My Motivation Left The Station.

IMG_8387

Fall in the Pacific Northwest means sunsets by 4:30 and rain on the daily. It means doubling up the dose of Vitamin D, warm beverages, and a loss of motivation when it comes to running…what?

This time of year, it is all I can do to lace up my shoes and get out that door when it’s both pitch black and raining. There are so many excuses I can muster up. Cold, wet, rainy, dark, I’m tired. Haven’t I mentioned all of these before? Lately, my middle ground has been to run on the dreaded treadmill at the gym. Gasp! I know. I’ve decided that it at least allows me to keep a solid pace. Which, I’m terrible at doing on both the pavement and trail. Not only that, but it is the biggest mental challenge to run on that damn thing.

Let’s talk motivation. Because that’s what seems to wane this time of year. When does the motivation seem to lack the most? When we need it the most. When we’re tired, when we’re not in a fully positive mood, when the gym or the running shoes seem a million miles away. When work was particularly long or difficult. How do we muster up that energy and get it done?

I cannot speak for anyone else but myself. When I start to climb on the doubt and negativity train, here is what I do:

  1. Remember your why. Why do I run? Why do I workout? Why am I even doing this? Why did I start?- I run because it is my therapy. I run for catharsis and mental clarity. I run for the challenge, both mental and physical.
    – I workout to grow. I workout to gain strength, agility, flexibility. I workout to cross train and better prepare for my runs. I workout to challenge myself and see how hard I can push to see change.
    – I started because I do not like to be stagnant. I need a challenge. I thrive on change. Especially when it comes to my own body. I started because I knew my body had so much room to grow.
  2. Reflect on and review goals. 

    – A sidenote about goals. They need to be clear, measurable, and achievable. ‘I want to run faster’ is a noble concept. However, how do you measure it? Faster than what? How fast you’re running now? Faster than a cheetah? Instead, one might say their goal is to run a sub 8:30 mile by the end of the year. This is faster than their current mile time of 8:45. By making our goals measurable and achievable, we are more likely to actually work towards them.
    – My biggest goal right now is to PR the Holiday Half Marathon this year. This means running a sub 1:55 or about an 8:40 mile. In order to do this well, I need to be pushing myself regularly.

  3. Find inspiration or accountability. -Finding someone who inspires you can help push you towards your goals and help you stay motivated. Just what we want, right? Currently, Oiselle and their amazing flock of runners are my motivation. Their zest for life, their zeal for running and their constant positive spirit keeps me going when the last thing I want to do is lace up. Their motto, “Head up, wings out” has kept me through more runs than I care to admit.-Accountability is also an important component to motivation. Tell someone your goals, post about them to social media, find a running or workout partner. Find someone to hold you accountable to your goals and aspirations. It is a powerful motivator.
  4. If all else fails, suck it up, buttercup. 

    What more is there to say? If nothing and no one can help you find that motivation, you have to find it within yourself. You know your goals. You know what you’re working towards. You know you just need to get it done. So, suck it up, buttercup.

FullSizeRender (4)

Rosie the Riveter, anyone?

Does anyone else have any tips for finding motivation?

Tutus, Snowmen, and Continuity.

8721316_orig

It was a clear December morning, and all I could hear was the rhythmic sound of my feet on the path, the thump-thump of my heartbeat in my ears, and the sound of each breath as I exhaled. With each exhalation, the fog of my breath steamed up my glasses. Crisp morning runs like these are my favorite. I ran without thought of pace or distance. I ran to let my mind flow with random thoughts. I ran to appreciate. I ran to reflect on the wonderful, beautiful year that is nearly over.

