Thursday, July 31, 2008


That's the sound of me screaming through clenched teeth because I didn't read ahead to this week's Take it and Run Thursday until last night. One day AFTER I posted on this week's theme!

Oh, deflation.

Yeah, the theme for this week is Look Back, Look Ahead -- a mid-year running goals progress check. And I, like a dork, wrote about this on Tuesday. Those of you who haven't already read the post can go find it here. Feel free to check it out and then come back and I will entertain you with New and Exciting Additional Goals!

Go ahead.

I'll be here when you get back.

Just waiting.

No rush; read at your own leisurely pace.

We'll all just hang out here, waiting for you to re --

Great! You're back. OK . . . let's move on . . .

So, in addition to what I outlined in my other post, I have some new goals. They are:

1) To run more.

To do this, I will --
A) Attempt to run in the morning. It will be tough considering I am really not a morning person at all. I will be successful if, by the end of the year, I am consistently running one morning a week.
B) Start adding long runs to my routine. I can handle this. I will be successful if, by the end of the year, I am consistently running one 6+ mile run each week.

(This next one is cheating a bit, since I'm half-way through it.)

2) To complete the 100 push ups challenge.

To do this, I will follow the remainder of the 6 week program. It will be successful if, by the end of the program, I can complete 100 consecutive push ups.

Manageable goals, both of them. I think I should be able to achieve them, along with my others (to run consistently (done!), complete three races (almost done) and to run a sub-24 minute 5K (very close)). One thing that will help me along the way is to continue reading the great running blogs out there for motivation!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Goal check.

I've been inspired by some other bloggers to review my running goals for this year. Since those goals are not too lofty, this should be quick.

But first, a little background.

After giving birth last June and having not run for my entire pregnancy, 2007 was a fairly inconsistent running year. I started running again at the end of July and I ran when I could. Which, with a newborn, was not as often as I would have liked, but I made it work. I ran one race (it was great!) and that gave me renewed energy for running.

And then we sold our house, bought a new one, moved, and winter set in. So -- with all that going on, my running again was inconsistent.

My running goals for 2008 were simple: To run consistently and to run in three races.

How am I doing? Well, I've been running consistently since mid-March and I have run in and completed two 5Ks. I have two more races on my schedule, so I think I'll meet my goals.

As the year has gone on and I've seen how my running has been progressing, I did set a new goal for myself: To run a sub-24 minute 5K. I'm so close! I finished my last two races in 24:16 and 24:15 -- so I know I can do it, I just have to put in the extra work to get there.

Once that is checked off the list, I'll have to set some new goals. I'm looking at a favorite 15k in October . . . could be the new goal.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


As I was running up the big hill in my neighborhood this morning, a woman was walking down. I've seen her before; we've chatted. Today, as we passed each other, she said to me, "You're doing amazing. This hill is so long and steep. Keep it up!"

I hadn't been feeling all that amazing, honestly. But I squeaked out a breathless, "Thanks!" and continued running, now with renewed energy.

See, her little comment gave me a big boost. In fact, it helped motivate me to add an extra mile to my route. As I was running, I thought about how important things like that are. The woman's few words had a real impact on me; they buoyed my spirit, thus, improving my run.

So, the moral of my story is this: If you see a runner out there doing her thing, give her a wave. Cheer her on. While you're at it, say, "Hi," to the walkers and the folks out trimming their hedges, mowing their lawns or pruning their shrubs. You never know, you might end up buoying their spirits -- and your own!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend --

Friday, July 25, 2008

Half way.

On my second attempt, I finished Week 3 of the push up challenge and I'm moving on to Week 4 starting on Monday. That means two things: 1) I completed 106* push ups this morning and 2) I am half way through the program. Three more weeks and I should be able to do 100 consecutive push ups.


We'll see.

Those of you participating in the challenge: How's it going? Have you had to repeat weeks like I have (both Week 2 and Week 3)? Or has it been all easy-peasy for you?

Have a great weekend!

*No, not in a row. With 2 minutes of rest in between the sets of: 25/19/19/17/26.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tough tips.

This week at Runners' Lounge, the theme for Take it and Run Thursday is Overcoming the Tough Stuff.

With running, if you really want to get better (whether that means running longer, faster, injury-free, whatever) then you have to tackle the tough stuff. You have to push yourself on long runs, suck it up and add some speed drills, or make time for non-running, injury-prevention exercises. For me, the tough stuff is speed. I like to run my runs and don't like to think of them as workouts, which makes speed drills just not my thing. But, in order to become faster, I have to do them.

