Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Flow....My 5 Plank Flow

June has come to an end and so has Marcia's plank challenge. We started off in May with planks. There weren't any rules save for a daily plank and a post to Instagram. Some folks planked for time and others (ahem, me) got all creative with their planks.

Because does it really matter what you do as long as you plank? Planks are the single best exercise you can do for your core. Oh sure, planks are great for the upper body, but if done properly, there is no better activity to strengthen your core.

There was some good-natured banter between Kim from Running on the Fly and me, and a few other blogger friends joined in. There were planks with dogs, planks in dresses, and we even upped the ante with planking in different settings. It was really fun!

In June, Marcia proposed a push-up challenge. The goal was to get to 100 push-ups by the end of the month. And really, since a push-up is really a plank, a lot of us continued to post plank pictures. I hit my goal of 100 push-ups last weekend while I was on vacation. I won't lie--it was hard. But I'm glad I did it.

For my final day of planking this month,  I did a 5 plank yoga flow. I wish I could take credit for the series, but that goes to my yoga instructor. He had no inkling that I was in need of a fresh idea for the end of the challenge! We did this flow in class Wednesday and I headed to the park to recreate it. It was the perfect ending to a really fun challenge.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What Makes You Happy? Deliriously Happy?

What makes you happy?

Not just happy...but so happy you feel delirious? High? Euphoric? Living a dream?

I can think of a few things.

Ben and Jerry's Karamel Sutra.

Kayaking with my son this past weekend. Listening to music on my car stereo that my oldest son installed. Actually anything with my sons at this point!

Sunshine and a warm breeze. Time on the water. Toes in the sand.

An unexpected thoughtful gesture from my husband.

Petting the fur of my new little pup.

And a great run. In a beautiful place.

Although I've had a lot of runs that felt easy and joyful, my most memorable runs, the ones that have brought me that feeling of joy, that runner's high, have been after crossing the finish line of a marathon or a half marathon. There's something about running hard for a long period of time that makes me feel so complete.

Most recently, my most joyful race was that Big Sur Marathon. I know I keep referring to it, but Big Sur was THE marathon for me. It was a lifelong bucket list race. I fought so hard through my training--dealing with plantar fasciitis--to get to that start line. When Kristina and I crossed the finish line I was overcome by emotion. I didn't feel that euphoria immediately. It wasn't until later in the day after my husband took me out for lunch and a yummy victory beer that I started to realize what I had accomplished. That amazing feeling of savoring my accomplishment lasted for a long time after the race. I still smile when I think about the whole experience. In fact, today someone just asked me about Big Sur and it was like I was transported back to that day.

Pretty sure I was one of the happiest people there.

Ahhhh. The euphoria washes over me just writing about this. It's not like I ran fast or won the thing. But I sure felt like I did.

How often do we get to feel like this? Getting to live a dream come true?

This feeling of delirium, as it relates to running, feels almost like falling in love.

We do fall in love with running, don't we? Not the training so much, although I look back on all my marathon training journeys with fondness. There's such a sense of accomplishment to working so hard for 12-20 weeks, culminating in a big race.

What sticks with us, though, is the feeling of crossing the finish line.

Although I've run quite a few half marathons, some very memorably, crossing the finish line of a marathon is a feeling unmatched by almost everything in life.

Not only Big Sur but after crossing the finish line of last fall's Chicago Marathon, I walked around the marathon village in a daze. A happy, euphoric daze. I felt somewhat delirious. Sure, I just ran 26.2 miles in the heat. But that wasn't what made me feel delirious. I chalk it up to beating down those negative naysayers in my head that told me to quit.

Sometimes finishing is winning. And having your teenage son come to your race? That's winning too.

I can't ever get enough of this moment.
It feels amazingly good to have those races under my belt.

At this point, I am satisfied with my accomplishments. I am happy.

Deliriously happy.

What makes you feel happy? Have you ever done anything that has brought you that feeling of "deliriousness"? If that is even a word...

I'm linking up with Deb Runs for Wednesday Word, which is delirious! This was a tough one!

Also Wild Workout Wednesday! With Annmarie, Nicole, Jen, and Michelle!

And Coaches Corner! With Debbie, Rachel, Lora, and Susie!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rewind, Reset, Recharge

Greetings from the North Woods of Wisconsin! This post comes to you from one of my favorite places in the whole world, the beautiful Door Peninsula. My parents have had this lovely vacation spot since I was a little girl. I love to take time away from the craziness of life and just unwind here. It always feels like coming home.

