Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm A Convert

54 Days To Go
Six miles...check! Sunday I was not feeling well. I fought the good old internal struggle debating on if I should postpone my run until today or toughen up and get out there and take care of business. I chose B and I can honestly say, running made me feel better. What an incentive! In addition, I also am no longer a "skirt virgin." Here's more on that.
A highlight of my week was that Athleta was kind of enough to offer me a running outfit for being part of the Athleta Chi "Share Your Chi" article. I chose the Reflective Chase Skort (you know how I have been tempted by those running skirts) and the Long Sleeve Twist Top. Truth is, I have been drooling over this combo for a while now - here's what it looks like on the model:

And now, the real life version (aka: me).

Cute, huh? I love it. To be quite honest, just slipping the skirt on gave me some added fuel to get out and run even when I was not feeling up to par. It's still a bit too warm to sport the Twist Top, but it so comfortable and I know in late fall/early winter it's going to be a staple running top. As for my first skirt running experience, I couldn't have been any more pleasantly surprised. First of all, this skirt is made of a moisture-wicking, breathable material and is lined with a jersey-type short (adios, chaff gremlin). There is a convenient zipper side pocket that was a great stash for my 1/3 Performance Power Bar I have been chowing down on to re-energize after mile 4. I mentioned my skirt skepticism earlier. I was so worried I might not feel athletic or strong running in skirt. I was wrong. I LOVED running in this skirt. I even got a honk or two on my run (okay, I'm pretty sure it was a friend of mine, but I chose to believe it was someone admiring my skirt stride). So, I'm officially a convert. Thanks, Athleta.

I have a few great things blog-wise on the horizon, so stay tuned! I have been able to team up with a few of my favorite brands for some exciting giveaways that I can't wait to share with you.
Highlight of Last Week: Um, hello. A snazzy new running outfit, of course.
Lesson of Last Week: Another pre-judgement proven wrong. Kudos to you skirt-thusiasts that caught on to this functionally fabulous trend long before I did.
Power Song of Last Week: I've been rockin' out to an old favorite, The Indigo Girls, lately. "Shame On You" has kept me light on my feet this past week.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Two Month Countdown

61 Days To Go

Tomorrow marks the official two month mark for the big day. My excitement continues to grow as I knock out my long runs each week. As I wrapped up Sunday's run I really wanted to do it all over again just to prove I could handle the increased distance. However, the overly rational side of me took over and I realized I must stick to the program and gradually increase. One thing I haven't shared is my huge fear of injury between now and November. Much like my fear of passing out while crossing the street and someone stealing my cutie pie, leaveing me for a speed bump - I also have a small paranoia related to injury. So I stretch, stretch, stretch like a little Olympic gymnast doing her floor routine (pretend with me) and I follow my training program like I follow a recipe when baking. I measure twice, follow each step closely, and curse throughout the process. Much like baking, in the end I have a HUGE mess to clean up (seriously, I'm talking batter on the ceiling light fixture), but I also have great satisfaction in my accomplishment. My house is living proof of this. When I noticed that my sweet baby boy's jammies looked like this after spending a half hour or so playing on the floor before bedtime, I knew it was time to break out the Shark steam mop and quit complaining about being tired. Bad mom!
My run with the hydration belt was a success, but not without a few adjustments which can be expected when adapting to a new piece of gear. First of all, if you have never ran with one of these, be prepared for a tight fit. If you don't cinch it very snugly around your waist, it will bounce. After a little playing with it throughout the first mile though I was able to stabilize it and find a comfortable fit. It was fairly easy to retrieve while running, but being the most uncoordinated person in the world that I am, I always have to stop and walk briskly while I down a few swigs of water. Otherwise, my chin and chest area simply get a refreshing drench and I remain thirsty and discombobulated trying to continue running (and I thought motherhood had allowed me to perfect the art of multi-tasking). One other adjustment for me, which is simply another mind quirk, is that between songs on my Ipod I could hear the water swish while I pounded the pavement and it completely took me out of my zone (like nails on a chalkboard, just one of those things). No big deal though. A little humming to myself while Fergie stepped in for Madonnna and I was just fine. Overall, it was a definite worthwhile investment. And if you are coordinated and non-quirky (aka: normal), then I think it would be a winner for anyone running over 5+ miles. It also has a convenient pouch area where I was able to stash my cell phone and a handful of energy beans. I am thrilled with my purchase and if you are in the market for hydration gear - check out Amphipod. They have a great variety of functional choices and I have my eye on a new Ipod arm band from them next.

