Friday, January 30, 2015

Runfessions for January

Today I'm linking up with Marcia's Healthy Slice for Runfessions. I was raised Catholic and taught that confession is good for the soul. And like Marcia says, you'll feel better when you're done. The best part is no penance!

I've been training for the Sarasota Half Marathon. And my workouts have been going well. What's not been going well? Sit back while I bare my soul...

Where's the beef: Since the holidays, I've strayed from my "no beef" rule more than once-- and I've been paying for it. I do think that beef causes inflammation in my GI tract, and so it isn't just one and one for me when I eat beef. Nope, a whole cascade (literally) of problems begins. I won't get graphic, but let's just say that it's a good thing I've been taking my runs indoors 2x/week for this training cycle. Having access to a bathroom has been pretty nice. Let's just say I'm uncomfortable and mad at myself.
The original Clara commercial
You're not the boss of me: My oldest son has been trying to rev up the mama drama machine. I got his report card for last semester and it was just terrible. He is just so determined to prove that I can't tell him what to do. When his father and I offered to pay him $$$ for good grades, he told me "I don't need money".  Who doesn't need money? Ok, message received. I've decided that I'm done pushing him. I'm going to let him fail and figure it out. Because, after all, his bad grades really are his problem. Once he grows up, if that happens, he'll get it together. Right? 

Jailhouse Rock: I started watching Orange is the New Black. Besides being hooked on this show already, some of the music is pretty awesome too. I just added some new songs to my running playlist.  Do you do this--hear a song on a TV show and think, that would be a great running song? BTW, I'm only on season one, so don't spoil it for me. This show is really edgy. I think I may need to go to confession after watching it. Or get a mind eraser. Wow.

No money, mo problems: I've been spending way too much money this month. Not that I have it to spend. My husband has been out of work and yet, I just can't seem to stop myself. The sales have been incredible. And it isn't just running clothes. Last week Anthropologie had 40% off the sale prices and I scored a cute sweater dress for $45 (original price $148). The Clymb had 20% off their already great prices, and I scored some Aventura gear. I had to stop myself. BTW, if you don't know about the Clymb, head on over and check it out! Lots of great deals on casual and athletic clothing. Use this link: and we'll both get $10 credit!

HIghway to hell: I lost it on the way to work this week. I decided to change lanes to get around a slower car and guess what? She sped up. Rode alongside another car so I couldn't get around her. If I got too close to her, she hit the brakes. This went on for about 4 miles of my already painful 10 mile commute to work. After a few minutes of her doing this, I started yelling at her. I may even have let a few curse words fly. You know the one that rhymes with truck? Not that she could hear me, but it made me feel better. She finally turned at a light. Who plays games like this? And why did I let her get under my skin?

Onward and upward, right? I guess I do feel better! 

What do you have to confess this month?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Constant craving....

I have been suffering from a serious case of the rungries lately. Do you know them? When you just can't get enough and need to eat all the food? I'm in training for a half marathon, and have stepped up my training a bit. And I'm HUNGRY. Seriously hungry. All the time.

Actually, a yesterday was a speed work day...
Now in case you're worried about me, well, don't. I eat quite well. Breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. I have a snack drawer at work, stocked with emergency snacks, like almonds and Luna bars. But tonight at dinner, I went back for a second helping of the chicken and dumplings my husband made for dinner. And then I cleaned his bowl. And my son's bowl. My husband says it isn't fair that I can eat all the time and he just smells food and gains weight. Maybe he should run!

Anyways, it's really bad. My office is across the street from this place:

Like the lure of the siren's song...
Chicagoans well know the lure of Portillos. The food is really, really good here. I swear that Portillos sends out smoke signals of hamburgers and french fries to suck customers in. And it smells so good. Damn that easterly wind. Twice in the last week, I've been walking to the parking garage after work and had to smell the food. It took every ounce of self control I had not to turn around and head in the opposite direction towards Portillos. I kid you not. The smell was almost hypnotic. This is so out of character for me. You know I can't eat beef. Yet, I'm willing to sacrifice my GI tract for a Portillo's Italian beef sandwich. I know what would happen if I gave in. Yet, I struggle as I head towards my car.

Left brain: Must go home. Husband making dinner. Healthy meal at home. Beef gives you diarrhea. Garage is this way.

Right brain: But...Portillo's...smells so good...go back....must have grease...

The struggle is real.

I will admit that, for the most part, I do eat a healthy diet. I don't gorge on junk food. I don't restrict myself, but I do eat smart. I do leave room for the things I like, like chocolate and bacon (not together). Ben and Jerry's Karamel Sutra. Bolthouse Farms' Chocolate Protein Shakes (I wrote a post on these magical drinks). But I eat a lot of salads. I've always prided myself on my self control. Lately, though, it's taking me a lot of restraint. When I read Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, I kept thinking to myself, how does he do all that running on a vegan diet? Doesn't he get hungry? Is chocolate vegan?

