Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate Chicago 15k

Last summer, my workout partner Steph told me she wanted us to run a race together. Her choice? The Hot Chocolate 15k. My first thought was ugh. I ran the HC 15k a few years ago and it was not a good experience, as the race promoter struggled with the explosive popularity of a race themed around chocolate. My second thought was that I've heard so many good things about this race since then. In July at the RnR Chicago expo, HC had a booth, the rep was so friendly, I was feeling happy about meeting Kathrine Switzer, there was a discount code, yadda yadda yadda, and I signed up to run the HC 15k in October.

The things we do for our friends, right?

Fast forward to race week and with a DNF from late summer on my mind, I was anxious all week leading up to the race. It didn't help that I was having an increase in RA symptoms. Mentally, I needed to run this race.

At zero dark thirty, Marcia picked me up to drive us to the train that would take us downtown.

It was go time.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Runner with RA Cycles through the 5 Stages of Grief

This week was race week! Sure, it was just a 15k, but my last race was a DNF and I sure as heck didn't want that to happen again. The pressure was on and boy, did I have a mental struggle this week!

With so many ups and downs of my disease process this week, I cycled, ok, I ran through more emotions than I ever thought possible. I needed to get a grip on my anxiety. RA and this latest flare have really been messing with me. I had to keep telling myself that the outcome of Sunday's race matters to no one but me.

As I prepared today's post for the Weekly Wrap, instead of talking about my workouts this week, which you can see on my Instagram, I decided to share my emotions. In a comic style. Truth be told, I had some fun with this post.

After all, as they say, a picture tells a thousand words. Amateurish? Yes. Therapeutic? Yes. I have felt all the feels this week.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Runfessions: October Roller Coaster

This post contains affiliate links.

Another month has flown by and with that comes another opportunity to runfess. Do you runfess? On the last Friday of the month, Marcia's Healthy Slice hosts Runfessions. Runners get to bare their soles, and it's all judgment and penance free. It's all good.

Let's get started.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Never Underestimate the Power of New Shoes

This post contains affiliate links.

"You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power. You just didn't believe it. You had to learn it for yourself. Now, these magic shoes will take you home in 2 seconds." ~adapted from The Wizard of Oz, when the Good Witch Glinda empowers Dorothy to believe in herself. 

Last week, I wrote about changing shoes, with the hopes that maybe a new pair of running shoes would be the catalyst to turn things around for me. I'm not foolish enough to know that my running troubles can all be cured with a new pair of shoes, and neither were any of you. I was given a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 21s to try out and so I figured, why not run in them and see what happens? What did I have to lose?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Book Review: Mindful Running

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Mindful Running in exchange for my unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

What do you do when you're having a bad day? You just go for a run, right?

Life can be full--good or bad, and at times, chaotic, and overwhelming. For those of us who run, lacing up our shoes and heading out the door is an escape from the buzz of every day. Many runners often refer to running as a moving meditation. We look at our time on the road as a time to work out problems in our minds. Some of us push ourselves hard to sweat out all the negativity of the day. Sometimes we push so hard that we lose that ability to unwind and enjoy our runs.

In her new book, Mindful Running, author Mackenzie L Havey set out to explore this concept of running being "spiritual" or "meditative". Before you click away, hear me out. Havey isn't talking about any new-agey type chanting or meditating. When she talks about mindful running, she means tuning into your body and paying attention to how you are feeling and what's happening around you. By definition, mindfulness means staying present in the moment.

Havey knows what she's talking about. She's a veteran of 14 marathons and an Ironman and is a USATF certified coach. She's also a sports psychologist. 

In MIndful Running, Havey asks the questions: does running mindfully positively affects running performance?  And why can't we just tune out and let our minds wander? She explores these concepts as well as discusses how to run mindfully.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

6 Challenges of Fall Running and Why You Need to Get Outside

Fall running can be amazing. After running in the heat of summer, the cooler temperatures can be a welcome relief. Mother Nature takes out her paintbrush and provides us with a feast for the eyes. The sound of fallen leaves crackling underfoot is like music to the ears. And need I mention thumbholes?