Last January, I wrote a post called Full of Good Intentions. Among other things, I wrote of New Years resolutions versus New Years Intentions. It made me smile during my run to think about the intentions I’d set a year ago. Last year’s mantra was, ‘wherever you are, be all there.’  The key was balance. Not only physical, but emotional as well. I think, even with my busy and sometimes ridiculous schedule, I managed to do a pretty good job of this throughout the year. One particular moment stood out in my mind. I was beyond stressed with school. -Multiple exams, large projects looming over my head, requirements in dental hygiene clinic to be fulfilled, not to mention an amount of family drama. Normally when I’m stressed, I either run or bake as therapy. In this case, I drove to the beach. With the sound of the waves crashing into the shore, the crunch of the sand beneath my feet, and the salty, brisk air slapping my face, I thought to myself, “wherever you are, be all there.” So, I did. I stood there, breathing deeply. I pushed out all other thoughts. I focused on the moment at hand, thankful to be alive, to think, to love. As my toes sank deeper into the sand, my stresses seemed to disappear with the receding tide. This is what is means to find balance.

This is not to say that I’ve achieved balance in life. Like happiness, I think finding balance is a continuous journey, as life is constantly evolving. That is why I want to set my intention for 2015 as the continuance of 2014 in finding balance. I want to find balance between school and play, social time and ‘me’ time (even if it means learning to say no), and balance between working out because it makes me happy and feels good and working out because I feel I have to.

My other intentions for 2014 were these:

  • Drink 80-100oz of water a day
  • Eat vegetables with every meal
  • Take more photos
  • Write daily
  • PR my next half and full marathon

I can happily report that I ate vegetables 3x/day and drank my quota of water >85% of this year. Now, where’s my skinny body?!

I also PR’ed my marathon in April, finishing more than 10 minutes faster than my first marathon. I did not, however, PR a half this year. The leg injury being a large factor in this.

Taking more photos and writing daily did not happen either. However, with this I provide a very well worded quote and excuse: “You can do anything, but not everything.” My 100% cannot be given to everything, and I had to decide where to place my priorities. Number one: school. Number two: keeping my sanity. I did take photos throughout the year (if the nearly 3,000 photos on my phone say anything.) I did write fairly regularly as well. (Whether this was blogging, writing in a journal, or the occasional bit of poetry.) But, I didn’t want to take two things I enjoy doing and make it something I was obligated to do. Admittedly, I should have blogged more often. I miss reaching out and helping to inspire and entertain others with my internet ramblings.

With that I say, bring on 2015! This year’s intentions:

  • Continuity of balance and personal growth
  • PR my next marathon (Bend Marathon on April 26th)
  • Run the entire length of Wildwood Trail in Forest Park (30.2 miles!)
  • Graduate Dental Hygiene school in August with my sanity still intact
  • Travel outside the country at least once
  • Continue making healthy eating choices (less processed food, more fresh fruits and vegetables)
  • Cross train! (I’ve actually already started focusing on this and cannot wait to share with you the small changes…in my next post.)

Goals. Goals should be measurable and achievable. Goals should have objectives. New Years resolutions are goals. New Years intentions are goals. Make them reasonable. Make them measurable so as to be able to track progress. I refuse to set myself up for failure.

Speaking of failing…

What does one do when it is the weekend before a Monday morning, 600 question, cumulative, all class, all day final exam? Run a half marathon whilst wearing a tutu, of course. Studying is for overachievers.

IMG_0101

I’m kidding. Kind of. I ran the half, yes. I also kicked out my house guests to explore Portland while I studied the rest of my weekend away. In case you were curious, I passed. Sweet relief.

The Holiday Half for the third year in a row. This was the race that started my running obsession in 2012, and this will probably be the one race I continue to repeat every year. The course is flat, the aid stations are wonderfully placed, the weather is unpredictable, and cupcakes never tasted so good as after this race. The flavor this time was chocolate with peanut buttercream frosting.

This year, I was joined again by my lovely sister, her new husband, and Eli. We all dressed as snowmen. Yes, with tutus. And buttons. And orange noses. And mini top hats. As many of you readers know, I have a particular love for doing activities with tutus (Especially this one.) I had only gone so far as to run a 15k in a tutu, but never a half-marathon. It worked out great. For the first time though, we made all of the tutus!

