Running

It’s All In Your Head

May 2, 2017

 

Janae over at Hungry Runner Girl asked something a few weeks ago, and it’s been on my mind ever since: How do you know you can do it? This caught me by surprise, because honestly, it’s never occurred to me to ask. I often tell myself I can do things, and then I go ahead and do them. But more often than not, I tell myself I can’t do something, and then it either takes me years to actually do it, or I don’t do it at all. What’s the difference?

Ever since the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler…(did I mention I ran a 10 mile race? Oh, I did? All the time?)…I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t go back to my old ways. And by that I mean, three miles, three times a week. Why lose fitness that I worked so hard to gain? My new goal is to make 10 miles my base fitness, something I can easily do. I’ve been doing pretty well with it. I took a week off to take my daughters to Virginia Beach for Spring Break, and while I would have loved to fit in a few runs, those two cannot be left alone. Not if I expect them both to stay alive, anyway. So, clearly I have gone back a stride or two on fitness, but not all the way to three miles. Mostly.

On Friday my goal was 4.5 miles. It was 85 degrees and humid, so I said no to that and went for the treadmill. I made it exactly…2.5 miles. Not even a full three. I haven’t had that bad a run in a long time. And honestly, I don’t know why. Nothing really hurt, I wasn’t struggling for breath. It just felt hard. Like, legs-of-cement hard. So I gave up and called it a day.

On Monday I ran 4.5 miles, and I did the last quarter mile at a sprint. I felt good, at the end.

What was the difference between my fitness level on Friday and my fitness level two days later, on Monday? Nada.

It was all in my head.

On Friday, when things got bad, I thought I can’t, I can’t. It’s not like things felt great the whole way through on Monday. Somewhere around mile 3, I thought fuuuuuuuck. But what I told myself was, two more songs. Because anyone can make it through two more songs.

I wonder why I ever told myself I couldn’t.

 

 

Food

How to Make an Amazingly Healthy Smoothie

April 25, 2017

 

Smoothies are my go-to lunch. I usually run or strength train in the afternoon, so I don’t like to have anything heavy in my stomach. Also, I’m not a lunch person. Honestly, who is? Some people love breakfast food so much they eat it for dinner; some people love dinner so much they eat it for breakfast. Lunch is just kind of lame, that thing you do so you don’t get hella cranky.

After googling “healthy smoothies” and coming to the opinion that one person’s “healthy” is another person’s “garbage,” I decided to make my own. I’ve spent the last several months throwing random shit in my blender and seeing what happened. After much trial and error, I came up with something I can actually stand to eat everyday. That’s how much I like it.

I see a lot of recipes that call for almond milk or some other kind of nut juice for the base, which baffles me, quite frankly. Sure, it’s low cal, but it also lacks nutrients. It doesn’t have the protein of milk or almonds because it’s mostly water. Basically this means I’ll be starving, and my workout will crash and burn. No, thanks.

Finally I settled on using nonfat plain Greek yogurt for a base, because: 1) I hate the taste of vanilla/any flavored yogurt, and the added sugar is no bueno 2) protein boost 3) I’m adding better fat with avocado, which also makes the smoothie creamy. But maybe you don’t like avocados, in which case we can’t be friends. Just kidding. If you aren’t an avocado fan, use whole Greek yogurt instead of nonfat. Remember, fat isn’t a bad thing. You need it.

Next comes the spinach. I personally love spinach, but to be honest, you have to put a whole lot in to taste it–more than the two handfuls I recommend. Sometimes I do add more, just to give it a green taste. If I know I’m going to have spinach for dinner, I leave it out. It’s just an extra boost of micronutrients–there’s no real added calories in the way of fat or protein, so the choice is yours.

Lastly, to make it taste good, I add a cup of chopped frozen fruit. Mostly I go with half blueberries and half strawberries, but mango and pineapple is also super delicious.

And there you go: A lunch that won’t weigh you down but will keep you going through the afternoon.

 

POWERHOUSE SMOOTHIE

2 large handfuls spinach

1 cup frozen fruit

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/2 avocado

1 cup water

 

 

Running

Running Headfirst Into Mediocrity

April 18, 2017

Not pictured: The alarm going off at 6 am

Instagram has gotten a lot of crap lately for creating an idealized version of life with all the hard parts edited out. Of course it does exactly that, but that means it also makes the improbable seem attainable.

Take running, for example. For the past month or so, my Insta feed has been post after post of runners training for the Boston Marathon. Ordinary, every-day sort of runners. The kind who aren’t professional, who have families and day jobs, and don’t live anywhere near Boston. It seems improbable that a thirty-something mother of three would spend dozens of hours every week away from their loved ones, focusing on a self-centered goal, and paying for the entry fee, the plane ticket, the hotel room, the running gear. But according to Instagram, there are hundreds of such people, making the improbable seem attainable.

That sounds like I disapprove of what they’re doing, but I don’t. If anything, I fear that they will convince me to join them. And I don’t want to run 26 miles. I really don’t.

It’s hard not to get swept up in big goals when I see them everywhere. But I think for running, that’s not where I want to be. That’s not to say I don’t have a new goal now that the Cherry Blossom race is done, because I do.

Here it is: I want to run an easy 10 miles.

That, to me, seems improbable. It certainly wasn’t easy when I did it two weeks ago. But according to Instagram, an easy 10 miles is totally attainable. I see it in statuses daily, usually accompanied by a sweaty, happy selfie.

So that’s my goal. I want to build my running base so that 10 miles isn’t a race, it’s my long run twice a month.

