Thursday, January 29, 2015


I realized yesterday that I never actually came back on here to share my 2015 goals. It took me long enough to even come up with what I wanted them to be and I have to admit that I've tried to keep them fairly simple because I know that it's going to be a crazy year with everything I have going on. I may keep these goals for the entire year, or I may make some changes mid-way. I just know that I really want to get back to some basics as my bad habits have gotten a little out of control.

Keep in mind that these are not resolutions per se, but goals that are attainable. If I had made a resolution, trust me, I would have already broken it so it would have ended up falling along the wayside. HA! So here's what I want to focus on for at least the first half of the year.

1. Get my 5 servings of fruits/veggies (freggies) in each day. Now I recognize that I may not get 5 every single day, but I'm striving to hit that goal on a regular basis and so far I think I've done okay. One thing I'm doing differently is making sure that I have a fruit or veggie with every major meal or snack. So a typical day might be my traditional cereal for breakfast, then a banana and yogurt for a snack, some type of veggie or two at lunch, an apple in the afternoon for snack, and then veggies with dinner. Since I've been doing this I can say that my family is also doing a better job of getting more fruits and veggies in their diet too!

2. Drink my water (minimum of 8 cups, 7x/week). I've gotten really lazy about this and I don't like how being under-hydrated feels. So I'm working on getting back to this being a habit that I don't even have to think about. It's hard in the winter because I'm just not as thirsty and drinking cold water isn't as appealing; so I'm having at least one large cup of herbal tea in the morning to warm myself up. My main struggle with this one is the weekends. I get busy around the house and I just don't think about it. But I know if I'm drinking my water during the week then I will start to crave it on the weekends.

3. Strength Train/Knee PT Exercises at least 2x each week. I mentioned in my Citrus Half race recap that I was having knee pain in my "bad" knee so I pulled out my sheet of at-home PT exercises and immediately added those back into the rotation. Additionally, I also mentioned that issue with calf cramping and I really think it goes back to some muscle imbalances/muscle fatigue. Strength training and those PT exercises should add some much needed balance into my body that will only help me with my running.

4. Run for an entire 5k. This used to not be a problem at all. In fact, I never even thought about stopping to take walk breaks back in the beginning of my running. If I was doing a 5k, I just ran the entire time. But between the knee completely taking a crap on me, and getting WAY too used to long, slow training runs for half and full marathon training I have given myself a lot of leeway in taking walk breaks. Oh look - there's a hill! Better conserve my energy and walk that bad boy! Oh look - a water station!! Better walk through it so you can get the water in your mouth instead of on your shirt, and since you're already walking, might as well wait until you're comfortable again! Yeah...I want to break those bad habits.

5. My overarching goal, even though it doesn't fit the typical "goal mold" of being measurable is to just stay sane through the spring semester at school. I believe I've mentioned that I'm taking two classes: Math and English. Both are challenging even on their own and will be very time intensive. The Math is time intensive because I'm going to need to use every study skill and resource available to me as math is a very tough subject for me to grasp easily. I can get it, but I have to work at it. English is easier to grasp, but there's lots of writing and lots of peer review. So it's just going to take time to actually sit at a keyboard and write all those essays...oh and the 9-page research paper due at the end of the semester. Ugh.It's just a lot of work, so really goals 1-3 are there to help me meet goal #5. If I'm eating well, staying hydrated and exercising regularly then I am a calmer, more peaceful person. It's times like this that I realize the little joke about exercising so you don't slap someone is oh-so-true and not so joke-like!

I think I've selected some goals that will truly benefit me overall, that are achievable, and that I can measure. I will be re-evaluating as necessary or as certain things become habit to the point that they are happening without me even thinking about it. Or if something comes up that really needs to be elevated to goal status then I may add it in.

How about you - have you set any goals for 2015? How do you make sure you are working towards your goals and they aren't just "put on a shelf" and forgotten?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Finding a New Groove...

I love Disney's The Emperor's New Groove! I feel it is one of the most underrated of the classically drawn Disney films. But that's not really what I'm writing about just felt like a good image to kick it off.