IMG_0044

IMG_0051

Two bottles of wine, 15 felt buttons, 4 elastic waistbands, and 32 yards of shiny white tulle later, we had our costumes. The tutus took more tulle than I thought they would. But overall, I loved making them!

IMG_0082

The race itself was fantastic. The weather was perfection. Clear blue skies and brisk, but warm enough to wear shorts and be fairly comfortable. The four of us stayed together the whole run. However,  the dude on the far left of the photo above rocked the socks off his race way ahead of us. I’d like to think he would’ve run faster if he had worn a tutu…

The only downside to the race? My 3 asthma attacks. Yes, 3. And, I even had my inhaler. As I was struggling to breathe, I reflected back to my Pharmacology class and tried to remember what the maximum recommended dose of Albuterol was…to no avail. So, I took another pull off my inhaler. The struggle was real.

I am so thankful to my wonderful family for sticking with me through the entire race, even when I had to walk and wheeze. We ran, we laughed, we sang too many Frozen songs, but most of all, we enjoyed ourselves. -And ate cupcakes at the finish line. Because that is what running is about.

**

Happy 2015, everyone! Here’s to another year of balance, growth, and many, many adventures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Half

20131217-114137.jpg

I begin writing this post with a giant, proud smile pasted across my face. These three people with me in the photo above crossed the finish line of their first half-marathon on December 15th . No one can take that away from them. They trained hard and this race was their reward. Well, and the cupcakes. Which are homemade gluten-free dark chocolate with a mint buttercream frosting. They were gone before the weekend.

My sister and her fiancee came up from the Oregon coast for the weekend. What a whirlwind weekend it was! Christmas parties, Peacock Lane, Pioneer Square, Christmas trees, amazing food. Always amazing food. I cannot show someone Portland and not give them a taste of the delicious food mecca they have stumbled upon. That would be absurd!

I also took sister to Foot Traffic for their expert advice in running shoes. Thank you, Kevin! Both my sister and her fiancee had their gait analyzed and shoes recommended. I even talked them into doing a few test runs around the block. I will just say this: running in knee high boots to provide moral support to someone testing out running shoes is not recommended.

We all ran the race in good spirits (holiday cheer, anyone?) and weather outside was surprisingly cooperative. 40 degrees with intermittent light drizzle. No wind this year, and I am eternally grateful for this.

20131217-114158.jpg

Sister and I ran in matching outfits because we’re awesome. Running tights, highlighter yellow 1/4 zip long sleeve, head bands and gloves. Glorious gloves, there really is something to be said about them. They’re wonderful when it’s cold out. I find that about mile 3 though, they get ditched. It’s the first part of my body to really warm up.

I need to digress for a moment. I’ve been training on an injury. Again. After my last half, pace became almost an obsession. I wanted to PR the Holiday Half more than anything in the world. So I began running with a focus on my speed. I’m proud to say my current 5k best is 21:18, 10k best is 46:50. Though, with this hyper-obsession with pace (which, if in moderation, can definitely be a healthy and motivating thing) , I pushed myself too hard. The week of Thanksgiving, while visiting family, I injured my left ankle and shin. I was out on my well-travelled 6 mile loop in Gold Hill. I was about halfway through, pacing a sub-7 minute mile and pushing it pretty hard, when my tibialis anterior muscle just seized. I couldn’t flex my foot downwards. I came down hard and crumpled in a pile on the pavement. As any runner knows, the first emotion to hit you is not upset at injuring oneself. It is anger that the injury may interfere with one’s running ability. And interfere it did. Two weeks before my half-marathon and I was lying in a heap on the side of the road, staring at my shin and ankle like they were to take all of the blame. How I wished death glares worked on injuries. Eventually, I got back up and hobble/jogged back to my family’s home. Two weeks before my half-marathon and the realization came that a PR probably wasn’t in the books for this girl.