Can I stay here forever?

Did I ever need this little getaway! All the stress of the last couple of months--my son Matthew's leg fracture, the new puppy, and other assorted annoyances--has really started to take a toll on me. You know I'm feeling overwhelmed when the mere idea of getting in the car and driving 5 hours to my favorite place exhausts me. But here I am and my arrival felt like a balm to my soul.

My oldest son and husband had to stay home to work, but Matthew, Cocoa, and I have been enjoying our time away in with my parents. Prior to our trip, I took Matthew to the orthopedic surgeon and pleased with the healing she saw on the x-ray, she took his cast off and put him in a boot. She told him he could walk on his leg and that he should swim. Walking has been painful for him. He's still using his crutches. On Friday he and I took the kayaks out and since it is so stony at the beach in from of my parents' house, we paddled across the bay to the sandy beach. Actually, we did it twice. Both times, Matthew walked in the sand and swam. It was the happiest I've seen him since he broke his leg.

Cocoa wasn't so fond of the kayak. We left her home with my parents.

Saturday morning, Cocoa woke me up at 5:30 to go out. I was tired but I got to see this:

After a few cups of coffee, I felt more awake and readied myself for a run. It was a gorgeous morning with a light breeze and a temperature of about 75. Instead of heading into the little town where my parents spend their summers, I headed up the hill to the bluff park. This hill rivals the hills of Big Sur. Even though I was tired, I vowed to run to the top and I did. The view was my reward.

The waters of Green Bay are just beyond where I'm standing.
I continued on my way to the bluff. Another beautiful view. And a clean latrine. I headed back home, savoring that downhill.

Tree pose on the bluff overlooking Green Bay.
Sunday morning I woke up to rain. Cocoa woke me up at 4:30 to go out but I brought her in the bed with me after our trip to the grassy patch. We both promptly fell asleep until 7. By then the rain had stopped. I hemmed and hawed about going for a run, but I wanted to visit my other favorite path that takes me deep into the woods.

A feast for the senses.
I stopped by the rocky shoreline to do some yoga.

I finished off Marcia's push up challenge with 100. They weren't easy today. My arms were tired--probably from the kayaking-- and I had to break the push ups up into small sets. My furry coach made sure that I got them done.

Since it was another gorgeous day, Matthew and I went kayaking on the bay again. The water was unusually calm and we paddled over to the bluffs to explore the caves. I've never done this, and Matthew really enjoyed himself. Even though he fell in the water trying to get back into his kayak. It wasn't that cold...

Tomorrow we drive home and it's back to reality. I'm grateful for these little getaways to rewind, reset, and recharge. 

Do you take time off to get away from everyday life? What kind of activities help you renew?

I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for their Weekly Wrap! And with Angela and Ilka for the Sunday Fitness and Food Link Up!

How was your week?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Runfessions: June Edition

I cannot believe that it is already time for my June Runfessions. But isn't that how it is with summer? It just goes too fast! Anyways, if you haven't runfessed before, let me tell you that it is the best feeling in the world. Runfessions, hosted by Marcia's Healthy Slice, is that once a month opportunity to get everything off your chest. No judgements. Pull up a seat. We're all here for you. It feels good.

So what am I runfessing this month?

Forearm stand fail!
This week I finally got up into forearm stand unassisted. I was so excited! Between Becky's training and Marcia's pushup/plank challenges, I'm getting stronger and I love it. But I runfess that it took me 4 attempts to do the pose and once I finally got up I held the pose for what felt like a minute but was actually about 2-3 seconds. As you can see by the title photo above, I had a few tumbles too. Glad I was the only one in the park that morning!

Forearm stand success!
About 2 months ago, the check engine light came on in my car. My neighbor, who is a mechanic, checked my car and told me that I needed a new catalytic converter. He said it would be under warranty and I should take it to the dealer. Easy peasy, right? Wrong... Long story short, 2 visits and about 6 hours of my life that I will never get back and my car isn't fixed. Those appointments were to "diagnose" the problem. The story now is that the part is "backordered". I'll spare you the details of the rigamarole I went through to get to this point. I runfess that I am going to keep my car until it dies. Whether it's for a repair or to buy a new car, I think there is nothing more painful that walking into a car dealership.

