Sunday, May 29, 2016

Salute 10k Race Recap

"Got freedom?"

Salute, Inc is a local organization in the Chicago suburbs dedicated to helping post 9/11 veterans as they transition back to civilian life. Several of my neighbors and running friends are involved as volunteers and also as part of Team Salute, running the Chicago Marathon not only to raise money but to raise awareness. Every year there is a 5k/10k/Tactical Challenge hosted by the town where I live. We are always out of town Memorial Day weekend, but due to my son's injury, we were home and I decided at the last minute to sign up for the 10k. It's always fun to run a race where you live and this one was no different.

I picked up my race packet at the local running store Saturday on my way home from work. I noticed that the bib had no timing chip. I asked the volunteers about it and they just shrugged their shoulders, responding, "we know nothing. We are just volunteers". The store owner thought maybe the tear off tabs on the bottom of the bib would be used to keep track of finish place. I laughed because this is how races were run years ago! "Keeping it old school, " I commented.

That night, breaking with tradition (I usually have pizza the night before a race) we went to dinner at the BBQ place where my son works. I ordered the pulled pork platter and it was delicious. Later, when he came home from work, Tom told me that the cooks were very concerned about making my food just right. I thought that was kind of cute! Clearly they must have put some good juju into my food, because--spoiler alert--I had a great race.

I woke up to beautiful blue skies, 70 degrees and no humidity. How perfect! The race didn't start until 8, so I had plenty of time for coffee, breakfast, and race preparation. I left my house at 7:30, parked a few blocks from the finish line, and headed to the start line. I found some of my neighbors who were walking the 5k and we caught up before we had to line up. I had hoped for a portapotty stop before I ran but there were only 4 portapotties and the line was ridiculous. With a hope and a prayer that my GI tract would behave, I skipped the portapotty and got ready to race. Since the race wasn't going to be chip timed, I lined up near the front, hoping not to get run over by the faster 5k runners.
My friend Cathy and me. This is actually after the race.
And her beautiful daughters Jackie and Julia.
After an actual prayer (a first at a race for me) and the national anthem, the starter blew the horn. Instead of the loud noise we were all expecting, a bunch of liquid kind of oozed out of the horn. It was hilarious! So he just shouted GO! and we all took off. I went out pretty fast, but I felt good, and decided to keep my pace at 8 min/mile for the first mile and go from there. In these smaller local races, there are a lot of kids and people who don't normally race, and I watched them sprint ahead, only to pass them a mile or so down the road while they walked. Been there, done that. 

At mile 2.5, the 10k runners split off from the 5k runners, and the race became much more relaxed. We ran through the neighborhoods and a lot of people were out in front of their houses, cheering us on. That was pretty awesome. It was a little warm, and a few folks had hoses or sprinklers on the parkway. I took advantage of those. I also stopped twice for water, and walked through the aid stations. Since I was running pretty fast (for me) those stops gave me a chance to regroup. It turned out to be a great strategy for me. Plus I can't run and drink from a cup at the same time. I'm just not that skilled.

About mile 4, I noticed a woman running next to me. We would run together for the rest of the race. I didn't mind. I think we both kept each other going, especially after mile 5, when there was a long straightaway to the finish. That was probably the toughest part of the race for me. You could see the finish line but it was soooooo far away. As we got closer to the finish, my "friend" slowed down a little bit and I pushed across the finish line at 51:54. I saw a woman writing down my bib number and finish time.
No official race photos but my neighbor got one of me approaching the finish line. The woman behind me was my "pacer" for the race.
During the race, I had been checking out all the runners, and since I didn't see a lot of old ladies ahead of me, I was pretty sure I had an AG finish. Once I caught my breath, I headed over to the food tent to wait. There was the usual bagels and bananas. I took a pass. Corner Bakery had a booth with chocolate chip cookies and muffins. I grabbed a water and some cookies and waited for my friends to finish the 5k. I ran into the owners of the CrossFit box where I train with Becky. They were in charge of the Tactical Challenge.

This is me with Juli Aistars. She is a legend in the ultramarathoning world--and a hometown gal. She's also really fast and I'm glad she's not in my age group this year.
Once the race was completely over, the awards ceremony began. For sure, you knew you were at a hometown race. They would announce some winners, and then someone would interrupt for a moment on the mic--some little girls selling crafts, a guy selling his cookbooks-- and it was kind of amusing.

