Monday, January 30, 2012


My new favorite obsession is Crossroads. No, not the super awful Britney Spears movie, but the Thursday night pub runs.

The night starts out with everyone meeting at the pub to go for runs. The distance is up to the runners, but with almost everyone there getting read for Boston, the 9 mile course wins. As I live very close to the start of the course and the run leaves at 5:45, I have not justified making it into the bar to just head back out. Instead, I now do my own route leaving from my house and onto the course. The run may cut out about .5 miles, but I still get my 8+ in for the evening.

This run has surely become one that I look forward to all week. We head out down Comm Ave and pass through my 'hood. As we turn onto Beacon through Cleavland Circle, the bars and restaurants of my youth pass by. The run goes right by Winthrop in which I always smile while looking up the hill. It takes us further into Coolidge Corner where another smile erupts as I glance down Harvard towards another landmark in my past. Finally, it runs past the best dentist in the world. From his door on Beacon to the bar is one mile. About a quarter mile after passing his office, the marking for mile 25 water stop is still emblazoned on the street. Nothing gives me more strength than seeing that! On on up over the Mass Pike and through Kenmore Square with a short jaunt to the front door.

Once inside the bar, they shower us with water and free pizza. Add to this the ample space to stretch, it being socially acceptable to be in running tights and the camaraderie and you've got the night. So yes, I do replenish the calories lost right away, but I also get to learn more about those I run with and enjoy a different type of night.

I won't lie, I am going to miss these runs when this is over, but luckily the bar continues the runs almost year round. This means that despite the team ending on April 16th, I will still try to make appearances.

A typical scene in my house

This is the first thing I saw when waking up this morning. Sadly, this is not abnormal and similar scenes can be viewed in almost every room in my house.

For those that have not tried the shoes in the photo (Nike Free Run), you don't know what you are missing. They are now my official shoes of after long runs as they are like wearing slippers and so soothing to my poor puppies that take heavy pounding over 10+ miles.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sometimes you run...

"Sometimes you run, sometimes you stall
Sometimes you don't get up at all
Sometimes you run, sometimes you fall"
-Robert Earl Keen

Last night, I was fortunate enough to snag an extra ticket from a Facebook friend to go see REK locally. One of my favorite songs he wrote "The Rose Hotel" he performed at the concert. The reason for this being such a great song is the chorus quoted above. As I go further and further down this path of running, I find these lyrics to hit me right where I need it.

Whoever said running is easy, never ran more than a 10k. As I struggle to get in my longer distances I realize that a lot more goes into this than lacing up my shoes. First is the nutrition that I will talk about in another post. Next is the time in which it takes to get those long runs in. Finally it is the stumbling that occurs in running. No, not falling all over the place and tripping, but the stumbling in pace and distance.

Some days I run a perfect pace, the run feels amazing and my feet feel light. These are less than the norm sadly. Instead, I end up stumbling quite frequently. First there was the run that I wore my running skirt inside out for. Yep, imagine that scene. There was the run that I spent more time trying to find a bathroom than actually running. The one last week that made me feel like my hip was going to explode. All these runs are the stumbling in life that would easily cause me to permanently hang up my shoes and be done with this lifestyle, but something always draws me back.

This week the picking me up off the ground feeling was standing in the middle of the wine expo realizing that I may have not done my 14 miles as planned, but I just did 10 miles more than almost everyone in the room. I was slow, but I did them. The other moment was the feeling of fast feet coming down Beacon Street through my old hood. This is the place that I was at my unhealthiest in exercising and nutrition. Beer dinner anyone? I instead was getting it done. The feeling of how much fun the track workout was despite being slowest also got me off the floor. And finally, seeing that I had reached my halfway point fundraising was amazing. 

So yes, there will be times I stumble and times I can't even get up, but I just have to remember the amazing feeling it is when at the end of the road I look back on the journey and realize I've gained my best memories from the starting up again after the stall, tumble or fall.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Running In Snow

The weather forecast called for 2-4 inches of snow Saturday morning starting around 6 am, but as they have been wrong all month, I thought nothing of it. I woke up at 7 am and peeked out my window to see big thick flakes coming down. I logged into my email and called our winter hot line to see the run was still on, but those running at my pace were not coming. What to do? I so badly wanted to say forget it, roll back over and go to sleep. I then thought about doing a 14 mile run on my own Sunday and how I probably would find an excuse. I also thought about all the work that goes into the runs and how it would be awful for no one to show up. So alas, I threw on running tights, packed up a change of clothes and hopped in the Subaru to head out to Sudbury.

