Time to Take It Offline

Hi friends!

I write today with somewhat bittersweet news: this will be my last post.

I’ve loved blogging the last 2 1/2 years, but lately it’s lost its sparkle for me. I feel like I have so much less to say, so much less to share, and I think it’s due in large part to the fact that I’m in a place of acceptance, familiarity, and ease. When I started this blog, it was because I didn’t feel like I knew myself. I wasn’t sure of my likes, my passions, my interests. I was a truly unhappy person, and it makes me sad to think of how long I lived like that. Now, I’m comfortable with who I am. Even if other people don’t like that person, I’m ok with it because I do like her.

No, life isn’t perfect. I’m sure it never will be. And honestly, nothing really has changed. Regardless of where I live or how I earn my money or who happens to be in my life, I’m still the same me. The main difference is that I look for the good and the fun and the positives rather than being bogged down by negativity. I’m confident in my ability to handle whatever comes my way, and I know with absolute certainty that no matter what happens–how fast I run or how much I weigh or who I’m dating or who does or doesn’t want to be my friend–I’ll be ok. I know that I’ll never really finish working on myself and that I really don’t want to. There is always always room for improvement, and I’m sure I’ll never quit chasing ways to be better.

I’ve learned these things through running, writing, and the many online friendships I’ve made through my blog, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Now it’s time to take my life offline and just live.

I’ll still be around on Twitter and Instagram, so I hope to keep in touch in some capacity.

Thank you thank you thank you for being such wonderful friends! XO

Supergirls!

I made you a workout video. Well, kinda.

{I am so embarrassing.}

OK, so here’s what’s behind this. I do all kinds of HIIT workouts all the time with weird moves that I can’t really describe. The Daily HIIT website is my go-to, but it’s not super easy to navigate or find a video of the exact move I want to share with you. So all the credit goes to them for the idea, but I made my own little video because a). I’m a total dork and b). I really want people to try this stuff, but I know it’s not always easy to figure out what’s going on on that site.

Moving on.

As mentioned in the video, I’m trying to strengthen my hips and back for running so I don’t get injured again. I realize that I’m not going to spot-strengthen anything, so strengthening everything is the name of the game. This move–the “supergirl”–is a single leg squat to single leg deadlift. Ish. It’s tough because it not only requires strength, but balance as well. The thing I’ve noticed, though, is that when you have to balance, it’s great for that overall strengthening piece. This move will work quads, hamstrings, hips, back, ankles, etc. It’s one stop shopping.

The other thing to note about this: it’s hard. You will wobble. You might fall. I am not an expert, so attempt at your own risk and please try not to hurt yourself. I’d start with no weight or even with light dumbbells until you get the hang of it. Let me know what you think!

Also: is this helpful? Do you like my barely amateur/non-existent video production skills? Should I quit embarrassing myself and never make a video again? Or should I quit my job and become the next Jane Fonda?

Currently.

1. Listening.

photo

I was just thinking a couple weeks ago that I hadn’t heard any great summer songs yet. Then this popped up on the radio almost immediately, and I can’t get enough. Happy making.

2. Wearing.

Mildly obsessed with these tinted lip balms. I have no idea why I waited so long to hop on this bandwagon, but I’m quite confident it will only be a matter of time before I own the entire collection. So much goodness. Sheer color so you’re fancier than old-fashioned Chapstick and feel like a real grown up. Yep.

3. Sporting.

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Yes, I shop at H&M and totes purchased and am sporting this fluorescent skirt ($12.95) and screen printed tiger tank ($5.95). My inner 13 year old loves it. Who am I kidding? My inner 33 year old does, too.

4. Drinking.

Still can’t get enough kombucha. Manfriend showed up with a case of it the other night (buy one, get one free at Whole Foods!). He gets me.

5. Eating.

Roasted cauliflower and chickpeas with curry. Israeli couscous. Pinenuts. Basil. Lemon. #vegan ;) Seriously could not stop eating this. I wound up eating the leftovers cold over a bed of spinach for added greenness. So yum.

