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Saturday, September 29, 2012

I did something I've been wanting to do...

For a while now I've been waiting for the right opportunity to do something different and fun - run to the gym from our house then do a workout when I get there.  This morning I got up with it in my mind that I was going to run 20 miles.  Prior to today, my weekly running mileage was at 32 miles and I figured if I ran 20 today I would be at 50+ for the week and that would be pretty cool.

I left the house early - 6am - equipped with my husband's headlamp and all my water and fuel for a 20 miler.  My husband, on the other hand, was planning to do a workout at the gym a little later in the morning.  When I got to about 6 or 7 miles, I realized there was an opportunity presenting itself.  The route I was running would lead me right to the gym, if I kept going past my intended turn around point.  So I called my husband and told him I would meet him there and then we could come home together.  I felt really good on my run, too.  When I got to the gym I had gone 13.5 miles and I really felt like I could have kept on going.  I guess that's a good thing, right?

Then I went into the gym and did almost a half hour of strength training, mostly biceps.  On my way, I just had to snap a picture next to this Port-a-Potty.  It's on a route that I take frequently for longer runs and sometimes...well, I'm just so glad it's there.  :)

So I didn't hit the  50 mile mark for the week, but I did end up with 45 miles for the week and I'd say that's a dang good week of training.  And I'm not even training for anything.  Sheesh...I need to find a marathon to sign up for.

Later in the afternoon, we went on a family drive in the mountains near town and got these great photos.  Just   thought I'd share them with you all. :)

Friday, September 28, 2012


Going into this week, I was a tad concerned about how my normal workouts would go.  You see, my favorite instructor at the gym was on vacation and I knew I would be facing a week of substitutes.  Of course, I still got in all my favorite classes, minus two of my usual spin classes - Monday and Friday.  Instead of doing those two classes, I did a little extra running.  And that, it turns out, made for a great week.

Yesterday would normally have been the day I have two classes with said instructor.  In the morning I went to the gym and did 20 minutes of weights on my own, then went to spinning with substitute number one for the day.  Spin class was fine, and while not quite as intense as the classes I'm used to, I still worked up a really good sweat.  Then after lunch, I went back to the gym for class #2 for the day: Muscle Fusion X.  The sub for this class was hard core!  I think I got as good of workout in that class as I did the first time I ever took the class when I thought I might actually throw up.  We pulled out all of the equipment for this class: barbell with weights, hand weights, steps (with extra height), bands, mats and skater slides.  We did the usual leg-type exercises - lunges, squats, calf raises, jumps.  Then we did some arm work - tricep dips, inverted push ups, clean and press.  All of this strength training mixed with a variety of cardio - burpees, skaters, running laps, steps, mountain climbers and a bunch of other stuff, I don't even remember it all.  Yeah, it was awesomely hard. :)

(Slide mat for skaters and mountain climbers.)

Today I did some more running.  I didn't have time to do too long of a run, since I had to be at cub scout meetings by 10.  I started out at around 6:30 and since it was still dark outside, I just headed to the park to run laps around the track.  I ended up doing 5.15 miles in just under 55 minutes.  I actually felt pretty good, too.  It was kind of nice to just put my pace on cruise-control, with no hills to worry about, and just run at a steady, comfortable pace.

Tomorrow I plan to do some more running, and if I have time to fit it in, a long run.  I'm trying to make a little weekly goal I've set.  Tune in tomorrow to see if I reached it... ;)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yesterday Spin and weights, today RUN!

I had a fun workout day yesterday.  I did my usual 8:30 spinning class, after doing about 20 minutes of heavy lifting in the weight room.  Then I went to Muscle Fusion class, where I spent an hour doing lots of reps of squats, lunges, dead lifts, cleans and presses, bicep curls, rows and various versions of ab crunches.  I decided to increase my weight from last week, which seemed like a good idea at the time.  Today when I woke up with sore...well, everything...I had to question that decision!  Haha!  Not really, you all know I love to be sore because it means my body is changing. :)

(Clean and press.)

So today my plan was to do some running.  When I first started to move around after getting out of bed, I really wasn't sure how far I'd feel like going because my calves and glutes were especially sore.  But the weather was so perfect for running - clear, sunny skies, cool temperatures - I knew I just needed to get out there and start running and I would feel better.  Once I got going, I decided to do a 9 mile loop.  After the first couple of miles, I even started to feel so much better that I began watching my pace and made a goal to keep it as close to 10:30 min./mile as I could for the duration of the run.  When I finished the 9.2 miles, my average pace was 10:26 - not too bad.  It actually felt like I was working harder and going faster than that, but I'm guessing that with my muscles being in recovery mode, they were probably working harder just to keep that pace.  It's all good, though.  I was enjoying an endorphin overflow the rest of the day.  That's what running does for you.  But you all know that, right? ;)

Monday, September 24, 2012

17 miles up a creek...

 Mink Creek, that is. :)

Still soaking in the motivation that came after spending Sunday watching about 100 people, including my husband, run a marathon in scenic Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I decided to do my own awe-inspiring long run this morning.

I started at my house and took a route that followed roads up to a national forest area.  It took me the first 8 or so miles to get through town (a rural area, but still "town") and start the main portion of my climb.  I used a 5:1 run/walk ratio from the beginning.  I wasn't sure quite how far I would go, but I knew I was going to try to go at least 15-17 miles, maybe more, depending on how I was feeling.  My husband was home from work all day recovering from his marathon, and the kids were at school, so I told my husband I would call him when I was done running and he could just come and get me wherever I ended up.

