Summer Goals – A Mix of the Past and the Present

Boston 2 Big Sur feels so long ago but occasionally, I like to just reminisce on the whole experience and the road that lead me there.

I think about all the strategies I used to pull me out of my down times. 

I think about all the doubt I had.

I think about how I will use this whole experience as a lesson. 

I think about how this will teach me to not overstress. 

But let’s be honest… I still stress….I still worry…. and the thought of Chicago and NYC training being right around the corner makes me cringe a bit.

…Not because I don’t want to train hard but because right now I feel something I haven’t felt in a while.  I feel GOOD. I don’t have to worry about a long run lingering over my head for a week.  I train the way I want. I run when I want.  I strength train when I want.  I go to hot yoga when I want. I rest when I want.

 

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Jumped into Murph with my friend

Lately, I have been doing two workouts a day just because I love not having a schedule and just doing a little bit of everything.  However, my body sent me a friendly reminder that I was starting to overdo it.  I listened, rested and was able to resume training with swapping hot yoga or strength with a massage or yin yoga.

I do love ‘Long Run Sunday’ and the excitement/fear/sense of accomplishment associated with the long run but I have been loving my new Sunday lineup…

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A short run around my hot yoga studio and end right in time (always a couple minutes late because you can never plan a run JUST right) for some vigorous flow.  I am not sure what sounds appealing about ending a run, walking into a 115 degree room and being suffocated by the heat…but I like the challenge and I try to remind myself that this tactic will help when I am struggling for air in the final mile(s) of a race….or maybe not and this whole thing really is crazy. But I enjoy the fun mix of everything.

This past Sunday, I ran in the Ribfest 5-miler with my running team and we placed third despite the heat and humidity.  You know that whole run/hot yoga tactic I just talked about??…yeahhhh..it didn’t work its magic when I was riding the mile 4 struggle bus in the race haha.

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I wish I could have contributed more to the team and clocked a time much closer to what I ran 3 years ago but I was proud with my 35:08. (I ran 32:24 in 2014!! WHO WAS I??)

My pace was respectable given my recent focus on just having fun with training but it did light a fire under me and got me thinking about some summer goals.  The past 3 years have been very marathon focused.  After a marathon, I would give myself a few weeks to rest/have fun with training but would quickly find another marathon to sign up for and would be back to marathon training.  With NYC and Chicago in the fall, a summer marathon is a definite NO.  The thought of not going back to San Francisco makes me a little sad but I am excited to set summer goals that are not just logging long runs and running a marathon.  Over the last 3 years I have improved greatly in the marathon and 26.2 will always be a favorite because of the dedication and mental strength it requires.  Although I have improved in the marathon over the last 3 years, I have slowed significantly in other distances.  I haven’t come close to my 10k PR of 37:31 that was set over 3 years ago and my half marathon PR of 1:26.34 seems unfathomable these days.

I’ve been scrolling back in my Instagram to see how I trained to get these times and the only significant and noticeable difference is that every run posted had an average pace of 7:10 – 7:30. Anything higher would have been considered slow.  NOTE** I only ran 3 times a week like I do now and did Crossfit and other forms of cross training on the other days.   If you just run everyday then YES…make sure you have easy runs.  For me, having the 3 days of running be key workouts was very important.  When I took the leap of faith into marathon training, the miles took priority of the quality and I drifted away from those key workouts.  However, I DID bring back some of these key workouts in the month before Boston this past year.  To save my hip from the miles, I decided to make my mid-distance run more of a shorter tempo run and found that my overall paces started to improve.  Instead of running 10 miles at an easy pace, I would do 5 or 6 miles at 7:00-7:20 pace (including warmup and cooldown) and I felt much stronger going into a 10k a couple weeks before Boston and then again IN Boston.

Another big difference was my final preparation before these shorter distance races.  I took the half marathon VERY seriously because at the time it WAS far for me and it WAS a big deal.  I tapered in the week leading up to every half and took extra rest days in the days prior to the race.  Ever since I started marthoning, I started to treat half marathons and 10ks difrerently.  I’ve developed a mindset of “It’s just a half so I don’t need to rest or taper.”  Every half marathon that I have run in the last three years, I have trained hard up until a day or two before the race and went into it as a workout or tune up.  Yes – a half marathon may seem short compared to the marathon but it is STILL 13 miles and if I want to run it fast and maintain a sub 7 pace, my legs need to be rested and ready to do so.  If I am not going to give my legs this rest then no matter how fit or well-trained I am, I will not get the times I used to when I tapered and prepared properly for the race.

