You Can’t Match My Hustle

I’m not one to let the opinions of others change me. If I was I probably wouldn’t be rocking a hairstyle that’s been compared to the Misfits or have six tattoos. I wouldn’t have kept my pregnancy and baby at 19 and begun working in the ‘man’s field’ of industrial radiography at 21. I wouldn’t have bought my first home that same year or graduated college while working 80 hours per week on a power plant outage. I’ve never had things ‘easy’ and I never expected anything to be handed to me. I work for what I have and I work even harder for what I want to have in the future.

Tell me again how much you hate your job
As of writing this, I took control of my life 104 days ago. I walked into Anytime Fitness on November 10, 2014 and signed a contract that changed EVERYTHING. Over the last 15 weeks I have quit smoking and stopped drinking. That’s right… completely dropped those bad habits. I overhauled my nutrition and turned my lifestyle on its head. I’m too busy keeping track of how many ounces of water I’ve consumed to worry about petty things and I’m not just content with my life anymore. I’m on the verge of joy at almost any moment.
I am looking forward to goofing off with this man for the rest of my life
Of course, my happiness, lifestyle changes, and accomplishments have brought out the haters faster than a tween chasing Bieber. At first I was kind of hurt and figured there was a misunderstanding of what I was trying to accomplish. Hence my first vlog on why I chose bikini and how I wasn’t killing myself. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the people tearing me down aren’t just confused or worried about me. (If you’re not a fan of vulgarity, stop reading now.)
NOPE. They’re assholes. I’m succeeding in ways they’ve never believed possible. I’m taking what was once only dreams and turning them into reality. I’m chasing my future like a cheetah hunts down a gazelle. I’m hungry. I’m driven. I’m hustling. The haters can only project their failures onto me because they fear change. To change the course of their lives requires taking a risk. They are afraid of taking that first step. They fear failure, rejection, and the unknown. They fear ME.
In 104 days I have accomplished more than most people put on their New Year’s resolution list. I have:
1) Quit smoking
2) Quit drinking
3) PR’d my 5k
4) I am up 4 pounds from my marathon weight and it’s all muscle (proof here)
5) I changed careers. I lost my job December 23. I started as a Brand Specialist for DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon January 3. I passed my ACSM personal training exam January 29 and I start my job at Anytime Fitness this coming Monday.
6) I joined the Flawless Physique Competition Team. Yes, I will step on stage in a bikini and enjoy every minute of it.
7) I got engaged!
8) I reached my goal of being able to do a strict pull-up. I can do ONE, just one, but I can do it.
9) I can deadlift my previous 1 rep max for sets of 8 now
10) I can squat more than my own weight
How you actually support a woman
And the best part of all, no one can take these things away from me. The hatred, the comments, the jabs disguised as a joke…. none of them diminish what I’ve done. I’m still going to marry the kindest and strongest and funniest man I’ve ever known. I’m still going to have two beautiful daughters. My life is still going to be full of promise. And I’m still going to reach my dreams. The only thing that changes is that now I know who deserves to be a part of it.
So, my dear haters, this is the end of the time I have designated for you. This is the last of my energy that you will drain. From now on your comments will be deleted and you will be blocked. I have goals to reach and dreams to chase. I don’t have the time for your negativity and I won’t apologize for cutting you out of my life. If you can’t match my hustle then you’ll just have to sit your ass down.

Bits & Pieces

The past week has been CRAZY! But in a really, REALLY good way. I have so many things going on that I am excited about and that motivate me to keep moving forward.

Obviously the biggest change has been having a job that is FUN. I spent 4 evenings hanging out at different DICK’S Sporting Goods locations meeting runners and talking gear, training, nutrition, etc. Life really doesn’t get much better than that! You can find me January 17 & 18th at the McCandless DSG from 10-2 or so.

This week’s events included our replica bridge, catering from Bistro on the Go, the DICK’S Pittsburgh Marathon’s Registered Dietitian on site, 20% off your entire purchase at DSG, and a raffle for a free hotel the night before the marathon. I haven’t been clued in on what we’ll be offering at the next events but I’m sure you don’t want to miss it!

