Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The M Word

Why is it that our brains cannot seem to call up the endorphinal high we feel after a good run when we really need it—before the run! And if it does, even slightly, then why aren’t we chomping at the bit to get out the door?

If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s almost like Groundhog Day for your brain. If you’re anything like me, you go through this whole process every time you decide to run, and it looks something like this.

It starts with an innocent proposal. That warm, sleepy, groggy brain of yours has a brilliant idea: I should go for a run!

Then, optimism: I should go for a run this morning. Which means I should probably run right now!

You look out of the window. It’s cold. And dark. Was that wind I heard? Bad juju starts to creep in. My bed feels so good, and even though it’s spring, it’s really cold out there. And dark. Running in the cold and dark seems scary.

Next, we see some bargaining: How about I just run a mile? Just get out there and run and maybe I’ll want to run more! Just think how badass I will be if I do get out and run in the cold, dark wind.

If we can somehow stop this whole bargaining process of “should I run?” and just get out there and run, we’d be much happier, and we’d have more time on our hands.

The sooner we drag our butts out the door and run, the sooner we get to feel that great exhausted feeling of just having run. Stop thinking that the weather will be better in an hour, or that you’ll have more energy, or that you need to throw in a load of laundry before you go. Just get out there and run.

We’ve heard of muscle memory. Well now it’s time to talk motivational memory. The more positive runs you rack up, the more your brain will tell you to get your butt out the door. It becomes less of a big deal, and more of a habit. If we can build a good habit of running, our bodies and our minds thank us, and we can stop this ridiculous process of questioning whether we should.

Things that help to bypass the “should I run?” question: schedule a run with a friend or two. If it’s scheduled, and there’s a definite time, there is no question. Join a running group with scheduled weekly workouts.

Or just tell your brain to shut the hell up and go run.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I Won A Race Today!

Today, I won my first race!

Me! A 50-year old woman, who only just started running six years ago! I'm not talking first in my age group. Oh no! I won the freaking race!

Did I tell you the race consisted of three people?
Did I mention the fact that the other racers had no idea they were competing with me?
Oh, and did I gloss over the fact that I didn't even know I was racing them until, well, until I wanted to KICK THEIR ASSES!

Let me take you there. I woke up a little late today because I watched the meteor shower on the beach last night until late with my three boys, who, you should know, are all taller than me now. I'm just getting back into running after being sidelined for a few miserable weeks, so slow and steady was the name of the game. Throw on the running clothes, shove a banana in my mouth, grab a bottle of water, and I'm out the door. It's already warm, so I told myself I'm just going to log a nice, easy 3 miles.

The first mile was pretty awesome, as far as first miles go. The songs were pumping right along with my footsteps, I'm passing walkers, and I'm as jacked up as I can possibly be. Man, it's good to be able to run. I felt like I was flying by at some amazingly fast pace. I looked at my watch to see the typical double digit pace, not the single digit pace I was hoping for. But that's ok, because it felt good!

Come the turnaround, I walked for a few minutes to catch my breath, knowing I had to run back a little quicker than I'm used to so I could see Son #2 off to work. Just as I started to run again, a very fast (much younger) runner girl passed me, so I did what any of you would've done. I picked up the pace just a little, if only to see if I could actually run as fast as she was running, even for just a few seconds. I couldn't, so I let her go.

The jams were pumping and I was having a good time towards the end of Mile 2. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, than fast runner girl walking up ahead! "I Get To Pass Young Fast Runner Girl" replaced the song I was listening to, and I whizzed by her, feeling pretty good about myself. As I approach the beginning of Mile 3, my right calf started talking to me. The fear of being sidelined again took over, so I started to walk to sort it out. Can you see where I'm going with this? Young Fast Runner Girl flies by me once again, sweat glistening on her well-toned shoulders. Yes, she actually glistened. Damn her! Fast and glistening.