And let's face it. When you need to eat all the food, what do you reach for? A bowl of broccoli? Maybe Scott Jurek does. And if you do, kudos to you!

For the rest of us, what's a health-minded runner to do when struck with a case of the rungries? Because even worse than the rungries is overdoing it on crappy food, right?

Think about it. We all do it. Overindulge on food or drink, even though we have a long run the next day. I've seen your posts. I may even have posted a few of these myself. It's not a good feeling the day after a splurge, especially if you're going out for a run. Maybe it's a sluggish feeling in the legs. Your get up and go has gone up and went. Maybe it's burping or gas. Even worse, the old "I'll be stopping"--and you'd better hope that a portapotty is available. Either that, or you'll want to wear some Depends. Pray to get through this post overindulgence run intact. And promise that we'll never do it again. Until the next time...

So what's a runner to do? How to overcome temptation? Besides changing jobs? Really, that isn't logical. And imagine me telling people why I left my employer...because I couldn't resist the Portillo's across the street?

Here are 5 tips that I recommend to avoid temptation and those cravings:

  1. Just keep walking away. Willpower is one of my superpowers. I'm committed to running and working out. I extend that commitment to eating healthy too. As hard as it is, I just keep on walking.
  2. Drink lots of water. All day long. I keep a glass of water next to me in my cubby at work. Sometimes when you think you're hungry, you're actually thirsty. Water does a great job of curbing those feelings. 
  3. Eat healthy snacks. I keep a bag of almonds in my office and when I get hungry, I eat a handful. It's amazing how well that little snack curbs my appetite. I don't know what your office is like, but there is always food at mine. Cake, cookies, crap...
  4. Bring your lunch to work. You have so much more control over what you eat if you bring your own food to work than if you visit the cafeteria, or worse...Portillo's. Did I mention they have amazing chocolate cake too?
  5. Indulge yourself but don't beat yourself up over it. I do eat at Portillo's once in a while. Yep, french fries and all. Just don't do it on a regular basis.

BTW, the title of this post is taken from a song by kd lang. I don't think she was singing about Portillo's, tho...

I'm linking this post with the Fit Dish and The Fit Switch!
And Tuesdays on the Run! with MCM mama, Run the Great Wide Somewhere, and My No-Guilt Life!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A runner in real life

I received some really great news this week! I was excited to find out that I was selected to be a FitFluential ambassador and a Sweat Pink ambassador!!! I started blogging as a way to connect with other like minded individuals--people who love to run. Blogging also forces me to put a positive spin on whatever topic I'm writing about, because who wants to read something negative, right? What's been really interesting is that putting my positive face forward here on the blog and on Facebook has extended to my life outside of the virtual world as well. I wrote a post on staying positive in the winter, but I think all the things I wrote about apply to life in general. 

I've really enjoyed reading running blogs and finding inspiration through other bloggers. I have been rewarded with some amazing friendships--my local peeps, who I've gotten to know both virtually and personally--and my distance peeps, whom I hope some day to meet in person as well. When I was growing up, I had several penpals, one in Connecticut and one in Sweden, both of whom, through the magic of Facebook, I still keep in touch with. Really, if you think about it, all the runners we meet through blogging and facebook are like adult penpals. We share our triumphs and our failures. We support each other. And being recognized by FitFluential and Sweat Pink was the icing on the cake for me. I hope to continue to inspire and make you laugh. I plan on still being me, no matter what!

Since I've developed these deep, rewarding running friendships, my friendships with non-running women just don't feel the same anymore. I still keep up with a handful of my friends, women that I've been close with over the years. We still have lots of laughs and they even indulge me by asking me about running. That is a true friend, right? But with some of the other women, whom were part of the large group that I socialized with over the years, there's just not much to talk about. When the kids were little, we talked about school and activities. But now that the kids are older and have branched off into their own groups, those superficial relationships have not survived the test of time.

These kids are all in high school now! Some of their friendships have stood the test of time. How about the moms?
Last night I went to a party with the neighborhood ladies. One of the women has a white elephant party every year. I was really ambivalent about going, because being with large groups of women is kind of hard for me. I'm just not great with making small talk and navigating what can be a social minefield. But yesterday, one of my friends called me, told me she was picking me up, and that was that. It was really nice to get caught up with some of the friends I've known for years, mostly since my youngest was in kindergarten. The tone of our gatherings has changed a bit, as we've all aged, and some of my friends have gotten divorced. The gift exchange was hilarious, and I ended up with this ginormous wine glass, which was perfect! 

Can hold a whole bottle of wine! So now, when I say I'm only having one glass of wine, it won't be a lie!
I'm glad I went, but a little of this group goes a long way. Don't get me wrong, I love 90% of these women. But there's always that one person who has to make a comment that I'm not drinking or not gorging myself on the trough of snacks that's always present at these parties or making comments about how "skinny" I am or about how they see me running "all the time".  Last night, as I was leaving, someone made a comment that I was leaving so I could go home and sleep so I could go running in the morning. Well, yes, that was true, but why do you have to call me out on it? As my running friend Penny said, it's the backhand snarky, and it's b.s. 