Our table and bridge replica
Bistro on the Go catering
The other major priority in my life has been training. I’m hitting the gym every day, snow or ice or sub-zero temperatures. I finally got into the BodPod again (last time was in September 2011) and got some great results. I’ve lost almost 3 pounds of fat and gained 5.5 pounds of muscle. I imagine I started this program pretty close to where I was in 2011 (22.8% body fat) because I was still neglecting resistance training and eating whatever I wanted. So for 8 weeks of actually watching my nutrition and exercise these results are fantastic!
I’ve been getting a ton of questions about my nutrition. I’ll admit that I’m being VERY restrictive to the average person. I honestly enjoy the challenge and the results speak for themselves. But here’s a peek at what some meals look like for me:
Tilapia, sweet potato, and asparagus
Chicken breast, sweet potato, and mixed veggies (and water, of course!)
I use a lot of different seasonings and try different recipes often to prevent boredom. But I still do not drink anything but water and protein shakes or Shakeology (I still have a coffee with Stevia in the morning). I don’t eat much red meat. I don’t eat white or processed carbs (no bread, no white rice, no white potatoes, etc). I only get a small amount of starchy carbs (like sweet potato and corn). I get 4-6 oz of lean protein per meal (chicken, fish, whey powder, etc) and unlimited veggies. It’s not always easy to pass up chocolate, cake or brownies, bread sticks, or pasta but the results are absolutely worth it and I feel amazing. Just for the energy and mental clarity I’ve gained I would recommend trying to eat 85-90% clean for a month. I bet you’ll stick with it.
Finally, the rest of my time is spent studying for my ACSM Certified Personal Trainer exam. I love my gym and the employees there and I am hoping to be one of them come February. I was super excited to be at the top of the ‘Frequent Flyers’ board for the first week of the year and have now made it my goal to be #1 for the month. Going to a gym where the members and staff are all excited and happy every day makes a HUGE difference in my motivation.
Tied for #1!
I hope the first part of 2015 has been great for you. Please feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions about my plan or things you would like me to cover in future blogs. I’m hoping to start a few recurring items each week that will help everyone get on track (and stay there!) for the new year.

The Age Game

Another year has gone by and I am another year older. I celebrated my 29th birthday shortly after Christmas. Along with the holidays and another notch in my belt came the typical indulgences. Food, desserts, alcohol, and a lack of time for the gym.

Ugly sweaters and alcohol

This year I chose to stop kicking myself for every excess and lazy day. Instead I focused on enjoying my time with family and friends. There were dinners and parties and baking marathons. I spent days driving from one home to another for feast after buffet after brunch/lunch/dinner. And I took part in every last one of them.

These moments are worth so much!
Now the holidays are winding down and I’m less than a year from the big 3-0. I’m also almost 10 pounds heavier. And I don’t care one bit. Everything in moderation, including moderation.
I have a plan and I have my support team. Paul and I have agreed to be ‘those people’, aka resolutioners. On January 1st we start fresh. We won’t beat ourselves up over the seconds and thirds or desserts we enjoyed so thoroughly. We’ll do the work and make the right choices and soon enough we’ll see the results.
So I’ll see you (and your hangover) in the gym on Wednesday! Oh by the way, let’s visit my friend’s blog, who I just met in the gym, she’s mom of 3 cute kids, 1 cat and  2 bunnies ^^. Let’s check her outdoor cat house & indoor rabbit house reviews on her blog!
Did you overindulge this holiday season? Do you have a plan in place to get back on track? 

Progress, Not Perfection

I’ve made some really good changes over the last couple weeks. I’ll just admit it now. I picked up A LOT of bad habits again while I was ‘off’. I started smoking again. I was having a few beers way too often. I obviously wasn’t exercising. And I was eating everything that a dietician would kill me for.