As I start to draft some summer goals, I am planning to adopt some of my old training styles. I want to hit the track more frequently, include more tempo runs, and scale back my longs runs before I need to amp them up toward the end of August for my fall marathons. I want to have some goal 10ks and half marathons that I take seriously and taper properly.  August and September will be filled with miles so while I am free from a set schedule, I want to focus on having fun, building strength and pushing myself when I lace up.  And of course…I want to listen to my body and learn to chill out when the warning signs are being fired.

This can be especially hard in the summer because I have more free time..translation…more time to spend jumping into different workouts.  I love to workout in the morning and have the most energy at that time of day but when 4pm rolls around, I get another wave of energy.  I usually want to use this 4pm energy to get in an additional workout or a short run but I have learned through experience that if I make two-a-days a daily thing, my body will give me the overtraining warning signs.  I need to tackle the summer mindfully and make sure that I don’t go into ‘crazy mode’.

Here’s to a summer of enjoying the sun and time with family and friends, embracing the hot workouts, stepping up my speed work game and learning from my past whether it be from 3 months ago or from 3 years ago!

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“The past if your lesson, the present is your gift and the future is your motivation.”

Boston Marathon 2017 Recap

“Limitations only exist if you let them”

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I GET to write this blog post.  Being able to type this title was something that I wasn’t sure I would get the opportunity to do.  Not only do I get to type those words but I get to post a finish line picture!  My heart is so full and I feel so blessed.  I not only ran the Boston Marathon but I felt GOOD.  If you were to tell me back in January or even the day before the race that the only real pain I would feel in the Boston Marathon was a scorching sun burn on my back..I would have laughed in your face.  This does not mean I am free from all labrum issues but this goes to show that my dreams will not be crushed from it.

The emotions during marathon weekend were a snapshot of the emotions throughout this entire training cycle.  A nonstop rotation between moments of extreme excitement and moments of fear.  Up until race day, my hip was tight and tender and there were moments my knee ached.  I’ve done enough marathons to know that taper pains are a real thing and they are SO mental but I still can’t seem to use this knowledge to keep me sane and panic-free.

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My mom and I drove into Boston Saturday morning to pick up our bibs and do all the expo things…aka…spend lots of money and rationalize the purchases by saying IT’S THE BOSTON MARATHON.  We met up with Bethany and I was finally able to meet the lovely Sarah (@lesky27).  I can see why Bethany and her became instant running buddies and great friends, she is so sweet and upbeat.  Just one of those people that can lift your spirits without even trying!  After a lovely day in Boston, we headed home only to be hit with a friendly reminder that marathon hydration and traffic are the WORST combination.

Easter Sunday was pretty low key.  Shakeout run, foam rolled, stretched, laid in the 80 degree weather for just enough time to bronze my skin so it wouldn’t blind all the spectators 😉  We had a nice pasta dinner at my parent’s house and then relaxed for the remaining of the night.

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Turkey, Beet, Avocado and Spinach Panini with Sweet Potatoe Chips and Nuun…love me some pre-race carbssss

Race Morning

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Just like last year, there is a local bus that departs at 6am and shuttles all the local runners to Hopkinton and then picks us up in Boston.  It was already in the 60s when heading to the bus at 530am so I knew we were in for a hot day.   I wouldn’t say I love running in the heat but I am a warm weather person and would MUCH rather heat over cold and rain so the temps didn’t concern me much. My mind was fixated on that super tight hip that kept messing with my confidence.  When I reached Hopkinton, I wandered around the athletes village soaking everything in and eventually found Bethany, Katie and Sarah who helped ease my nerves.  Our squad grew when we ran into a few other Instagram friends!

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The Race

I will recap the race by sections but to be honest, this race was so consistent.  When I think back, I just see myself chipping away at the miles.  Not pushing, not holding back, but just relaxed, consistent…and burning the entire time.

Miles 1-9: Truly unforgettable because Katie, Sarah, Bethany, Kristen (@mamabear_runs_marathons) and I ran in a pack.  The power of a running pack or even with a running buddy during a marathon is indescribable.  Looking in front and to the sides and seeing 4 strong women, all whom arrived in Boston with different training, setbacks and goals but running strong and consistent is an amazing feeling.  It makes you want to fight for them and not for yourself. Running is an individual sport but if you let it become a team sport, it can be so inspiring and a fun experience.  I didn’t anticipate our squad of 5 to stay together for the entire race but I knew I was going to do everything I physically could to keep cruising with them.

Mile 10-13:  Bethany, Sarah and Katie may have a different take on what happened at this point (haha sorry!) but I will tell my viewpoint.  One of my best friend’s sister said she would be cheering close to Natick center which is around mile 10 so apparently after a water stop I started getting excited to see a familiar face in the crowd and sped up because when I turned around, I could only see Kristen.  So here I am on the course, trying to look side to side to spot my friend but then whipping around to find the other girls all while trying to actually run a decent pace and breathe.  I tried to slow a bit but didn’t want to slow too much because this was the time to clock some decent miles before the hills hit and the pace would DEFINITELY slow.