As I walked home from the party and savored the quiet, calm night--oh, my gosh, those ladies were LOUD!-I thought about all of this. I was still feeling pretty awesome about my week and moving forward on my running and life goals. And even though this wasn't a group that I didn't feel I could share any of this with--very few of them know about my blog and why give them more fuel for the snark machine--the knowledge that I'm moving forward in a positive direction carried me home. Instead of feeling badly about myself that I don't really "fit in" with these ladies, I thought about how lucky I am that I have found people who get me. With my running friends, I don't have to try to be someone I'm not. I get to be me and that is the best feeling in the world.

I'm linking this post with Tara at Running N Reading for her Weekend Update!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 things about me

You read a person's blog and you think you know a them. Think again...

Today I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta aka Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar to share five oddball fun things about me. Maybe after reading this post, some more of the pieces of the Wendy puzzle will fall into place...

Yes, I'm a runner, but I have to admit that I am really uncoordinated. I've been known to trip over nothing when I'm out on a run. Heck, a few years ago, dashing across the parking lot into Target, I tripped over the curb, flew into the bike rack, and gave myself a concussion and needed 5 stitches in my face! I blamed the Keen's that I was wearing at the time. That giant rubber toe? And the curb was really high. I did get to ride in an ambulance to the emergency room, though. Anyways, somewhat related is my first fun fact: I can't dance. As a child, my mom enrolled me in dance lessons. I think I'm the only person on record whose dance instructor told her mother that she was ummm...lacking in any ability whatsoever. And this was at 5 years old! Never one to give up easily, my mom signed me up again at my most gawkiest--when I was 12. I was mortified. Have you ever seen that Seinfeld episode when Elaine tries to get everyone to dance with her at the office party?

Ok, maybe I'm not THAT bad. I usually just do the side to side, move to the beat, and call that dancing. You all know that I love music. It makes me want to move! But I'm the one at every party who has to be re-taught the Electric Slide. And who slides the wrong way...

I am a voracious reader. I always have been. As a girl growing up in a small town, our library didn't have enough books to keep me happy! So I re-read a lot of what I had, including books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I even had my very own sunbonnet. Fun fact #2: I'm a Little House Groupie. I still have the entire set from my childhood. I've added a few books to the collection over the years, including some biographies and an excellent real life adventure titled The Wilder Years: My Adventures in the Lost Years of Little House on the Prarie. The author, Wendy McClure (same name? coincidence? I think not...) lived my dream and dragged her boyfriend traveled with her now husband to all the sites where the Ingalls family lived. The story about her night in the covered wagon was hilarious. I was able to attend a lecture given by McClure and have her autograph my book. I was at a loss for words when I met her, because I was in such awe of her pursuit of all things Laura. There's a new book out, Pioneer Girl, which I'm hoping to read soon. BTW, I wasn't a fan of the TV show. Michael Landon didn't fit the image that I had of Pa. And he took a lot of liberties with the storyline.

I've written about my love for music. I may even have mentioned that I played the oboe and the bassoon in the middle school and high school bands. But I also played the piano. I took lessons for almost 10 years. Besides band, I was the pianist for the choruses. Fun fact #3: I was a band geek. Not the quintessential going to band camp band geek. I wasn't THAT girl. But the majority of my day outside of classes was spent in the high school music room. This was in the 1970s and we had a youngish band director who played the trumpet. He loved the band Chicago, and our jazz band played a lot of their songs. Our school purchased a Moog synthesizer, which was relatively new technology at the time, and I got to have my way with it. The first Star Wars came out around that time, and the band played the theme song. I got to make space-like noises with the synthesizer. That was a lot of fun. I also was able to perform some piano solos, for example Barry Manilow's Could it be Magicwhich incorporates a classical piece: Chopin's Prelude in C Minor.  I didn't enjoy the spotlight so much, but I sure loved playing the piano! The "piece de resistance" was that my musical abilities also extended to playing the recorder and I was the roaming musician at our high school madrigal performance. You know, if only I'd stuck with music, specifically the bassoon,  I could be doing this:

Breaking Winds Bassoon Quartet. Even the name is right up my alley. The only issue, they're kind of dancing....