My legs were already starting to feel tired by mile 10, but it was so peaceful and so beautiful out there on those empty roads, that I didn't want my time out there to end.  I pushed through the mild cramping and pulling I was feeling in my calves and hamstrings, trying to get as far up the canyon as I could before turning around for a couple of miles of downhill and then calling it good.  I made it to mile 15, then turned around and "cruised" down for a couple of fun miles.  I saw my husband's vehicle approaching about the time I was almost at 17 miles and I motioned for him to take a few photos of me before I ended my run.  So, thanks to my personal photographer, I have all of these lovely photos to share with you! :)

In the end, my total elevation gain was around 1900 feet.  No wonder my legs were killing me when I was done!  I also tried out my camel-back for the first time on a run.  I've used it many times for hikes, but not for running.  While I definitely love that it allows me to carry much more water (and anything else I might need) for a long run than my hydration belt, it was also much heavier.  Once I was used to it, I actually didn't mind it much, but I do think it contributed to my slower than normal pace.  I'm planning to start doing more long runs and also trail runs so I thought it would be a good idea to practice using it more often.

A weekend in Jackson Hole.

On Sunday my husband ran his second ever marathon!  We had a great time spending a couple of days in beautiful Jackson Hole as a family, and supporting him on his endeavor.  I took a gazillion photos, but I'll just share a few of my favorites with you all.  If anyone out there is looking for a great destination marathon to run, or if you are trying to be a member of the 50 states club - this would be a great one for you!

The course starts in downtown Jackson, then follows paved nature trails, side roads and highway to make it's way to the world famous ski resort of Teton Village.  The course is pretty flat, but the elevation in Jackson is around 6400' above sea level.  While that elevation is only a slight increase for us from where we live in the mountains of Idaho, Chris said he did hear some of the other non-local runners complaining about the effect the altitude was having on them.

The night before the race, we went on a short drive in the area and spotted lots of moose, deer and even a little black bear.  There have been so many wildfires in the region that the smoke in the air was thick, making it hard to get a good view of the Teton mountains, but it was still gorgeous.

Chris looked strong the whole run.  At around mile 23 when we checked in with him, he was complaining of a lot of pain in his knees and the tops of his feet, but he hung in there and got it done!  We're so proud of him.

And check out the unique medals they gave out this year!

Where else would you get a cool medal like that?! :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

A couple of days gone by...and before and after pics!

Thought I'd check in with y'all before I'm gone for a couple of days with our family to support my husband as he runs his second marathon!

Yesterday was a typical Thursday for me.  After getting the kids to school, I headed to the gym for a 20 minute strength training session followed by a spin class.  Then I went to the grocery store before going back to the gym for Muscle Fusion X at noon.  Man, I love that class.  Almost as much as I love spinning, which I love almost as much as I love running.  So many 'loves' in my life right now. :)

This morning, after sleeping in until 7:30, I had time to do a few miles on the treadmill before going to the gym for another spin class.  I spent the rest of the day preparing all kinds of snacks, sandwiches and meals to take with us in the cooler to help me keep things "clean" even while we're out on the road.  It's only a two day trip, but it took me over 5 hours to get all the food fixed and pack our bags and get things ready to go.  I actually wish we could stay longer.  I love Jackson Hole in the fall.  I can't wait to share pictures with you all.  Definitely one of the most beautiful places ever, although there is a lot of smoke in the air right now due to all the wildfires in our region.  I just hope it doesn't affect Chris too much while he is running his marathon.

So I finally think I'm starting to notice some changes in my body from all the strength training I've been doing, and also most likely as a result of the tweaks in my diet for the past month or more.  On the left, a picture of me after getting ready to go on a date with my husband last night.  And just for fun, a picture of me in 2001, hiding behind my baggy sweater and pants:

Wow.  What a difference a decade makes, right?!  Who would have thought I'd look better at 37 than I did at 27.

I haven't worn these particular jeans since the winter, so I was pretty excited that when I put them on, they fit even better than they used to.  I'm still anxious to continue to see improvements as I stick with a clean diet and keep doing the new classes I've added to my weekly routine.  No more hiding in baggy clothes. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A recap of yesterday, 6 miles today and Tosca Reno.

Right now I feel like I'm in the mode of just plugging along day to day.  I haven't set any official goals yet, although I am coming closer to making some decisions.  In the meantime, my focus is on taking things one day at a time, one workout at a time, one meal at a time.

Yesterday's workouts included 20 minutes of heavy lifting at the gym before going to spin class.  After spinning I came home and got some things done around the house before heading back to the gym for another class in the evening - Muscle Fusion.  Our normal instructor for the class was sick, so we had a substitute.  It was still a tough workout, though and I increased my weights on most of the exercises, getting particularly heavy on the squats, lunges and also on the bicep reps.

This morning I had intended to head out for a run.  I wasn't sure how long or how far, but I knew I just wanted to run.  After getting the kids off to school, however, my stomach was giving me some trouble so I decided to stay home and use the treadmill, where I could also be close to a bathroom. ;)

I ended up doing a little over 6 miles at a steady pace of between 10-11 min. miles.  It also gave me a chance to get caught up on last week's episodes of The Voice.  Now I just need to catch up on this week...