6. Reading.

OK, so it’s not the book in the picture, but how cute is my dog?!? Anyway, it’s Fortune’s Rocks time! I’ve mentioned it before, but I read this book every year around the summer solstice (since that’s when it takes place). If you haven’t read this book, please do. It’s one of my very favorite, most beloved books ever. I want to hug it. For serious.

7. Sweating.

HIIT TabataMore Daily HIIT butt kicking! Loving lots of tabata/interval workouts the last couple of weeks. I’m still running, but far fewer miles. This workout leaves me dripping with sweat, challenged, and only takes 17 minutes! It’s good to feel like I’m getting some of my strength and muscle tone back, too.

Training to Run a Half Marathon PR

You guys.

You need to read this article about training to run a half marathon PR.

OK–maybe those of you who don’t run don’t want to read it.

But! The rest of you: READ IT.

I, for one, am completely smitten by it and immediately want to find another half to train for so I can implement these ideas because I’m a super nerdy runner like that.

So this all started because I came across this article and started rambling to Manfriend about it via gchat.

Manfriend is not a runner.

He’s plenty athletic (he plays all the sports), but my running rambles got stale for him pretty quickly. It was basically this scenario:

It’s Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.

So. I reverted to my usual first reaction: emailing this lady, obvi. But I wanted to talk about it MOAR. And here we are.

My favoritest parts of this read include, but are not limited to:

  1. Long Runs. I wonder if adding a 2 hour run every week would help build aerobic capacity long term? Or does this just work during training and require downtime (ie., non-training time) to be effective?
  2. Strides! Why am I not doing these? I don’t know why I never do strides, but I should, especially given that they take almost no time and very little effort. Same with incorporating fartleks. I used to do intervals fairly regularly, but almost never do now. At least not running intervals. HIIT is a different story.
  3. Hills. I know running uphill is great for training, but what about downhill? The part about running downhill and strengthening quads is so smart, especially for a course like the one I just ran, which is a very gradual downhill course.
  4. Lactate Thresholds.  Funny, I was just talking to my co-worker (who used to be a rower) about this. Apparently, you reach a point in your workout where you start producing lactic acid (you know, the part that really hurts), and you can’t push yourself any further. Your body literally starts to break down. (Yes, literally). I think it’s interesting that you can increase it, though. I want to do that!
  5. Last Miles = Fast Miles. I know you’re supposed to pick up the pace at the end of long runs, but I always go out too fast and then get tired. If I could pace myself better, I know this would help me.

Anyway, the article is written by Greg Strosaker who is a marathon runner, author, and online running coach. I was pretty impressed with the quick look I took around his site. Definitely worth a follow.

Running Stuff

So. Running stuff. Just like any other runner, I like to try new things here and there and see if they’ll change my life. (Yes, I dream big.)

Runglasses

A while back, the Sunglasses Shop offered to send me a pair of sport sunglasses to try out. I love free stuff (duh), and in all honesty, I’ve been looking for a pair of sunglasses for running for quite some time, so I was definitely game.

The Sunglasses Shop has all kinds of fancy sunglasses, but since I specifically wanted a running pair, I spent an exorbitant amount of time browsing through their sport sunglasses. Since they stock basically every pair of sunglasses on the planet–for running, cycling, baseball, fishing, kite surfing? (you get the idea)–it took me quite some time to pick something out.

Can I just say how hard it is to choose a pair of sunglasses without trying them on? I have an oddly tiny face/head, so everything tends to look a little goofy on me. I did my best, though, and eventually settled on the Dirty Dog Clank Sunglasses.

Dirty dog

They’re maybe a tiny bit big for my face, but as far as functionality goes, these are awesome. They stay on my face, don’t bounce, don’t fog up–basically everything I want out of running sunglasses. Good work those Dirty Dog Sunglasses people have done.

Gentle Leader Puppy Harness

Next up, the Gentle Leader harness. If you have a dog or will ever have a dog and run, you need one of these. It’s a head harness that is totally comfy for puppy, but prevents pulling for you.

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Hers is actually a little too loose here, but you get the idea. It fits over her face but behind her mouth, and fastens at the back. I’ve tried a bunch of different harnesses, and this is the only one that actually keeps her from pulling. She’s still not perfect on it, but it’s a vast improvement from anything else I’ve tried.

