Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Commercialism at its Best/Worst?

Last year I shared some of my favorite Christmas commercials of the season and the big winner was the Old Navy spots featuring one of my favorite families - The Griswolds. They were clever and fun and I truly enjoyed them!

I have to say that this year I haven't seen any commercials that really hit the spot. There are a couple sort of cute this Chevy ad about the Jolly...Ogre.

And then there's the poor Honda guy who has really been tested this year on how helpful he really is.

My husband has taken to walking around the house saying "We may have to twist this one". hahaha And I have to say I love how the penguin kicks the fish back in. Makes me giggle every time.

Finally there's this one that I have to say is one of the worst of the year, but oh goodness how it makes me giggle-snort like a school kid at the same time. It's truly horrible if you really stop to think about it too much.

I would definitely hate to be the guy with the little ding-a-ling at the end. I'm just sayin'...haha

So there you have it - some of the best or worst; your call!

What are your favorite holiday commercials this year?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Running on Fudge?

So I feel like I should be sheepishly crawling in with my tail between my legs because I absolutely cannot believe that the last time I even looked at my blog was before Thanksgiving and here we are less than two weeks to Christmas. Yikes. That's just embarrassing. (Side note - embarrassing is a word that I can NEVER spell right so thank you spell check for ensuring that I do get it right after I utilize the lovely right click to select the proper spelling...don't know what I'd do without it - and I'm usually a pretty good speller, just not with that word).

The good news for Thanksgiving? I didn't overeat a single time and I actually lost three pounds over the holiday! Awesome right???

The bad news for Thanksgiving? I was sick with the stomach flu and it was a real doozy. I think it took me about 5 days of feeling like total crud to even feel halfway normal again and food was absolutely disgusting to me for about a week. But no worries, I've apparently recovered! haha

I had committed to participating in the Runner's World Holiday Streak by running at least one mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Years. I got my run in on Thanksgiving morning to kick it off - it was a really hard couple of miles. I wasn't feeling well, had been sick purging the night before, and midway through my little granddaughter, Angelique, came in and insisted on being picked up, so while I was holding her the safety strap got pulled so any information about time and distance was lost. I tried to resume running at that point but was pretty much done (mentally!) and said forget it. So it was something in the 2 mile range. And that was both the beginning and the end of my RW Holiday Run Streak. It was spectacular, let me tell ya! I didn't run again that weekend...but I did get out and do some shopping!

The good thing with the stomach flu I had was that I was able to manage and wasn't completely bed-ridden...and it didn't stop me from hitting the stores on Thursday night and Friday morning. We ended up timing everything just right too because we didn't have to wait in a single line to gain entrance into a store...the only lines we waited in were to check out! We even scored free donuts at Bed, Bath & Beyond along with a fairly empty store so we could browse for a really long time without any problems. AND we had both of the babies with us (Joshua, 3 and Angelique 2) and they behaved relatively well. I got a good portion of my holiday shopping done including a few things for myself (tights, gloves and a t-shirt); and the bonus is that I didn't puke on anybody in the process! YAY!! Another successful Grey Thursday/Black Friday shopping experience. Will that one be my last? Never say never.

Following the weekend and a return to feeling somewhat better I definitely resumed my half marathon training. I'm actually down to only one month until that race! How did that happen??? Training is going great and I completed 9 miles this past weekend; 5 outside with my Mom and then the last 4 on the treadmill.

The bad part is that once I started feeling better, my appetite resumed and the holiday treats have been coming in...I would love to say that I've been behaving especially seeing how I swear all the time that TODAY I am going to do better with my eating...but instead I've decided to fuel my runs with fudge considering I ate all of what was given to me ---- by MYSELF. It never even made it home because I managed to eat it all within two days. Oy Vey!

I have the Holiday 5k this coming Saturday and my plan for it is to simply have a good time. I'm not going to put a time goal on it as it isn't a goal race or anything - I'm just going to run it for fun and enjoy all the festivities around it. I have to say that as far as race communication goes, this has been one of the BEST races ever. I have been getting regular email communications over the past several weeks that are just chock full 'o good info. So if their communication is any indication of the organization on race day, then I am in for a real treat! I'll tell you how it goes next week...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Half-Marathon Halfway Point

So this week I began Week 9 of my Half-Marathon training plan so that means that I am officially HALFWAY there!! I figured that now is probably a good time to give a little update...

I began training for my half marathon that will be taking place on January 11, 2014 way back on September know, back when it was still summer-like conditions unlike the very fall to winter conditions that we are experiencing now? That first week called for 14 miles total with the long run on the weekend at a whopping 5 miles! But considering that I was going into training after coming back from injury that took me all the way back to re-doing Couch to 5k, doing 5 miles for a training run was pretty awesome.

Since that time I believe I have done just about every single running workout that was planned! I do know right off the top that I missed that one for Depeche Mode (but it was so totally worth it!). I might have also had to shorten miles a time or two, but no more than a little teeny bit, due to time constraints; and I might have shifted workouts around a couple times, but all in all I've hit my targets!

I still have a long ways to go though and these next 7 1/2 weeks are going to be the ones that test me as the long runs are just going to keep getting longer. But that's what it is about right? If I don't do progressively longer runs then I won't exactly be ready for 13.1 in just 7.5 short weeks!

As I've been going through this training cycle I do realize that I absolutely love training. I think it's just the racing that I don't love so much. Is that weird or normal??? I know that part of it is because when you are training, you are running at a smaller percentage of max effort; whereas, when you race you are pushing pretty hard. So then I realize, is my problem with the pushing hard part? Why yes, I do believe it is!! Nobody likes to be outside of their comfort zone, me included.