Mile 14 – I WAS THE HAPPIEST PERSON WHEN I FELT BETHANY AND SARAH ON MY LEFT SHOULDER!!!! Yes!!  This was all I wanted.  I didn’t want to pull a last year Boston when I took off on them and that same guilt was starting to surface so seeing them put me at ease……and then Bethany had to tie her shoe!! haha. Those dang Adidas Boost shoelaces.

Mile 15-18 – I lost Bethany and Sarah and was hoping mile 14 would repeat itself and they would come up behind me and we would run step for step for the rest of the race but that never happened. womp womp.  I was really starting to burn up and the sun was beaming down on me.  Every water stop consisted of gatorade, water for drinking and water for my face.  I had friends that were supposed to be at mile 18 so that was all I could focus on.  I just needed to get to mile 18 and then I would get that surge of energy that comes when you see a familiar face in the crowds.  Mile 18 finally came and I searched high and low for my friends.

Mile 19 – Hmmmm…maybe they had their mile markers mistaken and were at mile 19.  Still no friends but miles move quickly when you are on the search for people in the crowds so that was a bonus.

Mile 20-22 – Oh Heartbreak Hill.  You are bittersweet. You are hard but when you are over, you provide an overwhelming sense of relief and energy.

Mile 22-25 – Seriously questioning whether I am on fire at this point.  The sun on my back was painfully strong.  Of course I would rather a sunburn over cramped legs but darn this was going to be one nasty burn.  I was beginning to fade from sheer heat exhaustion.  I had to remind myself that at this point last year, I felt equally as exhausted, if not worse.  This is not unfamiliar territory and it will pass.  These are the moments of grit and the moments that you often can’t remember when the race is over because you were just so tired.  I didn’t want to not remember these final miles.  I kept reminding myself to stay alert and try to embrace everything.  Don’t wish for it to be over because as soon as it is, I know I am going to wish I could relive these moments despite how painful they are.

Mile 25 – 26.2 – Just like the sign that someone was holding early on in the race..’Just keep running, just keep running’ . And then it happened….HEREFORD.  I was spacing off and didn’t expect it so it was a VERY NICE surprise to say the least. This point last year was a total blur and I regret that so much.  The fact that I couldn’t remember the best part of the race killed me so this time around, I promised myself to take it all in.  Yes, Boylston is LONG.  You see the finish and you can’t help but be like “ughthat’s far..” but I tried my hardest to look left, look right, look up and just take it all in.  To my surprise, my legs had that last bit of juice left to kick it in and finish with the biggest smile and hands in the air..exactly the way I wanted to finish.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I ran hobbled into some Intagram friends, and then spotted Sarah and Bethany! We didn’t finish as a squad but we held strong for a while and I was just so happy to be able to re-connect…almost as if we were together the whole time.  In the process of trying to locate my Dad, Sarah casually got ENGAGED!!!! I met Sarah 48 hours prior and here I am hugging her mom and screaming.

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The face you make when you consumed WAY too much Gu and Gatorade due to the heat.

I couldn’t celebrate for too long because I had to get back to the finish line to cheer on my Mom.  My dad had her splits and she was on track to finish well below what she thought she would (as always!!)

We weren’t able to catch her before the finish line but we spotted her in the finishers shoot.  At this point I completely embarrassed myself by jumping on the railings and screaming “MOM”….because no one other than my mom goes by Mom, right??  We finally caught her attention meanwhile those around me are deaf…and celebrated the race with a nice long walk to bus to grab our stuff and then to my dad’s car.  Nothing like a far walk to the car only to realize that we went wrong way at some point because we were standing above the car with no way to get down but retrace our steps and take a different route. Imagine having to tell 2 females who just ran a marathon that we have to turn around.. my poor dad.. but he is the best person ever and you can’t really stay mad at him for long.

We finally made it the car and I had the ride home to reflect on everything…and eat the biggest salad in an attempt to tame my stomach from all the Gatorade and GUs.

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I was so relieved and just so happy.  Relieved that the race I have been stressing about for months was over and a success.  Happy because I fought hard and finished equally as strong as those who had great training cycles.  I say that not in a bragging manner but to prove that we all have obstacles and setbacks and although they feel debilitating at the time and make you constantly question your ability to perform – come race day, it is anyone’s race.  I am not going to lie, this race was in my favor seeing as I spent January doing hot yoga instead of running and in the end the ability to perform in the heat was the ultimate task.  The point I am trying to make is that a setback or even multiple setbacks don’t always dictate the result of the race.  There are so many factors involved.  Your weakness on race day may be someone else’s strength and your strength may be someone else’s weakness.  Take the cards your dealt, swallow your pride and run with your heart.  Sometimes that is the best racing strategy.