Highlight of Last Week: I just ate an insanely good chicken burrito with an avocado ranch sauce from a local hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. While I am posting this on Monday, it totally cancels out the calories I burned during at least one of last week's run - so I am counting it as last week's highlight.

Lesson of Last Week: No matter how much you practice, coordination is not a learned trait. And even though I love to dance, I will never be good at it.

Power Song of last Week: For Your Entertainment by Adam Lambert. Never did I ever think I would be posting an Adam Lambert song as my power song but the beginning of this song just pumps me up. "So hot, out the box, can we pick up the pace? Turn it up, heat it up, I need to be entertained. Push the limit, are you with it, baby don't be afraid. I'm gonna hurt you real good..." Okay, where are my running shoes?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Keepin' On, Keepin' On

64 Days To Go

What a great week this has been! For many reasons, some of which (of course) I am going to share. My little chunky monkey is becoming more of a little person each day. He took his first steps recently. His expressions, laughter, mimics, and gestures show me how much more aware he is becoming of the world around him. It is a blissful time in mommyhood. On the running front, I have found further support pop up in encouraging places. This feature on the Athleta Chi website was a true honor.
If you are not familiar with the Athleta Chi blog, head over to their site and check it out. I have been drooling over Athleta active apparel for quite some time, but the community they have built on their Chi site is something every athlete/mother/woman/ _____ (insert your own self-description here) should peruse for inspiration on living a healthy lifestyle.

Running has been quite enjoyable this past week. There have been a few sneak peek Fall breezes that make my evening runs a refreshing and crisp experience. I am feeling my legs become more powerful and my will more determined as I grow closer to the big day in November. We've decided to take advantage of the trip down to St. Pete and also make a v-line to Disney for the monkey's first Mickey Mouse experience (that's aside from Playhouse Disney on TV, of course. Can you say "meeska, mooska, Mickey Mouse!") before heading to the half. (P.S. I am also soliciting any advice from experienced mamas on the Disney experience. What should I bring? Where should we stay? What should we do? It will be a one-day trip, most likely. After all, he'll only be one-year-old and mama has a race to prepare for.)
Another week of Stroller Strides (or Strollercise, as my husband calls it) three days this week and I have the sore muscles to prove it. Hurts so good! I am looking forward to my long run on Sunday and testing my new Amphipod hydration belt I purchased. I'll let you know how it goes.

Happy running, friends!

Monday, September 13, 2010

68 Days To Go

68 Days To Go
Where is the time going? Sixty-eight days to go...wowzers. I still remember typing my first post back in the beginning of May for this blog and thinking how long 200 days was. My, my, my, how time flies. Fast-forward 132 days and here I am confirming hotel reservations, choosing my running "attire" for the big day (the important things, y'know), and realizing this is real and I am in this for the long haul. The 13.1 mile LONG haul - run, walk, or crawl.
A bit of bad news I haven't shared yet is that it is looking more and more like I am running this half on my own, minus the team that emerged after I made my announcement I was training for the half. Most of my friends/teammates had to bow out, and not without good reason. Pregnancy, stress fractures, medical school - I suppose they are all legitimate excuses, right? (Smile.) Now, don't get me wrong - I am disappointed, but I had prepared for this. I went it in this challenge alone and I am prepared to finish alone. This is my journey. I am happy to share this journey, but I can't let it go. I'm attached. I'm committed.
In good news, this past week I discovered a fitness group called Stroller Strides. Do you have one of these in your area? Okay, I'll be honest, I heard about this group a while back but completely underestimated it. I pictured a group of ladies leisurely strolling around pushing jogging strollers, sipping lattes, with an occasional power walk mom-march weaved in. Not the case. This group focuses on interval training - running from one station to another where resistance training, plyometrics, and body strength conditioning take place before running to the next station. This has been a great addition to my schedule on cross-training and stretch and strengthen training days. Not to mention, I get to enjoy a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico during evening classes and some optimal window shopping at the local outdoor mall during the morning classes. You know how I feel about things that involve shopping!
After this week is over I will be moving on to Week Five in the Hal Higdon training (I have done each week twice before progressing to the next). I keep hoping the Fall weather will arrive early before I get into these 7, 8, 9 (oh, it keeps going) runs that I am staring at in my very near future.
Here's last week's recap:
Highlight of Last Week: Realizing I can not wait any longer - it's time to start shopping for hydration belts or some other means of hydration for long runs. I've hit the milestone where hydration is necessary....and I get to shop!
Lesson of Last Week: Don't underestimate and/or be afraid to give new things a try. If you don't like it, don't do it again. I love the addition of the Stroller Strides classes to my training schedule. I should have tried it sooner.
Power Song of Last Week: Rock That Body by Black Eyed Peas. What can I say? I love me some Black Eyed Peas.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dress Like A Runner