While I'm taking a trip down memory lane, I have to mention my first real job. Now, my first job was as a counter "girl" (again, it was the 1970s) in the local hospital coffee shop. We were part short order cook, part waitress and it was the worst job ever. There was a grill and we made sandwiches and steak-umms. One guy told me my hamburgers were like hockey pucks. Shortly after that, I quit. Eventually, I started working at a Fotomat wannabe called "Fast Foto". Fun fact #4: I was a photobooth attendant. This was THE BEST job ever. I went to the little booth in the middle of the shopping center parking lot, and people would drop off their film to be developed and pick up the pictures a couple of days later. I was by myself and I could listen to the radio and do my homework. We weren't allowed to talk on the phone in case the boss called, but other than that it was pretty unrestricted. My friends would come by and visit me. When I was bored, I'd look at the people's pictures. There were lots of baby pictures but sometimes there would be naked pictures of the parents thrown into the mix. Actually, I was surprised by how many naked pictures I came across. One time, the high school band director dropped off his film. He looked a little uneasy leaving it in my hands. Of course I looked at the pictures. They were pictures of him and the home economics teacher, mostly on dates. But there were a few--umm--questionable pictures. I never told anyone about this because I could lose my job and so could he. Until today, his secret has been safe with me. Working in a booth is a set up for funny situations. One time, I had just finished up with a customer, who seemed a little intoxicated. He was driving a Winnebago and told me he was dropping off film from his "Welcome Wagon" luncheon.  As he drove away, the booth started to shake. Film came flying off the shelves. After the mini-earthquake stopped,  he got out of his motor home. Apparently, the lights on the top of the camper didn't quite fit under the roof overhang and he shook it loose! Another time I pulled up to the booth for my shift, and the booth was listing to one side. A semi had driven through and caught the electrical wire, pulling the booth to the side. And yes, I still worked that shift.

Not THE booth, but similar to the one I worked in during my high school years.
It's no secret that I love the beach. Not for running. I've found that while running on the beach is a beautiful experience, it also causes injuries for me. The uneven surface of the sand did a number on me a few years ago. But I love to walk on the beach. I could walk along the water for hours, looking for shells. Fun fact #5: I love collecting seashells. The part of Florida where we spend spring break every year is known for sea shelling. Every day, I consult the tide tables to plan my walks around low tide. Some years are better than others. One year, right after a huge storm, I took my son Tom out with me. We were rewarded by a huge haul of all kinds of beautiful shells. We even found this:

The rare Junonia- a prized find for shell collectors in Florida! If you're staying on Sanibel Island and you find one, you get your picture in the paper. We weren't staying there, so no such luck from Tom and me!
We came home that year with a ton of new shells. We haven't been quite so lucky since. But any good shell is worth picking up. I have containers with my shells all over my house. You'd think that I have enough. But there is no better feeling than finding the prize! And as with everything else I do, I preach quality over quantity.  I'm looking forward to going back in March and getting back on the hunt.

So tell me an interesting fun fact about yourself! Tell me more than one! We have to be more than runners, right?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Never give up

I just watched one of the most disappointing football games in recent memory. Now, before I go on, I want you to know that this post isn't about football. It's about winning. It's about finishing. It's about staying tough to the finish. It's about never giving up.

But I just watched the Green Bay Packers blow a 16-0 lead; by the 4th quarter, it was 16-9. Then the wheels came off the bus. An on-side kick bounced off one of the Packer player's helmet and the ball passed through his hands. A Seahawks player scooped up the ball and took possession. A few plays and a TD later, Russell Wilson passed the ball into the end zone for the extra points. A Packers defender, who had 2 interceptions earlier in the game, let the ball go by and the Seahawks scored on the 2 point conversion. The Packers, who had played so well the first 3 quarters, made it look so easy for the Seahawks to score and take control of the game.. It felt like the Packers just had given up by the 4th quarter. I don't know. Maybe they used up all that they had the first 3 quarters and couldn't bring it for 15 more minutes?

HaHa Clinton-Dix missing the interception...who's laughing now?
Can you say choke?

I'm a native Chicagoan, and I follow the Bears. I can tell you that as a Chicago fan (baseball and football), I'm used to disappointment. This game was more reminiscent of a Bears game than a Packers game. But I'm also a closet Packers fan. I know we're supposed to be mortal enemies--Bears and Packers. My son is a huge GB fan and so I've been along for the ride. I've been to Lambeau Field way more than I've ever been to Soldier Field. (The things we do for our kids!) The Packers are a fun team to watch. Aaron Rodgers was my fantasy QB last year, and I won the whole thing. I love his Discount Double Check Commercials. Today's game was a shocker. Watching the players on the sidelines, it didn't even seem that they were affected by the reversal of fortune. We even joked that maybe the players got their paycheck from the Seahawks right before the 4th quarter, because it sure looked like they threw the game.

"Row, row, row your boat, down the loser stream..."

Do you think that really happens in professional sports? I mean, those conspiracy theories always come up when a really good team loses. Maybe it happens in running too. We already have athletes in all sports using banned substances, all in the name of winning. But what about a team throwing a game? A runner throwing a race? Does it happen? Would someone do it, for money?

I do realize that there is a difference between team sports and individual achievement. Which makes this loss all the more puzzling. What about pride? What about knowing that you gave your best, even though the outcome wasn't a win?