Too busy daydreaming about having shoulders as nice as YFRG, out of my periphery came another woman who ran right by me. Justlikethat. In my reverie, I had dismissed everyone else on the road that morning except for me and YFRG. The woman who stealth-passed me had on a matching running skirt and top. Very well put-together running outfit. Really nicely done. But she's going down. We are approaching the end of this 3-mile run, and I became determined to beat Miss Skirt. She had put some space between us, and I needed to catch her.

I turned on the speed as much as I possibly could, but didn't look down at my pace, for fear I'd be disappointed. Just keep running, just keep running. Dodge the kids on bikes with surfboards, the impatient drivers, just keep running. In my attempt to catch up to Miss Skirt, I see YFRG just up ahead, and in my mind, I'm OK coming in second to her, just as long as I can pass Skirty McSkirterson. In a complete upset, YFRG starts walking again, I pass her, then move up to pass Skirtarific, and I WIN THE RACE! Seven blocks early to boot! I did not see this coming! Much like Bruce Caitlyn Jenner in the Olympics, I did a victory lap for those last seven blocks, mostly out of sheer fear that one of them would beat me to the finish line.

I turned down my street feeling victorious!

And then I thought, neither of these women knew that they were characters in my little show this morning. They have no clue as to how much they have motivated me to run a little faster, go a little further, and make up names and fun stories about them. Neither one of them knew that I was just coming off of an injury, out for a slow 3 before my son goes to work. And I didn't know anything about them, except what I could see. Glistening and everything. The race I won this morning was 3-ish miles, the start and finish happening on my street, at a random time because I overslept, that no one else knew about. I won it because I said so.

Maybe YFRG was doing timed sprints this morning. Maybe Miss Skirty-Pants was going out for her very first run in ten years and wanted to rock the outfit.

It's so easy to compare yourself to another person, but do yourself a favor and just DON'T DO IT. "Comparison is the thief of joy" is the quote that comes to mind. How can any of us possibly know what another runner/friend/co-worker/neighbor is going through? My "three miles" and your "three miles" can be shared. While the miles may be the same, the experience for each of us is not. We all have hurdles to overcome, and unless you carry a sign around your neck advertising exactly what fight you are fighting, no one knows! My point is, each one of us makes choices in life according to a set of Extremely Specific Criteria, as a result of Certain Things That Happened. Yours is not the same as mine, even if we're doing the same thing. It's not fair to compare. Not fair to you. Not fair to me. And it'll kill your motivation.  DON'T DO IT.

But DO get out and do what you love. Don't worry about how you look. Don't worry about crazy people like me, putting you in imaginary races. If it wasn't for YFRG and Miss Skirt doing what they loved, I would not have won my very first race.

Do you concoct crazy stories in your head?
Do you glisten? Or do you sweat buckets?
What do you love?

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I'm a sucker for a good New Year's Resolution.

I'm also a sucker for a new goal. 100 Push Ups A Day! Sure, why not? Planksgiving? Bring it on! How hard can it be to do a little something each and every day? Run streaks are a particular weakness. Run streaks sound so easy. Just run at least one mile every day, no matter what. I've never been able to keep up a streak for fear of being sidelined with an injury, but it sounds totally badass. Like those people who just happen to start a run streak around Thanksgiving, and then never stop for like ten years. They're badass rockstars.

So a few days ago I learned I had eleven more miles to run to reach a nice round number for the year. Since I'm a numbers gal, this made me happy because I like nice round numbers, especially those ending in 00. This meant I'd have to run about 3.5 miles for each of the next three days to reach that number. Nothing like setting a last minute goal, huh?

As I was running yesterday, I thought about how easy this particular little goal will be to accomplish. I planned when and where I was going to run, and I was able to get those runs done. And here I am, on the first day of the new year, knowing that I've run this number of miles over the entire course of the year.

Running is such a bitch, isn't she? On really good runs, Running says "You, my dear, are an awesome runner. You can propel yourself through the universe in a way like no other!" You then proceed to buy a lot of running-related stuff to support your love of Running, because, Yay Running! Then on a morning when you don't feel like running, Running says, "Honey, it's ok if you don't run today, you'll get out tomorrow. You deserve a break today! Sweetheart, you don't get paid for this. Sometimes, life gets in the way. I understand." Running is understanding! Running knows how busy I am! Running is the best, isn't she?