I showed up for the run a little bit early and saw about a dozen people. I was impressed that we had a good turnout for the snow as I thought maybe 5 or so people would show up. As it hit a little after 8, more and more people came tumbling in until we hit about 30 or so people. Wow, 30 people willing to brave the snow and cold to run! The usual pre-run meeting occurred and then we were off.

At mile 1, I wanted to turn around. Running in snow is hard especially if you are from Southern California. I glanced down at my time and read 14 minutes. Miles 2-3 were just as bad both time wise and motivation wise. I kept asking myself why am I doing this? The answer kept coming to me by way of Leslie, the lovely lady that checks us in at each run. We have a choice to go out and run while many do not. We also have the choice to quit if the road gets messy while others don't. I kept repeating her words until about mile 3.5 where some very amazing ladies were manning the water stop. They gave me the inspiration to keep on trucking. Back on the road to keep running. 

Mile 4 felt like air with the motivation from the water stop still running through my veins. And then came Concord Road which felt like a death trap. Having already been demotivated, seeing non-stop traffic was not ideal. I made it a little bit down the road before I realized that I was not meant to go further. Just shy of 5 miles, I turned around for the trek home defeated. My 14 mile run was not to happen. I stopped again at the water stop for inspiration before continuing on. At mile 7.5 I felt like giving up hope, going to the side of the road and just crying. This was no longer fun as people sprayed ice on me and I slipped going up hills. Just then, I see a very familiar SUV slow down and ask me how I was doing. It was my coach checking on everyone. I greeted them and realized that I needed to put on a happy face or they would think something was wrong. I smiled and continued on trucking. More and more runners started showing up and together we all made the crazy last .5 miles of the run to the main road. At the main road, it was busy! A quarter mile on route 20 in the snow with plows had me thinking people were nuts. I opted to walk in the snow on the side of the street away from the death traps that lay in the road. 

I made it back into the club with my eyelashes and hair frozen solid and lamented about how awful my run was. Luckily, I was not alone in this feeling. Others had still managed a good 14-16 miles, but felt awful about their times and such. Heck, I could have done a 13.1 in the time it took me to do my 10. With pep talks galore, I was motivated to give the running another shot. A new schedule in place to get me to marathon day without issue and I am excited to go on this challenge...after this crazy blister heels!

The moral of the story is that our roads are not always clear and smooth and challenges exist. I am one of those lucky to have had a very easy path to trudge down for the last 29+ years and only now as I age do I realize that this is not always the case. Difficulty is slowly popping up as we get older. I now know that I am much stronger than I would ever give myself credit for and that I may have to altar my road map at times, but I can get it done. The wine at the end helps a lot too! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the Right Track

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
~Will Rogers

Last night marked the first track practice of the season. The night started off a bit funny as I had asked my neighbor for easiest way to Tufts. She gave me the fastest way and I made it there in record time. In fact, as I was sitting outside the outdoor track, I was surprised that I was one of three cars in the lot at 7:20. Turns out, the indoor track is nowhere close to the outdoor track. I finally figured it out at 7:40 and hightailed it over to Cousens where I was supposed to be. Luckily, a few other teams had practice run late before us which resulted in me being perfectly on time. One mile warm up followed by a fun workout of running a 400 at a specific pace with a 200 cool down. Most people had no problem completing this about 6-10 more times than I did, but I really am much slower than the rest of the group. We lined up by marathon times and I was shocked at how many people were running sub 4 hour marathons. In fact, the majority were 9 minute pacers and less. As my first marathon, I am just trying to finish in a sub 13 minute mile so I can collect my medal. Heck, even a 13 minute mile and I won't be swept off the course!