So, along the way, I've learned some lessons and picked up some tips to make the speed work palatable. Maybe some of these tips will work for you, as you take on your own tough stuff:

Be sure you have a strong foundation
. Running makes me happy (thus, the name of my blog!). To me, this is the foundation of my running. When I'm trying to conquer something that's hard -- like speed workouts or cold-weather runs -- I remember that I love to run. It makes me happy. That foundation makes the tough stuff a little easier.

Focus on form. So important. You don't want to struggle through long runs with a nagging injury because you didn't pay attention to your running form. It can be easy to forget about form when you're concentrating on your hard workout -- whether it is a long marathon-prep run or killer hill repeats. I say, do yourself a favor and watch your form. Your body will thank you!

Contrast what you are doing with something harder. I had ass-whupping contractions for 18 hours when I was in labor with my son. I think I can handle holding a fast pace for 24 minutes.

Don't belittle what you are doing. Understand that there will always be runners who run faster than you, or log more miles. Don't worry about them -- and don't compare yourself to them. If long runs are tough for you, don't make them harder by saying, "I'm only running 8 miles, I'm a wimp, it's not like I'm running 5 minute miles for 20 miles like Deena Kastor." What is tough for you is tough, for you. And that is fair. Don't beat yourself up by thinking that your tough stuff isn't worthy. It is.

And that's it, folks. The things that work for me. Now, if you see me in my next 5k, running hard but looking spent, feel free to shout out, "Remember: You can run fast for 24 minutes -- it's nothing compared to 18 hours of labor!" And you'll be right.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feeling a little better.

It was fitting that I set out for my run this evening in the rain. The weather mirrored my state of mind: sad and drizzly.

I ran a little faster than usual, taking advantage of the cooler temperature. A mile in, the rain subsided and the wind picked up. It was a gushy wind and I was running right into it. I was thinking about Mo: how much I will miss him, how completely sucky it was to have to decide to end his life. I had to run harder to keep from crying. Nothing will stop a run quicker than a crying jag!

I outran the tears and by the time I was heading home, there was little wind and I was running in the sun. It was pretty wonderful -- seeing the sun after the rain, realizing that my run really did make me feel better.

As I reported here, I'm adding some speed into my runs in an effort to reach my goal of running a sub-24 minute 5k. So, at the end of my run today, I tacked on a few speedy hill repeats. They weren't so bad!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Sad Runner.

My cat died today. If you have any interest, I wrote about the ups and downs (he had chronic renal failure) on my other blog. So, I won't rehash it here.

Ugh. It has me all down in the dumps.

I've decided to repeat Week 3 of the push up challenge, in an effort to go easy on myself this week. My runs will be what they will be. Maybe long, maybe short. Maybe fast, maybe slow. I'll just have to see how I feel.

Damn. I feel sad about my little Mo!

Friday, July 18, 2008


I've been searching for a new race to add to my schedule, since I have nothing on it between now and the Race for the Cure in October. As I started to look around, I decided I'd really like to find a race that I've never run before. I think I found just that in the Run for the Roses 5K.

So, it's on the schedule: August 10th. My goal will be to break 24 minutes (which, if you'll remember, was my goal for my last race). There are a few things that I need to do to make that happen, the most important of which is to add some speed workouts to my regular routine. Pretty obvious, right? I know. It's just that I like my runs as they are and I don't usually think of them as workouts. But, I also really want to finish a 5K in under 24 minutes. Conflicts, conflicts . . .

I'll add in some speed. It won't kill me. In fact, it will make me better, I'm sure.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Here's a recipe for you.

It's Thursday, which means I'm posting my Runners Lounge Take it and Run Thursday submission. Today's theme is Gimme Food!

So, herewith, I shall share a favorite recipe. Not a pre-run snack or a post-race meal. Just an every day snack. A healthy treat, you could say.

Sun-dried Tomato Dip*

1/3c. Sun-dried tomatoes
1 package Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese) softened
3/4c. non-fat yogurt
1/4c. mayonnaise
3 scallions
Kosher salt, hot sauce, pepper -- to taste

Put all ingredients, except for the scallions, in a food processor and puree. Add scallions and pulse two or three times until well mixed. Serve with carrot sticks, celery, pepper sticks and multi-grain melba toasts.

YUMMY -- and low-fat!

*Based on the dip of the same name from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook -- I've altered it to make it low-fat.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where's my A stuff?

Runners, as CoffeeBetsy so aptly put it, go running anyway. Meaning, even under less than ideal circumstances.