I'm telling you, Running is a persuasive bitch. One non-running day can easily turn into more non-running days than you're comfortable with. Then Running is like, "You need to run, you lazy, lumpy protoplasmic blob!" "But, you said it was ok not to run, Running! You said, 'Life gets in the way sometimes', remember?" And then Running just smiles, and you know that smile. And you run.

I did reach my last-minute, mini mileage goal for the year. I was able to get those 11 miles in, and then some, with no problem. Now, here we are, in a new year, ripe with the possibilities of so many huge resolutions to make. I'm taking a different stance. I'm going to think about small changes, like those 11 miles, that are easy and doable. Think small, not big. If you do that, by the end of the year, I promise you, you will have reached your huge goal.

So what are your goals?

Do you think Running is a bitch?

Happy New Year!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Some Is Better Than None

I may have figured out the meaning of life this morning during my run.  And let me just take a minute to thank myself for getting out to run this morning, because that has become a feat in itself lately.  If you're anything like me, there are a million decisions that need to be made before I actually step foot outside the door. Should I eat a little something first, or wait until afterwards?  What about coffee? Should I have a cup now, or use coffee as my reward for having run?  Do I throw in a load of laundry? I'm such a multitasker!  Laundry and running before 8 am?  How awesome am I?  If I don't eat, I may bonk out. Never mind that I'm only running 3 miles and there are a crapload of places to grab something to eat (I am at the beach, after all.)  Do I see a rain cloud?  Maybe I should wait.  Coffee first.  Definitely coffee first. And on, and on, and on.

Well, I did get myself out the door and I went for a run.  Let me take you there.  During the first mile, I rationalize, make excuses, beat myself up and become ADD girl. Wow, we're certainly slug-like this morning, aren't we?  I should be really flipping proud of the 11+ minute  mile I'm running right now...NOT.  I should have gotten out on Tuesday to run.  Cute dog!  Why is this woman running on the wrong side of the road?  Ooo, but her running shoes are cute!  Those two people walking sure take up the entire lane!  Is this kid going to ride his bike right into me?  When I looked down next, my pace had increased to 10+ minutes per mile and I felt the tiniest bit happy.  Then the questions, self-doubt and ADD started to creep in again.  Can I sustain this pace?  For some people, this is easy-peasy pace, but not me.  For me, this pace is pretty good.  Hell, it is amazing that I can run more than a mile!  Gosh, this is feeling really hard.  I get why people walk.  Maybe I should walk too.  I continue to push myself, the continuous threads of gibberish having spun themselves into, and back out of, my brain.  When I heard the beep of my watch indicating that my run was over, I felt great, accomplished and sparkly.  Don't you love that sparkle you feel after a run?  My mother-in-law actually described me that way once after I returned from a run.  We do sparkle after a run!  Voices are a little more giddy, eyes a little brighter, demeanors are exponentially more, well, sparkly!

As I stretched afterwards, I gave myself a little love.  I told myself it was OK that I didn't run on Tuesday because I ran today.  I told myself that my 11+-minute mile was better than a zero-minute mile.  All of a sudden, the silly decisions that I thought were so important before I ran became much less important, and what became very clear to me is this:  some is better than none.  All is better than nothing.  A little is better than not at all.  You've got to learn to work with what you've got, because when you do get it, it's that much sweeter.  There's a time to hit it hard, and a time to take it easy.  Don't beat yourself up for taking it easy, just make sure you get out tomorrow morning, or ask a friend to run (walk, bike, hike, whatever!)  Don't give it up, because what you don't know is how good you'll feel after you drag yourself, sometimes kicking and screaming, out the door, still with a thousand little decisions yet to be decided and the dirty laundry remaining dirty.  We sure put up some roadblocks for ourselves, don't we?  Try to shut your brain off for the minute it takes you to drag yourself out that door, then let it rip!  Let your mind go.  Let your legs, your arms, your doubt, your crazy, your problems go.  You will not regret it, I promise you.  You will have participated in some self-therapy, burned some calories and figured some stuff out.  Go.