The announcer finally called out the 10k winners and I was happy to find out that I came in 2d place in my AG. The woman who came in first always wins--she's super fast. Interestingly, the woman I ran with came in first in her 45-49y age group. She came over to thank me for sticking with her! I believe that we got each other through the tough middle miles.

Overall, this was a fun, well run race. I was surprised to receive official results shortly after the race--someone was busy entering them into the computer! Would I do this one again? Of course! For $35, you can't beat it. It's for a great cause, and it's my hometown race. It was really fun for me to run the 10k distance, and I've gotten pretty good at pacing myself for this distance. I would consider doing the Tactical Challenge next year, just for fun. If we are in town, that is.

The only medals for this race were the AG medals. Incentive to run fast!
Did you run any races for Memorial Day? Do you prefer small hometown races to big races?

I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Runfessions: It's May!

Just like that, May is winding down! I don't know things have been for you, but for me, this has been a roller coaster of a month. Good thing that the runfessional is open! Do you runfess? Marcia hosts monthly Runfessions and it's really the best time to just let it all out. Let's do this thing. You know you want to.

Spring has finally sprung here in the Midwest. Actually,with temps in the 80s and humidity to match, it feels more like summer. But who's complaining? After a rainy, cold month we have been blessed with amazing warm, sunny weather. The school year is winding down. And I runfess that even though it has been more than 30 years since I graduated from college, I still feel like I should have summers off. It's so hard to be an adult when it's summer, isn't it? Unless you are a teacher, that is.

But speaking of warmer weather, I runfess that I love to sweat. There is nothing I love more than a good sweaty workout. You know the one--where you are just drenched from head to toe? Doesn't that kind of sweat make you feel like you worked extra hard? Even though you know it's mostly because it's warm out, it still makes you feel badass, right? And then you get in the shower and suds it all away? Best.feeling.ever. Even better was last Saturday, when I ran and then later worked in the yard. I was sweaty and dirty. Talk about earning your shower! Don't you look down your nose at me. You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about here.

While dealing with plantar fasciitis, I have been offered more unsolicited advice than I can imagine. All I have to do is tell someone I have PF and it's like I opened Pandora's box. "You need to...roll on a frozen water bottle, roll it on a golf ball, stretch like this (complete with demonstration), cortisone shot, orthotics, stop running, wear sketchers rocker bottom shoes (my personal favorite), use essential oils, try acupuncture, tape it with duct tape, wear compression, night boot, night splint"...and so on. I runfess that while I realize people are trying to help, I don't want any advice. I just want it to go away. Which I know is the only thing that works for PF. Time. And lots of patience. Which I don't have.

I runfess that I am still on a high from Big Sur. Even in spite of all the crap that has been thrown at me the last couple of weeks, and it's been pretty bad, I'm still able to muster up that afterglow I've been savoring. Whenever someone asks me about my marathon or my trip, I feel this warmth and calm and serenity coursing through my body as I talk about my experience. I've never felt like this after running a race. The experience just seems so surreal to me. It has to be the combination of finishing a really hard marathon while at the same time achieving a life goal. Whatever it is, I'm riding the wave as long as I can. Maybe it's just that California vibe. I want to go back and capture that feeling again. I must be nuts because Kristina is getting pretty close to talking me into a trail run with her out there. For now, that's all I'm runfessing about that. Don't you dare mention a word of this to my husband.

California love...
It's not all hills along the coast. This is the beach south of Carmel.
I runfess that I've never been much for meditation, although I'm pretty sure I would benefit from it. I have trouble staying focused. My mind just wanders. A friend of mine receives daily meditation videos and she posted one of them on FB this week. This is the perfect mediation for the week I just had. Please excuse the foul language but this just cracked me up. I read it to my office mate and she was literally crying...
~soft whispering voice~ “….if your thoughts drift to the three ring shit show of your life, bring your attention back to your breathing. And with each breath, feel your body saying: fuck that. With passive acceptance just allow distracting thoughts to flow by - fuck that. With each breath you take, your thoughts become lighter and all the soul eating cocksuckers just fall away into nothing. Take a moment to appreciate the silence. Those assholes can’t piss all over purity like this. You are weightless, timeless, without beginning or end, completely relaxed and free of thought. And as you slowly open your eyes, greet the world and everything in it with a new and beautiful breath of - fuck that.” 
I wear my Momentum Wrap that says "just breathe" every day to work. Maybe I should order one that says "fuck that". Do you think they would make that one?