Like this evening, for example. It was H. O. T. today, still very much so when I wanted to head out for a run around 5:45. So, I went to Plan B and made dinner early and went for a run as Owen was putting Conal to bed at 7:45.

It kinda sucked. I felt all squoogy and just off. I slowed down, pulled back to a mere jog and decided that tonight's run would be more about just getting out there. The neighborhood was peaceful and I felt peaceful jogging at my slower pace.

And then something happened. As I was listening to the crickets, the birds and the frogs, I started to feel good. Then, great. I was feeling great! So great, in fact, that I picked up the pace. Still great. I picked it up a little more -- great. I sped up the hill in one of the cul-de-sacs and as I crested it, I still felt great.

I kept up the pace through the flat stretch and then pushed it up the next hill. I passed a woman walking with hand weights and we exchanged pleasantries. I had fleet feet and I sprinted down the other side of the hill, landing lightly, and ran strong over the rest of the route.

As I finished my run, I thought of this: Sometimes you go out there and you just don't have your A stuff. You might even be working with only a solid C. But you go out there anyway and, before you know it, you've got B stuff and a few minutes later, there you are. Enjoying an A+ run. You found your A stuff along the way.

Friends, this run was awesome.

And now, for a push up challenge update . . .

Today started with 22. Then 17/17/15/20 for a total of 91 push ups. 91! Holy crow...

Monday, July 14, 2008

It pays to share.

I shared a tip on Runners Lounge a few weeks ago. Nothing big, just a simple little tip that has made my running life better. For doing so, I was entered in a drawing for a give-away that the site was hosting. As luck would have it, I won!

The Drymax® Thin Mesh Mini Crew Socks were mine and I am better for having them to run in. I've worn them on a few recent runs and they are pretty awesome, I must say. I've been a Thorlo gal for a while and I thought I really liked those socks, but these Drymax do what they say they will: They keep your sweaty feet dry! They also fit well and they didn't bunch up or wrinkle at all during my runs. They are my new favorite socks. Thanks, Amy!

Push Up Update: Week 3 May Kill Me

I started Week 3 of the 100 Push Up Challenge today. As in, sets of: 20/15/15/13/20, for a total of 83 push ups this morning. I did them all. However . . . this week may be the end of me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tips. Really great tips.

A few days ago, I posted a question over at Marathon Mommies. If you recall, I ran a 5K in June after which my reward was a big, honking migraine. Since then, I've been a little nervous every time I've gone for a run in hot weather. I don't want to go through the pain again.

So, I asked the marathon mommies for advice. They gave me some great tips, many of which were so simple and yet so wise:

  • Hydrate. Well, yeah. It is so basic, I know. But, I'm not the best hydrator. Hydrater? Not sure. Anyway, I know I need to drink more water (in fact, I made it a post-vacation goal). I've always felt like I drink enough before races but maybe I don't. I know one thing: I am going to drink more!
  • Wear sunglasses. Wow. I guess squinting in the sun for 3.1 miles isn't the best thing for someone prone to migraines, huh? I'm now running with sunglasses and it is a different experience. I feel less stress in the head -- why didn't this occur to me, oh say, 10 years ago?
  • Stretch the neck and shoulder area. Another thing I'm not great about doing. I probably tense up in that area and will now make a conscious effort not to.
Now that I've incorporated these tips into my routine, I'll be able to run with more confidence on those hot, humid days (which, it seems, are every day recently). I thank the marathon mommies for that!

Other ideas are welcome, too. Do you have any advice to ward off post-race (or other hard exercise) headaches? If so, please drop a comment and share.

And if anyone has any good suggestions for how to keep sunglasses from fogging up during a run, I'd love to hear them! This fogginess is bad...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oh, running. Why must you hurt us so?*

Do you not feel our love? Do you not realize that when we tack on those extra miles -- even though we know, deep-down, that we have gone far enough already -- we do so out of love? Out of a desire to keep the good feelings going?

Do you not see that running too fast, too hard, too often is just our way of showing how much we care? How into you we are?

No? You think that if we really loved you we would approach you with restraint, huh? You think we'd run within ourselves, conservatively increasing our miles by 10% a week, building up to races rather than running them weekend after weekend, and interspersing easy runs with the hard, short runs with the long.

I don't know. That sounds so . . . restrained. Doesn't leave much room to show the love.

OK, fine. You think that sometimes we love you too much. Well, maybe we do. But, man. It's just love. And the way you've been known to repay us for this love? It's pretty harsh. Injuries. Insomnia. Fatigue. Never-ending colds. General malaise.

And what happens then, huh? We end up having to take a break from you for days, if we're lucky, weeks or months, if we're not. And let me tell you, that just sucks.

