Wednesday, November 11, 2015

If I could turn back time...

Pardon the swear. Can I say that word? I got called out a few years ago for saying "OMG". Some nasty woman told me I was "a little old" to say that. 

My husband had to restrain me.

Is it no wonder that I struggled mightily with turning 50?

It's not that I felt old. Three years later, I still don't feel old.

But it's the whole idea of being 50. What comes to mind when you think of a woman in her 50s? 60s? 70s? 

A marathoner? 

I didn't think so.

I do a lot to maintain my facade of youth. To keep myself fit and relatively injury free, I continue to work with my CrossFit coach as I have been for the past 2 1/2 years. That weight training has made me believe I've found some fountain of youth. I'm running as fast as I did in my 30s. Considering that the number of women in the 50-54 age group is substantially less than the 45-49 age group, my continued success on the road makes me feel great.

I do feel good. Great, in fact!

Sadly, society doesn't view a woman in her 50s as youthful. When I ran this year's Chicago marathon, a coworker told me I did well for "someone my age". Heck, I came in the top 36% of all women who ran the marathon! 

Any excuse to share a picture from this year's marathon, right?
Good for someone my age? Thanks for reminding me that I'm "old". 

A few weeks before the marathon, I received an email from Nike asking me to apply to be a Chicago marathon blogger. I was so excited about this potential opportunity until I read the criteria. Nike was looking for bloggers preferably in their 30s, although they would consider "others". FitFluential asks campaign applicants for their date of birth. When I wrote about ageism in social media, a couple fellow bloggers who are in their 50s commented that the only campaigns they were getting were for Poise pads. 

Yeah, because all of us old ladies are incontinent of urine. 

Not really. 

But besides the ageism that permeates our society, there is one other very large reality that is looming over me. No matter how young I feel and how well I'm running, I have to ask: how much longer am I going to be able to do this? Let's face it. I have 25 years of running on these legs. Can I continue to run marathons? Because I still have a lot of races on my bucket list! 

I'm hoping with continued smart training with Becky, incorporating weight training along with low mileage, that I'll be able to do at least one marathon per year. For how long? Who knows. But I need to make sure that I don't overdo it, like I so wanted to this fall after I ran Chicago. Instead, I took a week off to rest and recover, and have kept my miles low for the last 4 weeks. I've started running some longer runs on the weekends again, and hopefully get back to the box and work with Becky soon. I miss it and I need it!

July this year. Who's old?
I've still got Boston in my sights, although there won't be a BQ at Big Sur. That one is all about the experience. NYCM? Maybe. Another Chicago? AOG? Marcia? 

You know what scares me the most? There's still so much I want to do. 

And so little time.

How do you feel about getting older? Do you want to run races as you get older? Have you changed your training as a result of getting older? Pulled back on goals because of your age?

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns--she hosts Wednesday Word and this week's word is ageless. I like to think that I'm ageless, but I know better...I'm doing my best tho! How about you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Celebrating the journey

Running a big race is cause for celebration. As a runner, you've trained for the big day and the race is the culmination of all that training. Crossing that finish line is the start of the celebration! How do you celebrate after training for and running a goal race? Or any race, for that matter?

After I ran Chicago, I posted about recovery. In fact, I likened this post-marathon cycle to a hangover. When I woke up the day after the race, I felt as if I had partied all night long. In a sense, a marathon is like a party. There are a lot of people along the race course and the atmosphere is loud and lively! Most races start early in the morning, but I don't think there is any tailgating prior to the main event. As far as I'm aware, I don't think there's a lot of drinking along the course.

I've been to races where there's a lot of partying after the race. Some races advertise themselves as the "best post race party" to attract potential runners. That's not what I'm looking for in a race. Most of the time, those races are 5ks--mostly novelty races that attract more casual runners--it's just not fun for me. I don't want to run a race where people sign up because of the post-race party. I'm old and cranky like that. It kind of reminds me of New Year's Eve aka amateur hour.  In the past, I've run races where the race is just part of the party. The last time I ran the Shamrock Shuffle was about 20 years ago, and I said never again after seeing so many drunk runners, hungover runners, and runners vomiting on the race course. I'm pretty sure that wasn't happening up front with the elites! But in the middle and back of the pack, it was a different story.

