For most of my life, I felt I was “too much” of everything and I was often labeled accordingly. My voice was too low and loud (foghorn), my feet were too big (I wore boats), and I was definitely too big (moose). I never fit properly with anyone around me. Summer was the worst. I so desperately wanted to be skinny and wear a cute bathing suit and swim effortlessly through the pool. Instead I dreaded putting on a suit that showed every single flaw and blindly groping my way around the pool’s edge.
I just bought an “athletic” swim suit for my triathlon training. It arrived on Friday and I tried it on with some trepidation. Those compression suits are No Joke. You have to heave and pull to get it on and I was afraid to look in the mirror. I turned around and saw… that for once, I was not “too much” of anything. My thighs were not too dimpled, my arms were not too flabby. I looked strong. I looked like I should be diving into the pool and swimming laps RIGHT THIS MOMENT. I looked like an athlete. I looked like I belonged.
I posted on Facebook that I was shocked by how good I looked. I know that probably came across as conceited. I mean, I still have a lot of work to do. I am still big, after all. But I have a new adjective now that replaces all of the others. Now I am strong!
I have never been a huge digital music person. I don’t have massive playlists. I never had a MP3 player. Heck, I just recently bought my first iPhone! I’m also, shall we say, frugal in certain areas. Needless to say, running music has been bit of a challenge.
I started using Spotify about a year or so ago. I went with the paid version so I could listen off-line – and my son could listen to various things in the car or when we spend the night in a hotel – with my old iPod Touch (yes, I realize it was an iPod but I never used it as that). When I started running, I began to create customized playlists on Spotify for my races but that was tedious and I could never think of anything good when faced with their whole catalog. I also didn’t care for most of the “pre-canned” running playlists that are floating around. Thankfully, I have finally solved that problem!
I created a “radio station” based on one of my playlists and listen to it when working in the kitchen, folding laundry, etc. When a good running song comes on, I give it a “thumbs up”. This then moves the song to a “Liked From Radio” playlist. I have it set to shuffle so I don’t memorize the order of the songs and I add them gradually so I usually forget what’s in the mix. I had several nice surprises during my last race. I also spent many miles with Tom Petty, but that’s not so bad either!
The only drawback is that I think the music stops when you reach the last song. I’m not certain but I plan on adding a lot more between now and my first half in April so I don’t run out of tunes!
I’m currently dealing with a lot of anxiety issues and I’m trying to combat them on my own. First, I’m eating 100% squeaky clean. No little nibbles of crackers or Doritos or whatever. I have to be especially vigilant when making Little Runner’s dinner on the nights that my husband has class! He eats things that I don’t and my self-control is woefully low at 6 pm. Second, I’m making sure I get a regular endorphin hit from exercise. Unfortunately, the palliative effect isn’t lasting quite as long right now (I was a sobbing mess an hour after a tough kickboxing session last night) so I’m upping the frequency and intensity, within reason.
This means that I was actually motivated to do half my run this morning while my husband was walking the dog (who tries to kill me when I’m on the treadmill. That’s another story…) I pulled off 2 MILES at a 10 minute pace! This is freaking huge for me! Of course, my third mile was considerably slower and included my cool down so my average was 11 min./mile but still! I have two more miles waiting for me tonight and I plan to do them both at 10. In order to run faster you have to … run faster, right? I plan on keeping at least some of my short runs at a fast(er) pace and see how that improves my overall pace.
If I wind up with a faster pace and manage to stay off the roof, I think it’s a win-win!
several rambling paragraphs about being a good exercise role model
I have been involving our 6 yr old son in my training and cross-training. Last month we were practicing planks – he would practice and then run the stop watch for me. This month we are working on elevated push-ups. Last night I asked him how many I should do. He said ten but I negotiated down to five (I had just come from a tough boxing session and my upper body strength is pitiful). I did five and kept going to ten! After congratulating me on doing more than I thought I could, he said that next time I need to touch the floor with my nose and then proceeded to show me! Yes, sir!
I’m going to get him a “Coach” shirt for my next race.
My schedule has been totally off this week! The only run I managed to do was 4.75 on Saturday. I broke my 5K PR by 15 seconds so that’s something but I actively ignored the 10 miles that was to be my long run. I don’t know why I have such a block when it’s time to bump up my miles. It seems to take me a couple of tries to finally get it done. I’m glad I scheduled in two repeat weeks into my plan. While I’m not pleased with my effort this week, I feel better knowing that I didn’t totally blow the plan. I’m adding in an extra boxing day today to a) kick me out of my funk and b) start this week off better.
