fitness and nutrition, hustle

Getting My Butt in Gear

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Just a few more days until half marathon time. It’s all about fine tuning and staying as injury-free as possible.

As I make my packing list, here are the most important things I’ll be sporting.

My new AirPods with my “run run run” playlist is probably my most important accessory. A birthday splurge.  I am all about the tunes while I’m running to keep me motivated (and distracted)…I’m lost without music.   I’ve been adding and scrubbing songs for months now.  From Earth, Wind, and Fire to Miranda Lambert, Elton John to Maren Morris, Madonna to Stevie Wonder and everything in between…I think I have about 7 hours of music on my playlist.  Hopefully I’m a little quicker than that!

Paired with my Apple Watch, another birthday gift that I’ve quickly grown fond of.  I love how it connects me to other members of my running group and keeps track of my mileage and pace.  I’m still figuring out all that it can do, but I’m enjoying it so far.

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I’ll admit, I’m building my outfit around the shorts.  I have tried several different brands, but I’m going with one of my pairs of Constantly Varied Gear shorts.  I am a 5″ inseam girl.  I love the comfort of them and don’t forget another key element – POCKETS!

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But which pair to wear?  I thought I would wear my colorful unicorns or mermaids, with my Sunday Runday tank top from Miles and Pace.  But, then I feel pretty unstoppable in my Thunderstruck pair with my Strong Like Bull tank.  No matter which pair, it will be CVG shorts, a tank top, and a coordinating V Sport Bra.  (In a recent update, my thighs  started leaning out in the last month, so it will be a size down plain black pair of CVGs!)

Finally, I have a little belt that I bought years ago from amazon to carry along the essentials – ID, gels, pain reliever.  It has been with me since my very first Peachtree Road Race 4 years ago. Wouldn’t feel like a long race without it.

What a difference from that day four years ago, July 2015. I’ve covered many miles since then.  I’ve shed many pounds and even some bad habits along the way.  I’ve picked up some new ways of thinking (and ok, a few wrinkles).  One thing is sure…it is a long haul, and one I still work at every day.    I don’t really believe in “before and after” shots, but there are definitely differences along the path that are worth reflecting on.

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I have made many changes between now and then.  But I still feel the excitement in this picture…this is a girl getting ready to take on the Peachtree Road Race 10K for the first time!  She is nervous, excited, and joyful all at once.

Here I am again in October 2019, facing something new with a tangle of criss-crossed feelings. The day is nearly here! So exciting! Can’t wait for this time with my running group, finally reaching the start line, when we can make our goals happen.  Pictures, giggles, and fun to follow.  And then, what will the next goal be?

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

The Miles Won’t Run Themselves

Yup, I was going to write it – the dreaded “poor, poor pitiful me” post.

The “who peed in my cheerios?” post.

The “why-did-I-do-this-to-myself-what-in-the-world-was-I-thinking-why-did-I-sign-up-for-this-and-how-do-I-get-out-of-this-mess” post.

The ever unpopular “I can’t” post.

After some good running weeks, even a relatively successful 8-mile run that led me to write “I think I can finish this!” in my running journal, I hit an unexpected slump.  Suddenly, every run went from my usual mild discomfort to SO hard. Legs were leaden. Heat was overwhelming. The weight of the effort had me down and out. This went on for weeks. If I had the option to go to CrossFit instead of my scheduled run, I often took it. I was down to two runs a week, struggling for every mile.  I lost my mojo.

What do you do when something like that happens?  Sure, I wanted to give up at times…. many times! But I kept showing up for two runs each week.  Seeing friends on Sundays made such a difference.  Accountability to them and my goal kept me holding on by a shoelace when I was down.

Finally, a glimpse of hope.  The heat broke. There’s a huge difference between running in 95 degrees and 82 degrees.  Morning runs were even a little chilly.  A little spring appeared in my stride.  I kept going. I also broke a spell of bad sleep, which makes a world of difference.  I am back on track, more or less, a little more than a month out from our half marathon.

In the mean time, I have decided that overall, I am not a happy runner.  It is convenient, portable, and simple enough to participate in.  But, to be honest, I am bored by it when it gets longer than about 45 minutes.  It is hard on my body AND I have no desire to invest much time or energy in how to get better at it. There are too many other things I’d rather be learning or improving!

I do have to remember that there was a time (not too long ago) I would have been so proud of 15-minute miles.  I have made progress.  But I don’t see myself pursuing it once the half marathon is over.