Now, well, I haven’t had a cigarette in a week. I haven’t had a drink in even longer. And I’ve been eating about 80% clean. I am more than pleased with the changes I’ve managed to implement and stick with in a very short time.
Did I have an ice cream cone on one of our bike rides? Yes.
Did I eat a burger and fries at the OTB Cafe? Yes.
But I also had chicken breasts, turkey meatloaf, broccoli, almonds, berries, baby carrots, and greek yogurt. I carefully planned breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. I walked by the donuts in the break room and the cake in the kitchen and the candy on the desks. I had tilapia and greens while my family was eating spaghetti or Chinese. And I felt good about my choices.
And then, I picked up one of these:
I bought a case of ‘real sugar’ Pepsi out of curiosity before I got back on track with my diet. I made the decision that I would finish the last two or three rather than throw them away. I was eating my dinner of tilapia and greens and I opened a Pepsi. My own mother said something along the lines of, “Why bother eating healthy if you’re going to drink that?” I explained that I wasn’t planning to buy anymore soda but I wanted to finish what I had purchased and one wouldn’t kill me.
Not ten minutes later I was in my room FaceTime-ing with a friend. At some point during the conversation I lift my can and immediately I get, “Are you drinking POP?!” I give my speech on just finishing what I bought and yada-yada. And still there was more grief to be had over my beverage choice. Meanwhile, he was drinking pop too!
When did eating healthy become eating perfectly? When did getting fit become a one way road? I honestly don’t understand the mentality of perfection that pervades everything today. We have to be perfect moms, wives, employees, athletes, chefs, and supermodels. There’s no room to be HUMAN.
I’m perfectly fine with never having the body of a fitness model if I can still have a piece of cheesecake on date night. I’m honestly okay with washing down my boiled chicken breast and sweet potato with Pepsi. No one would think twice if I was at a burger joint chasing a double quarter pounder with cheese and a large fry with a giant soda. If rewarding myself with an ice cream cone at the end of a 20 mile bike ride gets me out the door and moving then it can’t be all that bad right?
I see it said time and time again but it’s beyond time we all take it to heart. PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION. Do better than yesterday. Make small changes that you can stick with. And don’t be afraid to make a mistake or reward yourself every once in awhile. After all we are only human… and I fully intend to enjoy as much of my short time on earth as possible.

FitBit

First things first, I guess I need to introduce someone. Friends meet Paul, the new guy in my life. He’s a runner and he lifts. Yeah, he’s awesome!

Ready for a run
Anyway, Paul bought us awesome little gadgets, called FitBit Flex, for Christmas. We’re still playing around with them and figuring out what they can do but so far it’s been neat comparing our goals with our actual daily activity and calorie burn. We are connected through the app on our iPhone and we can cheer each other on or taunt each other (which may be even more motivating right?).
The Fitbit Flex is a wearable tracker that monitors your activity, diet, and sleep patterns. It’s surprisingly simple, easy to use, and comfortable. The device includes a large and small wristband which hold the tracker, a wireless sync dongle for your laptop or other device, a charging cable, and the free app for iPhone or Android.
Fitbit wristband with Flex tracker
After three days of wear I’ve found that the wristband is as comfortable as the rest of my bracelets. It was a little hard to snap into place the first few times but it’s either loosened up or I’ve gotten the hang of it. The Fitbit can be worn in the shower or rain so it doesn’t have to be removed often. And with an estimated battery life of 5 days there’s no reason to take it off most days.
The Flex can be synced to your smart phone via Bluetooth so you can check your stats and progress as often as you want without a cord. And tapping twice on the wristband gives a readout of your progress via five lights. Each light represents 20% of the goal you set (steps, distance, calories burned, etc) and when you reach 100% of goal the lights flash and the band vibrates. It’s never been easier to check your progress in seconds.
60% of the way to my goal
Other features include sleep monitoring and nutrition/calorie tracking. Tap the device rapidly and it begins sleep mode. In the morning tap it rapidly again and it will send the information on how often you were restless through the night to your app. The Fitbit can even be set for silent alarms so it will vibrate at a predetermined time. It can also sync with other apps like Run Keeper and My Fitness Pal. Along with the ability to join groups and connect with other Fitbit wearers, the app will award you badges for new milestones to keep your motivation high. Fitness trends are displayed via graphs and charts and additional band colors are available on the Fitbit site to blend in with your fashion choices.
Overall, I would say this is a great device for motivating yourself and friends for a small price tag. It’s addictive for checking progress and motivating yourself to get all five lights. And the app is easy to use and update. It’s light, flat, and comfortable plus it doesn’t stand out on your wrist. There’s not much more that I could ask for in such a small tracker!
Oh, and yes, I do have the best boyfriend on earth!
Have you tried any of the trackers on the market? Do you use one? What are your thoughts on the usefulness of these devices? 

She Get It From Her Mama!

It’s been a week from you-know-where. Nothing has gone right and I’ve felt like a total failure. I still ran a good bit more than I had in the last few weeks but nowhere near what I was hoping. Thankfully my mother had the cure for my melancholy!