So these next 7 weeks I am really going to try to be mindful about pushing my limits, yet continuing to listen to my body. I am going to really focus on my eating (yes, I do realize that I sound like a broken record that actually doesn't follow through!) because I am in the home stretch and now is not the time to lose sight of my goal.

I was reading the most recent Runner's World issue during my lunch break today and there was an essay by Dr. George Sheehan and something within it really struck me:

"It is from lack of enthusiasm that the failures of the spirit multiply during the day. When we are enthusiastic, we develop a determination to equal the endurance of our muscles, a fortitude to match the courage of our hearts, and a passion to join with the animal strengths of our bodies." ~Dr. George Sheehan

I am enthusiastically looking forward to the next 7.5 weeks of training. Let's hope that I develop a determination to equal the endurance of my muscles!! I think I'm going to seriously need it. ;-)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black Friday, er, Thursday?

black friday logo Black Fridays DLS (Dirty Little Secrets)
Let me set the stage for you first...Go back in time several years - you can choose 10, or 15, or even 5 but just don't go back in time to a single year ago, or even just two years ago. You've got to go further back than that...Okay, you there? Good!

First thing Thanksgiving morning I gather up all the quarters I can find (because I never remember how much an actual newspaper costs anymore) and head over to the Farmer Boys across the street to raid the paper vending machine and buy the one newspaper I look forward to every single year - the Black Friday Ads edition! Sure that's not what the actual content of the newspaper is all about, but that's all I care about it for. Then I rush home and reverently open the paper and start going through the ads one by one. Inevitably someone else will walk in and try to grab an ad to look at, and if they're lucky they only get the evilest eye you've ever seen; if they aren't lucky, they just might get their hand slapped. Once I finish the entire set of ads, I usually start combing through them again and by now I let everyone else take a look too so we can start to plan our attack. The favorite ads become dog-eared and worn and the rest are politely discarded off to the side. The favorites usually include Target, JC Penney, Sears, Michaels, and more. The ones that are usually tossed to the side are home improvement and electronics.

Throughout the day on Thanksgiving the ads will be looked at again with each new person that comes into the house.

Finally, it's Thanksgiving evening and all the dishes have been washed, the leftovers are put away and everyone has their pants unbuttoned so they could fit in just one, or ten, more bites of pie. We begin to say
goodnight knowing that we are going off to dreamland with the plans for the next day all laid out and ready to go.

The alarm goes off at a ridiculously early time when most people wouldn't even dream of being awake and I sluggishly come alive knowing that I ate way too much food the night before, but am excited and ready to start my day! After tip-toeing through the bedroom and getting ready in the dark, I bundle up and head through the house waking up the kids that requested to head out with us...and hmmm...that probably usually falls along gender lines with the girls opting in and the boys choosing to sleep. Go figure. Then we grab some coffee and put on our gloves and head out the door gathering friends and family along the way. You get to the store (usually Target for us) and excitedly chat with others in the line remembering the years that you had newborn babies bundled up or the time you brought a deck of cards and played Gin Rummy while waiting. You remember the years when stores had freebies to entice you in and you remember that one really, really cold year that Target employees brought hot cocoa out to the people standing in line. You remember running into friends and coworkers - all of you looking a little drowsy, but yet still festive and bright somehow. The clock begins to tick down and you go over the game plan one more time. Then the store opens and the madness is released! You get that rush of adrenaline and you all head off to the different directions of the store to get your "assigned items" according to The Game Plan.

After spending several hours out pushing through crowds, making holiday purchases, and getting punchy from turkey hangover and lack of sleep you stumble back home to the family all snuggled up and haul in your bags to hide before everyone wakes up. Some years you get home late enough that the family is already awake and then you have to shoo them all out of the way so you can sneak in the bags and securely stuff them away in their hiding spot. And by the time many people are just barely waking up, you're already sitting by the fire marveling at your accomplishments! ~END~

To say that Black Friday has been a big tradition in our family for a long time is an understatement! We began Black Friday shopping out of necessity when my boys were younger and if I remember right the first year was for the Pokemon games. Yeah, I had two boys that really, really, really wanted those games!! And they were a hot item so I knew if I wanted them I was going to have to get out there early. So me, my mom and my sister all agreed to stand in line together to accomplish that goal. Target was so highly organized they came out and handed out tickets (I think) for these games specifically because they were such high demand. And thus, the tradition was born! We actually had a ton of FUN as weird as that is to some folks. And we went year after year after year until it was firmly entrenched in our family lexicon.

But the stores are completely taking that tradition away from me!!! It just breaks my heart to see something that I began when I had  girls in preschool coming to an end when I have enjoyed bringing both of my girls AND both of my daughters-in-law into over the years. The last two years we went to Walmart when it opened on Thanksgiving night and it was absolutely dreadful. Last year we went to Target when it opened at 8:00 PM and then returned out to hit Penney's when it opened at 4:00 AM. But this year I am completely frustrated by the entire thing because what was awesome about Black Friday shopping was the waking up the next morning and sneaking out of the house while everyone slept! It was like you were truly playing Santa Claus and sneaking around while visions of turkey legs and pumpkin pie danced in their heads.

Now the stores would have me eat dinner at 2:00 PM so I could hurry up and sit in line at my favorite store waiting for the doors to open at 8:00! But the problem is that because of work schedules we aren't even going to be eating turkey until about 5:00 PM or later, so what's a Black Friday Family to do????

I read this article the other day that shed some light on the Black Friday turning into Cash-Till Thursday and the fact that stores opening earlier and earlier is because they can't afford NOT to.