I’ll make sure to Instagram it for you. Because if I can do it, then just about anyone can.

Climbing

Try Not To Die Out There

April 11, 2017

 

You probably can’t tell from the picture, but at that exact moment I was experiencing a wee bit of pain. A few moves prior, I had slipped and bashed my left knee into the rock. By the time I was back on the ground, it was hurting enough that I considered spending the rest of the day belaying. But it was my first outdoor climb since last summer, the day was gorgeous, and I had really, really, really been looking forward to this.

So I sucked it up and kept climbing.

After my fifth climb, I was noticeably limping.

“Let me take a look at it,” a friend offered.

“I think it’s better not to know,” I told him.

I probably should have gone straight home to ice my knee, but instead I went out for pizza with another friend.

“We’re climbing tomorrow, right?” she asked me.

“Absolutely,” I said.

(At this point you may be wondering how I have managed to stay alive this whole time, and also who let me have kids. Excellent questions.)

I couldn’t avoid looking at my knee when I took a shower. It was swollen and a terrible shade of purple. I immediately freaked out, sent a ton of pictures to a medical friend of mine and called him, shrieking, “It’s broken!”

Spoiler alert: My knee is not broken, since I can both bend and straighten it, and it bears weight. It’s just super banged up.

“You’re getting older,” my friend told me. “You can’t do this shit anymore.”

I thought he meant climbing, so I went on a good five-minute tirade before he stopped me, because what he actually meant was all the stuff that came after climbing, i.e., the part where I pretended I wasn’t in god-awful amounts of pain.

Obviously, injuries are not just for old people. Accidents can happen to anyone. But if I want to be climbing and running and skiing and whatever else when I’m seventy, then I need to take care of my body now. That means maximizing my health and safety to prevent injuries, and minimizing the damage when I do get hurt.

So I cancelled climbing for the rest of the weekend and spent Sunday on the couch with an ice pack. When I woke up on Monday, the swelling was gone and my knee was a lovely shade of green.

That’s good enough, right?

Running

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Race Report

April 4, 2017

 

You might notice that this picture is a lot like the picture I posted of the 2015 Cherry Blossom race, but with fewer cherry blossoms. I was really hoping that the professional pictures from the race would be done by the time I wrote this post, because other than this one picture I took at the starting line, I got nada. Not even after the finish line, when I met up with my friend (who did an awesome job and then proved to be an awesome person by waiting for me), or when I got my medal. By the time I crossed the finish line, I was deep into “fuck this shit” mode, and you know what I don’t do when I’m in “fuck this shit” mode? Take pictures. Because fuck that shit.

That being said, it was an awesome race and I had a hella good time running it.

To start with, I broke the cardinal rule of never doing anything new during a race. I wore new arm warmers–I never wear arm warmers, so this was a first for me. I tried the Stinger Cherry Cola chews, also a first. I was also using a brand new hydration belt; usually I run with a CamelBak, but it didn’t fit the essentials, so I figured I would give this a try. This should have set me up for a disaster or two, but it was fine. I chafed a little, but I already knew I’m sensitive, so I prepared with Body Glide and that kept the worst at bay. The Cherry Cola chews were nice and didn’t hurt my stomach, but I only took two of them, so YMMV. The belt is a winner; review to come when I get around to it.

Sunday was a gorgeous day for a race. The weather was on the chilly side, which I prefer when I’m running. Blue skies, very slight breeze. I couldn’t ask for a better day to do something painful.

The race started out really well. I had my Garmin on, but I didn’t want to focus on anything other than finishing, so I didn’t check it frequently. The first time I looked was when I hit 4.5 miles. That was a lovely surprise, because I thought I had only gone three. There are volunteers holding signs at various mile markers, but I hadn’t been paying much attention, due to the interesting podcast.

At mile 5, I ate two of the Stinger chews. They do, in fact, taste remarkably like cherry cola. I was still feeling strong, and kind of surprised about it. It felt so much easier than the treadmill runs I had been suffering through lately. Then I remembered that I usually set the treadmill to an incline, and this was a flat race, mostly.

At mile 6, I realized that I had been running at a much faster pace than what I trained at (9 minute miles, as opposed to 10.5, if you want to know the embarrassing truth). And I was all, “What, like it’s hard?”

At mile 7, I wanted to punch mile 6 Lynn in the throat, because yes, bitch, it’s hard. I slowed waaaay down. I walked through the water station, even though I wasn’t stopping for water. Mile 8 was more of the same. I don’t know my pace, because it didn’t occur to me to check, but I figure I was running 12 minute miles at that point. I saw the 11 minute pacer behind me and rallied a bit. If you were there and heard someone yell, “Not today, Satan! Not today!” that was me.

There is a hill at mile 9.5. In all honesty, it’s probably more of a slight incline, and absolutely nothing compared to the hills I run around my neighborhood. But at that point my legs hurt so much, and even though I was expecting it (because everyone warned me), I wanted to cry. I also wanted to walk, but I couldn’t. There were too many witnesses. They were yelling and cheering and holy hell, but I hated every single one of them.

But they served their purpose. I didn’t walk. I ran up the damn hill. I crossed the finish line. I’ll be honest: It was kind of a letdown. Normally, when I do something this hard, when my body aches this much, there is a fantastic view to reward me. Mountains and self-actualization and all that shit. This time there was only pavement and strangers. Where was my goddamn view?

Then my phone buzzed. I’m on your left. 

And all was right in my world. Friends are good like that.