I bought us a family membership to the YMCA so we could all enjoy a year of health and wellness. My mom had yet to use her membership so she asked me to go with her today. I was more than happy to have a reason to head to the gym and not be accompanied only by my iPod.

My mom’s always been there. And I’ve always looked just like her!
We decided to do some cardio first and took side by side treadmills. She walked, I ran, and we chatted about anything and everything while we got our endorphin rush going. Thirty minutes later we headed over to the weight machines. I’m just going to admit that I had never used the machines at the YMCA prior to today.
Intimidation is a horrible feeling. There’s always a couple high school or college athletes lifting the whole stack. And then there’s me… I know I’m not that strong. And I know I won’t get stronger without lifting. But it still didn’t overcome my fear of being laughed at (just like what happened at the globogym I used to go to).
My mom was always active (and pretty hot too!)
But today, with my mother by my side, we walked over there and explored the equipment. Then we made a plan for our workout and went to it. And the best part is we could still pass for twins, at least when it came to strength. We went set for set and rep for rep at the exact same weight, neither of us able to outdo the other.
I think I’ve found my new workout partner (who’s been there all along).
Is fitness a family affair in your home too?

Hey You!

Hey you! Yes, you. I’m judging you.

The ‘fat’ chick on the treadmill. The big guy on the elliptical. The skinny kid lifting an empty bar. The old guy running with the funny gait. The clumsy girl on the secondhand bike.

 Who lifts two pound dumbbells?
You wear baggy clothes covered in sweat. Your footsteps are loud and uneven. And your breathing… oh my god, your breathing. Everyone around you is worried that a coronary is just around the corner. You stare straight ahead. I know you’re not really oblivious to the looks from the regulars. You know they think you’re just another resolutioner. They feel smug knowing that you’ll disappear from their realm in a month, maybe less. You keep your head down and plod on. Why? Why do you bother?

 

Eat another slice of cake why dontcha?
I know why. I understand. If you would just look up, you would see that I’m not looking at you with disgust. I’m looking at you with hope and awe. I have been fat. I have been skinny. What I had never been, before those first steps, was strong. I look at you and see potential. Unlimited, bottomless potential. You can become a runner. Or a cyclist. Or a body builder. You can be healthy, fit, or strong. Or maybe even all three. Whatever you want to attain is just a few months of hard work away.
If you would just look in my eyes you would see that I want to help you. I want to offer you hope and encouragement and maybe even some advice. I want you to stand tall because you won’t give up in a month no matter what those stuck up meat heads think. You will soon be a regular and no one will look twice when you walk into the gym or step onto the road. And then it will be your turn to open your arms to the new guy or girl.

 

You’re not even wearing ‘real’ running clothes!
So whether you’re old or new or haven’t even started yet…. Welcome. Welcome to my gym. Welcome to my roads. Welcome to the world of fitness. Don’t give up. And for goodness sake don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t worthy. We all started somewhere and not very many of us have reached our goals. So lift your head, look around. I bet you’ll find those looks are a lot friendlier than you imagined!
Disclaimer: I wrote this post because I am sick of the jokes and snide remarks about the New Year resolutioners. And once upon a time I was one. The pictures included here are of ME! I can say these things about myself because I thought them at one time!

Growing Goals

As you all know I’m (still) in college. The reason why is simple. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. Does anyone really at 18? I started out thinking I wanted to work in genetics. Dolly the sheep and glowing mice and the Human Genome Project all happened while I was in school. I began majoring in biology and quickly realized I didn’t have the right stuff. I don’t mean that I’m not a good student. I mean that I can’t grasp things I can’t see and touch. Electricity? Lost on me. DNA? Same thing.

So I eventually decided that a degree in business administration was a good base for whatever I ended up doing. I got my Associates around the same time I started running and realized that I wasn’t going to be happy sitting at a desk and crunching numbers. So I changed my major to Sport Management: Health and Wellness. I seriously would run for a living if I was talented enough. I eat, sleep, and breathe running. I have a running calendar, running ornaments on my tree, a running tattoo on my ankle, etc.

Running makes me smile

I’ve kept plugging along at this degree thinking that working with athletes would make me happy. I’m not sure WHAT exactly I’ll be doing with it but it will be closer to my dreams. Then I got laid off at work. It’s not permanent or anything. It’s just seasonal downturn that is the nature of my day job. The last couple weeks I’ve been doing nothing but focusing on my training, my classes and, of course, my family. Apparently the euphoria surrounding me during this period has been palpable. One of my friends commented, “Did you change jobs? You seem so much happier lately.” And that got me thinking….

