Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Latest Inspiration

112 Days To Go
I've talked many times before about my son being my primary inspiration for striving to complete November's half-marathon. And it is true, he is. I want him to be able to look back and realize I was able to be a strong, healthy, be-all-she-can-be woman who reaches for big goals, as well as a nurturing mother. I think that if he realizes this, he will also strive for his dreams and work hard to achieve them. However, moving forward in this journey I have also picked up other bits of inspiration along the way that have helped me keep up the motivation to stumble out of bed each morning and fall directly into my sneakers, despite sore muscles and excruciating heat. It's this network of other runners, particularly mother runners, that I have found serve as an alliance to help fuel my spirit as I move closer to my goal. From seasoned marathon vets who can tear up a 5k in 21 minutes, to the mother who is lacing up her first pair of running shoes in hopes of finishing a 5k on no particular date, but someday, that each provide encouragement and support to their fellow mother runners. Each make it seem possible. Each make it seem relevant. They understand the balance, desire, and often struggle that it requires to continuously nourish this ambition - to be a runner...and a mother.
I know you must all want to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" by the campfire now, right? Here's the point I was leading up to. My latest inspiration has been this book I recently stumbled across, Run Like A Mother. Now, I'm a college instructor and mother to an 8 1/2 month old - so leisurely reading most often consists of a marketing textbook that I'm using as a refresher for an upcoming class I'm teaching or an instruction manual on how to install child safety locks on my cabinet doors. However, this book has served as my retrieve from necessity reading and turned into my fuel that I use each night to recharge. I read a chapter each night. It's an easy read written by two runners who have numerous marathons under their belt (don't worry, they don't take themselves too serious which can be such an intimidation to us novice-ites). They are relatable and share their story as beginning runners to advanced marathon vets. They actually look to other mother runners, the wanna-bes (like me) to the seasoned experts, who offer advice ranging from what sports bras are best to picking your best running distance, all in a light, conversational, and humorous approach. I truly appreciate the laugh-out-loud candor from the authors and contributing mothers that make this read relatable. I have always said, if you can't laugh at yourself, well, then your likely missing out on some pretty big laughs.
It's for this reason, I decided to represent my latest inspiration at the 5k I attended today (despite the heat advisory with 100+ heat index temps). I was sans a babysitter so I decided to push my jogging stroller with pride and sport my motto (see below). I ran the entire race (not without a roaring internal battle with the non-runner in me that still maintains 75% of my being) and actually got quite a kick as I approached the finish line, battered and exhausted, and heard a man yell, " Go, Mother!" I wish I had the strength to turn my head and find his face - but I didn't. But I finished.

Highlight of the Week: Knocking another 5k out and successfully completing my first week of the new Hal Higdon training program (well, tomorrow I complete the week).

Lesson of the Week: I had to think hard about what to share for this week but I think I am going to go with remembering to appreciate all of the strong women in my life - both new and old. Also, the beauty of knowing that empowering others leaves you with no less power (an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, I believe).

Power Song of the Week: Live Your Life by T.I. and featuring Rhianna. Great beat and great live your life for you message. Good running song!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Change in Program

116 Days To Go

I'm back! Okay, this dinosaur desktop computer thing is really throwing me off. I am used to working on a laptop that I can use pretty much anywhere in the house, at most any time. While my little monkey plays with his toys in the living room, mama works. Not uninterrupted, mind you, but still consistently sporadically (I love that oxymoron of a term I just made up, "consistently sporadically") throughout the day. However, with my laptop still being held hostage by the geek squad I am forced to sit at my office desk and get in computer time when I can...which is not that often and never without a battle of wills. My computer time usually consists of the little man climbing my legs, emptying the trash basket under desk, crying at my feet, or when I dare try and hold him and work, banging on the keyboard and struggling to find a way to fit the entire mouse in his mouth.....and so is the life of a mother, right?