75 Days To Go
I am happy to report that shortly after my bellyaching over last week's progress, I actually had a very nice conclusion to my week of training. My long run was a success and I even hit a few "runner" milestones during the week's final run.

For my first milestone, I swallowed a bug. Actually, there was no opportunity for swallowing. I was gasping for air in through my mouth and a bug streamlined down my throat like an F-15 jet on a rescue mission (which reminded me to focus on my breathing - in through the nose, out through the mouth. Hopefully, then I can avoid future open-mouthed gasping inhales in which unknown insects are launched down my throat with no opportunity to hack, cough, or perform any other demonstration of extraction before digestion occurs.)
For milestone two, I found out why compression shorts are a necessity.
This leads me to this week's wrap-up. I have decided to focus on another segment in my "Like A Runner" series (I have also decided it is now a series). This week's focus - Dress Like A Runner.
Now, you might say - what's the big deal in what you wear when running? Yes, I thought this myself too - however, I have come to learn that an educated choice in running apparel not only has functional advantages, but can also lead to an unforeseen boost in confidence. This, in turn, adds a little extra pep in the step when approaching those often dreaded last few miles of your long run. Without further adieu, let's begin with my first three.

1. Compression Shorts
What I thought this was: Undergarments only for men - to keep the junk in the trunk (for lack of a better term. Pardon me.) I will admit, I purchased a pair a while back in an effort to prevent what I have heard referred to as "hungry butt." Otherwise known as the wedgie.
What it actually is: Well, I get half credit. Compression shorts do serve the aforementioned purpose, but they actually have other very positive functions for females. I have mentioned before that I like to think of my thighs rubbing together when I run as a means of producing energy (aka: the chub rub). However, too much energy can burn. And then my friends, enters the wonderful purpose for these wrestle-to-pull-them-on, tight, little-bitty, shorty shorts, also known as, compression shorts. (Such a clever name.)
Some also believe they can help prevent lower back pain, warm up muscles, yadda, yadda, yadda. Bottom line (and I'm going to be frank), they prevent chaffing.
My afterthought: I have some favorites already. I own the Nike brand - but I had no idea they came in pink! I love Sports Authority. Asics has a variety of styles including this pair which boasts elastic material that helps stabilize the spinal column. Fancy.

2. Understanding the Phrase "Cotton Is Rotten"
What I thought this was: When I first heard this phrase among runner chatter I thought it was like back in high school, when the cool kids made fun of those kids that wore the generic Keds tennis shoes or non-Guess jeans (I know, I'm going middle school vintage on you).
What it actually is: Basically, the idea is that moisture-wicking material is best. Why? Due to the fact that cotton becomes soaked when you sweat and stays wet. Moisture wicking material helps decrease this and aids in keeping you dry. Keeping you dry helps prevent the forbidden chaffing situation that I previously described.
My afterthought: Some of my favorite running shirts are cotton. I also have a few cotton sports bras. There, I said it. Due to the current Florida heat, I admit these cotton favs are some of the last items I will wear when choosing my daily running attire. But the fact is, I hate laundry and I can't justify spending much more on running gear in order to transform myself into a total non-cotton wearing runner. Hmmmm, as I am thinking about it though - I do like to reward myself when a milestone is hit. And the way I handled that whole bug situation was really big of me. I just kept on running. I think my local Nike outlet is due for a visit from me.