In nutrition news, I'm still going strong and steady with the clean eating lifestyle, although I am finding that I'm having a few issues crop up.  I have had no trouble steering clear of processed and refined sugar and flour, and I also have no problem getting plenty of whole grains, nuts and fruit.  I drink tons of water, avoid most dairy, opting for my unsweetened almond milk instead, and haven't been drinking diet soda.  I am finding, however, that I'm having a harder time coming up with ways to get all of my lean protein and vegetables in, since there are fewer options for me, at least things that I like.  I've been eating a lot of fish - tilapia or some other kind of white fish - almost daily, along with chicken breast several days a week.  I also got some new, all natural, high quality protein powder, which I've started to take first thing in the morning and also after hard workouts.  I find that most of my green vegetables come from my homemade juice (spinach, kale, carrots, squash, pears, apples) or from salads, but it's difficult for me to branch out much further than that.  Tonight I decided to try something new to go with our fish - pan fried zucchini.  I've never really liked zucchini, except in baked goods, but I got creative and tried my own recipe.  I sliced the zucchini, put some olive oil in a pan, dipped the slices in a mixture of egg and pumpkin puree, then coated them with a mixture of cornmeal, whole wheat flour and sea salt.  Once the oil was heated, I pan "fried" the zucchini slices for a couple of minutes on each side.  Sounds good, right?  Well, the coating was lovely, but it didn't make me like zucchini any more than I did before.  I forced myself to eat a couple of slices, but I don't think I'll be making it again.

I've ordered one of Tosca Reno's (the eat clean lady) books and it should be here any day...just in time, I guess! :)

Tosca Reno's before and after pics.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review: Running the Edge

I'm lucky to have been given the opportunity to read and review the newly revised edition of Running the Edge by Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano.  The cover touts, "Discover the secrets to better running and a better life."  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is not your typical book about running.  There are no tips on speed work, training schedules or nutrition, but rather an introspective guide to determining your personal standpoint on running (and fitness) as it pertains to the other areas of your life, helping you focus on becoming an all-around better person.

Most runners have several personality characteristics in common.  Runners are, in varying degrees, typically driven, motivated, goal-oriented, hard working individuals.  As I read this book, I found I could easily relate to the ideas presented about how to hone those characteristics and branch them out to encompass a broader, more fulfilling life experience.  The psychological aspects of running are brought into clarity and there are journal entry suggestions throughout the book to assist you in going through the process of self-discovery as you read.

I loved reading the short stories from both Adam and Tim, portraying their personal experiences with the concepts presented in each chapter.  I can tell that this is a book I will come back to at times when workouts seem stale and I need a jump start in reestablishing that richer, more rewarding experience.  This book is a well-written reminder of how we can use running as an important block of life on which to build other meaningful relationships and experiences.

Monday, September 17, 2012

10 mile trail hike and spinning.

A near perfect day.  As soon as the kids were at school, Chris and I went to one of our favorite trails and hiked for about 10 miles, stopping for a picnic lunch and enjoying the gorgeous fall colors.  We saw some deer and lots of moose sign.  It was peaceful and perfect.  Not a bad workout, either.  There was an elevation gain of about 1000', so that makes for a great cardio burn, and on the way back down our quads got their workout, too.

We spent about 4 -5 hours in the mountains, then came home before the kids were out of school.

After dinner, I went into town by myself to go to a spinning class at the gym.  I will probably be doing most of my gym time alone this week, since Chris is gearing up for a marathon this weekend.  He's running in Jackson Hole and I'm so excited that we get to go along for the ride!  We'll be driving support for him and enjoying the beautiful Tetons while we watch him run! :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

17.5 miles, just for the fun of it. :)

I may have bitten off more than I could chew, once again.  As I started out on my long run this morning, I thought I would do a 20 miler - 10 miles out and back.  I started down a road I haven't run in a while, even though it's a mostly uphill route, at least on the way out.  On the way back, I get to enjoy the downhill.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  A little bit chilly, but not too cold.  The sun was shining and it was beautiful. As soon as I started to run, I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to go that far, but I just didn't want to waste the perfect day.  My legs - calves and glutes - were sore and achy from the start, never having fully recovered from my hard workouts earlier in the week.  After about 4 miles of trying to keep my typical long run pace of around 10-11 min./mile, I realized it was unlikely I could maintain that for long.  So I just resigned myself to the run, slowed my pace, took walking breaks every 5 minutes, and snapped lots of photos along the way to really soak in my surroundings.

At some point when I knew I was getting close to the 10 mile mark, but not quite there yet, I saw a very large, black dog darting across and alongside the street ahead of me about 1/4 mile.  Since I was out on a rural, secluded country road without my pepper spray, I decided it would be wise to just turn around before the dog noticed me.  Anyone else read the article in this month's Runner's World about the dog attack?  (Shiver).  Anyway, I turned around and started the return trip.  I can't say I wasn't kind of glad to have an excuse to do so a little sooner than I had originally planned.  My legs were feeling extremely fatigued.  By then it was warm enough that I was able to take off my jacket and just absorb the sun's rays.  I tried to focus on that and on the fact that I am just grateful that I can run.  There was also a bike race going on apparently and I suddenly found myself going head-on into bicycle traffic.  I said "Good morning!" to every passing cyclist and enjoyed myself all the way ~ 17.5 miles.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fitness Friday.