What track practice taught me last night will stick with me for awhile. Some people will be faster than you in this endeavor. It is a metaphor for life. Some will be smarter, some prettier, some richer, some skinnier, etc. In the end, as long as you focus on your journey and getting to the finish line or goal, you will succeed. It is the second you start focusing on your failures, you shouldn't even get on the track to attempt the challenge as you are setting yourself up for disappointment. It is hard to admit that you are not perfect at something, but who is? It is also hard to remember that it is an achievement just attempting this challenge of a marathon and running. I think I often times write it on here as a reminder as by seeing it on paper, I find motivation to try another day and another mile.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Tounge in Cheek Article to Start Your Day

As I was sitting down to write a few blog posts about my experiences (group run this weekend, best email ever, etc), I popped on Facebook for a few seconds. A friend had posted this article on her wall. Obviously, the article is meant to be a joke, but it really did get me thinking. So, in short, here are my ten responses to the ten reasons not to exercise.

10 Great Reasons NOT to Exercise

Posted by Jill Smokler
on January 16, 2012 at 9:28 AM
It seems like everyone I know has jumped with full force on the exercise bandwagon lately. Whether they're hitting the gym or running marathons or sitting in hundred degree rooms doing yoga and sweating buckets, they are exercising in some way. And, personally, I find it disturbing. What ever happened to good, old fashioned walking? Like, to the refrigerator for a snack?
If you are like me and wondering what everyone else sees in that 10K that you don't, I present to you ten reasons NOT to exercise. Pull up a chair ...
1. You lose valuable time doing things like stalking Facebook and catching up on the hottest celebrity gossip.

I really feel like I have lost track of time. My days are currently revolving around when I can fit a workout in. I have lost touch with some friends and trying for book time to see people is next to impossible. However, I feel better about myself and look forward to those runs and gym sessions.

2. You get ravenous and eat more, thus cancelling out the exercise, anyway.

I do indeed end up eating more when running, but instead I tend to become anal about what I put in my body. It really becomes how do I fuel for a run, how I fuel after the run and making sure the in between times are filled with fruits and veggies to provide my body the right nutrition. Case in point was lunch today, the chili dogs looked quite tasty, but knowing I had a track workout tonight, I opted for the grilled chicken with a side of rice.

3. You could lose a pant size. Oh, sure, that sounds all positive, but who can afford a new wardrobe?

While out last night, some of the girls were talking about how I must be losing weight with the working out. I really hope it helps in my goal of losing 40+ pounds, but I know that exercise is just one part of the equation.

4.  You're sore. If I'm going to ache all over, I at least want to have enjoyed getting there.

I love the feeling of being sore. There actually is nothing better than feeling like I've had a real hard workout and know it based off of the difficulty of the session from the day or two before.

5. It wouldn't be nearly as fun to watch The Biggest Loser with a bowl full of ice cream having just come from the gym.

I have no rebuttal for this as I really do love to watch that show while eating. My downfall though is chips.

 6. Your sneakers get worn-looking. They work so much better as a fashion statement.

I probably go through a pair of sneakers every 3 months or so months. At about $90 a pair, that is a pretty big expense. Yet, where else would that money be going if not on sneakers? I can think of things I waste money on (Starbucks) that for sure is not as great of a return on investment.

7. You smell. Showering out of necessity is such a chore.

I feel like all I ever do now is laundry and shower. My skin ends up getting dried out and it is not too fun. Yet, I love the feeling of sweat coming down my face on the arctrainer. It shows that I am working hard for what I want.

8. You sweat. It causes breakouts and who wants to look 13 again?

Same as #7

9. You could pull a muscle. As if working out isn't painful enough, you can injure yourself? What a joke.

I am so afraid of getting hurt. I baby every ache and pain and try to deal with them. I think I will take more risks after 4/16, but for right now my goal is to get to that day. I will happily baby the hip pains and blisters to make it through 26.2.

10. Muffin tops are adorable!

Please, can running get rid of my muffin top? I looked in the mirror today and was a bit disgusted in how I looked. I really hope running shapes my body!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Power of Snooze

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved sleep. She loved sleep so much that her famous line was, "5 more minutes!" When traveling this sleep loving girl learned how to say the magical phrase in many other languages. It became an ongoing joke with her parents that you needed to be prepared with an extra 10-15 of time in trying to get out the door just for those 5 minutes.

The little girl grew up and decided to row crew in college. Crew, you say, that means waking up at ungodly hours such as 4:30 am. The girl became accustomed to the 4:30 wake up call followed by class and very lovely naps. College graduation commenced and the lovely girl was thrust into the real world. With work a new challenge, sleeping until the last possible moment became a routine. Laziness became norm and exercise was sparse. This little machine became the devil.