3. Running Skirts
What I thought this was: I'm going to be honest. When I first spotted these I thought it was similar to when I was a kid (man, do I relate everything to my childhood? I'm beginning to see a pattern here.) when many of the socialite moms of my classmates pranced around in tennis skirts when picking up their kiddos from school, picking up groceries, picking up new clothes...pretty much when doing anything but picking up a tennis racket. I mean really, running in a skirt? It just didn't make sense to me.
What it actually is: A HUGE trend in the running world. Serious female athletes are sporting their skirts in style. And the more I read about the reasons why, the more of a proponent I become. Why shouldn't a woman look and feel good when working hard and forcing others to eat her dust (as her skirt gently flaps in the wind as she passes)? These skirts also provide a great compression short lining and a very discreet way to hide a hungry butt. There is even a Skirtchaser 5k series nation-wide.
My afterthought: Okay, I''m not there yet, but I am intrigued. I am a fashion junkie. I often utter the words "Hello, Lover" when I pass certain stores. I am having a hard time justifying why I haven't taken the running skirt plunge yet. We shall see.
If your finding yourself intrigued too: Check out these images from that I have been eyeing. I'm actually kind a touch obsessed with this site now that I found it. They even have a maternity line! Love that.

Okay, now it's your turn. I want to know your running apparel must-haves or what new apparel you found to be a necessity in your journey in becoming a runner?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tired...and Happy!

78 Days To Go
Well, the week's not over just yet but I needed to make a confession - it has been a bit of a tough one. I totally now understand why avid runners are in bed by 8pm and have their own little social circles of other runners to mingle with over coffee rather than going out and painting the town red every weekend. My indulgent weekend (which was still worth it, by the way. I'm not taking that back) has left me a little sluggish this week. In fact today, when I was finishing up my run I stopped to cross the street, hardly a block away from my house, and when I pressed the crosswalk button things became a bit fuzzy and I noticed my head spinning a touch. Yikes! A scary dizzy spell when you have your tiny tot in the stroller in front of you getting ready to cross a fairly busy intersection is not a pleasant experience. I did manage to call the Hubs and tell him to come out of the house quick (a little overly concerned, but hey, I was picturing myself face planted on the sidewalk and someone coming and stealing my adorable little child and leaving me for roadkill. And yes, I tend to be a tad paranoid. It's my nature.) A few steps later and a couple of swigs of water down, I was fine. But I was also reminded I need to drink more water. Lots and lots of water.

On a much happier note (and ironic based on my above rant), I was awarded a blog award by fellow blogger Amy, over at Fit and Fabulous After 40. It is the Happy 101 Award and it calls for me to list ten things that make me happy - so here I go.

1. My little Monkey's laugh (most often achieved by a tickle to the belly or a fake sneezing session).

2. Sitting at the table for dinner - all three of us. My picture perfect.

3. When I make my Hubs laugh (with me, not at me).

4. When Monkey lays his head on my chest, thumb in mouth, and remains idle for a small period of time (this is when the world stops, no matter what).

5. Looking at the Gulf of Mexico and knowing how fortunate I am to call this home.

6. Coffee (in an oversized cup so that when I refill I can count it as only two, rather than four cups)

7. Fiji water (overpriced, yes. Overrated, definitely not)

8. Close friends that know you in and out - ugly and pretty, good and bad - the whole story.

9. A weekend marathon of trashy reality TV (preferably a Housewives series).

10. Moving through my day and remembering my run from earlier that morning (it is over and I achieved my daily goal).

Now to pay it forward, I am going to nominate Jen, over at One Step at a Time. She maintains a positive attitude and humorous outlook throughout a challenging journey.

I liked this little exercise. It just made me give thanks for all of my blessings. Now, you try. What are at least five things that make you happy?