Injury aside, I still ran the half. I was not about to let this huge day for my sister, her fiancee or D slip by without being a part of it! I am so happy I did. Sister and I ran together until about mile 9. We kept a sub-9 minute pace and great conversation. When I run with someone else, I always feel like I need to preface myself with, ‘I am not responsible for any of my words and/or actions during the first three miles.’ That proved quite true in this race. Profanities, complaints, rants…Sorry, sister! My injury decided to really flare up a little more than halfway through the run. So, at mile 9, I slowed for some water and ushered sister on her way with a, “Get it, girl! Kick some ass! I love your face!” I couldn’t keep the 8:45 pace we’d maintained, and she was still feeling good. Those last 4 miles were hard on me, as they are for anyone. I rounded that last corner of the race and locked it in. I gave it all I had left in the tank to cross that finish line with the exact same time as my current PR: 1:57. And that with an injury. My sister kicked my bum with a 1:55 finish, her fiancee crossing the finish line a full 11 minutes before her. Finish line cupcakes were demolished, post-race beers were enjoyed by the boys and many photos were taken.

20131217-114226.jpgNot long after the race, I convinced all three of my lovely Holiday Half-ers to run a full marathon with me. Honestly, it really didn’t take much convincing. Just a few smiles and words of, “it’s really not that hard, I promise.” Okay, okay, so I lied a little. But, it worked. Portland Marathon, here we come!

In addition, we’ve already locked in our next half. One that I’ve also run before. The second annual Hop Hop Half! The next few months will give them that much more time to improve their pace and really whoop my ass! All in good fun, right?

Pride. Happiness. Elation. Inspiration. All of these emotions experienced over the course of our Half weekend. I am so appreciative of the amazing family I have and our shared loves; food and running, namely.

 

I hope all of my lovely readers have the privilege of spending this time of year with those that mean the most to them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve some peppermint hot chocolate to drink in front of the fireplace and some crazy family time to enjoy.

Happy Holidays, all!

20131217-114323.jpg

The Pants Dance

Before I even begin. I’m sorry. I know, I know. It’s nearly a week past the half and I can’t ever make this up to all of you lovely readers.

That aside, I survived! The half is completed, and it’s on to the next one. (More on this later though)
The last 3 weeks of training, for lack of a better word, sucked. er, I mean, was fueled by pure energy and motivation. We all have speed bumps. Right?

Thanksgiving was splendid, as I’m sure was true for most. Too much food, lots of family, and perhaps even some relaxation in there? Pretty sure I ate my weight in sweet potatoes. Yum. I, sadly, had an encounter with gluten. The glutton in me had a momentary takeover and decided pumpkin pie was a necessity….sigh.
On the upside though, I went on two lovely runs while in southern Oregon. A perfect 10k loop along the Rogue river both ways. The second of my two runs, my little brother decided to join me. I suppose the term ‘little’ is relative, considering that he is 16 and 6’2″. The conversation went something like this:

“Hey, mister. Wanna go on a run with me?”
“Hell no! You think these chicken legs ever run?”
“Please?” (I even busted out the puppy dog eyes)
“Okay, okay. But I’m riding my bike while you run.”
“Deal.”
And so we ran/biked.

20121220-011933.jpg
Jake waiting patiently while I stopped for the following photo op…
20121220-012107.jpg
A view of the Rogue river on my run.

Post-thanksgiving left 3 weeks until the half-marathon. I was nearing the home stretch of my training, I should have been elated…but I wasn’t. At all. The weather was getting cold, the days feeling longer, but daylight hours increasingly shorter. With school projects and finals looming overhead, it was difficult to focus on the task at hand: to build my endurance enough to run 13.1 miles.

What was I thinking signing up for a run in the middle of rainy and cold December, the same week as insanely stressful finals?! I thought it was a brilliant idea. A new and novel goal. Not necessarily a realistic one.

I was running for cupcakes, but grasping at straws. For two weeks, I pathetically only ran a total of 20 miles. I was keeping up with my cross-training, thanks only to a set weekly workout. But, I just wasn’t feeling it. The pessimism had begun.