Boston, you were exhilarating as always.  I am beyond grateful I got to run your streets again, finish strong and healthy enough to make my way to the start line of Big Sur!

 

Taking Injuries One (Slow) Step at a Time

The time has finally come….Winter Vacation is here!!!and now almost over, what!?!  I have been putting off blogging until break because the few weeks leading up to this week off were insane and the insanity turned into stress and panic mode.  If I were to explain the month of December in the most dramatic way possible, it would look like me hanging to a rope and the rope was fraying with each passing day until it was a thin thread and I just needed that tiny piece to stay intact until Friday the 23rd at 11:25am when the school bell would ring for winter break!

Aside from that depressing analogy, December was full of wonderful moments that were simply overlooked by two very large collegiate projects due, many math department documents that needed to be worked on, and my job as a teacher.  It felt like there were not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  This is the part where a bystander would say, just get work done after-school and don’t go home to run and workout.😑  

Yes, that would seem like the logical answer for solving all my problems.   But I’ll take the stress to fit in time to do the one thing I love most.  Running and working out are the 1-2 hours in the day that are sacred to me.  They keep me balanced and sane.  It is in those hours that I can relax, calm down and devise a plan for handling my workload.  The adrenaline energizes me and gives me the clarity I need to go home and tackle the long checklist of tasks.

After a paragraph describing my love and need for running, I will tell you that there was a week in December where the weather got the best of me and runs were becoming dreadful and getting out the door was becoming a challenge.   During the week of the 12th, the weather was either in the single digits or there was a snow storm.  I spent Wednesday evening driving around to find a clear track or just a flat space to do 400s, Thursday I had to change to a rest day due to a night class and early morning low temps. Friday rolled around and I was eager for the weekend but was not eager to finish the school day with a 60 minute run in single digit temps.  I dreaded this run all day.  I didn’t even go home after school because I knew it would just procrastinate the process of getting out the door.  After the bell rang, I put on every layer of clothing I packed (pretty much my entire closet) and got going.  To my surprise, it wasn’t unbearable and the miles were passing quickly.  My negative attitude changed and I told myself to use this run as a future reminder that most dreaded runs are not as bad as they seem once you just get going. This positivity slowly slipped away as I was turning onto my street and was minutes away from finishing the run.  My knee suddenly had an aching pain on the inside.  I was a bit worried but was more overjoyed that the dreaded run was over.  My happiness of being done trumped the fear I had with knee.

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I woke up Saturday morning to unplowed and icy roads and realized that my speed work was going to have to be pushed to Sunday.  I thought Sunday’s 45 minute run would be manageable for Saturday in the snow.  It was slow and the snow was about 5 inches deep but I kept chugging along.  I almost called it quits at about 25-30 minutes but I plow truck came through so I figured clear roads would get me through the final stretch.  That’s when I felt my knee again.  I tried to shake it off but it wasn’t happening.  Luckily I was just doing quarter mile laps around my Crossfit gym so I wasn’t far and just walked back.  I was frustrated and felt defeated.

It was a week of trying so hard to make this running plan happen despite wanting to just skip runs and go to Crossfit.  I stayed true to my schedule and kept persevering only to be handed a lovely injury.  @Katiefitscript said it perfectly in her post about her hamstring issue – it is so frustrating when you just want to compete and train at the highest level and your body isn’t letting you do what you want.  That could not be more spot on.  I am not someone that goes out for a 4 mile run and is like, yay done for the day, what a good workout. I want the intensity, the sweat and the adrenaline.  That is what fuels my love for Crossfit.  A workout may be only 6 minutes but that 6 minutes is hell.  This love and need for adrenaline, speed and strength is what leaves me feeling fatigued and tired in other training cycles.  Part of the reason for getting a coach to train for Boston 2 Big Sur was to have structure and guidance.  I needed to learn how to find comfort in the intense/painful workouts.  But really, I needed to find comfort in just going slow and short.

Fast forward through some car cry sessions, lots of strength work and Crossfit sessions, 2 weeks after I first felt my knee…

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Yay!!! I am happy but still remaining weary and patient.  In the 3 runs that I have had knee pain, it flared up after about 35 minutes and this run was only 33 minutes so I haven’t ventured into danger zone yet.  Right now, I just need to get my confidence up and need a good running day.  I went to ART after this run and she did a phenomenal job releasing all tightness around my knee.  I do not have a doctors apt. until the 3rd but I am hoping that this is all a result of tightness surrounding the knee and some ART work and a slow buildup will help get me back on track.