I've heard of runners quitting a race before the finish line (Ryan Hall), realizing they're not going to make their goal time, whatever their excuse might be. Heck, I've been there--tempted to quit more than once. My first Chicago marathon? I hit the wall at mile 14. I can tell you how hard those last 12 miles were for me, knowing that I was not going to make even close to my goal time. I may have even called my husband at mile 18 to come pick me up. And he may even have told me to keep walking. Which I did. And there was last summer's Zooma race, where I felt awful starting at mile 4 and ready to quit at the 10k mark. But a dear friend came back to find me and ran with me for the rest of the race, making sure I crossed that finish line. That was a victory of a different sort, and one I will cherish forever.

Don't let that smile fool you. I was miserable. This girl got me to the finish line! 
I didn't quit. I finished. In both cases, it wasn't pretty, but I got it done. There's a certain pride in pushing through the pain and crossing that finish line! Not in the moment of course, but I'm so proud to look back and say I've never DNF'd a race. Of course, I'm not a professional athlete, and there's no money involved, unless you count my race entry fee. And I will admit, I do like getting that medal placed around my neck!

After that first marathon, I met a woman (at an Another Mother Runner house party) on crutches, who ran the same marathon I did. Slipped on a banana peel (yes, it happens!) at mile 22. Dislocated her hip and hurt her knee. She popped that hip back in and hobbled to the finish line. That had to be difficult. But she got it done. I don't know if you would call that foolish, but after 14+ weeks of training, I sure couldn't quit...

And so I ask you, if you trained for a race, crossed the start line, and then started to realize this wasn't going to be your race, would you quit? Or would you change your strategy? Maybe walking more than you wanted? But crossing that finish line, no matter what?  What would bring you to the breaking point?

Maybe instead of focusing on the failure of the Packers, I should be praising the Seahawks. Because they are the team that never gave up, even with that huge deficit and a less than stellar performance from their QB (hello, 4 interceptions?) But they believed they could and they did (I can and I will!). They capitalized on mistakes by the Packers in that last quarter and pulled out an improbable win. THAT is what I'm talking about. Believe and you can achieve. And never, ever give up.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book review: Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek

Anyone who followed my marathon journey last summer knows that I struggle a great deal with mental toughness. I think I worked as hard on training my mind to run that race as I did my body. I had a lot of self doubt and I had a lot to prove to myself. I called it my redemption race. I wrote a couple posts about my challenges. You can read one of them here. I read once somewhere that running a distance race is 90% mental. You know the outcome of my marathon was a good one and I'm as proud of that finish time as I am of my ability to power through that 26.2! As I continue on this running journey of mine, I turn to articles and books written by successful distance runners. Although it isn't new (2013), I've been anxious to read this book by Scott Jurek, the most successful American ultrarunner ever. I'm not an ultrarunner, nor to I have aspirations to be an ultrarunner, but I wanted to see if there was anything I could learn from his story. I figured that anyone who can run and win a 135 mile race in Death Valley has to have something to offer a middle-aged mom who runs for fun. I was not disappointed. This was a well written book of his decade-plus championship career. It is also a story of his life. In order to become a champion, he needed to make changes both on the trail and off. The changes were gradual, but culminated in great success on the trail and peace and contentment in his personal life.
"The reward of running-of anything-lies within us."

Handheld, no fuel belt. Just sayin'...
Jurek didn't start out as an ultramarathoner-he kind of fell into it. Raised in northern Minnesota, in a hunting and fishing family, his first sport was cross country skiing. He started running in the off season to stay fit. He ran a marathon, finished in under 3 hours and then ran a 50 mile ultra, finishing 2d overall. He believed he could win and he did (my mantra=I can and I will!), and traveled west to run and win the Western States 100 as an unknown. He overheard disparaging comments from the seasoned runners, and I loved how he used those comments to push himself to a victory. Jurek continued to run and win ultramarathons. The narrative of the races is fascinating, as he describes the races themselves, but also what was going through his head at different points in time.
"...the key is to become immersed in the present moment when nothing else matters.."
Jurek worked as much on training his mind as he did his body. Sound familiar? He also had added incentive to stay tough. His mother suffered from multiple sclerosis and was wheelchair bound. She never complained, though, and he drew on her mental strength to help fuel his mental toughness. There are so many amazing quotes from this book:
"You could carry your burdens lightly or with great effort. You could worry about tomorrow or not. You could imagine horrible fates or garland-filled tomorrows. None of it mattered as long as you moved, as long as you did something. Asking why was fine, but it wasn't action. Nothing brought the rewards of moving, of running. Sometimes you just do things."
"Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn't sure he can accomplish." 
He talks about running the 2001 Western States as a pacer with a severely sprained ankle:
"Four simple steps: First, I let myself worry. Second, I took stock.....Third, I asked myself what I could do to remedy the situation ...The fourth and final step: Separate my negative feelings from the issue at hand. Realizing that my negative feelings had little to do with reality made this step the easiest of all."
The power of the mind is great indeed...maybe running on an injury isn't the smartest move but when you have no choice, you need to be able to power through it. And even if you aren't running on an injury, but are facing self doubt, this is some amazing advice, if you ask me!