What exactly is it that I’m looking for? I know I can’t just run and be mommy when I finish college as much as I would love to. There’s bills to pay and races to register for and little people demanding clothes, food, and entertainment. So what will make me happy and put food on the table? What are my exact needs and wants in a career? I started by taking the time to really examine what I DON’T like about what I do now as I suffered through a treadmill run today.

The realization hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s GOALS! I love running because I have goals and benchmarks and I can measure my success in a quantifiable form. Perhaps those business classes are paying off? I don’t know if I ever would have thought about quantifiable goals without them. However, in my current job I don’t have them. Every day I go somewhere different and work with new people and see new things. These are elements I DO like because I get to move and learn. (Add to ‘need’ list.) BUT I can’t measure my success in any form except financially.

It’s easy to measure success here

If I were an accounting professional at a company I could aim to improve cost savings by X percent or increase profit by a certain margin. If I were a health professional I could work to improve patient outcomes. In my job I can’t control anything or work towards anything. I am given an assignment (perform X number of tests tonight) and then left to do it. My shift is over when the work is done so it’s not a race against the clock and I can’t outperform expectations. I simply do as instructed and move onto the next job. And THAT is exactly what drives me nuts! I want to measure my improvement and my growth. I want to set new goals as I exceed my current ones. I want to know what’s expected of me in a quantifiable way and then work to rise above them.

So where does that leave me? Well, in fact, nowhere. I still have twelve more classes until I graduate and I still have to work at my current job until that point. And rumor has it that the university I’m attending is facing a teacher strike so it may take longer than the 3 semesters I had planned. But now I have a new goal! Find a job that meets these needs: Work in varying places and/or with varying people, have room for growth and learning, and be able to set and meet quantifiable goals with my supervisors. Now I can look at job openings in the health and wellness field with a better eye for what I may want to pursue. And that in and of itself is a huge step for me! Maybe I’ll actually be able to answer the age old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

11 Random Things

Porcelina over at Run, Live, Laugh tagged me so now I have to let the world in on all my crazy secrets!

Here is how it works:

1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section like “you are tagged if you are reading this”. You (the blogger) legitimately have to tag 11 (or so) people.

My random facts:

1. I have four tattoos. I want more.

2. I love adventure and despise routine. All I ask of life is a challenge.

3. I love to read almost more than I love to run. Deciding between a book or a run can be the hardest decision I make all day.

4. I wish I had stuck out my first round of college getting a degree in Biology. I always wanted to work in genetics.

5. My husband and I aren’t good at event planning so we got married at the J.P. instead and then had a photographer friend take really awesome pictures in the park to make it look like we had a big wedding.

6. For some reason my dad was determined that I should have the middle name Altair. It is Arabic for ‘bird’ and ever since 9-11 I’ve been harassed by airport security every time I fly.

7. I work in Nondestructive Testing. If you actually know what that is without Googling I’ll give you a cookie.

8. I’m naturally brunette, almost black, but my older daughter is blonde haired and blue eyed. Makes me really wish I had gone into genetics so I could figure that one out!

9. I have watched every episode of Richard Scarry’s Busy Town at least three times. Thank you parenthood!

10. I only own 2 pairs of jeans. I spend all of my money on running gear.

11. I own the coolest weiner dog ever. She has one brown eye and one blue eye. Her name was supposed to be Lego but my husband changed it to Lily and my daughter gave her the middle name Eliza.

Porcelina’s Questions to Me:

1. If you could run any race, anywhere, and money wasn’t an option, where would you go?

First stop, Australia! I want to see a platypus and a koala and a kiwi up close! And eat vegemite too!

2. If you had one million pounds to give away, who or what would you chose to donate too?
Well, we have dollars here. I would spread it amongst the charities I love, like the IAFF Burn Fund!

3. If you had the chance to relive one instance in your life, what moment would you chose? Would you change anything about it or just re-live it?
The last time I saw my dad before he got hurt maybe? I’d like to ask him more about himself and take a few more pictures of us together!

4. Cats or dogs?
Both! And fish too!

5. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Marriage and love are a choice you make every day.