To be completely honest, the majority of this negativity came from an injury. The pain I’d mentioned in my hip earlier? Oh, it had spread down to my knee. Apparently, I’d injured my IT band. Iliotibial band. It connects from the lateral portion of your hip to your knee. It functions in stabilization during running as well as abduction and medial rotation of the hip. In other words, it’s an important part of one’s body. Especially a runner’s. And it hurt. All the time.

I was on a Friday run on the trails near my house. I wasn’t even two miles into my journey, I had rambunctious music blasting, but I couldn’t ignore the increasing pain. I noticed a change in my gait as I winced with every tread on my left side. My breathing started to become labored. And then it hit me- my first asthma attack in months. I had a complete meltdown. Negative mental attitude, hip pain and an asthma attack?! Tears spilling down my cheeks, wheezing like the penguin from Toy Story, and dubstep blasting out of my dangling earphones as I collapsed on the cold, wet ground. Temper tantrum.

I don’t know how long I sat there, but I recovered. Eventually. I wiped away the tears and the smeared snot from my face. Sniveling, I picked myself back up and jogged home. How the hell was I going to run a half-marathon if I couldn’t even run two miles without bawling my eyes out?

I think it’s safe to say that we all have these moments of despair. Or days. It is how we come back from these times, what we do to recover and regain confidence that shows what kind of awesome we are.

The end of term brought about a personal fitness test in my bootcamp class, of which had challenged me the entire term. In 10 weeks time, I’d made improvements. My mile-time went from a 9:47 mile to 8:13. I could bench press more 45% of my body weight and leg press 120%, I had lost 13 pounds and 3% body fat.

Damn. I’d actually accomplished something. I thought, “Hey, maybe I can do this.” Who was going to tell me otherwise?

20121220-012333.jpg

The above photo is on the paved Fanno Creek trails near my house. I went on a Sunday early morning run. Let me rephrase that: I went on a run way too early, the morning after a holiday party. Fully feeling the effects of, er, things consumed the night before. Can we say grouchy runner? And then I came upon the image captured above….I couldn’t decide if I should run or swim through. And part of me wished I was still cozy in bed. A little further on the run, water covered the trail for a good 300 feet. It was up to my knees in some places. It is a good thing I love puddle jumping!

Let’s talk about treadmills. I can already hear the groans of avid runners everywhere. Who actually enjoys running on treadmills? Give me pavement or a trail any day, rain or shine. My preferences aside, the late nature of my schedule forced me to run inside for the last two weeks leading up to the half-marathon. I can barely run a 5k on the damned things.

I did learn a thing or two. I learned that I am not coordinated enough to run on the treadmill and watch TV at the same time. Sigh. Yes, I fell off. Twice. And you know that little red button with the cord attached on the treadmill that is used for a very sudden and abrupt stop? Oh yeah, bumped that once too. I also learned that it is actually possible to race someone while running on a treadmill. You look at the guy next to you’s screen. Glance quickly, and see how fast they’re running. Match pace. From there, just see who can run longer. Race on.

And now…the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The moment I’d been training 12 weeks for. The goal I was beginning to think was unreachable. The Holiday Half.

The weather: 40 F and precipitating. It was that nasty soaking mist we here in the Pacific Northwest know and loathe love so much.

The outfit: Red Nike running pants (more on these in a moment), green tank top, red Nike zip up long sleeve, black beanie, and some awesome socks that said “Santa’s little runner.” Also, a rad pair of black running gloves that saved my life during the run. If I had it my way, I would have worn enough layers to look like the abominable snowman. Not very conducive to running 13.1 though, sadly. I was as festive as I could get without wearing a tutu.

The music: Upbeat and dubstep. I started my run to The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll” and ended my run with “Pursuit of Happiness” by MGMT, Ratatat and Kid Cudi. “I Can’t Stop” by Flux Pavilion got me through the hardest part of my run at about mile 8. “Music is My Hot, Hot Sex” was a good one too. Thank you, Spotify and your awesome ability to create playlists.