The girl realized she was out of shape and joined a triathlon team. At first, practice was after work and on weekends and easily able to attend. As she got more and more involved, practice moved to 6 am in the 'burbs meaning she now woke up at 4:45 am. There were no more 5 minute snooze drills and surprisingly it was easy to wake. The excitement of a great workout helped motivate the lady to be on time!

Magically, the girl decided to kick her life up a notch and try to good for the world. Yes, the girl joined a charity marathon team. Workout times were now up to her and she could again sleep in. And sleep in she did, hitting snooze more often than not. This now meant the morning workouts were pushed back to evening workouts where motivation was hard to find. Life all of a sudden became scheduling workout to workout and felt like suffocation. The girl realized that all she needed to do was wake up earlier and this dilemma would be solved, but how to do it?

Yes folks, I am struggling right now with waking up early. Everyone that got used to seeing my face at 6 am is probably in shock, but it is really hard! I am setting a new goal for myself to make it into the gym 2 days a week at 6:30 am. I am not too thrilled with this new regime, but know it is best for me in the long run. So starting Monday, expect to see me a little agitated and out of it for a few days. In the end, I hope to be back to my lovely cheerful morning self. And any tips of getting back into this routine would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A round of applause

At lunch the other day, a guy at my table kept talking about how awesome boot camp is at the gym and how everyone should take it. First and foremost, I feel fortunate that my work has a gym complete with cybex equipment to use when cross-training. I usually just stick to those machines and see the gym class folks enter and leave the studio. I figured I would take him up on his offer and show up to class.

I showed up to a small group of maybe 5 or 6 people. The instructor immediately came over to me asking my goals and such. At first glance, I look like an out of shape athlete who could be a hazard to the class, but really, I promise I am not! I told her that I was training for the Boston Marathon and her demeanor changed. She excitedly told me how she had run it a handful of times and how much fun it is. We swapped training stories and she approved of my approach and was happy to hear that I was running for Dana-Farber. People in the class were asking me about my running and for the first time, I was excited to tell them about it. I was no longer a sham, but an athlete!

The class ended up being a perfect compliment to my workout routine and I think I am going to make it a mainstay in my week with an hour or so on the arctrainer beforehand. If anything, all the weight lifting will get me in shape for going back to the pool for tri season. And the best part, they all gave me a round of applause at the end of the class for joining and for luck in training!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Knowing When to Quit

My alarm went off bright and early yesterday morning. With a quick glance out the window, I hit snooze and decided an evening run was much better. I psyched myself up for the 6 mile run on the entire ride home to the point that I ran in the door excited to get out on the streets. It also greatly helped that my car read 46 degrees outside!

With shoes laced up, I bounded outside for a great hour or so run. The run was going great, weather was awesome and it was fun to be out there. Then it hit me .6 miles in...the worst pain in my hip I have ever felt. I trudged along for another .1 miles and the pain got worse. Knowing my massage therapist's view on pain, I knew my run had come to an end. I turned around and hobbled back the next .7 miles home with each step more painful than the next. I walked in my door and stretched it out quickly falling asleep for the evening at 6:30 pm. Yes, that is my life!

I was disappointed that I didn't get my awesome run in, but the reality is that this run is a true test. When a goal is in sight, you need to know when to throw in the towel and accept injury prevention. There are still quiet a few weeks to Boston and I know I don't want to be injured for them! Tonight I will test my hip on the arctrainer and if all good, the roads will see me tomorrow.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome to Heartbreak

Our team met up for a group run yesterday. The location couldn't be beat as it was held at the gym right by my house. I debated on walking over (about 30-40 minutes), but realized that after a late night out, I prefer the extra sleep. The course was one I see and drive on just about every day right in my back yard! Fortunately, not like the Charles River Run, I had no temptations to turn down a side street right to my house.

The group set out for a 14-16 mile run, but I'll be honest, I am so not ready for that distance! With the cold that kicked my butt and a ton of other excuses, 10 miles was all I could squeak out. I write that and say only 10 miles, but the realization is that I was 3 miles away from a half marathon. Who have I become? My real fear for not running the entire distance is that I don't want to be the last kid back. We all know I am a slow poke and most people had finished their 14 miles in the time it took me for 10. The volunteers are so nice and the last thing I want to do is make them wait for me. Everyone on the team reassures me that I shouldn't worry and that it is totally fine. As I require more and more miles, I have a feeling I won't care about making people wait, but for now 10 miles was just fine.