Your sparkly self will thank you.

Do you find it easy to get out the door for a run?

Do you have a constant dialogue in your head while you run?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Without Running...

As I find myself in the beginning of 2014, I look forward to my running birthday.  I will be a five year-old runner in April 2014.  I ran my first half marathon in April 2010, at the age of 44, and I've been hooked ever since.

Don't get me wrong.  It's not that I found an innate, natural-born talent to run at a late age.  On the contrary, I found the strength to conquer something that was the furthest thing from natural born talent that you can imagine.  Running was never something I was good at, enjoyed, or even looked good doing.  When I was forced to run the mile in elementary school, I was sent home early because the gym teacher thought I was going to have a heart attack, I had so many red blotches all over my face.  Love that the gym teacher gave us zero guidance when it came to pacing.  Thanks Mr. Staats.

The year I turned 44, I realized that I could do this thing.  Instead of saying "no way," I said "why not?"  How hard could it be?  So I did it, and once I crossed my first finish line, I never looked back and I never said "Never again."  On the contrary, I rejoiced to anyone that would listen, "When is the next race?"

After five years of running on a very consistent basis (and when is the last time you really were consistent with anything?  I mean, I diet once a month, I stop drinking wine once a month, and I swear off whatever 'bad thing of the month' that is bugging me, but it never sticks!), I have some perspective to offer you.

Without running, I'd be a complete bitch.  No mincing words here.

Without running, my kids would have no reason (ok, one less reason) to be proud of me.

Without running, I would not have learned that a marathon consists of 26.2 miles.  (As a runner, you always get asked, "How long is your marathon?", and that's OK.  I forgive you.)

Without running, I would not know what a devoted husband I have.  He shows up to every race, and he's there at the finish line with Gatorade and a snack selection.

Without running, I wouldn't have the friends that I cherish today.

Without running, I would just lack purpose.

Without running, I wouldn't have anything to bitch about to my husband.

Without running, I'd probably be about 50 pounds heavier.

Without running, I'd be deprived of that high I get almost every time I head out.

Without running, I would not have an excuse to take that Saturday afternoon nap.

Without running, I'm pretty sure that I'd still have dessert, but I wouldn't feel as justified.

Without running, I'd have less cool clothing in my closet.

Without running, I couldn't talk about training in these frigid temperatures, or the heat of the summer, and feel like a total rock star.

Without running, I would not feel proud of myself.

I think that's what it comes down to.  I'm not doing this for anyone else but me.  I run races, not to display medals (ok, well maybe...), but to say, "I did this!"  In 48 years of living, I can honestly say that there is nothing else that compels me like running does.  I don't always love running, especially before I run, but I never regret having run, even after the worst runs I can remember.  It's like a notch on your belt, life experience, a new wrinkle.  It happened for a reason, and for every run, good or bad, I can tell you that I've never regretted doing it.  You just have to get yourself out there, but once you're out, you've got it.

And for the inner chubby, unpopular, lazy, awkward kid that I was, that's a pretty big deal.

So what is it that motivates you, and gets you out of bed in the morning? 

What makes you less of a bitch?

What makes you feel like a rock star?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

From "I Can't" to "Maybe I Can"

Have you seen this?

This is Maria Kang, and she seems to be causing quite a stir.  There are camps that say she's knocking overweight women, and there are camps that are saying, "You go girl!"  I happen to be in the 'you go girl' camp, but that is neither here nor there.  Discussing the stir surrounding this picture is not my goal today, however.  My goal is offer understanding, and perhaps lend some perspective to the buzz.

No one gives birth to three children and looks like that without a lot of hard work.  However she got there, that's where she is, and I don't begrudge her that.