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She loves it. I swear.

Ok, she doesn’t love it, but she’s getting used to it. And as soon as we start running, she’s so happy that she totally forgets about it.

Summer Duds

I cannot adequately express how in love I am with my Lululemon Speed Shorts. Yes, they are pricey. But I just got my second pair, and I prefer running in them so much more than any other shorts I have. They’re comfortable, flattering, and have 10 zillion pockets. I know it’s a lot to spend on a pair of running shorts, but given the fact that I run on more days of my life than not, I can justify the expense.

Running duds

The other piece I’m kind of obsessed with is this running tank from Gap. It fits and feels like cotton, but it’s wicking, so when you sweat, it doesn’t get super heavy. I need to buy a few more before they’re out of stock. Even though I know they’re not specifically in their running line, they work for me. The blue one in the sunglasses pic above (not that you can see it all that well) is my other fav. I have it in black, too, and it’s probably tied with this white one. Gap makes good running stuff!

P.S. Sunglasses Shop offered these sunglasses to me at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion, and that’s what you got! The rest of this stuff is just stuff I like–no affiliation or free stuff involved. :) 

Suffering Through My Own Stupidity

Often occasionally, I’m not very smart. 

Example: I typically forget I have asthma until I’m wheezing and feeling like I’m drowning in the heat and humidity. This may or may not have happened at last weekend’s race.

Example 2: Sometimes I don’t exactly pay attention when my body is sending me signals that something’s not right. Case in point: a week or so before the race, I woke up seeing halos which I know is a symptom of a migraine. Basically, you see spots of light that follow your line of vision and only go away when you close your eyes. It’s a little disorienting, but not the end of the world. However, if you don’t know what’s happening, it’s freaky as hell. As luck would have it, it’s happened to me before, so I didn’t give it much thought. Plus, it went away after 30 minutes or so–not a big deal then, right? I had also gotten a pretty poor night’s sleep the night before, so I assumed that it might be related to that, took some ibuprofen for my lingering headache, and got on with my day. Read: I forgot about it, even thought halos + headache = migraine symptoms. Duh.

In my defense (of me to me?), I didn’t have any other symptoms the rest of the week. No headaches, no auras, no halos. So when I arrived in Morgantown on Friday night with a wicked headache, I assumed it was just because I needed to eat. When that didn’t work, I figured sleep would take care of it. If I had thought to pack ibuprofen, I probably would’ve taken that, but I didn’t, so I went to sleep.

Even when the intensity of the headache woke me up later that night, even when I spent an hour vomiting, even when I was feverish and miserable, it never once crossed my mind that I might have a migraine.

That morning, the headache was much better and the nausea had substantially subsided, so I thought it was just a fluke thing–maybe something I ate.

Finally, two and a half days later, I realized that it was a migraine (duh). Had I paid better attention, I could’ve just taken some precautions (Excedrin Migraine as soon as the symptoms start usually works for me) and avoided the whole thing.

Ugh. Life.

Decker’s Creek Half Marathon

(Warning: Long post ahead. Only one picture, so you’ll have to count on being entertained by my enthralling prose. Proceed at your own risk.)

Remember that race I’ve been training for? So I ran it last Saturday. And it was good! Ish.

To fully understand what I was working with, let’s talk through the events leading up to the race.

I knew it was going to be hot. Really hot. And disgustingly humid. I did my regular hydration routine beforehand in anticipation of the conditions, but even a well-hydrated, well-conditioned body is going to struggle in the heat. I went into the race with this in mind, reminding myself that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I needed to slow down because of the heat.