This week I made a pretty big decision in my training and switched programs. I am now following the Hal Higdon Novice Half-Marathon Training Plan and feel confident in my decision. Why did I switch? Honestly, I can't continue the amount of walking the other program called for. It sounds crazy, I know. I honestly never thought that I would ever say, 'I don't want to walk any longer.' Don't get me wrong, please. I still take walk breaks at times during long runs and I always start and end every run with a warm-up and cool-down walk. But my former training plan had me doing two days of walking intervals, sometimes walking up to four miles, sandwiched in between running. And the walking distances grow as the plan progresses (along with the running distances, of course). Now, I like a nice stroll as much as the next guy - but I just don't have the time for a non-endorphin spiking casual walk. I found myself focusing on everything else I could be doing with the time. I tried to utilize my treadmill during nap times to eliminate the treacherous and mundane walks for little monkey, but soon found myself very resentful that my precious nap time/mommy time was being eaten alive walking on a machine staring at the baby monitor and holding my breath in hopes monkey didn't wake up before I was finished. The comfortable pace of walking also left my mind free to frantically wonder what other gazillion tasks I could be accomplishing that now have to wait until bedtime (which means a much later bedtime for mommy)...grading, cleaning, laundry, writing on this blog, and dare I say - maybe even a little leisurely Internet surfing. I reminded myself of the definition of insanity and decided a change was in order and researched alternative plans. I have a friend who was following the Higdon plan and also a fellow St. Pete runner I met through the blog using the plan and both felt good about the program and seem to be progressing nicely. So, Hal, I'm all yours (at least for an hour or so each morning, that is.)
The plan consists of 12 weeks and there are 17 weeks until the race. By the way, I just choked on my highly-caffeinated coffee typing that...17 weeks seems right around the corner! It's funny how since becoming a mom I measure weeks differently than before. It's like dog years - except one week, now feels like only a couple of days in 'mom-years.' Okay, I digress. Anyhow I am going to follow the plan by doing the first five weeks twice before moving on to weeks 6-12 in order to schedule 17 weeks of training before the big day.

Here's what this week looks like:
Monday: Stretch & Strengthen (check!)
Tuesday: 3 mile run (check!)
Wednesday: 2 mile run or cross training (check on the 2-mile run!)
Thursday: 3 mile run and strength training
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 30 minute cross training
Sunday: 4 mile run

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Deep Breaths

123 Days To Go
What a whirlwind week! Hubby home for a visit..check. Little monkey comes down with a virus...check. Mommy gets virus..check. Turned laptop (aka Athena, goddess of knowledge) over to the Geek Squad..check. iPod craps out..check.
Ahhh, well with that checklist complete I am happy to announce that this week is off to a refreshing start. Little man and I are recovering from the funk and I jumped back into my training plan today. With the hubs in town and my 'Honey-please' list overflowing, we rearranged some furniture and I dusted off the treadmill that I ordered the day before I found out I was pregnant...yep, the day before. It won't be my main source of training but on the run/walk training days that seem to take FORever, I think I will utilize it during nap time (monkey's nap, not mine) in order to spare him from enduring the blazing heat for long periods. I tried it out today and was pretty pleased with my pre-pregnancy splurge that has been willfully serving as a breeding ground for all the winter clothes I never got around to storing and baby gear that has been retired. With the (temporary) demise of my iPod last week (on the few days I was able to run before succumbing to the yuck) I actually endured a couple of runs minus my tunes and my Nike+ "score keeper," as I fondly think of it. I tried to think of myself as a naturalist, but still remain convinced that listening to myself pant sends my brain into a mild panic in which it sends out signals to my body to stop, walk, and breathe before I swan dive into the sidewalk. No can do. Thank goodness for the sudden resurrection of my little buddy. Now, I only pray the same fate for my sweet Athena. Without my laptop I am lost at sea. This ancient (in computer terms), circa 2005, slower than molasses desktop is no good for an online educator, blogger, mommy whose obsessed with, and runner who needs to update my 'Workin on my fitness' playlist daily. Is there a pill for these withdrawals?
On the half-marathon front, St. Pete unveiled their latest design for the medal/charm that will be waiting at the finish line for each runner that completes the race. They actually went back to the drawing board and designed it again after numerous complaints that the original version was boring. Check it out fellow runners (and thanks for sharing, Letty!).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Say Hello To My Little Friends

131 Days To Go I am. Yes, five days later instead of three. That's neither here nor there though, right? Here's what's been happening over the last several days.

I have been utilizing my running shoes from pre-pregnancy days, and realized I am likely well over the 300-mile mark in them, if not approaching 400. With that in mind, a few days ago a friend and I visited a running speciality store. This was a new experience for both of us. Yes, we've been to the mass shoe stores and the all-to-common sports stores you find tucked in a strip mall where the entire staff is dressed in referee shirts - but this was a legit running- concentrated speciality store. I knew this was a well-needed visit when I felt confident that the gentleman working there potentially took more pride in identifying my stride than naming his first born child. Turns out, I have a high arch with a neutral stride. In other words, even though I have been told I walk like a penguin, my feet are complemented best by a fairly common running shoe style. And thus, welcome my new family members, fondly known as my "vooms."

Seriously, these little suckers are like walking in marshmallows. I tested them out this morning and felt an extra spring in my step (I'll be honest, any new coveted apparel item tends to have this effect on me when donned for the first time). However, I do think we are a match made in novice 200-day half-marathon training heaven. I'll let you know how our relationship progresses.