I've felt terribly out of my groove since, well, if I'm honest, since before the holidays. I know that once the holidays hit I adopted a mentality of "after the holidays I will ______" (fill in the blank whether it is eating, exercising, whatever). So the holidays came and went and I did feel like I enjoyed them but was still somewhat reasonable throughout. But then the New Year hit and I was all jazzed about new goals, resolutions, my word for 2015 - NOW, and more. But here I sit a couple days away from February and I feel like I don't even know which way is up yet, much less remembering what those goals I set were. (And I just realized I don't even think I set them here on the blog...d'oh!)

I'm a morning exerciser. Most people know that I'm up at dark o'thirty for my workouts. And I've been able to be fairly consistent like that for close to 6 years now. But for whatever reason these days getting up at 4:00 AM just feels so gosh darn HARD. I might be able to get it for a few days and then I can't for a few and it just keeps going like that in what is beginning to feel like an endless cycle.

And I don't know why!!

Well, I know that I'm not sleeping all that great, I know that I'm not eating terrifically, I know that I'm drinking too much coffee to keep myself going, I know that school is crazy, I know that work is busy, I know that family life has its ups and downs. I know all those things, but honestly, those things have been in existence since I started living a healthy life in 2009. So it's not like I can pinpoint an exact thing and say A-HA - YOU'RE THE REASON I CAN'T SEEM TO GET MY ACT TOGETHER!

In other words, there's no smoking gun for this nonsense. There's lots of excuses to be found, but the reasons elude me.

Right now I feel like I just need a great big mental reset. I wish it was still the first of the year so I could take the time to figure it all out, bundle up some magical motivation potion to sustain me for the next 24-7-365, and finally have my act together and feel like I am ahead of the game instead of wondering why the stands have already emptied and I'm just barely making my way to the field.

I haven't figured it out yet, but I'm certainly trying to and maybe tomorrow I'll be working on a fresher brain and can come up with some solutions. In the meantime, I'll just be a Llama until I can get my new groove going!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Citrus Heritage Half Marathon Race Recap

I was super excited to be headed back to Riverside (SoCal/Inland Empire) this past weekend for the Citrus Heritage Run. I ran their inaugural Half Marathon distance last year and was returning for the same again this year even though I was going into it knowing full well that I was totally under-trained and unprepared for a half marathon. But I put my big girl pants on and figured I would do my best. So let's take a look...

Citrus Heritage Half Race Start
COURSE: I absolutely love this course. I stated last year that it just might be my new favorite half marathon race and after returning again this year I think I can still mostly say the same thing. You might be wondering if the course changed and that's why I say mostly, and no, it didn't. It's the exact same course and it was still gorgeous and still meandered through the orange groves and still had amazing vistas; but I will admit that the course was more challenging than I remembered it being. I seem to have had it in my head that there were only a few hills, but it turns out there are a lot of hills. The same amount as last year...I just remember them better this time. HA!

But let me get back to the views - they are absolutely amazing!! You run through the State Historic Citrus Park, through orange groves, through beautiful residential neighborhoods. And those hills I mentioned, well they allow some wonderful views of the valleys below especially through the Citrus Park and just about the midway point. It's a great course that is challenging, but totally reasonable if you are better prepared than I.

AID STATIONS: The local high schools come out to really support this race and they man those aid stations like nobody's business! They are cheerful and motivating even right down to the very last runners. They were well stocked with cold water and Gatorade throughout the race, and I was at the tail end so I can even say that from what I saw the back-of-the-packers were all taken care of as well! The one thing that I noted was that last year they provided GU Gels at the halfway point, this time they didn't have any kind of energy gel available. I had, thankfully, carried my own; however, if I had been relying on them for that mid-race energy gel I would have been in big trouble. Predicted Great Race Day Weather!
WEATHER: The sun was mostly out for the start of the race, but it quickly disappeared behind clouds to give us an overcast sky throughout. It really was perfect racing weather. I was never overly hot and was actually almost cold a few times. I was wearing shorts, compression sleeves, a short-sleeved shirt, and gloves so I wasn't exactly bundled up or anything. I took off one glove a couple miles in and was perfect the rest of the race. You just can't get better than SoCal winter weather for running, in my humble opinion.