I get it, I really do; stores need to make a profit to survive. But do they have to suck all the fun, tradition, and family time out of it at the same time? Does a few hours really make a difference if they all agree to open on Friday instead of Thursday???

At any rate, I fear that this tradition we have had for the past 15 years (I'm guessing, but it's got to be close to that!) is going to come to an end, if not this year than very soon. Someday we will all reminisce in our old age about when we used to go Black Friday shopping, but the younger generation will all look at us with clueless stares because they won't even know what Black Friday is because the holiday shopping season begins the day after Halloween and that's not always a Friday.

Funny Clorox Bleach It Away Ecard: Let's spend Thanksgiving spilling food on our clothes, and Black Friday buying new ones.

I'm going to miss it, but at the same time this opens the door to make new traditions! Perhaps the Friday after Thanksgiving will be Hike Friday, or Movie Friday, or Craft Friday. Personally, in the long run, I think that stores are going to do more to hurt themselves, then help because the thing is that a majority of my Black Friday purchases were usually for ME...and not even for Christmas! I would buy my tights for the year, any household goods like Rubbermaid storage or Keurigs, work clothes, etc.

But if I'm not out at the stores, I won't be buying those things anymore because it's amazing what kind of impulse purchases you make when you have a turkey hangover!

I'm still not sure what I'm going to do this year, but whatever it is you can bet that my Thanksgiving evening will NOT be spent at Walmart pretending I'm a participant in The Hunger Games.

How about you - Black Friday; yea or nay??

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Runner's Wish List

Since I became a runner back in 2009 it is inevitable that every celebration that is accompanied by presents includes a wish list primarily populated by running-type items. Inevitable!

And this year it is no different. In light of the fact that we are just barely over one month away from Christmas and there are lots of items on my running wish list, I wanted to know, just in case anyone is listening (cough, husband/kids/friends, cough, cough). So in no particular order (well, except for the first item because I really, really, really want it!) here they are:

1. Garmin Forerunner 220

I currently have the Garmin Forerunner 305 and it has been my faithful and loyal companion for the past 3.5 years and it is still going strong. So why do I want a new one? Well, because the latest and greatest from Garmin is way too awesome to pass up!!! A couple of the features that just make me drool are: Calorie burn based on actual effort; built-in accelerometer that tracks distance and pace indoors so I can use it on my treadmill; color display; and all of the same features that I have come to love on my 305 like customized workouts, Garmin Connect, and so much more. At $299 this is definitely not a bargain gift though...

2. Nathan Speed 4R Hydration Pack
I have done a lot of experimenting with hydration packs while out on the run. The reality is that I like to carry something with me because I don't like being thirsty and having to wait for an aid station. I want to be able to drink what I want, when I want. I started off with a Fuel Belt and it worked pretty well, but it was an older hand-me-down version that I got from someone else so it still had the elastic holsters which I found easy to remove the flask from, but putting back was very difficult. I then experimented with a hand-held but didn't particularly like it. From there I got a Camelbak and even though I liked it the most, what I didn't like was the tube bouncing. I tried various clipping methods but none that was just...well, perfect. I am now back to a handheld by Nathan and I like it, but it can only carry one type of liquid so I'm either getting water or something else, but not both. When (if) I get to training for a full marathon I am going to want to carry water, sports drink, AND watered-down energy gels (I have read that many folks will squeeze the packets in then add water to make them easier to drink...and I am definitely down for giving that a try as I do find the thicker consistency of my beloved GU Chocolate Outrage hard to ingest on the run). So I think the above just might be the perfect hydration companion!

3. Pro Compression Calf Sleeves

I have some compression socks and I love them, but I would like to get sleeves so they can more easily be worn with the socks I want during races or with the shoes I want during recovery.

4. Injinji Toe Socks

Speaking of sister has been a wearer for several years and I finally decided to check them out this year and I can see why she likes them so much! Having the independent toes allows for a more natural foot response since my toes can move independent of each other and they are supposed to cut down on blisters for the same reason.

5. Run Pretty Far Tee

I have been a longtime fan of Run Pretty Far for many reasons including the fact that it is a small independently owned company started up by a pretty phenomenal lady because she wanted technical clothes that were also pretty. I recognize that there are other companies that also strive for the same thing, Oiselle and Lululemon are two that come to mind right off the bat, but what sets Run Pretty Far way above those is that they aren't just pretty, they are AFFORDABLE too. You get high quality gear that you look great in too. It doesn't hurt that Jennifer Hughes, the owner/creator, also happens to write amazing blog posts about her running adventures, but she is a crazy inspiration too as she completes ultras and regularly "eats mountains for breakfast" (one of her shirt slogans). If you want to support a woman runner that is working for all the right reasons, support Run Pretty Far and buy something. (No I'm not paid for these statements...I just completely and totally believe in Jenn and her RPF vision). FYI...the back of that shirt pictured above says in a nice pretty script "Just Run".

6. Fire on the Track DVD
For anybody that runs you can't escape the name "Steve Prefontaine". He is a track legend and because he lost his life way too early we will never know exactly what he was truly capable of. I recently got to travel to Eugene Oregon for my cousin's wedding and running on Pre's Trail was a definite highlight of my trip. Just visiting the same hallowed grounds that he ran makes me want to learn more and more about who he was in running and in his life. This is just one of the several documentaries about him and I would like to watch it before I watch either of the movie versions of his life (I lean more towards the Jared Leto pic because I just love Jared Leto! haha). Some say that this is the BEST documentary about Pre.

