one run, huge difference

Standard

20170220_142608

Lately, I’ve lacked motivation when it comes to training. I was too busy worrying about how slow I thought I had gotten or how few miles I put in during the week. It didn’t help that every time I checked social media, I saw friends who were running faster and farther than me.

I’m happy to say I feel as though I turned a corner on Monday, and my confidence and motivation have been restored. I was thankful to have the day off for Presidents’ Day and with the unseasonably warm weather, it was a perfect day for a long run. I was a little worried since I had just ran 10 miles on Saturday, but I needed to try. My run Saturday wasn’t particularly bad, but it was hard, much harder than I expected. I never settled in a rhythm, my legs felt dead, and all I kept thinking was I couldn’t wait for it to end.

I knew running around the neighborhood wouldn’t motivate me, so I decided running the Lorain County Metro Parks would be a good change of scenery. I parked my car, turned on my watch, and set off with no real expectations. And do you know what? It felt great! My legs weren’t tired, and my pace was much better than I was expecting! It almost felt effortless. The miles clipped by, and I wasn’t faltering. I was actually getting faster. And I truly enjoyed the run, everything about it. It’s been a long time since I said that.

When it was all over, I ran a nice little half marathon through High Meadows, Bur Oak, and the Steel Mill Trail. 13.1 miles at an 8:42 pace! That, my friends, is my fastest outdoor half marathon to date! And it was a training run on a freaking Monday! To round it out to a nice whole number, I even jumped on the treadmill at Planet Fitness where I parked and ran a 0.9 mile cool-down.

After the run, I was still riding my runner’s high, so I thought I might as well keep it going. After 14 miles, I took the kids to Sky Zone for some exercise disguised as fun. We jumped and laughed and enjoyed the time out. The added bonus was the kids and I are now lumped in the same weight group, so we are finally able to jump together as opposed to having the smaller ones on one side of the jump floor and me on the other.

20170220_153501

So that was all it took. One little run made a huge difference. Bring it, Cleveland Marathon, I’m back and ready to train hard! See you in May.

screenshot_20170111-162839

CLE marathon training update

Standard

screenshot_20170111-162839

I’ve been writing about other things lately, mostly associated with running, but I figured it was time for an actual training update/check-in. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is 102 days away, so that’s about 14 weeks. Typing that makes me feel a little less nervous about tackling 26.2 miles again. I have no clue why I feel like the race is right around the corner. For goodness sake, it’s only the beginning of February; there’s still a lot of training time.

I’m by no means behind on training. Just this Saturday I was able to get in another 14-miler on the treadmill (13 miles at 8:51 pace and 1 mile total for warm-up and cool down), which was faster than my previous long run of the same distance. I fought for those miles though. It was hard. I didn’t bring great fuel with me. I had blisters on the balls of my feet. But I got it done, and I needed that run. The Wednesday prior to my long run was the first run back in a week. No miles for me in one week. Zip. Zero. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I took one week off from running. I decided to wipe the slate clean and start fresh in February. January wasn’t a bad month, but my running lacked diversity and consistency. Time to reset and refocus.

One week in, and I’m pretty happy with the miles I’ve put in and the types of runs I’ve completed. In addition to a pretty good long run, I did some speed work on the treadmill, running at my fastest interval pace ever (and pretty much dying after). I hate intervals when I’m running them, but hot damn, do I feel great when it’s done. I got in a run on my home treadmill. I don’t know why running on it is so hard, but it is. My speeds are at least 1-1.5 minutes per mile slower at home, and my legs feel like they are working harder for each step. This, I feel, makes me stronger though, so I should do it more often. I even made it outside for a few miles yesterday to enjoy the sunshine and warmth and test out the legs on the road. I was pleasantly surprised – 8:14 pace for 3 miles and then a cool down mile. Not too shabby after my Saturday long run.