What do you have to runfess? Do you love to sweat like me? Do you meditate? What do you say to people who give you unsolicited advice?

Don't forget to check out Marcia's post and all the other fun bloggers who are runfessing. This is my favorite link up and you can see why! Especially because she doesn't hand out a penance!
I'm also linking up with my favorite trio, the DC Trifecta of Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia for the Friday Five. I've got five runfessions here. That counts, right?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Running Free

How do you feel about running when you aren't training for anything?

After being on a training plan for 2 marathons in 6 months--that means I've been running on a structured plan for almost a year--I won't lie. I feel a little lost. With a training plan, I have a schedule to follow. There's speedwork, marathon paced runs, and long slow distance runs. Of course, with my Big Sur training, there was that point where I wasn't doing a lot of running due to injury. But I still had workouts to complete--pool running and cycling--to help me meet my goals. Now that Big Sur is history, the dust has settled. I've recovered fully and I'm back on the road again. But with no training plan in place, I feel a little aimless. 

No time goals? No paces to hit? No distances to cover? Nothing to train for?

Why run at all? What's my motivation?

Because sometimes it feels good to just run free.

Back in the day, when I was just running for fitness and mental health, I didn't train for anything. Sure, I ran a few 5ks and 10ks, but mostly I ran for me. My favorite distance to run back then, and it still is, was 6 miles. I mostly ran 4-5 days/week, but I didn't do speedwork or anything like that. I still remember the day that I ran 7 miles. Pushing my mileage limits, I was out of my comfort zone for sure. I felt exhilarated and scared at the same time. All of a sudden, I had this realization that the sky was really the limit for me. Kind of like when Becky had me swinging on those rings this week. 

I liked those runs because I felt free. I've never been very good at managing stress or pressure in my life and those runs were the one time where I could just go and do my thing. Alone. Just me and my thoughts. Can you imagine what it was like for me to give those runs up when I started training for half marathons and then fulls?

Luckily when she's devised my training plans, Becky has been really good about leaving me at least one or two "free" runs per week that I could do at any pace I wanted. She knew I needed them and she was right. Those were my favorite runs, my free runs, where I could lose myself in my music and just go. Sure, I wear my Garmin on all my runs to track my distance, but when I'm running free, I don't pay much attention to my pace.

Lately, I've seen more and more postings on social media about "running free". For some runners, running free means free of all electronic gadgets. No Garmin, no heart rate monitor, no music. For others, it means running without a goal in mind. Just lacing up the shoes and heading out the door.

Who doesn't love the idea of doing that?

Don't get me wrong, I do set out on a run with a mileage goal in mind. It's kind of a loose goal, though. If a run is going well, I might go farther. And if I'm struggling, I might cut it short. But the whole point of running free is to go with the flow, so to speak. To not worry about pace. To enjoy the run. To "take the long way home".

So now you know where I got the name for my blog.

As I write this, just the idea of running free makes me want to go for a run. I look forward to putting on my shoes and my music and heading out the door. Running free takes me back to the beginning, to why I started running in the first place.

What does running free mean to you? Do you like to run free? Or do you always have a structured plan in place? 

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word, which is freedom. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's take on this word!

I'm also linking up with Coaches Corner: Susie, Debbie, Rachael, and Lora host this one!

And with Wild Workout Wednesday! Annmarie, Nicole, and Michelle host the party!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Running Down the Week

After a tumultuous couple of weeks where we dealt with injury and other assorted drama, this week things seemed to get back on track. I went back to work and Matthew made it back to school. His pain is improving dramatically even though the follow-up x-ray still doesn't show much healing. The orthopedic surgeon said the fact that he's clinically improving is a good sign and he's optimistic that we are heading in the right direction.

The pup? Well, it's a good thing she's so cute...

Here's my wrap up of my week.

I don't know about you, but after I meet a big goal, I feel really motivated to get some projects done that I've put on the back burner. For some reason, last year my husband and I kind of lost our mojo to do anything around the house. I didn't even buy flowers for my planters. This spring, we have been working to take back our yard from the weeds. We have a really nice deck where we've spent many a summer evening relaxing and we've been sprucing it up for spring. Saturday, after I ran my 5-er, I went to Home Depot and bought a ton of annuals. Apparently everyone else in the NW suburbs had the same idea because it was so crowded. I spent the morning planting flowers and pulling weeds. I'm not so sure about people who say they "love gardening" because let me just say that gardening is hard work! I was sweating more than I did on my run. But I'm really pleased with how everything turned out, and as I write this, I'm sitting on my deck enjoying the birds singing and the warm breeze.