Friday night was very low key. I arrived at the hotel with a pretty bad headache, but assumed I just needed to get some food and that would take care of it. No dice. I’m super stubborn about taking medication if I think I can “tough it out,” so I didn’t bother running to the store for anything.  I mean, how bad could a headache be? <–foreshadowing

I went to bed around 10 and fell right asleep, but around 12:45 I woke up with an absolutely pounding headache. We’re talking blindingly miserable pain. I thought I could just go back to sleep and it would go away, but an hour later, I was still awake, and my head felt like it was going to explode. I called down to the front desk asking if they had any ibuprofen (acetaminophen has never been good to me), and they said they’d send some right up. And up it came. In the form of Extra Strength Tylenol. I knew I had a bad history with the stuff, but I was desperate, so I took the meds. Approximately 8.3 minutes later, I was retching in the bathroom.  It was a sad scene: sweaty fever and blinding pain–and it went on for the next hour. I somehow managed to sleep for another 2.5 hours,  but then I was awake–without the headache or vomiting–but also without the rest I needed pre-race.

When it was time to actually get up and get ready, I still felt a little queasy, but I didn’t train for 6 weeks to sleep off some weird illness in a hotel room, so I figured I’d at least try to run the race. I could always drop out if I needed to. We stopped at the store for some ibuprofen and pretzels, which helped any traces of headache and settled my stomach, respectively. Sidenote: when you live in the city, the price of groceries in the rest of the world becomes a source of great joy. Meds, pretzels, and 2 giant Gatorades for under $10. Unheard of. Anyway.

The Decker’s Creek Half Marathon is a tiny race–600 participants, max–and there’s no pre-race expo. Packet pick-up is before the race near the finish line, and then runners are bused to the start. They do this part really well–very orderly and pretty straightforward. I grabbed my packet, dropped everything but my bib back at the car, and hopped on the bus with a handful of gummy bears. Shot blocks, gummy bears–it’s all the same, no? I got to the start in plenty of time to use the bathroom and do a few dynamic stretches beforehand–I just swing my legs back and forth and side to side (one at a time, of course), and I actually think it helps the ol’ hips.

Even though there were only 600 runners, the start was incredibly crowded. They do 2 waves, but with approximately 300 people lining up on a path that’s 8–maybe 9–feet across doesn’t make for an easy start. Oh, and my Garmin didn’t start right away, so my distance was slightly off for the whole race, but that’s not the end of the world.

After the first 3/4 mile or so, I had gotten out ahead of the jumble and found a comfy pace. I was surprised at how good I felt considering how sick I was and how little sleep I’d had, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that adrenaline can do surprising things. I started out around a 7:30 pace, sped up for the next few miles, and then settled to just under 8 minute pace until around mile 10. Despite the heat and humidity, the miles ticked by relatively quickly, and I felt good. Shortly after mile 8, I ate my Gu and actually stopped at the water station to make sure I didn’t spill anything–I needed the hydration. I usually run through water stops, but I needed to be sure I got every drop. When I finished the cup, I remember thinking, that’s it?!? I suppose I could’ve walked back and gotten another cup, but I figured I could wait until the next stop.

I did ok until that next water stop, but by then, I was pretty wiped out. I stopped again and drank 2 cups of water, then plodded through the last few miles of the race. By mile 12, I was at a 9:14 pace and just spent. I stopped once more for a drink, then finished ‘er up.

Official chip time: 1:44:36, 25th of 329 women, 7th in my age group

deckers creek half

Honestly? Not mad at that at all. It’s 10 minutes faster than the last time I ran this race (and the conditions were much better that year). All things considered, it was a pretty good run. A tough run, but a good one no less.

Bonus: Manfriend was there (with signage!) cheering me on. This is the first time since I started racing that I’ve actually had a significant other, and it was kind of awesome to have him there. Decker’s Creek is not an easy course to spectate–it’s all on trails that are difficult to access from the road–but he caught me at 3 different spots. Even though I was salty about how hot it was, seeing him definitely made me smile.

Will I run this race again? Maybe. Now that I have more races under my belt, I can see that it leaves some things to be desired, like the congestion at the start, the lack of Gu/gel on the course (they have them for you to pick up pre-race), and the location of the aid stations (it was a little hard to tell when they were coming up, even if you knew the mile marker, they weren’t consistently spaced). I’ve also realized that it’s harder to run a race when there are so few places for people to spectate. I like the energy of the crowd, even if I do have my headphones blasting the whole time. So we’ll see. I really do like the course and the size of the race, so I’ll keep it in my back pocket. But for the immediate future, I want to set my sights on something new. Any suggestions for a fall half?