This morning my plan was to "relax" a little.  I had cub scout meetings at 10, but since I knew I would be going to a spinning class at noon, I hadn't planned to do much else in the morning, but for some reason I was feeling a little antsy.  Even though my legs, especially my glutes, are still sore from yesterday's class, at around 6:30 or 7am, I started to consider going out for a run.  Just about that time, my husband came by the house to drop off his gym bag before heading back out to work.  He had been at the gym early (5-6am) to do his strength training before he started his shift.  He told me who all he saw there working out.  Hearing that from him sealed the deal for me.  I was "resting" while someone else was not.  I needed to get moving.

I changed my clothes and jumped on the treadmill and ran 3.5 miles, then I did about 30 minutes of strength training of my own - shoulders and lats.  I also spent some time practicing jumping up on a stool.  I am very insecure when it comes to jumping up onto a step or platform.  Have you ever seen that episode from several seasons ago of The Biggest Loser where there was a female contestant who was petrified of jumping up on the platform and it took her all week to finally conquer her fear and do it?  That's how I feel.  I'm not sure why.  Yesterday during class, our teacher was trying to get us to do a complicated version of plyo-jumps onto our steps.  I couldn't get it.  My coordination was totally off and I just couldn't get my legs to lift high enough or move fast enough.  By the third set of reps, I had finally figured it out and had better luck staying in sync with her, but by then my legs were so tired that I was worried I might trip.  So, this morning I got out a little 8" tall step-stool and practiced jumping up onto it - over and over.  Sometimes I'm surprised by my lack of strength and coordination, considering the hours I spend running and working out.  One would think I would be much stronger than I am, but every time I try a new exercise, I am pretty bad at it.

Anyway, after scouts, I headed to the gym for spinning.  While I was there, I got to see and talk to a friend who is an instructor at the gym but also a runner.  She just ran her first marathon - Pocatello - and this was my first chance to really talk with her since then, so it was fun to see how she was feeling and how her recovery has been going.  After class as she and I were talking, she asked me how many classes I had been taking at the gym.  As we talked about it, Misty, who had just taught our spin class, mentioned that she had said to someone recently that it was a tie between me and this other friend/instructor as to who spends the most time at the gym.  I wasn't actually sure if she was saying that was a good thing or not, and I was surprised by how I felt when I heard her say that.  While on the one hand, my mind was telling me that I should be proud that I work so hard and am consistent and dedicated to bettering myself, I almost felt more embarrassed and a little guilty, like my priorities are off?  Maybe if I looked like either of these two fitness instructors (i.e. 0% body fat and beautifully toned and sculpted muscles), it would seem logical and appropriate and I would feel justified in the amount of time I spend working out.  But because I am still a work in progress, and maybe will never reach that higher level of fitness, I suddenly was questioning my own reasons for this obsession with working out.

As I drove home, I continued to think about it and I realized I really, really need to make some goals.  I need to decide what I'm trying to accomplish here.  Is my main motivation to be a better or faster runner?  Do I want to build up the endurance to try something harder or farther than a marathon?  Do I want to be physically stronger for a specific purpose?  Do I want to look or feel better, do I want more than just being average, looking okay in my clothes, but not looking - whoa, good in my clothes?!  Part of me thinks that the guilt that I feel comes from the place inside where I have issues, worrying that the things I'm striving for and craving in terms of self-improvement are superficial and worldly, rather than bettering myself for a deeper, more grounded and spiritual purpose.  Still, I think there's something to the idea that a person who is driven towards excellence and/or perfection, whether they actually ever achieve anything close to it, is a person who can accomplish so much more in life, creating richer, more meaningful experiences and I suppose that's partially what I'm trying to achieve.  Right now I really just don't know what my main objective is or what it will or should be.  I'm not even sure how to get my mind around what might be possible.  Is it true that anything really is possible?  I mean, 3 years ago I would never have thought I'd be able to call myself a runner, let alone a marathoner.  So who knows?  What could I accomplish, if only....time will tell.  More thinking on this needs to be done.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A new favorite day.

I really love my Thursdays.  Chris is working day shift right now, so after the kids left for school, I headed straight to the gym.  I started with 15 minutes of strength training - triceps and back.  Then I went to my favorite spin class.  After class I showered, dressed and went to pick up some things at Wal-Mart, then got to meet Chris on his lunch break at Subway.

After lunch, I headed back to the gym where I changed back into workout clothes and went to another new favorite class - Muscle Fusion X.  One of the things I love about this class is that the instructor changes the routine every week, so we never know exactly what we'll be doing.  Some of the exercises are the same, using weights and a barbell, a step and lots of cardio intervals, but the hour goes by pretty quickly because it's always different.  It is a killer workout.  I love it.  Today's class actually lasted for about an hour and 10 minutes because the last 10 minutes we did core work.  My glutes are already sore.  There is one thing that's pretty consistent through both Muscle Fusion (Tuesday's class) and Muscle Fusion X (Thursday's class), and that's the fact that we do about a jillion reps of squats.  With the barbell.  Full squats.  Low squats.  Lower squats.  Pulsing squats.  If these classes don't get my quads and glutes ripped within the next few months, nothing will. :)

The girl in the Google image is smiling while she squats.  I was smiling, too.  Because I know that with each one I'm getting closer to having the backside that I long for. :)  One of these days I should bring my camera to my classes.  I tried once before when Chris and I were going to do a spin class, but he said I was embarrassing him. :(

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

9 miles, all normal and stuff.