Where do I go from here? I feel confident in the fact I can already run a half marathon, which means I can focus on adding miles and getting a little faster. I’m not looking to be a speed demon in May, but I would like to run another sub-4 hour marathon. I need to make sure I don’t fall into the training trap where I run to get the miles in but don’t mix it up with speed. I’ve also been adding lifting to my routine to help get stronger. I’m hoping this all will pay off in May and again in June when I run my first ultra marathon. I don’t have a lot of races on the calendar before May. Although I haven’t signed up yet, the plan is to run the 20 Mile Drop and Brokeman’s 20 Miler in April. I’m also hoping to get my sons, Cole and Cael, to run St. Malachi with me. If we run, it would probably be the 2-mile race, but I’d love to see them do the 5.

If you’re in the midst of training, good luck! If you’re not, there’s still time to start training and register for Cleveland before the price increase on Thursday. With the great race shirts, commemorative key chain, and updated medals (bye-bye, spinning guitar), you don’t want to miss out.

Also, if you want to score a free entry to a CLE Marathon race of your choice, make sure you check out the other ambassadors’ pages for more info. This week, Rachel from Running on Happy is running her giveaway. And you have to admit, running CLE for free would be pretty awesome.

the comparison game

Standard

Thanks to technology, we are more connected with others than ever before. Take myself for example. I have 3 email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Runtastic, Untappd, Garmin Connect, and a blog, and I’m sure that’s only half of the social media/technology that others are plugged into on a daily basis. It has its perks. Having a vast network of friends, even those I have never met in real life, gives me a built-in motivation and support system. People are there to cheer me on when I’ve succeeded at a huge work project or set a personal best in the marathon. They are there to provide words of support when I falter or bomb a training run. They are there to share funny memes and videos, delicious recipes, and quotes that make me smile and sometimes roll my eyes.

The connectedness also has a darker side, the side which leads me to compare myself in pretty much all aspects of life. For example, here’s a typical conversation inside my head while scrolling through Instagram, which happens to be my favorite social media platform.

Scroll, scroll, scroll. Oh, love the quote, “Someone busier than you is running right now!” Oh wait, that someone is me. Shit, you need to get that run in today. Note to self – run tonight.

Look at that amazing and healthy lunch he packed! You really need to start eating more like him. Seeing as you just scarfed down a Dairy Queen chicken basket in the front seat of the car while sitting in the health department parking lot so you didn’t have to bring it in and eat it in health shame, you could really use that salad right about now. But you have to admit the chicken basket was amazing. Come to think of it, you totally got gypped on the Texas toast! Demand a chicken basket redo!

Scroll, scroll. Looks like all of your friends got runs in this morning before you even got your lazy butt out of bed. And they are getting faster and running farther! Much faster than you. Steph, all you are doing is getting slower. How do you ever thing you’re going to be able to run another sub-4 hour marathon in May if you don’t get on a regular training schedule?! Holy crap and some are getting runs in during the day and double run days at that! Jealous! I’m sitting at work on my ass, which is expanding, and they are running free. Don’t they work?! Steph, that was totally not nice. Quit that crappy ass negative thinking about your friends. If they heard you right now, they would think you are a total bitch. You must be a total bitch for being jealous of your friends over running. Do you hear how ridiculous you sound?

Scroll, scroll, scroll. I think she just had a baby a couple months ago and look how thin and toned she is! If you weren’t too lazy, Steph, you could look like that too. But probably not. Besides, you look pretty good…for having 4 kids. Who are you kidding? You’re saying that to make yourself feel better. Did it work? Maybe, depends on the day.

Another head of gorgeous, thick hair. Another beach vacation. Another picture of a beautiful new house, just like one you have always wanted. Why are you not content with anything you have?! What the hell is wrong with you?!