Idk. Maybe that doesn't happen with that race anymore?

The Chicago marathon has a great post race party, but it gets really crowded. There's free beer for the runners at the finish line, Goose Island 312 or IPA, and runners also get coupons for free beer at the party. It's always fun to hang out with friends and celebrate after a race! One year I was at the CARA 10 miler, which I ran by myself. I was in the beer corral, drinking alone my Lagunitas IPA, and some 21-year-old guys started talking to me. I probably reminded them of their mom, right? Anyways, people kept offering us their unused beer coupons. I could have spent the whole day with them! Not really, but aren't runners all just friends we haven't met yet? I won't lie, I was enjoying myself.
Clearly, I'm not above having a post-race beer or two to celebrate my achievement! Drinking at 9:30 am after running 10 miles? 13.1 miles? 26.2? Been there, done that. Doesn't faze me! Most big races offer beer at the finish line, no matter what time of day it is. Actually, most of the races I ran this year had beer at the finish line. Did I partake every time? No, I did not. And I'll tell you why.

I'm a bit of a beer snob. I wrote a blog post earlier this year about beers that I like to have after a race or a long run. It's funny how particular runners are about their beer. And I bet if you asked, most of them would turn their noses up at a Michelob Ultra or Miller 64. Swill. These beers market themselves to athletes--I see advertisements for them in my running magazines all the time. Heck, one of them had Lance Armstrong as a spokesperson prior to epogate! Maybe Lance knew something about these beers that I don't. Anyways, I'm not a big drinker, and if I'm going to celebrate after a race with a beer, I want it to be worth my while. Not with a "pretend beer". Pass me the Gatorade. 2010
Some people like to drink wine after a race. I've run races where they've served wine at the finish line. I usually feel a little bit nauseous after a long distance run or race, and wine just doesn't appeal to me. Which is interesting, since wine is my drink of choice with dinner! But after a long, grueling run, I feel like beer settles my stomach.

Speaking of dinner, after my last 2 Chicago marathons, I celebrated with a big steak dinner and a nice Cabernet. During marathon training, I avoided beef completely. Beef just doesn't agree with me. I don't enjoy having emergency potty stops on the run. TMI, I know. But once I'm done training and racing, I look forward to occasionally indulging in beef again. While I'm happy to be done with training, my husband is celebrating as well--living with a marathoner in training is tough on the spouse. My non-running husband also looks forward to a little more variety in our meals. I could eat chicken breast every day, but apparently I'm alone in that. So many chicken recipes, so little time...

I talk a lot about celebrating but on the other hand, sometimes a post-race celebration doesn't happen. My first Chicago marathon went so badly, and I felt so awful, both mentally and physically, that the last thing I wanted to do was celebrate. I was so disappointed in myself. When I look back on that experience, I want to kick myself. First world problem, right? I should have thrown myself a pity party.

Boo hoo, I ran a bad marathon.

Just look at that sentence again. Take out the word bad, and yep, I ran a marathon.

I should have celebrated no matter what the outcome. If I learned nothing else--but I did learn a lot of other things from that experience--it's that crossing a finish line is celebration-worthy. No matter what the finish time. Being able to run is a privilege. Yes, sometimes the outcome doesn't meet expectations, but bottom line, it's a journey which comes down to one day. Instead of focusing on the outcome, we should celebrate the process. No matter what the distance, no matter what the end result, the race is a celebration of all your training.

And as a loyal Cubs fan, I have to remind you: There's always next year!

So let's get the party started!

How do you celebrate after a race? Beer? Wine? Milk? Have you ever had a bad race and didn't celebrate? 

Don't forget to check out my giveaway here.