So there you have it - my (short?) list of items that are on my runner's wish list for the holidays. And if any of the companies of the products up above want to generously provide them to me in return for a review, well, I suppose that would be okay. ;-) hehe If you wish to send me any of these items because you just love me so, I'm happy to provide you with a mailing address.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Race Recap - Riverside Mission Inn 10k

This past Sunday I participated in the 36th Annual Riverside Mission Inn Run in Riverside, CA. This run includes a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and 1/2k and 1k kids races all benefiting the Mission Inn Foundation and Museum. This was the second time I have participated in one of the Mission Inn Run's; the previous time was for my first half marathon back in 2010. This year I opted for the 10k.

The Mission Inn Run is what I consider a "local" race as it is about 45 minutes away from my hometown. There are a good amount of participants and they really put on a pretty good event that definitely showed some improvements since 2010. This was also the second race in the Run Riverside Challenge that began with the Hometown Heroes Honor Run back in October.

A little background...

The Mission Inn is a hotel, a historical site, a museum, and an arts center all in one. I have had the opportunity of staying at the Mission Inn several times, as well as visiting their day spa on one occasion. It really is a beautiful building and is a centerpiece in the downtown Riverside area. Every holiday season they also do a Festival of Lights and deck out the hotel, along with the downtown shopping district that is pedestrian traffic only. Another cool feature of the hotel is they have horse-drawn carriage rides available.

Here are a couple pictures of the hotel:

It really is an absolutely AMAZING hotel and historical site. Absolutely breathtaking and full of all kinds of charm. I haven't had the opportunity to explore, but they even have some catacombs that run below the hotel that guests can check out. And their spa? To die for! (And no, they haven't paid me for these statements. haha). If you want to learn more go check out The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa's Website and if you are interested in the history you can click here to view the Mission Inn Museum's site.

The Actual Race...

So I shared my goals and strategy for the race last week and I went into it fully planning on sticking to that plan and pacing - basically I wanted to finish at no more than 1:16. I woke up with plenty of time Sunday morning after getting all my clothes laid out the night before and setting up the coffeepot to get started without me. I wrote my pacing out on my forearm then ate my regular breakfast of Maple Brown Sugar Frosted Mini-Wheats and a cup of coffee and had plenty of time to gather my items together before heading out to pick up my sister's kids just up the street (we had to travel in two cars since it was my mom, my sister, her hubby, and her three kids and both mine and my mom's cars fit only 5 people each). We still needed to do packet pick-up and my Mom's race - the 5k - started at 7:30 AM. We got there with time to spare and got everybody checked in. My sister ended up bumping down to the 5k race as well since she had been dealing with some sickness and wasn't quite up to par for tackling the 10k. So that meant I would see them off then be on my own for an hour before the 10k geared up. I hung out with my Brother-in-Law for a bit and my nephew and nieces then left them to their own devices to head over and get ready to go.

Here is where I had mistake #1 - I had gone to the bathroom soon after sending off my mom & sister, but didn't make another potty stop before lining up for my race that had a start time of 8:30 AM. So by the time I started running, it had probably been close to an hour since I had last gone. Even though I hadn't been drinking water yet, I definitely could have used that extra stop. I do not know what I was (or wasn't in this case!) thinking!

I had a GU Tri-Berry gel on my way to the start line and was feeling anxious to get going. The day was shaping up to be quite nice and I was super glad I had gone with a short-sleeve shirt and compression shorts because that is one of the really big mistakes I had made back in 2010 at this race - I wore a long-sleeve shirt and pants and it was HOT! Okay, it was probably in the 70's, but nowhere near warm enough to run in long-sleeves and pants. I was miserable; so lesson learned and it made a difference!

The gun finally went off and I stuck to my plan to start off slow, but I was still going faster than I wanted to. There was a very slight uphill at the beginning and then a good downhill and I was cruising. I think I was probably a high 10-minute/mile through there. The biggest thing that threw me off during this first mile was how steeply cambered the streets were, so I tried to stay towards the middle of the road as much as possible. Just before the Mile 1 marker we left the streets and headed into Fairmount Park which is quite pretty, but the road we were running on was not in terrific condition, but I was determined to just keep an even pace.

Mile 1: 11:16 - a little faster than the planned 11:38, but I wasn't too worried; however, in retrospect, this was the ONLY split that was anywhere close to my "plan"

Here is where things start to go sideways. After leaving the park we hit our second water stop and it really got congested, but I should have just settled down because after the congestion cleared there was the first hill and it was a doozy. I ran for part of it, but quickly realized that I was going to spend all of my energy if I kept it up like that, so I ended up walking. Looking at the elevation information from my Garmin it starts at 785 feet at 1.21 miles then climbs over 100 feet to 890 by 2.19 miles. I really realized here Mistake #2: I have not had nearly enough recent hill training and I should have been more diligent in keeping that up. I enjoyed the downhill that followed all the up, but was being super cautious because of my knee and not wanting to put too much pressure there especially since I can feel the downs more than the ups in that regard.

Mile 2: 12:27 - way slower than the planned 11:30
Mile 3: 11:46

We finally evened out for miles 3-5, but I was still struggling with keeping my motivation going and there were multiple times that my Garmin yelled at me because my heart rate was too high. That seems to be one area I have a really hard time with in races - during training runs my heart rate usually stays in a nice even range, but when I race it ends up going high. Not sure what I can do to change that, so any suggestions are welcome!!! However, I do realize that it probably coincides with Mistake #3: I really need to drop some pounds. I felt heavy and sluggish and I know it is because I'm carrying around way more than I need and am about 10 pounds heavier than I was when I ran my previous 10k PR. It makes a difference...