See, so not cool. Self-confidence is eroded, and jealousy rears its ugly head. It’s not all the time, but it happens more than I’d like to admit. It’s probably the perfectionist in me. Never quite happy because I’m not the best but not stopping to think that I can’t always be the best. I might not even be the best some of the time or even just once. But can I be better than I was before? Can I improve? Have I improved? Instead of comparing myself to my friends, shouldn’t I compare myself to the person I was 1, 3, 5, or 10 years ago? Have I grown? I would like to think that the answer is yes.

Does this mean I’m going to leave social media? No, I think I’m too nosy to stay away, plus some people are just such great entertainment, but I will make a more conscious effort to quit playing the comparison game. I need to remind myself that people generally only put the really great things on social media, things they are proud of and rightfully so, but it’s not real life. Real life isn’t running 7 super-fast miles in your sports bra and booty shorts with six-pack abs while your perfectly highlighted hair flows behind you all while on a sunny beach with your hot husband, two beautiful kids who look like Gap Kids models, and dog who doesn’t regularly poop on the floor. Life is life, and it’s great and sucks and is messy for all of us. But it sure can be fun.

i’m a sparkly soul ambassador!

Standard

screenshot_20170126-135804

If you follow me, you know I absolutely love Sparkly Soul headbands! They’re cute, hold my hair without slipping, don’t give me a headache no matter how long I wear them, and can be worn to work or the gym. I’m not ashamed to admit I have close to 50 of them and have given countless as gifts. I even buy the 5-packs during the major sales and pass them out to friends and family who want to give them a try.

I was very excited when they asked me to come back as an ambassador for 2017. Uhhhh…YES, PLEASE! It’s a brand I enjoy wearing and am proud to promote. Their mission is to celebrate individuals who find their strength and soul while pushing themselves to their limits, which resonates with me. Thanks again, Sparkly Soul, for this great opportunity! Much sparkly love to you!

do something that scares you

Standard

lcq9a

I’m sure you’ve heard that if you want to conquer a fear and grow as a person, you need to do something that scares you. Something, anything. Just do it, as Nike says. Well…I did something scary and exciting and crazy, something that has been a bucket list item for a few years now. I registered for my first ultramarathon – the Green Jewel 50K on June 10! If you’re wondering what’s an ultramarathon, it’s anything over the 26.2-mile distance in a standard marathon (haha as if 26.2 miles could ever be considered standard). Fifty kilometers (31.068 miles) is like the gateway drug, the first foray to ultramarathoning, and I’m jumping in.

I’ve been eying this race for the past 2 years, but there have been a few reasons why I never pulled the trigger. One was the timing. The race had been held in March, which fell during a really bad time in my training cycle. There was no way I was remotely close to being trained up enough to run this race. Not even close. The other was weather because March can be so damn unpredictable. Cold, wind, and rain? No thanks. Throw schedules and family commitments into the mix, and it just didn’t work.

The racing gods were looking out because the date changed from March to June. I will already be trained up because of running the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on May 21. It’s also on a weekend the kids are with their dad, and we have no family commitments on the calendar! Win, win, win, win!!!! The only thing left to do was register. As I typed in my information, my heart raced. Could I do this? Am I able to run that far? What if I fall apart at mile 27? Would I fail miserably? Then I told that negative voice in my head to shut the hell up, clicked the register button, drew a long breath, and smiled. Thirty-six sounds like a great year to be even more badass.

Have you ever run an ultramarathon? Do you have any tips or words of wisdom?

a letter to my children on inauguration day

Standard

For the most part, I keep this blog fun and lighthearted, and I usually do not post things that would bring criticism or cause backlash, as I hate confrontation. However, this is not one of those posts. Read it if you like. Disagree with my views if you want. Call me a sore loser or too sensitive or whatever you want. Right now, I couldn’t care less. Also, if you’re looking to post comments and argue with me on this, please don’t expect a response. You won’t change my mind just as I won’t change yours. 