On the triathlon front, I’m pretty sure it won’t be happening this year due to my current scheduling problems HOWEVER, I am planning for next year. I have just ordered a set of prescription goggles (legally blind + open water swim = someone drowning!) and have signed up to take an intermediate “lane swim” class at the local rec center. They work on some strokes and basically teach you how to safely swim in a lane. Once I have this done, I might do a little “indoor tri” that some gyms sponsor just for fun. I will also start watching Craigslist for a decent road bike and trainer.
Lesson for the week: I have to do my run early because “later” never happens.
Also, if anyone needs swim goggles or sports glasses with prisms or other prescription weirdness in northern Virginia, Virginia Eyecare Center in Burke can handle it.
The group has a Tri clinic next month that I might check out. It’s not cheap but I think it would help me understand the sport better and know if it’s a good fit for me. I am legally blind without my glasses so the swim part is a concern for me. Now I’m off to Google “triathletes with limited vision”.
My cross-training nights are a bit of a scramble for us. We only have one car right now so it’s a complicated dance of train/bus/quick ride down the street in order to make it to the 5:15 kickboxing class with enough time to change and stretch. It also requires Louis to pick up our son, manage him and the (high energy) dog for the evening, and pick me up again after class is over. We repeat this twice a week, with a double session on Thursdays. Every week I am tempted to bail. I sit at my desk and fret that it’s too much for him to have to manage solo and I should just go home. Plus I’m tired. Plus something hurts. Plus I’m feeling stressed. Plus, plus, plus. But Louis won’t let me back out. He won’t let me come home*, and for that I am grateful.
Within minutes of walking into Title Boxing Club Springfield, I feel a million times better. The fabulous trainer and the challenging workout(s) really help knock me out of
my funk and readjust my perspective – plus I’m actually building muscle! I am currently taking kickboxing and a kickboxing/TRX combo twice a week. The workouts are significantly different from running and I can’t mentally approach them in the same way, nor can I just zone out for a few miles and power through. I have to stay mentally engaged and focused on my form and the drills. That mental agility is as big of a bonus as the added strength, flexibility, and stamina. From working my core in these classes, I’ve really noticed the difference in my form when I run and how I feel after I run. I read/talk to runners who do nothing but run and don’t see the benefit of cross-training and then are surprised when they wind up injured. I really don’t understand them. I’ve been dealing with my own lower back injury that’s related to my crappy piriformis muscles and overall weak glutes and it makes perfect sense when I read about what an impact uneven muscle pairs can cause. Strong quads + weak glutes = lower back problems. Duh!
Also, just knowing that there is someone out there that cares about your training and is willing to listen to your race report and cheers at your progress – and who isn’t married or related to you – is pretty awesome! If you don’t have a trainer like that or cross-train at all, then you need to start checking out various gyms until you find your “home”. I know that the person who walks out of TBC at 6:15 is a much better wife and mother and a stronger athlete than the one who walked in at 5:00.
*now if I truly needed to come home, he would of course oblige but he’s pretty good at seeing through my BS
I have my training calendar hanging on my refrigerator and I check it every morning, some times more than once, to see what’s on tap for the day. I realized today that I’m almost halfway to my first half! Yikes! I feel ready, though. There is still a lot of work to do, and I do want to improve my pace some more before the race, but I feel that I could finish it today if I absolutely had to.
I’m basically following the Train Like A Mother 1/2 Marathon – Finish It! plan. I found these ladies shortly after finishing my C25K program. I was looking for a running book that was geared more towards women and wasn’t terribly scary (no super fit, super toned runners on the cover!) The Run Like a Mother and then Train Like a Mother books certainly fit the bill. They have a ton of insight into being a “mother runner” plus they provide an instant support network through their Facebook page. Their plans fall into either “finish it” with a focus on just crossing the finish line in one piece, or “own it” with a focus on crushing it. This year I finish, next year I will crush!
I have been asked a lot lately about how I find time to do this and I have to admit that it isn’t always easy. My husband has class until 9 pm twice a week, we have a whole zoo in the house to manage, one car, and we each have an hour commute each way. Time definitely is crunched but I have realized that I need to make the time to do this, FOR ME. Some A lot of things slide. My floors aren’t the cleanest and the kitchen table is frequently cluttered, but I am in a much better place emotionally and physically. I’ll take that over a spotless house any day! If something is really important to you, you will find a way to make it happen.