It is safe to say that injuries SUCK.  They not only derail your training but they mess with the mind more than they mess with the body.  You are upset but trying to put on a strong front because deep down, you know that a little knee pain after 35 minutes of running is far from depressing relative to the issues that most people deal with.  But the selfish and pity-party side of you wants to curl up in a ball, cry and say WHY ME (even though its not just you!).  Tina Muir has said it multiple times on her podcast and from past and current experiences, I 100% agree – injuries keep us grounded and they give us additional knowledge that we need to improve our running.  I have been working with mini-bands and weighted ankle weights for the last few months to help strengthen my hips.  These short but effective drills have caused past hamstring issues to subside by improving muscle imbalances.  My knee injury taught me that I need to focus on strengthening my quads and the muscles surrounding my knee cap by incorporating wall sits into my strength.

Poor biomechanics and muscular imbalances that become clear with each injury help with future injury prevention and provide us with tools to make us stronger and more effective runners.  However, the humbleness that comes with each injury is far more powerful than the muscular insight.  That troubling week of running leading up to my knee pain was frustrating and I had moments of just wanting to throw in the towel and stick to strength and Crossfit.  I questioned my ability to tackle the demands of my training plan even though I felt the strongest I have ever felt as as runner.  The weather was beating me down and I was starting to crumble.  This injury gave me the chance to spend two weeks doing strength, Crossfit and cross training indoors and away from the cold. Yet during those moments, I would have given anything to be able to step outside, all bundled up and run.  Marathon training is mentally and physically draining and that is the exact reason why I love it.  It tests my ability to ward off negative thoughts, remain positive and stay grounded and grateful.  These qualities and lessons learned (hopefully) transpire into my personal life and make me a better and stronger person for when life’s obstacles are far bigger and taxing than running injuries.

To lighten up this blog post, I will just give everyone a friendly reminder of what Christmas in the 90’s looked like for a family of runners…yay for watches that start and stop!!!

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It is a bit sad that this generation of runners will never know what it’s like to make your parents drive around and clock the distance of your running route. Haha 😂

 Have a fabulous New Year’s Eve and stay tuned for a much more positive and fun New Year’s post reflecting on all the incredible moments in 2016. It will be a long one because this year was incredible! 😁

Longest Run to Date and a Racecation Planned

Ironic that my last post was about setting PRs and the frustration I have been experiencing with not having set a running PR in quite some time…then BOOM, without any expectations, I set a running PR.  No, no, not some outrageous race time but my LONGEST RUN EVER!!!

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Owe it to my new Brooks Launch running shoes..

Like I said in my last post, I have been focusing most of my time on Crossfit and have only been getting in super short runs later in the day if I have time.  Two weekends ago, I had a 14 miler planned but not a single bone in my body wanted to do it.  I don’t necessarily get excited for long runs but I don’t usually dread them like I was dreading that 14 miler.  Instead of forcing something that I just didn’t want to do, I ended up skipping my long run and doing yoga at my Crossfit box followed by a Sunday WOD and some extra lifting.  It was exactly what I wanted to do.  My body needed a good stretch and I was in the mood to lift and workout with people.  Being my first week of marathon training, (yup, MARATHON IS BOOKED.  Will explain later!), I felt a little guilty about bailing out on a long run this early into training but sometimes you just need to let yourself break away from the plan a bit and do what you want rather than what you feel you should do.

This past Sunday, I knew I had to stick to my schedule and I felt ready to take on the long run, especially because the weather was perfect.  With almost 2 weeks of little running since my last half marathon, I had no idea what to expect.  I set a goal of 10, a reach goal of 12 and if some miracle happened, then the intended 14 that I missed last week.

imageAh yes, I still smile when I see those numbers.  How did I do that??  But seriously…I wish I knew what made this run so perfect.  My legs felt fresh despite 5 straight days of working out before going into this run, my mind was relaxed and everything just felt great. I just kept tacking on more miles because my body and legs were willing to take it and not fighting against me for once!  Once I knew I was going to hit my reach goal of 12, I went a little further for 13 and though I could feel myself starting to weaken, I was way too close to that miracle so I slowed my pace down a bit and just remained controlled.  I reminded myself that a mile is just  my quick warm up around the block before Open Gym crossfit.  I can handle that!  And sure enough, I did 🙂  This was so needed.  I needed this running boost to remind myself that I can do this!  When I look at my training plan, those high mileage runs scare me, but I just need to take it one mile at a time.  I also need to remind myself that not every run is a good run and sometimes your legs just want to give up after mile 1.  Don’t force it.  If the run isn’t there, then save it.  Wait for the moment when it is.  It may not be part of the plan, but the plan will work itself out if it’s meant to happen.