Weeds! This was one of 3 piles I made while pulling weeds.
The only mishap that occurred was when Cocoa, who is always under my feet, found herself under a large planter that I was setting on the deck. There was lots of howling and crying as I wrestled her out. She's fine. After that, she spent the rest of the morning inside with Matthew while I finished pulling weeds. Seriously, this is an exercise in futility. I mostly pulled sticker plants, because they are threatening to take over our backyard. We seem to be much better at cultivating weeds than anything worthwhile.

It's safe under the bench.
I managed to get 4 quality runs in again this week and my legs continue to enjoy some speed. Saturday's run was fun because so many of my neighbors were out. The weather has been gorgeous, and I actually walked for about a half mile with my next door neighbor, just catching up on things. Sometimes you just have to!

Since Big Sur, I've noticed that I need to do a better job of stretching and foam rolling, as I'm starting to feel some niggles in other areas besides my plantar fascia. I didn't make it to the yoga studio this week, but I'm hoping to get there next week. I did do yoga at home, and the plank challenge continues. I've run out of plank variations but I'm still getting them done.

Does doing yoga in the sun count as hot yoga? My mat got so hot I had to move to the shade.
Dolphin plank walks
Side plank
I posted my video from CrossFit on Friday. Becky says she's really enjoying programming my sessions with her now that we are working on new strength goals. It's fun for me too. Besides the swinging on the rings, she had me alternate those with a variation of v-ups that I struggled with. It's funny how you can find activity so easy and another so difficult! She said it has something to do with my pelvis--weakness? I did a circuit of slam balls alternating with kettle bell swings. And then I hung from the high bar, doing scapular pull ups. It was all hard and I loved it. I love the feeling of being strong. When I was at Home Depot, I kept getting asked if I needed help lifting my cart over the hoses and carrying my bag of potting soil. You know I said no...

Swinging like a monkey
How was your week? Is the weather improving by you? Training for any upcoming races?

I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for their Weekly Wrap! It feels weird to be wrapping up with them when I'm not training for anything. Unless you count life!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Fun


Life can't keep me down for long! I'm ending my week on a high note. Here's what's making me happy these days...

--Running, of course! But not just running...running in the sunshine! Since my return from California, the weather has been rainy and cool. It looks like Mother Nature has finally decided to give us a break. The forecast for the next week looks warm and pretty much rain free. This is our reward for putting up with the gloom.

--This article by Mark Remy. He too enjoys a beer at the finish line. When I read "Twenty Years, Twenty Lessons", I thought to myself, doh, why didn't I write this? Although I'd have to come up with 25 lessons. 25 years of running and racing? Can it be? This list hits the nail on the head. Do I have anything to add to his very comprehensive list? Yes, and I talked about this in my post on Wednesday: when the going gets tough, smile. Smiling always lightens the load.

These just never fail to make me smile.
--My coach. She told me how much fun she's having making my training plan to help me meet my goals. To be sure, she has me doing some really hard stuff. But even the hard stuff is fun, as evidenced by this video:

--This new song by Justin Timberlake just makes me happy. I'm not a huge fan of happy pop music, but this one is too catchy to not like. Plus it's JT, right? The video is great too, with lots of people just movin' to the groove. Justin even dances with one of those flailing airdancer guys. Who hasn't wanted to do that? I may have to add this song to my running playlist but there's the risk that I will stop running and start dancing in the middle of the road. As if my neighbors don't already think I'm nuts...

--Finally, here's a little bit of cuteness... Wednesday was such a beautiful day that I took my yoga mat outside and did yoga on the deck. After I finished I wanted to get my plank done for the plank challenge. I decided to video it to see if I could get Cocoa to play along. After all, there are only so many variations of plank I can do. This pup is a stitch!

What's making you smile these days? Any funny stories to share? Awesome things you've seen lately?

I'm linking this post up with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five! Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia host this very popular link up! Check it out!