Flat Kristen Ready to Run!
PRE/POST RACE: Pre-race check-in was super easy and a better set-up than last year's event. The race starts and ends near the Arlington Sports Park and they utilize the space well. There were several booths set up where you could pick up info from various vendors and I even met a group of Team SunRype (TSR) folks that were there! That was actually my first time meeting other TSR members at a race and since they are all on the 2015 team also I am looking forward to maybe meeting up with them for some events this coming year. Post Race they had plenty of bananas, oranges, and water. They also had a local Boy Scout Troop handing out chili which was a nice bonus! There was also a Sierra Nevada Beer Garden that I didn't partake in, but it looked like a cool place to hang out and each runner got one ticket for a free beer so that was a really cool perk for sure.

Team SunRype representing Riverside County! Yeah-Yeah! Looking forward to meeting up with these fine folks again!
MY RACE: Okay, so let's get to the nitty gritty of my race. It was bad. It was painful. It was ugly. I don't know what else to really say about it. The first 6-7 miles I felt AWESOME!! It was probably one of the best starts I've had in that I took it nice and slow, I didn't have any shin tightening issues from going out too fast, I felt strong and powered up the hills. If the entire race had felt like that I'm sure I would have PR'ed. But the wheels fell off 7 miles in. My knee - yes, THAT knee - started feeling all tweaky. I called my husband to whine about it and he asked what "tweaky" meant and the best I could describe it was like someone was pinching my knee really HARD from the inside. It was a sharp pain that would actually cause me to say "ouch" out loud. And then to top it off my right calf started cramping. I could feel the muscle wind up and then spring loose in a hard cramp just like it did during my marathon last September. The exact same way, in the exact same place. So there's a problem there that needs to be fixed before my next half in May. I'm sure I'll talk more on this later. So I walked a lot of the second half of the race, I finished in under three hours but barely, and I actually had pain in my knee for the rest of Saturday which just terrifies me. I have a lot of thoughts about it and even though I was extremely disappointed in my abilities following this race, my primary goal going into it was to run smart, and in this case, the smartest thing for me to do was to end up walking more than running. That's just how the cookie crumbled...

THE SWAG: The tech shirt (sorry I don't have a picture of it, but you can see the back of it in the picture of the start line I posted up above on the lady to the right) is a really great technical long-sleeve with Half Marathon Finisher in a sunburst design on the back and orange blossoms down one sleeve. It's a beautiful shirt!!! They do run large as I learned last year, so I got a Medium this time and it fits great. And the medal...OH THE MEDAL!!! It is truly gorgeous - on par with what you get at much larger races and for much more money paid in registration fees. And in case you can't tell from the picture, the center section spins! Totally cool...

Taken from the event's Facebook page
Finally, this was the last race in the Run Riverside Challenge series which previously included the Hometown Heroes Honor Run (my recap, event webpage) and the Mission Inn Run (I didn't recap this race, but I completed the 10k). So at the completion of this one I was able to collect up my extra bling...and it is absolutely beautiful, let me tell ya. Or better yet - let me show you!

L-R: Mission Inn (10k), Run Riverside Challenge, Citrus Heritage (13.1), and Hometown Heroes (5k)
OVERALL THOUGHTS: I absolutely love this race and the series! I am planning on doing these for as long as possible. They are all unique enough on their own but have the overlying theme of showcasing Riverside and its rich cultural past AND present. I can highly recommend them all and getting the extra challenge medal is just an added bonus. Even though my race performance seems to have gone downhill with each successive race I can't blame that on anybody but myself. I will be back again in 2015-2016 - hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Oh Hey...It's 2015!

I think one of the things I've come to accept about myself is that sometimes I just need a little more time to process information. Yes, it's almost a full week into 2015 and I swear I thought about the fact that a new year was around the corner before it was actually here, but I just didn't process everything I needed to yet to be able to meaningfully discuss it. For example, reflecting on my goals for 2014 since I don't feel like I can fully move forward into 2015 before reflecting some.