I runfess that for my most recent giveaway, I was so relieved that the winner was a runner. It seems that every time I host a giveaway, there are certain folks that always enter. When I chase their links, it seems that all they do is enter giveaways. What do they do with the prizes? Sell them on ebay? It makes me mad. But I can write about it today because I'm pretty sure that they aren't reading this post! After all, I'm not giving anything away. Oh and by the way, if you are commenting on a post for a giveaway entry, take the time to read the post to see what is actually being given away. I had multiple people comment on how much they couldn't wait to win the "compression socks" when in fact I was giving away compression pants.

I runfess that yes, I've succumbed to Facebook's lure to "boost" a post. I've made no secret of the fact that the blog book club posts get little to no traffic on social media. I have several loyal book club members and I am so grateful for them! Recently I've had 2 authors of excellent running related books reach out to me. I want to give them a big boost! But how can I grow the book club if my posts get no views? So I paid to promote the book club. It was truly amazing how $10 gave my book club post over 2000 views. And brought a whole bunch of new readers to the blog and to my Facebook page. I'll do it again.

Last week, I saw a patient whose mother is running the Chicago marathon for the first time. She asked me a lot of questions. Talking with her made me feel a little sad that I'm not running it this year. But I runfess that if someone offered me an entry to run, I'd do it. But that's all fantasy. In reality, this week I made the decision not to run the Rock 'N Roll Chicago Half Marathon. My foot is really bothering me. I'm going to bonus runfess that I am really tired of having plantar fasciitis. That's the only whine I'll do but I had to put it out there. No advice please. Just needed to get it off my chest. I'm going to keep the mileage low and head back to the pool.

Damn straight...
What do you have to runfess? Any bonus (aka whinefessions)? 

I'm linking up with Marcia's Runfessions!

I'm also linking up with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia for the Friday Five! Five runfessions, right?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Music to Get Lost by

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I love to run to music. Actually, music makes everything better.  I have a heinous commute to my job and music makes the drive tolerable. Recently, my oldest son updated my car stereo to a Bluetooth (no more tickets for talking on the phone while driving!). I've always listened to music in the car, but now with my new system listening to my favorite tunes is a special kind of pleasure. Road tripping takes on a whole new meaning when you have the right songs to pass the time.

The same thing goes for the run. With the right song playing through my earbuds, I feel as if I can fly. I have playlists for normal runs and for speedwork. For a big race, I make special playlists full of my current favorites. There are certain songs that just make me want to set the pace on cruise control. Those are my LSD* songs. Running slow is a challenge for me. The right music helps me pace myself on those long runs.

My only prerequisite for my long run songs is that they have to be familiar to me. I like to sing along sometimes. I also like to mix it up with new music--so if it has a good beat and I can run to it? Sure, why not?  Eclectic much?

Yep, I'm that runner.

Caveat: It's important to stay alert, especially if you are running alone. But there is nothing better than the right song to move you down the road or trail. If you're hurting, there's nothing better than singing to help the pain go away.

Plus you can ponder the lyrics.

Scaramouche, scaramouche, can you do the fandango?

I didn't name this blog Taking the Long Way Home for the fun of it. I like to get lost on the run.

What are your favorite songs to get lost to? Do you like to sing along to songs on the run? What do you think scaramouche means? What was Queen thinking?

By the way, I had the 45 RPM of this song when I was in 4th grade. Let that soak in...

If you want to check out this playlist, follow me on Spotify!

*LSD=long slow distance. What did you think I was talking about?

I'm linking this post up with Deb Runs, who hosts Wednesday Word! Today's word is lost. See what everyone else says..

I'm also linking up with the ladies at Wild Workout Wednesday! Annmarie, Nicole, Jen, and Michelle host this fun gathering of bloggers!

And Coaches' Corner! Do you think the coaches let their trainees run with tunes? Ask Debbie, Susie, Lora, and Rachel!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Life Goes On....My Week on the Run

This was a tough week for everyone. It seemed that every time I turned on the news, there was a tragic story coming out of Florida. First, it was the story about the young singer, Christina Grimmie, who was shot and killed after a performance by a stalker. Then, the unfathomable killing of 50 people in a nightclub in Florida by a self-proclaimed follower of Isis. And while that story was still unfolding, there was the news of a 2-year old who was dragged by an alligator into a lagoon at Disney World while his parents watched, horrified. Meanwhile, the internet was all judgy-judgy towards these poor parents.

It was all just too much.