And with Angela at Happy Fit Mama for High Five Friday! So glad to have a happy fun post to share. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How to Encourage Yourself to Push Through a Tough Race

We've all been there.

No matter what the distance, no matter how many races you've run, we've all had at least one race where we've hit "the wall".  Some of us more than one.

Physically exhausted, mentally beat up, it would be easy to call it quits. Right? 

But there's no glory in quitting. So what is a runner to do? How can you encourage yourself to get back on track and finish the race?

Been there, done that! I've run a few races...and I've battled those mental demons more than I care to admit. If you've been reading the blog for any length of time, you know how much work I've done on mental fitness along with my race training. Since today's Wednesday Word is encourage, I thought I'd share some of my favorite strategies that I've used to encourage myself to get to the finish line.

You've got to have friends...Yes. I've run plenty of races where my friends have been running too. But I've run only one race with a friend by my side. Big Sur was so special to me in so many ways but mostly for having Kristina run with me. When I signed up I didn't even think about how hard this race would be. I could never have predicted that I'd be running on minimal training and battling plantar fasciitis. I gave Kristina plenty of opportunities to back out, even when we were running the actual race. But she stuck by my side, and we finished, hand in hand.

I don't think I'll ever get enough of looking at this. What a magical experience!
It's all about the bling-bling... Have you ever run a race for the bling? Plenty of people I know run those Disney races just for all the medals. If you don't finish, you don't get bling. End of story. That should be enough encouragement to keep you moving. It works for me.

I did run this one for the bling. What an awesome medal. My husband treated me to beer...
There's beer at the finish... To me, there is nothing that tastes better than that post race beer. Most of the time, that is. If they are serving Michelob light or some other similar swill, I'll wait until I can get to the bar. But if there's a tasty craft beer at the finish, that knowledge gives me an extra kick in my step! My first Chicago Marathon was so hard and I felt so sick that I wasn't able to partake in the yummy Goose Island 312 that they were serving at the finish. Talk about regrets...

Dance to the music... I don't always race with music but when I do, I make sure that I have some kick ass tunes on my playlist. I need stuff that will push me down the road. For me, that's heavy metal/rock and rap. Whatever it takes, right? Sometimes I even sing--out loud! Current faves include California Love by 2 Pac (an oldie but a goodie because I'm still in California mode), My Way by Limp Bizkit (another oldie), and Kiss This by The Struts. Boom.

Just breathe... Truly my favorite mantra, I wear this on my wrist every day. As I like to say, if you can't breathe, you can't do anything. Sometimes when I'm running, I need to remind myself of this.

Trust the training... When the going gets tough, remind yourself of all the hard work you did to get to this point. When Kristina and I were pushing up those hills of Big Sur, I'm sure she was rolling her eyes as I kept chanting "drive, drive". That's what Becky kept telling me during my training when she had me pulling the sled, and I won't lie, those hills felt exactly like pulling the sled. That coach of mine knows what she's doing, and it felt great to remind myself of that during my goal race.

Smile... Smiling's my favorite. Truly. What is is about smiling that lightens the load? Smiling relaxes your facial muscles. Smiling helps release endorphins and serotonin, those feel-good hormones. And if you don't feel like smiling, thank a volunteer. The volunteer will smile at you and we all know that smiling is contagious. Don't forget to smile at the photographers, no matter how bad you feel! Bad race photos just remind us of the pain...

Worst race photo ever. I was feeling bad, and yep, it showed! If only I had smiled..
Wisconsin Half Marathon 2011
Phone a friend... Desperate times call for desperate measures, and when I ran my first Chicago Marathon, I hit the wall hard at mile 17-18. I called my husband crying to come and pick me up. He told me no way would he do that. "Walk the rest of the way if you have to. Just finish, " he told me. And he was right. Could I have lived with myself if I DNF'd? It was bad enough that I fell apart. That phone call got me to the finish. While I wasn't happy with my results, I finished. Which is more than 99.9% of the population can say!

What do you do to encourage yourself during a tough race or run? 

I'm linking up with DebRuns for WednesdayWord! Today's word is encourage!

Also linking up with Running Coaches' Corner! Check out Susie, Debbie, Rachel, and Lora Marie!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Marathon as a Metaphor for Life

This past week felt like the longest, hardest race I've ever run.

And I thought Big Sur was tough.