Yep, things are getting back to normal.  Well, whatever normal means.  I guess for me it means training runs (though I'm not particularly training for anything specific right now) on a cool - no, cold - fall morning.  When I took the kids to school, the thermometer said 38 degrees!  Brrr!  I started out my run in one of my warmer long sleeved running tops.  Of course, with the sun shining brightly, by about mid-run I was able to take off the top layer.  I did a 9 mile loop from my house.  No distractions, just me, my music, the cool breeze, the trees changing colors, minimal leg pain - a good run.  :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting back to it.

This week is playing out a little more on the "normal" side.  All the kids are well again and back to school, and our days are quickly filling up with miscellaneous activities.

Yesterday I started my day with a 5 mile walk at the park after getting the kids off to school.  Then I came home and did a Yoga DVD.  After lunch, my friend Holly called and asked if I wanted to join her for a run in the afternoon before the kids were out of school.  Even though I hadn't planned to run yet since my legs were still sore, I was so eager to get to see her and have a chance to "chat" for an hour or so, I told her I would.

I am not used to running in the middle of the day.  Not at all.  It was only about 80 degrees and a little windy, but it felt much warmer.  We ran a 5 mile loop and it only took us 49 minutes (9:43 pace), and that includes that we walked for about a half mile in there while we were trying to catch our breath, drink some water and recover from going hard in the heat for the first 3 miles.  In the end, I was glad I ran with Holly.  I didn't even have much hamstring pain.  Now I think I feel more comfortable trying out a longer run tomorrow.

After dinner last night, I met Chris at the gym where we did a spinning class together.  It was a particularly hard class. The instructor kept things high intensity from the get-go all the way to the end of the hour.  Don't get me wrong, I loved every second of it.  I love feeling challenged, and being reminded of how much work I still need to do.  Does anyone else ever feel like our potential as humans is limitless, yet progression seems so slow?  Some days I feel like that.  I work my butt off during the classes I take at the gym, and I do it because I enjoy it in the moment and I particularly love how I feel when I'm done.  But sometimes I wish I could see and feel the effects of the hard workouts more distinctly.

This morning I was back at the gym.  I started with 20 minutes of weights: biceps and chest.  After that I went to a spin class and enjoyed another super sweat-fest.  Tonight after dinner I will again be meeting Chris at the gym (he gets 1 hour of paid workout time, so he meets me there at the end of his shift).  We're going to take the Muscle Fusion class with our favorite instructor.  This is the less intense version of the class I've been taking on Thursday afternoons.  At least it's supposed to be less intense.  I don't know yet, since this will be my first time taking this class, so we'll see. :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

As I posted yesterday, here are the rules for receiving this award:

Answer the 11 questions asked of you by the Blogger who gave you this award. Then create 11 new questions and tag your favorite bloggers to answer them.

Here we go!

1. Describe one event in your life that was life-changing.
This is a tough one because there are many.  I guess one of the most significant events that changed my life was my decision to marry my husband.  May sound trite, but there were so many factors that came into play for us to even meet, let alone come together as eternal companions, that everything else in my adult life has since hinged on.  There's nothing more important to me than that.

2. If you could choose one animal and one animal only for a pet, what would it be?
I have to go with a dog.  We've had cats, birds and chickens, but there's nothing like the companionship of a little, sweet dog.  I am especially certain of this when I watch my kids interact with him.
I mean, really.  Look at that face!

3. Name someone that inspires you and explain why.
Again, there are several important people in my life who inspire and motivate me on a daily basis, but for purposes of this blog, I have to go with a man who I met through our church.  We first met over 14 years ago when we were both doing some church service work, but he has become like a father to me.  He always has an open and generous heart, a listening ear, words of wisdom and he has been there for me and my family for most of our major life events.  He is also one of my main inspirations for running and particularly, running marathons.  At 66 years old, he has run more than 15 marathons after only starting to run himself about 5 or 6 years ago (I think).
Here we are after running our second marathon together.

4. How would your life change if you suddenly became a millionaire?
Wow.  Another tough one.  Well, it shouldn't be tough.  I imagine what it would be like all the time! Haha!  I guess the biggest change would have to be that we would spend a lot more time traveling.  Not traveling just for the sake of it, but to spend time with distant family members and allow our kids opportunities that they don't currently have due to financial restrictions.  Wouldn't it be nice to not have the burden of constantly worrying about money?  No, actually I really can't imagine.

5. How many toenails have you lost/had turn black from running? (I had to do it)
Okay, I love this one!  Black toenails are such a rite of passage for distance runners; I was happy when I discovered my first one!  I have since (in just 2 years of running and training for marathons) lost 5 toenails, two of those I've lost twice, and I currently have 2 more black toenails.  Yum. :)

6. How many hours of sleep a night do you need to function like a normal person?
Typically I do well with about 5-6 hours of sleep a night.  Less than that and I tend to get what I call "tired headaches", more than that and I almost feel more lethargic the next day.

7. Finish this sentence with something you’ve actually done: “I never thought I’d _____.”
Easy.  "I never thought I'd run a marathon."  Yep,easy.

8. Which T.V. or movie family would you love to be a part of?
I don't watch a lot of tv because we don't have cable or satellite, but we do get Netflix and I have watched some shows in my time.  Does The Biggest Loser count as a tv family?  I love that show.

9. If you had 24 hours 100% to yourself, what would you do?
Well, if kids and husband truly were out of the equation, I would spend most of that time running or working out in some way (big shocker), maybe doing a little frivolous shopping or just getting some extra sleep!