Speaking of this whole marathon training thing that I keep mentioning…

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I am making my way back to San Francisco this summer 🙂 I received this same confirmation email a year ago but only made it to the Half-marathon finish.

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San Francisco Half-Marathon 2014

Lets see how it all plays out for Round 2.  I am excited..nervous…scared…but also relaxed.  I know that the trip will be amazing regardless of what happens.  If I don’t feel marathon ready then I will just switch to the half marathon and enjoy everything that race has to offer…THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE.  And even if NO running happens, I can enjoy a wonderful vacation with a great friend in a beautiful city.

Running wasn’t the only huge accomplishment this weekend but because I haven’t had many of those in a while I will boast about that the most 😉 On Saturday, I finally reached the highest double unders amount for my Crossfit box!  This has been a goal I have been trying to reach for weeks now and I am so happy it finally happened! 102 consecutive Double Unders! 

Funny story about reaching 102. On Friday I decided to try and set a new personal best seeing as I had been at 83 for a couple of weeks and Double Unders were in Friday’s WOD.

imageI made it up to 99! A new personal best (as of Friday) and a tie for first place at my box.  I walk in on Saturday and saw I had been bumped to 2nd because a phenomenal double underer (definitely not a word..) in the later class ended up hitting the whole 100! She is actually the person I learned double unders from.  I starred at her form and just tried to mimic it…a little creepy but true..and helpful!  Since I was still on cloud nine from my 99, I did not expect to have to tackle this challenge again but being only 1 away, it had to be done.  I didn’t get it on my first try but my legs were willing to jump 102 more times 🙂  I suspect this will lead to a little Double Under competition 😉 but what better way to stay motivated and continue to better my previous score!

Lets get to the good stuff and talk food…

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Friday nights always call for burgers and a sad attempt (fail) at grilling artichokes.  When it comes to burger night, things get a little territorial so thankfully we had some chives to make sure our burgers are not mixed up 😉 I am a huge fan of the Trader Joe’s grass-fed 90% lean beef, mix in some onions and Flavor God spices and top it off with melted shredded Swiss cheese. Instead of buns I use one slice of toasted Ezekiel bread and just leave the top open and load on grilled onions, mushrooms and avocado!

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This is has been a recent post-workout favorite!  If you are a chocolate lover like me, this is right up your alley.  I mixed my Vega-Sport Chocolate Protein powder with just enough Almond Milk to make a gooey fudge.  Chop up some fruit…apples, strawberries and bananas are my top choices...and just dip/SLATHER them in chocolate.

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Lastly, after a cold and rainy 3-day field trip to Cape Cod last week, the only thing I wanted for dinner was grilled, HOT, food!  That is exactly what went down…Salmon, broccoli, brussel sprouts, chopped sweet potato fries.  Just what I needed after 3 days of cold food!

I hope everyone has a great rest of the week!  I will be road tripping it with my team tonight for a USATF 5k race in New Hampshire.

Wish us luck! 🙂

Key to Balancing a Crazy Schedule

Hi All!

I can’t even begin to tell you how terrible I feel about not posting this past month.  Who knows if anyone actually cares/noticed about my recent blogging absence but if there are people out there that like to read my posts (besides my wonderful mom!) then thank you and I am sorry!  With April vacation over with and some much-needed down time, I am back to work with a bit more energy and hopefully some extra time to blog.

Life has been crazy busy but crazy fun!  I have finally found a great balance between my teaching, my coaching and my crossfit/running!  The first couple of weeks with coaching were rough. I tried to put a smile on and not complain but exhaustion and my hectic schedule was getting the best of me.  I don’t know about any of you, but working out after a long day is just not my thing.  It is hard to have a great workout when you just don’t want to be there.  I have said it before and I will say it again, just because I love running and Crossfit, does not mean I enjoy doing it ALL the time.  It is so important to find a balance and a time where you never dread what you are doing.  That being said, I have found MY time.  I am much more of a morning person than an evening person.  I like to have dinner done, dishes done and be on couch with my favorite person…and animals by 8 pm.

imageI get the demon eyes if I don’t give them some quality cuddle time 😉

My Crossfit gym has a 6am class but I always thought it would never be possible to do a 6am class and make it to work by 7:30/7:45.  Well my friends, anything is possible if you don’t really care about how smelly you are 😉 Just kidding..kind of. The 6:30 pm class was just not working out well after long days so I decided to give the 6am a shot despite the time crunch.