Mile 4: 11:53
Mile 5: 12:53

After a long mellow stretch we made our way back into Fairmount Park and I definitely enjoyed the scenery, but then as we exited the park I realized that we had to hit the hill AGAIN!! I don't know why I hadn't made this correlation earlier, but after passing the water stop again from Mile 1, there it was...taunting me. And I just didn't have it in me to even run a little bit of it at this point. So you can see from my Mile 5 split, I walked a lot during that mile taking my time up to a full minute more per mile.

The picture doesn't do the hill justice...but a hill at all was definitely NOT welcome at this point!
As I was walking up it I said out loud "I'm so DONE with these hills!!" and the couple behind me chuckled...I think they were feeling them too. Finally it was time to head more towards the city streets and the final stretch. I tried to keep a slow jog going but ended up walking several times anyways.

Mile 6: 12:45

Just as we were coming up on the final turn I was near a gal that I had been leap-frogging with the entire race (I called her purple tank top in my head as I would keep my eye on her when she was out in front) and she was walking so I said "come on, girl - we are almost there - let's finish this thing!" and she said in reply "thanks, I needed that" and started running again. She passed ahead of me, but I saw from the finish line photos that I must have passed her in my final delirious sprint to the finish line.

Mile .2 (actually shows as .3): 10:49

I'm there in the blue shirt and black hat - See the girl in purple tank to the right of the picture? Yep - that's her!
Final Garmin Time: 1:16:14
Final Chip Time: 1:17:10 (I did make a brief potty stop and the Garmin auto-paused so that accounts for the difference there)

Final Thoughts...

So, in other words, I did not meet my Good, Better or Best goals and even though I did RUN pain-free, my knee was definitely achy the rest of that day and into the next which made me very nervous. I actually didn't even tell anyone outside of my bestie on Tuesday that my knee had even been a little achy because I didn't want the family to panic. And I definitely didn't want my hubby to put a possible limit on my running out of fear that I would injure myself again. So this is just between us; don't tell him any of that...mmmkay? But I will say that now that I am several days out, my knee is feeling just fine again so no worries there, but it is definitely something I'm going to be keeping a close watch on.

Okay, so let me go back a little bit - you see the picture above of the hill? You see the guy in it wearing the blue hat and blue compression socks? Well, he was definitely one of my rabbits! We passed by each other throughout the ENTIRE race. I never got a chance to talk to him at all...we were both very much in our own zones, but I did see him afterwards posing with his medal and told him that he had kept me going out there and that he was one of my rabbits and he said the same thing! He said between keeping up with me and purple tank top (apparently he called her the same thing! hahaha) that we kept him going. It's always so fun to see how we all motivate each other and even when we are personally struggling that we very well may be the inspiration that gets someone else to the finish line! You can never discount matter how you personally feel about your performance. AWESOME, right?!?

I know this is overly long, but just a couple take-away's before I wrap it up. My previous 10k PR of 1:16:20 at the Idyllwild 10k in 2011? Wow - I really did NOT give myself enough credit for how good that time was considering the elevation and altitude factors! Here I was on relatively flat ground in the valley and I couldn't beat that previous PR (my Garmin shows a new PR, but if you go by gun time it is just shy). Second, even though I didn't meet my goals, I'm still happy with how I did because all things considering and what I've been through over the past year I am super blessed to even be out there running at all! And to just go bang out 6.2 miles after being in miserable pain and suffering just 9 months ago? Yeah...that's a big deal. Finally, I definitely need to have more runs at goal pace so I'm better prepared to step it up in a race environment.

Next on the schedule? The Holiday 5k in Pomona on December 14! I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mission Inn 10k - Race Goals/Strategy

I swear, one of these days I will get over feeling like a total fraud when I say something like "race strategy" or "racing schedule" or "fueling plan". Maybe? I don't know...maybe I never will because I'm not an athlete, but I guess you don't have to be an athlete to have goals, right? Alright - I'm rambling now...anyways, I did a little guffaw when I typed in Race Strategy on the title and I just wonder if I'll ever get to where it doesn't simultaneously make me laugh and creep me out all at the same time. :-)

Anyways, this weekend on Sunday I will be participating in the Mission Inn Run - 10k. This is the only 10k I'll be doing this year and will be my fourth one. However, this will be my first 10k that isn't the Idyllwild one that I do in June of each year. That one is up in the mountains, at altitude, and literally becomes a hike instead of run at one point for about 1.5 miles. So, in other words, it is challenging. So for the first time EVER I will be doing a 10k on relatively flat land and not at altitude.

Also what that means is that I'm anxious to see what I can do!

First things first, my previous 10k best was 1:16:20 and that was the second year I ran it in 2011. I mentioned previously that I really did some serious hill training for it that year, but the next year I slacked and my time went back up. Then earlier this year I had to settle for walking the 5k since I was still recovering from my knee surgery. So it has been just about 1.5 years since I last ran a 10k...YIKES!!! And even though I'm currently doing half marathon training and just recently completed a 10k Galloway training program, it isn't and wasn't with the intent of getting a new PR in the 10k distance. So I need to keep that in mind...

So I am going to set some Good, Better and Best goals for this race.

Good: I complete the race pain-free and feeling fine regardless of what my time is.
Better: I complete the race pain-free and between 1:15 and my previous best of 1:16:20.
Best: I complete the race pain-free between 1:10 and 1:15.