Cooling off (in a cooler of ice) during Badwater
"As powerful as our legs are, as magnificent as our lungs and arms and muscles are, nothing matters more than the mind."
Isn't that the truth? This was a quick read and a greatly motivating book. There were just so many great quotes--I had to bookmark them all.  I hated for the book to come to an end. I just wanted to soak up all his knowledge and become Zen like him. In the book, he also talks a lot about becoming vegan and winning on a plant based diet. While I'm not interested in becoming vegan, or even vegetarian, as runner, I can certainly understand and appreciate the effects of eating a clean diet. He provides recipes for some of his favorite meals and snacks. Jurek also addresses burnout, the loneliness of running long distances, and running addiction, as well as peaking and accepting the end of a spectacular career. Throughout the book there are relationship issues and interpersonal stress. He's just like the rest of us!

with a Tarahumara runner (notice the sandals!)
Well, ok, not so much...he runs with the Tarahumara and Caballo Blanco. And keeps up with them.

What an amazing story! This book should be on every runners' must read list, even if you aren't an ultramarathoner. There is so much you can draw on from his story.
" can be transformed. Not overnight, but over time. Life is not a race. Neither is an ultramarathon, not really, even though it looks like one. There is no finish line. We strive towards a goal, and whether we achieve it or not is important, but it's not what's most important. What matters is how we move towards that goal. What's crucial is the step we're taking now, the step you're taking now."
And that's advice all of us can take to the starting line.

Do you want to learn more?
Eat and Run Official Website
Born to Run-the book that featured Jurek, the Tarahumara, and started the barefoot running craze
Runner's World "The King of Pain" a nice synopsis of Jurek's life
NY Times article on Jurek's vegan diet
Ragnarian! at Wasatch Back in June
The Runner's Trip- this ultramarathoning blogger attended an interview of Scott Jurek. And walked away a little disappointed....

And in case you want to know, he runs in Brooks Cascadia.

I'm linking this post up with Sara's Book Club!

Friday, January 16, 2015

#FridayFive: What's on my table?

I'm linking up with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia aka the DC Trifecta for the #FridayFive link up. This weeks theme was: What's in your gym bag? Well...I don't belong to a gym and I don't own a gym bag. I used to go to a health club but the only thing that I kept in my bag was a padlock. Don't ask.

Instead, I thought about the table in my kitchen where my boys used to play at. Since they outgrew this table, it has become a catch-all for my running essentials. I have a basket for all the small stuff I need but it is overflowing! I thought it might be fun to do a video log while I go through the box. And here we go:

And it was more than 5 things....#FridayEight?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I'm MAD fired up for #NOEXCUSES 2015

Hey 2015, it’s me, Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home!  (nickname, spirit animal, real name, blog name) Marcia from Marcia's Healthy Slice tagged me to play along...

This year I would like to stay injury freebe more positive_, and slow down the aging process.
It would also be super duper awesome if I also did spend more time with my boys this year. It’s not a resolution, though, just a reminder to myself to try and have the best year yet because time marches on.
The thing I am looking forward to most this year is running a sub 4 marathon and a sub 2 half marathon.
I’ll use the one thing that truly gets me out of bed in the morning which is_coffee_to help me get up, get dressed, (verb) and get after my #NoExcuses 2015. Speaking of excuses (ahem), my very favorite excuse is work and I have used it to get out of doing everything and anything on more than a million occasions.I vow to move my body and be more healthy this year even if it means I have to get up earlier.
Even if my alarm clock gets eaten by the dog in the middle of the night, I’ll still get up. 
I will stop blaming the husband for eating the rest of the Ben and Jerry's Karamel Sutra when everyone knows it was really me.
My job  are not the reason I make excuses. I will show my job [same as before] who’s boss this year and get my run [type of sweaty activity] on
I know that run [type of workout] is better than no run. [noun]
I will reward myself by drinking wine. 

#NoExcuses 2015 has just begun and already I am imagining myself a winner. I can’t wait to rock a Zeal Hoodie (article of clothing) from Augusta Active. I can’t wait till my sweaty friends are jealous of how fresh, clean and awesome (adj) I am between workouts with help from ShowerPill body wipes. I can see myself rocking dealifts [yoga pose / workout move] in new Own the Course top [article of clothing from Actio926] from Actio926 and looking fit and fly while doing it. And of course, I’ll be taking my workouts to the next level and improving mycore strength [noun] with my new ActivMotion Bar to help me train for my next  half marathon [distance] race with Sasquatch Racing.
Oh, and let’s not forget how amazing my hoodie [article of clothing] will smell in my / during my race [favorite type of workout] after washing with some WIN Detergent. And lastly, I’ll keep rocking my 2015 with clean eats and nutrition from Beaming with Health!