10. What is your first memory of loving to run? (assuming that’s happened haha)
I can remember going out for a run while training for my first marathon when the weather had turned cool and the leaves had started to change.  I remember thinking, "What a great way to start my day and experience this most beautiful time of year - out on the road, alone, challenging my body and calming my nerves."  Some days I have to remind myself of those feelings/reasons for running.  Not every run feels good, but I never regret going for a run.

11. Which elite runner would you love to have as a training buddy if you were at that level?
Well, I was going to say this was another easy one - Kara Goucher.   But then I got to thinking, there's also Dean Karnazes, who I'm thinking would be awesome to run with because I'm sure he'd have stories to keep me entertained for hours and hours of running!

Thanks again, Jan for including me on this post and for the fun questions!  Sometimes it's nice just to take a few minutes to reflect.

Now I'd like to pass this award on to the following bloggers:

Rebecca at Running on Stilts
Lindsay at A Fit Family
Mama Lo at My Humble Journey
Danielle at Fit Girl Daily

Here are your questions (and I won't be offended if you choose not to post, but it sure would be fun to hear from you all)!

1.  Describe in detail a favorite workout outfit.
2.  Where/what is your dream vacation?
3.  What is one of the proudest moments in your life?
4.  Name one goal you have for the coming year.
5.  What food makes you the most happy?
6.  How would you describe the town that you live in to someone who has never been there?
7.  How has running/fitness changed the major relationships in your life?
8.  Name 3 people you would like to meet someday.
9.  What's your best home remedy for the common cold?
10.  What's your favorite mode of transportation and why?
11.  If you could only own one book, what would it be?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blog? What blog?

Haha...just kidding!  I know my posts have been a bit hit and miss lately.  It's now been one week since the marathon, but it feels like ages to me.  This has been one heck of a week!

My daughter is finally on the mend from her horrible ear infection ordeal, although we do still have the cast on her arm to contend with.  After missing 3 days of school this week, it's been a weekend of doing catch-up homework with her, plus all the homework that my other kids brought home.  I'm already starting to dislike having a child in middle school.  One word: projects.  Big projects, little projects, art projects, science projects, health projects.  I have a feeling this is just starting.  Hopefully it won't be too long before he just takes off and becomes independent when it comes to these (fun) projects. ;)

Also, my husband came home late Friday night.  After being gone for a week, spending time with him was a priority.  I was able to get in a midday spin class on Friday after cub scout meetings, plus a short (2-3 mile) walk this morning, but that's about it as far as workouts go.  That's fine with me, though.  My legs are extremely sore from Muscle Fusion X this week.  Day 1, my glutes were sore, then the next day it was more in my back and arms, now today my inner thighs are the most sore.  Crazy.  But I like it. :)

Tonight my husband and I enjoyed an evening out.  We went to a college (Idaho State University) football game, which was really fun.  My husband is an avid football fan, especially college football, but we'd never been to a game together (in our 13 years of marriage) until tonight.

I definitely think we're going to have to make it to a few more games.  I had a blast with him.  Kind of made me homesick for Michigan, though.  There's nothing like a Michigan football game. :)

I'm looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow, but watch for a special blog post.  My friend Jan over at ImRunningOnFumes.com has tagged me in a recent post to receive the Liebster Blog Award.  

Here’s a description: The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is German for “favorite”. This award is the “favorite blog award”.  Thank you, Jan, for thinking of me!

The rules for this one state that you answer the 11 questions asked of you by the Blogger who gave you this award. Then create 11 new questions and tag your favorite bloggers to answer them.

This post is long past due, so I will use my day "off" tomorrow to finally post my answers!  And hopefully starting again next Sunday, a new face on the Sunday Spotlight!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What's the definition of a gym rat, anyway?

Is it someone who goes just a little crazy with too much time away from the gym?  'Cause if so, that's me.  It's weird.  Before we got our gym membership, a little over 6 months ago, I would never have imagined myself to be the type to enjoy going to the gym.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I remember telling my husband that while I could see myself making use of the treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines - especially during the winter months when running on the roads is more difficult - I would probably never take any classes or use the weight room much.  I've just never been into that type of  socializing, preferring to do my workouts on my own.  Now I find myself planning my life around the class schedules, trying to fit as many spin classes into a week as I can.

The past two weeks have been tough for me, having to taper and then spend time recovering from the marathon.  While it was definitely well worth it for me to have the amazing race day that I did, I have to say that I was ever so excited to get back to the gym today for a couple of classes.  Before I even went to spinning, I spent about 15 or 20 minutes in the weight room working on triceps.  Then of course, spin class did not disappoint.  Best sweat I've achieved in quite some time.  Only to be topped later in the day while doing Muscle Fusion X.  I wore my heart rate monitor today to see what was going on during that class.  My average heart rate was 155 for the whole class, but it maxed out at 180 bpm several times.  That's pretty good.  Actually, while the cardiovascular part of the class was still hard, it didn't seem quite as hard as the first time I took the class.  Instead, my difficulty came when we were doing reps of something called "sumo squats":

Will ya look at that?  I found another example photo on Google where the girl looks exactly like me! ;)  Oh, except I actually had weights on the barbell - ha!

Anyway, whenever I tried to assume position "A", my hamstrings screamed bloody murder.  So to compensate, I just went as low as I could, until I couldn't stand the pulling anymore.  I probably looked more like a gorilla than miss fitness in the above photo.  To make me feel just a little more inadequate, that is the moment the instructor (my favorite girl, Misty) decided to pay particular attention to my form and tells me, "Get your hips down lower!"  Ugh.