As you can see, the overall goal is to complete it pain-free; which with how great I am feeling I am pretty hopeful that it won't be a problem at all. And then of course there are a few time goals. I would love to walk away with a really awesome PR, but it is more important that I enjoy it and stay pain-free. By the way, if I use my most recent 5k time from the Hometown Heroes Run last month and plug it into a race time predictor I get 1:11 and some change. I could be happy with that!

Here is the race map and I really wish they had the elevations, but they don't. Thankfully, I have run the half marathon course back in 2010 so I have some kind of idea what I'm dealing with.

I want to start off slow and keep myself in control during the early miles and I want to run a gradual negative split. I know that the race starts off with a gradual decline, so it is going to be critical that I don't get carried away because 1) I love running the downhills and 2) I'll be with the pack and they will be getting carried away. If I remember right the mile or so in the park is fairly flat and very scenic so that will make it hard to keep myself under control too. But I can't lose focus because around Mile 2 there is some uphills as the course winds around Mt. Rubidoux. This part is mostly residential and I remember from the previous race that some home owners even came out and did some cheering while having their morning coffee.

Around Mile 3 the course gets pretty boring for a period of time as it winds around the backside of Mt. Rubidoux. Just after the water stop and aide station the course turns onto a paved bike path, so let the boring miles begin. I am hoping I can really start to pick up my pace through here as there won't be too many distractions. Then just past Mile 4 you head back into the park before exiting onto city streets to run the remaining miles. That is where I'm really going to need to keep my focus so I can push it at the end and finish strong!

Here are my planned paces:
You can see that I used a goal time of 1:10 which is my "Oh My Gosh, I'm SO Happy" finish time, so there is some wiggle room in there, but I'm not seeing anything that scares me too badly. In other words, I think I can swing that.

But in the end, even with my non-athlete strategy and goals, my true purpose is to just be there having a great time with my Mom & Sister and being thankful that I have been blessed with recovery and am able to participate in awesome races!!!! I'll let you know how it goes next week - wish me luck and send me some PR vibes!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Race That Wasn't...

So remember just a few days ago when I put out my Fall Racing Schedule and talked about the Awesome 80's Run that was going to be happening this past Saturday? Well, we can just go ahead and call that one "The Race That Wasn't" because I didn't end up going.

My stomach ended up having some issues on Friday night so when I woke up Saturday morning to start getting ready I knew it wasn't going to be a good idea to put myself in a situation that wasn't controlled. So I sadly let my Mom & Sister know that I was bailing on them, but since they were still going I of course begged and pleaded for them to pick up my goodie bag at the minimum and do everything they could to get me the medal too! hahaha Because, I mean come on, it was a Darth Vader medal!!! Who wants to miss out on that?!? Not this Star Wars Geek-Girl! ~Okay, side note/question, does anybody else feel guilty taking a medal for a race they didn't do?? Because I was feeling horribly guilty about it, but still wanted it! LOL~

Source - and more pictures from the race!
Like, seriously, how awesome is that medal?!? And I was a child of the 80's (best decade EVER!) so I was really looking forward to this one. But hey, sometimes life has other plans. So I sent my Mom & Sis off to do the race and then took it easy for a little longer. I did start to feel better and then felt guilty that they were off doing a race while I was sitting at home in my pajamas, so I changed into workout gear and jumped on the treadmill. I can't say the first mile or so was awesome, but as I kept going I continued to feel better. The day was shaping up to be absolutely gorgeous, so I opened up the windows and blinds and pretended I was outside at the race. Midway through my run I had to take a small break and saw a text message from my Sis that she was able to get me the medal but that she was holding it hostage until I "freed the Ewoks - 1 kilometer per Ewok, and I couldn't get the medal until I freed 5 of them". Hahaha - DEAL! Little did she know, I was already working on it...

At another point on my run the little bubbies Joshua (this is my grandson for anyone that doesn't know - he is 3 and just the cutest thing EVER!) woke up - we were watching him for our daughter while they snuck away for an overnight beach trip - and came and hung out with me while I ran. We chatted about letters and numbers, the important things, ya know, and enjoyed each other's company. And before you know it, I was nearing the point where not just 5 Ewoks would be freed, but TEN of those little guys! So I kept on going and hit the 10k mark. Not bad - 6.2 miles on a day I didn't think I was going to even be able to run!

So even though I didn't "race" this weekend, I still busted it out and freed some virtual Ewoks in the process. I don't feel so guilty about not doing the race and still claiming the medal now. Because it is a pretty radical piece of bling, Duuuudeee. Like, for sure.

And just because it's only fitting, here is some REAL Awesome 80's proof:
Can anyone say "Flock of Seagulls" hair??
Um yeah...don't hold it against me. I swear that was the style then!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's The Most Wonderful (???) Time of the Year...

So in case you missed the bulletin, or the fact that your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds have blown up with pictures of strange people in weird costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and more candy than a person could eat in a lifetime, today is Halloween! And what that really means is that it is the "official" (okay, not really OFFICIAL-official, but un-official official???) kickoff to the Holiday Season. I remember that Once Upon a Time - also known as When I Was A Kid - the official kickoff to the Holiday Season was Thanksgiving Day. But I actually think that if we wanted to get really technical, the true kickoff isn't even Halloween - it's when Starbucks starts selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or PSL as they are now calling it because #PSL is so much easier than #PumpkinSpiceLatte, amiright or what???

Okay, so if we all take this as the Official Kickoff to the Holiday Season, then that means it is now "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year", right? Well, not so much many times. Sure, I love the holidays as much as the next person, but this time of year also signals the time to freak-out, stress beyond belief, go for broke, and stuff our pie-holes with anything and everything.