*****Tag, Tweet, shout-out, call, text, fax or email 3 friends to take this survey and share how they will have a #NoExcuses 2015. Remind your friends to simply fill in the underlined/bold parts!*****

I'm tagging Karen, Sara, Penny, and Michelle!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Four Seasons of Running

Over the weekend, I took my run to the bike path where I did so much training this past year. I won't sugarcoat it, it was cold. The thermometer read -2F when I headed out. The sun was shining and the winds were light. When you live in the midwest, you get to experience extremes in weather. A runner's life is planned around the weather. Heck, there's even an app that tells you if it's going to be a good day for a run! But even a bad weather day could still be a good run day. I've been doing it long enough to know how to dress for it if I want to get out there. And I do. There's beauty in every season. Which is why I like to run outside all year around. I've been giving this a lot of thought. I do my best thinking on those long runs. And I thought a lot about running on this path through the seasons.

Winter is that time of year that makes it tough to be a runner, at least where I live. The weather is notoriously fickle. Actually, the weather is pretty fickle here all year round but winter brings the most intolerable running conditions. The past week was full of below zero temperatures and even lower wind chills. Schools were closed--some for three days--although that was subject to debate. Even though I live 25 miles from Lake Michigan, we still feel the effects of that big body of water. I check the wind direction when I'm heading out for a run, so I know what to expect. An easterly wind blowing over the lake feels colder than one from the west traveling over dry land. That same wind, aka the hawk (I wrote about this last spring), bracingly cold, can also be the cause of some heavy snowfall--although people who live on the east side of the lake, in Michigan and Indiana, get way more snow due to the lake effect than we do. In the winter, we get snow...and sometimes ice... and not a lot of sun. I will admit that there is pretty much nothing better than running when it is snowing. It feels so peaceful and calm. I do my best to get outside as much as possible in the winter. The fresh air and natural light does my psyche a lot of good and goes a long way towards preventing seasonal depression. So do vitamin D supplements....


Ah.....spring in ChicagoFor runners, spring is our reward after enduring runs in the cold and on the treadmill. The temperatures start to rise and the snow starts to melt. Spring weather can also be fickle, and we get teased with a day or two of warm, sunny days followed by a blizzard. Spring can really mess with your head. But spring is also a season of beauty and hope. After being socked in by clouds, cold, and gray days; after staring at dirty, brown, melting snow and salt stained cars, that first peek of green grass, a tulip poking through the dirt (or snow), or blossoms on the trees; hearing the birds singing--all this can melt even the coldest heart, and remind you that better days are coming. We can take solace in the fact that any snow that falls in spring will quickly melt under the sun's stronger rays. I just love getting outside in the spring and breathing in the freshness that seems to be in the air. Puddle jumping is kind of fun too! Spring is the time of new beginnings. 
Summer (at the retention pond)
And as extreme as winter seems, summers in Chicago are at the opposite extreme. Sometimes I compare the weather here to South Florida, and in July and August, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference! It can be blisteringly hot and so humid that just stepping outside makes you break a sweat.  No matter, I'll take summer over winter anytime. In the summer, I love to get up before the sun comes up and head out for a long run. Early morning runs bring the treat of watching the sunrise. Nights are nice too. Running in the summer rain--as long as it isn't a stormy downpour--is an unexpected pleasure. There comes with the warm weather the hazard of insects, though. Stop for a selfie and the mosquitos are at the ready for a snack. Occasionally clouds, and I mean clouds of gnats fly around and if you run through them, they stick to your sweaty skin. I breathe with my mouth open when I run and yes, I've swallowed my share of gnats. Protein, right? One run, I was stung in the eye by a yellow jacket. He flew right into me. I couldn't help but think what if he flew into my mouth? Scary! I've tried running with my mouth closed and that just doesn't work. A topic for another blog post. Besides the bugs, summer is race training season for me and there is no better feeling than sweating it out on a long run. And let's face it, getting dressed to go out for a run in the summer is a win. One layer, done.

Out of all the seasons, and there is something to love about all of them, fall is my favorite. Nature puts on a big show for us in the fall, changing the colors of the leaves on the trees. I love the sound of dried leaves crunching under my feet as I run on the bike path. The air in the daytime is still warm, even with the hint of crispness and the promise of cold weather ahead. Cooler mornings make for some speedy miles. And no bugs! There are a lot of dry, sunny days in the fall, and that means a lot of outdoor runs and races. All the prep that I've done over the summer comes to fruition as I head to the starting line of whatever big race I've committed to. But as always, the weather can be unpredictable, and that October marathon starting temp could be 30F or it could be 75F, as it was in 2011 when I ran my first marathon. You do your best to be prepared, because living in the midwest, you never know what you're going to get.

What's it like where you live? Do you get to experience the changes of the seasons? What's your favorite season?

Monday, January 12, 2015

So many races, so little time....

I'm linking up today with MCM mama, Run the Great Wide Somewhere, and My No-Guilt Life to mull over the races I'm thinking about for this year.