I woke up Sunday morning with visions of a leisurely fall long run on the bike path. Reality quickly set in as I heard the rain hitting my windows, wind whipping outside. The transition from summer to fall isn't always pleasant. But a runner's gotta do what a runner's gotta do, and that is to run, no matter what the conditions. I could have taken it to my treadmill, but that's not who I am. I run outdoors, no matter what. And you should too.

Originally, this post was planned as a tribute to fall running. If it's beauty and colors you're looking for, there are plenty of posts out there showcasing all that is good about running in the fall. Inspiration comes in many forms, and this cold, rainy, run provided me with plenty. This run reminded me that running in the fall isn't always pleasant, but there's the satisfaction of pushing through tough conditions.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get New Shoes

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.

When you're struggling with running, what's the first thing you think about changing?

A few years ago, plagued with running-related injuries, I knew something had to change. I started working with Becky at the CrossFit box and as I grew stronger, I rediscovered my speed and love for running. It's been a formula that has worked well for me for the last 3 years, helping me to set PRs in almost every distance I ran during that time.

Since my diagnosis with RA earlier this year, my speed and endurance have dropped dramatically in spite of continuing to strength train at the box. With Becky's move to Las Vegas, I have been working with a new coaching team. I've increased those workouts to twice weekly. I can't deny the positive effect those workouts have had on my overall strength, but the strength is no longer translating to success on the road. Who knows--maybe I wouldn't be running at all if I wasn't doing strength training. But in the hopes that I can regain some endurance, I've started looking elsewhere for answers.

When I see other runners struggling, the first thing they do is either change their fueling or their shoes. Am I right? Is that what I should be thinking about?

Friday, October 13, 2017

And then I Needed to Just Breathe...

Disclaimer: I received The Breathing App and gear in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

It's no secret to anyone that I am somewhat of a high-strung kind of gal. In fact, some call me type A+. Being driven is often a good quality-- as a type A person, I have high standards, I'm ambitious, I'm goal oriented, I'm not a quitter...but there are definitely some downsides to being type A. It is exhausting being such a perfectionist, and the drive to continually succeed can lead to stress. And we all know what stress does to a body.

Unless you're type B, that is.

Running has always been an outlet for stress relief for me. But what about when I can't run? It's not like I could just leave in the middle of my workday for a run, right? Can you imagine?

What I can do when I'm feeling overwhelmed is take a minute to breathe.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

After a week of bad news and an RA flare, the annual sister weekend we had planned was a welcome break. Timing is everything, isn't it? My only regret about our timing is that it was the Chicago Marathon and I would be missing it. I don't know what I was thinking when I gave my sister the date. I will admit to a little FOMO, seeing everyone's photos. Congrats to all the finishers!!!

My goals for the weekend were: destination sunshine and relaxation. Maybe we'd squeeze in a little fitness. Let the fun commence!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

5 Things I'd Share Over Coffee

Good morning! Care to join me for a cuppa? I can't think of a better way to start the day. Do you take yours black? Cream and sugar? Or are you jumping on the pumpkin spice latte trend?

I'm drinking my coffee from my hotel balcony in lovely Palm Desert, California! It's time again for our annual sister trip. Today on the blog, we're just going to catch up on life off the road. Kind of nice, isn't it?

FYI, I prepared this post before I left. I did some editing on my iPad using an app called Blogo. It's my first time doing that, so if the post looks weird you'll know why!

If we were having coffee, I'd share that this trip to California couldn't have come a better time for me. Sometimes a break in the routine is therapeutic. Earlier this week, I shared my anxiety about the Las Vegas shootings and my upcoming trip to run the R'n'R half marathon there. I've also had an increase in my RA symptoms this week. In fact, I had to quit on a run this week because my knees did not want to let me move. There may have been some tears at that point. While we are in California, I'm hoping that the arid desert conditions will do my joints some good. I'm going to look for my mojo on the trails here. The temperatures are predicted to be in the 100s while we are here. But as we like to joke, "it's a dry heat!"