Oh, well.  Pain means change, right?  This is turning out to be my year of change.  Now I'm pondering what goals I will set for the coming year.  Anyone have any exciting or lofty goals for 2013?  I need some ideas.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I went for it, and the verdict is...

My heart and mind are more resilient than my legs. :(

I set out to do a 9 mile loop this morning.  That may have been just a tad ambitious, being that it's only day four post-marathon.  I felt great when I woke up this morning, hardly any soreness in my legs.  So after I got my little girl situated in bed with a show to watch and some fruit juice (she's still sick, ugh!), I told her I'd be back in about an hour and a half and out the door I went.  As soon as I started to run, I felt a pull in both of my hamstrings.  At first, I thought I just needed to warm up.  But after 2 miles, I could barely run.  It felt like my hamstrings were going to rip in half.  I turned around at miles 2.5 and headed back, reaching home at 5.02 miles in just under an hour.  Blech.  Well, at least now I know where I stand.  I need to take a little more time off from running.

On the plus side, my daughter seems to be doing much better this afternoon and I am hopeful that she will be returning to school tomorrow.  Yay for her, and yay for me!  I just may make it to the gym in the morning for spin class and muscle fusion.  I am going through serious spinning withdrawal.  It's very serious.  Really.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Well, hello there.

This recovery period has been a little strange.  The day after running the marathon, I woke up feeling a little more sore, especially in my calves and quads, but I got up and did my usual Sunday activities, including going to church and just spending time together as a family - so nothing too strenuous.

On Monday, the kids did not have school of course, but my daughter (who had been fighting a head cold for a couple of days) was complaining of severe head and ear pain.  It now appears that she had a pretty bad ear infection and her ear drum may have even ruptured, and she has been one miserable little girl.  Chris was home all day, so I was able to go to the park and get in a little walking - maybe about 2 miles - before spending the rest of the day running errands, including grocery shopping and then back home to take care of Sophie.  I actually think it's a good thing that the gym was closed due to the holiday because I may have been tempted to take my usual Monday night spin class, and I don't think my legs would have been ready.

Today I had another low-key day.  Sophia woke up still feeling terrible, so I kept her home from school.  After getting the other kids up and off to school, I was able to get in a 3+ mile walk before coming home to take care of her.  Chris also left this morning to go to work-related training in Boise and he will be gone until Friday evening.  I had been looking forward to getting to spend a few days completely alone (at least from 8am-4pm!), but just like that today is gone and I don't feel like I got a whole lot accomplished.  Well, I did take a nap for about an hour while Sophie was also sleeping.  I haven't napped in a long time!

I always forget about the recovery period after the marathon.  I was planning to get right back to my normal workout routine, but it's probably good that I've been easing back into things.  The only real soreness I feel today is in my quads and hamstrings, and it's more of a tightness.  Looking back over the events of last week, I actually feel very blessed.  I didn't mention it on this blog (for fear that acknowledging it would jinx me), but the weekend before the marathon, my oldest son came home from a boy scout camping trip with a roaring virus.  He had a fever, cough, headache, body aches - the whole nine yards.  After getting him all the things he needed, I got busy making a good supply of fresh fruit/vegetable juice, taking my vitamins, drinking TONS of water, and pretty much spraying everything in the house with Lysol every 5 minutes.  A few days after he was at his worst, I woke up with a sore throat and runny nose, but I tried not to focus on it and just ate as much healthy food as I could and kept with my low intensity workouts and lots of sleep.  And apparently it worked because my sore throat and runny nose went away without getting any worse and as we all know, I made it through the marathon just fine.

Something else that all of the women runners have to consider is our monthly cycle.  I have heard of some women who will not run (or even race) if it's their "time of the month".  I had calculated well in advance where I would be on race day just so I could be prepared, and it turned out to be perfect timing because it wasn't something I would have to worry about until about 4 or 5 days after the race.  I put it completely out of my mind...until I woke up the morning after the race and well, wouldn't you know it.  Once again, I'm grateful for good timing and small blessings.  I think the fact that I am most likely slightly anemic right now has slowed my recovery a little bit, at least as far as getting back to my normal energy level.

I am feeling at the end of my lazy-allotment, ready to get back to work.  I'm thinking that a run might be just the thing I need, so my goal is to get out on the road tomorrow morning.  I am definitely planning on returning to the gym on Thursday for my favorite morning spin class and after that, trying the Muscle Fusion X class for the second time.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Marathon #5 ~ Another racing success!

I'm not even sure where to begin, exactly.  First of all, thank you so much to everyone who left me comments or sent me messages with well-wishes for a good race!  I really appreciate all of the support and love!

Now I guess I'll start with the fact that I got to bed pretty early last night (by 10 o'clock, which is early for me) and that meant that I was up before my alarm went off, which was at 2:50am!  I felt restless, so I got up and by 3:15 I had eaten a bowl of oatmeal, done some light stretching and spent some time on the computer.  Then, before getting dressed, I jumped in the shower to help me wake up all the way.  Once I was dressed and had all my stuff ready to go, I woke Chris up (who had just gotten home from work at 2am) so he could drive me to catch a 5am shuttle to the starting line.  And I just have to mention what an amazing husband he is to me.  After getting just a couple of hours of sleep, he got me to my shuttle, then spent all morning tracking the course ahead of us so he could get lots of pictures, then met me at the finish line with a huge fountain drink with lots of ice because he knows I love a really cold drink after a long run.  He's the best.  Hopefully I'll get to return the favor when he runs his marathon in 3 weeks. :)