Prior to my first 6am class, I had everything packed up for the day and in my car the night before – breakfast, lunch, after-school snack, work clothes, coaching clothes, makeup, toothbrush…everything!  I must have checked that bag over and over again.  I knew that if I forgot ONE thing, there was no cushion in my schedule to pick it up at home.  I guess you can say I didn’t sleep that much the night before. But once that alarm went off, it was go time!  I went to 6am, had a great workout, rushed into the bathroom, washed my face, changed my clothes (maybe still a bit sweaty but a little sweat on work clothes never hurt anyone), put on a little mascara on because everyone knows mascara is the difference between ‘I just rolled out of bed’ and ‘I am ready to be seen in public’…and within 15 min I was out of the gym and off to work.  I even had some time to eat my packed breakfast before the students arrived!

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I guess you could say it was a success and has been a success ever since.  I am so glad I took the risk and tried it out because it has made my busy days/evenings much less stressful.  It is so nice to know my workout is done and I can focus on work and coaching for the rest of the day.  And if I do have energy at the end of the day/it doesn’t feel like an obligation, then I can get in a nice little run with the pups as well.

Speaking of running, I haven’t done too much of that.  I jumped into a local 10k a couple of weeks ago and ended up placing 4th overall.  There were not that many people in the race so I can’t brag too much and my time was certainly not brag worthy, but a race is a race.  After the race, I took some time to reflect on why my past few races since Disney have been an exhausting and unenjoyable struggle.  I realized that I just don’t have the mileage behind me right now to expect great outcomes.  It seems like an obvious observation as I type it, but with my personality and passion for competition, I tend to jump into things even when I am not ready yet still wonder why it didn’t go in my favor.  Lately I have been focusing on Crossfit during the week and get in a long run on Sundays.  I guess I keep thinking that my Sunday long runs are enough to power me through all these races.  Not so much.

Oh well. At the moment, I am just concentrating on balancing everything.  If I can get in a great workout to start my day, get through the work day with enthusiasm and motivate my players through practices and games in the evening, then that is a success.

Despite my lack of mid-week running, my Sunday long runs have been wonderful.  I did a great 10 miler on Easter…

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And I may have refueled with a piece..or two of the Reester Bunny that I found in my car from a special someone 🙂 The only thing better than a Reese Cup is a giant Reester Bunny!

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This past weekend I had exactly 1 hour to get in a run before I had to start getting ready for a baby shower..

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and of course my lack of punctuality wins again.  It was such a great run, I did not want to stop.  I squeezed in an extra mile and decided that straightening my hair was not that important 😉  And thankfully I had a little help with the wrapping  while I was gone…

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Yup. That’s duct tape because I didn’t buy enough wrapping paper….classy.

Lets talk food.  My smoothie bowls that were in my last post continue to make constant appearances.

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I heard about adding frozen cauliflower but never tried that idea until recently.  It is brilliant.  You can’t taste it, it adds volume and thickness and you get an extra serving of vegetables on top of the tons of spinach already blended in.

Another common occurrence at night are homemade quesadillas.

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Ground turkey or crock pot chicken make for great fillings.  Add a little shredded Swiss cheese, guacamole, mushrooms, onions into a sprouted grain tortilla, throw it in the oven for a few minutes and you have a delicious Mexican inspired meal with half the calories and fat in minutes!

I had this wonderful fruit and nut bowl before one of my workouts.

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It was so simple yet so perfect!…and so is the happy little Corgi in the background.

Feels great to be back on here and I hope that I don’t have another month break after this post!  Also, congratulations to everyone who ran the Boston Marathon.  I had my eyes clued to my iPad for a solid 2 1/2 hours.  I can’t explain to people what makes watching people run for 2 1/2 hours enjoyable but I love it.  It is so inspiring and straight-up jaw-dropping to see these runners move so fast for so long.  I truly admire every individual that has ever run a marathon.  The commitment, the training, and the mental strength you need in order to complete a marathon is beyond impressive.  I signed up for the San Francisco Marathon last year but an injury held me back from the full and stuck me with the half.  I would love to go back to San Francisco this summer and tackle the marathon like I had planned a year ago.  We will see what happens 🙂 but right now I am not making a game plan – it seems whenever I make a game plan that is when things go wrong.  This time around I am just going to run when I can, slowly increase my long run mileage, maybe recruit someone to run with and see where it takes me!

7 Miles Never Felt so Brutally Awesome

Happy Hump Day!

For all you workers..two days until the weekend!

For all you teachers..two days until vacation!

For all you Disney Princess 10k and Half Marathon runners…10/11 days until race day!

There is a lot to be excited about over here!

What’s also very exciting but not too enjoyable was this run..