6. What was the last book you read?
The Help. I loved it!

7. What is your favourite go-to dinner when you need cheering up?
My husband is the cook in our house. In the winter I love chili and in the summer I love grilling out!

8. What is your life\running mantra?
‘As far as I can, As fast as I can’. It fits me to a tee! I’m always up to something and trying to see just how much I can accomplish in as little time as possible!

9. Sweet or Salted Popcorn?
Both please!

10. Have you had a ‘defining moment’ yet? If so, care to share?
Losing my father at the age of 11. It changed the whole course of my life and I’m sure I don’t even realize half of it.

11. What would be your perfect Sunday afternoon?
Long run followed by an ice bath, hot shower, and massage. Then maybe going to dinner and a movie with my hubby. A kid-free day is definitely the best present I can get sometimes!

Eleven questions for whomever I tag:
1. Did you grow up in the city, the suburbs, or on a farm, etc? What was it like?

2. How many siblings do you have?

3. How many children would you have if your resources were unlimited?

4. What would your career choice be if you could have your pick tomorrow?

5. Describe your dream home.

6. What is your favorite nail polish color?

7. If you could have a chef or a maid which would you choose?

8. What is your favorite candy?

9. What is your favorite shoe brand?

10. Do you have a smart phone or a regular phone?

11. Coffee or tea?

I tag:
Heather at Run Faster, Mommy!
Hope at Team Epton
Mallery at Inspired Training
And I’m out of time right now!

Shameless Self Promotion

Sometimes it’s healthy to toot your own horn so I thought I would give myself a pat on the back today instead of never feeling like my accomplishments are good enough. Today I set a new PR on the deadlift for 3 reps. Not only did I set the new PR but my trainers said my form is perfect! That excited me more than a new PR, which by the way is 65 pounds heavier than my old one. I also got my trainer to take a picture on what I thought would be the last set. Here’s me deadlifting about my own body weight, 135 lbs.

But 135 wasn’t my max! I went on to deadlift 145lbs 3 times, even after doing 8 sets of 3 before it. The coaches think my 1 rep max would be around 180-185 pounds right now. I can’t wait to see if they’re right and if I can break into the 200’s before fall! Sweet!

So what was your accomplishment today?

Planking adventures….

Have you heard of planking? Wikipedia defines it as ‘the act of lying face down with arms to the sides of the body, in unusual public spaces and photographing it’. Like this:

Of course, being an exercise addict I thought of this instead:

So then I thought why not combine the two?! Instead of just laying around we can get fit with a new fad! So of course, my ever-gullible husband and I went off with the kids to test it out! The results are absolutely spectacular!

Of course, since Shane and I did it our oldest had to try it to. And I think she did a wonderful job! Check out these planking skills!

Running Cold

My wonderful husband convinced me to do another 5k this past weekend.  I guess I’m as crazy as I think I am because I went along with it!  We registered, bought toys to donate, and found a sitter.  Next thing I know I’m in one of the craziest races I’ve ever run!

I really hoped I could PR in this race but that wasn’t to be.  The weather and the cumulative fatigue from my marathon training combined to beat me down.  However, it was a wonderful experience in a lot of other ways!  So on to the race!

We arrived really early thanks to my husband’s worry that it would take twice as long as Mapquest predicted.  I had picked up our race packets the day before so there wasn’t  much to do.  We got our numbers pinned on, picked up our chips (I had to show my husband how to attach his!), and dropped off our toys for the Amici Mentoring Program.  Then we waited…