Funny Thanksgiving Ecard: This year, I'm secretly stuffing the turkey with Prozac . . . so we can finally have a stress-free holiday!

I go into every single holiday season vowing that this year - THIS YEAR - I am not going to let all the stress get to me. I'm going to quietly sip cider by a lovely fireplace while I daydream of a peaceful Christmas morning and a Turkey dinner that comes together flawlessly and is served precisely on time with everything still hot and the family reverentially sitting there in awe of the amazing spread. I say I'm going to take more time to treasure the moments. I'm going to hand-craft lovely gifts that I'm proud to give away.

And guess what? It NEVER goes as I planned! HA! I am usually that fool running around a week before Christmas trying to figure out what to give the co-workers because I completely screwed up the lovely handcrafted gifts I had planned on giving. Thanksgiving is usually absolute and total chaos. I never seem to find time to sit and enjoy cider by the fire and Christmas morning is like being in the middle of a feeding frenzy at the zoo after a week of no food. If you can survive one of our Christmas mornings then you could probably survive just about anything. And I'm usually so stressed out I am a total Grinch until, well, sometimes until the holiday is over. And the thing is that I absolutely DO NOT want to feel like that. I truly do want to enjoy it.

Funny Cry for Help Ecard: My stress level is such that you have two choices. Either leave me the hell alone or write me a hit list.

So this year, I'm just going to go into the season wanting one thing and one thing only: to enjoy all of it! Enjoy the stress, enjoy the shopping, enjoy the chaos, and even enjoy (and be proud of!) the ridiculous handcrafted gifts I'm going to be make and give out no matter what they look like. That's my plan. We'll see how it goes!

...if you let it be! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Someday I Will...Do a Daily Tay Link-up!

The Daily Tay

Someday I will...
Run a Marathon

Okay, okay - I know it sounds cliche and it probably seems like everyone and their brother says the same thing, right?

And you know the thing is that I used to be the person that said NEVER. I will N~E~V~E~R run a marathon. No desire, none whatsoever. Zip, Zero, Zilch, Nada in the desire to run a marathon category.

But then, something happened.

That up there happened. I never thought that I COULD run, much less that I could run for a ridiculously long period of time. But as I became a runner, I realized that I was so much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for!

And then a crazy idea happened...who says I can't run a marathon? Maybe I can...And just like that I went from saying never to saying maybe to saying I will.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Racing Schedule

So this is actually a somewhat momentous thing because here's the deal - this is the FIRST TIME EVER that I've actually had a "racing schedule" whether it was a fall, spring, summer or winter schedule makes no difference. See what I mean? Momentous Occasion!! It really makes me feel like an actual true-to-life runner!

Never mind the fact that I've run two half-marathons, three 10k's and countless 5k's; a lost toenail; an injury; my box of energy gels; more running shoes than regular shoes in my closet; and lots more that says I'm a runner...having a race schedule is the defining moment. Silly, right? Sometimes it's the little things...

See, the way I usually go about this whole running thing is I just train for one or two races a year. Let's take a stroll down memory lane...

  • I started my running journey in June 2009 when my sister and I decided to run the Disneyland 5k in September, so we embarked on the Couch to 5k program and successfully ran that 5k and then we just kind of kept on running but without any real plan except to get better at it.
  • Then in early 2010 we began training for a local 10k race that would be held in June and we just kind of put our own plan together that gradually built up mileage and even though I successfully ran that very difficult mountain 10k, without any formal hill training it kicked my rear!
  • After the 10k we decided to tackle a half marathon so we began training immediately after the 10k for a November half (2010). I think, if I remember right, that I just kind of put my own program together for that one too creating a hybrid out of a bunch of different plans. The main point of the training was to build mileage, but I will admit that we skipped some key workouts in there and I went into the half not really feeling fully prepared for it...and it showed as it was a miserable experience for a variety of reasons including an overly warm day, overdressing, underfueled, undertrained, wind, boredom and I could actually keep going. It was one of those races that had every "don't" possible marked off. 
  • After the half, I decided that I wanted to do the mountain 10k (2011) a little more prepared the next year, so I added in hill training and I'm so glad I did as I was able to shave minutes off of my previous time and I was much better prepared. That training cycle was another one created by me by bastardizing multiple other programs.
  • Prior to running the 10k mentioned above I had already signed up for the Tinkerbell Half in January 2012 so I started training for that in early fall 2011 and I think this was the first time I actually somewhat followed a plan as I used the one created for the race by Jeff Galloway. It was an easy plan that didn't incorporate a ton of various speedwork sessions and even though it helped me get a PR, I still can't say I felt fully prepared for it.
  • I ran the same mountain 10k again in June 2012 and didn't do any formal training for it and it showed because my time was back to what it was the first year.
  • Then I signed up for a January 2013 half marathon that was closely followed with registration for a May 2013 half marathon so I really went into that training cycle wanting to improve my speed and endurance. I began actually following a REAL plan with the Run Less, Run Faster book and was feeling great about 1 month in, but then the knee debacle hit, followed by the races getting cancelled, and I was back to not only having any races but having to go through physical therapy and the gradual rebuild of my body.