On another positive note, I stepped on the scale today and in the last month can proudly say I have lost a total of 11 pounds! Loving the Joy Bauer diet and despite a human slip-up here and there, overall, I'm enjoying following the diet closely. I was discussing my achievement with another friend today and I have to say I believe the two main factors I credit to my pound shedding success are the elimination of white flour and the addition of a bowl of homemade vegetable stew ("Skinny Stew" as the diet calls it) with every dinner meal. It leaves me feeling full and forgoes the urge for that usual before bed nap-snack.

Staying aboard the positive train, the little monkey and I are also anxiously awaiting a visit from Daddy very shortly. I can't believe it has been since May since he's been home! I have a new appreciation for military wives. You rock!

Good things on the horizon! Moving steadfastly ahead (in my snazzy new kicks, of course).

"It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief comes a deep conviction, things begin to happen."

-Muhammad Ali

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It Hurts So Good

136 Days To Go
Despite my brief hiatus from blogging, I did participate in my first 5k as an adult with some of my favorite girlfriends last weekend. I ran a 5k many moons ago as a teenager, back when sleeping was optional and eating a greasy hamburger was just a snack before dinner was ready. Anyhow, here's what I learned from the experience, I am no longer a teenager and preparation is necessary. I know, here I go again with the nostalgic lessons of being an adult. What can I say? It's another lesson on this journey. I was a little over-confident in my capabilities as a runner and not only did I miss running two days before the race, I also arrogantly attended a close friend's 80's prom-themed birthday bash the night before (included a picture for fun). I'm not sure if it was the black-lace fingerless gloves or the side ponytail that left me feeling as if I had enough energy to blast me through the night and well into the next morning's race. I relished having a babysitter at home and danced the night away to Debbie Gibson, Michael Jackson, and Tiffany. And the next day, only two words to describe the next day: Lesson learned.

I finished the race on four hours sleep and with a time of 31: 15. Not my best time, not my worst. I felt like I had ran twice the distance when I was done and found myself extremely fatigued, hungry, and sore all in mile one. Not a big motivating force when I am looking down the tunnel at 13.1 miles in less than five months. I think I was a bit crestfallen when all was said and done and am just now, three long days later, jumping back into my running shoes.
Over the last few days I contemplated what I would write about for this blog post. I didn't want to post another 'Woe is Me' entry and dwell on my mishaps and stumbles. It was during this morning's run, a begrudging run in which I fought an ugly internal battle about getting out there and completing it, that the distant memories of my fondness of running quickly returned. When my little man woke up an hour and a half later than usual, I tried to use the excuse of it being too hot to run. I resentfully forced myself into my gear, strapped the little guy in his seat, and pushed my jogger stroller outside... Here's a sound byte from the internal dialogue that followed: "IPod? Check. Water for me? Check. Sippy cup for monkey? Check. Stroller Fan? Crap! The batteries are dead! It's probably too hot to run without his stroller fan, right? Maybe I should skip today. Go to the gym? Start over again tomorrow?" (I've been using that last line for the past three days.) Finally, the restless runner on my left shoulder hurled a shoe at the lazy, hungry, tired bum on my right shoulder and I dismissed all the excuses I could come up with and just ran. Almost instantly after I picked up my feet after a warm-up walk, the sweat began to emerge, the push of my breath struggling to gain a steady in-out pattern erupted, and the all together slight uncomfortableness that running brings began to intrude my entire body. And it was welcomed. Truly welcomed! It's amazing how this whole running thing works. I dread going. I dread getting ready to go. I dread getting started. And many times during the run, I dread completing the run. But I push through the uncomfortableness and at the other end an unexplainable sense of fulfillment fuels me and I remember why I chose this particular activity for my bucket list accomplishment. It hurts so good.

I'll close this by saying I have realized that I blog less when I feel I have less to brag about. That said, to play a mental mind game on myself - I vow to post an update at least every three days for the next month. Don't worry, I don't expect anyone to anxiously anticipate my verbal diarrhea of what I've run, what I haven't, blah, blah, blah. It's simply a motivator for me to remind myself I am right in the thick of this personal challenge I have made so public and it's time to keep pressing forward - full speed ahead.

Lesson of this Last Week: Preparation, Preparation, Preparation. I am not above it.

Challenge of the Week: Remembering the good that running brings, even when a bag of Doritos and a nap sounds waaay better. Running feels way better.

Power Song of Last Week: Sisters of Avalon by Cyndi Lauper. I just feel 'girl power' when I hear this. Another throwback to the eighties, I guess.