I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patti for Tuesdays on the Run. I can't wait to read all the other posts to see how other runners celebrate!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Planking, sweating, tweaking

Ok, I'm not THAT bad...
The fall race season is winding down, but there were still a lot of races this past weekend! It was really exciting to see all that bling and those PRs hit my FB feed. I'm thrilled for everyone who crossed a finish line this weekend. I won't lie though...I've got race envy like crazy! As if my turn at Chicago wasn't enough. It's taken a ton of self-control, but I've been behaving myself. As tempting as it has been, I haven't signed up for any races. I'm trying to feel satisfied living vicariously through all my running friends. I keep begging Becky to start CrossFit again, but she's timing everything around my races next spring and trying to give me a break. Sigh. In the meantime, I'm keeping my mileage low and doing yoga. Thank goodness for this amazing fall weather we are having--my runs have been a treat!

Meanwhile, to keep my competitive urges at bay, I'm participating in a plank challenge and have shared some of those planks on my IG feed! The plank challenge is sponsored by my friend Kim at Running on the Fly--you can head over to her blog to learn more. It's not too late to jump in! It's been fun to challenge myself with doing different variations of plank. It's not just the top of a pushup, you know...

Have you ever participated in a holiday fitness challenge? SweatPink and Run to the Finish are sponsoring the Holiday Sweat Challenge. It starts tomorrow, November 8th and runs through January 2nd. Every day, there will be a prompt to do an activity and post it on one of the many social media channels! This is going to be a great way to stay accountable and active through the busy season. I don't usually need motivation to stay active, but I'm hoping this holiday challenge will also keep me from doing something stupid, like signing up for another race! 

See what I did there? Just signed myself up for something...

Anyways, there will be weekly prizes and plenty of support from other Holiday Sweaters. That doesn't sound right, does it? Anyhoo, check it out! I think this will be fun. Sadly, this challenge won't help me with my other challenge--Christmas shopping... 

Click here to join the challenge! And remember to hashtag: #HolidaySweat so we can all find each other!

I said tweaking...not twerking!
 On a completely different subject, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm tweaking the blog a little bit. A lot of my blogger friends are doing blog makeovers and I felt the need to do a little renovating over here on the old TTLWH. Trying to keep up with the big bloggers, right?  I'd love feedback and suggestions on the changes. I'm trying to clean it up a bit and declutter. Blogger makes it a little tough to customize, and I'd love to move the title of the blog off the header. So far, I can't find any information on how to do that. Stay tuned. And yes, I know that WP is an option....

Speaking of the blog, I've got the book club coming up in a week. We're reading Bart Yasso's autobiography, My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon. You won't want to miss it! FOMO? It's not too late to join in. I heard back from him this week, and I am thrilled that he provided me with answers to my interview questions! That post will go live on Friday and the book review and link up next Monday. To show what a great guy Bart is, I asked for and received a ton of pictures from runners who have met Bart. I could not be more thrilled about this and can't wait to feature all of them in my upcoming blog posts. Thanks to all who contributed!!!

Finally, I wanted to share my review of a new bar that I recently was able to try. I was contacted a few weeks ago by the people at FLYJOY. I had never heard of these bars, and was anxious to try them, especially when I learned more about them. FLYJOY bars are made of quinoa, chia, and flax. They are gluten free, vegan, and non-GMO. They also contain protein, fiber, carbs, and omega-3s. There are 7 different flavors. Most of them contain nuts. 

I do love me some snack bars.  I especially like to eat them at work, when I have that mid-morning slump. Does that ever happen to you? Anyways, the people at FLYJOY sent me a case of their bars, 6 different flavors. I gave 6 to my Clif bar loving husband to try and I took 6 for myself. Both of us tried a different bar every day. My husband liked the bars a lot, but he thought they were too sweet. I also liked the bars a lot, and for me, the sweetness wasn't an issue. Which is interesting, considering that I don't have much of a sweet tooth. It was hard for me to choose a favorite flavor, but I think I liked the Cherry Coconut Macaroon the best--anything with coconut is a win in my book. The bars are really chewy, which was probably my only complaint. I've had a lot of dental work done, and I was worried about dislodging something. No fear, my teeth are intact.