20121220-012421.jpg

I. Run. For. Cupcakes. Cupcake Victory pose! Half a dozen cupcakes given to us by the fabulous Bliss Cupcake Shop and a few extras made by an awesome fan. I was nowhere near hungry afterwards, though.

I’ll be honest. The run was not nearly what I expected it to be. It was, dare I say it, easier than I’d imagined. My goal for this first half-marathon was just to finish. Not only did I finish, but I kept a nearly steady pace of 9:28/mile to finish in 2 hours and 4 minutes.

That deserves a cupcake!

20121220-012527.jpg

Back to the easier part of things. 13.1 is deceiving. You’re surrounded by thousands of other people doing the same thing you are. They’re dealing with the same obstacles, both physical and mental. This simple fact keeps you going. The one time I stopped running, an older gentleman passed me and said, “great job, runner. Keep it up!” And suddenly, I wanted to start running again.

I’m going to be crass. Tune out, or suck it up. I came across the finish line thinking to myself, “Is it over? Is it really already finished?” My friends greeted me with cheers and cupcakes. They were asking how I felt, if I was cold, what I needed. I looked at them and said: “I’ve never had to poop so badly in my life.” and ran to the lovely outhouses. Any other runners had this issue on a run? It’s just not okay.

Anyway. During the half, I kept my mind occupied with reasons why I run. Here’s a smidgen of the list I compiled:

  • It’s cheaper than therapy.
  • I love cupcakes. And all other desserts.
  • I want to look good naked.
  • To be able to say 4 miles is my short run.
  • To be able to outrun the zombies.
  • To get to the point that I turn to running and not food as a stress release.
  • To be someone else’s inspiration.
  • Because endorphins are addicting.
  • I just might like sweating.
  • To feel elated when I cross the finish line.
  • To be happy.
  • Because I’d rather have a drawer full of sports bras than lacey push-up bras.
  • To effect change.
  • To have great lungs…and great legs.
  • To feel alive
  • Because I can.

One more thing before I end this excessively long post.

Even though this blog has been all about this Half-Marathon, about how hard we’ve worked to attain our goals, and how amazing it is to have accomplished this goal, I wanted to mention The Holiday Half’s Facebook post-race post:

The winner of Portland’s Holiday Half Marathon was not the first person to cross the finish line, the true winner was the lady who crossed it last…..Holding last place was an adorable lady. She was wearing a bright pink shirt and a green hula skirt. Even though it was raining & freezing she still had a smile plastered on her face….. She ended up keeping up and finishing the race. She later came and found us at the Viso booth and told us that last year she had a stroke that had caused brain damage and left her unable to walk. The doctors told her she would never walk again. She had made this half marathon her goal and let no one keep her from believing it was possible. She said it was her Christmas present to herself. Never underestimate the power of believing in yourself. Merry Christmas!”

This, this is why I run. To inspire.

Merry Christmas, all. Happy Holidays. Be safe. Run on.

 

20121220-012602.jpg

 

Candy Coma.

20121101-132844.jpg

This was our Halloween. Nancy Drew, amateur detective, chasing after the ever-naughty Ke$ha.

We danced. We sang. We had small adventures. Every runner needs a reprieve once in a while, right?

A guilt run is in order for today. Yesterday was Halloween, after all. That candy coma is still in effect…or is it a candy hangover now? Either way, I’m feeling a new 5k pr in my near future to rid myself of post-Halloween guilt.

I never want to look at one of these again:

20121101-133402.jpg

They’re addicting. Mint and chocolate make the perfect union. We won’t even begin to discuss how many I ate. Or how many miles I’d need to run to burn them off. -Wait. I shouldn’t be talking about candy. This needs to be about cupcakes.

20121101-133754.jpg

Look at this little inspiration of a cupcake. Isn’t she the cutest thing ever? (As a side note, I was an 80’s rocker chick. I basically found all of the neon in my closet and put it on. Plus my tutu. One cannot ever go wrong with a tutu.)

Trail run this weekend!

46 days, boys and girls. Lexi and I both are officially registered for The Holiday Half

20121101-134234.jpg
That’s a wrap.