Complete with injury, uphills and downhills, pooping, and yes, even "the wall", not all of which involved me, taking an unscheduled week off work to care for my injured son was tougher running any race. In case you missed it, last weekend, my youngest son fractured his tibia while playing rugby. Even though I was well trained for this event (I am a nurse practitioner), I had no idea the extent of pain he would suffer nor the amount of care he would need while he recovered. This was a bad break both literally and figuratively. The orthopedic surgeon told him he was thisclose to needing surgery.

But he didn't need surgery. Silver lining, right? Things could always be worse.

And because timing is everything, we also welcomed a new puppy into our home, something that was planned well in advance. It wasn't like we could back out of that at this point. Ok then.

Why would I do it any differently?
"If the road is easy, you're likely going the wrong way." -Terry Goodkind

Exhausted from that first night spent in the hospital after Matthew broke his leg, it would be several nights before I got a decent night's sleep. We had Matthew on the family room couch and he called me throughout the first night for repositioning, medication, and trips to the bathroom. As the week went on, those calls became less frequent. Matthew and I mastered the art of bathing him from the sink and I got his hair squeaky clean. We went back to see the ortho on Wednesday and his leg was placed in a cast, which made him feel much more secure than he did with the splint they put on at the hospital. Until it didn't. Thursday night he fell trying to get up by himself to the bathroom.

Happy to be in the security of a cast
He didn't want to "bother me". Sigh. There was another trip to the ER to make sure he was ok. He was in so much pain. It's really hard to see that.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint." -Dr Phil
Good thing I took the week off work, although there was plenty of guilt to go along with that. It didn't help to get a text from my office manager asking if I could come in for a couple of hours to see patients. Sorry, I told her, but right now my only patient is my son. Of course, that doesn't alleviate the guilt I feel about missing work and saying no to her request.

However, receiving that text from my manager was when I first hit the proverbial wall. I wanted to DNF this race.
"Tough runs don't last. Tough runners do." -unknown
During the week, we spent a lot of time in front of the TV. I've got 99+ channels and a show ain't on one. I'm pretty sure that daytime TV is the worst. Where do they find the people that appear on Maury? For the few moments I saw before I could change the channel, I felt my IQ drop a few points. We did watch the Cubs play some pretty awesome baseball and the "W" just kept flying! Pretty sure this is "the year". You can tell who the station thinks is watching the games by the types of ads that come on. Lawyers advertising services for nursing home injuries? Life Alert aka "I've fallen and I can't get up"? Hoveround motorized scooters? Pharmaceuticals? By the way, have you noticed that drug companies are making up all these "new" diseases and giving them initials? Have you seen those commercials for OIC? Did you even know this was a thing? "OIC" is nothing new and to prevent OIC while my son takes his pain meds, I made all kinds of green smoothies in my new Ninja blender. On the other spectrum, I also spent plenty of time this week cleaning up puppy poop. Lots of puppy poop. Everywhere. For some reason, she'd rather poop in the house instead of the backyard. It has been cold and rainy this week but come on! It's as if she was the one drinking those green smoothies. Maybe I need to feed Matthew some puppy chow.

Little furball.
Watching all that TV was tough. But cleaning up all that poop was the second wall I hit this week. Can I DNF now?

It's a good thing she's so cute.
"It's hard to beat the person who never gives up." -Babe Ruth
Thankfully for me, my medicine was in the form of actual running. There were enough breaks in the rain that I got some quality time on the road. I ran 4 days this week, and even though I intended those runs to be 'easy' paced, my legs just wanted to go and I let them. I even got an 8 miler in on Sunday. My PF started to act up again but I'm pretty sure I put the fear of God into that foot because it let me pound the pavement.

Sometimes it feels good to just let go and run.
"Your legs are not giving out. Your head is giving up. Just go."- unknown
There was also some yoga this week but not nearly enough. I didn't feel comfortable going to the yoga studio and leaving Matthew home alone, so I did my yoga in the family room. While I was on the mat, Cocoa wouldn't leave my side, and it was funny to see her running underneath me when I was in plank.

 I'm the one planking, she's the one sleeping.
I'm participating in Marcia's plank challenge, and while most people are planking for time, I'm having fun with all the variations I could come up with. I'm pretty sure I can't hold a plank for more than 2 minutes. The variations are more fun anyways. Kim from Running on the Fly may have thrown down the gauntlet and we may be having a friendly competition.

Who me, competitive?