I'm still a little proud of myself that I actually closed out my year of Courage (2014's One Little Word) and shared my word for 2015 - Now. And I swear that I thought about goals and resolutions...but thinking about them and actually screaming them from the rooftop are two very different things. Because what I'm learning is that if they are only in the brain, they aren't anything. They are just a nebulous thought that can poof away in a moment. If they are down on paper they are an actual living, breathing thing. Right?

I set some goals in January 2014 and I kind of treated them like most people treat their resolutions. I wrote them down and then promptly forgot about them for the most part. One goal stuck and I kept it in my mind all year long and worked at it (most of the time). Let me take a look back at those goals for a moment:

Get to my goal weight of 140: How did I do? I think I'm probably in the EXACT same place I was at the beginning of 2014. I bounced around in the same 10-pound range and didn't actually lose any net weight. So that was a total bust...

PR in the major race distances: How did I do? I can pretty much check them all off except for the half marathon which will take place this weekend. I ran a 5k PR at the Hometown Heroes Honor Run in October. I ran the Mission Inn 10k in November and it was not a PR which was disappointing; HOWEVER, I noticed on my Garmin records that I set a new 10k PR in 2014 at, of all things, my marathon in September. I was surprised by this as I had set out to start slower than slow and I definitely owned the marathon mentality of slow and steady. So I count that as a 10k PR because, well, Vinnie my Garmin says so. And he speaks the TRUTH, yo! And then since it was my very first marathon, it was an automatic PR even though it was ridiculously slow. So that leaves the half marathon that is taking place on Saturday (which I'm considering part of 2014 since it is SO early in the year). Do I think I will PR? No, no I absolutely do not. If I did I would be absolutely shocked. But I'll try and even if I fall a little short, I'm going to consider this goal mostly a success.

It turns out I run a marathon while standing still...HA!
AKA: the picture where I didn't want to look terrible so I struck a pose instead.

Blog on a more regular basis: How did I do? Well, look at the archives and see for yourself. This wasn't a total bust, but it wasn't a success either.

Devotional or Bible Reading 3x a week: How did I do? Total and complete bust. 'Nuff said.

Date night with Hubby 1x each month: How did I do? Yeah...not so much. But we did get to enjoy some time with each other by going to the beach in August, spending time at a cabin with the family in June, going without the family to my marathon in September, and other little things throughout the year. The reality is that we spent a lot of family time and that was truly awesome and I wouldn't give that back for solo time at all. And we spent a lot of lazy Fridays just chilling on the couch catching up on TV shows we like to watch together. Call that a date if you want because it was more awesome than going out to dinner. Not a success, but not a total bust either.

Pumpkin Patchin' it up in SoCal style...note the shorts and tank tops - yeahhhhhh...
Now I did have some very real roadblocks come up that weren't entirely expected, but isn't that life?? I started taking classes again by randomly deciding a week after classes had started that now was the time to work on my transfer units so I could finally get going on that long-awaited and forever-and-a-year-ago planned Bachelor's degree. And I couldn't make it easy on myself either by enrolling in an online Managerial Accounting class that kicked my rear for much of the semester. It wasn't helped by a VERY poor instructor either. But I survived the initial shock to the system and pulled off an A (that was very much EARNED) to boot! I also survived marathon training in what turned out to be a very long, very hot summer. My hubby had a gallbladder meltdown that is still in the process of being fixed. My oldest son and DIL moved to Japan for three years. Lots and lots of ups and downs with kids that are in between being kids and being grown ups. I could go on. Let's just say there were roadblocks that may have caused a stumble or two, but aren't excuses as to why I didn't meet my goals for 2014. I didn't meet my goals for 2014 because I simply didn't work at them all the time.

BUT...I feel like 2014 was a really great year! It had challenges galore, but it was full of rewards too. I feel like I made courageous choices. I feel like I appreciated a slower pace of life most of the time. I feel like I maximized my free time and did what I wanted to do instead of what everyone else wanted me to do. I proved that I was capable of more than I thought I was ever capable of by training for and completing a marathon. And I finally took a really big step towards accomplishing an education goal. And on top of all that, I was an active part of Team SunRype through Active Ambassadors including being invited to apply again for the 2015 team!

So really, me and 2014...we are ending on good terms. We are square and I think I'm finally ready to think about what 2015 has to offer!