As soon as I got on the shuttle, I spotted my friend Heidi.  She is the wife of one of Chris' friends and co-workers.  Once we were all unloaded and gathering around in a spattering of groups near the port-a-potties, Heidi and I got to talking about goals, paces, run/walk breaks, etc.  She is also a fan of the Galloway method and had been training using a 4:1 run walk ratio, with an average pace on her longest runs of just under 10 min/mile - which is awesome!  After we'd all used the P-O-P's one last time, we headed over to the starting line area.  As we started to run, I suggested to Heidi that we could try running together, at least for a little bit, because I have an interval timer and she was just going to be using the timer on her Garmin to keep track of the walk breaks.  I had set my intervals at 5:1 today, even though I'd only done that on a couple of training runs and usually used a 4:1 ratio, I was feeling good and optimistic today. :)

As I've described on here before, the first half of this marathon course is very downhill.  It's a challenge to not go out too fast.  As Heidi and started out, we were keeping an excellent pace (right around 10 min./mile) and anytime we would get down too low, like around 9:50 or faster, we would remind ourselves to slow down just a bit.  At some point, I think after just 3 or 4 miles, Heidi and I decided we would try to stick together for as much of the race as we could.  This was her first marathon, although she is super fit, having previously done a half marathon (in under 2 hours!) and she has also done numerous triathlons.  I knew that by keeping pace with her, I would probably be going a little faster than I would have on my own, but having someone to talk to makes the miles pass much more quickly.  We also agreed that if either of us wanted to "take off" at any point, we would.  I honestly knew that it was unlikely to be me...

We more or less cruised along keeping a nice, consistent pace until about mile 18 or 19.  At around miles 20-21, there is a hill - not a huge hill, but sizable, especially when you've already been running for 20 miles!  It's the last hill in the course, with the last 5-6 miles flattening out to the finish.  As we approached the base of the hill, Heidi suggested that we push ourselves to make it to the top of the hill, regardless of when the interval timer alerted us of our time for a walking break.  So we did - although she seemed to get a surge of energy and I felt like my legs were going to give out under me!

Once we were out on the level home-stretch, Heidi really seemed to "dig in" and started to go just a little ahead of me.  This was kind of a mental turning point in my race.  With her pulling ahead, despite the pain I knew she was feeling, I felt inspired to try and keep up.  The problem was, my legs weren't being that cooperative.  I had never, ever run that far at that fast of a pace, and despite the fact that I had been fueling and hydrating well and consistently, the pain was getting pretty intense.  I made the decision to just do the best I could, so I put in my earbuds and turned on some music, put my head down, and stuck with my run/walk breaks on schedule.  I knew that my running pace had slowed, but I kept telling myself to just run anyway.  With less than 2 miles left, I allowed myself one last (shortened) walk break, then I forced my mind to overcome my fatigue and just ran through to the end.

After seeing Chris and giving him a big hug, I got my medal and then turned around to see Heidi waiting for me with another hug and a fresh, cold bottle of water!

Final (unofficial) times:  Heidi - 4:32, Me - 4:37.  I am looking forward to seeing the official race results because both Heidi and I had started our Garmins right as we crossed the start line and this is what mine said:

I completely smoked my last marathon, with a new PR by over 21 minutes!  Yes, even I was shocked I could pull that off!  I really have Heidi to thank for helping me keep such a great pace and staying motivated, especially near the end.  What a great race!

Here are some of the high-points of today's event (at least for me):

From the beginning of the race, Heidi and I were playing "cat and mouse" with a woman who looked to be maybe in her late 50's.  She was keeping a steady running pace and as we would take our walk breaks, we would fall behind her, only to catch up with her again when we would resume running.  Because of this, we had the opportunity to talk with her a bit.  She had come from College Station, Pennsylvania to run Pocatello and had completed marathons in 34 of the 50 states, working towards covering all 50.  She had even competed one ultra-marathon!  She was steady, strong and impressive.  I love to meet people like that.

Around mile 21, Heidi needed some ibuprofen for some increasing pain in her hip.  As we came to the next aid station, she asked for some, but the kids running the aid station said they didn't have any.  They said to ask "the guy" standing up ahead of us about 75 yards and he might know where she could get some.  When we got to him, he said they should have had some at that last aid station.  Oh, well.  Heidi just pushed on with the pain.  Several minutes later, a guy on a road bike (one of the race support staff, not just some random guy) came up beside us and reached out his hand to give her some Motrin and he even let her use a water bottle he had so she could take them.  That was awesome!

Getting to see my other running friend and training buddy, Holly, after the race and seeing her get emotional over hearing how much I improved on my time.  I love her so much!  She, by the way, did her marathon in 3:54! So, so good!  I am so happy for her to be able to enjoy running and marathons again after she went through a tough year in 2011 while her little boy went through cancer treatment.  He is now in remission, and Holly has her mojo back!

And of course, having that chance "meeting of minds" with Heidi at the beginning of the race and being able to be with her while she ran her first marathon.  Even though we never did a single training run together, somehow we just clicked and it worked in our favor.  The day wouldn't have been the same without her by my side, I'm sure of it!

As soon as I got home, I got in the shower.  My legs and arms were completely coated with salt crystals!  Chris had to go to work (again, another reason he is so amazing), but the kids and I are meeting him for dinner later to celebrate a really good day.  Tomorrow - rest, Monday, I don't know...maybe a spin class?!  Hmmmm....