So what's runner to do when all she wants to do is run? When she wants to make sure that her love of running won't interfere with her ability to do it?

I guess a runner follows these guidelines of restraint:

  • Train like an elite marathoner. More specifically, get enough rest. Whenever Deena Kastor talks about her training, she mentions that getting adequate rest is a critical component. In this article, she talks a little about how she sleeps 10-14 hours a day and takes a nap every day. Rest. Yeah, it's important.
  • Balance mileage increases with decreases. I've found that I can't increase my mileage by only 10% a week. Sometimes I have to run more. So, I try to balance a week of higher mileage by pulling back a little the next.
  • If you think you might have the start of an overuse injury, take a day or two of rest. Catch an injury early and you'll most likely be sidelined for less time.
  • Focus on one increase a week. Don't tack on lots of miles to your long Sunday run and complete a tougher than usual speedwork session and go long for your midweek tempo run and run hill repeats all in the same week. Really. Not a good idea.
  • Find something else to do. There are days when you'll want to just get out there and run even though you know that you should rest. On those days, if you must exercise do something other than run. Like what? Well, I'm a runner. I don't do much else so I don't have a lot of suggestions for what has worked first-hand. Maybe go for a walk? Take the 100 push-up challenge? Try yoga? Think about it. You'll find something.
But don't, whatever you do, stop showing the love. You love running, I know you do. You wouldn't be tempted to overtrain if you didn't. But show the love in a more -- dare I say -- restrained way. Do it and running will keep on loving you back.

*This post is part of Runners Lounge Take it and Run Thursday. The topic? Overtraining -- Just say no!

Do not be afraid.

When I first moved to this neighborhood, I thought there was no way I'd be able to run up all the hills. They are long. And some are steep. And there are many of them. And I was used to running of flat city streets. Not hills.

Then I laced on my sneaks and headed out for a run. I gave it a shot. Sure, it was tough and the hills conspired against me. But, what else was I going to do? Drive to a more ideal (read: flatter) place to run? No way. I'm a head out the door and go for a run type of gal.

So, the first run was tough. The second one was probably tough, too. But then I became tough. I became the runner running up those hills, showing them that they can conspire against me no more!

Now, I love my hills. I consider myself a hill runner. Bring it on, I say.

I tell you this, why? Because that is what running can do for you. It can make you stronger and more equipped to overcome challenges -- faced while running or not. If you stand at the bottom of long, seemingly never ending hill and say, "I'm running to the top of this thing," and then you do it, well, you can pretty much feel confident that you can take that strength and apply it to all other areas of your life.

So, don't be afraid of the hills. Run strong: Maybe that means running slowly, or speeding up to get it over with quickly. Maybe it even means taking a break along the way. Whatever it means, just take on those hills and feel proud when you get to the top.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Do-over Day

This do-over thing was the right idea.

Today, I completed Week 2, Day 1 of the push-up challenge. It was a total breeze! I couldn't believe it. The schedule called for five sets of push ups, with 60 seconds of rest in between sets. The sets went like this: 12, 12, 9, 7, max (at least 10). I cranked out 15 for my max and felt pretty psyched about that! I think I'm getting better at these push ups and I believe that doing Week 2 over again will help me in the long run.

So, having learned that do-overs are good things, I'm hoping to take a do-over on eating. Let's just say that my diet while on vacation was a little less than stellar. We're talking Doritos, M&Ms, Cheetos, ice cream, burgers . . . it goes on and on. But, you know, it was vacation and that's a time to let loose.

Now, though, I'm all over the healthy eating and, in fact, I'm looking for new ways to healthify (so what if it's not a word???) my diet. I found this interesting article, which made me pleased that I eat blueberries and cinnamon and reminded me to get that Asian cabbage salad recipe from Bridget. It's also prompting me to bring back the beets. I love them. Why haven't I been eating them? Dunno -- but I think I will start again!

My first step in refining my diet is to drink more water. I will hydrate! I will!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Can I have a do-over?

I need one for the push up challenge. While on vacation this week, I just didn't make the time for push ups. So, I'd like to take a do-over on Week 2 and start fresh on Monday. Thank you.

As for running, however, I definitely made time. I ran four times while away and it was terrific! I had mapped out a few routes before heading down to the shore and I found that doing so really helped to make sure I went out for my runs and enjoyed them. I varied the routes a little after I found out that Avalon (where we were staying) had a little boardwalk along the beach that was perfect for running.

Running gave me some much needed time alone while staying in a beach house with 16 (count 'em!) other people and it was a neat way to see more of the town.

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