Tuesdays on the Run

In my post on Chicago, I alluded to races I've run in the city I love. I also talked about why I haven't committed to much of anything yet...I want to see how I feel as the year moves forward. Last year, because I had a foot fracture, I had to DNS a race I paid for and that didn't make me happy at all. Most races don't sell out and so I feel like I have a little wiggle room. I also am thinking about backup races, in case the ones I want to run do sell out. 

One race I did commit to early on is the Sarasota Half Marathon on March 15. As early as last March, I was considering a go at this race. The timing of this race was a problem, since my boys don't have spring break until the last week of March. I needed to see if my parents would host me for 2 weeks, and if my work would grant me the time off. Luckily, everything fell into place and I was able to sign up. This is a race that sells out and I wanted to make sure I got in. I'm so excited to run this one. The race runs from Sarasota across the John Ringling Causeway to St Armands Circle and back to Sarasota. And if you like bling, this medal is a keeper, with a large dolphin on it. This will be my third Florida half marathon (and 11th overall). To say I'm excited is an understatement!

I've also committed to the Great Western Half Marathon. This is a trail half marathon, held on May 3, run on the Great Western Trail in Kane County. Because it is a trail run, the entries cap at 1200, which keeps it small and safe. The race is relatively inexpensive ($55) and has a nifty train engine medal. I'm looking forward to running this one. My friend Karen, from Trading in My Heels is leading a training group for this race, and I'm excited to do a race with her! I'm trying to rope in a few other friends as well. 

I'm also planning on running the Chicago Marathon again this year. Last year I won my entry, but this year I'm planning on jumping into the lottery. Some of my friends are moving on to a different marathon, but I do love this one and am looking forward to running it again. My first go at this beast wasn't pleasant, but I got my head around that and trained smart and had a fantastic time. I'd love to best my time last year, but even if I don't, I'll be ok with that. As long as it still is fun, that is. Stay tuned. I do have a couple of marathons in mind as a backup plan, but I'm not going to even think like that at this point!

I haven't yet committed to the CARA Lakefront 10 miler on April 18, but most likely I will run that one. The 10 mile distance is one of my favorites and it will serve as a "long run" while I continue ramping up my miles for Great Western in May. I've talked about this race before. It is a "runners' race" and is always fast and fun. Even if the weather is bad.

What else am I considering? I'm still looking at a late summer/early fall half. I have to consider my marathon training plan and the timing of 13.1 miles. A lot of halfs are held here around the same time as the marathon. 

 A couple Chicago races that I might consider includes RnR Chicago, which is on July 19. I've never run an RnR. Could be hot. And the expo is a pain, at McCormick Place, which is a giant convention center south of downtown. No race day packet pickup, which means I'd have to head down to the city two days in a row. The Chicago Half Marathon, which I've run before, is this year on September 27. This is 2 weeks before the Chicago Marathon and I'd have to run it as a taper run. I'm not so sure about that.

I've always wanted to do the North Face Endurance Challenge, which is held in Wisconsin September 14.  But would a trail run mess with my marathon training? What about the Madison Mini Marathon, which I've run before? On August 22, the only issue with that is it is my son's 18th birthday and maybe he wouldn't want to go out of town for the weekend. And do I dare leave him home alone? Um, no. That could mess with my head, anyways... 

While looking for a fall half marathon, I came upon this Lake Michigan trail half/full/50k on September 6, in Cudahy Wisconsin, which is just south of Milwaukee. This looks intriguing! BTW, the full is a Boston qualifier for anyone looking for an alternative to Chicago. This one is moving high up on the possibility list. Another trail marathon that came up is the Nearly Sane Trail Half Marathon which is held on August 23. Considering how hot it can be here that time of year, a trail race does have a certain appeal to it! This one is held in a Forest Preserve about 15 miles from my house. Hmmm....

Depending on how the marathon goes, I would even consider a late fall half. But that's a long way away....

There is also a relay that I'm planning on. The Fall 50, held in beautiful Door County Wisconsin in late October, is either an ultra or a relay. Door County is a peninsula between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, and the race runs from the northern tip down to the end of the peninsula where lies the town of Sturgeon Bay. My parents have a home in Door County and I have been going up there since I was a little girl. Door County has a special place in my heart, not only for the memories it holds, but because it is a place of beauty and peace. I would love to run this relay. Several of my friends have expressed an interest, and I'm hoping to have this firmed up by April, when registration opens. 

Ellison Bay Bluff

The curvy road which yes, you might get to run on if this is on your leg of the race!

Oh, the sunsets over Green Bay!

I think once I know I'm in the lottery for Chicago, I can move forward and commit to a fall half. Until then...I'll keep considering the possibilities. And I'll keep running and training! So many little time (and money!)

I always say, have you ever seen Wonder Woman and me in the same room? I think not...

How do you decide on races? Are you a planner or do you wing it, taking it as it comes? How many races do you run in a year?

And local peeps, have you made your plans for 2015? Are you running any of the same races as me? And what about the options I'm considering for the fall? Have you run any of them? Any insight?