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you that I've been feeling very nostalgic these days. That's probably because I'm reading one of the most fun books I've read in a long time. It's called Sting-Ray Afternoons (affiliate link) by Steve Rushin. It's a memoir of his childhood, a coming of age story about growing in up the suburbs of Chicago and Minneapolis in the 1970s. His writing is superb and the book is hilarious, especially for me because it's all so familiar, since I too grew up in that era. I don't know how he remembers all this stuff but every time he mentions some product or icon from that time, it takes me back! While I was reading this book, Spotify serendipitously came out with a new feature called "Your Time Capsule" which is a personalized playlist to take you back to "your teenage years".

My sister and me, 1969 That is my birthday crown on my head!

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you how sad it was to learn this past week that Tom Petty passed away. Still feeling nostalgic, I remember when his first single came out. When I was 16, I was working at the Fotomat-clone in the shopping center parking lot, listening to rock and roll on "The Loop", Chicago's album-rock radio station (40 years later, they still play that same music), and this whiny voice came out of my radio singing I Need to Know. Considering that I used to love the hard rock of that era, like Rush, Boston, and the like, this new sound wasn't an instant hit with me. Over the years, I grew to love the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. When I first started running with music, Running Down a Dream was on my original playlist and there it has remained since. I do have one other Petty song on my running playlist, You Wreck Me, for obvious reasons!

Tom Petty was a regular on The Simpsons

If we were having coffee, I'd tell you that I've started seeing patients at my new clinic and it's a loving/not loving thing for me right now. The clinic is beautiful and I'm seeing a lot of patients from my old clinic, which is really wonderful. The nurse that I work with (and sit next to) is a scream and we make each other laugh most of the time. My commute is cut by about 20 minutes so that I can leave my house 15 minutes before I need to be there. The pace is much more relaxed than at my old clinic, which was crazy. And yet...I miss my old clinic and my colleagues. I'm sure I'm still adjusting. I also think that I'm just a little burned out on healthcare. Last week, I asked my husband when I could retire and he told me 5 years...

Some of my former amazing colleagues.  So nice to have lunch together while we attended the AAP national conference last month.

If we were having coffee, I'd need some mama brag time. I'm actually starting to think that maybe my oldest finally has his frontal lobe! He completed his 12 week college classes he needed for his IBEW apprenticeship, receiving all As in his classes! He's back on the job and is happy to be there. He's also taken up golf. Who is this kid? More good news on the homefront: this week we learned that our youngest son was named a National Merit Scholar. While this is an amazing honor, I can only hope that it leads to some scholarship money for college. Hence, the reason I can't retire yet.

Why I want to retire: Me at work, all day long. And for the last time, vaccines do NOT cause autism. My boys are fully vaccinated.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee? Dry heat or humid heat? Current read? Have you listened to "Your Time Capsule" on Spotify yet? Any running songs that have endured for many years on your playlist? Loving/not loving? Mama brags? Tell me everything! I love coffee and if we get too hopped up we can always switch to wine.

I love this link up! You can share your coffee post with The Ultimate Coffee Date, hosted by Deborah and Coco. I'm also linking up with the Friday 5, hosted by Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness. Have a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Heavy, heavy thoughts this morning. 

I'm no stranger to anxiety, but watching the news since Monday morning has my heart pounding. You'd have to be hiding under a rock not to have heard about the Sunday night shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.

Have you ever been to Las Vegas? I have been there once with my sister and had a fantastic weekend. So much so that I've been looking forward to going back in November to run the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. This is a race I've wanted to do for a while. It's of one of those runners' bucket list races. Running on the strip? At night? Yes, please! Meeting up with the #holottafun ladies? Bonus! Connecting with other running bloggers? Jackpot!

I wrote about my running slump this past week. RA is making me achy and tired, and training isn't going well. My husband and I have yet to book a flight. I hadn't seriously considered pulling out out of the race, though.

Now, after current events, I'm not so sure. Now, I'm struggling with my decision to go.