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It may not look like anything special, especially not the pace, but it is huge for me!  Since November, I have been battling some posterior tibial tendonitis.  My running has been limited however, I am thankful that it hasn’t been an issue in yoga and crossfit.  Since January I have been working my mileage back up but I haven’t been able to get past 6 miles without some pain.  And all this snow is NOT helping.  Running through the slippery and slushy snow just exacerbates the pain because stability and form fly out the window when your just trying to move through the slush.  On a positive note, my hips are getting much stronger with each snowy run!  Today was the first run in a couple of weeks with clear roads and NO PAIN.  My legs were super sore from yesterdays 3 mile morning run and afternoon WOD consisting of 200 double unders, 80 box jumps and a strength component,  but my mind wanted to make this run worthwhile.  These days my runs just go as far as my tendon will let it and today, it was willing to go far. My sore legs had to call it at 7.35 but I am confident/hopeful that a rested body could handle longer. Which is kind of needed seeing as I have a half marathon in 11 days!

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It wasn’t a bad day but it certainly wasn’t a good day in terms of my body feeling strong.  Regardless, I gave it all I had and am happy I pushed through the soreness!

I wish I also had a quote that said, “On good days I eat bananas, and on bad days I eat them covered in almond butter and dark chocolate”…

imageI just had to snap a pic of the casual plate of frozen bananas that I always have on hand.  If there is one thing I never get sick of, it’s bananas.  Especially frozen bananas with almond butter.  Every single day after school and before my workout I have a frozen banana with some almond butter.  It is a perfect and delicious pre-workout.  You get your carbs, your fats, and your protein without being too full. And as you can see by the little piece just rolling around, I also sneak little bites with some dark chocolate when the sweet tooth attacks 🙂 I haven’t attempted banana ice cream which is just frozen bananas blended together to form an ice cream consistency but I have a feeling that will make its ways into my desserts soon..

Another thing that never gets old is steak..especially topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions.

imagePart of me felt bad that I made such a delicious meal while my boyfriend was sitting in a cold snow plow BUT the steaks were going to go bad so it just had to be done.  Tip: one way to score leftover steak is to overcook the other person’s steak so that they don’t want it anymore 🙂 Steak two nights in a row sounds good to me!

Well I think that is enough running and food talk for now! Have a great Wednesday and congratulations for making it halfway through the work week!

Some Exciting Life Additions

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One of the many Monday morning thoughts.   Except once again, I can’t complain about this Monday because it is now the second Monday in a row where we have had a snow day.  With February vacation in just 5 days, this day off is definitely not needed.  But then again, I can’t complain about sleeping until 10 and being in pajamas for the majority of the day.

It has been some time since I’ve posted last because this past week has been extremely busy BUT very exciting!  A couple new things have come along…

imageA new member to the family and a soon-to-be new running buddy.  Her name is Mei and she is absolutely beautiful and perfect.  She is only 4 months so we are going to let her little bones grow before taking her out for runs but she is certainly going to be one hell of running buddy.  Gosh, I hope I don’t slow her down!

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She may be younger and more energetic but Cooper still knows how to hold down the house and can put up a good fight when Mei is being a feisty one.

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..And this right here sums it all up.  Ha ha

And since these past two weeks have been all about new things – new car, new pup..I am happy to announce I also have a new job.  It is more like another job but new fits the theme.  I am happy to announce that in addition to my 6th grade teaching job, I am also the head varsity women’s lacrosse coach for the town that I teach in.  Even better…it’s the same team I once played for.  The thought of my schedule being even more crazy than it already is is a bit intimidating but I am beyond excited to work with a great group of girls and really take the team to a new level.  I can’t wait to build a team with strength, endurance, trust, confidence and skill.

When I think about the type of coach I want to be, my crossfit coach definitely comes to mind.  She is blunt, she is harsh, and she is loud but she CARES.  She believes in her athletes and sometimes that means yelling at them to step it up.   It may not always be easy to hear, but it is always what I need to hear.

I write this not only because it describes the trusting relationship I hope to have with  my players but because it is what pulled me through one of the toughest mentally workouts this week.  Mid workout, I failed a clean and from there it was downhill.  The weight was doable, I had already done a couple successfully.  But with just one failed attempt, I was mentally defeated.  My personality and mental defeat do not mix well.  I could have/wanted to just drop some weight and cruise through the workout but my coach did not give that as an option.  She had me step back and clear my head but most important, she just trusted in me.  She knew I could finish the workout with that weight despite the struggle and mental frustration.  And with that trust, I was able to successfully clean two more reps.

All in all, I hope to be the coach that instills perseverance, trust and confidence in each player.  As a coach, you can teach your players all the skills in the world, but without confidence, without drive, without determination, without perserverance…those skills are purposeless.

On that note, I hope every takes on the work week strong!