Some bloggers chose to write about the Orlando nightclub massacre on their blogs. I decided to stay true to my blog and continue to write about running. In fact, I published some humorous posts, which I had prepared in advance of all the bad news. When these stories broke, I seriously reconsidered publishing those posts. Was it inappropriate to write about pooping when everyone was dealing with such horrible news?

Humor has always been a coping mechanism for me. It isn't that I try to make light of horrible circumstances. But sometimes tragedy and bad news are just so overwhelming it can threaten to crush our spirit.

Instead, I choose to laugh about the oddities of everyday life. For me, humor is a distraction.

Thankfully, you all thought so too. No one called me out on my posts--the one about my random thoughts while running or my tongue-in-cheek post about pooping on the run (crude title and all). In fact, one of my regular readers, Paria, who writes beautiful, thoughtful posts on her blog Momontherunsanity and for Women's Running, and who penned a beautiful piece for that publication on the Orlando tragedy commented "LOL! I needed a good laugh! I haven't had one in days." 

I'm glad that I have humor as a coping mechanism. Life is hard. While I wrote about funny things, this week my thoughts have been with those folks affected by all the bad news coming out of Florida.

"Life isn't about waiting for a storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." -unknown

I am also glad to have running as a coping mechanism! After Sunday's tough run, where I had to call my husband to pick me up, I thought I was going to have to take some time off the road. My foot hurt badly on Monday morning--will this PF ever go away?--and I made plans to head back to the pool the next day for some aqua jogging. But Tuesday morning I woke up with no foot pain! It was a gorgeous morning, and the thought of heading to the indoor pool was not at all appealing. My run felt amazing and I'm so glad I chose to run.

Here's how the rest of my week shook out:

Monday: yoga on the deck. I thought I would try to stretch out my lower legs and give my foot some relief. I had Cocoa on the mat as well. Turns out, she likes yoga too!

Cocoa and me in side stretch. She did this multiple times!
Tuesday: 5.18 miles/44:40 Push-ups.

Wednesday: Yoga with Kathy at the studio. This was an amazing restorative/therapeutic class. We held each pose for 3-5 minutes. It was almost yin-like. I felt fabulous, physically, after this class. I left class feeling more at peace than I had in awhile. During our poses, she provided her usual insight and wisdom. One thing she said stuck with me all week: "find your innate goodness". What a great thought to have as I headed to my wild, crazy job in the clinic!

Thursday: 5.5 miles/ 46:43 It was a cloudy, humid, windy morning and I fought through this run. I was shocked and pleased at the pace I eaked out. After running, I went to see Becky where she tested me on my strength. Grateful that I had been doing my homework, she was pleased. She had me work on a new high bar move, kipping bar swings. Apparently I have tight shoulders and can't fully get into this one. More homework. I finished up with 50 kettlebell swings and 50 atomic situps. The situps took me forever. I'm uncoordinated and my core is wimpy. More homework.

Do you sense a theme here?

Friday: rest

Saturday: 5.18 miles/43:29. I stopped 3 times at the playgrounds on my neighborhood route to do my homework: high bar hangs, scapular pullups, and those kipping bar swings. I also did 80 pushups (sets of 25, 30, and 25). Gittin' 'er done.

Sunday: The pup woke me up at 4:30 am to go outside. After I took her out, she wanted to bite me for a while. Finally, she settled down and we fell back asleep until 7:15. By then, the temperature was already heating up. I also had a few things to do, so I decided to ride my bike today. The only bad thing about going later in the morning is that there are more people on the paths and on the road. I don't know if it was the heat or what but people were driving like maniacs today. Mrs. Kravitz called 911 after 2 drag racing cars almost took her out of commission. Seriously, I hope they got caught. That was frightening. I was getting ready to cross the street when I heard them coming. They were flying. That got my adrenaline pumping! The rest of my ride was uneventful, except for a snake crossing the path! Yikes. It was 90F when I got home.
25.27 miles/103 mins.

Hydrating and fueling with Tailwind
News you can use:

My giveaway ended on Friday! Congrats to Amy from The Tiny Terror for winning her choice of an item from SKINS! Thanks to everyone who participated.

If you didn't win, don't fret! I've got a discount code for you so you can purchase the item you wanted from SKINS! SWEATPINK-SKINS20 will get you 20% off any item except sale items! The code is good until July 31.

The book club linkup opened on Friday and will remain open for 2 weeks! It's not too read this month's book and post your review. Or if you want to read another fitness related book, feel free to link that one up.

Have a great week!