Bird dog plank
That's right. Game on, sistah.

Lotus side plank where I attempted a bind.
Tight hips don't lie.
Not happening.
Thursday I went back to see Becky for my first post-marathon training session. We dug right into the new goals with lots of upper body workouts. I hoisted a 50# medicine ball 15 times over my shoulders. I hung from the high bar for 30 seconds at a time (it's harder than it sounds!). Reclined pull ups? Push ups? Dumbbell snatches? Sled pulls? Bring it on because it always feels good to beat myself up when I'm having a tough week.
"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. "-Haruki Murakami
There was probably a lot more I could have gotten done around the house. My closet needs organizing and there are bills to be paid. I did finish up my big project for work and I finally finished that online driving class.

But most important is that I cross the finish line of this race that life laid out for me. This race isn't over yet. Recovery is going to be long and tough for him. Hopefully, Matthew goes back to school on Monday and I go back to work. There will be lots of catching up to do for both of us. But a runner does what a runner's got to do.

Just keep moving forward. There will be no DNF at this race. Marathoners don't quit. Neither do moms.
"Let us run with perseverence the race marked out for us."- Hebrews 12:1
How was your week? Have you ever compared life events to running a race? How does running help you cope with difficult situations? Any helpful hints for housebreaking a puppy? Planks: quality or quantity?

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap! It's the place to be...

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: Running: A Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport

Why do you run?

Sure, a lot of people run for fitness, but I bet there are a lot of you out there who run because it offers you peace of mind. An outlet. Solace. Clarity. Therapy. I know that's why I run.

In her very personal book, Running: A Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport, well-known writer Jen Miller--you've read her stuff in Runners World, The New York Times, and SELF magazine among others--bares her soul about the one steady relationship she's had. Through all her failed relationships with men, the one relationship that's always held up is her relationship with running.

Like many of us, Miller started running as an adult. As a child, she hated running. She describes her feeling for running as "hated with the burning of a white-hot fire". But as a college student, she started running as a way to avoid gaining weight. After college, she stopped working out until she was offered a story where she would train for a 5k and write about it. As she pushed through the training, her confidence grew and as she said, she "thrilled in every small victory'' that came with the training.

And so it goes. Miller takes us through relationship after relationship--all eventually very dysfunctional--and signs up for races to help ease the pain.
"Running became a way for me to take back part of myself, even when I was the one who let others take advantage of me so quickly....The more miles I ran, the stronger I felt, and though not recovered, at least I made it to a point where I could look for the new road ahead."
Yes! How many of us have been there?

Unfortunately for me, as I read this book, I soon grew tired of the self-destructive pattern Miller had in her relationships with men. Every man she was with needed to dominate the relationship and she slipped into the vortex every time. If she were in front of me, I would have shaken her! Instead, I plowed through the book from one breakup to another. Fortunately, this is a short, easy read.

With every breakup, she would tackle another longer distance. Until she signed up for the mother of all distance races, the marathon.
"Training for a half marathon is like eating chicken nuggets, while preparing for a marathon is like starting out with the whole bird--unplucked. It's not simply doubling mileage, it's dedicating a sizeable chunk of your life to the training..."
So yeah, she gets it, this running thing. Why doesn't she get the whole relationship thing?

Miller ends up running 5 marathons. Every chapter starts with a vignette from the New Jersey Marathon, her fastest marathon. New Jersey was her "marathon", the goal race where she set out to do herself proud. But it was really distracting starting the chapters like that. I didn't quite get it until much later in the book when she plans to "beat the marathon" with this race.  It sounds like she's also in a good place now with her life.

I wanted to love this book. As one reviewer said: "File this under 'I was misinformed'". I agree. This wasn't the book I was expecting. I was hoping for something much more profound about how running can be life changing. Instead, this is just one woman's story about serial bad relationships and how running turned her life around.

If I wasn't reading this for the blog book club, it might have been a DNF for me.

File this review under "I was disappointed."

Did you read the book? What did you think? Has running changed your life?

Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of the post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks--it will close April 1, but the comments stay live forever! Don't forget to link back to this post, and please read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link up with us as well! Remember, sharing is caring! I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club!

Next month we are reading First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever by Amby Burfoot. Burfoot profiles epic pioneering women in running. Being a bit of rule breaker myself and someone who doesn't understand the word "no", I'm really looking forward to this one! This linkup will go live June 17.