 My husband in the car
I look thrilled don’t I?
Finally, people started heading to the starting line.  We convinced another runner to take a picture of us before we lined up.  You can tell how thrilled my husband was with the weather, 22* and snowing!
Kevin, the owner of Elite Runners and Walkers announced that the turn around was a simple orange cone so we should be careful not to miss it.  Then we were off!
I figured I would go out a little conservatively since the trail was fairly trampled and icy already.  I started out feeling great at about a 9:45 pace.  Sped up a little at the half mile point.  First mile in 9:20.  As I’m heading toward the turnaround I see my husband coming back towards me.  We high-fived and continued running.  I figured I must be close to the turn around since we ran similar paces at our last 5k.  Turns out my husband must have been drinking some magic juice or something because I was still 1/10th of a mile or so from the turn around.  I thought I’d somehow managed to miss it.  Then it was there!  I have never been so happy to see that turn around before!
Things were starting to feel really hard and my right hamstring was tightening up with every step.  The ice meant I was pushing harder but getting slower.  I felt like I was running on a treadmill.  Forward motion was hard to come by in this race!  My pace kept dropping and I hit mile 2 with a 10:28 average pace.  I tried to keep it up and I’d get under a 10 minute mile and then slip back again.  It was extremely frustrating watching a PR slip out of my hands but I just held on for dear life and reminded myself that a post-baby PR wasn’t out of the question.  I took a quick walk break to get some water and let my hamstring loosen up and then picked it back up but it wasn’t enough to save my race.  Mile 3 came in at a 10:29 average pace.  The course was a little long according to my Garmin and I finished the last .2 miles in 1:54, getting as fast as a 5:48 pace over the finish line.
My husband was there shivering and waiting for me.  I turned in my chip and we climbed in the car.  My first comment was, “How did you do?” to which he responded, “You don’t want to know”.  Of course, I HAD to know.  Turns out 3 weeks of running turned my husband from penguin to speed demon.  He finished in a respectable 26:25!  I was very proud of him…. until he wouldn’t let me live down him beating me by 5 minutes.  Yes, I finished in a slow 31:43.  Still a post-baby PR but disappointing nonetheless.
My husband finishing (in the middle)
Today was a scheduled 3 mile run for me so I decided to do it on the treadmill and see just how fast I could do a 5k in close-to-perfect conditions.  I started at a 9:31 pace for the first 2.5 miles.  I edged up to 7MPH at 2.75 miles and finished the last 1/10th of a mile at a 7:30 pace.  I finished my 3.1 miles in 29:09 and felt like I probably could have done it faster.  I promise a true PR is mine at the next race that’s not on ice!
P.S. Can you tell how much I love my running skirt?  If this blog ever gets a good following I promise to give one away!  You have to try them!  I have two, one red plaid and this grey preppy skirt, and I almost always wear them for races and get so many compliments them!  If you are a woman and you don’t run in a skirt you should definitely try it!

Pushing Boundaries

I had my second training session with Ed over at Strength, Fitness, and Speed, Inc. this morning.  Last week’s workout left us both surprised.  I expected to be a blubbering mess on the floor by the end and Ed must have too.  Instead we were both pleasantly surpised at how much of my fitness has returned post-baby.  I did my 3 mile run before I went and was scared it was going to make the training even harder but I surprised myself and excelled beyond both of our expectations!

Today, I knew Ed would be ramping things up a little but I was less nervous.  We did some plyo drills, some strength training, and some circuit training.  I was a little sore afterwards but not as much as I expected.  I put off doing my scheduled 4 mile run for a few hours for fear I would feel it then.  However, I finally sucked it up and jumped on the treadmill.  (I still haven’t braved the snow/rain yet!)

Once again I was pleasantly surprised.  I figured I would just go all out and see if I blew up or not.  I started out at a 10 minute mile pace (yes, I’m slow, I know…) and stayed there for mile 1.  Mile 2 I pushed to a 9:30 minute mile pace.  That actually didn’t feel too bad!  I had an outside chance at breaking my official 5K PR of 29:59 (I pulled a 27:xx in training but never in a race).  I kept pushing the speed through mile 3 until I got to 7MPH.  I managed to hold myself together to the 5K mark and shaved 6 seconds off that race PR!  I was elated (and wheezing, choking, red-faced….)!  I wasn’t sure how well I would finish off that last mile to get my scheduled 4 but I didn’t want to chicken out now.

I kept pushing, dropping back only to a 10 minute mile pace instead of 11 or 12.  I got myself to the 3.8 mile mark and notched the speed up to 6.5 MPH and then edged up to 7MPH for the final tenth of a mile.  I finished that 4 mile run in 39:45, an average pace of 9:41!  A truly amazing accomplishment for a penguin like me!  I’m going to rest up and really hope that I can break my pre-baby PR less than 4 months postpartum.  And, if the weather is only 20-ish degrees like they’re forecasting, then there’s an outside chance I could snag myself another age group award!

I have to say I’m pretty fond of my newfound pain tolerance and ‘speed’!  I’m starting to think I do have an outside chance of having a good first marathon and setting a new PR at the Rachel Carson Challenge this summer and still being able to walk in the days following.  So here’s to pushing ourselves beyond our wildest dreams and finding that perserverence and determination are the keys to opportunities doors!