I used to come from a place of "I can't."  After the high school mile debacle, my mantra was "I can't run."  My ex-husband used to like to say, "She can't cook, she can't clean, and she can't sew."  (As if that's all a wife was good for!  Ha!  Good riddance, you jerk!)  So I didn't cook, didn't clean and I still don't sew.  I signed up for a 5:30 a.m. bootcamp once, and I was so tired at the end of the day, that I decided I couldn't do that either.

That all changed one day, when I said to myself, "Maybe I can."  A friend asked me to run a local half marathon with her.  Of course my first answer was, "I can't."  Then I asked myself why I thought I could not at least attempt this.  Why couldn't I try?  Why couldn't I train for this?  I could not come up with a good answer.  That is when I committed 100% to this goal of finishing a half marathon, and I've never looked back.

Unlike the high school cross country athlete who perhaps walks away from her sport to further her career, get married and have children, I was not an athlete as a kid.  I didn't do much at all until I decided to run a half marathon at the age of 44.  I wasn't a gym rat, I did some Jazzercize back in the day (now I'm really dating myself!), but exercise was not a part of my life.  

Deciding to do this seemingly impossible thing was something I committed to like it was my job.  Look for a coach, find a gym, do the workouts, read the books and magazines, eat the right food, and take it one day at a time.  One workout at a time, even.  When you approach a goal this way--take small bites each day in pursuit of your goal--it is completely doable and you learn so much about yourself while you're getting there.

If I didn't have that shift in my thinking, I would not be the person I am today.  Maria Kang's body didn't just happen.  Maybe she used to be in a place of "I can't" just like the rest of us.  You'd never know it from the picture, because humility was not one of her goals in posting it.  That's ok, everyone is different.  I'd rather allow people to see the good, the bad and the ugly.  You don't see all the hard work, stress on the family, sweat and discomfort that Maria endured in order to get to the picture you see.  I'm willing to expose that side of me.  Now granted, I don't look like she does!  I used to weigh 25 pounds more than I do today, but I'm still not that!  What I am is stronger, leaner and faster than I used to be, and that's what's important to me.  You can never go into something new and different without telling yourself that the only person that you're trying to be better than is yourself.

Today, when you're thinking of all the things that seem impossible to do, allow the thought of "Maybe I can..." to work its way into your brain.  We all have it in us to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  Instead of convincing ourselves that we can't, let the maybe in.

Do you have a goal that you think you can't accomplish?  

What's your excuse?

Happy Thursday, everyone!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wineglass Half Marathon Weekend Update

Sit down, grab some coffee and put those reading glasses on!  It's Weekend Update time!

This past weekend I ran the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, NY.  Ever since the hotel debacle that happened the night before my full marathon in 2011, I have been a stickler for booking the right hotel way in advance of race weekend.  Corning is about 190 miles away from home, which meant an opportunity for us to get away for the weekend at a nice, cushy hotel.  Hotel options were not abundant in Corning, so we ended up finding a very nice hotel in a little town called Watkins Glen, in the Finger Lakes region.  Watkins Glen is about 30 miles from Corning, but I figured that'd give us the chance to see the general area, and catch some local flavor.

My husband and I started our journey on Friday afternoon.  Knowing that this particular race was a "goal race," I decided that I would not be consuming a drop of alcohol this weekend.  If you know anything about me, you know I enjoy a nice glass of wine now and again, especially when we travel.  I am not the kind of girl to give up a beautiful Pinot Noir just because there is a race the next day.  In fact, once I completed a 20-mile training run while I was still tipsy from the night before.

During the ride, I had that feeling that you get when you know you forgot something important.  I mentally ticked off the checklist in my head, and realized that whatever it was that I had forgotten could be purchased at our destination.  We weren't visiting a third-world country, after all.  As we pulled up to our hotel, I am happy that it looks lovely.  Checked in, ordered some room service, snuggle into bed and had a good night's sleep.  Upon waking the next morning, I quickly realize what I had forgotten.