I'm linking this post up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!

I'm also linking up with Angela and Ilka! Check it out!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: First Ladies of Running by Amby Burfoot

Looking for inspiration? Then you need to read this month's Taking the Long Way Home Book Club's selection for June: First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever by Amby Burfoot. Burfoot, an accomplished runner in his own right and long time Runner's World writer, profiles 22 women who changed the history of women's long distance running.

You've come a long way baby...

I was so excited to read this book. After all, I was raised in the era when Title IX came to fruition. In 1972, an educational amendment was passed which declared:
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
Not only education, this amendment extended to sports. Prior to the passage of Title IX, women were not allowed to participate in many sports. Reading this book took me back to those days when the women were discouraged from many sports because they were felt to be too "fragile" to participate. Reading this book brought me back to my own childhood in the early 1970s when the only "sports" I was encouraged to try out for were cheerleading or tennis. How far we've come since then!

The women featured in this book were the pioneers of women's road running. It's hard to believe that it wasn't that long ago that women were banned from running long distance road races. Imagine lining up to run a race and being physically removed from the course or having the finish line blocked by men who refuse to let you run!

Familiar to most runners is the story of Kathrine Switzer and the Boston Marathon. This is one of the 22 stories included in the book. The picture of Kathrine being stopped by race officials is the stuff of legend. But contrary to popular belief, she wasn't the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. The first woman to run Boston was Roberta Gibb.

When Bobbi Gibb applied to run Boston, she didn't know that women weren't allowed to run the race. She applied to run and was denied. The denial letter stated that it was "against the rules" for women to run farther than 1.5 miles. She was told that the marathon distance was "too long" for women. The race officials probably thought her uterus would fall out or something. No matter. Bobbi lined up to run, unofficially, and ran a 3:21:40 marathon, which was promptly denounced by officials. Her finish has since been made "official".

Besides the well-known legends of Switzer and Gibb, Burfoot shares plenty of other inspiring but lesser known stories about the women who paved the path for those of us who run today. My personal favorite was the story of Miki Gorman, who didn't start running until she was 33 years old and set a marathon world record in 1973! She also won the Boston and New York City Marathons in 1977 and won a marathon in her 40s, at the time the oldest woman to do so.

Burfoot does a great job with spotlighting the women who changed women's running. You'll recognize many of the names--Joan Benoit Samuelson, Mary Decker-- but there are several that weren't familiar to me. This book is really a trip through the history of women's long distance running. The only woman he includes that seemed an odd choice to me was Oprah Winfrey. Yes, Oprah's Marine Corps Marathon finish proved to everyone that any woman was capable of running a marathon. Of course, there were the naysayers who had to remind everyone that Oprah's personal trainer ran the race with her. The truth is that Oprah inspired a lot of women to take up running. And yes, a lot of us use Oprah's finish time of 4:29:20 as a time to beat in our own marathons.

True story.
But to include her in this book? I don't know if she deserves to be profiled along with these running legends. I wonder what they would think about this.

Still, that's a minor quibble about what was an excellent read. Since each chapter profiles just one of the 22 women, this book can be read in short bursts. The profiles are well written and I was just fascinated by the stories of all these running pioneers. After finishing this book, I felt a sense of gratitude to the women who went the distance even when they were told they couldn't. As Burfoot says, now, in 2016 over 50% of runners are women, and 40% of marathoners are women.
"So I learned an important lesson: Running isn't just about running. It's about the sense of empowerment you get from going the distance. That empowerment can help you succeed in so many other activities." -Kathrine Switzer
We've come a long way, baby!

If you want to read more about the First Ladies of Running, there's a Facebook Page linked to the book.

Traveling Cari wrote a nice review as well.

Did you read the book? What did you think? Who was your favorite runner profiled? Did you agree with me that Oprah was an odd choice to be included in this book?

Here's the link up badge! You can find the linkup at the end of this post. The linkup stays live for 2 weeks. Comments stay live forever! Please remember to link back to this post. Try to read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link those posts up as well. I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club. Let's grow this thing!

Next month we are reading Mark Remy's Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species.  In this book, Remy presents 23 species of runners and gives us the tools to observe and communicate with them. Best known for his Runner's World column "Remy's World" as well as his Dumb Runner blog, Remy takes an irreverent look at running. It's marathon training season and I thought it would be fun to have a humorous book to read. The reviews have been really good! I hope you join us for this one! The review and linkup will go live on July 15.

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