but it wasn't happening.  It was as if my legs had a mind of their own and at times I was running and walking on the sides of my feet or with my feet turned at a weird angle because the muscles were so cramped.  I had a bit of a cry at the top of the bridge (ok, it was full on sobbing) but at least the view was nice.  I also got to see the winners of the men's and women's races go by me so that was cool.
The Intercostal
I was so close to calling my friends to tell them I couldn't finish but I knew I didn't come 1200 miles in a plane and 12 miles on foot to quit with a mile to go.  I continued my 3 mile death march and when I saw the finish line, I told myself to run.  It' was a 10th of a mile, for God's sake! Surely I could suck it up for a 10th of a freaking mile.  Nope.  My legs didn't get the message.  It was the weirdest sensation ever and I must have looked like one of those deer who are just born and trying to make their legs work.  I stumbled and cramped and I almost fell within yards of the finish line.  Several times.  I've never had this happen before and I was in so much pain and really confused.  I saw my friends just past the finisher shoot and I'm very thankful for Wendy literally holding me up.  She kept telling me how proud she was of me as I hung on her and cried.  For the first time ever, I was put in a wheelchair and taken to medical.  I was a bit pissed my friends did that but it was probably for the best because I couldn't even stand much less walk.  The medical folks massaged and iced my calves and gave me some gatorade.  After I felt like I could walk again I met up with my friends and they took care of me (ie, found me beer).
Love my girl, Wendy
I'm still trying to figure out what happened and why my legs cramped like they did.  My friends suspect the weather may have had something to do with it.  It had probably moved up into the mid to high 50s by the end and with the winds I never felt hot or realized how much I was sweating.  Maybe I didn't drink enough or my calves were more injured from the cramping the week before.  It's a week later and I'm still having leg cramping issues so who knows.  Hopefully it doesn't continue.
Am I flipping off the camera?
While this was my worst road half ever (2:51:59 - a 13:08 ave pace) it was still a finish and a finish that 4 months prior I didn't think I'd even be able to start.  One of my friends called this "triumphant". I'm not sure I'd go that far but my view is a bit skewed still.  The best parts of this race were the sunshine, having my friends there and being able to run a solid 10 with Krissy before the shit hit the fan, all while supporting a great cause.  Any day you get to run in the sun with your best running friends is a good day in my book.

Next year is the 10th anniversary of the 26.2 with Donna so I'd LOVE to come back for a third time.  Heck, anniversary or not I want to come back.  Maybe if the stars align you'll see me in Jacksonville next February.  Want to join me?  Registration starts this spring :)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Let's Play #runDonna #teamsparkle Dress Up

You wanna know what's crazy?  Planning a half marathon in Florida only to find out it won't be much warmer than Michigan on race morning.  Where's the justice in that, my friends?!?!

Anyhoo....I thought I'd take a little survey to help me decide what to wear for the #runDonna Breast Cancer Half Marathon next Sunday.  As of right now, race morning will probably be high 30s to low 40s at the start with a finish in the high 40s.  Not too shabby running weather but totally sucks for beach time afterwards.

I have 2 tops chosen because they are the only ones I have that are pink - a  long-sleeve 1/2 zip from Nike and a Nike T that I'll probably pair with arm warmers that I can take off.  Black capris will go on the bottom and probably a black cap on top.

The question I need answered...which Sparkle Athletic skirt should I add?  I want my friends spectating to be able to find me to pass me some beer cheer me on :)

So what do you think? Turquoise, Lime Green or Purple?  I know which one is my favorite but I'd like a little input from you guys as well.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thankful Thursday: the treadmill

Yes, winter has truly sucked the life out of me already and we only really started getting snow a month ago (as opposed to last winter where we had snowdays already in November).

I guess I should be thankful about that too?

Since I'm training for a February half marathon if I ever actually register I've needed to crank up my mileage pretty quickly.  Nearly all of my workouts have been on the treadmill at the gym - including my long runs.  I don't have the time luxury of a potential injury from falling on ice or snow so here I am, trying to not be bored out of my mind for extended periods of time.

I've done a few interval workouts (2 minutes fast (at about a 9 m/m pace) alternating with 2 minutes slow) and some ladder workouts (progressing from 5.5 to 6.5 mph).  Yesterday I did a "hill" workout where I climbed for a mile (at 10% grade), then walked 1/2 a mile, then did it again.

After perusing Google, I found a couple other workouts that might be useful.

These are nice, shorter, workouts, but what about this weekend's 8 miler?  Any suggestions besides Netflix?  I finished binge watching Making a Murderer so I need something else to keep my mind busy for about 100 minutes.  Throw me some suggestions!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fit + Blogging = #fitbloggin

So, there's this really amazing blogging conference that's I've had the pleasure of attending a couple times - Savannah in 2014 and Baltimore in 2011.  FitBloggin is more than just a conference - it's a community.  It's a community and tribe I have missed.

Like their tagline says, "using blogging, social media, and digital communication to motivate, inspire and foster a culture of health and wellness where everyone belongs."

My goal between now and July, when I *hopefully* attend my 3rd FitBloggin conference in Indianapolis, is to bring back some of that "fit" and "blogging" since both have been sporadic at best.

Here's the "fit" part:

 I am finally getting the scale to move back in the right direction.  (I weigh in at home on Wednesdays and at Weight Watchers on Saturdays - hopefully the 2 numbers match this week because I've been ON POINT for the past week since returning from Atlanta.

The "blogging" part will come.  As I have things to say, I'll say them.  If you want to read and comment, hopefully you will do that too :)  I used to be so consistent here, with a "schedule" and everything, but honestly, I got really burned out.  Maybe July and my tribe will motivate me to get my voice back out here.

Here's hoping 2016 has started off with a bang (in a good way) for you.  Are you planning to attend FitBloggin'16?  Please let me know if you are and if I actually make it (I'm registered but there's a lot that still needs to fall into place), we will definitely meet for hugs!

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Next 24 Hours

I found this image on Pinterest and it really hit home to me.  So many people focus on the end result that they can't get past all the baby steps it will take to get there.  They look at this seemingly insurmountable task - maybe it's losing a significant amount of weight or training for a marathon - and decide never to start because it seems impossible.

You know that silly question "How do you eat an elephant?"  The answer is the same as the message in this image - One bite at a time.  Focus on what you need to do in the next 24 hours to get yourself that one bite closer to your goal.

I've decided to give the new Weight Watchers SmartPoints plan another chance.  It seems impossible to stay within the tiny number of points I get now but by meal planning and focusing on fruits and vegetables, I'm planning to see another nice loss next weekend.

What will you do in the next 24 hours to get yourself closer to your goals?

Happy New Year 2020

It looks like my M.O. is to open this blog when I get the notification the domain name renewed. LOL oh well. I hope everyone is having a n...