Perhaps you do not fully comprehend the exhaustive list of things you must remember for a race, especially while traveling.  The obvious things like running shoes, socks, outfit, and Garmin come easily.  The other things require some thought.  Should I run with music, or without?  With requires armband and headphones.  If I run without music, I need something to carry my phone, so I'll pack that little waistband thingy, which also holds my GU.  May as well pack another pair of running shoes, just in case, and ok fine, another pair of socks.  Then it's time to decide what kind of head covering to wear.  If it's going to be hot, a visor.  If it's going to rain, a cap.  Grab both, decide later.  Don't forget the ponytail holder.  Sunscreen, handheld water bottle, Body Glide, sunglasses, race-morning breakfast options, baby wipes for guerilla-type shower after race so I don't smell up car on the way home.  I got it all.  Except for one thing--underwear.  Yes, I remembered every piece of runner minutiae ever invented, but I forgot good, old-fashioned underwear.  Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and micromanaging.

Good thing we had Saturday to have some fun.  And underwear shop.  Before I continue with the rest of the weekend, I have to give a shout-out to Trip Advisor.  We used this app extensively to find the mall (underwear) and restaurants (breakfast).  Very useful.  Breakfast was at Savard's Family Restaurant, and they had really cool placemats where there are hidden objects drawn into the ads to pass the time while waiting for food.

This happened to be a place frequented by the biker crowd.  I would've taken a picture of them, but I feared for my life.  We're still not sure what the attraction of the bikers to that town was.  Maybe one of you know?

We headed to the expo from there to grab my bib, and little did we know that they gave out other goodies too!

I picked the wrong day to quit drinking!

There was a wineglass too, but Jim already wrapped it up.

The Corning Museum of Glass was next, since it was next door to the YMCA where we picked up the bib and goodies.  We saw the Hot Glass Show, where they demonstrated how to blow glass (very cool), and we shopped at the museum store.  Here are a few pictures of us at the Glass Museum.

I did mention our sense of humor was juvenile, right?

Since I was without significant underclothing, next on the agenda was, well, that.  Trip Advisor to the rescue again!  We found the local mall, and had a good time with the name.  It was the Arnot Mall.  As in, "We Arnot a real mall."  We found this to be true.  It was the most depressing mall at which we ever had the pleasure of shopping.  Since we were kid-less for the weekend, we decided to take in a movie at the (We) Arnot (a) Regal Movie Theatre.  We saw Gravity, with Sandra Bullock and five minutes of George Clooney.  We liked it.

Back to our lovely hotel for a nap, then dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant.

Sunday morning started out wet.  We woke up at 5 a.m. to pouring rain.  Good thing I had many cap options, and if necessary, we could've stopped at the (We) Arnot (a) Convenience Store for a trash bag rain coat.  Fortunately, it wasn't necessary!  Yay!  All the rain did its thing by 7 a.m., and it was cool, dry and absolutely perfect running weather.  Here's my selfie on race morning.

I will not go into all the runner-specific details of my race.  Suffice it to say, it confusled me.  That's pronounced 'con-fuse-eld.'  I was surprised at how strong I felt throughout the entire race, and thought I could turn in a significant PR (personal record), but it turned out I was a little overly-confident.  OK, a lot.  I ran a very consistent race, and in fact, my most consistent.  You see, I usually lose it at about mile 10.  I start to ask questions like, "Who the hell signed me up for this race?", and "I'm older!  What makes me think I can still run 13.1 miles again this year?"  But that didn't happen!  I was almost surprised at myself because I felt so strong at mile 10.  I thought for sure I'd run it faster than my best.

It's all good though, I was only a few minutes slower than my best, and I'm OK with that.  I like to think about my husband and kids as I cross, and the fact that I am completely in control of my accomplishments.  In fact, these days, I'm learning it's one of the only things I can control.  The race wound through charming towns, had friendly and encouraging crowd support, and the best thing?  The medal.  You've gotta see this medal.

And here I am, after finishing my tenth half marathon since I began running in 2010.  I gotta tell you, it's a great feeling!

Are you forgetful?

Do you have a juvenile sense of humor?  I probably would not if it weren't for my husband.  He brings out the best (worst?) of me.

Thanks for stopping by!