Would I buy FLYJOY bars? YES! I really liked them a lot. Since I tasted them, FLYJOY has reformulated their bars with less sugar. Guess my husband wasn't the only one who thought they were too sweet!

Any more fall races on your schedule? A Turkey Trot, perhaps? Are you going to be a Holiday Sweater? What are your favorite snack bars?

Friday, November 6, 2015

5 Race Signs that are off the hook

Before I dive into this post, I want to say one thing.

Thank you to everyone who comes to a race to cheer on the runners! Your support is what gets us to the finish line.

I don't mean to sound disingenuous when I say that some of the signs I see are...shall I say...outdated?

Today's Friday Five linkup prompt is Five Best Race Signs. At the Chicago Marathon, I saw a few new ones that made me chuckle.

This one:
And this one--I cannot find a picture but I saw it multiple times on the course:
"If Trump can run this long, so can you!"
I won't comment on his campaign...

But there were so many tired slogans this year. Maybe I've run too many races. Maybe I'm old and cranky. But with 26.2 miles to run, a runner gets to do a lot of thinking. And here's what I think. It's time for a change. Let's get creative!

Instead of:
How about: 
"Your pace is on point!"
This is so 2015. Just keeping it trendy.

Instead of:

Hold up...I kind of like this one! I usually see the standard: "Run like"...Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum, you know, studly celeb "is waiting for you at the finish line".  Not that I'd mind if any of them were waiting for me

Here's mine:
"Run like yo bae is waitin' for you at the finish line!!!"
Because Ryan Gosling is my bae. Just keeping it up to date, my friends.

Instead of:
Grumpy cat is everywhere. And I'm a little bored. How about:
"FOMO? 26.2? YOLO!"
Too cheesy?

Instead of:
Well, have you see this one? Or any variation thereof?

This is so old! Come on people. You can do better. How about:
"None of the Kardashians have ever run a marathon"
Because they haven't. And never will. It's easy to keep up with them. In fact, most of us would pass them. With pleasure.

Last but not least:

Ok, worst, most overused sign ever. How about:
 "It could be 26.2 burpees"
It could. If my coach had anything to say about it...

Any ideas for updated marathon signs? Any signs that you get tired of seeing? Maybe it means we run too many races?

I'm linking up with the Friday Five for this fun post!!! CourtneyMar, and Cynthia are the hosts! Be sure to head over and check out their blogs and all the links! Let's get some new ideas for race day signs!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pushing outside of the zone

"You want to have butterflies in your stomach, because if you don't, if you walk on stage complacent, that's not a good thing." --Joan Jett

One of my friends, who is training for her first half marathon, recently posted on Faceboook about her anxiety. She was heading out for a long run, and was, as she put it, "shaking with nerves, a little teary, highly emotional". She said she didn't understand why.

I understood completely.

The hardest part about racing for me is dealing with my nerves. That pre-race anxiety has almost caused me to DNS more than once. I've worked really hard on my mental toughness and I've chronicled that struggle here on the blog. I've done a great job of reeling in my nerves, and that hard work has paid off for me on the road. I'm happy to say that I've never DNS'd a race because of my nerves.

But I've never shown up to a race without having a little bit of anxiety.

I think that little bit of anxiety is a good thing.  Those pre-race jitters show how much you care about what you are doing. Once you become complacent, once you become overconfident, smug, even callous, that is when you fail.

I'd say that as a group, runners aren't complacent. We care about our finish times and we train to improve them. If we sign up to run a race, more likely than not, we're going to train for it.

But being in recovery mode right now, I can see the appeal of a comfort zone. I won't lie. It feels good to go out for a run without a time goal in mind. Right now, I get to run just to run. There's something to be said for that. It's kind of nice.

I'm looking forward to 2016. So far, I've got 2 races on the calendar, the Sarasota half marathon in Florida in March and a marathon in April, the Big Sur International Marathon. Both are destination races. Both are races that are going to challenge me out of my comfort zone.