Dear Lexi, Annie, Cole, and Cael,

As your mom, I try very hard to teach you life lessons and instill in you good values and behaviors that I hope you will carry into adulthood. I also know that the person you become can be shaped by forces outside our home, and some of that is truly terrifying to me. In particular, the person slated to take over as Commander-in-Chief of this great nation disgusts me to the core, and the example he’s setting for our youth is sickening. There’s so much I could say, but let’s take this as an opportunity to go over few lessons.

  1. Treat people with kindness and respect regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. Just because someone is different than you doesn’t mean they should be treated differently or mocked for those differences. Besides, diversity is what makes America great, contrary to what the guy in the red hat says.
  2. Be humble. No one wants to hear about how great you are. EVER.
  3. Lexi and Annie – your worth isn’t measured by how pretty you are, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. You know what matters more? Intelligence, kindness, empathy, drive, hard work, confidence, dignity…the list goes on. Use those traits to shatter that glass ceiling. Looks fade. Being a bad ass woman doesn’t.
  4. Be honest and tell the truth, even when it’s hard. Never lie to get ahead. Also, admit when you’re wrong.
  5. Sometimes bullies come out on top. This is a fact of life as unfortunate as it may seem.
  6. Cole and Cael – never, ever let me hear you belittle and disgrace women and then dismiss it as “locker room talk.” We may have a president who thinks this is okay, but it doesn’t fly in this house. We’ve had these talks before, and I know you are aware of what’s right and wrong.
  7. You are allowed to have different views than your family and friends. The way you choose to voice those views and respect the opinions of others says a lot about you as a person.
  8. Think before you speak…or tweet.
  9. Never think you’re the smartest person in the room. There is a lot to be learned if you only listen.
  10. And this last one is for my girls – if a man ever tries to “grab you by the pussy,’ break his fucking arm while you flash him that amazing smile.

Love,
Mom

cleveland marathon kick-off run take 2

Standard

img_20170114_092100_190

What’s even more awesome than attending one of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon’s kick-off runs to jump start my marathon training? Being able to attend both kick-off runs and having my sons, the dynamic duo of Cole and Cael, run with me! This past weekend, the boys, Dan, and I laced up our shoes and pounded the pavement in Westlake for the second kick-off run. Originally, we weren’t able to attend, but a change in plans made it possible. The boys had been itching to participate in another run/race, so the timing was perfect.

 

We arrived at Fleet Feet in Westlake, chatted it up with the wonderful Cleveland Marathon staff, and got ready to run. I’m convinced the boys are athletic freaks of nature. I have yet to find a sport where they don’t excel (except they tell me they are no good at water polo although they have never played). Running is no exception. These crazy kids don’t even have to train, and they rip off miles like it’s no big deal. They legit kicked my butt in the Grand Slam 5K this summer, coming in first and second in their age group and running with a 7:43 overall pace. This time, I kept the pace slow because I didn’t want them to be sore the next day for their wrestling match. It was so nice to be outside in the mild weather running together. It truly makes me heart happy to be able to enjoy the sport I love with my kiddles. We split off from the group when we reached the store on the loop, not because they were tired but because I wanted to save their legs. They weren’t thrilled, but I appeased them with the promise of another race soon. The perk of ending early was they were the first in line for bagels! BONUS!

20170114_100632

After the rest of the runners made their way back to the store, we had a chance to visit more with my ambassador friends. It’s always so nice to see them because it definitely re-energizes and motivates me. Thanks, friends!

img_20170114_104610_890

Oh, and if you’re wondering how wrestling went the next day, the boys crushed it! Did they win every match? Nope, but it was close. Cole went 2 for 2, and Cael went 2 for 3. And as for Cael, I was more proud of him in his loss than I was for his wins. He wrestled up a weight class, was paired against a much older and more experienced kid, and got pinned during the first period. He stood up, shook hands with the other kid and coaches, and went to his side of the mat with no crying or even tears in his eyes. This would not have been the case a year ago. Progress, my friends, progress…and maturity. Super proud mom moment.