So, for the moment, I press on.  I’m grateful for the ups and downs of training and for the goal in front of me, and the people I am sharing the journey with.  I’ll keep training the best I can, moving my legs along one step, one mile at a time.

celebrations, friendship

Full-on Festivus Fangirl

One part roadie, one part pit crew, one part media team, one part friend, five parts fangirl.  These were my jobs for the Faded Glory teams at this year’s Festivus Games.

Unlike Chick 1, I didn’t WOD in the sun and fun.  Scheduling and family commitments made competing impossible.  But I still got out and joined in for as long as I could.

My day started at 5am, just like most of the teams.  But, for my first stop I went and got my own workout in first at our home box (burpees over the rower, thrusters, and other fun times). I could have skipped, but even when (especially when!) you’re spending a lot of your time supporting others, you have to keep your own health in line.

Then it was off to the Games, sliding in with my friends to watch them work and support where I could, which led to these moments….

The roadie – Yes, I’ll carry your phone.  I’ll wear your watch. I’ll hold your bracelets.  Of course I’ll keep time for you and count down loud so you know how much you have left to go.

The pit crew – Yup, I’ll charge that dead (phone) battery.  I’ll change your oil (peppermint oil, of course, on sore hamstrings and lower backs).  I’ll drill your muscles with one of those crazy massage guns.  I’m there with your water when your engine overheats.  Creaky joints? Do you prefer Aleve, Advil, or Tylenol?

The media team – The pictures, the videos, the boomerangs. Did I get video of your snatches? Check. Boomerangs of your wall balls? Check. And THE LIFTING FACES!!!  Oh, the lifting faces. Can’t get enough of them.  Capturing the efforts and the agony.  The triumphs and the teamwork.  The small moments, the funny moments, the victories that many people miss – we even miss some of them ourselves!

Send them to each athlete, even send them to their spouses and our friends who couldn’t be there.  Those photos tell amazing stories of a time that will become incredible memories.

 

 

The friend – Just before she starts each event, I’m glancing at my partner, Milagros, and just give her the look.  The “you can do this.  Just breathe and do it” look.  That moment of reassurance between us!

Some of the highlights of the day are listening to pretty much all the competitors talk about their teammate.  In one way or another, each is fighting not to let their partner down.  To do their best, to give their all for that teammate.  This brings back memories of when I competed, and truly is one of the sweetest, most meaningful parts of the experiences.

Finally, the fangirl –  Cheering like crazy for each of them. (And all the videos with my shrill drum major voice!) Clapping from behind the lens.  “Pick it up!” I barked. Encouraging when I saw the looks of exhaustion, of near tears, of hating that stupid box, that idiotic dumbbell, that impossibly irritating kettlebell. And when I saw those fleeting looks of “It’s too hot.”  “It’s so heavy.”  ‘I’m not sure I can do anymore…” I’d get even louder:

YOU GOT THIS! COME ON!  LET’S GO!  And as others finished, they joined in the cheers. Surrounding teammates who had fought through adversity to encourage them to the bitter end.  We are fans of each other.

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What a day and a reason to support and shout for these incredible athletes.

Pushing themselves past the edge of the discomfort zone, some fighting through injuries and illness.  They showed up and WORKED.  All the training, the invisible hours, the practicing, the endless reps, heck even the no reps mattered.  It all adds up to knowing you fought like crazy to compete and give your best that day.

I’ll truly cherish wearing the #Katashi shirt with my honorary (if temporary) tattoo. That takes fangirling to a whole new level.  You’d be hard pressed to find two more fierce or fun competitors. Still gotta work on my booty game, though.

I’ll cherish the hugs and smiles and people laughing and feeling proud as they saw themselves in action. I’ll cherish seeing both first timers and “old” timers get in there to scrap with anyone who dares compete. Better bring your A game. I’ll cherish watching teams work with and for each other, and being on the team for all of them.

 

 

fitness and nutrition, hustle

Beth’s Training Track

I hear the whistle in the distance.  Faint, but getting louder, coming closer.

Half marathon. Ready or not, it’s coming.

Getting ready is the challenge right now.  Training plans, equipment questions, all of it – but mainly, finding the time to run.

I love CrossFit.  We all know this.  With work and home and complicated lives, I can’t really give much more time to fitness than I already do.  So, giving up a little bit of CrossFit time to spend more time running has to happen. It’s a temporary tradeoff in pursuit of a big goal.

One good thing about running is I can do it pretty much anywhere.  Or, it’s at least more flexible than getting to my gym at a certain time. Even still, life is hectic. It takes some creativity to fit it in.