The half marathon in March is going to challenge me with the heat and humidity. Living in the midwest, training in the middle of winter for a Florida half is tough. I'm going to do heat training again on my treadmill, to attempt to acclimate myself for running in warm conditions.

The full marathon in California is going to challenge me with hills. It's as flat as a pancake where I live. I loathe running hills. I'm going to have to do hill repeats as part of my marathon training. Oh, and in the middle of winter too!

Look who is at mile marker 24!!!
And then there's that whole destination race thing. I'm pretty lucky to live in an area where there are a lot of races practically in my backyard. There's nothing better than sleeping in your own bed the night before a big race! Even if I'm not running a race, I don't sleep well away from home. Add the anxiety of a race to that....

Why do I do this to myself? I can list a lot of reasons: personal satisfaction, setting and achieving a goal, physical challenge...they're all good reasons. But there is no better feeling than pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

It's a heck of a lot more fun out there.

How do you feel about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone? Do you get pre-race jitters? Any tips on dealing with pre-race jitters AND traveling to a destination race?

I'm linking this post with DebRuns and her linkup, Wednesday Word. Today's word is complacent. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else says about complacency!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

So many books, so little time! #thefitfam #thefitdish

It should be no secret to any reader of this blog that I love to read. After all, I host a monthly running book club! Before I dive into this week's post, I have to ask, have you read this month's book? We're reading my newest boyfriend's book, My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon by Bart Yasso. Holy moley! has he lived a life! If you haven't read this book, you need to. It's a real page-turner. I met Bart at the Chicago Marathon, and let me tell you what a nice guy he is! He agreed to an interview, and I'll be sending him questions later this week. Let me know if there's anything you want to know. He bares all in the book (literally) and I'm sure he won't hide anything from us.

Ok, back to the topic at hand.

Actually, yes, I always read books...
Yes, I love to read, but I don't just read books about running. I read just about anything and everything that sparks my interest. Quite often, I pick up a book just for pleasure. What I really like to read are books that inspire me, and those books span the genres. When Jill and Jessica posted this prompt for this week's The Fit Dish link-up, I thought it would be fun to feature books that I like outside of running and fitness.

One genre that I can't get enough of is historical fiction from the WW2 era. You would think that after reading multiple books set in war-torn, Nazi-occupied Europe, I would have my fill. But creative authors continue to come up with new twists on an old story. One of my most recent faves is The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah. Hannah is well known for her books in the "chick-lit" genre, and because of that, I was reluctant to pick this one up. But Hannah does write smart fiction, and this far exceeded my expectations. Her perspective as an author of women's fiction makes this story about women during this fascinating yet horrible time in history very readable, and she does a fantastic job telling their story.

I grew up reading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In fact, I couldn't get enough of those books. I thought I had an obsession until I found someone more obsessed than me. Wendy McClure's book The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie is a hilarious chronicle of her pilgrimage to all the places Laura lived. I even went to meet the author at a book reading! Right now I have A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert, a fictionalized story of Laura's daughter Rose, in my Kindle to read library. Probably due to this Little House obsession, I also like reading stories about other pioneering women. One of the most recent stories I read was Paula McClain's Circling the Sun, a story about a young woman growing up in colonial Kenya. Raised by her father, the heroine is a strong, bold woman who makes herself known as a horse trainer. This was a fascinating read.

I do love a good thriller. Gone Girl hooked me and wouldn't let me go. Too bad the movie didn't live up to the book (but does that ever happen?) One book that I've recommended lately is The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly. A young woman develops wrist pain and seeks medical attention. An MRI reveals a bullet lodged in her neck! I was inspired by her tenacity as she attempts to put the pieces together and figure out what happened. Lots of twists and turns in this one.