Now back to the purpose of the title and away from my ranting...Heartbreak Hill!

Anyone who knows about the Boston Marathon knows that it is a mostly downhill marathon with the first real hills coming at around mile 16 finishing at Heartbreak Hill at mile 20. Many people find that they hit their wall at this point and end up walking up or slowing down greatly at this point. While training for Covered Bridges Half, my tri coach suggested I jog to the hill, run down it, and then walk up it to prepare for my downhill half. Over the last year, this portion of the course has become my friend. I know those four miles are going to be brutal, but when I see that final hill and those houses I have fallen in love with, I am going to smile. From Centre Street to the finish, the run is a snapshot of my life in Boston. You pass by where I live now and move on to my first apartment right on the course in Washington Square and then head over to Coolidge Corner right past my other former abode. From Coolidge Corner, I pass by my dentist and then to Fenway where I spend quite a bit of time and on to the bars and restaurants you can find me on the weekend. It sounds pretty boring, but the last 6 miles to me are home and I am so excited to get to run on them. So while many view Heartbreak Hill as what it sounds like, a place of heartache, I instead view it as home. I can't wait to run on this hill dozens of more times between now and race day. In fact, I think it is on my schedule for tomorrow ;)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Beating the cold

Welcome back to the cold bleak Boston weather!

My few days back in Boston have been sad as I am still fighting this chest cold. I did get on the treadmill to run today and felt defeated. I don't know how people do it, but I get beyond bored after a mile. I've tried movies and my ipod and I still can't do it. I quickly switched to the arctrainer and got the best workout I've gotten in a super long time. My coach said that it can act as a substitute for running and man was he right! Even know hours later and I am still thinking about the workout I got. I won't lie though, I am nervous for this weekend's run as the strong runners are going 14-16. To date, my longest run has been 8.5, so I am aiming for 10. Wish me luck!

And for those that have tips on the treadmill, please let me know.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Running in Sunshine

My company slows down quite a bit during the holidays which makes it super easy for a quick getaway. As many of you know, I am from sunny southern California and am fortunate that my family still lives there.

The first week of being in California found me at my dad and stepmom's house. Let me paint the picture of their neighborhood, the local bike teams use it as training practice for hill repeats on the weekends and mapmyride gives the rating of the hills as the second hardest you can get. The first day out, I had a goal of 5 miles. I made it through the first 2.5 in under 25 minutes. For those of you who know me, that is beyond anything I ever run. Of course those first 2.5 miles were flat and downhill. The run back was humiliating to say the least. There are parts of that run I had to stop and walk and even walking I couldn't catch my breath. All in all, I made the 5 mile goal and called it a day.

My second run needed to be a long one and I set my eyes at 10 miles with a carefully mapped route. Once again, the first 2.5 miles were a breeze followed by about 4 of slow jogging and at times walking. In a neighborhood of incredibly fit people, a lot of folks gawked as they drove by. At first it was a bit frustrating as I was trying my best, but soon it became a badge of honor. Yes, the fat girl is running by you, but guess what, she is running. A sharp right into an unknown area and I got lost and a bit scared. Coming from the manicured lawns and friendly neighbors in my parent's subdivision to keep out signs and pit bulls on this street and I wanted out fast. I took a wrong turn and ended up on a fire road shooting me out in front of a giant hill. I felt disappointed and began to walk. As soon as I began to run, I noticed a familiar red car driving down the hill. It soon turned around and my dad stopped me to tell me to hop in the car. I had been out an hour and a half and he was getting concerned. I obliged, like a good daughter should, and got in the car. My final distance was a little over 8.5 miles which although not my goal, made me happy. 3x of that and I would have a marathon done!

I headed up north to my mom's, but came down with what my sister is dubbing the sickness of the century and thus only got one run in. The run was slow, but good and taught me the importance of proper fuel before a run. Although sick for most of the trip, I was still able to spend 14 hours walking around Disneyland on my feet and a few hours walking Santa Monica. So although my success did not exist in running, I still managed to get some exercise in.

I left the 60-70 degree weather and landed in Boston to 30 degrees in which I quickly put away my running skirts and t-shirts and pondered picking up and moving back to LA/San Diego for the remainder of my training.