Another “trick” is really good time management and an extremely helpful partner. We currently wake up each morning at 4:05 am. I’m out the door to take the dog on a 2 mile walk by 4:20 (he’s runs well in the daylight, not so much in the dark). My husband prepares for his day and it out the door by 5:40. On Wednesdays, he teleworks so that he can manage the dog and school drop off while I do a quick 3 miles on the treadmill. I then finish whatever is left for that day’s workout in the evening after our son goes to bed. On my cross-training days, my husband is home by 4 so he can walk the dog, pick me up at the bus, take me to kickboxing, pick up our son, and then pick me up again after class (whew)! I honestly do not know what I would do if my husband wasn’t not a willing and enthusiastic helper in this. He also tackles the laundry while I am on my long runs on Sunday! I know, too good to be true!
I don’t know how I will handle the full marathon training in the fall. I was thinking on my commute this morning that I should start looking at that calendar but I think I might enjoy the ignorance for a bit longer, at least until after the Dismal Swamp Stomp.
I’ll do a proper introduction in a bit but first, a race report!
When I signed up for the VIFL14K, I was excited to run someplace warm(er) and flat! Little did I know that the blizzards and other weather wackiness of the weekend would affect us that far south! We arrived in Virginia Beach around 5:30 on Friday night. The skies were beginning to clear but it had obviously been raining all day. Saturday morning we woke to strong winds (20-25 mph) and temps in the low 30s. We bundled up, drove the 10 miles from our hotel to the Virginia Beach Fieldhouse.
I was dressed in just a long sleeve shirt and Brooks shell so I decided to buy a sweatshirt to wear in the corral. Best $60 I my husband ever paid!
First up, Little Runner (6) had his 1K. We had planned on him running it solo but we were late leaving the Fieldhouse so he and I had to run to the starting line. Once I was there I figured I might as well warm up with him! It was very windy and his little cheeks were beet red but he soldiered on and we crossed the finish in 7 minutes.
The 6K and the 14K both started together, with the 6K breaking off around mile 1.5. I self-selected the 3rd corral and I think it was a good choice. Others, however, were overly optimistic. I’m all for people following the run/walk plan but if you know that you are going to START OUT walking, then move to the last corral. The race organizers allowed strollers but they had to start in the 4th corral – a very wise move, in my opinion. They released us in waves with about 2 minutes between groups. The course was crowded until the 6ers broke off but it wasn’t horrible. There were a ton of costumes so the people watching was excellent.
On the course, there were two hair-pin turns (1.5 and 4.5) that I didn’t really care for – the 4.5 was especially tight. The was a stretch by the back tennis courts where we had to run on an open field that was pretty muddy and mucky from the rain. The officials posted a lot of volunteers there to warn people and make sure no one went down. They gave out little cups of M&Ms on “candy curve” around mile 6. I took some and immediately regretted it. I didn’t realize how DRY chocolate is! Also, my stomach just didn’t like the idea. Luckily there was a water station about 1/2 a mile down the road.
We had to fight a tough headwind at mile 7 and that was my slowest mile of the race. I picked it up at mile 8 and hustled across the finish line inside the Fieldhouse where I received my medal and a carnation. They then funneled us down the aid line for water, a banana, pretzels, and a red beanie. There was beer and soup, too, but I wasn’t overly interested.
Tons of volunteers
Fun signs with cheesy pick-up lines, romantics sayings, etc. posted along the course. When we ran through the amphitheater, there were signs with quotes from romantic (and not so romantic! “Love stinks”) songs.
Great costumes! One couple was marrying immediately after the race so she ran in a wedding dress, he in a suit, and their wedding party was also properly dressed. Her dress was cut high in front and she wore pink knee highs that said “Bride”.
Light on-course supporters (due to wind) but there were cheerleaders, radio station vans, a guy in a gorilla suit…
Water and Gatorade at every stop and they were clearly marked
Our son was able to play on the indoor climber in the Fieldhouse while I was running (I LOVED THIS!)
Great swag! Cute shirts, medals, reusable race bags, stemless wine glass, beanies, etc.
They texted my 5K split and finish to my husband so he knew where/when to find me (also posted to FB, ‘natch)
Indoor finish – excellent on a cold and windy day!
Honestly, nothing! The weather was a bit crappy but I’d rather it be cooler than warmer. The wind wasn’t too horrible, except at mile 7. I would be happy to do this one again.