Here’s an example of what that looks like:

In a recent 10-day span I did 4 training runs, 4 wildly different places.

First, Philadelphia.  I flew in late one Friday night, on the way to my family reunion.  Searching online for tracks and trails near my hotel, I saw a posting about the Rocky Steps.  So, I mapped a route along the Schuylkill River to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  4 miles early on a Saturday morning including the Rocky Steps (twice!).  Done. Then, off to the Reading Terminal Market for some local deliciousness.

Next, Spring Lake, NJ.  Gorgeous run on their 2-mile boardwalk (each way, for a total of four miles) just along the Atlantic, first thing in the morning with many other runners.  I looked a little out of place in my Panama City Beach shirt (air conditioned all the way up the back), but why not?  “Beach, Please” came true! Then, off to family time.

Back home later in the week, a five-mile after work slog at a park near my home.  Late afternoon, on a route that usually suits me well but this time it was awful.  I blame the time of day and the heat, but discouraging in spite of the nice lake view.

Finally, a two-mile run after a Saturday morning strength workout at the gym.  Five long hilly laps in the parking lot.  Not the most impressive scenery but the sun gave me a smile as I turned to head down the hill. Had to get it in somehow. Not every run can be beachside.

Four runs, one busy ten-day span. My training weeks will each look different.  It’s an adaptation of my summer vacation workout routines.  Making it work, however I can, whatever is needed, wherever I am.  The train continues to get closer!  I am determined to be as ready as I can be.

giving

Joy multiplies

Summer heat has arrived in Georgia. It’s zinnia season.

Fun fact about me:  I cannot grow anything.  I have been known to kill “maintenance-free” plants.

Everyone else in my family can grow things, though. So we have gardens in our yard sprouting flowers and food much of the year.

Zinnias are some of my favorite flowers. We’ve had small patches of them in the front and back for a while now. This year, without planting or any effort, a huge patch of them sprouted up in our front yard.

When we first got zinnias growing at home, I mainly wanted to watch them in the yard.  I never picked too many. I’d just enjoy them growing there for as long as I could.

After trying that for a while, here’s the cool thing I learned about zinnias:

The more you cut the blooms, the more blooms will grow.

So I try to cut all the new blooms a few times a week. I cut them just above where the stem splits.  These turn into a flood of endless bouquets that spread to friends from life, work, school, family, the gym, and so on.  And the more I cut them, the more blossoms appear and multiply.

It’s like the zinnias know you appreciate them, so they give you more of what you like.

When I think about it, many people are like that.  If you show appreciation for what they offer, they give you more of it. Gratitude matters.

With the zinnias, I also get to see smiles from friends who get a small gift of beauty and knowing they are treasured. Perhaps they, in turn, pass a bit of beauty or kindness along in their own way.

It really does not take much effort to brighten a day.  Joy multiplies and spreads.  Share some of what you have with others. Flowers, treats, even just a simple note can change a mood, an outlook, or make a challenging road more beautiful.

 

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

Working Vacation (or, Making Vacation Work)

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a whirlwind whiplash weekend in Pennsylvania with friends watching our daughters play lacrosse.

I could have completely tossed my diet and exercise habits out the window.  But driving over 10 hours both ways in the course of a few days left my body screaming for exercise and good food.  (Craving those things is a good sign.)

We stayed in a hotel with a gym.  I brought my workout clothes and got up at my usual crack-of-dawn hour. The weather was amazing!  When I went outside, the air was a crisp, cool change from the warm humid mornings in Atlanta.  Then, we just happened to be staying in a complex with some health care buildings.  As I was walking to warm up and get moving, I noticed a trail with some fitness stations along the way.  So, that became my plan.  A little jog and some step ups, incline situps and leg lifts, hanging leg raises, all while jogging station to station. Sweat happened.

Then, I went into the gym and did a quick 21-15-9 of burpees, dumbbell clean and jerks, and sit-ups.  It wasn’t the extreme race or marathon workout that many were doing back home, but it was enough to feel like I had worked my heart and muscles. It felt good.

Of the 3 days away, that was the only true workout I did.  We did some walking at the tournament fields and Hershey Park, but otherwise the two days were rest days.  I worked out all the other days around the trip so it was enough.

The other challenge on the road is eating.

I packed snacks…a few bags of turkey and beef jerky, protein water, chunks of grilled chicken, protein chips, and some random protein bars.  I ate some but not all. I also drank lots of water and sparkling water.