And here we are at present day! I didn't go into the fall planning on having a "racing schedule" but it all just snowballed into one. I started off just thinking I would do a winter/spring half marathon, but then we found out that the half marathon we had picked was part of an inaugural race series where we could earn a special medal, so a few more races were added on to the couple that we registered for several months ago when it was still just a hope for me that I would actually be able to run them and not just hobble through. So here's my Fall Race Schedule (drum roll please...)
  1. Hometown Heroes Honor Run - 5k: This one actually already took place back on October 12 and you can read all about it here. This is the first of the Run Riverside Series.
  2. Awesome 80's Run - 5k: This is just a fun one in San Diego where there will be no goals whatsoever. We registered for this one what seems like eons ago and is one of those that it was just a hope that I'd actually be able to run it.
  3. Riverside Mission Inn - 10k: This is the same as my first horrific half marathon, but I have high hopes for the 10k version as it doesn't spend 6 long miles on a dusty, windy, and dry riverbed. This is also the second of the Run Riverside Series.
  4. Holiday Half - 5k: I know it says half in the title, but we are doing the 5k's just the name of the whole event. This is my first time doing this event and will be the third for my mom & sister. It has an awesome finishers medal and is a large event. The other one that was a hope back when registering for it!
  5. Citrus Heritage Run - Half Marathon: This is the culminating event of the training cycle AND the Run Riverside Series. If I can make it through all of these and still feel pretty good then I'll make a go for a full marathon in early summer 2014 (Rock N' Roll San Diego). If I'm completely shredded after these I'll look for a fall marathon instead! :-)
I'll talk about what plan I'm using to accomplish all these races in the near future. I'm super excited to not just have a racing schedule, but to actually be able to race again! During the issues with my knee earlier this year I truly did wonder if I was ever going to be able to again. And here I am, one race down already and 4 more to go!

Happy Fall Racing Season!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

P31 OBS - A Heart Surrendered

This post is part of the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study for A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. You can find out more about P31 here, the book here, and my previous blog posted on this here (Excited Newbie) and here (#PerfectLove).

I was raised Mormon and even though I'm no longer a member of that religion, pretty much my entire family is. And I'm certainly not knocking anyone that has a fulfilling relationship with God regardless of what "religion" it is, this is simply MY experience.

Growing up there were always rules; don't drink caffeine, don't smoke, don't drink, don't say certain words, wear a dress to church, go to church, go on a mission. Not that those are necessarily BAD things to live by, I just never really understood why except for 'because we said' and because that is how I felt like God loved me. If I could follow the rules, then God would love me. If I didn't follow the rules, then I wouldn't get to live with my family in Heaven forever, I wouldn't be allowed in the temples, I might even get kicked out of the church! So can you imagine as a kid how I might have felt when I didn't follow the rules?? Which was, quite honestly, often. I felt like I was unlovable by God and those in my religion and I didn't really have a firm understanding of why those things were "bad". So needless to say, when I coupled my constant guilt of not being a "good Mormon girl", like all the rest of them seemed to be able to do so effortlessly, with the feelings of abandonment due to a Dad that hightailed it out of our lives, it was a recipe for disaster and a cocktail of guilt.

And I struggled and struggled. I did a lot of the things I wasn't supposed to on the weekdays and then went to church on Sunday feeling unlovable and unworthy and never feeling like I belonged in either place. And then I got pregnant at 15 and good Mormon girls don't have sex outside of marriage and good Mormon girls definitely don't get knocked up at 15. But I continued to go and the shame grew and grew with every sideways glance from the "good" people. Now, I recognize that some of this I may have built up in my own mind...they may not have been judging me, and some definitely went out of their way to let me know I wasn't un-savable. But it was like putting a black sheep in the middle of the regular ones...they kind of stand out as being different.

So instead, I just drifted away from God. For a long time.

Then our kids grew and my husband and I wanted to establish a better relationship with God. My husband had been raised in various non-denominational churches and we often had major debates on religion. We were definitely not equally yoked and it put many a strain on an already strained family. But at a particularly low point in our lives he ran into an older couple that he knew from his childhood church days and they invited us to join them at church. So we did and I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever!! If you've never been to a Mormon church they are very reverent people. Music is accompanied by a piano or organ and there may be laughter, but you definitely aren't hearing shouts of praise during a speaker or seeing folks raising their hands in worship. And talking in tongues? Oh goodness gracious NO WAY! It's just not the way they roll, in my experience. So as someone that was coming into it from that perspective and upbringing it was pretty crazy and I just had the hardest time wrapping my brain around it - a BAND for worship? People raising their hands and shouting amens and hallelujahs? Rowdiness in church?? A Multimedia Presentation?? Where were the folded arms, bowed heads, and soft hymns?

However, my husband really enjoyed being there and the kids all survived...and honestly, our little family needed some grounding in faith, so we kept going back.

And little by little I let the voice in my head, the one that said this was the WRONG way to sing, the WRONG way to pray, the WRONG way to be, to just quit being so judgmental all the time. After all, one of the things that I felt growing up as a Mormon was constantly judged, so who was I to decide that the way these folks were worshiping was wrong? I eventually even allowed myself the occasional "amen" and a slight hand raise during worship. And then one day it just happened. God hit me like a freight train in the middle of worship and I felt like I was completely FULL. So full that my tears of joy could not be contained. All of the judgment that I had felt, all of the times I felt like I was "bad", all of the times I felt like the black sheep, they just lifted away. My heart SANG like it had never sung before. I finally felt like God wasn't this far-away, unknowable figure, but that he was my friend. Someone that wasn't judging me, but someone that was there to pick me up when I stumbled. Someone that wasn't shoving rules or religion in my face, but was asking me to have a relationship with Him. Come close. Listen deep. Feel loved.

And on that day my heart surrendered and I have been His since then. I walk with Him, and talk with Him, and feel His warm embrace as he guides me; always reminding me that he is my Yahweh. It doesn't matter that my real Father abandoned us, because I have my Father who will never leave nor forsake me.