There have been some "chick-lit" books that come to mind--well-written stories about life that I've enjoyed. JoJo Moyes does a great job with that--if you haven't read Me Before You, you are missing out on a moving, inspiring, and well-written story. Recently, I read The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza, which is the story of a veteran magazine editor who returns from a leave of absence to find that her young assistant has been promoted to digital editor and is plotting her demise! This is all about ageism and staying relevant, and you know that is something I think about a lot! The story was cleverly written and at times jaw-dropping, but it's everything that The Devil Wears Prada wasn't. Purely fun, but with a bite--Imogen doesn't back down.

I would be remiss without mentioning any fitness books that have inspired me--after all, this is a running blog! The book that started it all for me, probably the best book ever written about running, and the book that set me on my journey to do more than just run around the neighborhood being Mrs. Kravitz was Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. This is an adventure story, but it is so much more--I learned a lot about the marketing of running shoes as well as the sport of ultra running. I can honestly say I will never do an ultramarathon, but I continue to be inspired by those that pursue those distances. I certainly look at running shoes with a much more skeptical eye than I did in the past and I've learned not to jump on the latest trend in running shoes bandwagon--remember Vibram five fingers? And now we have the opposite trend--Hokas. This is a must read for any runner.

Finally, are you on Goodreads? Goodreads is social networking for readers! There are book reviews and ratings by other readers; groups you can join (my book club is on Goodreads), and you can connect with other readers! This is a great site. You can connect with me if you want under my name Wendy Rivard; you can join the Taking the Long Way Home Book club there too!

Are you drawn to a particular genre of book? What books inspire you? Any recommendations? Are you on Goodreads?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Full moon fever....and #fasterthanBOO10k

Does the full moon make you want to howl? 

Ok, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not actually howling at the moon in this picture. I'm cursing Mother Nature. While I was stopping to take a selfie for this post on my virtual race, the skies opened up and it started to pour on me. Mother Nature doesn't always play nice, does she? 

On the run, I don't always mind the rain. If it is a warm day, I enjoy running in the rain. As long as it is a gentle rain, that is. Being pelted with heavy rain is a different story. Rain plus 45 degrees plus wind does not make for pleasant running conditions. Although I shouldn't complain at all. Perspective. My friend Penny ran a 50k on the Chicago lakefront in these very same conditions. Now that is badass. It was her party and she can cry if she wants to. I would have.

While I ran my 10k, I reflected a bit on the week. My week at work was crazy. I felt overwhelmed and frustrated. There may have been some tears shed at several points in time. Finally, my coworkers and I asked each other if it was a full moon. 

We found out that it was.

Do you think people act a little crazier around a full moon? Those of us in healthcare seem to think so. Although studies show that there isn't any more chaos when there's a full moon versus not, it sure seems like more than a coincidence. And it sure felt like it this week! All I can say is that I'm glad I can take to the road to pound it out. Some wine may have been consumed as well. 

I've got some pretty supportive partners and coworkers. We brought our best to the clinic for Halloween, and the patients loved it! 

When you work with kids, you get to do things like this.
As I mentioned, I had that virtual 10k to run this week--the GoneforARun Faster than BOO 10k! If you remember, I put this one on the calendar as a recovery run after I ran Chicago. When I planned to do this race, I didn't know what kind of shape my legs would be in, but as it turns out, recovery is going well. I'm pretty much back to my baseline mileage. Even though I don't love the cooler weather, it is much easier for me to run when the temps are in the 40s and 50s. Wouldn't it be nice if it could be cool in the mornings and warm up by noon? 

Oh wait, I live in Chicago.

Anyways, I did this 10k in my neighborhood. It was windy, and the trees were starting to bare their branches. I have really enjoyed the pretty colors this fall. My legs really wanted to fly for this one, and I was really happy with my finish time: 6.2 miles, 54 mins, 8:41 pace.

Thanks to Gone for A Run for providing me with this complimentary entry in exchange for this blog post. I received some nice swag! And I loved this medal. The ghost spins around and he glows in the dark. This is my first Halloween themed run and I loved it!

Do you think people act crazier when there's a full moon? Do you act crazy when there's a full moon? Did you run a Halloween themed run? Did you dress up?

I'm linking this post up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap! I bet some of the others are posting about Halloween! Check it out!