For the most part, I just tried to focus on protein and keep other things to a minimum. Examples:

For quick breakfast on the road I had a Chick-fil-a breakfast bowl with chicken and no hashbrowns.  I ate a 2 good yogurt for snack.  The chicken chunks came in handy on a long stretch of road with few options beside gas station food.

Eating out in Harrisburg, PA, at a local tapas spot – Kale and beet salad, Brussel sprouts with bacon, a small slice of pizza, charcuterie board with meat, cheese, pickles, flatbread, mustard.  Probably over on fat and salt but I could have done worse and it was delicious. Not enough protein but options were limited.

For hotel breakfast (twice): Eggs, spinach, cheese, salsa, light and fit yogurt, coffee with milk. For me, when I’m basically eyeballing things, not really planning eating, and going with my gut, I try to start the day with as much protein as possible and just keep going from there.

It’s not necessarily easy…the options I skipped were many: waffles, Froot Loops and other cereals, bagels, bread, crumb cake, juices, granola, muffins, peanut butter, etc.  None of these seemed worth it and the eggs looked decent.  (I would definitely eat crumb cake, for example, if it was from a bakery.  I look forward to bakery crumb cake at the Jersey Shore later this summer!)

It’s not always a simple win.  The amusement parks we went to the last two weekends were especially challenging for both cost and food quality reasons.  At Hershey Park, after long searching, I settled for a few chicken tenders (more bread than chicken) and a few fries.  Thankfully this was late in the day after decent eating before we got to the park.

An afternoon at Kings Dominion was more challenging.  I could almost stomach the idea of eating Panda Express, but the $15.00 price tag was a deal breaker (and for just one entree!)  I held out until we left, late afternoon, and quickly scarfed down my turkey jerky, protein water, some fresh cherry tomatoes, and Quest protein chips when I got to the car.  Sounds crazy to many, but it works for me.  I felt satisfied and not weighed down.  I was grateful I had packed a few things to have on hand.

And when it was worth it, I did treat myself across the two weekends.  I had top-notch street tacos (although I did skip all but one bite of tortilla since they were not special), I had a great meal with meats, cheeses, an amazingly fluffy buttered roll, and cucumber salad at a German restaurant called Fest, and I had a scoop of homemade strawberry swirl ice cream topped with toasted fluff (the specialty of the house) at Charm School Social Club.  Totally worth it.  And four days later, I’m not mad at myself or the scale. So I’m learning it is possible to keep it sane on the road, get some sweat in, feel good, and indulge when I really want to.  Let’s see how I do on my next journey…

 

 

family

For Dad

 

We sat in the parking lot in Virginia, 7:45 am last Sunday.

“My dad would be so proud of me,” I told the teens in the back seat. “I found the 24/7 taco place.” Street tacos with cilantro and onion on corn tortillas. Authentic. Just like the tacos he took me to eat at one of the first real taquerias in Atlanta over 30 years ago.  “Yelp says it’s a Richmond institution.”

Now, I can’t say I am truly just like him. He’d have ordered the tripe or tongue tacos or other more exotic meats. I’m a carne asada and al pastor girl. He would have gone crazy on the hot-hotter-hottest salsa bar. I chose the only one that said mild.

Dad, who loved to talk about how he didn’t even eat a taco until he was 25. He spent the rest of his life making up for lost time.

Then, after cheering for my daughter and her teammates at a lacrosse tournament, those teen girls and I drove a bit north to Kings Dominion.

Even with his broken body, my dad loved a great roller coaster. He could tell you the history and all kinds of fun facts about any coaster in the country, not to mention the first time he rode it. We even belonged to American Coaster Enthusiasts growing up. So spending Father’s Day at Kings Dominion was a fitting way to honor him. He also loved carousels, band organs, all things carnival and amusement. I don’t ride every roller coaster but I hope I’m getting better at embodying his sense of adventure.

What’s funny is I didn’t start out this Father’s Day thinking “what would my dad do today?” I didn’t set out to make the day a tribute to him.

It was after I stood back and reflected that I saw that some of the ways I do life and travel naturally reflect what he taught me by example.

Cheer for your kids. Be interested in what they like and want to do. Nurture those interests.

Eat at little, out of the way places. Take the scenic route sometimes. Try the local specialty. Support small, family businesses.

Be curious. Ask questions. Listen to the answers.  Ask more questions. Keep learning.

Ride roller coasters and merry-go-rounds. Embrace life’s ups and downs and even the rough, bumpy spots.  Delight in the unexpected. Enjoy the ride.

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